China will help pay for the renovation of a house where the 13th-century explorer Marco Polo is believed to have been born. Local authorities on the Croatian island of Korcula plan to turn the house into a museum. 'We sold two other properties and bought the house where Marco Polo was born,' said the island's mayor, Mirko Duhovic. 'Korcula, with some help from others, will be doing its utmost to have the house ready for the next tourist season.' Polo's birthplace is generally believed to be in Venice, but some historians have sided with claims that he was born in Croatia. At the time of Polo's birth in 1254, Korcula was part of Venetian Dalmatia, run from the then city-state. Historians including Beijing-born British historian James Gilman have produced evidence to back the claims he was born in what is now part of Croatia. Mr Gilman gave local officials a copy of papers from the British Museum that noted: 'Polo, this man originally came from Dalmatia.' Croatia's claim on Polo's birthplace have kept tourists flocking to Korcula. The island's tourism industry has used Polo's connection to the island for its own benefit with scores of hotels, boats and restaurants named, or themed, after him. While on an official visit to China this year, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader appealed for tourists to visit Polo's birthplace on Korcula. On a recent visit to the island, Zhenglong Wu - Chinese ambassador to Croatia - planted an olive tree in a garden at Polo's reputed birthplace. 'I would like friendship between China and Croatia to have a long life, and an olive tree, which has a long life, is a symbol of this,' he said. Mr Wu said Beijing will contribute funds to the project, but would not divulge how much. Marco Polo travelled to China as a teenager and spent decades in the court of Mongol emperor Kublai Khan. He returned to Venice and published the stories of his travels in the book Il Milione (The Travels of Marco Polo) and is widely seen as the man who introduced Europeans to Asia.