In pur­suit of new ex­pe­ri­ences, ad­ven­tur­ous - and well-heeled - Chi­nese tourists are flock­ing to the con­ti­nent

ChinAfrica - - Business - By Yu Nan

When he got mar­ried, Xu Chong promised his wife that one day, they would visit the land of his dreams - Africa. This sum­mer, al­most three decades later, the sex­a­ge­nar­ian kept his prom­ise. The Xus went on a 14-day jour­ney to South Africa and Zimbabwe, sa­vor­ing in­cred­i­ble new ex­pe­ri­ences, stun­ning nat­u­ral beauty and wildlife, not to men­tion di­ver­si­fied cul­tures. By his es­ti­mate, the trip cost them over 30,000 yuan ($4,615).

The Xus are among the mil­lions of Chi­nese who have been show­ing a grow­ing in­ter­est in trav­el­ing abroad in re­cent years. Last year, 120 mil­lion Chi­nese went abroad, a surg­ing swell com­pared to the num­ber in 1992 - 2.98 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion data.

Africa, with its di­verse at­trac­tions - from beaches and wildlife to cul­tural her­itages - is fast be­com­ing the des­ti­na­tion of choice of well-heeled Chi­nese tourists. Re­search by the China Tourism Academy, a Bei­jing­based re­search in­sti­tu­tion, in­di­cates Africa is see­ing the fastest growth in Chi­nese trav­el­ers. In 2014, their num­ber rose more than 80 per­cent year on year.

China’s eco­nomic growth, many coun­tries eas­ing visa re­stric­tions to tap the ex­pand­ing Chi­nese tourist seg­ment, and the start of di­rect flights be­tween Chi­nese and for­eign cities are among the rea­sons more Chi­nese are trav­el­ing abroad, the re­search says.

South Africa is reap­ing the ben­e­fits of the de­ci­sion to ease the oner­ous new visa reg­u­la­tions. Sub­se­quently, tourist ar­rivals from China rose 65.1 per­cent year on

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