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China to lead growth in international travel

February 14, 2011 |  2:49 pm

Foreigntourists International travel will grow 32% by 2014, pushed partly by a surge in travelers from China, according to a forecast released Monday by a trade group for the international airline industry.

The International Air Transport Assn. predicted that the airline industry will carry 3.3 billion international travelers by 2014, up from 2.5 billion in 2009.

China will be the biggest contributor of new travelers, with 214 million of the 800 million new travelers coming from that nation, the report predicted.

Part of the reason for the expected growth in international travel from China is the expanding economy and the booming middle class in that populous nation, plus the easing of travel restrictions.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week the expansion of a travel agreement between China and the U.S., which opens the U.S. to 67 million more Chinese citizens from three additional provinces, municipalities and regions.

China is already one of the fastest-growing sources of travelers to the U.S., and by 2015 it is expected to become the sixth-largest market, up from 16th in 2008, according to the Department of Commerce.

-- Hugo Martin

(Photo: International travelers wait at Los Angeles International Airport. Credit: Los Angeles Times)