The Chinese are now the single biggest source of global tourism income after spending $US102 billion (£67 billion; 79 billion euros) while travelling abroad in 2012.
The total is 40% higher than the year before, well above the next two highest-spending countries, Germany and the United States.
The figures come from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, which says higher incomes, looser travel restrictions and a strengthening currency are behind the surge.
UNWTO regional director for Asia Xu Jing called the number "staggering".
The Russian Federation saw spending rise by 32% to $US43 billion, putting it in fifth place in the ranking of international tourism spending, up from seventh.