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Tourism sector within the Sicilian economy

Tourism in Sicily plays a very important role in the local economy. The island, in fact, is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world coming every year to discover and appreciate its artistic and natural beauty. Sea, beautiful coastlines, beaches and islands, climate, food and culture, are all elements that meet the excellent offer of hotels and restaurants. High quality services and wide range of accommodation types: cheap hotels, 3, 4 and 5-star luxury hotels with swimming pools, beauty centres and high-level services, villas, bed and breakfast, resorts, residences, campsites, guest houses and holiday homes .

The region has in terms of tourist arrivals 4.1 million (approximately 23.5% of the Southern part of Italy and 4.3% of Italy), +0.9% compared to 2009 (-2.4% var 2009/08 mainly for the decrease of inbound tourism -5.1%). In the first three months of 2012, an increase of 4.2%, reflects a reverse of the negative trend that has seen a decline, in Sicily, of the market share of arrivals of 4.2% in the four years 2009/12.

In terms of tourist presence in the region there are estimated about 14 million (approximately 18.5% of the Southern Italy and 3.7% of Italy), +5.2% compared to 2009 (-1.2% compared to 2008), percentage also confirmed in the first quarter of 2012.
The direct employees in hotels and restaurants industry reach the 55.2 thousand units (20.4% in the Southern Italy and 4.4% in Italy), or 3.6% of employment in the region. The hotel establishments increased by 3.2% compared to 2009.

According to the latest official surveys, Sicily is:
- The first region in the Southern Italy by weight of foreign tourism;
- The first region in the Southern Italy by number of beds in the hotels of 3, 4 and 5 stars;
- Second region of Southern Italy by number of arrivals and overnight stays.

The region is characterized by a demand for a tourist product mainly regarding seaside and cultural tours that concentrate 58% of the total arrivals in the region. Important is the percentage of the arrivals in places of historic and artistic heritage in the southern region (42.7%). In addition to the seaside and cultural tourism, food and wine tourism is another important segment; there are 538 agro tourism farms (13.8% of Southern Italy and 2.8% of Italy). Sicily, with 238 traditional food products (14.8% of the Southern Italy), was ranked third in the Southern regions. Tourism demand of Sicily is concentrated in the provinces of Messina (the share of the regional market amounted to 25.2% for arrivals and 29.2% for accommodation) and Palermo (24.1% for arrivals and 20, 8% for accommodation).

There has been a strong growth in the segment B & B in all provinces. Also increased rental accommodation (especially in the province of Ragusa), the hotels are in a constant increment while the type that includes holiday homes, hostels, shelters, etc.. is decreasing. Out of 180 tourist places of the Southern part of Italy, 27 belong to the region of Sicily and are essentially places for bathing (45%) and cultural cities (33%), located mainly in the province of Messina.

With regard to infrastructure, indispensable for the development of tourism as they ensure the accessibility of tourist location, it can be discern the Sicilian airport system, also due to the geographical location of the island, which has reached, in 2010, over 12.6 million passengers. In particular, Catania was the first airport in the South part of Italy. With regard, however, to the Sicilian port system, Palermo is the main Sicilian cruise port (3 ° of the Southern Italy) with more than 738 000 passengers in 2010. In reference to yachting, Sicily has 10.4% of the national structures with approximately 16,000 berths.

Sicily, within southern part of the varied tourist landscape, in terms of the tourist attractions, the variety of thematic tourist products developed or that can be developed, the degree of the hospitality, the number of tourist destinations, the ability to attract international tourism, ranks as a region with several tourist products