Chinese New Year travellers flock to global destinations to enjoy the start of the Year of the Pig.

With the approaching seven-day holiday in celebration of the Chinese New Year (starting on February 5), the world is expecting large numbers of Chinese tourists to start arriving.

Statistics showed that the number of booked outbound tours rose 32 per cent when compared with the same period last year, even though prices also went up by 10 per cent.

Thanks to the sharp increase in income and better-facilitated transportation, China has become the world's largest outbound tourism market. According to the China Tourism Academy, over 140 million Chinese people travelled to foreign destinations in 2018, 11 million more than the previous year, with Chinese tourists leaving footprints in 157 countries.

"It's much easier to travel to foreign countries now and it's not very expensive," said Zhang Zhixia, a power supply company employee in Fuzhou, south-eastern China's Fujian province.

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Now 72 countries and regions offer Chinese citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival options. Before this year's Spring Festival, hot-spot destinations such as Japan and Thailand relaxed visa restrictions specifically for Chinese citizens.

From 2017-2018, 61.25 per cent of Chinese tourists travelled to Asian countries, 60.69 per cent also went to Europe while 3.48 per cent even reached the Antarctic.

Bangkok, Tokyo, and Osaka remained the hottest short-trip destinations for Chinese tourists, while London, Paris and New York were the top three places for Chinese tourists making longer journeys.

Aside from traditional hot-spot destinations, places not traditionally frequented by Chinese tourists are also becoming more popular. Serbia, Laos, Belgium, and Vietnam have all witnessed a growing influx of Chinese travellers.

Insiders noted that the booming outbound tourism market would bring enormous benefits for the expansion of tourism consumption and the "going global" strategy of Chinese enterprises.

Tour guides, tour agencies, and drivers who serve Chinese tourists are predominantly from China, which significantly helps encourage Chinese enterprises, especially Chinese tour companies, to go overseas.

Content sourced from the People's Daily Online here