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China set to be top market for tourism

Publication Date : 09-04-2014


China will overtake the US this year as the largest overseas tourism market measured by travelers and continue to grow, the industry's biggest global distribution system provider said on Tuesday.

Chinese will make up 20 per cent of the world's foreign tourists by 2023, a report by Spain-based Amadeus IT Group SA said. The number of Chinese families able to afford overseas holidays will double in the next 10 years.

China's robust economic growth and increasing consumer spending are spurring the trade in tourism to outside the country, the report said.

"Chinese travelers' passions for outbound tourism are unstoppable," Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy's international tourism development division, said.

Academy statistics show the number of outbound travel trips increased 18 per cent to 98 million in 2013 and could reach 114 million this year. China became the largest outbound travel market, measured by total spending, in 2012, accounting for 9.5 per cent of the global total.

Amadeus' report said Asia, particularly its Northeast region, will become more important to the business-travel market because volumes in the West won't recover to pre-2008 levels until 2018.

China may also exceed the US as the largest market for business-travel spending as early as 2015, according to an end-March report by The Global Business Travel Association.

It forecast spending to grow 17.8 per cent year-on-year to US$309 billion in 2015, as economic growth remains steady, although slowing. Domestic travel is the main driver, making up about 95 per cent of spending on Chinese business travel, the GBTA said.

Although government restrictions on public spending have adversely affected business travel in China, domestic business-travel spending continues to grow, Welf Ebeling, regional director for GBTA Asia, said.

Chinese airlines still benefit from business travel, although growth is slower than in previous years. Air China Ltd's sales revenue from first- and business-class seats rose 7 per cent year-on-year in 2013, according to its annual report. Passenger numbers for the two premier cabins of China Southern Airlines Co Ltd grew 14.5 per cent in 2013 compared with the previous year, it said in its annual report.


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