Alipay, the world’s leading mobile payment and lifestyle platform has launched an innovative mobile tool aimed at promoting Melbourne’s leading tourist and retail destinations to Chinese visitors.

The new Melbourne City Card is being promoted by City of Melbourne as part of the Council’s strategy to support its retail, hospitality and small business economy to connect with the fast-growing China tourism market.

The card will introduce Chinese visitors to sights and activities in hotspots around the city, and provide special geotargeted promotions in key areas including the Yarra River, Collins Street, Chinatown, Docklands, Lonsdale Street and Melbourne Airport.

In addition to supporting Chinese visitors once they arrive in Melbourne, Alipay will promote the city through social media and various Alipay-owned channels in China. An interactive mobile map operates 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 Melbourne retailers and tourist destinations involved in the Melbourne City Card promotion.

Country Manager of Alipay, Australia and New Zealand, George Lawson said: “Melbourne is a world-class tourist destination, and the launch today of the Melbourne City Card is aimed at promoting the city’s leading hotspots and merchants to Australia’s largest and most important tourism market.

“We have already seen from the success of the city card pilot in Sydney that this is a highly effective method of engaging with Chinese visitors both before and during their holidays. This partnership will further enhance Melbourne’s reputation as a fantastic tourist destination, and provide the best possible experience for Chinese visitors.”

City of Melbourne Small Business, Retail and Hospitality Portfolio Chair Councillor Susan Riley said the Melbourne City Card would help bolster the city’s retail, tourism and hospitality sectors.

“Melbourne is a key tourist destination for Chinese visitors and the Melbourne City Card will offer them greater convenience and help them feel more welcome as they explore our city.

“The City of Melbourne has helped support businesses’ participation in the Melbourne City Card by connecting retailers with Alipay and holding a workshop on the app in May.”

The launch of the Melbourne City Card follows the success of a Sydney City Card pilot, launched in February this year. In the first month of the Sydney promotion, there was an increase of over 20 per cent in local Alipay payment users and a record number of coupons downloaded, as Chinese visitors utilised the app to find merchants and access exclusive promotions. Participating stores also reported a substantial increase in foot traffic as a result of the promotion.

Business bank Tyro is currently rolling out its integrated Alipay payments solution to its retail merchants making the timing of the Melbourne City Card perfect according to Tyro’s CEO Robbie Cooke.

“We’re really proud to be part of an initiative that not only provides our merchants an opportunity to showcase their businesses on the Alipay app, but which also celebrates the diversity and appeal of Melbourne as a destination,” Mr Cooke said.

A 2018 Nielsen study found 99 per cent of Chinese tourists had the Alipay app installed on their mobile phone.[i] A 2019 Nielsen survey of 1,244 overseas merchants found that nearly 60 per cent 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, with more than 1.4 million visiting Australia in the year ending April 2019 with an annual trip spend of more than $12 billion, on annual growth of 10 per cent.

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