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Better-off Chinese travel abroad for Lunar New Year
Nowadays a growing number of avid travelers like to spend the Chinese Lunar New Year far away from home. China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), has expected a 35-percent rise in the number of outbound tourists during the holiday week from Jan. 22 to 28.
As millions rushed to board a homebound train before the Chinese Lunar New Year, a growing number of avid travelers decided to spend the most important holiday far away from home.

China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), a leading outbound tourism service provider, has expected a 35-percent rise in the number of outbound tourists during the holiday week from Jan. 22 to 28.

The Chinese Lunar New Year's Day, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on Jan. 23 this year.

"The Spring Festival travel rush has spread to other countries, as many better-off Chinese people decide to celebrate the traditional holiday in a different way," said CYTS's vice president Li Jing.

Deng Di, a tour guide with Hua Yuan International Travel Co., Ltd., saw off a 100-member strong tour group to Japan at Beijing airport early on Monday, when most of the Chinese people were sleeping late after a night of feasts and family gatherings to see the new year in.

Deng had an extremely busy day, seeing off 13 outbound tour groups whose departure times varied from 7 a.m. to midnight.

In China's largest city Shanghai, at least 64,000 people are traveling abroad during the Spring Festival travel rush from Jan. 15 to 28, up 11.6 percent from the holiday period of last year, the city's tourism bureau said in a press release Thursday.

It said more than 20,000 outbound travelers passed customs checkpoints at Shanghai's two international airports, Hongqiao and Pudong, on Monday morning alone.

The figure was three times as many as the number of inbound tourists of the same time, and was 4,000 more than last year, the document said.

While traditional destinations, such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and European countries, remained popular this year, new markets including Sri Lanka, Hawaii, New Zealand and Maldives are also drawing more Chinese tourists.

"China became the largest source of tourists to Maldives last year", said Li Jing. "In 2010, it ranked the 14th."

Today, many hotels in Maldives offer Chinese dinner buffets and waiters and waitresses are taught to speak Mandarin. Chinese signboards are seen at airports and restaurants.

"This enables the Chinese to travel more easily, even if they do not speak any foreign language," said Li.

As a result, nearly half of the Chinese tourists chose self-planned tours in Maldives instead of traveling with a tour group this year, he said.

They only booked discounted air tickets and hotels through a travel service, and enjoyed more freedom during their sightseeing tours even though package tours were more economical."

A self-planned, 6-day tour to Maldives, for example, costs 20,000 yuan per person, at least 50 percent more expensive than a package tour.

"Last year, 70 percent of the tourists still chose package tours", said Li.

Eyeing the growing number of Chinese tourists and the business boom they bring, many countries have moved to draw more visitors from China.

Just two days before the Lunar New Year, Ambassador Philippe Le Gall of Seychelles personally saw off a group of 152 Chinese tourists who took a chartered flight to the African country.

The tourists, who spent five days in Seychelles, were the first to take a chartered flight to Africa.

"Seychelles is working to draw Chinese tourists and has launched theme tours featuring its volcanoes and traditional artwork", said Jia Yin, a marketing manager with the outbound tourism branch of China Travel Service.
  Source: Xinhua

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