This is THE True Puglia

12 July 2023
Written by
Sara Magro

In conversation with Founder Luigi De Santis

To discover a territory you must taste it, listen to it and above all, experience it. Starting from this notion, Luigi De Santis created True Puglia, an itinerary dedicated to promoting his region. The first appointment will take place in Salento from the 1st to the 4th October 2023, then in the Valle d’Itria and Matera until the 7th. During the week the best hoteliers and dmc’s of the area will take journalists and international travel agents to discover authentic Puglia.

Why do you think Puglia is so successful?
We must thank the ability of the local tourism industries to team up and bring a focus on the territory and on its culture, food and wine. We are among the first in Italy to talk about experiential travel, the current driving force of luxury tourism.

When was True Puglia born?
As a hotelier I have often participated in luxury travel fairs. Over the years I have built a network with other hoteliers and international travel agencies, and I became inspired about the complex organisation behind these events. In 2018 I founded Inventure Life and I collaborated in the organisation of Connections Meetings and Connections Weddings together with Micaela Giacobbe. It was a fundamental experience to understand the importance of bringing travel agents to the destination. In 2021 I told Alfredo de Liguori of Puglia Promozione about my concept to create ​ an event aimed at showcasing the beauty of our region and promoting its operators: hotels, resorts and palaces as well as the local agencies that are organise itineraries and experiences around the territory. I loved the idea and I began straight to work. In 2022 we launched the first edition of True Puglia and this year, from 1st to 4th October we are ready to launch the second, and immediately after, from 4th to 7th October, a following two editions in Valle d’Itria and Matera.

What is the mission?
True only promotes hotels and operators in a limited geographical area. Italy is a wonderful country, but there are too many different locations and therefore cannot be focused on such a large scale. Instead, we need to focus on micro-destinations. Such as, on this occasion, Puglia.

Who participates?
We include both the big names in hospitality that have contributed to creating Puglia, such as Borgo Egnazia, as well as 45 new luxury hotels and B&Bs including palaces, farms and historic homes. Also, around 70 buyers participate too; they have high-net-worth and high-spending customers and journalists, who are essential for giving visibility to the event.

How does True differ from other events dedicated to luxury tourism?
At True Puglia we have minimised one-to-one meetings between sellers and buyers, or between hoteliers and travel agents. Our mission is to bring the destination to life and we believe that in this way, natural relationships are created, which are also more effective from a commercial point of view. The buyers need to fall in love with the territory, introduce them to our culture, our traditions and our passionate hospitality. Thus they will be able to share with their customers the emotions of what they have truly experienced. For these reasons we favour convivial moments, such as lunches and talks.

What is your relationship with the environment, tradition and local population?
The event revolves around these pillars. The set-up and merchandising is made with recycled and eco-sustainable materials. In general, our events enhance local craftsmanship and involve local companies. These are the values ​​we support together with the Regione Puglia, who supports us and focuses on a sustainable luxury model.

Future projects?
The format is evolving, with events scheduled throughout the year to consolidate our community and our reputation with buyers. The Road To True starts at the beginning of March, which brings our sellers to meet over 60 buyers in Brazil. From 18th to 22nd March we will be partners of Duco with Osteria Puglia, a lunch pop up with typical cuisine, music and the guide of our collection of hoteliers and dmc. In April, we will launch True Sicilia in collaboration with Essence of Sicily. The format, similar to the Apulian one, consists of a central event with an initial discovery trip and a second for the buyers and journalists who participate. It starts from Taormina, in collaboration with Four Seasons and Belmond resorts, continues to Noto with the San Corrado hotels, 7rooms and Countryhouse Villadorata, and ends with an itinerary between Agrigento and Palermo, staying at the Verdura and Villa Igiea, both of the Rocco Forte group. Our goal is to communicate the most authentic destinations in Italy in a clear and memorable way. And who knows, one day we could expand the format to Europe as well.

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