Venice Mayor Paolo Costa visited Tokyo this week as part of the Italian city’s campaign to promote a project to create an official trademark and use the proceeds to preserve the city’s cultural heritage.

Costa said he hopes Japanese firms use the trademark, which is to be adopted in December after an international design competition.

Costa also urged Japanese people to buy products and services on which the planned trademark is used so they can support the protection of Venice’s unique historical and artistic assets.

“We want to talk to everybody everywhere” about the official trademark, he said in an interview. “But it is true that Japan is a major market for Venice’s tourism and for the trademark.”

Every year, 14 million tourists from around the world visit the city built on islets in a lagoon in the Gulf of Venice, including some half a million Japanese, he said.

A number of companies worldwide are selling products and services that take advantage of the name or image of Venice, he said. In Japan alone, 70 brands use the Venice name, while another 148 are registered in the United States.

Although Venice will not interfere with companies that use its name or related designs, Costa said it plans to create an official trademark that conveys the correct image of the city.

If the city guarantees that goods and services are using Venice’s name or image in an appropriate manner and are of high quality, it will permit the firms to put the official trademark on their products after paying royalties, according to the Venice Trademark Tender Press Office.

The trademark can be applied to all kinds of products, services or events, the office said, adding that Japanese airlines have already contacted the office on the possible use of the trademark to promote flights from Japan to Italy.

The royalties will be used for restoration work and maintaining historical buildings, canals and the city’s other assets, the mayor said.

Citing a similar system, Costa referred to the “I love New York” trademark that was created 25 years ago and is used on products guaranteed by that city.

Some 2,000 companies currently use the symbol, paying millions of dollars each year in royalties.

Costa said he believes Venice is the first city in Europe to take this approach.

The city announced the trademark project in July and asked companies around the world to submit a design for the logo, together with plans to publicize and market it globally, he said.

The official trademark will be selected from more than 30 candidates by a group of designers, journalists and experts, Costa said. The city will announce the winning design Dec. 19 and start accepting applications to use it early next year.