“Italian visa policy is essential to diplomacy’s efforts to support the country’s growth. It encourages the influx of tourists attracted by Italy’s unique cultural heritage, as well as of businesses interested in investment opportunities”, commented Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Amb. Michele Valensise as he signed a protocol of understanding to promote tourism in Italy with President of ENIT Pier Luigi Celli.
According to this agreement ENIT will supply staff and materials support to the embassies and consulates of countries such as Russia, India, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Belarus, where visa demand has been rising. “This is an instrument that further strengthens a collaborative effort that has already shown what we can do when working with the foreign ministry”, remarked President Celli, “I would like to thank Minister Gnudi who, since taking up his post, has confronted the question in all national, European and international settings, as well as the Department of Regional Affairs, Tourism and Sport, which is to be credited with making this agreement possible by shouldering a financial burden that ENIT would otherwise not have been able to sustain”.
The use of Italian embassies and consulates around the world in close coordination with ENIT has made it possible over the years to strengthen a strong upward trend in visa issuances: in 2012 over 1,870,000 (+9 % compared with 2011), and our country was a preferred destination for both tourists (more than 1,360,000 visas, up by 15.3%) as well as business persons (over 202,000 visas, up by 5.45%). The majority of this activity was concentrated in the emerging countries of Russia (upwards of 631,000 visas, + 8.2% against 2011), China (over 288,000 visas, up 12.8%) and Turkey (more than 116,000, + 14.5%).
The new protocol develops the existing collaboration between the foreign ministry and ENIT, already recognised by the EU Commission as among “European best practices”, and contributes to strengthening the strategies of the “director’s booth” chaired by Ministers for Foreign Affairs Terzi and Economic Development Passera, which has the task of coordinating policies regarding the internationalization of businesses.
“Having a rapid response to the growing visa demand”, Ambassador Valensise stressed, “will strengthen our network’s ability to supply an increasingly efficient service in a highly strategic sector”.