Outbound on the up
    2011-02-15 11:17:28     Global Times      Web Editor: zhaolixia
China's outbound tourism during the Spring Festival holiday enjoyed big increases, showing the consumption ability of Chinese travelers, industry professionals say, despite rising prices.
China's outbound tourism during the Spring Festival holiday enjoyed big increases, showing the consumption ability of Chinese travelers, industry professionals say, despite rising prices.

"It was very fresh and exciting to spend the traditional festival in Disneyland in the US,"said Zhao Jie, who works at the Beijing UTour International Travel Service Co.

Zhao and her husband were just back Thursday, after 10 days' traveling in the US, with each spending 24,000 yuan ($3,640.00) on the whole trip. They were on a tour organized by travel agencies from Beijing and Guangzhou separately, all spending the Spring Festival in the US.

Zhao met several hundred Chinese travelers in Disneyland.

"The price has soared much higher than in normal times but this trip covers better service and accommodation, including some four and five-star hotels, " said Zhao.

Statistics released by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) showed that the price for Middle East and Europe tour rose 15 percent, and the price for Phuket and Saipan Island by 30 percent. But such increases seemed to have had little effect on trade.

According to Ctrip, the biggest domestic online travel agency, the amount of tourists booking outbound tours increased almost 30 percent, "selling very well", according to Yu Lan, the director of Outbound Tourism Department.

Yu said Japan, the islands in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are still the main destinations, and the travel to Australia, the US and Europe has increased, with Africa and the Middle East newly in favor.
The reason for the increase during the holiday can be attributed to growing family needs, as well as a kind of personal investment, in Yu's opinion.

"Among tour products, we mainly focus on the family [one], for Spring Festival is an important occasion for Chinese to gather, and more and more Chinese are choosing to spend the festival this way, " said Yu.

"According to traditional custom, Chinese need to visit relatives and friends and many choose to go abroad to escape from dinners and parties, which are also expensive; they would rather spend money on the trip, " said Yu Weihua, the manager of the Outbound Tourism Center of Shanghai China International Travel Service Limited.

"The importance of outbound travel to increase status back home means that the decision to travel abroad is not just a personal leisure measure, it is also a kind of investment in oneself," commented Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of Germany's China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

Many travelers also take the opportunity to shop abroad, attracting more attention from the foreign travel and retail industries.

"Luxury clothes and cosmetics brands are much cheaper than in the domestic market, and I spent 20,000 yuan ($3,033.66) on shopping, " said Zhao. "Our tour members almost emptied the Outlets in Palm Springs."

According to the US Travel Association, Chinese travelers spend an average 45,000 yuan ($6,825.73), making it a leading country.

"The appreciation of the renminbi also means it's more attractive for Chinese travelers shopping in the US, " said Huang Zhiheng, chief representative of the California Travel and Tourism Commission in China.

In Japan, the Mitsui Business Group arranged Chinese interpreters in their shopping malls, and supplemented products which are more popular among Chinese travelers, such as electronics and cosmetics.

"More and more companies or shopping centers offer preferential measures for Chinese travelers, even opening household appliance stores which cater to the Chinese," said Yasuhiro Iijima, Chief Representative of Japan National Tourism Organization Beijing Office.

"The World Travel and Tourism Council predicted a 9 percent annual expansion in the tourism industry in the next 10 years; China will have the fastest growth rate in the world, due to  favorable policies, easier visa application, and strong national currency rate," Arlt noted.

Statistics show that 52 million Chinese crossed a border in 2010.
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