BOGOTA -- Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping announced Monday that Beijing had officially named Colombia a tourist destination for its citizens and signed with his Colombian counterpart Francisco Santos several bilateral cooperation accords.
During his speech to businessmen and journalists from both countries in a Bogota hotel, Xi said that China will continue urging its "powerful companies" to invest in the South American nation, adding that Beijing would also welcome greater Colombian investment.
China "officially declared Colombia to be a tourist destination for its citizens, which besides favoring the development of tourist cooperation will also contribute to the strengthening of binational economic-commercial cooperation through the broadening of contacts among (both nations') citizens," he said.
Xi added that his three-day visit to Colombia served to firm up, starting now, a series of measures to allow dynamic economic cooperation between the countries.
China is the fourth largest tourist-sending country in the world, surpassing Germany, Britain and the United States, and projections are that some 47 million Chinese will travel abroad as tourists in 2009 and 65 million in 2012.
Some 134 countries have been designated officially sanctioned tourist destinations by China, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
In addition to naming Colombia to the tourist list, Xi signed several accords, two of them dealing with trade cooperation to improve the business climate and to organize the 3rd China-Latin America Business Summit, which will be held in Colombia this year.
Xi met on Sunday with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who expressed to him his confidence in China's infrastructure and industry investment program in the South American country. EFE