In 2010 Chinese outbound travel and tourism (COTT) reached record levels; the total number of outbound tourists reached 57.39 million, an increase of more than 20% on 2009 and confirming a general trend towards more outbound travel among China's growing middle classes.
On these figures China is now the largest outbound tourist source-country in Asia having overtaken Japan. Official Chinese statistics predict further strong growth in outbound tourism in 2011 with around 65 million visitor trips in the year.
In 2010 China's outbound tourists spent £30.4 billion / €35 billion on their travels, up 14% on the previous year. This figure is expected to reach £34.8 billion / €40.2 billion in 2011, a rise of 14.6%.
As a proportion of overall tourist numbers in Europe, Chinese travellers still constitute a very modest proportion (less than 1%). However, their presence is already being felt in Europe with Chinese tourists proving to be high-spending travellers.
There has also been a strong increase in the number of Chinese visitors to Europe in recent years and this trend also looks set to continue.
Europe remains an attractive and prestigious travel destination for Chinese people although high costs and language difficulties continue to hold back further expansion of the market.
Nonetheless, there were around 3 million visitor trips to Europe by Chinese travellers in 2010, accounting for more than 20% of Chinese outbound trips (excluding those to Hong Kong and Macau). The largest numbers of Chinese visitors to Europe are heading to France, Italy and Germany.
Several factors are encouraging further growth in COTT to Europe including increasing support from the Chinese government for the outbound tourist industry, the expansion of China's middle classes who are also becoming wealthier, relaxation of visa application procedures, increasing outbound tourist satisfaction in China and favourable exchange rates.
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