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Tourist arrivals in the Italian region of Sicily 2019-2022, by province

Number of tourist arrivals in the italian region of sicily from 2019 to 2022, by province (in 1,000s).

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2019 to 2022

figures include domestic and international tourists

Figures have been rounded. Data prior to 2021 were previously published by the source.

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About the industry

  • Premium Statistic Tourist overnight stays in the Italian region of Sicily 2019-2022, by province
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What can we learn from sicily as they invest in tourism.

Mark Frary

In Blog , Destinations , Travel Industry .

What can we learn from Sicily as they invest in tourism?

COVID has been a ‘total disaster’ for tourism to Sicily, as it has been for many destinations.  But now the Italian region is investing millions of euro to incentivise international visitors to return.

“Tourism is worth 15% of the gross domestic product, and in some areas it even represents 40%”, says tourism councillor Manlio Messina. 2020 will be remembered by tourism operators for many years. The lockdown involved all sectors of the Italian and Sicilian economies. These months have caused a total disaster, but our duty is to look forward to tomorrow.

There are signs of optimism. Messina says, “we are far below previous years in terms of tourists, but the numbers are beginning to give us some hope. The data relating to reservations for August are comforting, but certainly not decisive for the crisis situation that generated the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In May, Sicily announced it had allocated 75 million euros towards a scheme that will subsidise the cost of flights, hotel rooms and other tourist activities. The region also announced a fund of 300 million euros which travel agencies, tour operators and hotels can draw on.

Messina said travel agencies would be at the heart of the consumer-focused programme, and the region is using the money to create 600,000 holiday packages.

“We will buy services from the entire tourism chain, such as overnight stays in a hotel…If they stay for three nights, the Sicilian Region will pay for one; if they stay for six nights, they will be paid for two.”

He added, “We are investing 15 million euros in airlines to purchase tickets and discounts for controlled prices. Furthermore, we are preparing an agreement with the airlines to reduce the costs of [transporting] sports equipment.”

Messina said the scheme – when travellers can actually access the deals – would start “when we believe that we can travel without problems. We hope to encourage tourism beyond the summer, as well from October onwards.”

Travellers will be able to book on new website of the Sicilian region and a related app.

Messina says the region will also spend a further 20 million euros over the next three years to sustain interest in Sicily, investing in trade fairs, television and print advertising, but above all an innovative web campaign.”

On the horizon are events with international appeal which had to be postponed from 2020: the Sicily Jazz Festival and the Bellini Renaissance, which promotes the holidays the musician Vincenzo Bellini took in eastern Sicily. Sicily is also working with the region of Liguria on a twinning ceremony to celebrate Frank Sinatra’s links with the two regions.

Sicily is not the only region investing to attract tourists back.

The Swiss city of Geneva has seen a 60% decline in room nights compared to previous years as a result of the pandemic.

As a result, Geneva Tourism has come up with a number of schemes to attract tourists.

Roxane Dupommier, Market Manager Europe for Geneva Tourism says, “Kickstarting tourism to Geneva is a key priority for us. As with all cities, Geneva has been suffering during the crisis but we are confident that once restrictions have been lifted and travel becomes more open, we will see tourism return to our beautiful city. Our offers are a way to encourage visitors back and help them enjoy all that the city has to offer.”

These include the Geneva Box scheme, which offers combined hotel and attraction packages with discount of up to 65%. One such a package is a make your own watch scheme which is now available for £808 instead of £2,297 and includes a double room for two in a five-star hotel for one night with breakfast, a course on making your own watch with a master watchmaker and free public transport.

The Geneva Gift card scheme gives anyone who stays in one of the city’s approved hotels a voucher worth CHF100 (£84) that can be spent at hotels like the Beau-Rivage and Mandarin Oriental and restaurants like the Chat-Botté and Les Armures.

In total, Geneva Tourism has invested CHF4 million (£3.4m) on the Geneva Box and Geneva Card schemes as well as a Clean and Safe Label programme of safety protocols to protect guests.

Earlier in the year, there was much talk about Japan’s Go To Travel campaign which promised to cover 35% of travel and accommodation costs and 15% off activities in destination. The country’s tourist board eventually had to clarify that the scheme was only aimed at domestic tourists (although Tokyo residents are excluded). The ¥1.35 trillion (£9.9 billion) scheme has been used 2 million times since it started in July despite some believing it would encourage the spread of COVID.

#Come2MexicanCaribbean is a collaboration between travel and tourism businesses in places like Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen. As part of the scheme, hotels and other hospitality providers are offering free nights, resort spending vouchers, substantial discounts, two-for-one deals and other offers.

When Las Vegas’ resorts reopened, the city’s Convention and Visitor Authority began promoting a range of deals at its hotels , including very low midweek room rates and generous dining credits, in some cases available until the end of 2020.

The Caribbean island of Barbados has launched a visa scheme to encourage digital nomads to come and work on the island for up to 12 months. The Barbados Welcome Stamp Visa Scheme costs $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for families but successful applicants will not be subject to Barbadian income tax during the year, making it a potentially lucrative working holiday

A number of countries have also implemented VAT cuts to help businesses in various sectors, including the UK, the Czech Republic and Montenegro.  The UK cut VAT on hospitality services, such as hotels, from 20% to 5% until 12 January 2021. While some businesses have not passed these on to consumers, the hotel groups Marriott and Accor both have, helping stimulate demand.

Other countries are trying different tactics to woo visitors – by covering medical costs in the event that visitors catch COVID.

As part of its Safe Travel Guaranteed campaign, Uzbekistan has announced that any foreign tourist visiting the country on a group tour with a local tour operator who catches COVID will be paid $3,000 in financial compensation from Uzbekistan’s Anti-Crisis Fund. Sophie Ibbotson, Uzbekistan’s tourism ambassador to the UK, said, “The government is so confident that the new safety and hygiene measures being implemented across the tourism sector will protect tourists from COVID-19, that the President is prepared to put money where his mouth is: if you get COVID-19 on holiday in Uzbekistan, we will compensate you.”

Meanwhile, the government of the Canary Islands is offering to cover medical expenses, health repatriation and having to stay on the islands for longer in the event you contract COVID-19 . The islands have put together a deal with the insurer Axa, helpful for anyone who travel insurance no longer covers COVID issues. Cyprus has also pledged to cover the holiday costs of anyone catching the virus while on holiday there.

When tourism is such an important driver of the economy – up to 10% of global GDP and supporting 300 million jobs worldwide – it comes as no surprise that destinations are being innovative. Long may it continue.

Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective ,  a social and digital consultancy working with travel companies and tourism organisations to help them share their amazing stories digitally, work collaboratively with travel influencers through video, images and words and drive new business.

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Book cover

International Conference on Modern Trends in Business Hospitality and Tourism

ICMTBHT 2022: Sustainable Approaches and Business Challenges in Times of Crisis pp 29–43 Cite as

An Integrated Analysis of Sustainable Tourism in Sicily (Italy)

  • Mariaclaudia Cusumano 3  
  • Conference paper
  • First Online: 21 February 2024

Part of the Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics book series (SPBE)

Sustainable development is the driving force for social, ecological, economic, and durable development, as prescribed by the UN Agenda 2030 to spur economic growth and tackle climate change. Similarly, sustainable tourism requires an integrated approach in the surrounding area; local policies have a crucial role in planning and managing the tourist destination in several aspects. The lack of those policies may leave the management of touristification to private businesses, causing progressive deterioration of the assets such as environmental impact; for instance, it could overload the carrying capacity.

Italy has the highest number of UNESCO acknowledgments in the world. Thanks to the brand UNESCO contains, the prominent acknowledgment can attract more tourists than heritage would do without the acknowledgment. On the other hand, to guarantee the durability of the heritage without compromising the sites, UNESCO requires adopting a management plan for the sustainable development of the local area. Policymakers, citizens, and private businesses should consider the management plan for a stable economy and society structured in a healthy environment. Still, the implementation of those politics and tourism management is limited.

This work aims to explore the pathway for sustainable development in Sicily (Italy) by analyzing the weakness and strengths of local policy adopted in the theoretical framework of sustainability and will explore the state of the art of sustainable tourism implemented to identify further steps toward Sicily’s transformation.

The considerable offer of the cultural attractions and natural beauty of Sicily embodies a vital development potential that would offer an opportunity for sustainable development in terms of jobs in hospitality and its spin-off by reducing the unemployment rate. But the multiple heritage with the brand UNESCO and the other heritage occurred in Sicily would not allow alone adequate progress of the region; it is necessary to have the adoption of a common and integrated strategy for policymakers regarding (a) education and training strategy to have high-qualified workers, (b) the development infrastructure and sharing mobility, (c) service and facility for vulnerable visitors such as disabled or elderly people, (d) reinforcement of the local economy, local food, and traditional handcraft.

