According to statistics provided by the National Tourism Administration, the number of Chinese outbound tourists in 2012 was a staggering 83 million, an increase of 18.4% year on year. China’s outbound tourism market is now larger than that of Germany and the United States, putting it firmly on the map as the world’s largest outbound tourism market. It is expected that China’s outbound market will continue to grow throughout 2013 with numbers reaching 94 million, which translates to a year on year rise of 15%. A key reason for the increase in the number of luxury travelers is the increase in Chinese HNWIs. At present, there are 2.8 million US$ millionaires in China, a year on year increase of 4%.
Chinese investment in the UK hit an all-time high of some 8 billion pounds last year, a fivefold increase over 2011, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.
China's outbound direct investment in Germany increased more than 100 percent last year, overtaking Germany's annual investment in China for the first time. Germany was the destination for more than 50 percent of China's ODI in Europe in 2012.
In France, growth in Chinese investment has been phenomenal over the past decade as it rose more than 10 times, although Paris still lags behind Berlin and London in the investment stakes.
In comparison, Italy, the third largest economy in the eurozone, had still very modest levels of Chinese investment in recent years.
Shandong-based Weichai Group's 374-million made a euro ($482 million) deal for a 75-percent stake in the world's largest luxury yacht-maker Ferretti in early 2012 and Changsha Zoomlion's 271-million euro acquired concrete machinery maker Compagnia Italiana Forme Acciaio Spa in 2008, but few more major projects have been seen.
At a time when Italy is seriously dealing with its economy, Sun Yanhong, an expert on European economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it's a chance to invest in the Alpine Peninsula - but with caveats.
"Chinese investors fell more unfamiliar with the business environment of Italy, compared to other countries," she said. Italy is thus committed to promoting a better perception of investment opportunities.
But with "a large amount of Italian companies having financial difficulties" since last year, Sun said. "It's now a chance for Chinese investors".
"Chinese investors may get very good offer to help them get into the market and find proper partners. They can inject vitality into the Italian market when many small and mid-sized enterprises face a broken funding chain," she said
Italy's high-tech sector is the most attractive for Chinese investors, she added.
elecom executive Wang Jing told reporters in Beijing that work should start on the canal by the end of 2014 and finish within six years.
Lawmakers in Nicaragua granted a 50-year concession earlier this month to Wang's privately held HKND Group to build the canal, which will stretch three times the distance of its Panamanian counterpart.
The proposed passage through Nicaragua would be wider that the Panama Canal, and could leave the country well placed to capitalize on a predicted rise in global shipping over the next 20 to 30 years.
Even with its current expansion, the Panama Canal will still be too small to accommodate the world's largest container ships.
In addition to the canal, HKND has won rights to build a railroad, two ports, an international airport and an oil pipeline.
It is not clear how the group intends to finance the canal's construction, which carries a reported price tag of $40 billion.
Wang said Tuesday that fundraising is "going very well so far." But he declined to name any investors, saying instead that more information will be provided "when the project reaches different phases."