Chinese tourists spent about $261 billion on overseas travel in 2016, a 12% increase from 2015, making it the world’s leading outbound market, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
China’s market was followed by the United States, where travelers spent $122 billion, an 8% increase from 2015, recently released data by the UNWTO revealed.
“This growth consolidates China’s position as number one source market in the world since 2012, following a trend of double-digit growth in tourism expenditure every year since 2004,” the agency said in a statement.
Germany, the United Kingdom and France were also among the world’s top five biggest spenders when it comes to overseas trips.
But the three countries combined do not compare to economic power of Chinese tourists who made 135 million trips abroad in 2016, Shanghaiist reported.
Chinese tour groups now travel all over the world, but some visitors have been criticized for being rude or disrespectful to local culture.
Police in Tokyo said two Chinese women vandalized the Meiji Shrine in the Japanese capital with an oily substance earlier in April, according to South China Morning Post.
The spike in Chinese outbound travel revealed that citizens visited other destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
The U.S. and a number of European countries also benefited.
Vietnam, Argentina, Egypt, Spain, India, Israel and Ukraine, Qatar and Thailand recorded double-digit growth in spending in 2016, according to the report.
“Despite the many challenges of recent years, results of spending on travel abroad are consistent with the 4 percent growth to 1.2 billion international tourists arrivals reported earlier this year for 2016,” UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai said. “People continue to have a strong appetite for travel and this benefits many countries all around the world, translating into economic growth, job creation and opportunities for development.“