This research contributes to defining how to implement sustainable development at the territorial or regional level following an integrated and strategic policy, supporting strategy of growth, overcoming single and restricted development policies that appear to be blaze for economies and communities. The SDGs of the UN Agenda 2030 represent a milestone for sustainable tourism by enforcing environmental and cultural heritage.

  • Sustainable development
  • Sustainability UNESCO World Heritage
  • UNESCO brand
  • Environment and Cultural Heritage

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United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. (1998). Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters . Retrieved from https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/documents/cep43e.pdf . Accessed 7 July 2023.

UNWTO. (2019). Transport-related CO 2 emissions of the tourism sector—modelling results. In World Tourism Organization and International Transport Forum . UNWTO. https://doi.org/10.18111/9789284416660 . Accessed 7 July 2023.

Zhang, L. Y. (2022). Exploring the effects of tourism development on air pollution: evidence from the panel smooth transition regression model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19 (14), 8442. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19148442 . PMID: 35886294; PMCID: PMC9315471. Accessed 2 Apr. 2023.

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Cusumano, M. (2024). An Integrated Analysis of Sustainable Tourism in Sicily (Italy). In: Negrușa, A.L., Coroş, M.M. (eds) Sustainable Approaches and Business Challenges in Times of Crisis. ICMTBHT 2022. Springer Proceedings in Business and Economics. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-48288-5_2

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Sicily travel guide — the fullest sicily tourist guide for first-timers.

sicily tourism statistics

Referring to Italy, in addition to the powerful and mighty of Rome, the rich culture of Tuscany or the vibrant of Naples, surely the name Sicily or Sicilia will evoke lot of emotions to anyone. Sicily, not only has famous for the novel ‘The Godfather’, ‘specialty’ Mafia and Separatism but also owns a lot of great things that no other land in Italy can match, including the rich and diverse culture of the land with the oldest history in Italy after Rome. In terms of landscape, cultural identity and geographical location, Sicily is not inferior to any other place in Italy, but what has made this land stray from the image of a prosperous Europe that people often imagine? This Sicily blog not only shares with you Sicily travel experiences, but also provides a part of the social picture of the evil land in the pages of Mario Puzo’s books. So, what to do and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Sicily — The largest island of Italy for the first-time? Let’s check out our Sicily travel blog (Sicily blog) with the fullest Sicily travel guide (Sicily guide, Sicily tourist guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!

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sicily tourism statistics

If you have read the world famous novel ‘The Godfather’ by Mario Puzo, you will surely know the legendary land of Sicily of Italy which is also the beautiful southernmost island with tradition of producing wine for more than a thousand years. Not only being the “land of Mafia”, this place also contains many interesting and strange things.

sicily tourism statistics

Unlike many other large cities and regions in Italy, Sicily is not dense with monumental or massive, majestic or high-rise buildings, but it has many palm trees and other rare trees and plants that evoke the feeling of being in a country of Middle East or North Africa. The streets of cities or towns in Sicily are also small, and there are many more flea markets, shops right on the streets, diverse markets from food markets selling meat, fish and vegetables, to clothing stalls, Chinese game electronics, to gas stoves and ovens.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: Overview of Sicily

Where is sicily.

sicily tourism statistics

Well, if you imagine Italy as a boot or a high-heeled shoe, Sicily is like a kicked ball. Indeed, this image ironically compares Sicily’s position in the heart of Italy: Backward and isolated. Despite the distance from the mainland (ie Italy) to the port of Messina of Sicily is only 6.6km, but Sicily is already considered a remote island of Italy.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with an area of up to 25,711 km² and a population of over 5 million (2022), it is separated from mainland Italy by the Strait of Messina, is one of five autonomous regions, officially known in Italian as Regione Siciliana. The most prominent landscape of the island is Mount Etna, the most famous volcano in Europe with the most frequent and powerful eruptions.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily is 3km from Calabria (in mainland Italy), 160km from the coast of Africa, and to this day, it is still impossible to confirm whether Sicily was once attached to Africa or mainland Italy. Due to its geographical location, Sicily is the most important island in Mediterranean Sea.

sicily tourism statistics

A brief history of Sicily

Since the appearance of the first inhabitants, the ancient people of Sicanians, there have been many peoples to occupy, successively inhabiting this hilly and rich in flora and fauna island. After the primitive civilization of the Sicanians came the civilization of the people of Sicels (the origin of the name Sicily), then the people of Elymians originated from West Asia (now Turkey), and then continued to be assimilated by Greek army. For hundreds of years, people jostle against each other to occupy this vast and majestic island, Sicily was handed over from the Greeks to the Carthaginians, to the Roman Empire, to Arabia, to Norman, to France, to Spain, to Austria… until Giuseppe Garibaldi unified Italy and regained Sicily in 1860.

sicily tourism statistics

Due to its prime location with hundreds of years of changing thrones, Sicily is the cultural exchange of many different cultures, the Sicilian people are famous for their multi-racial diversity and colorful culture. Coming to Sicily, you can see a blending of ancient indigenous civilizations such as Sicanians, Sicels, Elymians, to the civilizations of invaders such as Roman, Greek, Arab, Norman, Albania, France, Spain. A lot of people in Sicily today are of Albanian origin because this people have occupied and settled here since the 16th century…

sicily tourism statistics

The Greeks also invaded the southern Italy and Sicily, so Sicily is so heavily influenced by Greek culture and its civilization, so there are a lot of Greeks here, more Greek-style temples than in Greece itself. The language of the Sicilian people therefore also has a lot of foreign elements mixed (there are even some Albanian-influenced communities who have occupied here since the sixteenth century and to day they still speak the ancient Albanian language). Even the eye color and hair color of a large number of people in Sicily (red hair and blue eyes) are also considered traits they inherited from the Normans. In addition, there also are many people with Arab surnames. So, many Italians sometimes joke that Sicily isn’t Italian, and many Sicilian themselves also don’t identify themselves as Italian.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: Is Sicily safe?

There is no country is absolutely safe but actually in Sicily you will be surprised because the security here is better than you think. I lived for a year in Sicily and have never been pickpocketed, stolen or cheated while in Rome I was scammed as soon as I arrived at the airport. The proud Sicilian are sincere, generous and respect to foreigners. What about the mafia? I didn’t see the influence of this criminal organization on the daily life here. However, you should not be too casual when talking about this topic or discuss it with natives because it is a rather complicated topic.

sicily tourism statistics

Generally, fewer pickpockets than other famous tourist cities such as: Rome, Barcelona, ​​Paris… also not as many robbers as Naples, Sicily is much safer. There is also absolutely no gunfight like in the movies, probably because civilians, tourists are not the object of interest of mafia gangs. However, you should also be careful when wandering around in slums or suburbs, which may not be as safe as in downtown areas.

sicily tourism statistics

What about poverty and backwardness? Indeed, Sicily has poorer infrastructure than northern regions and high rates of unemployment, ghost towns and abandoned cities when young people move to the North to finding jobs that makes the cities become deserted, full of elderly people but in general people still have a comfortable life.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel blog: When to visit?

Sicily is endowed with a mild Mediterranean climate, warm winters, cool summers, and little rain. The average temperature in winter is about 6-7 degrees Celsius, 18-20 degrees Celsius in summer.

sicily tourism statistics

The golden rule when traveling to countries with sea and islands is to go in sunny summer, even if it’s the peak season with higher costs. Summer in Italy is similar to Vietnam, lasting from the end of May to the end of August. The Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summers and due to its geographical location close to North Africa, summer in Sicily is hotter than other European regions. However, the European summer is very pleasant compared to the summer in the North or Central Vietnam.

sicily tourism statistics

You can also come to Sicily in spring with lush green trees, flowers blooming everywhere, it will be more beautiful but not as crowded as in summer, especially for ocean lovers. However, many hotels and restaurants only open in the summer when tourists flocking here.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: How to get to Sicily?

The simplest and most efficient way to get to Sicily is by plane. The island has two international airports: Palermo and Catania, connecting to many major cities in the world and the most famous airline is Alitalia – the national carrier of Italy.

sicily tourism statistics

There are no direct train routes from mainland cities to Sicily because there is no bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Due to the distance is too far from other regions of Italy, so taking a bus will takes a lot of time, so I do not recommend you to choose this option.

Traveling by boat also is a option to reach Sicily. There are many ferry companies such as Alicudi Palermo Ferry, Alicudi Milazzo Ferry, Civitavecchia Palermo Ferry, Civitavecchia Palermo Termini Imerese Ferry, Favignana Trapani Ferry… which are operating routes to Sicily, you can directly buy tickets at ticket counters at ferry piers or buy online in advance, refer to departture points, routes and timetables here .

