The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) is forecasting that mainland China will generate more than 80 million border crossings, that is, outbound trips, in 2012, with an average spending of $1,000 per trip, according to Professor Wolfgang Georg Arlt. He said that will be a 12 percent increase over 2011.

“Fifteen years ago, when the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasted that by 2020 there will be over 100 million Chinese people travelling abroad it appeared to be wishful thinking, as the number was still below 10 million at that time,” he said.

“However, this 100 million mark will only be two more years away if growth continues at 20 percent. This high growth is likely to be maintained, as Chinese citizens are benefitting from advances in transportation and communication, and policies set by the government in China and overseas destinations becoming more open. The expanding tourist base will be demanding particular standards in order to meet their unique needs, challenging the assumption that “western” tourist behavior is the norm in international tourism.”

According to COTRI, the Chinese economy will face serious challenges in the months ahead, with a return to double-digit GDP growth rates unlikely for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, status-enhancing overseas trips will continue to be an important aspect of the affluent Chinese consumers’ expenditure.

In 2011, China had another year of massive growth in terms of outbound tourism, confirming the predictions made by COTRI at the beginning of 2011. The China Tourism Academy (CTA) put the final figures as approximately 70 million trips overseas in 2011, an increase of more than 20 percent from 57.4 million trips in 2010.

China ranks in third place as a global outbound tourism source market, but closely behind the two largest source markets, Germany and the USA. Professor Arlt said that the gap between the three countries is decreasing and predictions that the future of international tourism lies with China still stand strong.

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO recently claimed "we can expect to see China become the number one country in terms of both receiving and sending tourists in the next five to seven years”. A study by Commerzbank in Germany arrived at a similar conclusion. According to Jutta Kayser-Tilos, an economist at Commerzbank, against the backdrop of continued strong growth of the Chinese economy, it is expected that China will soon be the largest source and receiving market. For many destinations, including non-neighboring countries like Australia or the Maldives, China is already the most important inbound tourism source market today.

CTA have reported that the tourism spending of Chinese consumers is now over $69 billion, a massive increase over the $55 billion spent by Chinese tourists in 2010. Figures from Commerzbank show that China holds a steady third position in terms of spending.

A new, upscale market is also emerging. Said Professor Arlt: “China’s upper class is constantly growing, and soon there will be more millionaires in China than any other country. Luxury travel has made vast leaps; according to the Chinese Millionaires Wealth Report 2011 published by Hurun, the percentage of wealthy Chinese people that travel is now 29 percent, a large increase compared to 2009 when only 16 percent travelled.

Chinese millionaires have taken on average three overseas trips in the past year, with female millionaires travelling more than male, and men more likely to travel for business.

The most popular times to travel have been the Chinese National Holiday in October, followed by Chinese New Year and the Labor Day Holiday in May. The major destinations that have been increasing in popularity for Chinese luxury tourists are France and Japan, while Hawaii has been declining.

France is also the number one shopping destination for Chinese tourists, with Germany in second place and then followed by the UK and Italy, according to Global Blue, a company which provides analysis of international shopping and spending habits.

It has been reported that in the past year there has been a 91 percent increase in Chinese tourist spending in shopping in destinations, likely due to the huge increase in numbers of travelers and the luxury market becoming more developed, according to Cotri..