Chinese travelers have officially become the biggest contributors to the tourism industry, spending a whopping $102 billion on vacations and other travel in 2012.
Figures from the UN World Tourism Organization revealed the Asian country has dramatically upped its travel spending, with last year’s expenditure up 40 percent from the prior year.
The organization credits China’s increased spending to the growing numbers of people entering the middle class.
According to the BBC, not only are the Chinese dedicating more money to travel, they are also shifting their spending habits. Instead of taking organized tours and joining busloads of other tourists, more and more Chinese are hiring cars and traveling independently.
However, one thing hasn’t changed – the Chinese still love to shop. Purchasing souvenirs and luxury goods remains high on the list of favorite travel activities.
Other emerging countries have also shot up the list. Russia’s travel spending increased by more than 30 percent last year, boosting the country to fifth place.
The United States came in at third place behind Germany, with tourism spending totaling just under $84 billion dollars.
[Photo credit: Flickr user bigbirdz]