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily guide: Getting around Sicily

Unlike other developed regions or cities in Italy, public transport in Sicily is even more backward. Usually, in order to save time and make the most comfortable, tourists often choose to travel by coach (passenger car) between tourist destinations on the island. You can refer to the website of the Etna Travel Service Company here or via Facebook , the web is not available in English, so please use Google Translate. According to my experience, you should look up the departure time on the website and then follow the address that listed on the website to buy tickets right on the spot, because online payment also is not available.

sicily tourism statistics

For trains you can book and pay online here . However, not every city in Sicily has a train station and the frequency of trains is not as much as that of passenger cars.

sicily tourism statistics

Self-driving

However, you should rent a private car if you want to freely explore the tourist attractions on the island. It is recommended to rent in advance online, especially to avoid the holidays or special occasions. The car rental price for a week ranges from €250 to €500. Large rental companies often offer better prices, should not be rented from small firms, they often offer cars with poor quality, prices are not fixed. All car rental companies have offices at the airports and in major cities in Sicily.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: What to do and where to go?

Trapani – marsala, salt flats and ancient windmills.

Since ancient times, salt has always played an extremely important role in human life. People get rich from salt, war for salt, even in Italy there are many roads named “Via Salaria” – Salt Route.

The hot winds from Africa, the long sunny summer days, the saltwater coastal lands are all the perfect conditions for the birth of immense salt fields. Here, natural sea salt is still crystallized from the evaporation of water, just as the ancient Phoenicians did 2,700 years ago. Salt was sold throughout the Mediterranean, as far away as the Nordic countries. Thanks to salt, in the mid-16th century it was one of the most important ports in Europe. Today, although there are many different substitutes, the salt here is still preferred by culinary experts because of its purity, no preservatives and the salty taste of natural sea salt.

sicily tourism statistics

Leaving the highway, driving along the highway from Trapani to Marsala you will encounter salt fields along both sides of the road. The scene of salt fields is adorned by scattered ancient windmills on the horizon. The first windmills were built in the Middle Ages, today most people use mechanical pumps, but sporadically, there are still 1-2 windmills that continue to lead into and drain water out of the salt fields.

sicily tourism statistics

Not available in Sicily tours, and if you want to go, you also have to rent a private car to get there, so not many tourists know this place. But if you have an opportunity to get here, remember to visit the Museum of Salt and the restaurant Trattoria del Sale. You can both visiting, admiring artifacts and documents regard the salt industry in Trapani, and you can also enjoy dishes using salt according to local recipes. And of course, you should also take advantage of buying a few bags of sea salt to use and give as gifts to friends.

sicily tourism statistics

Isola Di Vulcano – The Island of Volcanoes

The ancient Greeks named the island Thérmessa, meaning “Source of Heat”, and in Greek mythology it was known as the forge of God Hephaestus (Vulcano in Roman, the god of fire, blacksmiths, and craftsmen). The small island of only 21 square kilometers, 25 kilometers off the northern coast of Sicily, is the closest island to Sicily in the cluster of eight Aeolian Islands. From the main island of Sicily, there are many ports to catch a boat or ferry to the island, but you should go to the port of Messina, the port closest to the island cluster, from there, you can take ferries or boats to reach the island. Buying ticket is simple, just go to the port to see which boat preparing to depart, then go to its ticket counter right on the street and then get on the boat, it only takes 40 minutes to get to the island.

sicily tourism statistics

Currently there are 3 volcanoes on the island, of which the Gran volcano is still active. Rated as the most impressive attraction on the island, the scene of the crater is truly breathtaking. The smoldering columns of white smoke, the strong smell of sulfur. However, you should not reach too close, might will be suffocated.

Due to the volcanic terrain, an interesting place to visit is the natural hot mud bath area of ​​Fanghi. The mineral mud here contains very high sulfur content (the smell is quite concentrated), especially good for people with rheumatism and skin diseases (oily skin, acne, psoriasis).

sicily tourism statistics

In addition, due to the formation of lava flows, there are many volcanic black sand beaches on the island. The best way to go around the island, stopping at any beach you like is to rent a motorbike, or an ATV, the rental price for a day is not too expensive, about 15-25 Euros depending on the season.

sicily tourism statistics

Besides tourist services, people on Vulcano island mainly live by goat farming and hunting. So there are also great local cheeses like goat ricotta, and traditional dishes like fried ricotta, pasta with ricotta, seasoned with local specialties including herbs and spices.

The medieval fishing village of Cefalu

With narrow winding cobblestone streets, small beaches and a lovely harbor, Cefalu is one of Sicily’s most beautiful and most popular medieval fishing villages. The most impressive thing in Cefalu is the Lavatoio – a public laundry area that dates back to the 16th century in the Middle Ages. The laundry area was built where the Cefalino estuary empties into the sea. A special thing is that this river originates in the mountains next to Cefalu, flows underground, slips under the small houses in the village before emptying into the sea. Legend has it that this murmuring stream is the tears of the river goddess, who mourns her beloved husband day and night. From the main street, gracefully curving stairs lead down to the laundry area carved out of monolithic blocks with cool water designed to flow into 22 small faucets, of which 15 are designed in the shape of a dragon’s head which still well preserved to this day.

sicily tourism statistics

Until the 60s and 70s of the last century, Cefalu women loved to gather to do laundry here, especially in the hot summer days of the southern Mediterranean because they loved the cool water here due to underground flow through several kilometers before being exposed and flowing into the sea.

Located on the Mediterranean coast, Palermo – the capital of the island of Sicily, is famous for its fresh food and the enthusiasm, generosity, hospitality and kindness of the coastal people. Visitors can return to the past and riding around streets on unique horse-drawn carriages that will not be disappear even when the most modern vehicles appear. Most Palermo people are proud to talk about their homeland, a peaceful coastal city with bold classical European architecture.

sicily tourism statistics

And having come to Palermo, it is impossible to ignore its markets. All you need is to walk along the Vucciria market (Mercato della Vucciria) to experience local life. This is a place where locals and tourists come to buy fresh fruit, seafood and fresh cheeses with the enthusiastic, soulful sales style of the Mediterranean people.

sicily tourism statistics

Aeolian Islands

Aeonlian Islands is a must-go destination on the journey to Sicily, it is a volcanic archipelago of Sicily, Aeolian not only has pristine coastlines, volcanic black sand beaches, caves and cliffs, but also has a full range of amenities and tourist facilities such as mineral hotspring resorts, water sports, interesting relaxing fishing service.

sicily tourism statistics

Don’t miss the beautiful scenery in the town of Marzamemi which is one of the friendliest destinations for a summer vacation. If you want to relax, enjoy beautiful space, experience ancient Italian style, nice climate all year round and saving memories with your family, then Marzamemi is a good choice.

sicily tourism statistics

The town of Gangi was built on a small hill in central Sicily, about 80 kilometers to the southeast of Palermo, like a giant tortoise shell. About several years ago, very few people outside of Italy had heard of this village. Considered as one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, this 12th-century old town had a population of about 16,000 in the 1950s but today only 7,000 remain.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily Valley

Located next to a mountainside outside the city of Agrigento, the valley of Sicily possesses seven Greek temples, so it is called the valley of the temples. The Temple of Concordia, built in the 5th century BC, is the best preserved in the valley and is one of the largest and best preserved Doric temples still standing. Doric columns with 7 m high, 1.3 m in diameter. Other temples include the Temple of Juno, used for wedding ceremonies, and the Temple of Heracles, the oldest temple in the area.

sicily tourism statistics

Town of Piazza Armerina

The people of Piazza Armerina speak a different language than in other parts of Sicily. Here, visitors have the opportunity to visit beautiful Gothic works and buildings, especially the Villa Romana del Casale, a palace built in ancient Roman times in the middle of the 4th Century AD with the extraordinary mosaics decoration.

sicily tourism statistics

This town located in the southeast of Sicily is known as the “town of Baroque culture”. The Baroque structures in Val di Noto were remodeled in 1693 after a terrible earthquake and were recognized by UNESCO in 2002. The best time to visit Val di Noto is spring, when there are many festivals are held.

