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Holidays Spark Shopping Spree

Big-spending Chinese tourists are embracing a longer vacation as this year's Mid-Autumn Festival falls close to the National Day holiday in October.

Ctrip, China's leading online travel service provider, said the number of tourists who booked long-distance trips during the National Day holiday increased by 150 percent compared with the same period last year.

"Shopping is still one of the major goals for Chinese outbound tourists. We have many tailored travel groups with shopping as the only activity," said Zhang Shuo, publicity officer with the global shopping platform under Ctrip.

The top overseas destinations for shoppers from the Chinese mainland for the coming two holidays include New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong.

Average consumption in the top 10 favorite overseas destinations is expected to surpass 10,000 yuan ($1,569), while in New York, the number could exceed 21,000 yuan ($3,295).

"We also noticed some changes this year based on the overseas consumption data of the past nine years," Zhang said. "Barcelona, Spain, is gaining popularity. The growth rate surpassed 71 percent year-on-year."

Hong Kong and South Korea used to be the top choice of Chinese mainland tourists. But political agitation in Hong Kong and a fear of MERS in South Korea means they are losing Chinese mainland consumers to Japan.

"Consumption in Hong Kong and South Korea is bouncing back, but it still takes time to reach the previous level," Zhang said.

About 36 percent of Chinese tourists selected shopping as their purpose for outbound tourism, said the Market Research Report on Chinese Outbound Tourist Consumption by the World Tourism Cities Federation.

Zhang Jinfang, 27, a staff member at a government-funded research institute in Beijing, said she had already planned to visit Japan during the National Day holiday.

"Some friends and relatives asked me to buy something for them. So I planned two days for shopping," Zhang Jinfang said. "Not only are prices more reasonable, the quality of goods in Japan is more trustworthy. Besides, I will have more choices if I travel around and buy local brands."

Chen Songchuan, a lecturer at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, said the surge of overseas consumption reflected the gap between Chinese consumers' preferences and Chinese-made products.

"Historically, we had many world-famous luxury goods such as porcelain, silk or tea," Chen said. "However, the lack of high-end made-in-China products is pushing Chinese consumers to overseas markets."

(China Daily  September 23, 2015)

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