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Italy charms Chinese tourists
Italy charms Chinese tourists

Following the lead of a number of other European countries, Italy is taking action to woo increasingly better-off Chinese tourists.

Sixty-six Italian travel agencies and 62 outbound Chinese tourist operators gathered yesterday in Beijing to discuss possible co-operation.

Since taking part in China's international tourism fairs in 2002, Italy has been vigorously promoting its tourism sector in China.

The boot-shaped country boasts enchanting natural beauty, arts, fine cuisine and soccer, which are all attention grabbers of Chinese tourists.

"Though Chinese tourists account for less than 1 per cent of arrivals in Italy, China will be Italy's most important tourism partner in the future," Piergiorgio Togni, general manager of the Italian State Tourist Board, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

He said Italy has gone to great lengths to meet the specific needs of Chinese tourists.

Togni said to remove the language barrier, Chinese waiters and waitresses will be made available in hotels and local Chinese will act as tour guides.

And Chinese signs will be posted in airports.

To facilitate visa approval, Italy has added 20 Approved Destination Status (ADS) tourist visa staff to its embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Last year, the Italian embassy in China granted 4,154 visas to Chinese ADS tourists, 4,304 to individual travellers and 8,350 to business travellers.

"I believe a new wave of Chinese tourists will break over Italy in the near future," Togni said.

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