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On Friday 24 July, in San Quirico d’Orcia, at 11.30 a.m. Palazzo Chigi will host the press conference presenting the new platform dedicated to the five splendid municipalities of Val d’Orcia and their excellences. The presentation has been created by ETT Spa and Space Spa, in collaboration with PwC. In the afternoon, at 6pm in Piazza Pio II in Pienza, the presentation will also be extended to citizens and local stakeholders.
In Italy, tourism accounts for 5% of the GDP and 6% of the national workforce. The figures on the percentage impact of tourism on the Italian economy can even reach 12-13% (or EUR 223.2 billion) if we consider its indirect impact and the related revenue. Tourism is therefore a fundamental sector for our country, and over the years efforts have been made to make it as efficient and competitive as possible.
The Covid-19 emergency has profoundly affected the sector and requires everyone’s commitment and a very strong collective dedication to overcome the current impasse and support the economic fabric with particular reference to tourism businesses and, more in general, businesses that have been closed or have not yet reopened. Efforts must now focus on thinking ahead to ‘reconstruction’ and our tomorrow with an approach based on concreteness, positivity and confidence.
During the ‘lockdown‘ period, the sector was able to benefit from technologies and digitisation that made it possible to enjoy the beauty of the Belpaese. Digitisation, which has affected, and continues to affect, many professional and working sectors, is also increasingly affecting the tourism and cultural heritage sector. In this context, Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has joined the national Virtual Destination Italy project, co-funded by the Ministry of Economic Development’s Digital Agenda – Sustainable Industry call for tenders for the experimentation of a new innovative technological platform aimed at promoting the high quality cultural, food and wine and landscape tourism sector, realised by ETT Spa and Space Spa, in collaboration with PwC and with the support of Terre di Siena LAB, the technical entity in charge of coordinating the Regional Tourist Area Virtual Destination Italy retraces the places of the Grand Tour, the journey that the young people of the European nobility and bourgeoisie undertook to discover the beauty and heritage of our country.
The tourist becomes a traveller from the 17th – 18th – 19th centuries, under the guidance of avatars of prominent characters, scholars, artists of those times, and discovers the marvellous territories, traditions and excellences in the area with the aid of innovative and engaging technologies. The first pilot itinerary developed by the platform contains 12 thematic itineraries introducing the territory of the five Val D’Orcia municipalities (Castiglione d’Orcia, Montalcino, Pienza, Radicofani, San Quirico d’Orcia), which have joined together, embracing the project and its realisation to relaunch and promote the beauty of the area and its environmental, cultural and historical aspects.
A multilingual mobile app for smartphones and tablets, available on the iOS and Android platforms, combined with a dedicated website, will guide both Italian and foreign tourists through immersive content in virtual reality, augmented reality, panoramic photos, videos and suggestions for experiences and places to visit. In addition, each municipality offers tablets free of charge to those without their own suitable device and information material to better manage their visit routes. Each thematic route features numerous stages and is introduced by a video of a guide character who, with an exciting narrative, accompanies and introduces users to the content and multimedia experiences related to each point of interest, capturing their attention and whetting their curiosity.
The themes run transversally through all five municipalities of the Val d’Orcia and cover various aspects of the culture, history, landscape and specific features of the area: from visiting castles, forts and fortresses to discovering gardens, from walking in the footsteps of saints and hermits to oenology, from traditional arts and crafts to nature reserves, from spas and the unique features that testify to the volcanic nature of the valley to the works of great artists, from the architecture of ancient hospitality to film locations, from prestigious museums to anecdotes related to the various sites. It will not only allow visitors to plunge into the local history and landscape: the application, in fact, is designed to accommodate geo-referenced content on excellent agri-food production, catering, hospitality (with the possibility of booking the facilities directly through a dedicated booking system) and events, always approaching the various themes with an innovative slant and with the aid of the latest technologies. ‘The Italian territories have chosen to respond differently to the severe impact on the incoming visitor flow caused by the Covid-19 emergency. 
The five municipalities have also focused on new technological ways of discovering and enjoying the beauty and attractions that characterise the offering of Val d’Orcia, deciding to launch a clear and positive signal of recovery for the territory’s entire tourist and economic sector at this time of uncertainty. Even those who already know the beautiful area will have the opportunity to visit it in a totally different way and come into contact with places and history in an immersive and engaging experience. Our operators and our excellent producers are ready to welcome visitors with safety, professionalism and innovation as our key concerns,’ explains Claudio Galletti, leader of the Val d’Orcia Tourism Area and Mayor of Castiglione d’Orcia.
“The challenge of the future for the promotion of our territories is to propose experiences that can already be anticipated in the pre-visit phase, experienced fully on site, and even enjoyed and further enriched after the visit by the tourist. The technologies and current storytelling techniques applied by ETT, ” says Managing Director Giovanni Verreschi, ” make it possible to increase the traveller’s emotional response, by interacting with content and stories that engage them, secure their loyalty and provide them with further stimuli for subsequent visits. The user-friendliness of the mobile application on one’s smartphone or tablet and the variety of possible experiences for all ages are the innovative key to attracting and exciting tourists from all over the world’It is a well-known fact that the recovery of tourism is a driving force for the economy and the development of the territory, resulting in the growth of the activities related to the sector. PwC’s contribution, ‘ Mauro Panebianco, a PwC Partner, explains, ‘ is configured both in the development of the platform by assisting ETT in the realisation of the initiative and in grasping its evolutionary potential, with the aim, in particular, of defining a successful replicable and scalable model of involvement and use of the platform by as many stakeholders as possible in order to foster opportunities for the development of the economic spin-off.