Ctrip.com International Ltd., China's biggest online travel agent, may buy companies in Hong Kong, South Korea and across Asia to tap rising spending on international travel by Chinese consumers.

"If in some markets we find a company that is complementary, a leading player, we're interested in an equity relationship,'' James Liang, co-founder of Shanghai-based Ctrip, said in an interview in the city. Acquisitions may help save money as Ctrip expands to offer air tickets and rooms overseas, Liang, 36, said.

Ctrip's Nasdaq-traded shares surged 70 percent this year as rising incomes spurred tourism spending in China and the company bought a stake in Taiwan's ezTravel Company Ltd. in March. More than 115 million Chinese may travel abroad by 2020, making the nation the world's biggest source of outbound tourists, according to CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

"Chinese tourism is going to be a big trend,'' said Frank Shi, an analyst with CLSA in Hong Kong who has an ``outperform'' rating on the shares. ``Asia is already benefiting from Chinese tourists. Europe will probably be the next wave.''

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