Maldives: 5th Most Popular Foreign Destination among Chinese Millionaires

Maldives Promotion House – The richest Chinese travelers take an average of 15 vacation days a year; they prefer the Shangri-La Hotels brand above others and for a holiday, they would rather visit France than the U.S.

One reason they’re traveling overseas is to sort out their kid’s education according to a recent Hurun Report study on the travel and vacation patterns of China’s wealthy. The firm, which also compiles the closely watched annual China Rich List, surveyed 463 millionaires with more than 10 million Yuan in assets (US$1.5 million); 45 of those interviewed had more than 100 million Yuan in assets.

Here are a few more details from the Hurun Report study:

China’s wealthy class — almost entirely self-made — is relatively young. The average millionaire in China is 39 years old, younger than the global average of 54, according to Hurun. Although most take 15 days off every year, 30% take more than 20 days. Women generally go on vacation more often than their male peers, and billionaires, when they travel, tend to stay away longer. Golf is far and away the most favored sport for the Chinese rich. Hurun even compiled stats: The average millionaire’s handicap is 26.

With increasing wealth comes a desire to travel further afar and to spend more of their vacations in foreign lands. International travel has risen 10% in the past two years, with China’s rich going overseas three times a year on average; 20% of these millionaires go abroad more than five times a year. They’re doing so more for leisure than for business—holiday time abroad was up 10% compared with 2009, Hurun said.

The most popular foreign destination was France, surpassing the U.S. for the first time. Australia, Japan and the Maldives ranked third through fifth, respectively. Domestically, Sanya—China’s equivalent to Hawaii — ranked No. 1, with Hong Kong and the southwestern province of Yunnan coming in second and third.

Chinese tourists are now the world’s biggest spenders, according to statistics compiled by Global Blue, a financial-services firm that specializes in managing tax-free purchases between merchants and foreign customers world-wide.

Arrival of Chinese tourists to Maldives has grown tremendously since getting Approved Destination Status (ADS) in 2002 from the Chinese government. The Maldives received 120,000 Chinese tourists in 2010, representing an increase of 96 percent from a year earlier and making China the number one source of foreign tourists.

Data from the Maldives Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture shows that the number of Chinese tourists to the Maldives accounted for 15 percent of the total international tourists to the country in 2010, ranking first among all countries and followed by the United Kingdom with 114,000 tourists, Italy, Germany and France.

Chinese tourists to the Maldives are expected to set a new high in 2011. The Maldives received 39,000 Chinese tourists in the first quarter, an increase of 53 percent from the same period of 2010.

The Maldives’ Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture believes that the primary cause behind the rapid rise in Chinese tourist arrivals is that China’s fast economic development has made its people richer. Furthermore, other major factors include unique sand beaches, visa-free access and a variety of water sports.

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