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GLOBETROTTING

How Chinese tourists are reshaping the global travel economy

  • Isabelle Niu
By Isabelle Niu

Video journalist, host of "Because China"

Tokyo, JapanPublished Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

This story is part of an ongoing Quartz series on how China is reshaping our world.

In less than two decades, China has become the world’s most important source of international visitors. Last year, Chinese tourists spent a whopping $270 billion on globetrotting, nearly twice as much as American tourists. 

It’s easy to forget that Chinese tourism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Traveling overseas for leisure didn’t become legal in China until the 90s. In 2001, Chinese tourists only made 12 million trips abroad. In 2018, that number was 150 million

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