China, Italy to increase cultural and tourism exchanges
Published: Jan 16, 2020 05:18 PM

The announcement ceremony Photo: Li Hao/GT

China and Italy will host a Year of Culture and Tourism 2020 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, which will include a number of cultural and travel events taking place in the two countries throughout the whole year, China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Italian Embassy to China announced on Wednesday. 

"The upcoming Year of Culture and Tourism comes after the agreement of top leaders of the two countries as well as the will of the two governments to enhance the relationship between the two countries," Luca Ferrari, Italian ambassador to China, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian President, Sergio Mattarella, have agreed to host cultural and tourism events to boost cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and enhance communication and cooperation. 

Set to kick off in Rome on Tuesday, the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism 2020 will feature a series of high-level cultural and tourism events held by the two culturally rich countries. Musicians and conductors from China and Italy will share the stage for an opening concert, while a tourism forum between China and Italy will be held as well. 

According to the ambassador, Italy has been considered one of the most favored European destinations for Chinese travelers since 2018. 

"In 2019, we saw a 20 percent increase in the visas issued. We received over 3 million travelers from China. I believe that number will be 4 million this year," said Ferrari, who is confident that Italy is well-prepared to attract more travelers. 

"First of all, we created a very large and sophisticated network of offices to issue visas," he said, adding that a new agreement has been reached between the two countries' aviation departments to increase the number of flights between China and Italy from 56 a week to 164.

"That is a dramatic change that will give enormous growing space for more Chinese to travel to Italy and for more Italians to travel to China," he said. 

These flights will not only include Milan and Rome, but also smaller cities such as Florence, Venice, Bologna and even Pisa. 

Italian Ambassador to China Luca Ferrari Photo: Li Hao/GT

For the special year, the Palace Museum and National Museum of China will work with the Italian side on exchange exhibitions. Several Terracotta Warriors from Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, imperial icons of ancient Chinese art and civilization, will travel thousands of kilometers to Italy for a new exhibition there. 

"Together we have more than 16 percent of the world's UNESCO sites. This makes us two superpowers from a cultural point of view," Ferrari told the Global Times. 

"Uniting these sites will give something more to our citizens, to people in China and people in Italy. I think that is very special."

In the modern design area, the annual Beijing Design Week is set to work with the Triennale di Milano, while Shanghai will also host a promotional exhibition for local designs from both countries. 

The ambassador also said he hoped that more and more Italians can travel to China, because he thinks it is a safe and modern place to visit, where mobile apps like Didi and e-payment make the trip easier and more convenient. 

"Although I am still new here, the first thing I learned is that WeChat is very, very important," Ferrari noted.