It's Official: Chinese Tourists Are Number One

A UN agency reports that outbound travel spending jumped a whopping 40 percent last year, putting the Chinese far ahead of both Germans and Americans.

What's the Latest Development?

The United Nations World Tourism Organization recently reported on its Web site that China has become the top source of outbound tourism spending, blowing past Germany (the former #1) and the United States (the former #2). Thanks largely to fewer travel restrictions and increased income, 83 million Chinese traveled outside of China in 2012, up from 10 million a decade ago. Their spending totaled $102 billion, a 40 percent leap from 2011 figures. Comparatively, tourism spending by Germans and Americans only jumped six percent to approximately $84 billion.

What's the Big Idea?

Naturally, a wide range of businesses are making adjustments in response to China's burgeoning travel market. Because shopping is a popular tourist goal  -- taxes make luxury goods more expensive at home -- retail establishments big and small are tailoring their services. For example, a southern California mall has "started adding payment services and Mandarin-speaking concierges so that Chinese travelers can pay with their country’s credit cards and get advice from personal stylists in their own language." Also, American Express recently partnered with a Chinese bank to provide special electronic traveler's checks.

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Read it at The Wall Street Journal

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