Can cultural tourism end the recession?

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ROME — One of Italy’s top culture officials has pushed private investment in the country’s museums and galleries and the seemingly insatiable Chinese and Indian appetites for art and archaeology as the way to pull the country out of its recession.

Mario Resca, a former CEO of McDonald’s Italian operations who was appointed in 2008 by the government of Silvio Berlusconi to be director-general of the Culture Ministry, said that an increase in ticket sales to Italian museums has not been matched by an increase in state finding.

Chatting with a small group of foreign correspondents in Rome, Resca said the number of visitors to state museums and archaeological sites increased by some 15 percent from 2009 to 2010 and by about 7 percent from 2010 to 2011.

But budgets and investment have not risen with visitor numbers. Resca acknowledges that the budget shortfall isn’t about to be reversed, thanks to the latest round of austerity cuts ordered by Berlusconi’s successor, Premier Mario Monti....

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