"For Chinese people the United States is the only competitor left," he says.
"They have an interest in the model for capitalistic development and want to see what they can learn so they can overtake and become number one."
Chinese are very proud of the fact that they are traveling, he adds, given the Cultural Revolution is still fresh the minds of people over 40.
"This happened all in one generation," he says. "Many have parents who didn't have shoes. All this growth happened so fast it's still in living memory.
"Now they're showing the world and themselves: 'I'm strong, I can go spend US$5,000 for nothing, just my pleasure.'"
Other hot markets
Other emerging markets to increase tourism spending abroad over the past decade include Russia, which saw an increase of 32 percent in 2012 to US$43 billion, bringing it from seventh to fifth place in the international tourism spending rankings.
"Emerging economies continue to lead growth in tourism demand," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in a statement.
"The impressive growth of tourism expenditure from China and Russia reflects the entry into the tourism market of a growing middle class from these countries, which will surely continue to change the map of world tourism."
Meanwhile, traditionally hot outbound tourism markets, usually growing at a slower pace, also posted positive results, says the report.
Spending on travel abroad from Germany and the United States grew by 6 percent each.
Spending from the UK grew by 4 percent and the country retained its fourth place spot in the list of major source markets. Expenditure by Canada grew by 7 percent, while both Australia and Japan grew by 3 percent.
The only markets in the top 10 to record a decline in international tourism spending were France (down 6 percent) and Italy (minus 1 percent.)
Top international tourism spenders in 2012
1. China -- US$102 billion
2. Germany -- US$83.8 billion
3. United States -- US$83.7 billion
4. United Kingdom -- US$52.3 billion
5. Russian Federation -- US$42.8 billion
6. France -- US$38.1 billion