A visit to the stores where the sky is no limit

By Xu Lin ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-11-28 07:29:51

A tour guide in Beijing who wants to be identified only by his surname, Xie, says Chinese tourists overseas are becoming more rational in their spending and are buying less, but that spending overall is rising as the number of tourists rises.

Xie has been a guide for 11 years and mainly takes tourists to Europe. In 2009, he says, one tourist in a group he led to Europe bought a watch costing 1 million yuan ($157,000).

Usually those who go abroad for the first time are the keenest to shop, he says. Those who travel abroad often or are wealthy tend to spend more time on sightseeing and cultural activities. Those under 25 tend to enjoy soaking up the local atmosphere in the places they visit, he says, so someone going to Cologne in Germany would relish dining in a restaurant or having coffee and cake in a cafe with a view of the world famous cathedral.

"It's important to focus on the significance of traveling itself. Others can buy things for you, but it is you who are traveling and ought to be experiencing something special."

Be that as it may, for the great bulk of Chinese travelers, shopping remains the primary aim of overseas journeys.

During the Spring Festival in February more than 450,000 Chinese visited Japan, spending about 6 billion yuan shopping. They emptied the shelves in shopping malls and duty free shops, with goods ranging from electric rice cookers, air purifiers, cosmetics and even electric toilet seats.

"Japan is a shopping haven for Chinese because of its top-quality products, cheap flights and the fall in value of the Japanese yen," says Wang, 33, who works for a tour agency in Tokyo and wants to be identified only by his surname. "Japanese retailers and shopping centers really put a premium on the Chinese market."

Meanwhile, about a year ago the Chinese embassy in Tokyo issued a warning to Chinese about shopping traps in Japan and told of unscrupulous guides who had taken advantage of Chinese tourists' lack of language skills to lure them to stores selling health products and cosmetics at exorbitant prices in return for commission.

"This kind of thing is very rare," Wang says. "It's detestable because it tarnishes Japan's very good tourism image."

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