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China-Russia Tourism Year, a time for furthering bilateral ties

The opening ceremony of "Tourism Year of Russia," which was held in Beijing on Friday, kicked off a year-long program aimed at fostering tourism ties and humanistic exchanges between the two countries.

Following "China-Russia National Year" and "China-Russia Year of Language," the initiative to hold the Tourism Year proposed by both leaders is a welcome boost to the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries.


China and Russia share a common border line stretching as long as 4,300 km straddled by mountains and rivers. The close geographic bond makes the two countries preferred tourist destinations for both peoples.

Both rich in tourism resources, China and Russia boast of distinctive features to attract tourists, with Beijing renowned for its oriental elegance, while Moscow famous for Eurasian-style architectures.

Taking the geographic advantage into account, the "Tourism Year" will be successful and give a fresh impetus to bilateral tourism exchanges.

Meanwhile, the increasing people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Russia laid a sound foundation for tourism exchanges between the two countries.

China has become Russia's second biggest source of foreign tourists, while Russia has become China's third-largest source.

According to statistics, in 2011, about 2.5 million Russian tourists visited China, and 800,000 Chinese toured Russia.

"Tourism in China flourishes, this is one of the most developed national industries there," said Yakov Berger, professor in the Moscow's Far East Institute, adding that "Russian tourist industry remains in its infant's stage with underdeveloped infrastructure. So there is a hope that 'Tourism Year' will give a push for the hospitality industry."

A well-known Russian saying goes that one time to enjoy the beautiful scene is much better that a hundred times to hear about it.

After the "National Year" and "Year of Language," the two peoples have already heard a lot about each other's country. It is time for them to make a journey to China and Russia.

Tourism is a good channel to understand a country. Travelers will experience the culture, history, customs of other countries and compare them with what they have in their homeland. This is another kind of culture exchanges.

Therefore, over hundreds of events scheduled to be held during the "Tourism Year" will definitely promote personnel exchange, deepen mutual understanding and friendship between two countries.

The events will also provide more chances for investment.

"Russia welcomes Chinese enterprises to invest in tourism and infrastructure, and at the same time hopes to promote the two countries' high-tech cooperation through tourism,"Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov said.

Meanwhile, the events are conducive to expanding economic and cultural cooperation, which will boost China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation.

"Tourism cooperation would further mutual understanding and traditional friendship between the two peoples, which is of significance to our upcoming comprehensive cooperation in various areas," Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui said.

Recent years witnessed the growth momentum of China-Russia relations, such as political mutual trust and support, frequent high-level visits, rapid trade growth and close coordination in global affairs.

"However, the people in the western Russia are not aware well enough about China's tourism capabilities. So the 'Tourism Year' would deepen the strategic partnership between Moscow and Beijing, bounding Russian and Chinese people on all the depth, from inter-state to inter-personal relations," Berger said.

The expansion of a "social foundation" for strengthening bilateral ties is of great importance, Russian Prime Minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin said.

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