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Cities partner with WeChat to lure Chinese travelers

By Bo Leung in London | | Updated: 2017-12-06 00:35

Chinese mobile app WeChat is working with cities wanting to attract more visitors from China.

At an event in Shanghai, WeChat revealed its CityExperience Mini Program, and its partnership with VisitBritain – the United Kingdom's official tourism body – as well as Tourism Australia, and Dubai Tourism.

The program aims to enhance WeChat users' overseas travel experiences, while offering an interactive platform for tourism organizations wanting to better connect with Chinese travelers.

Chinese tourists are already an important consideration for global tourism agencies and they will become more so in future, with the number of Chinese people holidaying outside China expected to double to 200 million by 2022 from 2016's total.

Travis Qian, VisitBritain's interim director for China and Northeast Asia, said: "VisitBritain is proud to partner with WeChat to promote the fantastic experiences that visitors can only get in London; from the British Museum, Selfridges, to the Shard, from Warner Bros Studio Tour, Soho Theatre, to The Sketch."

He said VisitBritain will work with WeChat throughout the seasons, and attempt to extend the best welcome from Europe.

WeChat, which is called Weixin in China, has around 963 million active users.

"China is the world's most valuable outbound market," Qian said. "This partnership will see VisitBritain amplify its marketing reach in China, inspiring more visitors to book a trip to Britain right now."

Tourism groups in London, Dubai and Sydney have developed digital guide maps for the CityExperience Mini Program, to help Chinese tourists navigate the cities and learn about their cultures and histories from official sources of information.

Through the app, Chinese travelers can also explore different attractions, shops, and restaurants, with the help of photos and audio guides that provide an immersive experience.

The facility also offers itinerary planning, with suggested durations for each attraction, information such as addresses, contact numbers, and sample schedules.

According to VisitBritain, there were 115,000 visits from China to the UK between January and June, which was up 47 percent on the previous year.Chinese visitors spent a record 231 million pounds ($310 million) during the same period, which was up by 54 percent.

VisitBritain said the nation's hotels, shops, and visitor attractions continue to offer great value to travelers from China. As of October, the UK was 10 percent cheaper for Chinese tourists, compared to October 2015.

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