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MOSCOW, December 16. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russia-Italy Bilateral Year of Tourism in 2013-2014 will increase the tourist flow by 40 percent, Deputy Culture Minister Alla Manilova told Itar-Tass on Monday.
“We have all chances to make the Bilateral Year successful. The Bilateral Year will result in growing mutual tourist flows by 40 percent,” Manilova said, adding “The Russia-China Year of Tourism in 2012-2013 increased the tourist flow by 46 percent.”
“Last year about one million of Russian tourists visited Italy. In our view, this is only the start. We believe that about two million of Russian tourists will visit Italy within the nearest years,” the deputy minister said.
According to the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, about 120,000 Italian tourists visited Russia in 2012.
“Russia and Italy have much in common: these are cultural heritage and the drive for decentralising tourism,” she said.
“The Bilateral Year of Tourism will give us an opportunity for Russian tourists to visit small Italian towns in addition to Rome, Venice and Florence. And it is very important for us that Italian tourists will travel to Yaroslavl, Suzdal, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities with a rich history,” Manilova said.
“Of course, we’re very pleased that Italians like St Petersburg. Italy’s elements in the city’s architecture and culture will remain forever,” she added.
“The Bilateral Year of Tourism will allow both countries to establish more friendly relations,” Manilova said.
Earlier in the day, Italian Ambassador to Russia Cesare Maria Ragaglini told a news conference at the Itar-Tass news agency that Italy should become more popular for Russian tourists.
“The Year of Tourism is designed to show ‘unknown Italy’ to Russian citizens - new cities and areas, which are still obscure for the public,” the ambassador said.
“Italy possesses of sixty percent of UNESCO heritage,” Ragaglini said, adding “At least 80 percent of sightseeing areas are back from the most famous tours.”
Ragaglini said, “A Russian citizen is a well-informed tourist with the high cultural level.”
“Italy conducts Year of Tourism abroad for the first time. This proves the significance of Russia’s market for Italy’s tourism. As of today Russia ranks seventh on the number of tourists arriving in Italy,” Ragaglini said.
Thus, Italy’s authorities intend to ease a procedure for issuing visas for Russian citizens on the Bilateral Year of Tourism.