In Greek mythology, Etna is the place where Zeus imprisoned the monster Typhon, ending the war that is considered the most terrible in the history of Greek mythology. Currently, Etna is one of the most active and powerful volcanoes in the world, each time the volcano erupts Italians often joke that it is the wrath of the monster Typhon to escape the captivity of Zeus. Etna is also considered a symbol of Sicily, if you are a person who likes challenges and adventure travel, you cannot miss the opportunity to witness firsthand this great volcano.

sicily tourism statistics

Taormina is an extremely famous mountain town in Sicily. From Taormina you can see ravishing pebble beaches below, the beautiful Isola Bella island as its name suggests, the old streets for walking and shopping.

sicily tourism statistics

You can get to Taormina by bus and if you want to go down to the pebble beaches at the foot of the mountain, you can choose the bus or cable car, in the peak seasons you can go early to get a seat or access to the private beaches of restaurants. Entrance fees will be charged per person.

In addition to beautiful beaches, Taormina is also famous for its Greek theater, this is a theater built by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. You can also take a walk in the old town of Corso Umberto – a shopping and culinary paradise to explore every corner of Taormina.

sicily tourism statistics

The port city and economic center in Eastern Sicily. Although not as famous as the capital of Palermo, Catania is a city worth visiting due to its location right at the foot of Mount Etna – Europe’s largest active volcano. Due to its proximity to the volcano, the structures, buildings and houses here are built mainly of lava rock, creating a slightly sad gray color for the whole city.

sicily tourism statistics

Tourist activities of the city are concentrated along the Via Etnea avenue, where you can visit the Cathedral and Badia of Sant’Agata, the Central Square, the University of Catania – one of the oldest universities in the world, shopping street, fruit market, fish market and Ursino fortress. Just walk along the avenue and turn sideways and turn along the directions of the map. Catania is quite small, so it only takes one afternoon to visit its center. From afar, do not forget to watch the Etna volcano, which is still growling day and night to release smoke into the sky.

sicily tourism statistics

This is a small city on the Ionian coast, not as famous as Taormina but as beautiful as a gentle wave of the sea. Acireale has a very small and lovely Central square, not to mention the small and narrow alleys that go forever without seeing an end. Far away is the pale blue sea. We kept walking along small alleys to find that color of blue sea, but we forgot about our tired feet. In the past, Acireale used to be quite crowded with tourists, but due to the economic downturn, today the city is gradually deserted. I listened to uncle Grazia’s story and I saw that faint blue color become sadder.

sicily tourism statistics

The city is named for both its culture and architecture, so the beauty of Noto is truly overwhelming. The Baroque architectural style is famous for its sharp shapes, high contrast of colors and delicate curves of sculpture. In Noto, those elements are pushed to an astonishing level of sophistication and exquisition. I have visited many Baroque buildings in Vatican, Naples but Noto really is the most elegant. The cathedral here is not grandiose and the streets here are also small, but it is the honey yellow color of the stone that makes Noto really unique. We originally planned to go to Siracusa, the city where the famous Malena movie was set, but uncle Santi said Noto was equally beautiful without being touristized. Indeed, when traveling far, you have to ask the locals to know the real good places.

sicily tourism statistics

Ragusa Ibla

The last city before parting with Sicily and also the city with the most memories for me. Since I lived for 8 months in Ragusa Ibla, this is really my second home. Ragusa is also close to the southernmost point of the island, traveling so far away to meet my Italian friends when I was a student. I was really surrounded by the kind people of Sicily and taught me many things. Ragusa Ibla rose to prominence a few years back as the setting of an Italian TV series. From an average tourist city, it has become a trending destination for Italians. The city is located on a mountain, so just go from the lowest point to the highest peak to enjoy the beauty of the romantic mountain town.

sicily tourism statistics

Diving in Lampedusa

Lampedusa is voted by many travel sites as the most beautiful coast in Europe with a long coastline, many beautiful beaches with clear and blue sea water. This is also a very suitable spot for those who love diving and watching coral. In addition, you can also witness turtles come ashore to lay eggs in the evenings of early September, this must be an extremely interesting experience.

sicily tourism statistics

Whisper your secrets at the Ear of Dionysius cave

Even if you talk in a whisper in the Ear of Dionysius cave, be careful because any of your secrets can be exposed whether those around you are near or far away.

sicily tourism statistics

The Ear of Dionysius man-made rock cave located in the city of Syracuse (southern Sicily), has been designed so that even the slightest whisper is clearly amplified. Legend has it that this cave was created by Dionysius I – the famous abuser of Syracuse to eavesdrop on the whispers of prisoners locked inside.

Rafting and trekking in Gole Alcantara

Gole Alcantara is a botanical and geological park 40 minutes by car from the town of Taormina, Sicily. This park is an interesting destination for locals and tourists instead of crowded beaches, everyone enjoys spectacular gorges, towering cliffs with strange structures, even water can freeze even in summer time. In addition to activities such as rafting, group boating, water parks, etc. Adventurers can also try challenging adventure sports such as mountain climbing, canyoning, etc.

sicily tourism statistics

Tasting Sicilian fine wine

This beautiful island with a typical Mediterranean climate, fertile soil is very suitable for growing grapes, and this is the region with the oldest winemaking tradition in Italy with famous wines such as DOCG, DOC, white wine Moscato di Noto and other famous red wines.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: What to eat?

Sicily has many dishes using local products such as cheese, olive oil, tomatoes, especially the seafood here is very fresh and quite cheap. If you have time, you should visit the local markets as well as tasting specialties here with full of fresh vegetables and local produce such as Vucciria Market in Palermo or La Pescheria fish market in Catania.

Due to influenced by Arab cuisine, Sicily is flooding with pastries. First, you must try Arancina (Arancini), rice balls that are stuffed with, cheese and tomato sauce then coated with bread crumbs and deep fried. Next is Cannolo (Cannoli), an extremely seductive cream-filled pastry consisting fried pastry dough, stuffed with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta. It has crispy crust with sweet ricotta cream, soft at every bite. Don’t forget to try the almond milk from the province of Agrigento as well. In Catania, don’t forget to try grilled horse meat.

sicily tourism statistics

Smorgasbord is the popular type of serving here with many delightful mixing dishes which are influenced by Arabic, Greek, French, Spanish and North African with an Italian twist, giving it a speacial flavor and style that you should try!

sicily tourism statistics

Sarde a beccafico – The famous Sicilian stuffed sardines here.

sicily tourism statistics

The restaurant we dined in in Catania was Trattoria Da Zia Tanina (Address: Via Plebiscito, 428, 95122 Catania CT, Italy/Hours: 12–3:30PM, 7PM–12AM; Monday: 7PM–12AM) , which specializes in horse meat dishes. There is another restaurant specializing in Sicilian cuisine called Giaca Ristorante Pizzeria (Address: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 245, 95029 Viagrande CT, Italy/Hours: 6PM–1AM; Wednesday:Closed) , in the town of Viagrande near Catania. Here we tried pizza and pasta for dinner. If you spend the night in Ragusa Ibla, you can dine at U Saracinu and Da Nito Titos , two popular restaurants in the region.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel blog: What to buy?

Definitely the world famous Marsala red wine. In addition, Caltagirone ceramics is also the pride of this dangerous land.

sicily tourism statistics

Sicily travel guide: How should I combine my Sicily travel itinerary?

Normally, tourists after finish their journeys to exploring famous destinations in the North of Italy such as Rome, Venice, Florence and then they will going to the South or making another trip to return Italy for the second time and want to explore more deeply the beauty of the boot-shaped country.

sicily tourism statistics

Because the island of Sicily is quite large and possesses so many tourists attractions as introduced above, so it will take at least a week or two week to explore all famous places here. For those of you who just want to explore the most famous places, there are two itinerary you can refer to as follows:

Explore the western part of the island:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Palermo – Visit the capital city of Palermo
  • Day 2: Traveling to Cefalù, a beautiful seaside city near Palermo
  • Day 3: Traveling to Erice, a lovely little city and then return to Palermo, ending the trip.

Explore the eastern part of the Island

  • Day 1: Arrive in Catania – Visit the port city of Catania
  • Day 2: Traveling to Taormina – the most beautiful tourist city in Sicily – Traveling to Acireale – a lovely small city and back to Catania.
  • Day 3: Traveling to Noto – A city that representing a school of architecture – Traveling to Ragusa Ibla, the emerging tourist city in Siclia – Return to Catania.

sicily tourism statistics

The East and West of Sicily has significant differences in landscape, culture and architecture, so choosing only one of the two is definitely not enough to fully understand this beautiful island. However, due to limited time, I chose the Eastern itinerary, also known as the Val di Noto journey to explore Sicily.

Sicily travel guide: Where to stay?

