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Stronger yuan boosts Chinese outbound tourism
Nowadays, yuan becomes stronger, which makes Chinese tourists like to shopping overseas.
Is spending the new saving? Yes, if you travel to Japan or European countries from China.
Christina Liu made up her mind not to buy a Rimowa suitcase for her recent trip to Munich. But she returned with a suitcase even larger than the one she bought last year.
"I'd have felt foolish if I hadn't," said Liu, 28. After a tax refund, the new suitcase costs 1,900 yuan ($306). The same one costs 6,500 yuan at a retailer in Beijing.
Only eight months away from her last trip, Liu said everything feels like it's on a big discount and has become more affordable as the exchange rate of the euro against the yuan fell to a new low of 6.75.
European luxury brand Chanel recently announced that it was reducing the prices of three handbags in China by 20 percent while increasing them in Europe by 20 percent.
Some of its branches in Beijing have already made the adjustment. This is the first time Chanel has cut its prices in the past five years.
Propelled by the euro's depreciation, traveling to Europe is becoming increasingly popular among Chinese tourists this year, said Dai Yu, marketing director of the tourism department at International Inc, the largest online travel agency in China.
With rich tourism resources and a diverse culture, Europe has been a major tourism destination for Chinese travelers.
But Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy's International Tourism Development Institute, said that due to the long hours required by European touring packages and the relatively high costs compared to short journeys to Southeast Asian destinations, European touring products will be on the rise this year but not by a significant amount.
"European destinations are worthy of deep exploration for multiple visits," Dai said.
The number of Ctrip's tour groups to Europe has increased over 100 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period of 2014, while the average price has fallen by about 1,000 yuan.
"Major incentives for Chinese travelers in terms of European traveling products are currency fluctuations as well as price competition among major tourist agencies," Dai said.
Ctrip launched an online travel festival on March 6 in 43 cities across China and provided low-price products, including trips to Europe thousands of yuan cheaper than the prices offered by other online travel agencies.
Some other travel agencies have also joined the price battle to offer low-price tour products this spring, an off-season for tourism.
Tongcheng Network Technology Share Co, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, the fourth-largest online travel agency in China, launched an event with over 200 products in 20 Chinese cities on March 21, and all the 11-day tours departing in April to France, Switzerland and Italy have been fully booked.
"Actually, the euro's depreciation is like a big promotion for Chinese tourists visiting Europe," said Liu Qing, chief executive officer of Tongcheng's outbound tourism department.
The exchange rate of the euro against the yuan is currently about 27 percent lower than the previous year, which means huge discounts for Chinese travelers, Liu said.
Tours including shopping or a reasonable amount of free time are the most popular among all the European trips on offer, Liu added, especially individual travel, although the price is higher.
Tongcheng's data show that bookings in the first three months of 2015 already exceeded the total for last year. During the first quarter of 2015, the agency launched more than 10 European tour products, which are now close to being fully booked.
Jiang Yiyi from the China Tourism Academy said that in addition to Europe, travel to Japan has also been boosted to an all-time high this year due to the depreciation of the Japanese yen against the yuan.
Chinese tourists rushing to Japan to buy automatic toilet seats and rice cookers has become a heated topic on the Internet.
"As a tourism destination Japan offers diversified products with quality services," said Jiang.
Travelers cash in on exchange rate
The depreciation of the rouble has stimulated Chinese travelers' interest in visiting Russia, according to industry insiders.
According to search data for Russian hotels on the Chinese website of, an online booking and reservation platform for accommodation worldwide, the number of Chinese travelers browsing hotel information in Russia saw double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. The rising search volume continued in the first two months of 2015. Therefore, Russia can be considered as one of the best-value destinations, in contrast with other European countries, according to Jessica Chuang, regional marketing director of in China.
"This is good news for deal-seeking travelers," she said. "Chinese travelers can enjoy great deals when traveling to Russia, and luxury brands as well as electronic items have become much more affordable."
However, Li Mengran, a public relations specialist at Beijing UTour International, said the cost of its trips to Russia has not been greatly affected by the currency fluctuations because the transactions with local agencies are settled in US dollars. Therefore, shopping is the only incentive for Chinese tourists to go to Russia as a result of such currency changes.
  Source: Ecns

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