Sports / China

Top marathons now a selling point for Chinese tourists

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-07-09 14:32

Top marathons now a selling point for Chinese tourists

Athletes participate in a pasture marathon in West Ujimqin Banner of Inner Mongolia, North China, on July 4, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

SHANGHAI - They've peered from the Empire State Building, admired masterpieces at the Louvre, and relaxed at the hot springs near Mount Fuji, and now Chinese tourists are tackling the next thing on their must-do lists: world-class marathons.

The trend is apparent at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, held every July in Queensland, Australia. The number of Chinese participating in the race has risen from just 27 in 2013 to 161 last year and 251 this year.

China's outbound tourists hit 100 million last year and have unseated Americans as the world's biggest spenders on foreign travel, said Mark Williams, an economist at Capital Economics in a research note Tuesday.

The arrival of Chinese tourists - and their money - has spurred governments and tourism organizations worldwide to make the world's top destinations more accessible and appealing to Chinese visitors.

The Gold Coast Airport Marathon, recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) with Gold Label status, has long been a selling point for tourism in the eastern Australian region.

While other IAAF-awarded marathons in New York City, Boston, London and Tokyo hold their events during the northern hemisphere's cooler months, the winter down under makes July an ideal time for a run.

Grace Pan, Tourism and Events Queensland's director for the greater China region, told Xinhua that the marathon has gained popularity among Chinese runners thanks to promotional campaigns over the past three years.

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