Check out top ratings and best accommodation, hotels, apartments on Agoda , Booking or Airbnb.

sicily tourism statistics

Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Sicily you can refer to

  • Catania: Mount Etna Day Trip with Tasting and Cave Trip
  • Etna: Summit Craters Trekking
  • Lipari and Vulcano: Day Trip from Milazzo
  • Mount Etna Summit and Crater Trek
  • From Tropea: Day Tour to the Aeolian Islands
  • Palermo 3-Hour Street Food and History Walking Tour
  • Catania: Mount Etna Sunset Jeep Tour
  • Syracuse and Noto Day Tour from Taormina

sicily tourism statistics

Are you looking for more top things to do in Sicily: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here . And Italy travel guide here .

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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tourism Review

Respected Voice of Tourism

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SICILY REPORTS POSITIVE TOURISM NUMBERS

Despite the crisis, the data on tourism in Sicily over the last two years show a firm upturn. In 2014 it was registered almost 15 million visitors (+6.1%) and 4.5 million arrivals (+8.8% compared to 2013).

According to Unioncamere Sicilia, the association of Sicilian chambers of commerce, the amount of international tourists is quite balanced on the island, as 47.8% of visitors come from abroad and 52.2% are Italians, who are now more willing to discover the beauties of their own country. 2014 saw 11% increase of domestic arrivals. According to the national institute of statistics (ISTAT), Italians spend on average 2.94 days in Sicily and foreigners 3.57 days. The average is 3.24 days.

According to the data, most tourists come to Sicily between April and October. Such findings clearly show the current difficulties of the local tourism authorities to attract off-season tourism to the island. Experts point out that Sicily needs to go beyond the concept of sun and beaches and promote the island as a cultural and active destination throughout the entire year.

"The findings are certainly not a surprise," said Carmelo Indelicato, CEO and co-founder of Sicilying, local tour operator. "After all, this is exactly the main obstacle tour operators face here."

According to Eurostat data, 10 to 20 million hotel rooms were booked in Sicily by both residents and visitors in 2015. Further data are provided by the researchers of Digital Innovation from the Polytechnic University of Milan stating that in 2015 about 51 billion Euro were spent on online reservations in Italy, which is more or less the same amount spent on traditional off-line booking.

The researchers stated that the Italian digital tourist is particularly active on the Internet in all the stages of their vacation. 88% of Italians search information online before their holiday and 82% book or buy online their accommodation, transport, or leisure-time activities. During their holiday, 44% of tourists buy online various extra-activities and 86% use apps to support their experience at the destination. 61% tourists are then digitally active when they come home from the holiday. 

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UN Tourism | Bringing the world closer

145 key tourism statistics

Tourism Statistics Database

  • 145 Key Tourism Statistics
  • Economic Contribution and the SDGs

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145 key tourism statistics

Data are collected from countries by UN Tourism through a series of yearly questionnaires that are in line with the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (IRTS 2008 )  standard led by UN Tourism and approved by the United Nations.

The latest update took place in 24 November 2023.

Access the data by clicking on the sections below:

Inbound Tourism

Arrivals (in thousands) 2022 or latest available year

Total Arrivals in country over time Please select a country on the map above to display data below

Arrivals in country by region of origin *

Arrivals in country by Transportation Mode

Arrivals in country by Main Purpose of trip

Accommodation

Accommodation: Guests and Overnights Please select series on top 2022 or latest available year

Total Guests in country

Total Overnight stays in country

Inbound Expenditure

Inbound Expenditure (in million USD) 2022 or latest available year

Total Inbound Expenditure in country

Inbound Expenditure in country by type of expenditure

Total arrivals

Total arrivals

Total international arrivals. Data disaggregated by: Overnight, Same-day (of which, cruise passengers)

Expenditure

UNWTO Inbound - Expenditure Data

Total inbound tourism expenditure, disaggregated by: Travel, Passenger Transport

Total arrivals by region

Arrivals by region

Total international arrivals, disaggregated by region of origin. Regions include: Africa, Americas, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Middle East, South Asia

Total arrivals by Main Purpose

Arrivals by Main Purpose

Total international arrivals, disaggregated by Main Purpose of the trip. Main Purpose categories include: Personal (holiday and vacation, other personal), Business and professional

Total arrivals by Mode of Transport

Arrivals by Mode of Transport

Total international arrivals, disaggregated by Mode of Transport of the trip. Modes of Transport include: Air, Water, Land (railway, road, other)

Accommodation: Guests and Overnights

Accommodation

Total number of Guests and Nights spent in accommodation establishments. Data disaggregated by: All establishments, Hotels and similar establishments.

Domestic Tourism

Domestic Trips (in thousands) 2022 or latest available year

Domestic Trips over time: Select Country on top

Domestic Trips vs International Arrivals: Select Type of Trip / Arrival on top

Domestic Tourism in Accommodation 2022 or latest available year

Domestic Tourism in Accommodation over time:

Variable displayed: Overnights Select Country on top

Variable displayed: Guests Select Country on top

Domestic vs Inbound Tourism in Accommodation

Overnights in Hotels and similar Select Country on top

Overnights in All Establishments Select Country on top

Guests in Hotels and similar Select Country on top

Guests in All establishments Select Country on top

Total trips

Total trips

Total domestic tourism trips, disaggregated by: Overnight, Same-day

Accommodation

Total number of Guests and Nights spent in accommodation establishments by domestic tourists. Data disaggregated by: All establishments, Hotels and similar establishments

Outbound Tourism

Departures (in thousands) 2022 or latest available year

Departures over time

  • Overnights Visitors (tourists)
  • Same-Day Visitors (excursionists)
  • Total (Tourists + Excursionists)

Outbound Expenditure

Tourism outbound expenditure (in million USD) 2022 or latest available year

Oubound expenditure over time Select a Country on top

Outbound expenditure by type of expenditure Select Country on top

Total Inbound vs Outbound Tourism Expenditure Select Country on top

Total departures

Total international departures. Data disaggregated by: Overnight, Same-day

Total outbound tourism expenditure, disaggregated by: Travel, Passenger Transport

Tourism Industries

2022 or latest available year

Total number of Bed-places Select Country on top

Total number of Hotels and similar establishments Select Country on top

Total number of Rooms in Hotels and similar Select Country on top

Occupation rate by bed-places and rooms Select Country on top

Average length of stay in hotels and similar Select Country on the top

Accommodation in hotels and similar establihsments

Accommodation in hotels and similar establihsments

Non-monetary data related to accommodation activities. Indicators include: total number of establishments, total number of rooms, total number of bed-places.

Other indicators

Other indicators

Other relevant indicators related to performance of tourism industries. Indicators include: Occupancy rate (rooms, bed-places), Average length of stay, Available capacity

Total employees in tourism industries 2022 or latest available year Totals may include different industries depending on the reporting country

Total employees by tourism industries Dark red line indicates reported total Select Country on the top to display data

Number employees by tourism industry

Number employees by tourism industry

Total number of employees, disaggregated by tourism industry. Tourism industries include: Accommodation, Food and Beverage, Passenger transportation, Travel Agencies and reservation services, Other

Macroeconomic Indicators

Based on additional data collected from several international sources, a number of macroeconomic indicators are compiled:

Detailed information on the metadata, country notes and methodologies used in the compilation of these data can be found in the Methodological Notes .

Publications on tourism statistics

UN Tourism´s flagship annual publications in the field of tourism statistics are the Compendium of Tourism Statistics and the Yearbook of Tourism Statistics . They contain the main data and indicators compiled by UN Tourism in e-book format (PDF).

Compendium of Tourism Statistics

The Compendium provides statistical data and indicators on inbound, outbound and domestic tourism, as well as on the number and types of tourism industries, the number of employees by tourism industries, and macroeconomic indicators related to international tourism.

Please click here to see the Index of indicators and basic data that form the Compendium. 

The 2023 edition presents data for 194 countries from 2017 to 2021, with methodological notes in English, French and Spanish.

Yearbook of Tourism Statistics

Understanding, for each country, where its inbound tourism is generated is essential for analyzing international tourism flows and devising marketing strategies, such as those related to the positioning of national markets abroad. The Yearbook focuses on data related to inbound tourism (total arrivals and overnight stays), broken down by country of origin.

The 2023 edition presents data for 187 countries from 2017 to 2021, with methodological notes in English, French and Spanish.

The 2023 editions of the Compendium of Tourism Statistics and the Yearbook of Tourism Statistics were the last editions of these eBooks publications. From now on the same information and future updates will continue to be available in downloadable digital form through the  eLibrary  and on this webpage.

