(Oct 16): Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reputedly said he relied on China electricity consumption figures as a guide to economic activity rather than the official statistics. While this is often used to cast doubt on China’s statistics, it is also a good method to apply more broadly to gauge China’s economic performance.

One practical measure is the continued steady growth in Chinese tourism. This reflects both a capacity to spend, along with a continued expectation that economic growth will continue for at least long enough to pay off the credit card bills. Tourism, not Prada, is the ultimate expression of discretionary expenditure. Tourism costs a lot more and it rests upon a favourable vision of the future.

Over the golden week holidays, I observed a very high number of Chinese tourists in New Zealand. Most of these were not package tours. These were independent travellers. They were family groups or small groups of friends. This was not the cheaper option and New Zealand has positioned itself very well to tap into this market with a high level of genuine China-ready tourism ventures tailored specifically to the independent traveller market.

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