Chinese Tourists Take Big Spending to Maldives
The Wall Street Journal13.10.2013Read original
We all like to go to the most beautiful places in the world for our holidays and the Maldives are undoubtedly one of them. Surprisingly the Chinese are now, by far, the tourists who enjoy the most the Maldives.
Rich Chinese who are sick of crowds at home during major holidays have discovered the Maldives, the tropical islands that typically draw jet-setters from Europe looking for an exotic locale.
The Maldives has become the most desired destination for the Chinese, according to a report from China’s Tourism Bureau. Chinese tourists now dominate travel to the island country, with 103,734 arrivals in the first seven months of 2013, up 66% from the same period in 2011, according to its Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture. Chinese visitor numbers dwarf those from the U.K. and Italy, which are in second and third place with 60,021 and 53,493 tourists, respectively.
They stayed in villas on the water in the Maldives, but hardly dipped their toes in the water. They spent most of their time playing a popular Chinese card game called fighting the landlord. “Although I wished they have spent a bit more time on the beach, they really saw this game as an engaging intellectual challenge,” Mr. Zhu said.
Well-off Chinese who are tired of beaches in Southeast Asia are looking for a new destination. For Chinese passport holders, the Maldives is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t require the hassle of a visa. Its white sand and lush green water couldn’t be more different than the travel scene in China during Golden Week, one of two weeks during the year when nearly the whole country is on holiday.
The islands, which are an eight-hour flight from Beijing, have roughly 350,000 people spread over 90,000 square kilometers on about 200 inhabited islands. The country, among the lowest-lying in the world, is considered one of the most at risk from rising sea levels believed caused by climate change. […]
Chinese continue to push the limits of tourism, much as wealthy Westerners have done. Helen Zhou’s family is going to the South Pole this Christmas, after visiting South Africa two years ago. Although she is a little uncomfortable with her kids missing a week of primary school for the three-week trip, her friend, who is organizing this trip, said they would learn more on this trip than in classrooms. […]