Visitors set to celebrate New Year worldwide

Updated: 2015-02-19 12:21

By Zhang Chunyanin London and Emma Glez in Beijing(China Daily USA)

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Global destinations seek to lure Chinese tourists with a wide range of Lunar New Year attractions

Chinese tourists will be able to celebrate Spring Festival, regardless of where they are, as the world prepares for next week's celebrations.

Red decorations, including lanterns and paper-cuts, and "Happy New Year" banners in Chinese will abound in foreign cities in coming days so that Chinese tourists and expatriates can welcome the Year of the Ram.

At shopping areas in London's airports, including Heathrow, many luxury brands have set up Chinese signs and advertising to attract visitors from China.

Spring Festival, which falls on Feb 19 this year, is already in full swing at shopping malls in central London, which are featuring a range of sheep or ram toys and decorations. Teams of shopping guides who can speak Chinese are ready to offer help.

Wu Qing, a Chinese visitor in her 40s, said, "It seems like I'm shopping in Beijing because there are so many Spring Festival decorations and Chinese guides."

Zhang Ping, who has lived in Britain for 10 years, said the Spring Festival atmosphere in London is much stronger.

She said Chinese culture's popularity is one of the reasons behind the rise in Spring Festival popularity in London, but added that British shopping malls and hotels are aiming to attract Chinese visitors.

"They are making these arrangements because they covet Chinese visitors' wallets," Zhang said.

Chinese tourists are among the world's biggest spenders. More than 100 million travelers from China spent a record $164.8 billion overseas last year, according to the China National Tourism Bureau.

In The Shard, London's tallest building, the Shangri-La Hotel has prepared a wide selection of traditional treats.

Traditionally, Spring Festival tables overflow with food to convey good fortune. For example, melon seeds signify fertility, sweetened lotus nuts represent prosperity and mandarins symbolize wealth.

According to the China Tourism Academy, about 60 percent of Chinese tourists intend to go abroad during Spring Festival.

Zheng Yimin, a consultant to the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Society, said Chinese Lunar New Year is becoming a global festival thanks to China's economic and cultural strength. "The large Chinese community abroad is helping to promote Spring Festival," he added.

Chinese communities will gather in many large European cities to celebrate. Costume parades featuring dragons and firecrackers will pass through the streets of capitals. In the United States, New York City has launched a campaign to promote its three Chinese neighborhoods - Sunset Park, Chinatown and Flushing.

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