Chinese rush overseas for holiday

LiuJinghasdecidednottogohometoseeherfamilyforSpringFestival, orChineseNewYear, thisyear. Instead, shewillcelebratethefestivalinHoChiMinhCity, Vietnam, thousandsofmilesfromherhometown.

“IamgoingtospendSpringFestivaloverseastoseekinnerpeace,” saidLiu, 24, whojustresignedfromherjob. “I’llhaveNewYear’sEvedinnerwithotherbackpackersandsendmygreetingshomeviatheInternet.”

LiuJingisjustoneofthemanyChinesepeoplewhowilltravelabroadduringthetraditionalfamily-reunionLunarNewYearholiday, whichfallsonFeb 10 thisyear.

SpringFestivalisthemostimportantholidayinChina, andthetraditionistoreturnhometohavedinnerwiththewholefamilyonNewYear’sEve, thelastdayoftheChineselunarcalendar.

However, manychoosetoleavethecountrytogoonvacation, duetoanincreaseinincome, flexiblevisapoliciesandastrongChinesecurrency.

ExpertssaidthistrendshowsChinesepeopleareconvertingfrombasicconsumptionsuchasfoodandclothingtoahigherlevel, includingtravel.

“TheconsumptionvalueofChinesepeoplehasbeengraduallytransformingfromsurvivaltocomfortandleisure,” saidLiXinjian, chairoftourismmanagementdepartmentatBeijingInternationalStudiesUniversity.

Therehasbeena 30 percentincreaseinbookingsforoverseastravelduringSpringFestivalthisyearcomparedwith 2011, withThailandbeingthemostattractivecountry, saidZhuLianli, managerofChinaYouthTravelService’sGuangxiBranch.

TheincreasingenthusiasmforoverseastripsduringSpringFestivalispartofasurgingmarketofChina’soutboundtourism.

AccordingtotheChinaTourismAcademy, about 82 millionChinesewentonforeigntoursin 2012, up 16.7 percentyear-on-year, taking $98 billiontotheirdestinations.

“Accordingtothetourismeconomicstheory, whenanation’spercapitagrossdomesticproductexceeds $5,000, foreigntravelgrowsrapidly,” saidLiYanqin, anassistantprofessorofmanagementfromMinzuUniversityofChina.

“Thecurrenttravelfrenzyaccordswiththetheory,” saidProfessorLi, asin 2011, China’sper-capitaGDPforthefirsttimeexceeded $5,000 andindividualdisposableincomealsoincreased.

KevinWatkins, whohasbeenvisitingChinatopromotetourismofNewZealandsince 2004, saidthegrowingwealthinalargersectionofthepopulationgivesChinesepeoplethemeansandabilitytosatisfytheirtraveldesires.

“Overseastravelrequirestime. NewYearusuallyallowsaseven-dayholiday, andthiscreatesanopportunityforbusyChinesepeople,” saidWatkins, alsoacitycouncilorinHastings, NewZealand.

“Iknowfamilieslovetobetogetheratthistime, butIamsureasfamilyincomesincreaseanddisposableincomeincreases, familiesandindividualswilllookmoreandmoretoenjoyanewexperienceoverseas.”

AnotherfactorthatexcitestheoverseasdestinationsisthatChinesevisitorsloveshopping.

AreportjointlyreleasedbytheChinaTourismAcademyandtheNationalTourismAdministrationlastyearsaidshoppingisadrivingforcethatboostsconsumption.

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