US-China Tourism Year a boon for ser­vice providers

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WU YIYAO in Shang­hai


Fol­low­ing the launch of the US-China Tourism Year in Bei­jing on March 29, pay­ment ser­vices and banks have started to of­fer new prod­ucts and ser­vices to meet the fast­grow­ing con­sump­tion lev­els of Chi­nese tourists.

The tourism year was an­nounced by China Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and United States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama dur­ing the for­mer’s state visit to the US in Septem­ber last year. Ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua News Agency, the ini­tia­tive aims to boost tourism between the two na­tions by en­hanc­ing the travel ex­pe­ri­ence, boost­ing cul­tural un­der­stand­ing and ex­pand­ing the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of nat­u­ral land­scapes.

Mar­ket ex­perts said that ex­pe­ri­ence-driven con­sump­tion such as hik­ing, fish­ing and trekking are closely linked to busi­nesses such as car ren­tals, in­sur­ance and lo­cal guide ser­vices, which are in turn cov­ered by the var­i­ous ser­vice and prod­uct pack­ages of­fered by bankcard as­so­ci­a­tions and their part­ners, as well as other third-party pay­ment ser­vices providers.

Bankcar­das­so­ci­a­tion­sand­pay­mentser­vice­sproviders, Visa, MasterCard, China UnionPay,Amer­i­canEx­press,Ali­pay,and WeChat Wal­let, have since March launched new prod­ucts and ser­vices that pro­vide Chi­nese tourists with more con­ve­nience when they are on holiday.

Sim­i­larly, banks such as Shang­hai Pudong De­vel­op­ment such as visa ap­pli­ca­tion, flight and hotel book­ing, trans­porta­tion plan­ning, trans­la­tion and guides, as well as discount priv­i­leges, into a sin­gle plat­form.

Xie Yucheng, a con­sump­tion and con­sumer goods mar­ket an­a­lyst with Shang­hai Jiesh­eng Con­sul­tancy Firm, said that ser­vices cater­ing to China’s out­bound tourists are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly di­ver­si­fied and dif­fer­en­ti­ated, and will bet­ter help trav­el­ers ex­pe­ri­ence an­other coun­try’s cul­ture, land­scape and life­style.

“A decade ago, a Chi­nese tourist may take a photo in front of the Statue of Lib­erty be­fore show­ing the im­age to his or her fam­ily and friends, say­ing: ‘Look I have been to the US’. Now, it’s a dif­fer­ent story as peo­ple can ac­cess pic­tures through WeChat and the in­for­ma­tion they pro­vide is much more de­tailed. For ex­am­ple, they may say that they are hav­ing lunch at the Cheese­cake Fac­tory in Seat­tle, or fish­ing at Myr­tle Beach at South Carolina,” said Xie.

“De­tailed travel ex­pe­ri­ences are ac­tu­ally growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for ser­vices providers who can now help cus­tomers re­serve a seat at a pop­u­lar restaurant or ap­ply for a li­cense for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to data from the US Com­merce Depart­ment, 2.56 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists ar­rived in the United States in 2015 and the num­ber is ex­pected to grow to 2.97 mil­lion this year. An­a­lysts said that this mas­sive num­ber of tourists means that an even wider range of ser­vices is needed, and it also presents ser­vices providers with the op­por­tu­nity to tar­get niche mar­ket seg­ments.

Many tourists have ap­plauded these new ser­vices, say­ing that those that are mo­bile­based have been par­tic­u­larly con­ve­nient.

“I booked a taxi in New York us­ing Didi, an Uber-like ser­vice, and paid us­ing WeChat. It felt ex­actly like what I do back in Bei­jing. With­out this op­tion and fuss-free process, I might just choose to stay in the hotel and not hang out with my friends in the night, and that would mean that I end up miss­ing a lot of ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing my trip,” said Huang Yuewen, a 21-year-old col­lege stu­dent from Bei­jing.

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