They may be venturing further afield, seeking experiential travel and adventures beyond their trademark shopping sprees, but according to a recent Hurun report, China's globetrotting millionaires are still fixated on France. Having surveyed 150 Chinese USD millionaires, Hurun and International Luxury Travel Market Asia found in their report that France remains the top destination for wealthy Chinese travelers, with the US coming in second, while -- due in no small part to preferential visa agreements -- the destinations growing in popularity most quickly include the Maldives, Switzerland and Dubai.
The report adds that the typical wealthy Chinese outbound traveler typically goes on holiday three times per year for an average of eight days, traveling in a group of nine. Though more seasoned Chinese travelers are being seen engaging in more experience-based activities -- anything from scuba diving in Hawaii to safaris in Africa -- the most yawn-worthy aspect of the study is that shopping still remains the top motivation for overseas travel. As the duty-free refund group Global Blue recently noted, Chinese tourists in Europe spend on average of €813 (US$1,011) on tax-free goods on each trip. According to Global Blue, Chinese spending accounted for 25 percent of untaxed purchases in France last year. As Christian Mantei, the general director of Atout France, a marketing agency for France abroad, recently told Le Figaro, "
...Last year, they represented only 1.5 percent of foreign visitors, yet they spent about €500 million ($621.5 million).”
Though cash remains king among traveling Chinese, Su Ning, board chairman of China UnionPay (the country's only credit card network), recently said that outbound Chinese spent some 300 billion yuan ($47.5 billion) overseas through bank cards in 2011, up by 66.7 percent from the 180 billion yuan they spent internationally one year prior. According to some estimates, wealthy Chinese tourists account for one-third of purchases in the European and North American luxury markets.
Though niche destinations and experiences are gaining popularity among outbound Chinese tourists making their fifth or sixth overseas jaunt, the "love affair with all things France" among high-end globetrotters is unlikely to change drastically soon, Rupert Hoogewerf of the Hurun Report said this week, noting that over 40 percent of respondents listed France as their top destination. Based on luxury consumption patterns of China's rich, this is far from surprising. According to a recent study of the most searched-for luxury brands in China by the Luxury Society and Digital Luxury Group, four French luxury brands are listed in the top 10 alongside auto brands, and French marques account for half of Hurun's top 10 list of most-gifted luxury brands in China. But they're not just fixated on fashion or accessories brands; Chinese wine collectors have been some of the most aggressive bidders for top-flight Burgundy and Bordeaux at auctions in Hong Kong over the past two years.