People, Travel

Chinese Tourists Spent $261 Billion in 2016

China has been the largest outbound travel market since 2012.China has been the largest outbound travel market since 2012.

Chinese travelers venturing abroad spent $261 billion on foreign travel in 2016, a 12% increase over 2015, which represents a new record for global outbound tourist spending.

Chinese tourists spent more than any other country’s outbound travelers last year and are already the largest outbound travel market with some 135 million Chinese traveling outside China last year, a 6% increase year-on-year, according to data released this week by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Skift reported.

China has been the largest outbound travel market since 2012 and its tourist spending has had double-digit growth each year since 2004. This is particularly interesting because less than 5% of Chinese people hold passports.

The World Travel & Tourism Council also projects that China will be one of the 10 fastest growing markets for leisure travel spending through 2026. Chinese travelers were also the second largest market after the US for their contribution to global GDP last year (more than $1 trillion).

Japan, South Korea and Thailand benefited the most from outbound Chinese tourist spending but the US and Europe also saw more spending from China. Increased Chinese spending in Europe comes as more Chinese travelers reconsider the continent for trips after being deterred by terrorism attacks during the past two years.

After China, the US was the second largest outbound market for tourism spending last year with $122 billion spent on foreign trips, up 8% from 2015 ($9 billion). Germany, the UK, France and Italy were also among the top 10 for outbound tourism spending. Despite Brexit and a drop in the pound, UK travelers’ foreign trips were up by five million (7%) in 2016 to 70 million trips and outbound spending was about $64 billion.

UNWTO’s Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said global outbound tourist spending results for 2016 are very encouraging.

“Despite the many challenges of recent years, results of spending on travel abroad are consistent with the 4% growth to 1.2 billion international tourist arrivals rep

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