Chinese tourists are spending more time travelling overseas, with New Zealand in their top three "wanting to visit" destinations, according to a Hotels.com Chinese International Traveller Monitor report released this morning.
The report, which surveyed more than 3000 Chinese travellers and more than 3000 hoteliers, found that the number of Chinese travelling overseas had significantly increased, with 97 million heading overseas in 2013 compared with 83 million in 2012.
The Tourism Administration of China said this figure was expected to pass 100 million by the end of this year.
Abhiram Chowdhry, vice-president and managing director Apac of the Hotels.com brand, said these figures represented a growing travelling culture among the Chinese population.
"For the first time since we launched the Hotels.com [Chinese International Traveller Monitor] report three years ago, more than half of global hoteliers surveyed say they have seen an increase in the number of Chinese guests in the previous 12 months," Chowdhry said.
The report found that New Zealand ranked third in the top destinations that Chinese travellers wanted to visit in the coming year, with Australia ranked number one and France number two.
Chowdhry said there were many factors affecting growth in the Chinese travel market, including the rising affluence of the middle class. There had also been an increase in repeat travellers, helped by more relaxed visa conditions and improved local infrastructure.
The rise in the use of internet and mobile technology had led to more than half of the surveyed Chinese travellers saying they booked their accommodation online or using an app, compared with 45 per cent in 2013. Just under half also used the internet and apps to research their trip beforehand.
Internet use was also seen as an important factor while travelling, with 59 per cent rating free Wi-Fi as the most important service provided by hotels.
Katherine Cole, regional director for the Australia, New Zealand and Singapore regions of the Hotels.com brand, said that with New Zealand tipped as a "must-do" destination, hoteliers and tourism businesses needed to gear themselves towards catering for this market.
"The country is in a prime position to capitalise on the rise of the Chinese independent traveller and their appetite to discover all that New Zealand has to offer," Cole said.
"China is now New Zealand's second largest tourist market, so ... hoteliers should ensure they're catering to the needs of the evolving Chinese traveller."