China tourism

It may never rival porcelain or Peking duck in popularity beyond China’s shores, but the “facekini” is being hailed by domestic newspapers as the country’s latest cultural gift to the world.

The recent publication by a New York-based style magazine, CR Fashion Book, of a photo shoot showing models wearing “pool masks” has prompted the Qingdao Evening News to claim the look as a foreign variation on a familiar theme in the north eastern seaside city.

“As soon as this photo shoot was published, the sharp-eyed among our netizens immediately recognised that this was none other than a ‘knock off’ of our Qingdao old woman’s ‘facekini’,” the newspaper saidRead more >>

From the news coming out of the UK over the last few days, you might think the government had only just realised that China was the world’s second biggest economy.

There’s the move to make it easier for Chinese to get UK visas; opening up Chinese investment in power stations; and Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, is on a trade mission. The message from the UK to China is clear: the UK is open for business. But what is the state of UK-China trade and tourism anyway? Read more >>

We want one in China

Travel can certainly be an eye-opener.

Guo Guangchang, chairman of Fosun, China’s largest private conglomerate, had so much fun with his young family at the exclusive Atlantis resort in Dubai that he made a deal with developer Kerzner International to build his very own Atlantis resort back home in China – at a cost of $1.5bn. Read more >>

The influx of Chinese tourists has turned Hong Kong into the great mall of China. But demand for luxury watches, jewellery and handbags has sent retail rent prices soaring. For small businesses on the edge of the prime shopping areas, staying in business is becoming ever more difficult. Josh Noble reports

These days, more and more Chinese love overseas tourism, not least for the shopping: luxury goods are far cheaper overseas than on the mainland.

So much in fact, that many Chinese overseas tours involve shopping stops so long that there is not enough time left to see sights other than the inside of shopping malls. Beijing has a solution to that problem – but there are knock-on effects. Read more >>

What’s in a star anyway? China’s economy hotel chains are booming, gaining ground at the expense of star-rated hotels.

They are pushing out 2- and 3-star hotels; but at the top of the market 5-star properties are still growing fast, creating a polarised market. Chart of the week takes a look at the numbers, which show a sector undergoing dramatic shifts. Read more >>

After sending tourists flocking to Japan two years ago with a hit rom-com, Chinese film-makers now seem to have done a similar favour to Thailand.

The country has become the the top foreign destination for Chinese tourists during the current May Day holiday, thanks to Lost in Thailand, a low-budget road comedy turned box-office successRead more >>

The new strain of avian influenza, known as H7N9, which has killed 23 people in China, is also starting to take it’s toll on tourism in the Shanghai region.

There has been a noticeable decline in tourists since the outbreak of the bird flu in late March – at Shanghai Spring Tour, one of the city’s three largest travel agencies, the number of travellers to the city has slumped by around a third in late March and around a quarter in the first week of April. Read more >>

By James Kynge, principal of FT China Confidential

Frugality may be the new watchword of incoming President Xi Jinping, but while wealthy Chinese consumers may be cutting conspicuous consumption at home, they are spending ever-larger sums in ever-greater numbers abroad.

A recent survey by FT China Confidential shows the wealthiest 26 per cent of outbound tourists spent an average of Rmb32,628 ($5,241) on their most recent overseas trip, with shopping accounting for almost half the total spend (Rmb15,699).

Furthermore, this cohort of 21m travellers, which we expect to grow significantly in the coming years, plans to spend an average of Rmb43,770 ($7,032) on their next overseas trip this year, representing a 34 per cent increase on their most recent trip. Read more >>

Labourers work on the terminal as construction is underway at the new Hefei Xinqiao airport and its four runways, in Hefei, east China's Anhui province on March 14, 2012, which is schedule to be completed by end of this year.Given China’s increasing status as an economic power, it’s not surprising that more and more people are flying to the country. But it’s taken a while for new routes to open up, with much of the air traffic routed via the established centres of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. That seems to be changing.

British Airways announced on Wednesday that it will next year start flying from Heathrow to Chengdu – one of China’s growing inland centres, and Finnair announced on Thursday that it will be the first airline to connect Europe and Xi’an, another large interior city, flying three times per week from Helsinki. Read more >>

The Peninsula Hotel, Hong KongWith all the new purportedly top-quality hotels popping up in China, what’s the guarantee of service and taste? Very little, according to Clement Kwok, the chief executive of Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels, which is placing an emphasis on quality over quantity.

Kwok criticised the star-rating system, as well as the rapid hotel expansion in China and other emerging markets by competitors during a media lunch at the company’s flagship Peninsula Hotel in Hong KongRead more >>

Victoria Falls

Having survived a decade of national economic meltdown, Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is working at getting back on the world map. On Thursday its premier travel and tourism event Sanganai/Hlanganani kicks off in Harare, with officials reporting an increase in the number of foreign exhibitors from 24 in 2011 to 85 this year.

The big boost is from Chinese exhibitors, reflecting the marketing push to attract vistors from Asia. But will adding Robert Mugabe’s old residence to the tourist trail help? Read more >>

The Chinese government’s decision to suspend toll charges during the current eight-day autumn holiday has generated huge traffic jams – and an internet debate about what to do about them.

In the free-market camp, are those who argue that far from scrapping tolls, the authorities should have raised them to produce manageable flows on some of the busiest days of the year.

Nonsense, reply the socialists, the government should have gone further and extended the toll-free travel from passengers to long-distance buses, to benefit poorer Chinese. Read more >>

Jamil Anderlini visits the Shaolin Temple in central Henan and meets the chief abbot, also known as the ‘CEO monk’. With over 2m visitors per year, the temple has become one of China’s strongest cultural brands.

China’s economic slowdown has yet to effect Chinese tourists: the rise in Chinese foreign travel shows no sign of slowing.

According to the official ministry statistics, 38.6m mainland Chinese citizens travelled abroad in the first half of 2012. That’s up just shy of 20 per cent from the corresponding period in 2011. Read more >>