China's tourists big spenders now
It used to be the Japanese and Americans who would vie for the best photo opportunity beneath the Eiffel Tower or at the Pyramids. Now mainlanders have become one of the world's most ubiquitous - and cash-laden - tourists.
Chinese luxury travellers are blipping onto everyone's radar screen. A recent survey has found nine in 10 millionaires in China travelled abroad last year for sightseeing and shopping, and they are top spenders on luxury products in many places.
The study by the Hurun Report, an authority on China's wealthy and author of the annual China Rich List and the International Luxury Travel Market Asia, said Chinese millionaires annually took an average of 15 days' holiday and travel overseas three times during a year.
France, the United States and Australia are their three favourite holiday destinations, followed by Japan, the Maldives and Singapore.
The report, which is compiled from one-to-one interviews with 463 Chinese millionaires and billionaires said the rising number of luxury travellers had been driven by the appreciation of yuan, an easing of visa application processes and the meteoric increase of private wealth.
'China's millionaires are fast becoming sophisticated and aspire towards higher social status,' said Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of Hurun report and compiler of the China Rich List.
An earlier survey by Switzerland-based Global Blue, an international tax-refund and shopping services provider, ranked outbound travellers from China the top spenders on tax-free shopping, accounting for 17 per cent of the total spending in the world.
It said Chinese tourists spent an average of Euro744 (HK$8,285) on tax-free shopping transactions last year, double that by wealthy Russian travellers, previously the top duty-free spenders.
According to Hurun's survey, most respondents travelled during the Lunar New Year holidays, their summer vacations, the National Day holiday in October and Christmas last year. About 80 per cent chose not to travel with a tour group, a much higher proportion than among less wealthy tourists making their first trip abroad.
When picking hotels, more than half of them preferred high-end chain hotels, while one third preferred boutique hotels.
The Shangri-La, Hilton and Park Hyatt chains were the most popular with the super-rich, the report said.
China is now home to the largest number of self-made millionaires and billionaires in the world.
A study released by Hurun in April said there were 960,000 Chinese people with a net worth of 10 million yuan (HK$12 million) or more, and 60,000 with a net worth of 100 million yuan or more at the end of last year.
Beijing had 170,000 millionaires, Guangdong had 157,000 and Shanghai 132,000.