While the tourism world shuddered through the twin effects of swine flu and the economic downturn in 2009 there was at least one welcome trend -- more and more Chinese are heading overseas.(Relaxnews) -
While the tourism world shuddered through the twin effects of swine flu and the economic downturn in 2009 there was at least one welcome trend - more and more Chinese are heading overseas.
The China Tourist Academy (CTA) has reported overall nine percent growth in the number of Chinese heading off to foreign lands for their holidays - that makes the total figure more than 50 million annually - and, what's more, they seem to be spending too.
As the Chinese economy goes from strength to strength, it emerged in figures from the CTA this year that 75 percent of travellers from Beijing, for example, were spending on average 20,000 yuan (€2,000) on their holidays, most of which is going on shopping.
And the United States seems to be the happiest benefactor.
While in recent years, the US has been ranked the fifth most popular destination for Chinese, by the end of next year it is expected to become the most popular, among Beijingers at least, according to the CTA.
Traditionally the most popular destinations for Chinese have been Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam South Korea and Japan - but with freerer visa access being granted over the past few years, things are chaging rapidly.
"Over 400,000 Chinese visited the US last year, and about 60 percent of them were here for business,'' Zhu Jun, the Chinese head of the New York Travel Bureau told Chinese media this week.
"But this year we expect 60 percent of the Chinese visitors will come to the US for holidays, and will enjoy the biggest shopping season of the year.''
The World Tourism Organization has this year predicted that China will be the globe's fourth largest source of outbound tourists by 2020, accounting for some 100 million travellers per year.
One of the more surprising things to come out of the year was just how few Chinese tourists made it to Taiwan - after long-simmering tensions between the two countries finally thawed.
Taiwan had predicted 1.6 million visitors from the mainland this year but the figure is more likely to end up being around 900,000.
Hong Kong, meanwhile, is confidently predicting around 30 millions tourist arrivals for the year - almost exactly the same number as in 2008.