sriimg20060405_6606292_0.jpgChinese tourists spent €450m in the European Union last year, according to a survey by the country's National Tourism Administration, Xinhua reports.

tourists were only allowed to visit EU nations in 2004, and the number
exceeded 1m last year. Most chose France, Italy, Germany and the UK as
their destinations. Switzerland is also growing in popularity, because of its scenery, central location and famous watch industry.

the current hype about China's tourism boom, Xinhua cautions that
flying to Europe is beyond the reach of all but a wealthy few. Not so
much because of the cost of the ticket, but because they have to pay
security deposits to travel agents to guarantee they will return.

Meanwhile the Times of London has a story about Chinese tourists in Europe. Its mostly all been said before — by us, for example — but there is one nugget from a sales manager at China International Travel Service:

tourists like buying things. I can't think of anyone who travels to
Switzerland and doesn't buy a Rado or a Rolex. Sometimes a whole family
goes and each member buys a watch.”

Luxury watches
are popular items to take back home because of the high duties in
China. The government recently introduced a 20% consumer tax on luxury
watches, bringing the total tax burden to around 50% — a level that
has attracted howls of protest from Swiss watchmakers which see the tax as discriminatory.

Instead of going to the expense of opening branches in Chinese cities, why don't Rolex et al just set up shop in the Arrivals lounge at Geneva International?

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