Ant Financial is launching yet another “ambassador” campaign, dubbed the Singapore Passion Ambassador campaign, to market its mobile payments platform, Alipay, to Chinese tourists. The company’s newest campaign, launched in partnership with Singapore Tourism Board, will take three tourists on Alipay-made itineraries through the city of Singapore based on three profiles, the foodie, the collector, and the explorer. The customized itineraries will be available on the Alipay app for a year. The ambassadors who participate in the three itineraries will then share their experiences via social media to promote both Singapore and Alipay.

Alipay is designing three custom itineraries for traveling in Singapore, which will be available on the app for a year

This, of course, isn’t the first time Ant Financial has used an ambassador campaign to promote a destination and its own mobile payments platform. The fintech firm also launched a similar campaign for Finland in 2016. The company sent eight Chinese tourists to Helsinki and Rovaniemi, a city located within the Arctic Circle, for six days of sightseeing and touring. On the trip, the tourists were able to pay for virtually everything via Alipay.

While adoption of Chinese mobile payments isn’t necessarily a guarantee of success, it can certainly help promote the impression that a destination is “Chinese-friendly.” It’s especially important for destinations like Finland, which isn’t a particularly well-known global destination. The country has been able to drive the growth of Chinese tourism via promoting it as an easy and accessible “stop-over” destination that Chinese tourists can enjoy while traveling to and from Europe. Not having to worry about getting local currency or about credit card fees does arguably make this kind of extremely short trip more possible.

Alipay marketing has proved to be part of Finland’s successful push for Chinese tourism

Finland reported growth of 63 percent in the number of Chinese arrivals for 2017 over 2016 with the launch of the campaign.

Of course, Singapore has a lot advantages over Finland when it comes to attracting Chinese tourists. It’s much closer to China and thus more affordable in terms of airfares.  It’s also a significantly better-known destination with an international reputation as a modern, cosmopolitan city.

Singapore already benefits from not only a large number of Chinese tourists, but ones that spend substantially more than average

Still, a partnership with Alipay certainly can’t hurt. Destinations partnering with Alipay, or even Tencent and WeChat Pay, are able to promote themselves via the media and tech empires of these large companies as “Chinese-friendly” destinations. These campaigns seemingly target the substantially more lucrative independent traveler demographics as well.

Regardless, it’s not as if Singapore is particularly struggling to attract lucrative Chinese travelers. Just because it’s substantially more affordable than travel to Europe for Chinese tourists, Singapore still tends to attract higher-income Chinese tourists. Last year, the city attracted 3.2 million Chinese arrivals who spent around $4.2 billion, an average of around $1,300 per arrival. This contrasts to the overall global average of $887 per Chinese tourist trip. The disparity might even be larger because the Singapore Tourism Board only includes airfares from Singapore-based airlines to calculate its total tourism receipts, meaning a substantial amount of Chinese spending for travel to Singapore is not accounted for.


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