Tourists from China biggest spenders overseas in 2015

Chinese tourists stand near the Big Ben clock tower in London © Kevin Coombs
When it comes to traveling and spending abroad Chinese tourists can’t be beat. The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) says $215 billion was spent by Chinese travelers last year, which is 17 percent of global travel expenses.

The report said holiday makers from China spent mostly on souvenirs and cosmetics, products of everyday use, luxury items, as well as clothing and footwear.

In the last five years the number of Chinese travelers has increased by 20 percent annually, which contributed significantly to the development of the global tourism market despite the economic growth slowdown.

WTCF said that more than 70 percent of Chinese tourists travel abroad at least once a year, with half of them willing to spend more than a fifth of their expenses on traveling.

China has been the world’s largest outbound tourism market since 2012, according to data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The tourism boom is partially a result of government initiatives to encourage travel, such as a favorable visa environment and more supportive policies along with information technology.

A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report predicted outbound tourism from China will swamp the world by 2019 with a wave of 174 million Chinese travelers expected to spend $264 billion on overseas shopping. According to the report, 25-to-34-year olds will make up 35 percent of the total number of tourists, with 15-24-year olds accounting for around 27 percent.

"The prospect of China outbound tourism is bright," said the director of the China Cultural Center in Berlin Shi Xiang.

The World Travel and Tourism Council’s study showed that tourists from China prefer traveling 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.

READ MORE: Chinese tourism to Russia jumps 63%

Lately, Chinese tourists have also showed greater interest in Russia. According to data from the Moscow tourism department, over a million Chinese visited the country last year, spending nearly $1 billion. In the first five months of this year the number of Chinese tourists to Russia has soared by 63 percent.