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Is Sicily Safe? An Honest Look at Safety in Sicily

People never seem to question whether or not visiting Italy is safe. Italy is one of those quintessential European travel destinations that millions flock to each year to ride a gondola, visit the Vatican and drink Prosecco as the sun sets. Brits and Americans alike dream of living la dolce vita in Tuscany, more concerned about how many evening dresses to pack in their suitcase than whether they will become victim of a crime. Mention Sicily however, and that attitude quickly disappears.  ‘Is Sicily safe to travel to? Isn’t that where the Mafia are from?’ people say, as if visiting Sicily will result in them being gunned down in broad daylight by Michael Corleone himself.     It is easy to get carried away with our assumptions about places we know little about, especially when those places don’t come across too well in the movie industry .  However, I am of the firm belief that most places are not half as dangerous as people would have us believe.  After spending more than six months in Palermo , Sicily’s capital, as well as travelling extensively around the island on various trips, I feel as though I am in a position to weigh in on whether Sicily is dangerous, whether you should be wary of visiting Sicily as a solo female traveller, and what the biggest threats to your safety are in Sicily.  So, is Sicily safe? Let’s find out!

Messina, is sicily safe

Table of Contents

Is Sicily Safe? All You Need to Know About Safety in Sicily

Is sicily safe the facts.

Numbers don’t lie, and so I want to kick things off by taking a look at the statistics.  First off, you are 27 times more likely to be murdered in the United States than you are in Sicily, and 4 times as likely to be raped ( source ). Research conducted by the ISTAT (Italian National Institute of Statistics) found that among the 12 largest cities in Italy, Palermo had the lowest overall crime rate. It may surprise you to know that Milan is the most dangerous province in all of Italy, followed by Rimini, Florence, Bologna and Turin. In fact, Sicily doesn’t even make the top 10 list for most types of crime aside from car theft, with Catania and Palermo being at numbers 3 and 10.

Messina. is sicily safe

Is Palermo safe?

If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, you’re probably wondering – is Palermo safe? The gritty capital of Sicily has a bit of a bad reputation, and many people believe that Palermo is a dangerous place, but I’m here to tell you that this is simply not true! Yes, you will find crumbling buildings and graffiti but graffiti does not equal danger. The biggest threats to your safety in Palermo are not actual safety issues at all, but ones of petty crime. While Palermo has lower petty crime rates than most of Italy, as with anywhere, random opportunists can strike.

Tips for staying safe in Palermo

  • Avoid the area around (and behind) the train station late at night. Here you will find the red light district and kerb crawlers, as well as some ‘undesirables’ hanging around (and no, I’m not talking about women here).
  • If you are staying in Ballaro, try to avoid walking there alone at night, especially if you are a woman, and avoid dark alleyways. You should be fine walking in pairs.
  • The highest risk of pickpocketing comes from visiting Ballaro market during the daytime, and the La Vucciria market area at night . Ballaro market is very crowded and it can be easy for opportunists to sneak a hand inside your bag, and La Vucciria is a popular nightlife spot that is often targeted by pickpockets. Never keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket!
  • Never keep your passport on your person.
  • Compared to Catania, Palermo does not have a huge problem with car theft, but if you are parking in the area near the train station, always tip the man who guides you to your parking spot. This area is (allegedly) controlled by the Nigerian mafia, and so you may return to find your car gone if you don’t tip!
  • Watch out for crazy drivers and be sure to look both ways when crossing the street, even if the green man is showing!

Is Catania safe?

Catania is Sicily’s second city, and many people also wonder – is Catania safe? As with Palermo, the truth is that Catania is very safe, especially for tourists. The biggest safety issues in Catania are car theft and pickpocketing. In fact, Catania is the third worst city in Italy for auto theft.

Tips for staying safe in Catania

  • Don’t flaunt your valuables and always keep a tight hold of your bag. As always, don’t keep your phone and wallet in your pockets.
  • Take out car insurance, and always tip the men who guide you to parking spots. Failing to pay them may result in your car being stolen as this service is a criminally organised one.
  • Don’t walk alone down dark alleyways and try and stay in the tourist centre at night.
  • Again, watch out for crazy drivers and be sure to look both ways when crossing the street, even if the green man is showing!

Scala dei Turchi Sicily

Is the Mafia a threat in Sicily?

The Mafia, or Cosa Nostra , are the most infamous organised crime group in the world, immortalised in The Godfather and never far from the minds of curious tourists.  However, Sicilian gangsters aren’t waiting down dark alleyways to do you harm. Like most organised criminals, the Mafia care about politics, power and money , not about harming random tourists.  Is the Sicilian Mafia alive and well? Yes, absolutely, but they are behind the scenes influencing the higher-ups. If you did encounter a Mafioso, you wouldn’t know it.  It may also interest you that ISIS themselves have said that they wouldn’t carry out any terrorist attacks in Southern Italy because the only thing they fear is the Mafia – true story! As for ‘ the M word ,’ don’t stress.  You are allowed to say the word ‘Mafia’ in Sicily, and you are allowed to ask questions about it (as long as you are sensitive and respectful). However, if somebody does not want to talk about it then you shouldn’t push the subject – many Sicilians have suffered huge trauma as a result of the Mafia and may not want to relive their most painful memories.  In that same vein, don’t laugh and joke about the Mafia. Marco Romeo of Streaty Food Tours likens joking about the Mafia in Sicily to joking about the Holocaust in Germany. While it may be just an edgy joke to you, many lives were lost to the Mafia and it isn’t cool to make light of that.

Scams in Sicily

Because of Sicily’s relative lack of tourism compared to other parts of Italy, Sicilians haven’t really caught onto tourist scams yet.  They may be notorious for giving back the wrong change, but that’s less of a scam and more a part of Sicilian culture – they do it to each other too!  As with anywhere in the world, taxi drivers can overcharge foreigners. I tend not to use taxis a lot when I travel, but if you do then always try to find a reputable taxi company online and agree on a price first. Never take a taxi that is waiting at the airport or train station.  Another thing to note is that if you sit at a table in a coffee shop or café, you may find an additional €1-2 per person tacked onto your bill. This isn’t a scam and it isn’t something that only tourists experience. It is called a coperto and is a kind of ‘table service fee’ popular across the whole of Italy. The coperto is the reason why you will usually see Italians standing at the bar to drink their espresso.

taormina, is sicily dangerous

Petty crime in Sicily

Like anywhere, Sicily has some opportunist criminals that will indulge in a spot of pickpocketing if they get the chance. Their number is very small, and you are far less likely to become a victim of petty crime in Sicily than most other parts of Italy, and even the rest of Europe!  Easy ways to avoid being pickpocketed in Sicily include carrying a zip bag and using your front rather than your back pockets. Leave your card at home and just take out the cash that you plan on spending if you are extra concerned. Other ways to avoid being targeted are walking with purpose (and making sure you at least look like you know where you’re going!), maintaining eye contact, dressing like you would at home (put the khaki pants away please!) and speaking confidently.  In other words, don’t walk around with a sign on your head saying ‘I’m a tourist!’ For the most part though, Sicily is safe when it comes to petty crime is not something you need to worry about. Exercise the same amount of caution that you would at home and you’ll likely be fine.  And remember – you are much more likely to be pickpocketed in Rome or Milan than you are in Sicily.

Ragusa Sicily

Solo female travel in Sicily

There is definitely a stereotype when it comes to Italian men, and unfortunately that stereotype is often well-deserved. I have had more problems with street harassment in Italy than any other country , to the point where I have been followed three times while walking home alone at night (once in Tuscany and twice in Naples). My friend and I also had a close call in Trento, with a group of young guys trying to get us down a secluded alleyway in the early hours.  All of the above experiences were downright terrifying, and I don’t say that lightly. However, after spending six months in Sicily, I haven’t experienced anything worse than ‘ ciao bella ,’ which is annoying for sure but not scary.  Sicilian men are incredibly persistent, but a firm ‘no’ will usually do the trick. Again, you are probably far more likely to become a victim of a sex crime in your home country than you are in Italy, and Italy has a lower per capita rate of rape than most of the advanced Western countries in the European Union. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – solo female travel is not as scary as you think.

is sicily safe, italian man

Driving in Sicily

When asking yourself ‘is Sicily safe?’ you are probably concerned about criminal activity.  However, by far the most dangerous thing for tourists in Sicily is Sicilian drivers.  Italians generally have a reputation for being crazy drivers, and Sicilian drivers are off the scale. Sicilian drivers, especially those in the capital of Palermo, are aggressive, erratic and, as my boyfriend so eloquently puts it, ‘f*cking nuts.’  Traffic laws are more of a casual suggestion than anything in Sicily.  Whether it’s driving the wrong way down a one-way street, totally ignoring traffic signs, parking wherever the hell you like, or even driving on the pavement to sail by a traffic jam, Sicilians will do it. Drinking and driving is common, as is texting while driving, driving into oncoming traffic and there is also a complete disregard for right of way. Don’t be surprised if you are walking across a pedestrian crossing (with the green man signalling that you can go!), and a car speeds past, so close that your toes are almost taken off, honking loudly at you for being in his way.  If you want to rent a car in Sicily yourself (the best way to see the island), driving becomes much easier once you get out of the big cities, but you should be aware that the roads aren’t always in the best condition and you should trust Google Maps at your peril!

driving in italy

Hostels in Sicily

If you’re a backpacker like me then you may be wondering whether hostels in Sicily are safe, especially as a solo female traveller. All I can tell you is yes, yes and YES. Hostels in Sicily are no more or less dangerous than hostels anywhere else I’ve been. I’ve stayed in several and all of them had great security systems, personal lockers and helpful staff. In fact, one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever been to was in Sicily, in San Vito Lo Capo!

