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More Chinese travel overseas

By Zheng Xin and Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)

08:29, April 25, 2013

More people from smaller Chinese cities are traveling abroad, new research released on Wednesday showed.

Thanks to the country's rapid economic development, residents of second- and third-tier cities have plans and are able to go overseas for their holidays, according to the China Outbound Tourism Development 2013 report, released by the China Tourism Academy.

"Outbound tourism is no longer a privilege of the rich," said academy researcher Jiang Yiyi. "Lower-tier cities have and will continue to contribute substantially to its development."

For instance, from January to September last year, the number of Chinese tourists from second-tier cities who visited Singapore rose 28 percent year-on-year, while the number from first-tier cities increased 18 percent.

The amount of outbound visits exceeded 83.18 million, a year-on-year increase of 18.41 percent, the report added.

Total overseas spending by Chinese tourists in 2012 reached $102 billion, while the tourism services trade deficit further increased to $51.9 billion.

The amount of outbound visits from China is expected to reach 94.3 million this year, a year-on-year increase of 15 percent, while spending is to hit a record $117.6 billion and the tourism services trade deficit will likely reach $68.3 billion, according to Dai Bin, head of the academy.

"More tourism agencies are shifting their focus to outbound tourism, which will further provide more capital, human resources and channels for the field," he said.

According to Li Mengran, a public relations specialist at Beijing UTour International Travel Service, outbound tourism has been booming in recent years, with the number of orders for the upcoming Labor Day holiday, from April 29 to May 1, double that from a year ago.

"About 95 percent of our products are booked," Li said.

Tours to destinations, especially in neighboring Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, are the most popular, she said.

Dai added that Chinese people are becoming more sensible when it comes to outbound tourism.

The view was echoed by Li. "Chinese travelers, many of whom have traveled overseas at least once, have grown more rational when it comes to spending money," she said.

Chinese tourists are more prepared when it comes to shopping in their destinations, and they are trying to get the best deals, said Li.

However, Chinese tourists are only "adequately satisfied" with outbound tourism, according to the report, with many of them worried by the lack of channels for filing complaints, and insufficient Chinese signs and indications in their destinations.

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