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Agencies eye sports tourism boom

02/02/2016| 5:44:44 PM|

As increasing numbers of sports savvy Chinese tourists take vacations abroad, the country's travel agencies are busy providing sports tourism tours and packages.

Sports-related tours, such as soccer summer camps in Madrid, ski visits to Switzerland and spectator packages for the Wimbledon Championships, World Cup and the Olympics, are popular among young Chinese tourists heading overseas, said Chen Xiaobing, president of Beijing Caissa International Travel Service Co, a Beijing-based travel agency.

"These packages offer holidaymakers a totally refreshing experience when compared with more traditional routes," he said.

"People are increasingly enthusiastic about sports and traveling, and sports tourism has become a great big ocean just waiting to be tapped."

China's outbound tourism industry is expected to further increase in 2016, with 133 million tourists headed abroad, according to the China Tourism Academy - a rise of 11 percent year-on-year.

Taking his place among the exodus earlier this month was Beijing resident Chen Wenjie, who traveled to the Hisense Arena in Melbourne to watch Chinese tennis ace Wang Qiang during the opening rounds of the recently concluded Australian Open tennis tournament.

"I was so excited to watch the game with the locals," said the 28-year-old bank clerk, who was one of a group tourists participating in a 10-day Australia Open tour offered by Caissa, which combined tennis with visits to the Sydney Opera House and diving near the Great Barrier Reef.

Caissa believes the next decade will be a boom period for China's sports tourism industry, which is expected to increase by as much as 40 percent, in line with the State Council's target of creating a domestic sports industry worth more than 5 trillion yuan ($760 billion) by 2025.

The Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer is the next big event on the sporting calendar and packages are already selling well, according to Chen.

"Tickets to the host city of the Olympics are always usually booked well in advance," he said.

"By booking their flights and accommodation through a travel agency, customers can ensure that they arrive in Brazil safe and sound, and enjoy the experience of watching the Games to its fullest."

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TAGS: Olympics | sports tourism tours | China
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