Hotel owners in Prato are already preparing their accommodations for the predicted Chinese tourist boom that is set to hit Italy in 3 to 5 years.It seems that Prato, considered to be the textile capital of Italy, is not brooding over the fact that they have faced extreme challenges from the nearly unbeatable competition from Chinese textile imports.Rather, Prato’s citizens want to make the most of a situation that, until now, seems to have been very one sided in favour of the Chinese textile industry.
Studies indicate that many of the 150 million newly rich in China will choose Italy as their primary tourist destination.And, the hospitality industry in Prato has already begun placing teapots and Chinese translations of maps and guides in hotel rooms.The city is working toward becoming a fundamental stop for Chinese tourists in Italy, just as Florence, Rome, Venice and Milan already are.
Prato does have it’s share of historical sites and art works, beautiful surrounding countryside, as well as its’ own particular cuisine, and has the potential of becoming a much more important tourist destination, not just for Chinese visitors, but for tourists from around the world.
One setback remains for the success of Chinese tourism in Italy: it takes, on average, 20 days more to receive an Italian travel visa than for French, German and Austrian visas. This could possibly deter potential visitors from organizing trips to Italy.
However, 3 tour groups from Beijing have already made their reservations, and at the hotels they will be lodging in, employees are busily working on printing signs, menus, and other written material in Chinese.