Chinese bringing fortune to Asian neighbors

Chinese bringing fortune to Asian neighbors

SHANGHAI -- The weeklong Lunar New Year holiday in China usually brings with it a wave of consumer spending, fueled by the bonuses offered by many companies. But this year, much of the surge looks likely to be siphoned into Japan and other parts of Asia as higher incomes and looser visa requirements encourage travel.

With the holiday kicking off this coming Wednesday, many Chinese cities are in the midst of an unprecedented travel boom.

"Overseas travel is explosively popular," says the president of a travel agency in Chongqing. Guangdong Nanhu International Travel Service reports that half of its reservations are for trips abroad.

More than half of respondents to a January survey by Chinese online travel service provider International reported planning to go overseas for the holiday, surpassing for the first time those staying in China. Destinations with warm climates were popular, including Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

The number of customers making reservations for Thailand's Phuket and Indonesia's Bali is 20 per cent higher than for Lunar New Year last year, according to an official at Shanghai China Youth Travel Service. China Southern Airlines says it plans to add more than 600 flights for the month or so around the holiday, including 200 to Bangkok alone.

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