Spring fever sends record number of Chinese abroad
Updated: 2016-01-27 10:01
By Yang Feiyue(China Daily)
Harbin's Ice and Snow Amusement World draws crowds with hundreds of ice and snow sculptures.[Photo by Tian Weitao/ China Daily]
A record number of Chinese will spend the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday overseas, while both snow bunnies and snowbirds are flocking to domestic destinations to ring in the Year of the Monkey.
This Spring Festival will be Hao Hai's first one spent overseas.
The 37-year-old Beijinger will spend eight days with his family in Tokyo and Hakone.
"Many of my friends will travel over the weeklong holiday and advised I try it, too," he says.
He got his visa two weeks after he submitted documents to a middleman on China's biggest e-commerce website, Taobao.
"That's why I decided to go," he says.
Hao will join the Chinese expected to make a record 6 million visits outside the mainland during the festival, which starts on Feb 7, online travel giant Ctrip reports. There were 5.2 million travelers who left the mainland during the holiday last year, a jump of 10 percent over 2014, the China National Tourism Administration says.
Chinese will visit more than 100 countries and regions－even Antarctica－during this year's holiday, Ctrip says.
Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian countries remain popular destinations. Many families have booked trips to Singapore through Ctrip to enjoy the city-state's warm weather and its large theme parks, such as Universal Studios.
Based on Ctrip's bookings as of mid-January, the 10 most-popular destinations outside the mainland were: Thailand; Japan; South Korea; Taiwan; Singapore; Hong Kong; the United States; Indonesia; Malaysia and Australia.
Bookings have increased for countries that have simplified visa procedures, including the US, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Vietnam, Ctrip's publicity manager Yan Xin says.
Over 10,000 Chinese booked trips to Thailand through Ctrip.
But the second case of Middle East respiratory syndrome contracted by a tourist in the country announced on Tuesday may curb the number of Chinese visitors.
(The patient is from Oman.)
The Chinese embassy in Thailand has advised tourists to purchase travel insurance.
Cruise bookings have more than doubled, Ctrip reports. Over 90 percent sail to Japan and Korea.
"Most Chinese aboard hope to relish the cherry blossoms of Okinawa and Kagoshima," Yan explains.
Cruises enable visa-free visits to certain Japanese ports and to Korea's Jeju Island.
Ctrip forecasts average per-capita spending will surpass 10,000 yuan ($1,520).
Antarctic visitors may spend up to 300,000 yuan.
Japan, Thailand and South Korea are expected to be leaders in inbound-Chinese tourism revenue.
Over 450,000 Chinese splashed out nearly 6 billion yuan in Japan last Spring Festival, Japanese media report. Shopping is a major activity, and Chinese will pack duty-free shops and outlets.