Shutterstock

There's plenty of buzz about Chinese tourists flocking to Paris for luxury goods. But the top tourist destinations are a bit closer to home.

There’s plenty of buzz about Chinese tourists flocking to Paris for luxury goods, buying up real estate in the U.S., and emptying grocery store shelves in Australia and New Zealand for baby formula. But according to a ranking compiled by the research firm Euromonitor International, the top tourist destinations for wealthy Chinese are a bit closer to home—Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea.

Hong Kong and Macau have long been top destinations because of their proximity to the mainland, the language overlap and their close ties with China, but South Korea is a different story. The two countries are often at odds over North Korea, an ally of China’s that is still technically at war with South Korea. Not many South Koreans speak Mandarin and few Chinese speak Korean. Yet, for a second year in a row in Euromonitor’s ranking, South Korea attracted more Chinese visitors than other Asian destinations popular among mainlanders, like Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, or western ones like the U.S., France, Australia, or the U.K.

So what’s drawing Chinese tourists to the Republic of Korea? Perhaps an admiration for the established, wealthy urban lifestyle of another East Asian country (think PSY’s song "Gangnam Style," which took off among image-conscious Chinese youth). "Chinese look up to South Korea for its sophisticated urban culture, style and beauty," Song Sung-uk, professor of South Korean culture studies at the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul said in August.
 
South Korea has ramped up efforts to woo Chinese tourists over the last year, among other things by lightening visa requirements, as Japanese tourism into the country has dwindled because of a weakening yen. The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea rose 40% in the first quarter of this year, more than any other group, according to Korea’s tourism ministry. More Chinese are coming for weekend of shopping; many come to take their wedding photos in the country’s more fashionable photography studios. According to Korea’s tourism ministry, over 2.5 million Chinese tourists spent on average $2,150 a person last year—more than any other nationality visiting the country.

Top image: SeanPavonePhoto /Shutterstock.com

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Maria Romano stands behind one of her three children, Jennifer, 10, as she gets something to eat in their Harlem apartment in New York Thursday, June 3, 2005
    Equity

    Why HUD Wants to Restrict Assistance for Immigrants

    A proposal by Ben Carson’s agency would eject immigrant families from public housing to make way for the "most vulnerable." Housing advocates aren't buying it.

  2. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  3. Design

    The Many Lives of Notre-Dame

    Far from being a single author’s definitive text, the beloved cathedral’s history is a palimpsest.

  4. Solar panels on a New York City rooftop.
    Environment

    New York City Passes Sweeping Climate Legislation

    The Climate Mobilization Act lays the groundwork for New York City’s own Green New Deal.

  5. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.