Tourism Australia and mobile payment and lifestyle platform Alipay has announced Sydney as the pilot city for a new service to promote leading tourist and retail destinations to Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year festive period.
The Sydney City Card will introduce Chinese tourists to sights and activities in hotspots around the city, and provides special geo-targeted promotions in key areas such as The Rocks, Darling Harbour, the Sydney Fish Market, Sydney Airport, Westfield Sydney, and Sydney Chinatown.
The interactive mobile map will operate through the Alipay app which, together with its regional partners has more than one billion users worldwide.
In Australia, tens of thousands of merchants accept Alipay, with more than a hundred retailers and tourist destinations such as BridgeClimb Sydney, the Sydney Aquarium, and Captain Cook Cruises involved in the Sydney City Card pilot.
The pilot program will run for 12 months, and launches ahead of the Chinese New Year week-long holiday in February, which will see 400 million Chinese travel – including seven million heading overseas – with Australia among the leading destinations.
Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan said Lunar New Year is an increasingly important time of the year for Australian tourism.
“We’re seeing more and more of China’s emerged and emerging high-value travellers looking to use this key holiday break as an opportunity to travel overseas and to popular wish list destinations such as ours,” he said.
“Today’s new generation of free and independent Chinese traveller has extremely high demands of an overseas destination, and a big part of meeting those expectations is undoubtedly around convenience and being made to feel welcome.
“We know the huge importance that Chinese travellers attach to Alipay as a preferred and trusted mobile payment system, and I have every confidence that the added value they’ll receive from the new Sydney City Card will prove hugely popular by making the on-the-ground holiday experience easier and more engaging.”
George Lawson, country manager of Alipay across Australia and New Zealand, said: “The Sydney City Card pilot is an innovative approach to engaging with our largest tourist market, and provides Australia with a critical advantage over other regional tourist hotspots during this peak annual travel period.
“Chinese tourists will be able to access recommendations on what to see, where to shop and how to get around, all within an app they are familiar with and while being offered their preferred payment method around the city.
“Providing this tailored and convenient customer experience is critical to maintaining and enhancing Australia’s reputation as a leading international tourist destination for Chinese travellers.”
The Sydney City Card program will run concurrently with a similar initiative in Queenstown, New Zealand, with the potential for expansion into other major tourist destinations in Australia and New Zealand in the near future.
A 2018 Nielsen study found 99 per cent of Chinese tourists had the Alipay app installed on their mobile phone.
Alipay has also recently partnered with major financial institutions including Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Tyro, making its platform available via their proprietary technology.
China is Australia’s largest and most valuable tourism market, accounting for 81 per cent of the growth in tourism spending in Australia in the last 12 months, and for 27 per cent of total spend by international visitors.
More than 1.4 million Chinese tourists travelled to Australia in the year ending November 2018 (6.2 per cent year-on-year growth), and spent more than $11.5 billion (year-on-year 12 per cent year-on-year growth).