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Shanghai Expo to boost China tour in Italy, says official

2010-03-17 14:53 BJT

Special Report: Shanghai World Expo 2010 |

ROME, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Shanghai World Expo will attract more Italian tourists to China, a tourist official from China's National Tourist Office (CNTO) in Italy said.

"This year has begun in the best of ways," director general of the CNTO's Italian office Xiong Shanhua told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"In January there was a 47 percent rise in arrivals from Italy to China and we expect this trend to increase by 9-10 percent throughout the year compared with 2009. It is for sure the best January we have ever had," Xiong said.

More than 190,000 Italian tourists visited China in 2009 to savor the country's culture, history and natural scenery, he said.

Despite a 1.47-percent drop compared with 2008, Italian tourist arrivals increased 10 percent year on year in the second half of 2009, according to statistics from the CNTO.

Xiong said the positive data on Italy's growing China-bound tourism indicated the global economic crisis was about to end, adding that forecasts for the upcoming months were even brighter.

"I am confident that the Shanghai Expo will boost tourism, and that more Italian tourists will choose China as their destination," he said.

Xiong said the Chinese government and the Shanghai World Expo Bureau were expecting 3.5 million international visitors to the Shanghai Expo which will take place from May 1 to Oct. 31.

"Thanks to the combined driving effect of the Expo and our promotion efforts, I believe we will be able to bring many more Italians to China in the future," he said.

The CNTO's office in Italy launched the official promotion campaign of the Expo on Monday in an opening ceremony in Rome featuring traditional dragon dances.

In addition to the Shanghai World Expo, this year will also see the celebration of the Chinese Culture Year in Italy slated for September. Both events are crucial for Sino-Italian ties, trade and cultural-tourist exchange, he said.

Xiong said a Chinese delegation from the tourism sector would visit Italy in October as part of the celebrations for the Chinese Culture Year.

China will offer a variety of performances in many Italian cities to promote what it has to offer in terms of tourism and culture, he said.

People in China and Italy are mutually interested in visiting each other's country, as "Italians are attracted to China for the same reasons why Chinese come to visit Italy: culture and history," Xiong said.

Rome, Venice and Florence are historical cities very well-known in China and many Chinese people admire the role of Italian culture in Europe's history, he added.

China's National Tourist Office in Italy was set up in 2008 as an overseas branch of its National Tourism Administration. Its role is to promote better understanding of China and its tourism destinations by providing information to Italian tourists, tour operators, travel agencies and media.

by Silvia Marchetti

Editor: Liu Anqi | Source: Xinhua