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Chinese tourists embrace foreign cultural experience instead of shopping

Updated: Feb 2,2017 5:34 PM     Xinhua

TOKYO/NAIROBI/LONDON/PARIS/MANILA — As Chinese Spring Festival has become an opportunity for Chinese people to travel, many tourists are shifting their interest from shopping abroad to multiple choices in celebration of the holiday. They choose foreign countries to experience their exotic culture and services.

Taking the travel to Japan as an example, after “shopping spree” became a catchword of 2015, more and more Chinese tourists prefer buying a physical checkup or experiencing the Japanese culture and services to being obsessed about shopping.

Meng Fanhai, owner of a tourism agency in Tokyo, said his agency arranged more than 200 cases of physical checkups and medical treatments in 2016, up 50 percent from 2015, accounting for about one third of his agency’s total Chinese tourists.

Li Xuejing, marketing manager of the agency, said Chinese tourists are getting more willing to experience local culture and characteristic services, including staying in private homes, appreciating bonsai and watching monkeys in hot springs.

With industrialization and urbanization on the fast track in China, tracing natural attractions and wildlife have become popular among Chinese tourists.

Yang Min, co-partner of a tourism agency specializing in receiving Chinese tourists in Kenya, said the country is unfamiliar to most Chinese people in 2005, but since 2010, more and more Chinese tourists have taken the African country as a destination to experience biodiversity there.

“During July and August, nearly 90 percent of tourists in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve are from China. They are keen to watch the great migration here,” he said.

Zhang Renquan, a senior Africa tourism practitioner, said Chinese tourists are gradually getting familiar with African countries besides South Africa and Egypt — two pillars of Africa tourism — and experiencing more programs including safari, diving and parachuting.

Chinese tourist Guo, who is taking a vacation on an island in the Philippines, said now she pays more attention to relaxation and enjoyment during holidays instead of shopping or choosing gifts for relatives as she did years ago.

“When I book a hotel, I will take into consideration the massage, the spa and other special services, in one word, to enjoy myself,” she said.

Zhou, a tourist from China’s Shandong province, said Chinese tourists have transferred their interests from shopping to personal hobbies.

“One of my partners comes to the Philippines to take a diving exam and gain the certificate, out of personal interest,” she said.

For Britain, China has become the most valuable source of foreign tourists, and Chinese tourists on average spend three times higher than other foreign tourists. According to statistics, an average increase of 22 Chinese tourists creates one new post for British tourist industry.

Though the devaluation of pound is one of factors ignites Chinese tourists’ enthusiasm for traveling to Britain, it has no longer been a whole picture for Chinese overseas tourism. Britain’s rich history and famous education tradition have caught ordinary Chinese people’s eyes.

Zhang, a tourist from China’s Fujian province, said “my main purpose to Britain is to guide my child to museums, to broaden his horizon.”

Li Xiaotong, chairman of a tourism agency in France, said as more Chinese people travel abroad, consumption style is changing from purchasing luxury goods to popular brands, and cosmeceuticals have become their favorite.