6 million Chinese plan holidays abroad next CNY

S-E Asian countries popular, with S'pore No. 4 on destination list

BEIJING • A record six million Chinese are expected to travel abroad during the upcoming Chinese New Year season, with Singapore among the top destinations, the Global Times reported yesterday.

The holidays from Jan 27 to Feb 2 will be "a global Golden Week", the newspaper said, citing a report released by online travel agency Ctrip on Tuesday.

Nine out of the 10 most popular destinations are in Asia, with Thailand and Japan topping the list. Singapore comes in fourth behind the United States, the only Western country on the list.

South Korea slipped from third place last year to seventh place this time, as political turmoil surrounding President Park Geun Hye and the deployment of an anti-missile system in Seoul have dampened Chinese tourists' interest, the Global Times said.

However, more Chinese tourists are headed for South-east Asian countries, especially the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, driven by low costs and proximity, according to Mr Zhang Lingyun, director of the Tourism Development Academy at Beijing Union University.

  • DOMESTIC TRAVEL

  • 356m

    The record number of trips expected to be made via China's railways between Jan 13 and Feb 21.

    9.7%

    The expected year-on-year increase in railway trips.

The report said easier visa applications, more flights and lower prices have also contributed to the surge in outbound tourism.

"After the US, Canada and Singapore granted 10-year visas to Chinese (tourists), Israel and Australia followed suit. In addition, Thailand reduced its visa fees for Chinese visitors in December, January and February," a travel agent, identified only as Chen, at domestic online travel agency Lumama.com, told the Global Times.

China aims to boost travel consumption to 7 trillion yuan (S$1.45 trillion) by 2020, contributing more than 10 per cent to national economic growth, according to a joint statement on Wednesday by the National Development and Reform Commission and National Tourism Administration.

Domestically, China's railway system will also see a record number of passengers during CNY, Xinhua news agency reported. Up to 356 million trips are expected to be made via railways between Jan 13 and Feb 21 in the annual migration, up 9.7 per cent year on year, according to the China Railway Corporation.

It said it will add more passenger trains to deal with the extra numbers and simplify ticket purchase procedures to improve services, Xinhua reported.

China expects its rapidly developing high-speed railways to help ease the strain for travellers. The country boasts a high-speed rail network of more than 20,000km, the world's largest.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline '6 million Chinese plan holidays abroad next CNY'. Print Edition | Subscribe