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Tourists flocking to cities that Xi visited

By FU JING in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-12 05:55

European cities that President Xi Jinping has visited in recent years have seen the number of Chinese tourists soar in the past few months.

Tourism offices in Davos, Switzerland; Prague, Czech Republic; and Helsinki, Finland, say that the number of tourists has risen significantly since January.

"The interest of Chinese people in Davos has been massive since the visit of Chinese President Xi," said Fredi Michel, destination manager of the Davos Tourism Office.

According to figures from Michel's office, the total number of Chinese tourists arriving in Davos stood at 2,766 from January to April this year. The number for the first four months was a year-­on­-year increase of 38 percent.

Xi attended the annual gather­ing of the World Economic Forum in Davos, a ski resort in Switzerland, in January, and he delivered the keynote speech, in which he advocated free trade and globali­zation.

The town has offered various programs for Chinese tourists, ranging from ski, sports, adven­ture, arts and cultures, and it has employees who speak Chinese to meet the rising demand.

"This is a rather promising beginning," said Song Shuyao, a ski instructor with the Davos Tourism Office.

Song said international hotels in the city have begun offering Mandarin­-language service, hot drinking water and Chinese cuisine. Song's tourism office is also preparing a Chinese version of its website.

The situation is similar in Prague, which President Xi visit­ed in early 2016. According to Prague City Tourism, the number of Chinese tourists in the Czech capital increased by 49 percent in the first quarter of the year. From January to March, Prague had 42,190 Chinese visitors, who accounted for 70,492 overnight stays.

Barbora Hruba, spokeswoman for Prague City Tourism, said her city has trained tourist guides who speak Chinese and prepared Chinese-­language brochures, and it has a Chinese version of its tour­ism website.

Lucy Wang, customer manager of Glory Travel Agency in Prague, said the number of Chinese tour­ists has continued to increase in recent years, and their spending has risen as well. Mandarin Ori­ental, a hotel in Prague, con­firmed that more Chinese visitors have stayed at the hotel since President Xi's visit.

Early statistics indicate that the number of Chinese tourists visit­ing the Czech Republic is expect­ed to increase to 500,000 this year, a tenfold increase from 2012.

In Helsinki, the capital of Fin­land, which Xi visited in April, the city's tourism statistics show that the number of Chinese tourists soared by 74.2 percent in the first quarter of the year to a total of 26,700. In January alone, the number was up by 136 percent year-­on­year.

Xiang Chen contributed to this story.

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