The number of Chinese tourists who traveled overseas during the recent Spring Festival holidays is expected to represent a significant increase on previous years, with spending also projected to have increased, making considerable contributions to economic recoveries overseas, Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy (CTA), said Friday.
"According to our estimate, China's outbound travel increased significantly year on year during the Spring Festival holidays. The major overseas destinations for Chinese tourists are Europe, North America and Southeast Asian countries," Dai told the Global Times Friday.
Official data on China's outbound travel during the recent Spring Festival holidays, which started February 9 and ended Friday, is not available yet.
According to the results of a joint research project by the CTA and ctrip.com, China's leading online travel agency based in Shanghai, the most popular destination for Chinese tourists during the Spring Festival holidays is Thailand. Bookings for trips to Thailand with ctrip.com were twice what they were during previous Spring Festival holidays.
Chen Hao, a staff member at the Yangzhou Office of China International Travel in East China's Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times Friday that bookings for outbound travel at his company rose 30 percent from the previous Spring Festival holidays while bookings for travel to Thailand surged by more than 50 percent.
Spending by Chinese tourists has also dramatically increased. With average spending at $1,000 per capita for each trip overseas in 2012, Chinese tourists made the largest contribution to the global tourism economy last year and the spending will continue to rise during the Spring Festival holidays, Dai said.
"Spending by Chinese tourists overseas is rising continuously year by year and their contribution to boosting the European economy and mitigating the debt crisis there is beyond doubt," Zhao Yongsheng, vice chairman of the Paris-based China-France Association of Lawyers and Economists, told the Global Times.
Chinese tourists spent $85 billion during overseas trips in 2012, up from $72.6 billion in 2011 and twice as much as the annual revenue of oil company Exxon Mobil, the largest company in the world by revenue in 2011, the Washington Post reported in January.
"Having long queues of Chinese tourists on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées (a shopping boulevard popular with tourists) to buy luxury bags, watches and cosmetics during the holidays is no longer a surprise," Zhao said.
Many foreign countries made special arrangements to attract Chinese tourists and foreign retailers arranged sales to cash in on the boom in Chinese tourists during the holidays.
According to Zhao, the Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris put up banners with greetings in Chinese characters to welcome Chinese tourists and in some places airports rolled out red carpets with Chinese characters on them.
"Almost all the major stores in Paris hire Chinese shop assistants to help Chinese tourists with their shopping," Zhao said.
Chinese tourists spent $7.2 billion on luxury goods in Europe during the 2012 Spring Festival holidays, accounting for 62 percent of total sales of luxury goods during the period and the figure was expected rise significantly during this year's Spring Festival season, the Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.