Chinese tourists are becoming more middle class and are increasingly willing to travel independently, according to research into the holidaying habits of the Chinese, the world’s biggest spenders on tourism.
Foreign travel by the Chinese has stopped being the preserve of only the very rich as the country’s middle class grows rapidly, says a survey of 3,000 Chinese travellers and 1,500 hotels by Hotels.com.
The average annual salary of a Chinese tourist is about $17,750, which is more than double the average annual salary in China, according to the survey.
However, about a quarter of all Chinese tourists now earn less than $11,300.
Nigel Pocklington, chief marketing officer at Hotels.com, said: “The income group that takes these trips is broadening. Yes, there are an elite that the luxury goods retailers are interested in, but the Chinese tourist is now genuinely middle class.”
Chinese tourists spend more in total on tourism than any other nationality, after they spent $102bn on trips abroad in 2012, says the UN World Tourism Organisation.
The China Tourism Academy, a think tank, says that the number of Chinese tourists abroad is set to rise from 83m in 2012 to 200m by 2020.
The majority of Chinese holidaymakers now head abroad on independent trips, rather than as an organised tour group. About 70 per cent of Chinese tourists travel independently, while less than a third travel as part of a tour group.
This trend jars with plans from the UK government earlier this year to make it easier for tour groups to gain UK visas, even though it is a declining part of the market.
About one-fifth of Chinese holidaymakers said that the ease of the visa application process was one of the main factors when organising a holiday.
The ease with which Chinese holidaymakers can attain visas has been a constant bugbear for retailers and the hospitality industry across Europe and especially in the UK.
The UK is not part of the EU’s Schengen area, which allows free travel between much of continental Europe on one visa.
The UK China Visa Alliance, a lobby group that argues Chinese tourists should have easier access to the UK, said the British economy misses out on more than ￡1bn of extra spending due to its stringent visa rules.
联合国世界旅游组织(UN World Tourism Organisation)表示，中国游客的旅游支出超过任何其他国家，去年，他们在出境游期间花费1020亿美元。
智库——中国旅游研究院(China Tourism Academy)表示，到2020年，中国出境游游客数量将从2012年的8300万增至2亿。
游说团体——英国对华签证联盟(UK China Visa Alliance)辩称，应该简化中国游客进入英国的程序，该组织表示，由于严格的签证规定，英国经济损失了逾10亿英镑的额外消费。