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14% more Chinese traveling overseas in 1st 5 months
14% more Chinese traveling overseas in 1st 5 months

China's outbound tourism market is growing faster than expected.

About 16 million Chinese traveled overseas in the first five months of the year, a year-on-year increase of 14 percent, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) said yesterday. The pace of growth is more than the CNTA's forecast of 10 percent during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10).

But CNTA head Shao Qiwei said the percentage of business travelers among outbound travelers is dropping.

Last year, 34 million Chinese traveled abroad, making them the sixth largest group of outbound tourists, and CNTA said the figure would reach 37.4 million this year.

Not just the number of Chinese traveling abroad, but also the money spent by them has been growing at an average 10 percent a year, Shao said.

Also, Chinese tourists are traveling to new destinations, with many preferring European and American countries.

The more than expected boom has made the UN World Tourism Organization say China will become the fourth largest source of outbound tourists in the world by the mid-2010s, instead of the original forecast of 2020.

The organization's Asia-Pacific representative, Xu Jing, said at a forum earlier: "Nearly 19 percent of Chinese people (or 250 million) wish to travel abroad, and this number will double in 2010."

The huge market potential has made China more important in many countries' tourism promotion schedule.

Addressing a press conference, Beijing Tourism Administration head Du Jiang said the huge potential is the reason why the annual Beijing Tourism Expo has attracted more and more countries in recent years. New faces from faraway countries are seen at the fair each year.

Representatives from Sharjah, one of the seven states of the United Arab Emirates, attended the third Beijing Tourism Expo for the first time this June. Talking about Chinese tourists, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority Director-General Mohamed Ali Al Norman said: "We want to spread Arabian culture and bring Chinese tourists new experience."

China Daily

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