Roundup: Italy tourism agency presents marketing plan with special focus on China

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ROME, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Italy's National Tourism Agency (ENIT) presented its annual marketing plan to promote the Mediterranean peninsula as a travel destination on Thursday, with a special focus on China.

"Rapidly growing markets such as Asia and especially China, with new targeting of high-net-worth young people, are at the center of the new campaigns for the kind of tourism that can keep spending money throughout the year," ENIT said in a statement.

According to the ENIT research department, tourists spent 40 billion euros (almost 45 billion U.S. dollars) in Italy between January and October 2019.

As part of its strategy to better position itself on the Chinese market, ENIT said it plans to take a series of measures, including opening new offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou, launching a campaign to promote Italy on WeChat, a major Chinese social media platform, and developing more direct flights between the two countries. It also plans to take part in several trade fairs in China to promote Italy's tourism.

"In the world there are only two cities that have two UNESCO World Heritage sites," said ENIT President Giorgio Palmucci. "One is Beijing and the other is Tivoli, and very few people know about it."

One of the two sites in Tivoli, a town near Rome in the central Lazio region, is Hadrian's Villa -- a complex of classical buildings that incorporates the architectural traditions of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt that was created in the 2nd century A.D. by the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian.

The other site is the 16th-century Villa d'Este, with its palace and gardens constituting "one of the most remarkable and comprehensive illustrations of Renaissance culture at its most refined", according to UNESCO.

Thursday's presentation took place in Rome in collaboration with the Italian Ministry for Culture and Tourism (MIBACT), which sent Undersecretary Lorenza Bonaccorsi to speak at the event.

"Tourism is an economic asset of primary importance for our country," Bonaccorsi commented, adding that according to estimates by the Bank of Italy and by European Union (EU) statistics agency EUROSTAT, the tourism sector employs 4.2 million people and contributes 13 percent of Italian gross domestic product (GDP).

The past 2019 was "very favorable" for the Italian tourism industry, with spending by international tourists up by 6.6 percent, international arrivals in airports jumping 5.8 percent, and overnight stays up 4.4 percent compared to 2018, Bonaccorsi explained.

The objectives of the strategic plan presented on Thursday rest on three pillars: innovation, accessibility and sustainability.

Accessibility means generating new pathways to get to Italy, while sustainability means a kind of tourism that respects the territories, according to Bonaccorsi.

The plan also coincides with the China-Italy Year of Culture and Tourism 2020, which is scheduled to kick off on Jan. 21 in Rome.

Over 100 events will be held during the one-year activity, covering areas of performing arts, visual arts, cultural heritage, tourism and creative design, according to China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The China-Italy year of culture and tourism is the first time for the two countries to hold a large-scale activity focusing on the integration of culture and tourism, said an official with the ministry. Enditem

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