The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still difficult to quantify, but they are certainly quite significant across the entire tourism industry, from air transport to the hospitality sector. In Italy, the drop in demand in 2020 widely exceeded 50%, with the exception of certain segments that managed to keep up, such as beach tourism, which benefited from a period of relative decline of the effects of the virus, provincial hotels, generally used by domestic business customers, apartments with outdoor spaces and holiday villas for tourists. Nevertheless, capital market transactions in the hotel sector in 2020 maintained good performance, recording nearly €1 billion, mainly due to two major transactions: sale of the former Boscolo portfolio and sale of the Bauer hotel in Venice.
These two important transactions, which involved foreign players, confirm the considerable interest in Italian hotels by international investors, which continue to represent the majority of capital invested in the corporate segment. These investments are always made by operators with long-term strategies, although now they are increasingly aimed at the redevelopment of existing hotels, as the pandemic has increased the propensity to sell properties, although we have not yet seen a general reduction in prices. In 2019, on the other hand, the sector’s strong development phase had been driven by the transformation of office properties into hotels, therefore aimed at new openings.
Unfortunately, the forecasts for 2021 are less optimistic than one might have hoped: in these first three months of the year, we are seeing a new wave of infections that has once again imposed severe imitations on travel, with consequent further postponement of the potential reopening of accommodation facilities. Once the tourist-free winter season is definitively behind us, having almost certainly missed the usual mini-vacations of the spring (Easter, April 25, May 1) which also fall on the weekend this year, we can only focus on the summer and on the return of short breaks in the autumn. But for the recovery to be a strong one, it will need serious progress on the vaccination front. In this context, it would be important to see government support initiatives in the hospitality sector, which
is rather obsolete and has few instruments at its disposal to compete in a market in which the attitudes of travellers are changing and preferences are increasingly aimed at new formats. On the plus side, many entrepreneurs in the industry are taking advantage of the forced closure to adapt their facilities to the new market dynamics.