The Chinese New Year is coming up, and the celebratory Golden Week vacation is one of the biggest travel times for Chinese. With the euro at nearly record-low levels, more Chinese than ever are traveling to Europe for the holiday to hunt for bargains on luxury goods.
With Golden Week running from February 18-24, Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency has seen holiday flight and hotel bookings for Europe double compared to last year, reports South China Morning Post. Group tour bookings for Europe were also up 50 percent over last year.
Since the European Central Bank announced in late January that it would launch a quantitative easing program to stimulate economic growth in the region, the euro’s exchange rate with the yuan hit its lowest ever rate. Shortly after the bank’s announcement, the euro fell below 7 yuan for the first time on January 23rd. It has rebounded slightly to 7.15. Overall, the euro has fallen more than 15 percent against the yuan since May of 2014, according to data from the People’s Bank of China. And that means bargains on European travel and shopping.
The 2015 China Luxury Forecast, by Ruder Finn and Ipsos, found that Chinese outbound tourists spent $129 billion last year, and 50 percent plan to spend more on travel this year. Of total Chinese luxury spending, it is estimated that about 70 percent is spent outside of China, and France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland top the list for choice travel destinations due to simplified visa rules, reports SCMP. Shenzhen-based travel agency Toursforfun’s director Michael Wang, who has had a 30 percent increase in requests for European travel packages over the last few weeks, said, ”The weaker euro comes as a short-term stimulus to this market.” Wang added, ”Chinese tourists have strong purchasing power and they are quite price-sensitive. They would not dig into their pockets before comparing prices in different countries. But once they find good bargains, they will buy many items.” With bigger travel budgets and more spending power, Chinese tourists could spend record amounts in Europe this Golden Week.
image credit: tao wu