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Chinese tourists head overseas during holiday

By Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

08:37, October 08, 2012

A large number of Chinese tourists flocked to Thailand, South Korea and Europe during China's National Day holiday. It's estimated that the number of tourists booking overseas trips rose by 50 percent from last year.

South Korea emerged as the most attractive destination for Chinese tourists keen to exploit this year's longer-than-normal holiday, because of the stronger yuan and the ease of obtaining a visa and travel.

The Korea Tourism Organization said that 100,000 Chinese tourists visited the country during the holiday, a rise of 35 percent from last year. The tourist hotspot of Jeju Island alone hosted nearly 33,000 Chinese visitors between Sept 29 and Oct 3, a 59 percent increase over last year, according to the Korea JoongAng Daily newspaper.

Most first-time visitors tended to stay north of the Han River, where famous tourist sites such as the Mt Nam peak and the Gyeongbok Palace are located. However, regular visitors tend to spend their time in Gangnam, south of the river, shopping. Duty-free stores in the Gangnam area have seen sales rise, reflecting the increase in the number of Chinese tourists who regularly visit the country.

Medical tourism is also becoming more popular. Dermatologists in Gangnam are attracting more and more Chinese customers, who come on a regular basis for procedures such as skin whitening, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

During the holiday season, charter flights to Thailand, especially Bangkok and Phuket, were available from many second- and third-tier cities. Tourism industry insiders said Thailand is popular with Chinese tourists because of it's relatively inexpensive and easy to get to.

Meanwhile, long haul flights to France, Germany and Belgium were booked well in advance and tour agencies had sold all their seats to the Middle East and Africa by early September, making destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and Dubai the best reserve options.
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