Yuan depreciation, stock turmoil can’t take shine off Chinese ‘golden week …

  • Sydney is a popular destination for Chinese tourists during 'golden week'. Photo: AFP

Sydney is a popular destination for Chinese tourists during ‘golden week’. Photo: AFP

Mainland outbound tourism remains robust despite the recent depreciation of the yuan and stock market turmoil at least during the upcoming golden week holiday travellers and tourism operators say. Ctrip, the mainland s leading online travel agency for tour groups as well as independent travellers, said that bookings abroad for the approaching Discount Holidays © holiday have been very strong, especially long-distance tours to Europe, Australia and the United States. As one of the only two golden week national Discount Holidays © holiday periods, this year s seven-day National Day holiday, starting next Thursday, comes only three days after the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sunday.

Busy mainlanders who can arrange three extra days off can take advantage of this year s timing to extend the Discount Holidays © holiday to 12 days. More will have time to go further, or deeper, when travelling abroad than simply traipsing around the tourist sites, said Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy s overseas tourism department.

Ctrip is expects its outbound tour bookings to double this holiday, while long-distance tours will be up by a half. Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok remain the top three destinations for Chinese holiday-makers, but Rome, Washington, Paris, Sydney and New York are also popular. Bookings to London and Paris this year have tripled compared with last year. However, China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), a major traditional tour agency, said that this year s booking were basically flat as some tourists took their holidays earlier this month during the special three-day Discount Holidays © holiday to commemorate victory in the second world war.

The latest data goes some way to quell concerns over tourism since the People s Bank of China in August allowed the yuan to slide almost two per cent against the US dollar the largest depreciation since China s modern exchange-rate system started in 1994 triggering fears of a wider economic slowdown in the world s second largest economy. According to a recent report by World Tourism Cities Federation and market research company Ipsos, Chinese tourists spent US$165 billion overseas last year, or 11 per cent of overall outbound travel spending. Yan Xin, public affairs manager at Ctrip, said the impact of the cheaper yuan was limited as most of the company s tour products were purchased at least six months ago, while shopping abroad was still a good deal as the yuan remained strong against other currencies in major destinations for mainland travellers.

Even if the value of yuan decreased by 3 per cent, it would only add 300 yuan to the price of a 10,000-yuan deal, which, to most tourists, is no barrier at all, Yan said.

Chen Jie, a manager at CYTS s independent travel department, said the company had raised prices for some tour groups by 1-2 per cent after the depreciation, but stressed that visa policies, including the recent rule by the European Union requiring Chinese visa applicants for Schengen visas to provide biometric data from October 12 would cause more concerns to some mainland travellers. Since I will be abroad, I may as well enjoy myself

Alina Ou

Even after the depreciation, the yuan remains strong it has risen 25 per cent against the US dollar since 2005, and even more against the euro and yen. Jiang, of the China Tourism Academy, said this would continue to boost the mainland s outbound tourism in future, though some tourists might think twice about buying luxury products abroad.

Alina Ou, a human resources officer in Beijing, said she would be more cautious with luxury purchases such as watches, as the yuan spot price weakened from 6.76 per euro on August 11 to 7.12 on September 21. But Ou said this would not affect her 18-day European tour booked for the golden week. Since I will be abroad, I may as well enjoy myself, she said.

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