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China has overtaken France to be the world’s fourth biggest spenders on international tourism, according to ChinaDaily.com.

Quoting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the report says Chinese tourists spent US$44 billion (NZ$61.4 billion) on their travels abroad in 2009 despite the global economic downturn, propping up other economies by eating out, occupying hotel rooms and visiting attractions.

“In crisis-ridden 2009 expenditure still increased by a whopping 21%,” the report quoted the Madrid-based body as saying.

Germany remained the world’s top international tourism spender last year, spending US$81 billion dollars on their travels, down from US$91 billion in 2008, followed by the United States and Britain.

Of the world’s other top spenders only one recorded positive growth.  Netherlands, occupying the 10th position, increased spending by a very modest 0.4%.

While most of China’s 1.3 billion people live on just a few dollars a day, the country is producing a burgeoning middle class that can dwarf the populations of many other countries and who are eager to travel abroad.

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