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Trade - Editor, 5 June 2013

Foreign Tourism Attracts Chinese Travelers



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New statistics reveal that tourists from China are spending more than any other international visitors at a number of popular international tourism destinations. For some time Germans were top of the list as the world's biggest spenders on tourism, travel and shopping at their holiday destinations, but following a decade of consistent and vigorous growth in the number of Chinese citizens holidaying outside their country's borders, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) notes that they have overtaken Germany in this sector.

Chinese tourists spent $102 billion on foreign travel in 2012, being an increase of 41 percent compared with 2011, and outstripping both Germany and the United States. Other economies with a growing middle-class, including Russia and Brazil, also experienced an increase in the number of citizens exploring holiday options in foreign countries, while European countries such as Italy and France experienced a drop in the number of its citizens traveling abroad as they battle with a prolonged period of recession.

Thanks to substantial increases in disposable income in China’s growing middle-class, along with more relaxed travel restrictions, the country has become the world's fastest growing source market for tourism. It was also revealed that Chinese travelers are not daunted by distance, often traveling to far-off destinations. Head of the European Travel Commission, Eduardo Santander noted that Europe remains the number one tourism destination at present, but needs to adapt to changing conditions. Referring to a study done by the European Travel Commission, Santander points out that the beaches of the Mediterranean, which attract British, Russian and German tourists, are not all that appealing to Chinese visitors, who are more interested in culture and history, particularly Communist history.

Visitors from China to the United States, on the other hand, are interested in shopping, and reportedly do so with little restriction, stocking up on name brand clothing, jewelry and accessories. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, tourist and business travelers from China exceeded one million in 2011, with expenditure exceeding $7.7 billion. As personal wealth in China increases it is anticipated that these figures will continue to grow, with the current numbers being described as being just a "tip of the iceberg".

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