China tourism boom is 'tip of the iceberg': Hotels.com
The Chinese population's burgeoning appetite for travel, which saw the country become the biggest tourism spender worldwide earlier this year, is only just beginning, travel website Hotels.com told CNBC.
According to a Chinese International Traveler Monitoring Report by Hotels.com, 45 percent of surveyed hoteliers said they had seen an increase in Chinese guests over the past year, and 54 percent said they expected the trend to continue.
"This is only the start... it's the tip of the iceberg. We are looking at a long runway in as far as [demand from] Chinese travelers abroad," Abhiram Chowdhry, the vice president and managing director for Hotels.com Asia Pacific, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Chowdhry added that hoteliers were transforming the way they were running their businesses to adapt to the spike in Chinese demand.
"A lot of them [hoteliers] are taking steps to cater more to the Chinese, [including] things such Chinese literature and Chinese speaking staff. All of this is becoming part of the course of running a hotel anywhere globally," added Chowdhry.
China's tourism appetite has exploded in recent years, spurred by both rising disposable incomes and a relaxation of Communist government travel restrictions, preventing Chinese citizens from travelling abroad amongst other factors, analysts say.
The number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad doubled from 2005 to 2012 to a whopping 83 million, the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported. Meanwhile, earlier this year it said China had rocketed to the top spot in terms of global tourism demand, overtaking both the U.S. and Germany.
(Read more: China tourism set for boom like Japan in the '80s)
Chinese travelers spent $102 billion on international travel in 2012, a spike of 37 percent on the previous year. By contrast, Germany ranked second, spending $83.8 billion, while U.S. tourists ranked third with $83.7 billion.
South East Asia is also a hot spot for growth, according to Hotels.com's Chowdhry.
"The low cost carrier airlines are actually driving demand from those places. A lot of consumers that never actually flew before are now getting a chance to fly filling up hotels and travelling all over the world," he added.
(Read more: Chinese Wonder Why Their Tourists Behave So Badly)
Elsewhere, the weakness of the Japanese yen has boosted the popularity of Japanese tourist hotspots Kyoto and Osaka, he said.
Furthermore, Chowdhry said Chinese travelers are becoming more adventurous in their choice of destination.
While Hong Kong, Thailand's Bangkok and the U.S.'s Las Vegas were the top three destinations in the first half of 2013, South Korea's Jeju islands, and Taiwan's Kenting have seen an influx of Chinese tourists.
(Read more: Korea Goes After Chinese Tourists as Yen Falls)
The South China Morning Post reported Tuesday that affluent Chinese travelers are showing appetite for unusual tourism destination like the Antarctic, which saw an estimated 2,328 Chinese visitors during last year's travel season, which runs from November to March.
One Asian country that hasn't kept a pace with the burgeoning appetite for travel seen throughout much of Asia over the past year, however, is India, the Hotels.com report found.
The weaker rupee, which plummeted to a record low of 68.85 to the dollar in late August, has dampened Indians' appetite for travelling abroad, said Chowdhry, adding that difficulties surrounding India's political situation have also prompted a pause.
"From a longer-term perspective, I'm bullish on the Indian traveler as well and for them to take a rightful place next to the Chinese in travelling globally," he added.
For the hoteliers' survey, Hotels.com carried out a global survey of more than 1,500 Hotels.com hotel partners during May/June 2013.
— By CNBC's Katie Holliday: Follow her on Twitter @hollidaykatie