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Watch out! BIT is coming

Di Antonio Caneva Translation of the Italian edito, 9 Febbraio 2001

The world of tourism is in a frenzy: BIT is coming. When it started, 20 years ago, the International Tourism Exchange was looked down on as a mysterious object of doubtful usefulness, the mechanisms of which were not fully appreciated. Thanks to those who worked for its creation and then for its development, it is now one of the most important events worldwide, and a point of reference for tourism in Italy. To me, it is even convenient: I cross the road and I am there. As sometimes happens, however, BIT, too, suffers from too much “wealth”; its tumultuous growth has to some extent altered its nature, changing it into a big, loud celebration, where you have to be present, but you do not know exactly why. I will not discuss the merits of the Buy Italy, where you come into contact with foreign operators, who often have the only concern of finding a way to get rid of the enormous quantity of material they have collected, which they will never take back to their countries. I will rather make a comment on the visitors. You may think that people come to the fair, having sometimes undertaken long journeys, to meet operators and promote exchanges, as should be inherent in an Exchange. It is not always so. Tourist professionals very often attend BIT not so much in order to meet other people, but to show themselves – I, too, was there, therefore I exist. This type of – let’s say – institutional attendance does not favour interaction, because there is no real interest in the other parties, and all boils down to endlessly shaking hands in the midst of seething masses of people that carry you away. Of course, there are exhibition stands serving as stable points of reference, but even there – particularly on Thursdays and Fridays – there is a constant crowd of people, and no chance to develop any initiatives. Welcome, then, to the Grand Preview of Wednesday afternoon, which is accessed only by invitation. This may be the keystone capable to return the event to its original spirit, the one which inspired its growth and was now risking to lose it.

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