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Chinese New Year tourists head overseas

News, 19 February 2015

TAIPEI/CHRISTCHURCH: A traditional time for tourism, more than half of people travelling for Chinese New Year are expected to head overseas, bringing a significant economic boost to many markets.

A report conducted jointly by the China Tourism Academy and the Shanghai-based travel website Ctrip.com said that 60% of those with travel plans other than heading to a traditional family reunion intended to go abroad, with Thailand, South Korea, Japan and the US the most popular destinations.

There are several factors at work, aside from the simple desire to travel, WantChinaTimes noted. These include the easing of travel regulations by foreign countries keen to attract high-spending tourists.

Better exchange rates are also bringing some destinations within reach of more people: a weakened euro, for example, means some Chinese tourists will now be able to visit Paris.

People from Beijing and Shanghai were reported to be the top spenders on overseas trips, with average expenses of more than 5,000 yuan ($800) per person, followed by residents of Hangzhou.

The scale of the exodus has been brought into sharp focus in New Zealand, which is currently hosting a six-week-long, high-profile sporting event in the ICC Cricket World Cup.

With some 14 nations taking part, the tourism sector expects a total of 30,000 overseas visitors to arrive, The Press reported. But up to 40,000 Chinese tourists are anticipated during the Chinese New Year holiday period.

Graham Budd, chief executive of Destination Queenstown, said that Chinese visitors were second only to Australians and could even overtake them in the future.

"They are jet boating and skydiving, exploring and doing Lord of the Rings tours, they're doing wine tours, you name it," he said.

The South Island destination is proving particularly popular with Chinese tourists: their numbers have increased 395% between 2010 and 2014 while over the same period the numbers visiting New Zealand have doubled.

Data sourced from WantChinaTimes, The Press; additional content by Warc staff