SHANGHAI — China continued its rapid growth in outbound tourists in 2015, with more than 120 million Chinese traveling overseas this year, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration.
This represents a 19.5 percent increase year-on-year from the 109 million people who traveled overseas in 2014 and makes China the country with the world’s largest number of outbound tourists.
The CNTA attributed the rise to more relaxed visa policies and rising disposable incomes.
By far the biggest beneficiary of the rise in globetrotting Chinese is Japan. Earlier this month, the Japan National Tourism Organization reported China is now the number-one source of foreign travelers to the country.
From January to October, 4.3 million mainland Chinese tourists visited Japan, making up 25 percent of all foreign visitors and spawning the term “bakugai” or “explosion buying” by Chinese tourists.
The term has become so prevalent in Japan that it was dubbed the buzzword of 2015 by the U-Can Shingo Ryukogo Taisho (or U-Can New Words and Buzzwords Awards) unveiled by the Jiyukokuminsha publishing house earlier this month.
But it’s not only Japan benefiting from the growth in big spending Chinese tourists, with some estimates claiming that China will account for almost half of the world’s luxury consumption in 2015, with the bulk of purchases happening outside of the country.
According to a report from Beijing-based consultancy Fortune Character Institute, Chinese shoppers will spend $116.8 billion on luxury goods in 2015, 46 percent of the world’s total, with $91 billion of those purchases, or 78 percent of Chinese luxury consumption, made overseas.
Just this week, Chinese travelers — as well as those from the Middle East and U.S. — were singled out as a major driver of London’s bumper post-Christmas sales season.
According to New West End Company, an industry group representing more than 600 retailers across London’s Bond, Regent and Oxford Streets, shoppers from those countries accounted for nearly 40 percent of tax-free spending throughout 2015.
“Visitors from China are often among the highest spenders, with the average spend per visit 1,250 pounds, or $1,864, in 2015,” said Jace Tyrrell, chief executive officer of New West End Company.