SHANGHAI: Tourists from China will be heading to Europe, the US and Australia in droves during this winter break and also for next year's Lunar New Year holiday season.
Japan, once a long-time favourite holiday destination, will likely be replaced by South Korea as Chinese tourists switch preferences amid a territorial dispute.
Due to a dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea, tours to Japan are still suspended.
There are hardly any advertisements for Japan holiday packages in newspapers or package brochures.
Tour agencies in Shanghai have started promoting their holiday packages, a few months ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.
"A lot of tourists go to Europe to see ancient architecture. Shopping is also one big attraction," said Vivian Zou, the Asia Pacific vice general manager of China Spring Tour.
"As for tours to America, people visit famous universities. Australia is in summer when (China is) in winter, so the warm weather attracts a lot of people."
The Chinese yuan has also appreciated, making long distance travel to Europe, America and Australia more affordable.
Travel agencies say tours to Japan used to account for 20 per cent of their businesses.
Cruise tours were very popular, because of Shanghai's proximity to Japan.
But agencies found they had to adjust their packages, after diplomatic ties turned sour.
"Next year we plan direct cruise tours to South Korea," said Zhao Dexiang, the deputy general manager of Shanghai China International Travel Service.
"Since their tourism resource is less abundant, we decided to offer themed packages like beauty trips or medical trips to make the tours more attractive."
Travel agencies also plan to promote Southeast Asia as a holiday destination in the coming year.
Among the highlights are new attractions like Legoland and Hello Kitty Land Town in Malaysia, and the aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.
The number of Chinese outbound tourists is expected to reach 78.4 million this year, and the surge is expected to continue in 2013.
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