China meets the world, as 200m tourists bring destinations to maximum capacity

If you went been to Venice, Barcelona or Paris last summer and you thought it felt very busy, you were not alone, writes Frank Barratt for the Mail on Sunday.

Venice and Barcelona were so overcrowded that locals took to the streets to protest at the growing tourist onslaught. And one of the main reasons for the crowds was... China.

The Chinese are joining the queues to enter our favourite tourist places in ever greater numbers. China is finally engaging with the world and, in tourism at least, the effects are phenomenal.

In just a few years, it has leapt up the league table of tourist-generating nations to first place, with more than 135 million international departures in 2016. China's tourists have been increasing in double digits since 2010, and most experts agree that 200 million Chinese will be travelling abroad every year by 2021.

The Chinese are not only travelling abroad in ever greater numbers, they're spending far more money than other countries (five times as much as the British).

The British and the Americans used to set the pace in international travel: their entrepreneurs led the way in investing in new properties and establishing standards and patterns of growth for international holiday resorts.

But Western domination is history. Now, when major tourist destinations devise their development plans for the future, China is top of the list of the nations they want to attract. Cruise lines are falling over themselves to find a product the Chinese like (it's more difficult to find something to their taste than you might think).

The growth of tourism from China is also certain to impact on our own foreign travel plans. As cities such as Venice reach maximum capacity, pressure will grow for measures almost certainly financial to limit entry.