Business / Economy

China's Silk Road crucial for Italian tourism: official

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-25 10:16

MILAN - Cooperation with China is at the center of Italy's tourism policies, Onofrio Cutaia, Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism director general for tourism policies, told Xinhua in an interview on Friday.

In recent times the Italian government has made efforts to ease visa policies, considered to be the main obstacle in bilateral tourism exchange, and attract more Chinese travelers, also helped by the ongoing world exposition in Milan, Cutaia said.

On Friday, the provincial representatives of Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Henan, Shandong and Shanghai of China signed a memorandum for tourism exchange and cooperation with representatives of 10 major regions of Italy including Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, Tuscany and Sicily.

"I have a goal, which is to multiply the number of Chinese travelers to Italy and make Italy more and more capable of welcoming Chinese friends and respecting their culture," Cutaia went on saying on the sidelines of the signing ceremony, held at Expo Milano 2015's China Pavilion.

"China is a fantastic country of which we can perceive the infinite history and the magnificence offered to visitors and travelers," he highlighted.

"We have strongly wanted this agreement with China to strengthen relations between the two countries, but especially to increase the visits of our citizens to China and improve our welcome to Chinese friends in Italy," Cutaia went on saying.

He said the Chinese and Italian governments played a "facilitation role" in the signing of the memorandum. "Today we have made an institutional step that will lead to concrete collaborations between entrepreneurs and tour operators from both countries," he explained to Xinhua.

Cutaia said there is still much work to do in terms of more convenient and diversified tourism solutions, as well as familiarity with different cultural needs, but was confident that China and Italy are eager to better discover each other.

Moreover both countries, he added, also have a desire for exploring the beauty of less known places than the famous cities of art.

Friday's signing ceremony was part of an event named "Explore beautiful China along the Silk Road" that took place in Milan this week with various activities intended to present China's tourism resources in an all-round way to Italy.

The theme of the event, attended by 13 Chinese provinces and 20 Italian regions, also refers to the initiatives of the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping to boost transport infrastructure building, investment and trade facilitation, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe.

In fact, in a globalized world characterized by fast technological progress in the transport and communication systems, the tourism field is central but still far away from being fully exploited, Cutaia highlighted.

"The influence of tourism on all areas has clearly strengthened, " he noted. He said tourism not only attracts investments in tourist regions and boosts rising of per capita incomes, but also helps employment and promotes industrial growth.

"Public authorities and market operators are now aware of the strategic value of tourism as a driver for development," Cutaia told Xinhua.

China, with a registered number of 109 million tourists travelling abroad in 2014, offers huge opportunities, he said. "The development of China and its propensity for tourism are overwhelming facts. Taking account of them is a duty, being involved is a vital necessity," he concluded.

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