Italy still retains a prominent role in international tourism, but finds it increasingly difficult to keep pace with the speed of growth in the sector and tends to lose its market share to its traditional European competitors, showing an evident loss of competitiveness. The importance of the development of tourism has often been erroneously overlooked in discussions of the Italian economic recovery. This paper sets out to explore the weaknesses and potential of Italy’s tourism system in order to determine ways in which governments and community can benefit from tourism and avoid its negative impacts. Italy boasts a high number of excellent cultural and natural assets, also if these advantages need to be better exploited. Cultural heritage is undervalued both in terms of tourism (number of visitors) and economically (revenue per tourist) with respect to all international benchmarks. A better understanding local government’s role in enhancing cultural and sustainable tourism is necessary. A tourist area able to manage its resources efficiently and effectively is also a territory able to meet the well-being of the local population. The destination management, that is a culture of tourism, is a prerequisite to join common goals.
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