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China's travel boom expected to continue

By Xu Junqian | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-08-21 20:13

China's travel industry is expected to continue growing at a fast rate in the coming years, with increasing numbers of Chinese people opting for independent travel abroad, rather than package tours, according to a report issued by Hotels.com on Wednesday.

The report, which was issued by the world's leading hotel booking website for the second year running, surveyed more than 1,500 hotels worldwide and 3,000 Chinese people who traveled abroad last year.

It also quoted figures issued in April this year by the United Nations World Travel Organization, showing that Chinese tourists spent $102 billion on international travel in 2012. These figures show China overtaking the United States and Germany to become the world's largest spender on travel.

The report's own research found that the majority of overseas Chinese travel in 2012 (96 percent) was for leisure purposes, with nearly two-thirds of Chinese travelers saying they prefer to travel independently and not as part of a group.

The trend has been noticed by foreign hotels, which report that up to 70 percent of their Chinese guests are traveling individually. In last year's report, which was based on figures from 2011, only half of their customers were independent travelers.

John Svanstrom, managing director of Hotels.com Asia Pacific, said he believes the shift could pose both challenges and opportunities for global hoteliers. He said that providing a service to tourists in a group means mostly dealing only with their tour guides, whereas individual travelers need to be dealt with individually, which means more customer service work for hotels.

"It shows the need for the global hotel industry to adapt facilities and services to more extensively cater to the world's largest market of travelers," as he put it.

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