Interview: Why Italy’s December referendum is not 'Brexit'
Updated: 2016-10-24 11:11
6. A great deal of hyperbole surrounds the referendum and its possible consequences. Do you view it as a pivotal moment for both Italy and the EU?
As PM Renzi said in many occasions, crisis may lead to new opportunities. This is also a Chinese saying by the way. And a similar motto is also very popular within the EU institutions: "Never miss a good crisis".
As PM Renzi said on many occasions, Italy's most sincere aspiration is that the current crisis might provide new impetus for reforming the EU, so that it will be able to respond to the EU citizens' needs and aspirations, a Union in which every EU citizen would feel at home. So Italy is encouraging to equip the Union with more effective institutions and specific policy tools to respond to global challenges.
7. Italy is a popular destination for Chinese tourists. Are there plans in place to better streamline visa approvals?
I have many updates on this front. First of all, the expansion of our visa centers. From end of March to mid-April, Italy opened 11 new visa application centers
(VACs), for a total of 15 operational centers covering almost all of China. By the way, we already issue tourism and business visas within 36 hours.
Italy strongly believes in an efficient and customer-friendly visa issuing process, as the first welcome to Chinese travelers. Getting closer to visa applicants is part of our strategy, and results speak loudly: in 2015 Italy issued 541,000 visas in China, an increase of more than 30 percent, while an estimated 1.4 million Chinese visited Italy last year.
What we hope is that the new centers will allow not only an increase in the flow of Chinese people to Italy, but also a diversification in tourism destinations within Italy itself, with more Chinese visiting new destinations in Italy, like our southern shores for instance, where we have extraordinary historical and cultural sites.
We also strongly worked to welcome Chinese tourists with Chinese friendly facilities. Our main airports, our trains, hotels and a growing number of museums have now been certified to provide information in Chinese, with Mandarin-speaking staff, and other services meeting tourists' expectations.
Since we are aware that security matters when tourists decide the destination of their holidays, in 2015 we started the joint patrolling initiative with Chinese police, periodically having Chinese policemen in Rome and Milan walking side-by-side with our police in the streets most crowded by foreign travelers. Having a familiar face and uniform in case of need is a plus for a Chinese tourist.