Prior to 2006, Turin was largely regarded as an industrial city, rather than a holiday destination, but the 2006 Winter Games helped shed that image, enabling the city to become a new tourism and business hub by showcasing its rich history, culture and high-tech industry to the world.
Indeed, before 2006, the Michelin Guide rated Turin as “worth the detour”, while following the success of the Winter Games it was rated as “worth a trip on its own”.
Visitor numbers immediately reflected this new status, with an estimated increase of approximately 100,000 to 150,000 tourists in the year following the Games, according to Turismo Torino. Turin also became the fourth-most visited Italian city, after Rome, Florence and Venice.
This growth has been maintained year-on-year since the Games, with visitor numbers in the Piedmont region increasing from 3.3 million in 2006 to 4.3 million in 2012.
Thanks to the legacy of Turin’s Winter Games venues, the city has also been able to attract a growing number of major events to the city, including the World Fencing Championships, the Winter Universiade and the World Figure Skating Championships.
In the two years after the Games, for instance, the venues in Turin Olympic Park saw 187 events and 577,500 spectators use them for corporate, leisure and sports events, while over 55,000 people attended entertainment activities.
Turin has also become a major destination for business conferences, hosting 29 conventions in 2013 alone, which brought approximately 22,000 participants and generated around 66,000 overnight stays. The economic return of these events in 2013 was estimated to be between €19 and €32 million.
The growth of the tourism industry owes much to the infrastructural improvements that were made ahead of the 2006 Winter Games, including road and rail links, and the expansion of Turin’s airport.
The Olympic Villages that were built in the mountain resorts of Sestriere and Bardonecchia have also been converted for tourism use, with approximately 85,000 visitors accommodated in the Sestriere village during the 2012-13 winter season, as well as 12,000 during the summer of 2012.
Those involved in the 2006 Winter Games have little doubt about their positive impact on Turin.
"The Olympic Games give you the maximum international visibility that you can get," said Cesare Vaciago, who was chief executive of the Turin 2006 Organising Committee. "Not all Olympic Games change history, but some change the history of a country and others of a city.
"The Turin Games of 2006 changed the history of the city. It was a forgotten city, out of sight, that was losing trust in its capacity and professionalism. Now Turin has recovered trust in itself."