Destination Benchmarking: Sicily and Sardinia

Sicily and Sardinia are two magnificent Mediterranean gems. Both are highly popular leisure destinations for Italians and international visitors seeking paradisiacal beaches, delectable culinary offerings, and a rich cultural and historical heritage.

We have conducted a comparative analysis of these two destinations to identify their main tourism competencies as well as their similarities and differences.

The analysis of visitor satisfaction and perception on both islands, based on millions of comments shared on social media and review platforms, confirms high traveller satisfaction during the summer of 2022 in all aspects. International visitors perceive both islands as safe. Despite experiencing heatwaves last summer, both Sicily and Sardinia have exceptionally high levels of weather satisfaction. Regarding the hotel offerings, Sicily receives a slightly higher score, possibly due to the significantly higher accommodation costs in Sardinia during the peak season.

The main reasons to visit Sicily include activities related to art, culture, gastronomy, and family-friendly experiences. Meanwhile, in Sardinia, visitors primarily seek to enjoy the sea, beaches, active tourism, and local cuisine.

Both islands attract visitors from the same source markets, although it’s important to highlight that Sicily is more popular among American tourists while Sardinia attracts more British tourists. Additionally, Australian tourists show great interest in Sicily, ranking fifth among the top five international source markets, while Germans hold that position for Sardinia.

Air connectivity is of great importance for tourism, especially for island destinations. This summer, the total air capacity is slightly lower than in 2022, with a 1% and 5.8% decrease for Sicily and Sardinia, respectively. However, an increase in the number of international visitors is expected for the summer of 2023, as international air capacity has increased while domestic air capacity has decreased. Sardinia stands out with a 135% growth in connectivity with Spain, and France also shows improved connectivity with the island, with 27% more available seats.

On the other hand, in Sicily, growth is observed in the top 10 source markets, except for Italy and the Netherlands. The source markets with the highest growth rates are Malta (+42%), Greece (+20.4%), and France (+14.5%).

The accommodation costs for the summer of 2023 have increased in the 3, 4, and 5-star categories on both islands. However, hotel prices in Sardinia are significantly higher than in Sicily. On average, the prices for 3 and 4-star accommodations in Sicily are 27% and 40% lower than in Sardinia, respectively. The 5-star category is particularly noteworthy, with an average price of €703 per night room, which is 140% more expensive than in Sicily.

The analysis of Sicily and Sardinia as popular tourist destinations highlights the importance of implementing big data in the tourism industry. By leveraging data from social media, review platforms, and other sources, destinations and travel companies can gain valuable insights into visitor satisfaction, perception, market trends, and competitive analysis. By harnessing the power of data, destinations can make informed decisions, optimise their resources, and deliver exceptional experiences, ultimately attracting more visitors and fostering long-term success.