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China sees robust holiday consumption

2015-02-26 10:59 Xinhua Web Editor: Mo Hong'e

Chinese consumers spent lavishly on travel, movies and gifts during the lunar New Year holiday.

While hoards of travelers were on their way home on Feb. 18, New Year's Eve in China, Wu was enjoying the sunshine in Bali with her family, 5,400 km away from her home in Beijing. It was the first time she had taken an overseas trip during the holiday and she intends to do it again next year.

Wu was not alone in favoring an exotic locale. One young couple spent 160,000 yuan (around 26,000 U.S. dollars) each on a trip to Antarctica.

Chinese tourists made 5.2 million trips overseas during the holiday week, up 10 percent from a year ago, the China National Tourism Administration said.

As incomes improve and currencies depreciate against the yuan, more tourists are taking their breaks overseas, researcher Zhao Ping of the Ministry of Commerce said.

Giving red online envelopes of cash was also high on the holiday spending list this year, as Internet giants Tencent and Alibaba milked the trend to tempt people into making payments online.

Tencent claims 3.27 billion red envelope transactions via WeChat during the holiday, while 240 million red envelopes worth 4 billion yuan were exchanged on Alipay, a payment arm of Alibaba.

Giving electronic "lucky money" is a trendy spin on the tradition of giving red envelopes (hongbao) filled with money to children. The custom is more than 1,000 years old.

The red envelope war between payment providers will encourage consumers and enterprises to use mobile payments and stimulate domestic consumption in the long run, Zhao said.

China's box office also took a big slice of the holiday consumption pie.Statistics from Piaofangba.cn showed holiday movies including Jean-Jacques Annaud's "Wolf Totem" and Jackie Chan's "Dragon Blade" raked in a record of 1.7 billion yuan during the holiday, beating the 1.4 billion yuan recorded last year.

China is increasingly reliant on domestic consumption which contributed 51.2 percent of economic growth in 2014, 3 percentage points higher than the previous year.

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