One aspect of international travel that can frustrate or confuse some tourists is the need to utilize local apps, such as those for ride hailing.
The latest expansion abroad for China’s most popular ride-hailing company, Didi Chuxing, is in Australia. The company launched its service in Melbourne in June, and in November launched a roaming service for Australia with the Greater China Didi App that allows use of the app outside China without a mobile roaming plan or local SIM card.
The roaming service will also include an auto-translator in the app so that Chinese tourists can communicate with their drivers.
Australia’s increasing popularity among Chinese tourists makes it an important market for companies, like Didi Chuxing, hoping to attract Chinese tourist spending
The service provides Greater China App users the option of using Didi Express, a service that allows passengers to share seats with others on the same route for a discount. For now, the new services will be limited to the Melbourne area and nearby Geelong.
Didi’s interest in Australia is that the country is one of the most popular destinations for higher-end Chinese tourists, and the country expects total Chinese arrivals to reach 1.6 million this year. Moreover, just over half of all tourist spending growth came from Chinese tourists in the 12 months ending in March. In total, Chinese tourists spent just under $7.93 billion (AUD$11 billion) in the period.
While Didi has a lock on the Chinese ride-hailing market, there are Chinese and international competitors looking to tap into the outbound Chinese tourist market. It’s part of the reason Didi has sought major international partners to better compete overseas, with Booking Holdings the most notable of its partnerships.
The biggest challenger in overseas ride-hailing might be China’s largest online travel agency Ctrip. It announced this year that it had finalized a partnership with the London startup Splyt that will allow Ctrip users to book rides from local ride-hailing companies through its app.
Such partnerships not only extend the reach of Chinese companies, it could also allow local companies to attract Chinese customers that would otherwise be unavailable to them.