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Hangzhou seeks modern-day Marco Polo to promote ‘world’s most beautiful city’ online

AFP-JIJI

A Chinese city is searching for a foreign traveler to become a “modern Marco Polo,” with a €40,000 ($52,000) salary on offer to the winner, a tourism official said Wednesday.

The eastern city of Hangzhou, renowned for its canals and bridges, was described as the “most beautiful and elegant city in the world” by the Venetian traveler, whose 13th-century journal was one of the first detailed accounts of China written by a European.

Now the city is “calling people around the world to follow in Marco Polo’s steps,” said Chen Li of Hangzhou’s tourism commission. The promotion is akin to Australia’s Best Job in the World campaigns, the first of which required the winner to live on a tropical island for six months.

The new Marco Polo will be recruited via Facebook — which is banned in China — and will undergo intensive training before being flown to Hangzhou for a 15-day trip, the tourism commission said. Duties include making a short video about the city and promoting it online. Both men and women are eligible.

“To be a modern Marco Polo is a very interesting job, it will maybe change their life,” the commission’s Chen said, adding: “They may find inner peace — like Kung Fu Panda.”