Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chinese Shoppers Visit Paris; France Surrenders

Chinese Speak the International Language of Shopping
Droves of Asians poured from several buses on a recent day at a side entrance to Galeries Lafayette, the venerable Parisian department store, and marched into its duty-free boutique beneath a “Japan Welcome” sign. But these were not the flush Japanese of yore; they were mainland Chinese, now Paris’s most sought-after tourists.

“We’re from Wuhan,” said Dina Li, 31, who was traveling with her mother.

Since China put the European Union on its list of approved tourist destinations two years ago, the volume of Chinese sightseers to the Continent has surged, and France is their top destination.

About 700,000 Chinese tourists visited France last year and the number is climbing annually. By 2020, the World Tourism Organization estimates, 100 million Chinese will make foreign trips each year, and surveys indicate that a European vacation is by far the typical Chinese tourist’s biggest travel dream.


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