French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said France welcomes all Chinese tourists and promised they will be safe. Hollande made the remarks while meeting President Xi Jinping in Hollande's first state visit to China. His remarks came after a series of attacks on Chinese tourists in France, which are keeping more Chinese tourists out of the European country because of safety concerns. In early March, 23 members of a Chinese tour group were robbed after dinner in Paris. Their passports, passenger tickets and cash were looted, and the group leader was injured. The China Tourism Association later expressed concerns over the safety of Chinese tourists in France. Hollande also said that the process of applying for a French visa will be eased, and it will take less time. During Hollande's visit, an agreement was signed by tourism authorities from both sides to further deepen bilateral cooperation on tourism. The aim is to make sure Chinese tourists are safe and they do not fear for their safety when they visit France, said Alice Ekman, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations. The security incidents should not deter Chinese tourists from coming to France, as tourism is clearly an important industry for the country, Ekman said. Chinese tourists play an important role in the French tourism industry. According to official figures, more than 1 million Chinese people visit the European country every year. France is the most favorable travel destination for Chinese tourists, according to a 2012 survey by the China Tourism Academy. Agriculture agreements Meanwhile, China and France also signed a series of agreements in areas that include agriculture, new energy, urbanization and information technology, to continue the favorable cooperative relations, Hollande told reporters. Robert Volut, president of the French Federation of Delicatessen, Catering and Meat Processing Industries, explained the advantages of French agricultural products, saying French processed products, including wine, bread and cheese, are very traditional. Many Chinese people now love wine, and they are learning about different cheeses, he said. “Agriculture and food are emerging sector in France-China cooperation. On a long-term basis, China will become a very import market for French processed products,” Volut said. “Our first step is to export our products to China. When the market becomes larger, French manufacturers will come and set up plants in China.” France aims to tap into China's huge market for agricultural products, French Minister for Foreign Trade Nicole Bricq said during her three-day visit to China in January. France hopes to export more dairy products, meat and agricultural machinery to China in an effort to achieve more balanced trade, she said. Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-04/26/content_16450808.htm
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