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31 Jan, 2014

70% of Chinese tourists to head overseas during Spring Season festival


Beijing, (Xinhua), January 30, 2014 – Global tourism destinations expect to see a bigger influx of visitors from the Chinese mainland during the Spring Festival holiday.

More than 70 percent of mainland tourists plan to travel overseas during the seven-day holiday, which starts on Jan 31. It is the first time that more tourists have planned overseas trips than travel at home during the period, the China Tourism Academy said in its report.

Of the mainlanders planning to travel, 39.3 percent will make foreign trips, while 35.4 percent will visit Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan.

South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the United States, France, New Zealand, Canada as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan will be the main destinations for travelers, the academy said.

It forecast that some 225 million tours will be taken by mainland tourists at home and abroad during the holiday.

Foreign travel has become more popular with mainlanders, helped by a sound economy, favorable visa policies and appreciation of the yuan, said Jiang Yiyi, director of the academy‘s international tourism department.

Heavy smog has also prompted people in large cities to find temporary relief, Jiang said.

Beijing UTour International Travel Service said it has increased its travel programs by 50 percent from last year and all are fully booked.

“It means the number of our clients has grown by up to 50 percent this year,” said Zhang Lei, general manger. “All bookings for Spring Festival sold out by the middle of January.”

This year, UTour started selling Spring Festival packages two weeks earlier in December, but they still sold quickly, Zhang said.

Rao Tian, general manager of China International Tourism Service’s European destinations department, reached his sales target ahead of schedule.

Although prices have increased by about 10 percent this year, some long-haul tour packages sold out in mid-December, Rao said.

This left some potential travelers, including Zhang Mei, feeling frustrated.

The 29-year-old, who works in Beijing, abandoned her plans to visit Japan after failing to sign up with a travel agency.

“I started to contact travel agencies two weeks before the holiday, but it was still too late,” she said.

She has returned to her hometown in northeastern China for the holiday.

Jiang said more people are opting to arrange their own tours rather than join organized group travel.

Ctrip.com International, the largest online travel agency in China, said more than 60 percent of its clients making foreign trips over Spring Festival arranged them independently.

Xu Zhiyun, general manager of the long-haul division of Ctrip’s outbound tourism department, said the trend marks a new era in which mainland tourists care more about the quality of their tours.

Ctrip’s bookings show that mainland tourists now prefer to stay in one place for several days instead of visiting several cities in a short time, Xu said.

Some 98 million overseas trips were made by mainlanders in 2013 and the academy forecasts that the outbound market can expect to see 114 million trips in 2014.

(Editor: Huang Jin, Yao Chun)