So what to do on New Year's Eve? A recurring and stressful question for many Italians in the weeks leading up to the end of the year, but for singles it can be even more nagging. Those who are in a couple or have a family are not likely to spend the evening of December 31 alone, while for singles the issue is different.
Many tour operators and platforms exploit this New Year's Fomo (Fear of missing out) – the fear of missing out on the much-repeated as well as heartfelt New Year's Eve event – by offering group trips designed for singles seeking companionship, fun and adventure. Or simply something to do as the year draws to a close.
The ads found on the Web advertising these offerings often have a winking tone and obviously leverage one of the many popular beliefs that those who do not have sex on the last night of the year will not do so for the entire following 12 months. A legend that has become a real fear, especially among younger people.
“They say a well begun is half done... So why not set out on a truly unforgettable New Year's Eve for singles!” That's what it says, for example, on Speedvacanze's webpage dedicated to advertising destinations for a “dream New Year's Eve for everyone» and with «lots of new single friends to meet”.
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If there was any doubt, someone is keen to point out who these trips are not for: “No couples, no families, no children”, reads the Travel Single website.
But it is appropriate for no one to get any ideas to the contrary as well: "It is only fair to point out that we are not a marriage agency. Our purpose is not to create couples," specifies Single in Vacanza. “Our trips are simply one more tool to meet new people while having fun and visiting new places”.
The strength of group travel for singles, according to Vamonos, is precisely to meet «new people in real life, away from social media» Word of Vamonauti, as those who travel with them are called.
The offerings are strangely - or deliberately ? - all similar, though varied. They range from a New Year's Eve in the snow of the Dolomites to the Egyptian Red Sea, from warm Fuerteventura to the city spa of Budapest. All the way to Miami, dubbed the “trendiest” city in the United States, or a luxury stay in the United Arab Emirates on a cruise. Many locations also in Italy including Tuscany, Rome and Milan, and packages for many types of pockets. The target audience for these platforms ranges from those in their twenties to the over-50s, but with the promise of creating groups that are divided by age group and as homogeneous as possible.
These examples testify to a fast-growing traveler-only market strong with a large demographic to convert to group vacations. In fact, according to the 2023 Censis report, as many as 33.1 percent of Italian families are made up of people who live alone, and in 20.9 percent of cases (5.3 million) these are singles, i.e. people who are not widowed, who live alone by choice or at any rate without a partner. And who has vacations to use.
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This large segment is also joined by those who are in a relationship but sometimes prefer to travel alone for convenience or temperament. It is likely to include some of the 25- to 35-year-olds interested in destinations less traveled by mass tourism who choose the Si Vola and We Road companies. The former under New Year offers trips to Guatemala, Jordan and Thailand, while the latter provides plenty of departures to exotic destinations including Cuba, Nepal and New Zealand. Destinations for adventurers who like a degree of organization.
Here in fact it is not forbidden to leave with a partner, or with a friend, but organizers assure that those who travel with them do so in most cases because they are interested in really getting to know new people. For everyone else perhaps the most important thing is to be able to answer the question “what are you doing on New Year's Eve?” with a confident “I'm going to Belize”.
Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios