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In the hopes of encouraging tourism to Hangzhou, China, and promoting education about Chinese culture, in March 2013 the Hangzhou Tourism Commission set out to find a “Modern Marco Polo.”
The original explorer, famous for traveling the Silk Road trading route, declared Hangzhou “the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world” during his visit in the 13th century.
The Modern Marco Polo, Liam Bates, is a travel show host and travel enthusiast, and he was chosen from a pool of 26,000 applicants.
Bates said he is excited to “follow in [Polo’s] footsteps and act as a 21st-century source of information about China.”
Bates will spend the year using social media to stimulate interest in travel to Hangzhou and China. Attractions in Hangzhou include the Grand Canal and the West Lake — a UNESCO World Heritage Site.