CIT Tours has big news for 1998: Progetto Ritorno, Project Return,
a new program designed to help Italian-Americans visit Italy and
those areas from which their families emigrated.
CIT President April Merenda said she expects the response to
Project Return to be "huge."
"There are approximately 30 million people of Italian descent
living in the U.S. and only 10% have visited Italy, according to
the Italian Tourist Board," she said.
Project Return, said Merenda, represents CIT's return to its
The 71-year-old company, which is based in New York, was
originally created to establish offices in countries with a high
percentage of Italian immigrants, enabling them to easily return to
their homeland, Merenda said.
"Travel agents haven't tapped this market and the main reason is
they haven't had the tools to do so. They don't know, for example,
how to get a client from Rome to Reggio di Calabria in southern
Merenda said about two-thirds of the Italians who emigrated to
the U.S. are from the south of Italy so CIT is also focusing on
this part of the country, along with adding more city packages in
this region. There is a growing market for Sicily in particular,
The program will feature customized itineraries and pre- and
post-stays in every region of Italy geared to assisting
Italian-Americans in finding and visiting their ancestors' towns.
"Enrichment" programs such as cooking classes and Italian language
study tours will also be part of Project Return, she said. Full
details of the programs and pricing will be released with the
official launch of Project Return this spring.