“Outbound tourism is no longer a privilege of the rich,” said researcher Jiang Yiyi. The Chinese Outbound Tourism Development 2013 report, released by the China Tourism Academy, noted that more people from smaller Chinese cities are traveling abroad. “Lower-tier cities have and will continue to contribute substantially to its [Chinese tourism’s] development,” Jiang said.
From January to September last year, Chinese tourists from second-tier cities rose 28 percent year-on-year, while tourists from first-tier cities rose 18 percent, according to China.org.cn. Dai Bin, head of the academy, said that the amount of outbound visits from China is expected to reach 94.3 million this year, a year-on-year increase of 15 percent, while spending is to hit a record $117.6 billion and the tourism services trade deficit will likely reach $68.3 billion.
On the ground, reports from travel agents are echoing the report’s findings. Li Mengran, a public relations specialist at Beijing UTour International Travel Service, said that the number of orders for the recent Labor Day holiday, from April 29 to May 1, were double that from a year ago. About 95 percent of products from her agency were booked as of April 25, she said.
Li cited the most popular destinations for clients at her agency to be Southeast Asian countries like Thailand. She noted that tourists are becoming more “rational” when it comes to spending money. They leave home prepared to tackle their shopping destinations and are more careful about getting the best value.
However, the report found that Chinese tourists are only “adequately satisfied” with outbound tourism, citing worries of a lack of channels for filing complaints and insufficient Chinese language signs and options at their destinations.
photo credit: chinese tourists