Overseas tourism hits record

By Zhao Qian Source:Global Times Published: 2012-10-7 23:50:05

A record number of Chinese tourists travelled overseas during the eight-day Golden Week holiday from September 30 to October 7 and greatly contributed to local consumption, but shopping and visiting places of interest are not their only reasons for travel any more.

Around 100,000 Chinese visitors were expected to travel to South Korea, up 30 percent compared with the same period of last year, and spend as much as 200 billion won ($200 million), the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) predicted in a report on September 29.

Medical tourism was one of the highlights of Chinese tourists in South Korea. "Surgery appointments have been fully booked by Chinese tourists before the holiday," a source from a plastic surgery hospital in South Korea was quoted by Chosun Ilbo, a daily newspaper in South Korea, as saying on October 4.

"Chinese shoppers make up the highest portion of sales at our main store, accounting for about 40 percent," Kim Jung-eun, deputy sales manager at the main branch of Lotte Duty Free in Myeongdong, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Contrary to South Korea, visitors to Hong Kong spend less money on retail buying than before as they have more choices elsewhere.

The number of Chinese mainland visitors to Hong Kong was expected to increase by 10 to 15 percent compared with the same period of last year, but their total retail consumption was predicted to drop by 25 percent year-on-year, Joseph Tung, executive director of Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, was quoted by Wen Wei Po as saying on October 6.

"I didn't buy any luxury products in Hong Kong this time because I have asked my friend, who went to France this holiday, to buy something for me, and most of the luxury products in Paris are much cheaper," Yang Hua, a 32-year-old white collar worker from Beijing, who went to Hong Kong during the holiday, told the Global Times.

"Shopping and visiting places of interest are no longer the only reasons for Chinese tourists to travel overseas, and they also want to enjoy leisure," Zhou Kaiwen, general manager of Beijing-based L'Avion International Travel Service, told the Global Times.

Other popular destinations like some Southeast Asian countries and some famous islands also attracted a huge number of tourists.

A woman surnamed Ma in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, planned to go to Malaysia for her honeymoon and buy foreign exchange worth $2,000, but finally she could only convert $900 on October 3, because too many people went overseas during the holiday, leading to a shortage of foreign currencies at banks during the period, Wuhan Evening News reported.

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