I just came back from a 5-day trip to Paris, and have to say it was quite astonishing to see droves and droves of Chinese tourists buying up Chanel, Prada, etc. at Galeries Lafayette and Champs Élysées. After all, average annual income for a family in 2012 was supposed to be only 13,000 renminbi, or about $2,100, in China. I guess it stands to reason that NYTime recently cited a survey by Peking University showing a wide income gap between the top and bottom earners in the Middle Kingdom.
Paris might be one of the fav shopping meccas for the rich Chinese, a recent survey by TripAdvisor found that nearly half of the top 20 international destinations for Chinese travelers were actually in Southeast Asia (see graphic below). WSJ noted that Chinese interest in Southeast Asia is driven by the country’s young white-collar workers, who don’t have the time or money to go as far as Europe.
In addition, the current trend is that more and more Chinese travelers are looking for fresh experiences beyond shopping. And travel companies have been quick to respond by offering high-value travel packages for special-interest or niche tourism such as "safari vacations to Kenya, organized small groups to New York to buy properties or to South Korea for cosmetic surgeries."
According to the World Tourism Organization, China surpassed Germany and the U.S. as the world’s largest source of tourism dollars with 83 million Chinese spending a record $102 billion traveling abroad in 2012. The tourism academy estimates that more than 94 million Chinese will travel abroad this year, spending $117 billion.