According to the China Tourism Research Institute, China provided 120 million outbound tourists in 2015, spending over US$100 billion dollars in the process. Compared to 2014 this was a rise of 12% and 16.7%, respectively.

Although at present Australia is attracting less than one percent of the total number. This small percentage still equates to over 1 million Chinese tourists each year.

I would expect this percentage to increase gradually over the next few years. I believe Chinese tourists will start to look beyond the current favourites such as South Korea, Japan, and Thailand, and try some of the less visited destinations.

There are a number of companies that stand to benefit from this tourism boom. Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd (ASX: SYD) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) will play a key role in getting tourists into Australia, but it is where they go from there that I am focussing on today.

I believe Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) and Star Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX: SGR) could be about to see strong earnings growth for a number of years on the back of this tourism boom.

The advantage that these two companies have over a company such as Mantra Group Ltd (ASX: MTR) is that they provide luxury hospitality, leisure facilities, and entertainment in the form of gambling. Chinese tourists are well-known for their love of shopping and casinos, which is why I think they make a great fit.

I expect the share price of both companies will increase in value considerably in the next few years. But investors might want to choose to invest in just one of them in order to diversify their portfolio. Given the choice I would pick Crown Resorts over Star Entertainment because I feel it is better value right now and will be better positioned to capitalise on growing Chinese tourism in the future.

At present Crown Resorts is busy with designs for its project in Las Vegas, has plans for a fourth hotel in Melbourne, and plans to open Crown Sydney in Barangaroo South. This complements current operations at home and in Macau, which is incidentally one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists.

In terms of valuation Crown is looking like a better option also. It is priced at 19 times estimated forward earnings, compared to 21 times estimated forward earnings for Star Entertainment.

This is due in part to the fact that Crown Resorts shareholders have had a disappointing year thus far. They have seen the value of their shares decline by 2%, whereas Star Entertainment’s shareholders have seen a gain of over 7%.

I feel it is now time for Crown Resorts shares to play catch-up and fully expect to see strong gains for its shareholders in the year ahead and beyond.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.