The Eiffel Tower in Paris, capital of France. [File photo: showimg.com]
More than 12% of wealthy Chinese nationals choose France as their favorite holiday destination and Hong Kong as the best place to shop, according to a recent survey by American Express' Global Network Group.
Xinhua News Agency reports the survey interviewed 1,220 people in the top 5% income bracket in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Xi'an.
France beat the United States by a narrow margin to take the crown as the overall favorite "dream destination". But the residents of different cities showed preferences for different countries. France only won the "dream destination" category for the residents of Shanghai. Rich Beijingers preferred to visit the United States and the residents of Guangzhou favored Japan.
Income levels also had a significant influence on travel preferences. Twenty percent of the respondents who earned more than 15 thousand yuan (about 1911 US dollars) a month said they would like to tour the United States, compared to only 11% of people who earned less than this amount.
Age appeared to be another factor that affects travel preferences. Seven percent of respondents aged 18 to 24 favored Italy, compared to just 2% of people over 45.
France is also living up to its reputation as one of the most romantic cities in the world. Residents in seven out of the eight cities polled voted it the best destination for a honeymoon. The residents of Shenyan were the only exception, as they preferred to seal their wedding vows in Australia . Out of all the cities combined, the United States was the runner-up for best honeymoon destination. It was particularly favored by people who earn more than 15 thousand yuan a month or who were more than 35 years old.
The top four destinations within China were Sanya, Beijing, Guilin and Kunming. Almost half the correspondents voted Hong Kong the best place to shop, followed by Japan, France and Shanghai.
Zhang Guangshui, Tourism Research Center Director at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, said the survey reveals the changes in Chinese people's ideas about travelling. Starting with the richer citizens, the ideal holiday has shifted from a rushed, whirlwind "I've-been-here" tour to a relaxing and rewarding trip for the body and the mind.