'Year of Russian Tourism' hailed as successful

Updated: 2012-11-16 23:44


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BEIJING - The success of an initiative to promote Sino-Russian tourism has been hailed by senior Russian officials.

The "Year of Russian Tourism," which began on March 23, 2012, has been a good opportunity to increase mutual understanding between the two peoples, said Russian Ambassador to China Sergei Rasov.

"Let us hope that the number of Chinese citizens who visited Russia for sightseeing, doing business and other purposes might exceed one million in the whole of 2012," said Evgeny Tomikhin, minister counselor of the Russian Embassy.

According to the diplomat, in the first six months of this year, his country was visited by 113,000 Chinese, up 43 percent compared with the equivalent period of 2011.

Statistics from travel agencies of the two nations are also encouraging.

The China Youth Travel Service reported a 50-percent rise in the number of Chinese tourists taking Russia-bound trips from April through October.

Russian capital Moscow alone received 107,200 tourists from China, up 43 percent year on year, according to the city's committee on the administration of tourism and hotels.

Under the Year of Russian Tourism program, China and Russia held over 100 activities covering the sectors of tourism, culture, sports and education. They included the Sino-Russian Forum on Cooperation in Tourism, the Beijing-Moscow Self-driving Tour 2012, the Nationwide Trekking and Camping Conference in the Year of Sino-Russian Tourism, the China Russian Film Week, and a Sino-Russian forum attended by university presidents to discuss cooperation on education and research.

Meanwhile, a series of presentations were held in Russian states to promote China tours among local people. Fifty Russian families visited China to stay in the homes of 50 host families, to see how Chinese enjoy the traditional lunar Moon Festival, which fell on September 30 this year, and Chinese National Day, on October 1.

In summer, 300 students from Moscow University made study tours in China at the invitation of Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. During their stay, the students visited Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces and Chinese capital Beijing.

The two nations are expected to witness another tourist rush from each other's side in 2013's forthcoming "Year of Chinese Tourism."

Both Chinese and Russians share unforgettable memories of the old days, when China and the former Soviet Union had a very close and friendly relationship during the 1950s.

Nowadays, for young Russians, China is recognized as being home to the traditional Chinese martial art of Kungfu, the mysteries of traditional Chinese medicine, and mouth-watering Chinese food. For senior Chinese, Russia is where to find the old heritages of the former socialist empire that collapsed in 1991.