'Grandpa Italy' promotes Yunnan tourism business

By Li Yingqing in Kunming and zhang Zhihao in Beijing ( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-10-13 08:04:31

 'Grandpa Italy' promotes Yunnan tourism business

Corrado Politi attends a tourism festival in Dehong, Yunnan province.Huang Daxiang / For China Daily

The retiree says the southwestern province is a magical land

Corrado Politi, a 75-year-old Italian travel expert, has a white beard, a bulbous nose and a jolly smile. The locals often call him Santa Claus or "Grandpa Italy", but he likes to introduce himself as a native of Southwest China's Yunnan province.

Politi received a doctorate in law from the University of Florence. He speaks eight languages and has worked for the European Foundation for Management Development and other nonprofit organizations.

After retirement, Politi began traveling around the world, and China became his favorite destination. He has visited China more than 20 times in the past 15 years, promoting tourism cooperation between Asian and European countries, and was an international adviser for the China Tourism Academy in 2008.

But he had never visited Yunnan province until he was captivated by flower-woven elephants displayed at the Yunnan exhibition area at an international tourism mart held in the country.

Five days later, he found himself backpacking through the province brimming with snow-capped mountains, rice terraces, lakes and deep gorges, and inhabited by a large number of ethnic groups. His first trip only lasted a week due to his visa expiring, but the journey left a lasting mark.

"It is like a fairy tale to me," he said. "After returning home, I still couldn't keep my mind off Yunnan. I read everything about this place and couldn't wait to visit this magical land again."

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