Italy promises to be "a magnet" for Chinese visitors in 2020, the National Tourism Board (ENIT), a public entity that promotes the country as a tourist destination, said in a statement on Thursday.
"New challenges and new routes will stem from the China-Italy Year -- a beneficial nourishment for the (Italian) peninsula, which is launching new strategies for innovation that place culture centre-stage within the offers dedicated to Chinese travelers," Maria Elena Rossi, ENIT's marketing and promotion director, said in the statement.
According to the ENIT Research Department, 84 percent of Chinese tourism operators surveyed by ENIT reported a positive outlook for the first quarter of 2020 in terms of travel to Italy.
"Some reported 30-50 percent increases (in bookings in Italy) compared to the same period in 2019," ENIT Executive Director Giovanni Bastianelli said in the statement.
Chinese tourism in Italy is on an upward trend, with arrivals up by a whopping 16 percent in January-November 2019 compared to the same period the previous year and with average stays ranging from 9-13 nights, according to ENIT data.
Chinese visitors spent over 650 million euros (718 million U.S. dollars) in Italy last year, up 40.8 percent year-on-year. This compares to 40 billion euros spent by all international tourists in Italy between January and October 2019, according to the ENIT.
Last year, the preferred destinations by Chinese visitors were the northern Lombardy region, whose capital is Milan, and the central Lazio region, whose capital is Rome.
These were followed by Tuscany, whose capital is Florence and the Veneto region, where Venice is the capital.
The National Tourism Board also announced that it plans to open two new offices in the Chinese mainland: one in Shanghai and one in Guangzhou, in order to "reinforce the growing interest in Italy."
The ENIT currently has offices in Beijing, Seoul, Bangkok, Mumbai and Tel Aviv, as well as in Europe and North and South America.
Also on the drawing board are plans to consolidate ENIT's partnership with the Chinese tourism portal Ctrip, which is a leader in terms of transportation, hotel and package bookings.
The ENIT added that along with Italian regional authorities and private stakeholders, it will participate in key travel fairs in China, including the Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) and the annual Global Tourism Economy Forum (GTEF), which is attended by political leaders, tourism ministers, chief executives and sector experts.