Chinese tourists spend $215 billion overseas

© Andy Wong
A record-breaking $215 billion was spent by Chinese travelers abroad last year, 53 percent more than a year earlier, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Even with stock exchange turmoil and a slowing economy China overtook developed countries, including the United States both in cash spent on travelling and the number of trips. Last year the Chinese made 120 million trips overseas, the report says.

“A lot of this growth is stimulated by more and more people coming into the middle class,” said WTTC president David Scowsill.

Tourists from China prefer travelling around Asia when they leave the country for the first time. Europe and the United States are popular options as well as countries with easier visa policies, the study finds.

Popular destinations like Germany, Britain and Iceland have profited from the growing outbound trends in China. Australia and New Zealand remained attractive as well, according to WTTC.

Japan has benefited the most from the Chinese tourism boom thanks to the devaluation of the yen and a relaxed visa policy for visitors from China.

Older travelers prefer organized group tours while the young tend to go abroad on their own, according to the report.

© David Gray

However, in contrast to the huge increase in travelers going abroad, tourism into China had grown just three percent though still staying above the global average.

“Interest in inbound tourism into China will thrive if there is resolve on continuing visa facilitation into the country and focusing on strong destination promotion,” said Scowsill.

The Chinese economy is currently growing at its lowest rate in over three decades due to the slowing manufacturing sector and reduced demand for commodities. Despite the slowdown, Beijing reported an enviable growth of 6.9 percent last year.