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More Chinese Traveling Despite Economic Slowdown

In this Sept. 15, 2014 photo, a man takes a photo from Beijing capital airport terminal 3 in Beijing, China. China has green-lighted a third airport for the capital Beijing in a bid to reduce congestion and chronic delays, state media reported Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The massive new airport will be located 46 kilometers (29 miles) south of the city center and take five years to build, according to the China Daily newspaper and other outlets.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Over the past five years, the number of Chinese travelers has grown to 120 million people. One in 10 international travelers is from China.

New airports and better infrastructure have made travel easier for Chinese citizens.

Young Chinese citizens are benefiting from reduced visa restrictions around the world.

James Roy, a business analyst at China Market Research Group, said Chinese travelers are going to many more destinations than they did in the past.

“You know, in the past where it was more about buying an expensive watch or a bag, and showing that off. Now it’s much more about sharing on social media all of the exotic places that you’ve been to,” Roy said.

The World Travel and Tourism Council says that the number of Chinese tourists grew by 53 percent in 2015. Last year, travelers from China spent $215 billion outside the country.

Economic slowdown

The increased spending on tourism outside of China comes at a time when Chinese officials are dealing with a slowing economy at home.

Exports fell 20 percent in February, leading to fears of domestic job losses.

Concerns about the economy have not stopped Chinese travelers. Instead, concerns about the economy may encourage Chinese to look for investments abroad.

Wolfgang Arlt, the director of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute in Hamburg, said China's growing investments make trips abroad necessary.

“First of all, it’s not all about leisure. There is an increasing part of outbound tourism which is simply business tourism, as China is investing overseas and as China has a lot of trading relations and business relations overseas,” Arlt said.

Other countries benefit from Chinese tourism

Some countries have benefited from tourism from China.

Iceland, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, saw its tourism industry grow by 19.4 percent in 2015. Japan had 37 percent growth in visitor spending.

The growth in the number of Chinese travelers is contributing to the global growth of the tourism sector, which has added 7.2 million jobs worldwide.

Mark Tanner, the managing director of the marketing agency China Skinny, said as Chinese tourists travel in their own country, many will look for new experiences in other parts of the world.

“They are getting a little more adventurous and going a little further afield. And I think that is the same with domestic tourism. They may whet their appetite with some of the local destinations, and increasingly travel abroad,” he said.

Shannon Van Sant reported on this story for John Russell adapted the report for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

infrastructure – n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly

tourism – n. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

domestic - adj. of, relating to or made in your own country

destination - n. a place where an individual is going or something is being sent

sector - n. an area of an economy