The Best Hostels in Sicily

In Palermo, I recommend Balarm Hostel . I’ve stayed there twice and while it’s basic, it is definitely the best option in Palermo as far as hostels are concerned. Balarm Hostel has a great security system (you have to be buzzed in by a member of staff or know the combination code), the dorm rooms are operated by key card, and each locker has an electric combination lock on it. The location is also great, it’s pretty social and they have a great free breakfast.

In Catania I stayed in Ostello degli Elefanti and I can highly recommend it. The rooms are beautiful, with gorgeous ornate floor tiles and ceilings, and the staff are super helpful. There is also a rooftop bar with excellent views over the centre of Catania, and the location could not be better.

Another highly recommended hostel in Catania is The Yard Hostel. I haven’t personally stayed here, but the reviews are fantastic, and I’ll definitely be checking this place out when I return to Catania. The Yard has a free breakfast (with freshly baked pies and fried eggs!), super cool common areas and a really great looking bar. I’m getting FOMO just looking at the pictures!

In San Vito Lo Capo, I stayed at Timbuktu Hostel and I loved it. Timbuktu is the first and ONLY hostel in San Vito Lo Capo, and while most people only visit San Vito as part of a day trip from Palermo, I recommend staying for a couple of nights just to experience this hostel! Timbuktu is an eco-friendly hostel with solar panels, a citrus garden, recycled wood and environmentally friendly cleaning products. The hostel itself and the gardens are BEAUTIFUL, and when I was there, there was always a homemade fruit cake or some sundried tomatoes lying around waiting to be munched on. There’s even a rock climbing wall!! The free breakfast was one of the best hostel breakfasts I’ve had, and the beds were insanely comfy – it’s definitely a hygge place . It’s on the expensive side for a hostel, but it’s definitely worth it IMO.

Things to know before visiting Sicily

Just like the rest of Italy, Sicily uses the EURO. Most places in Sicily accept card, but there are definitely a fair few places that do not, so always carry cash with you. UBER does not exist in Sicily and taxis can be very expensive. It is always best to agree a price beforehand (and most taxi companies communicate via WhatsApp).  If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, then I strongly recommend buying travel insurance . I NEVER travel without insurance, and I’ve seen too many others get landed with huge medical bills as a result of not having had insurance, that it’s something I’ll never neglect to buy. My recommendation for great travel insurance is World Nomads , and you can read my review of World Nomads here. Although parts of Italy can be very expensive, Sicily is not super pricey and Palermo is one of the cheapest cities in the whole of Italy! The weather in Sicily is nice all year round but the best time to visit Sicily is definitely spring/early summer or late September/the month of October . This way you still get to experience great weather but with less crowds and cheaper flights and accommodation. It should also be noted that many businesses in Italy close for the month of August!  Even if you speak Italian, you may struggle in Sicily. Sicilians have their very own language that is totally different from the Italian that you may know. While most young people in the cities speak in Italian, a lot of Sicilian dialect tends to mix in with it, and if you intend to go to any of the markets to sample Sicilian street food, the vendors will all be speaking in Sicilian. If taking the bus, buy your ticket beforehand. City bus tickets are purchased from tobacco shops. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is.  You can travel around Sicily (and get there from mainland Italy) by bus. My go-to bus travel in Europe is always FlixBus . Flixbus is the most extensive bus network worldwide and all Flix buses have Wi-Fi, extra legroom, charging ports and the ability to modify your booking just 15 minutes before departure! Click here to book your Flixbus to Sicily. To see train times in Sicily, I recommend using Trainline . Most restaurants only open for dinner between 7:30 and 8:00pm so make sure to factor that into your dinner plans.  If you think people are arguing, don’t worry. That’s just how Sicilians talk to each other. And if they are arguing? They’ll be hugging before you know it.

Is Sicily safe? Final thoughts

So what do you think? Is Sicily safe to travel to? Just like anywhere, Sicily has its share of crime. However, its reputation as a lawless, Mafia-ridden island is totally undeserved, and actually Sicily is probably far safer than wherever you are travelling from!  As long as you don’t throw your common sense out of the window, you should be absolutely fine in Sicily, and the only real thing you need to fear is falling so hopelessly in love with this island that you never want to leave!

And now, I want to know what YOU think! Did I help ease your worries about visiting Sicily? Let me know in the comments below! Xoxo

If you liked this article and would like to support my work, please click the button above to donate a couple of bucks and buy me a coffee. The ad revenue that I receive on this website is minimal, so support from my readers enables me to keep creating content that you (hopefully!) love to read.

Is Sicily Safe? The Truth About Safety in Sicily. In this post, I look at all elements of safety in Sicily, including petty crime, scams, solo female travel in Sicily, the Mafia and driving in Sicily! #sicily #sicilyitaly

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26 thoughts on “is sicily safe an honest look at safety in sicily”.

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Having lived here for a year, I completely agree. A very well written and researched article.

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I’m a Sicilian, and I happily disagree with the thing you said about the subject “Talking about the Mafia is comparable to talking about the holocaust in Germany” All do Mafia is not a thing we are proud of, and some important people that fought the Mafia we consider heroes died, we always joke about Mafia in a disrespectful way. Just dont bring it up on a discussion with a stranger, he would think you are a weirdo by having fun of it as a non-native Sicilian

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See, that would have been my assumption! The person who told me was actually a Sicilian tour guide, and he has written the same thing on his blog as well (on the Streaty tours website), so I figured he was speaking for the masses! That’s super interesting to know though, thanks.

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What was your tour guides name? I like to be with locals and get to know them when traveling. I will probably try Air B&B. Tank you for the excellent info

Marco from Streaty Food Tours!

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Loved your blog. I’m planning a trip with my kids. Is Sicily safe for little kids? Also, we speak very little Italian, is that an issue?

Thanks so much! Sicily is definitely safe for little kids, as long as you take the same precautions you would anywhere. With regards to language, most of the tourist spots will be fine with little Italian!

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My Dads father was from Palermo and I was wondering what it was like there. You explained things clearly. Thank you

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My family is Italian, My mother’s Family “Tuzzolino” name in Catania so I’M told. My father came from Naples. Can’t wait to go. God bless Italy and America.From big Joe 😎

Oh I’m sure you’ll love it! Thanks so much!

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Was stationed at Sigonella in the late 80’s, we were told something akin to your ISIS comment about the communist backed terrorism commonplace throughout Europe back then. The mafia let it be known that American service members were not to be targeted on the island.

The flip side of that, and I was told this had happened once at my command, was that if a service member ran afoul of a ‘Family’, they would send a representative to discuss the matter, and the offending guy would have orders cut and be off the island within 72 hours! Wouldn’t touch ’em on base of course, but they would let it be known that their safety could not be guaranteed out in town! Could just be a cautionary tale, but it kinda makes sense.

That’s really interesting to know! Thank you!

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I have heard that in Sicily, there’s an island called Castiliane de Sichiliya, where foreigners could buy houses. Is this true?

I’m not sure, but foreigners can buy houses anywhere in Sicily!

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Can you tell me where you think the safest areas are to buy property in Sicily, as my wife and I are considering relocating there.

Grazie Millie

I’m not sure, probably some of the gorgeous hilltop towns!

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Re: “Numbers don’t lie” . . . well, they can be misleading sometimes, depending on how crimes are reported. A place with an inefficient (or corrupt) police force can have nice-looking official numbers. Rape is an especially tricky one to compare across countries, as the legal threshold for what constitutes rape isn’t the same everywhere. (Some countries also have more of a culture of denouncing sexual violence, while others are quicker to victim shame.)

But I would agree with your overall point that “most places are not half as dangerous as people would have us believe.” As a tourist, people may want your money, but that’s about it.

That is true, especially about rape and sexual assault. Thanks so much for your input 🙂

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Why in particular do you think women should not walk alone at night in Ballaro? I have a 1.5 month stay there coming up and I’m freaking out a little because this is the location of my accommodation and people are saying maybe I should move?

