It seems that the most immediate benefit for those who sign a China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal is a tourism boom driven by Chinese visitors as peak vacation season approaches.
The most recent example is Italy. The European country's search popularity increased 28% month-on-month in March, the month when it signed a BRI memorandum of understanding with China, data provided to the Global Times by domestic online travel platform Mafengwo.com showed.
Xu Xiaolei, manager of marketing at China's CYTS Tours Holding, said that during the upcoming May Day holidays, which have been extended from three to four days by the State Council, China's cabinet, the number of Chinese tourists going to Italy is expected to grow by about 20% compared with the same time last year.
A report from the China Tourism Academy said that Italy is rated by Chinese travellers as the most popular destination in Europe, second only to Russia.
Xu told the Global Times on Sunday that Switzerland, another European country that is set to join the BRI, is expected to see an increase of around 15% to 20% in Chinese tourists during the May Day holidays this year.
Knowing the trend well, Chinese travel agencies have also designed more "BRI travel packages" to cater for that demand. China's CYTS Tours Holding said it has designed travel products covering more than 90% of the tourist destinations along the BRI routes, and it is also planning to design more in-depth travel packages to Europe, a focus of its business this year, according to a report the company sent to the Global Times.
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