Chinese overtake Germans as biggest spending tourists

Thu Apr 4, 2013 12:50pm EDT
 
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MADRID/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Chinese tourists have overtaken Germans as the world's biggest-spending travelers after a decade of robust growth in the number of Chinese holidaying abroad, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) said on Thursday.

Chinese tourists, known for travelling in organized tours and snapping up luxury fashion abroad, spent $102 billion on foreign trips last year, outstripping deep-pocketed travelers from Germany and the United States.

Chinese tourists spent 41 percent more on foreign travel in 2012 than the year before, beating the close to $84 billion both German and U.S. travelers parted with last year.

Tourists from other fast-growing economies with swelling middle classes, like Russia and Brazil, also increased spending in 2012. In recession-hit Europe, however, French and Italian tourists reined in their holiday budgets.

"The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing middle class from these countries," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

The German Travel Association (DRV) said it was to be expected that the Chinese would eventually overtake Germans in terms of spending, given that the country had more inhabitants than North America, Russia and Europe put together.

"But that they have overtaken us already is astonishing," DRV president Juergen Buechy said.

The Chinese make more long-haul trips than Germans, who typically go to Mediterranean destinations, meaning that the average spend per holiday was greater, he added.

CATCHING UP   Continued...

 
A Chinese tourist celebrates with German friends a beer at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle