Promoting travel, stimulating investment and strengthening bilateral cooperation are at the top of the agenda for Chinese and EU officials with the launch in Venice on Friday, of the EU-China Tourism Year 2018.
Both sides consider the China-EU Tourism Year as an opportunity to move towards stronger air connectivity and facilitate EU-China visa issue.
The EU aims to benefit greatly from a strong interest in travel by Chinese nationals, many of which are also seeking to invest. Indicatively, 135 million Chinese visitors spent 261 billion dollars on travel in 2016 with Europe being the third most popular destination of choice. More specifically, on its part the EU is aiming to increase the number of Chinese visitors annually by 10 percent accounting for at least 1 billion euros each year for the EU tourism industry, as well as concluding some 200 partnership agreements between EU and Chinese companies.
“We have common objectives for the year. We both want to improve mutual understanding between European and Chinese peoples,” said European Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Elzbieta Bienkowska, adding that “we both want to encourage more Europeans and Chinese to visit, discover and appreciate each other’s places, cultures, and traditions.”
The first EU-China Tourism Business Summit was held after the opening ceremony of the EU-China Tourism Year, which will also include cooperative marketing campaigns funded through public-private partnerships, business summits, and business-to-business meetings for tour operators.
According to Xinhua news agency, addressing the opening ceremony in Venice on Friday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed the hope that the two sides will take the China-EU Tourism Year as an opportunity to actively expand cooperation in tourism and personnel exchanges, promote a dialogue between civilizations and people-to-people bonds, and push forward common development and the mutually beneficial and win-win situation to inject fresh momentum into the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership in a new era.
China and Greece
Closer to home, in 2016, the largest number of buyers seeking to invest in Greece and benefit from the “golden visa” program, which provides residence permits to investors from non EU-countries to buy real estate worth at least 250,000 euros, were from China with 850 visas issued.
At the same time, the Greek tourism ministry is working full speed ahead to make China a priority tourism market with initiatives, actions and moves in the direction.