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September 1, 2010

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City takes aim at quality of souvenirs

SHANGHAI yesterday established a tourism souvenir association to improve the quality of souvenirs in the local market. Tourists have complained that although many souvenirs are made of precious material, the designs are usually clumsy and unattractive.

The Shanghai Tourism Administration said that souvenir producers are ignorant about market conditions and lack latest information, which means that they are unaware of what tourists really want.

Officials said tourists tend to prefer souvenirs that are portable, practical in daily life, and with a refined design.

Paolo Sabbatini, director of the Italian Culture Institute of the Consulate General of Italy, showed a showpiece coffee cup and cited it as an example. The cup, designed by Italian designers, was made of celadon, a material which is widely used in Chinese tableware.

"As far as I am concerned, such tableware is a must-buy for many foreign tourists," said Sabbatini. "The design is full of Chinese elements, while a coffee cup set is used in almost every family in the West. Such a combination of different cultures would be very popular."

Apart from designs, plagiarism and piracy also plague the local market.

"When a souvenir becomes popular, almost all manufacturers rush to produce similar items," Shi Lihua, the director of the newly-founded association, said. "The phenomenon causes great resource waste."

The association said it will carry out market surveys and make predictions on market trends every year. It also launched a souvenir design contest, hoping to discover obscure but talented designers who would improve the quality of souvenirs in the market.


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