Because sometimes at night you will find local drug dealers hanging around on the streets and while you *should* be okay, I don’t want to give people a false sense of security. I would definitely try and avoid unlit streets and stick to the wider ‘main’ streets, and perhaps reach out to your accommodation host to ask for more specifics about the street you’re on and how safe it is!

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ITINERARIES

Travel tips and advice.

Abundance is the key word for understanding Sicily in its many facets: from one side of the island to the other, there are endless solutions for itineraries lasting a few hours, days or weeks.

In the western part, Palermo ‘s historical and architectural heritage is represented by the Cathedral and the Cappella Palatina, while archaeological triumph is celebrated in Agrigento ‘s Valley of the Temples and in Segesta. A treasure trove of antiquities that rank among the most beautiful in Italy can be found perched on Mount Erice , and the seaside villages such as Castellammare del Golfo and San Vito Lo Capo are home to an indescribable atmosphere. These places go straight to your heart at first glance.

In the eastern part, the lure of Etna is irresistible, between lava and snow. This leads you back to Catania , with a wealth of dynamic charm and a sparkling array of proposals for activities and nightlife.

The baroque of the southeast represents a great beauty among a thousand wonders and brings with it a nobility that starts from the soul.

Clear waters and pristine beaches are not far from urban jewels such as Syracuse , Taormina , Modica and Ragusa Ibla , home to a wealth of charm as well as ancient buildings and monuments.

And how could we not be seduced by literary Sicily , with the places dear to Camilleri and to the great Sicilian writers and poets that came before him? With Castles and sacred paths , food and wine tourism routes and those that lead to ancient rocky necropolises and naturalistic and cultural treasures enclosed and scattered within each of the nine provinces , ancient customs and new trends, Sicily is a single great itinerary, one that is extensive and engaging.

HIGH LIGHTS

sicily tourism statistics

Archaeological Sicily Outdoors Trekking and Outdoor UNESCO

LANDSCAPE AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK OF THE VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES

Have you ever dreamed about taking a walk back in time, among massive columns, perfectly preserved temples, flowering almond trees [...]

Outdoors Sea in Sicily Sicily and Cinema

Discovering the places of Montalbano TV series

Have you ever imagined walking side by side with Inspector Montalbano? In this route, we will stroll through the places [...]

Archaeological Sicily Art and Culture Handicraft Outdoors

ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARKS BETWEEN CATANIA AND TAORMINA

Not all the archaeological parks are surrounded by unspoilt nature and set kilometres away from the city centres. Some cities [...]

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  1. Tourist arrivals in Sicily by province Italy 2020

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  2. Development and importance of tourism for Italy

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  3. Best Time to Visit Sicily, Italy

    sicily tourism statistics

  4. La Sicilia turistica continua a funzionare: pernottamenti aumentati

    sicily tourism statistics

  5. Tourist overnight stays in Sicily by province 2020

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  6. Tourist arrivals by month Italy 2023

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COMMENTS

  1. Tourist arrivals in Sicily by province Italy 2022

    The number of tourist arrivals in the Italian region of Sicily rose significantly in 2022 over the previous year, following a sharp drop with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic....

  2. What can we learn from Sicily as they invest in tourism?

    "Tourism is worth 15% of the gross domestic product, and in some areas it even represents 40%", says tourism councillor Manlio Messina. 2020 will be remembered by tourism operators for many years. The lockdown involved all sectors of the Italian and Sicilian economies.

  3. Beyond the Numbers: Impact of Tourism on Sicilian Economy ...

    It is clear that we need more than just numbers and statistics to truly assess the impact of tourism on Sicily. We need high-quality research that will provide us with a critical analysis of...

  4. Sicily Number of arrivals, 1990-2023

    4,888,423 (number) in 2022 Sicily number of arrivals was at level of 4.89 million in 2022, up from 3.11 million previous year, this is a change of 57.01%. The description is composed by our digital data assistant. What is Sicily number of arrivals? See also Number of nights spent, Number of bedrooms, Number of bedplaces, Number of establishments

  5. PDF Sicily Reports Positive Tourism Numbers

    According to Unioncamere Sicilia, the association of Sicilian chambers of commerce, the amount of international tourists is quite balanced on the island, as 47.8% of visitors come from abroad and 52.2% are Italians, who are now more willing to discover the beauties of their own country. 2014 saw 11% increase of domestic arrivals.

  6. An Integrated Analysis of Sustainable Tourism in Sicily (Italy)

    In Sicily, the tourism trend has seen an increase in the last decades. Since 2016, tourism presence accounted for 11.262.440, and it registered a rise of 4.6% in 2017. Tourism in Sicily was affected by a consistent decrease due to the Covid-19 pandemic; this decrease accounted for 56% in 2020 compared with the previous year. ...

  7. (PDF) Research Note: Seasonality in Sicilian Tourism Demand

    Tourism Economics DOI: Authors: Serena Volo Free University of Bozen-Bolzano Abstract This paper addresses the need for an understanding of the evolution of international and domestic tourism...

  8. (PDF) Multi-Destination Trips and Tourism Statistics: Empirical

    Visits, overnight stays and average duration of visit by accommodation category, from 3,935 interviews to incoming tourists in Sicily, summer and autumn 2009, spring 2010

  9. Record numbers of tourists are arriving in Italy, study shows

    Tourism in Italy is booming, as the latest figures show another record year for the country with more than 420 million visitors in 2017. ... Statistically, growth has been stronger in the south, with the number of visitors to Sicily growing by 7.3 percent and Basilicata by 6.5% However, the south continues to make less money from tourism than ...

  10. A complex network analysis of inbound tourism in Sicily

    Davide Provenzano, Department of Economics, Business and Statistics (SEAS), University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze (Parco D'Orleans), Ed. 13, Palermo 90128, Italy. Email: [email protected] ... In this article, the complex dynamics of inbound tourism in Sicily is analyzed for the period 1998-2017. The horizontal visibility graph algorithm ...

  11. The official website of tourism in Sicily

    Families and Children. Sicily is the perfect place to spend a carefree and fun holiday with your family and children. Here you can travel and walk with children in total comfort and safety, discovering beautiful and unexpected natural settings. You can travel on foot, by bicycle or on the back of friendly donkeys.

  12. Italy

    According to accommodation statistics, the number of inbound visitors totalled 63.2 million up from 60.5 million, (growth of 4.4%). International overnight stays rose by 33.2% between 2011 and 2018.

  13. Sicily

    The island has 4.8 million inhabitants. Its capital city is Palermo. It is named after the Sicels, who inhabited the eastern part of the island during the Iron Age . Sicily is located in the central Mediterranean Sea, south of the Italian Peninsula in continental Europe; it is separated from Calabria by the Strait of Messina.

  14. The fullest Sicily tourist guide for first-timers

    Day 2: Traveling to Taormina - the most beautiful tourist city in Sicily - Traveling to Acireale - a lovely small city and back to Catania. Day 3: Traveling to Noto - A city that representing a school of architecture - Traveling to Ragusa Ibla, the emerging tourist city in Siclia - Return to Catania.

  15. PDF Analysis of Sicily's Tourism Industry and Destination Marketing

    della Regione Siciliana (Tourist Observatory), and a qualitative investigation in the form of a semi- structured interview with a marketing expert of the Regional Tourism Board of Sicily, in the offices of Palermo on 14th of May 2014. Mrs. Iannì was contacted via email in advance, and a meeting was set to discuss the matters.

  16. SICILY REPORTS POSITIVE TOURISM NUMBERS

    According to Unioncamere Sicilia, the association of Sicilian chambers of commerce, the amount of international tourists is quite balanced on the island, as 47.8% of visitors come from abroad and 52.2% are Italians, who are now more willing to discover the beauties of their own country. 2014 saw 11% increase of domestic arrivals.

  17. 145 key tourism statistics

    Data are collected from countries by UN Tourism through a series of yearly questionnaires that are in line with the International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics (IRTS 2008) standard led by UN Tourism and approved by the United Nations.. The latest update took place in 24 November 2023.

  18. Is Sicily Safe? An Honest Look at Safety in Sicily

    Is Palermo safe? If you're planning a trip to Sicily, you're probably wondering - is Palermo safe? The gritty capital of Sicily has a bit of a bad reputation, and many people believe that Palermo is a dangerous place, but I'm here to tell you that this is simply not true!

  19. Sito Ufficiale del Turismo in Sicilia

    How to reach Sicily; Tourist information; Brochure; Contact us; Safe Holidays; itinerario-hp 2022-06-16T11:16:05+02:00. ITINERARIES Travel tips and advice. Abundance is the key word for understanding Sicily in its many facets: from one side of the island to the other, there are endless solutions for itineraries lasting a few hours, days or weeks.