Queensland targets Chinese tourists with WeChat 'CityExperience'

The state government hopes its new 'mini program' within WeChat will encourage more visitors from China.

The Queensland government has launched a new initiative that it hopes will encourage Chinese tourists to visit the state's "key attractions".

Tourism and Events Queensland has announced signing a Memorandum of Understanding with online travel, company Ctrip, with content from Ctrip powering the CityExperience Mini Program hosted within popular Chinese messaging app WeChat.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said users of the app would be able to make bookings and payments with the program.

"We're working with the private sector to find new ways to grow our share of the international visitor market. This program will do just that," she said.

"This initiative will help to ensure Queensland is front-of-mind for millions of Chinese tourists looking to book their next holiday."

See also: Daily active users for WeChat exceeds 1 billion

The program is designed to be an interactive guide that helps tourists make the most out of their stay in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays, Gold Coast, and Brisbane. Through a map-driven layout, visitors will also get an interactive tour through attractions, including accommodation, restaurants, and shops.

The app will also feature travel guides prepared by Tourism and Events Queensland, suggested itineraries, and an FAQ section.

Jones expects the app will also help tourists to book directly with Queensland companies.

"WeChat has a massive audience, more than one billion active monthly users, and we're bringing Queensland content right to their phones through this new Queensland CityExperience Mini Program," she said.

"This is about enhancing the travel experience for Chinese travellers and providing Queensland's tourism operators an opportunity to connect with this market online."

The Queensland government said China is its largest market for international visitors, with tourists spending AU$1.5 billion during the 12 months to March 2019.

Speaking with ZDNet in November during Alibaba's 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in Shanghai, Australia and New Zealand managing director Maggie Zhou said the company considers Australia as the origin of high-quality goods -- particularly in the baby and maternity, health and nutrition, cosmetics, and food and beverage categories. Appealing, she said, to many Chinese consumers. 

"Every year, about 1.2 million visitors visit Australia from China. Every year, there's about 120 million trips from China around the world -- it's a really moving country with high spending," she added. "We deliver tourists to Australia and help the local businesses like the restaurants, tourist attractions ... using technology."

"Australia has big potential not only 1.2 million -- should be more -- we can attract more," Zhou continued.

"Australia is also a mystery for Chinese consumers. Why do kangaroos only live in Australia? Why do koalas only live in Australia? Chinese tourists ... love the country and love the products of the country."

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