Etna, one of the most important tourist resources in Sicily, does not have its own brand, a unique destination brand that distinguishes it, a bit like the Dolomites, the Cinque Terre or the Valle D’Aosta, to limit ourselves to some Italian examples. So much so that, if we want to Google the word ‘Etna’, we find the inevitable info of Wikipedia, the institutional site of the Park, the Ingv and then a myriad of small and large businesses that somehow use the term Etna. But nothing that directly accompanies a potential visitor to tourist information or directs a potential investor to economic data. Thus, without a destination brand or related territorial marketing initiatives, Etna remains an illustrious unknown. “A study by the University of Catania – explained to FocuSicilia Benedetto Puglisi, director of the Master Them in Tourism hospitality & event management of BeAcademy – tried to understand what is on the net around the word Etna: there is an excessive fragmentation of the brand, without a single destination Etna. The standard should be the first result of the brand, intended as Etna destination and territory, identified both by the inhabitants and by the tourist realities. Currently this does not exist, although it is very relevant, because a tourist resource must be communicated to become an attraction, made known to the rest of the world. When it doesn’t, it remains a potential tourist attraction. Today Etna is not a tourist attraction, given that its potential has yet to make it emerge “.
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Create a brand that lasts a long time, like in Spain
“There are many reasons for this lack – continues Puglisi, who was also a professor of Destination Management and Territorial Marketing at the University of Catania – and it starts from the fact that the territory has not been able to dialogue with its various actors, starting with from institutional ones, to build a unique project aimed at defining a brand. The latter should be accepted first of all by the community, and then made known to the outside world. The main step is the collaboration between administrations, the local community and private entrepreneurs, to agree on the objectives of the destination brand that are an expression of the territory. Often it is done in reverse, creating the brand and then promoting it. Thus the brand becomes more of a graphic design, a logo that does not last long.
You don’t need to change all the time
If we think of products such as Coca Cola, Apple, Mercedes, we are faced with brands that have always been the same since they were born, perhaps revisited with restyling, but basically the same. The same happens with the tourist market: if it changes constantly it does serious damage to the destination, creating confusion instead of territorial identity. For example – observes Puglisi – if we analyze the tourism policies of the Region from 1997 to today, in 25 years the path has seen continuous changes of the brand, with aspects that are always different from the previous one. This is a destination brand policy that does not help the development of the territory. Spain has had a brand since 1982, and it is the same one made by Mirò for the World Cup. It is no coincidence that Spain is considered the most important tourism organization in the world. Etna should also have a brand capable of lasting a long time “.
The project takes place in six months, with 100 thousand euros
Certainly it is necessary for someone to assume this responsibility and take initiative: the Sicilian Region, the Etna Park, the Metropolitan City of Catania, the world of business, what matters is to start. “The creator could be both public and private – emphasizes Puglisi – even if it would be desirable for it to be public. It is not essential though. Whoever he is must be able to develop a project that involves all the players in the area. To develop a destination brand policy, it takes from three to six months or more, with costs ranging from a minimum of 50 to 100 thousand euros. Once the brand has been developed, the advantages are innumerable, starting with integrated and unique communication throughout the territory. Furthermore, in the medium-long term there will be a greater return of tourist flows. Some time ago – Puglisi recalls – Etna was the protagonist of the Unesco candidacy, a potential opportunity to develop a tourism brand that would become a point of reference.
Spain and the enhancement of young Sicilians
Years have passed, but the brand is still missing. There is an enormous potential strength, which is still very little exploited today ”. Yet, to find the necessary skills, you don’t need to go far: “The University and our academy, the first master in tourism in Italy, can do a lot. The students – highlights the teacher – have the skills to develop destination marketing projects. Last year Spain contacted us for a tourism promotion project of the Spanish territory abroad. Spain has been able to value young Sicilians, unlike the local institutions that force them to leave ”. As if to say: we already have the workers at home, the points for a road map are simple. Perhaps it is worthwhile for someone to finally set the machine in motion, with an investment that can generate and multiply profits for everyone, as well as finally giving Etna an image worthy of such a precious public heritage.