Here, Picture This Post (PTP) speaks with, Lesley Pritikin (LP), a Chicago-born transplant to Italy, and who recently founded Divertimento Group (DG) to help create a marketing group for tour agents in Italy.
PTP - What does your company do and what inspired you to launch this venture?
LP: The travel and tourism sector directly accounted for 3% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017, translating to $2.4 trillion, a figure that could reach $3.5 trillion by 2027. This is good news for travel professionals, but for tourists and residents of favorite hot spots, more is not always better.
American friends and family members kept telling me Italy had changed. Too many lines, not-so-great food, not-so-friendly locals. But that was true in cities like Rome, Florence, Venice and in areas like the Cinque Terra.
I couldn’t figure out why American tourists had not yet discovered the many amazing, crowdless, off-the-beaten track places that I loved – for example, the Castelli Romani where I live. These “alternative” locations offer art, history, hospitality, great food and wine, and breathtaking natural beauty to match any of the popular “hot spots”.
…Cultural tourists usually want to live like a local. We take it one step beyond though—we empower the locals to decide how visitors should see their special place, their home, the places they love….
Does this mean that you create tours to lesser known places? Don’t cultural tourists want to see the popular hot spots too?
Divertimento Group’s LOCALS-FIRST tourism model engages proud local residents as designer-creators of unique itineraries that show-off the amazing, special places where they grew up.
Our STOP Overtourism Movement is not only concerned with where people go – but also with howthey visit the places they want to go to. Even first-time visitors to Italy who want to see the usual hot spots can explore the cities in a new way – maybe off-season or at less crowded times. They can learn a lot about a location through contact with the residents - visiting monuments and museums is not the only way to experience a place. When we get to hear someone’s story, we get a deeper sense of place.
For example, visitors to Murano over the past 50 years saw glass blowing demonstrations that were touristy and commercially motivated. Visitors rarely had any contact with the glass blowers or the families who had been part of the glass art tradition for centuries. But in the LOCALS FIRST way of touring, you not only get to know the glass blowers themselves and meet their families but you also get to meet and know the newest generation glass blowers—many of whom have transplanted to the area to inject new energies and directions in treasured artisanal traditions.
For more information –
Visit the Divertimento Group website
Photos: Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated