Australia could be the most dreamed about destination of Chinese tourists, according to a new survey by an online travel services agency.
A survey of 3,000 Chinese international travellers between April and May by the online booking site Hotels.com revealed Australia as their most desired travel destination for the coming year, followed by France and New Zealand.
But there is a gap between aspirations and reality. According to the number of room nights booked on the website last year, the United States, Hong Kong and Thailand were the top three destinations for mainlanders.
Hotels.com's regional director, Katherine Cole, said Australia's main drawcards for Chinese travellers were safety, food and heritage sites. It was also rated the most welcoming destination.
Chinese tourists continued to be the leading duty-free shoppers last year - accounting for 27 per cent of global spending, and increasing their transactions by almost a third, Bloomberg reported, citing Global Blue, an operator of tax-refund points.
Global Blue also estimated that Chinese outbound trips, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, would reach 60 million this year, from 53 million last year, and swell to 77 million by 2016.
The mainland's biggest online travel agent, Ctrip, ranked Hong Kong as the top destination for this summer's travellers. The popularity of Korean romantic dramas and President Xi Jinping's recent visit made South Korea more popular this year, the agency said.
By 2017, China will be the leader in international departures, Euromonitor International estimates. Germany, the US, Britain and Russia complete the top five countries for international departures.