ROME, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The number of people visiting Italian museums in the first half of the year rose by more than 2 millions, recent statistics showed.
The total exceeded 23.2 million people, marking a 7.3 percent increase over the same period in 2016, Italy's Ministry of Culture said in a statement on Sunday.
Museum revenues from Jan. 1 to June 30 also increased by 17.2 percent to 88.7 million euros (101.7 million U.S. dollars), according to the ministry's statistical office.
The positive trend was registered less than two years after a major reform of the country's museum system was introduced.
The overhaul included ensuring a stronger autonomy to museums, and selecting foreign experts to cover managerial positions, as it has happened for example at the Galleria Uffizi in Florence, the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan, and the Archaeological Park in Paestum.
In fact, the Italian Ministry of Culture appointed 20 new directors to lead the country's top state museums in August 2015, with seven foreign directors among the selected candidates.
The increasing figures would prove "the rightness of giving autonomy to museums," culture minister Dario Franceschini said.
The reform would have brought about "an assertive innovation in the management, with immediate results starting with a higher digital presence," according to the official.
Visitors increased by 4 millions, if compared to the first six months of 2014 (the year before the reform), the ministry also stressed in its statement.
The leading regions were Lazio -- including Rome -- with some 10 million visitors and 36 millions euros in revenues registered; southern Campania (whose regional capital is Naples) with 4.3 million visitors and 19.6 million euros; and central Tuscany with 3.4 million visitors and 16.5 million euros.
However, data also showed less-known regions such as northwest Liguria, and northeast Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia registered the strongest rise of visitors: some 33.5 percent, 26.8 percent, and 23.3 percent, respectively.
The worst performance was recorded in Umbria, Marche, and Abruzzo, Italy's central regions hit by a long series of earthquakes since 2016. (1 euro = 1.15 U.S. dollars)