Children of China’s Future

Yale Global is publishing a two-part series that will look at, “widening inequality in China and its effects on .” The first article, written by Pallavi Aiyar, describes a tour of Europe organized for the children of China’s wealthy elite:

In a country where many workers earn an annual income of around $1,500, parents paid up to RMB 60,000, or US$9,500, to send their children on whirlwind tours of the continent’s sights. In addition to holiday photos, the children were expected to bring home skills like eating with a fork and knife and learning the appropriate time to clap at a classical music concert.

If it’s school-vacation holiday in China, then it’s study-tour time in .

, some 3 million of whom visited Western Europe in 2010, have already remade the traditional European Grand Tour according to their own tastes and consumer culture. Typical stops include Paris for romance and Louis Vuitton; Switzerland for mountains and chocolates; German towns like Trier, the birthplace of Karl Marx; and Metzingen, home to several factory outlets and the headquarters of Hugo Boss.

Chinese travelers have also emerged as the travel industry’s knights in shining armor, riding to the rescue of Europe’s industries suffering the effects of stagnant economic growth. In 2011, Chinese travelers accounted for 62 percent of Europe’s luxury goods sales according to one estimate.