MADRID/FRANKFURT, April 4 Chinese tourists have
overtaken Germans as the world's biggest-spending travellers
after a decade of robust growth in the number of Chinese
holidaying abroad, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
(UNWTO) said on Thursday.
Chinese tourists, known for travelling in organised tours
and snapping up luxury fashion abroad, spent $102 billion on
foreign trips last year, outstripping deep-pocketed travellers
from Germany and the United States.
Chinese tourists spent 41 percent more on foreign travel in
2012 than the year before, beating the close to $84 billion both
German and U.S. travellers parted with last year.
Tourists from other fast-growing economies with swelling
middle classes, like Russia and Brazil, also increased spending
in 2012. In recession-hit Europe, however, French and Italian
tourists reined in their holiday budgets.
"The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and
Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing
middle class from these countries," said UNWTO Secretary-General
The German Travel Association (DRV) said it was to be
expected that the Chinese would eventually overtake Germans in
terms of spending, given that the country had more inhabitants
than North America, Russia and Europe put together.
"But that they have overtaken us already is astonishing,"
DRV president Juergen Buechy said.
The Chinese make more long-haul trips than Germans, who
typically go to Mediterranean destinations, meaning that the
average spend per holiday was greater, he added.
China is the world's fastest growing tourist source market,
thanks to higher disposable incomes in the world's number two
economy and looser foreign travel restrictions. Chinese tourists
made 83 million foreign trips in 2012, compared to 10 million in
Hoteliers, tour companies, restaurants and even taxi drivers
will need to brush up on their knowledge of Chinese cuisine,
culture and language if they are to tempt them away from
favourite destinations like Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Maldives,
European tourism officials have said.
Other countries in the top 10 including Japan and Australia
posted growth in travel spending, though only Russia came close
to China's huge growth, with a 32 percent increase in holiday
Russians are now the fifth highest-spending tourists,
parting with $43 billion last year, according to the
Madrid-based UNWTO, and catching up on the British, who spent
$52 billion in 2012.
Italian spending dipped by 1 percent to $26 billion in 2012
and French tourists parted with $38 billion, a 6 percent drop
year-on-year. The two euro zone peers were the only countries in
the top 10 outbound markets to post declines.