BEIJING: Some 94m Chinese consumers travelled overseas in 2013, spending more money in the process than tourists from any other country - and their habits are still evolving.
Want China Times reported that total overseas spending by Chinese tourists hit $110bn last year. China's Tourism Bureau also suggested at least 100m Chinese nationals will make an overseas trip in 2014. There is likely to be a skew towards older age groups, with the 55-65 year old cohort constituting the largest demographic.
The impact on global tourism can be judged from a couple of statistics: around 40% of the total profits for brand-name retail shops in Italy come from Chinese tourists, while the average spend by visitors to the UK from China in the Christmas holidays was around $2,300.
While more and more Chinese tourists are showing signs of wanting to travel independently, Brett Tollman, chief executive of The Travel Corporation, an international travel group, warned that the "dependency" on custom group travel would take some time to fade.
He told Travel Weekly that the firms who tried to force the pace in this regard by aggressively developing new products, would do less well than those who showed patience and adapted to the Chinese way.
"The focus is to take the brands to China and offer consumers a better experience," he explained. "Every market evolves slowly but the Chinese market will explode."
The enthusiasm for travel was further illustrated in new figures reported by Xinhua showing that the country's major cities reported significant rises in tourism income during the recent week-long Spring Festival holiday. Beijing for example, had 9.75m sightseers, up 12.3% on the previous year, while tourism income was up 13%.
And 4.4m travellers passed through Shenzhen en route to sightseeing or shopping tours in Hong Kong, an average of 600,000 people daily, according to figures released by Shenzhen customs.
Data sourced from Want China Times, Xinhua, Travel Weekly; additional content by Warc staff