China / Society

Chinese increasingly fond of travel, and spending abroad

By WANG QIAN and ZHENG XIN in Beijing and Zhang Yan in Manila (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-24 04:22

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China has had a trade surplus in goods for a long time, but in another type of trade it is running a deficit that continues to grow.

Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy, said on Tuesday that the country will see a deficit in tourism revenue of more than $100 billion this year as Chinese spend more in cross-border travel than foreign visitors' spend here. Last year, the deficit was $77 billion.

Although domestic tourism is expected to boom next week during the National Day holiday, it won't help narrow China's deficit in tourism services.

"The deficit will further increase in the future," Dai said.

About 116 million Chinese are expected to spend $155 billion overseas this year, up 20 percent from a year ago, according to Dai.

Zhao Xijun, deputy dean of the School of Finance and Economics at Renmin University of China, said the deficit could help internationalize the Chinese currency as the yuan is converted and used internationally by a growing number of tourists.

China has become the world's largest source of international tourists in recent years, according to the National Tourism Administration.

The administration estimated that Chinese spent more than $70 billion on overseas trips from January to June, up 20.7 percent year-on-year.

Shao Qiwei, head of the administration, said the number of outbound visitors is expected to exceed 500 million within the coming five years.

Philippine fears

But Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, is losing luster among Chinese this year with a recent series of terrorist and insurgent activities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel warning on Sept 11 asking Chinese citizens not to travel to the Philippines, given that the safety situation in the Philippines is deteriorating.

Some travel agencies, including CAISSA Touristic Group and China International Travel Service, suspended trips to the country early this month.

Johnson Cheng, president of the Philippines Straits Travel Agency, said gloomy days have come for Philippine travel agencies now that trips from China have been cancelled.

Li Xiang, a professor of tourism at Beijing Union University, said safety concerns hurt tourism, but if local authorities can handle them properly, the market can recover quickly.

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