HANGZHOU, May 11 (Xinhua) -- An inaugural group of 350 Chinese tourists left Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, on Friday night for Djibouti, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, starting an 11-day trip to Africa.
It marks the start of a five-year tourism program launched by Zhejiang, aiming at advancing exchange and cooperation with Africa in areas such as culture, tourism and trade, in addition to bringing 10,000 travelers to countries participating in the program.
A number of African countries including Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia have signed up to the program.
China and Africa have seen rare opportunities for cultural and tourism cooperation thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative. In the past two years, Africa has become an important destination for tourists from this east Chinese province.
The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and beyond along the ancient Silk Road trade routes for common development and prosperity.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to China Paul Chikawa said tourism cooperation was not only a bridge for Chinese and Africans to enhance mutual understanding and common progress, but also a basis for the two peoples to embrace each other.
"We will welcome the arrival of Chinese friends with the greatest enthusiasm and sincerity," the ambassador said.