Chinese tourist boom ripples out to more destinations

Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:58am EDT
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By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Chinese tourists are seeking more exotic locales for their trips as the popularity of most of their top 20 destinations soars, TripAdvisor said on Tuesday, reflecting the boom by the world's highest-spending group of travellers.

The travel website said its data on customer searches showed people from mainland China still love to go to nearby Hong Kong and Macau for getaways and shopping, but are increasingly adventurous, with holidays in Asia, Europe and North America.

"This new generation of Chinese outbound travellers is making their own decisions about where to go, where to stay and what to do by doing their own research online, going beyond the old stereotype of big buses of group tourists," Lily Cheng, managing director of TripAdvisor China, said in a statement.

Hong Kong was the most popular destination search in July to August, with interest from Chinese travellers rising 50 percent from the same period of 2012, TripAdvisor said.

Phuket, a beach resort in Thailand, was in second place, with 3.5 times as many searches than a year earlier. Taiwan was third (up 4.5 times), Bangkok was fourth (up 3.7 times) and Paris was fifth (up 4.6 times).

Other popular places in the Chinese top 20 included Dubai, Seoul, Singapore, the Indonesian island of Bali, Rome, New York and London.

Four destinations had booming growth, with searches up by more than six times: Jeju Island in South Korea, Kyoto in Japan, Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and Vietnam's capital, Hanoi.

While tourism spending is on the rise globally, Chinese travellers are the most avid consumers and a big target market for operators of hotels, shops and attractions.   Continued...