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China Becomes World’s Biggest Source of Tourists, Academy Says

China overtook Germany and the U.S. to become the world’s biggest source of tourists after the number of outbound trips taken by its citizens increased 18.4 percent last year.

Outbound travel from China climbed to 83.2 million trips last year, Ma Yiliang, a researcher at the Beijing-based China Tourism Academy said today. That number has surged more than eight-fold from 2000, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which earlier reported the figures.

China is now also the biggest source of tourism expenditure, up from third place in 2011 and seventh in 2005, according to Xinhua. China’s economy grew an annual average of 10.5 percent over the past decade, helping boost incomes and spur consumer spending by its citizens at home and abroad.

Mainland travelers spent $102 billion overseas in 2012, of which about 65 percent was on shopping, Ma said, citing a report released by the academy yesterday. Total spending by Chinese tourists was about $73 billion in 2011, according to Xinhua.

Chinese visitors to Europe, Hong Kong or Singapore spent 11,000 euros ($14,351) on shopping per trip, according to a survey published last year by Global Blue, the world’s biggest operator of tax-refund points for tourists.

Almost 60 million people visited China last year, making the country the third-most visited destination, Xinhua News Agency reported on April 4, citing Taleb Rifai, general secretary of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

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