The present paper aims to assess the relative attractiveness of competing tourist destinations on the basis of individual visitors' perceptions regarding a holiday destination. Using the feeling of tourist well-being achieved by individual tourists we evaluate indirectly the competitive ability of the tourist area to offer a compound tourist site attractiveness. The methodology employed here uses individual survey questionnaires on the tourists' evaluation of the quality of tourist facilities and attributes in a given area (the 'regional tourist profile') as the basis for constructing an aggregate expression for the relative attractiveness of that area. Using various multidimensional statistical techniques an estimation of the competitive attractiveness of the Southern regions in Italy is pursued. We also compare our findings with quantitative results on tourist competitiveness values obtained in a related previous study on tourist competitiveness in Italian regions. Finally, the paper highlights the need to use micro and macro data to analyse tourist attractiveness and to identify policies for improving regional tourist competitiveness. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.