2018 has been declared the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY)

ecty china business in italy

2018 has been declared the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY). The official announcement had been made in 2016 by the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker and by the Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Li Kequiang. This joint initiative aims both at promoting Chinese tourism to European countries and strengthening the existing relationships between China and the EU member states. Italy is, of course, one of the most popular destinations among Chinese tourists and also a prized business partner for companies and entrepreneurs. Chinese companies are already doing business in Italy – and vice-versa – and the inauguration of the ECTY is set to make the existing relationships even stronger, attracting new investments as well as more tourists.

The official launch

The ECTY officially started in January, with a ceremony in Venice’s Palazzo Ducale – as further evidence of the vital role that Italy is set to play. The event provided a stage for several international institutions’ representatives to make statements on the relevance of the whole initiative and to express their commitment to building stronger and better relationships. Italy was represented by Dario Franceschini, the Minister of Culture, the European Parliament by its president Antonio Tajani and the European Council was represented by the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova. Chinese institutions were represented at the event by the Vice Chairman of China National Committee Qi Xuchun and the Vice Chairman of China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), Du Jiang. The following week, a matching event took place in Beijing, confirming the relevance of this endeavour and the high expectations placed upon it by all parties involved.

Reach out to Chinese entrepreneurs working in Italy

The protocol

What happened in Venice on January 19th, however, was more than a mere celebration of mutual good intentions. A protocol was signed on this occasion, setting down the guidelines for the development of a sustainable tourist industry on both sides, incorporating a shared marketing strategy to promote authentic knowledge and respect of local history, tradition, culture and resources.

Chinese tourism and Chinese companies doing business in Italy: projected growth

On average, Italy welcomes around 1.5 million Chinese tourists every year. Out of context, this number may appear reasonably large, but in reality it amounts to less than 1,2% of Chinese outbound tourism. Increasing the figures by a mere 10% would result in a dramatic growth of the Italian tourist industry, as well as a sensible increase in opportunities both for Chinese companies doing business in Italy and for Italian entrepreneurs wishing to get in touch with potential business partners in China. Economic shifts on this scale, however, don’t just happen overnight or of their own accord. Several measures will need to be taken in order to attract Chinese capitals to Italy and to increase the influx of Chinese tourists significantly. In order to achieve the aforementioned goals, Italy and Europe will need to learn how to cater to Chinese tourists’ and entrepreneurs’ needs. The process of obtaining either a tourist or a business visa will also need to be made smoother, as the current bureaucracy may well be one of the main reasons for the small percentage of Chinese tourists travelling to Italy.

Promoting dialogue to grow business

The ECTY is the practical application of the goals that international diplomacy has been pursuing for several years. Shared marketing campaigns and both B2B and B2C events will be planned, in order to facilitate exchange and mutual knowledge and understanding between European and Chinese citizens, in the firm belief that the environment thus created will prove beneficial for businesses on both sides.

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She is a part-time digital nomad. She would go full-time, if only she could stay away from Berlin for long enough without pining for a Pretzel. She was born in Italy and she enjoys life as an expat, but visits home often enough and can still remember how to bake a perfect lasagna. She is passionate about writing, marketing, languages and the systematic demolition of cultural stereotypes.

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