After hundreds of millions of visits and billions of dollars showered around the world, Chinese tourists now hail from the middle, rich and the very rich classes.
"China has the Pacific world of tourism on a platter, and it is about to have Europe and Africa on a platter," said Jonathan Tourtellot, the CEO of the Destination Stewardship Center and a former senior editor and director at National Geographic.
For the fourth year in a row, the Chinese are the world's biggest group of international travelers, taking 142 million international trips in 2017. In the next decade, that number is projected to jump to 390 million, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI).
And Chinese tourists are the biggest international spenders: USD 258 billion last year. All this has been accomplished at a time when only 7% of Chinese citizens hold passports. On the inbound side of the equation, China is expected to become the No. 1 travel destination sometime in the next five years, knocking out France and solidifying its dominance over tourism.
Chinese tourists can lift economies seemingly overnight. Chinese visitors to Europe improved the Continent's trade balance by USD 4 billion.
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