Tourism Australia to test pilot 12-month payment program for tourists

Sydney Fish Market. Image source: @sydneyfishmarket via Instagram

Alipay and Tourism Australia have announced today that Sydney will be the pilot city for a new service to promote leading tourist and retail destinations to Chinese tourists, ahead of the Chinese New Year festive period in early February.

The Sydney City Card will introduce Chinese tourists to sights and activities in hotspots round the city and provide special geotargeted 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 one hundred leading retailers and tourist destinations 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 40 million Chinese travel including seven million heading overseas – with Australia among the leading destinations.

Alipay ANZ country manager George Lawson said the pilot program will provide Australia with a critical advantage over other tourist destinations.

“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.”

Alipay has also recently partnered with major financial institutions including Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Tyro making its platform available via their proprietary technology.

A 2018 Nielsen study found 99% of Chinese tourists had the Alipay app installed on their mobile phone.

A 2019 Nielsen survey of 1,244 overseas merchants found that nearly 60% of those that adopted Alipay saw a subsequent growth in both foot traffic and revenue.

China is Australia's largest and most valuable tourism market, accounting for 81% of the growth in tourism spending in Australia in the last 12 months and for 27% of total spend by international visitors.

More than 1.4 million Chinese tourists travelled to Australia in the year ending November 2018 (YoY growth of 6.2%), and spent mot than $11.5 billion (YoY growth of 12%).

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.