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There and Back Again – Tourism in China

Tourism in China is a growing business. In fact most businesses are growing in China, so why is the growth of the tourism industry worth a blog on the mighty InternChina website?
Tourism tells us with a fair amount of precision where China is standing in the world. On one hand it demonstrates how interested people are in the Middle Kingdom. On the other hand it shows the development of Chinese society; how many people can afford to travel within China or even go abroad. So Tourism in China has two hands, of course we have tourists travelling to China but we also have the Chinese becoming more interested in getting to know the world around them.

Chinese People Abroad

I’m sure most of you right now are picturing one of those restless Chinese travel groups rushing through our capitals with iPads taking multiple snaps of the Colosseum one minute and the Eiffel tower the next. Jumping from one sight seeing spot to the next. Chinese tourists have developed a keen interest in experiencing the oh so strange Western culture, in fact in 2015 120 million Chinese left 中国 (zhōngguó, China) to explore the rest of the globe. While most Chinese are still staying in Asia, Europe is becoming a more and more attractive destination with France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany sneaking into the top 10 of most popular countries to travel to, albeit the not so Top 5.

InternChina - Chinese In Rome
InternChina – Chinese In Rome (source)

However, is cultural stimulation all they are after? No, they also want their Louis Vuitton items and other big luxury brand names. The first time I went into a Chinese shopping mall I was overwhelmed by the plethora of high end luxury brands that would put the Champs Elysees in Paris to shame. I was also no less surprised by the staggering price tags. No wonder half of all Chinese luxury expenses are done abroad, accounting for a total of 35% of all global luxury spending. For that reason Chinese tourists are the target group of many a countries tourist agenda. Denmark, for example, has realised that Chinese tourists are a market worth exploring after their tourist numbers quadrupled in just five years. Now the Nordic country has started advertising on Ctrip and WeChat. This is rightly so, as Chinese tourists are highly attractive customers having spent $165 billion in 2014, outspending the USA by $40 billion. They do not bother with the cheap stuff either, heading straight for the big luxury brands. This is because nearly half of all the tourists going on vacation abroad sell something they bought to their peers in China. Many Chinese tourists are known to misbehave though, which is why Xi Jinping has released a statement and pamphlet urging the tourists to adapt to the culture they are experiencing.

InternChina-Chinese Buying Some Haute Couture
InternChina – Chinese Buying Some Haute Couture (source)

These holiday-makers seem to be undeterred in the face of recent economic hardship, with all statistics indicating high growth rates in terms of number of tourists and amount of money spent.

Domestic Tourism in China

Obviously, not everyone can afford to 旅行 (lǚxíng; travel) abroad; 740 million Chinese travelled domestically and who would have guessed – figures are rising. In fact this is all part of a clever ploy by the Chinese government to stimulate growth in the rural, rustic “outback” of China and lift 17% of the country’s poor out of poverty by 2020.

Like the other 55.7 million 外国人 (wàiguórén; foreigners) who travelled to China, I was startled by the sheer amount of Chinese tourists at the Chinese sights. When you come to think of it, it should not be too surprising but it was so crowded moving freely was not possible. Evidently, the government’s scheme seems to be paying off and it is backed by data as well. Indeed by 2020 three million rural tourism businesses will be receiving two billion annual visitors, which would in turn lift two million of China’s rural population out of poverty each year. The domestic tourism sector is estimated to generate one trillion RMB ($150 billion) supporting 50 million rural residents.

InternChina-Great Wall
InternChina – Great Wall (source)

For now, most foreign tourists in China are Asian with only the USA gaining a spot in the top 10. However don’t let this stop you! China is not as much of a world away as you think and there is loads of information out there to make the process of visiting China as smooth as possible.

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