Rome, February 9 - The year 2019 will be dedicated to 'slow tourism' in a project to invest in heritage railway lines to promote little-known Italian areas, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini has announced after a meeting with the president of Italy's railway FS (Ferrovie dello Stato) Foundation. The plan is to promote historic rail lines along with modern infrastructures to enable tourists to explore areas that are less known to the public yet rich in history and culture, Franceschini said at the culture ministry on Thursday. A total of over 130,000 tourists over the past two years travelled aboard historic trains along nine railway lines that were reactivated for this purpose for a total of 600 kilometers. "After the year of paths, that of villages and this year as the year of food, we will conclude an ideal voyage to promote little-known Italian territories with the year of slow tourism in 2019", Franceschini said. "And heritage railway lines, together with bicycle and trekking paths, are perfect", the minister noted. Moretti announced the restoration of historic luxury trains including the models Arlecchino ETR 250, Settebello ETR 300, Polifemo ETR 200 and Pendolino ETR 450) and the reactivation of an additional 100 km of rail lines. "After the National museum of Pietrarsa, which registered in 2017 110,000 visitors (up 58% on 2016 and up 647% on 2014), we are starting restoration work at the Museum of Trieste Campo Marzio for a total investment of 5 million euros with work to begin shortly", added Moretti. Meanwhile at the Senate on Thursday tourism business federation Federturismo Confindustria and the Parliamentary Observatory for Tourism presented a number of proposals ahead of national elections on March 4. The projects launched for the next legislature included creating a ministry of tourism with its own portfolio, cutting red tape and providing 'art bonuses' to help private museums, promoting the digitalization of businesses and focusing more on southern Italy. The president of the Observatory, Ignazio Abrignani, said that, "at the start of each legislature tourism is at the center, then it disappears from programs". "If tourism grows, Italy grows", said the president of Federturismo Confindustria, Gianfranco Battisti.
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