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Around the world, in a year

By Yang Feiyue and Li Jing | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-30 09:08

Around the world, in a year

Chinese families at the Grand Palace in Bangkok.[Photo provided to China Daily]

More flights

Expanding air links are another point of connection with outbound travelers' rising numbers.

International-flight capacity increased 20 percent year-on-year this November alone, when nearly 300,000 flights departed from Chinese airports for domestic and international destinations, aviation-industry-data company OAG reports.

South Korea and Japan wield the most capacity.

Vietnam's is growing fastest.

Smaller markets are also developing rapidly, as Chinese carriers expand international services while other countries' airlines work to lure more Chinese, OAG says.

Countries that launched direct flights to China this year include Belarus, the Czech Republic and Fiji.

Others like Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan expanded capacity by more than 20 percent in the first 11 months of 2015 compared with the same period last year.

These Western and Central Asian countries are part of the Belt and Road Initiative Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in 2013 to enhance transport across Asia and Europe. The CNTA designated 2015 the Year or Silk Road Travel.

Perhaps ironically, the growth of domestic tourism has in turn pushed travel outbound.

As wanderlust keeps pace with increasing disposable incomes, domestic destinations are often overcrowded, especially during holidays. Such intensive demand pushes up prices.

"It costs about as much to travel overseas as it does to in China," Zhang says.

Cheaper flights enable him to tour other countries for less than 10,000 yuan ($1,500).

This means he doesn't have to choose between exploring Greece's Acropolis or hot-air ballooning over Turkey's Capadoccian Valley-ultimately.

"I can do one this year and the other the next," he says.

Heading into 2016, there are no signs the waves of Chinese traveling overseas are losing momentum.

Rather, they seem likely to swell.

The Roman candle may burn hotter next year.

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