BEIJING - China’s social messaging app WeChat has sealed an alliance with 30 foreign tourism organisations, including the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), to encourage greater use of its in-app tools to reach Chinese visitors.
When people travel abroad now, they find information on social platforms including WeChat. In the past, they travelled with travel agencies, but now they like to plan their trips themselves.
The industry grouping - Welcome with WeChat Alliance - aims to support foreign tourism agencies in developing tools to reach out to Chinese consumers, the Singapore Straits Times reports.
The alliance will support members in digitalising their content and services, offer training on effective practices, and finance innovative solutions.
WeChat, rolled out by tech giant Tencent in 2011, has become a popular platform for institutions, brands and other entities to engage with followers.
STB was the first overseas tourism agency that launched its own WeChat mini-programme for Chinese visitors to Singapore in 2017. It has two WeChat accounts and three mini-programmes catering to different types of visitors.
STB's Northern China area director Nicky Seet said at the alliance launch in Beijing that agencies had to continually review and expand the way they communicate with visitors.
Last year, more than 3.4 million visitors from China were in Singapore, a six per cent increase from 2017. They were also the top spenders in Singapore last year.
Eddie Yang, Asia director of the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, said that aside from famous attractions, information about spots off the beaten track is very limited on Chinese platforms.
“Information on these ‘hidden treasures’ can be very difficult to find for the Chinese, we are still working hard to make these available through the WeChat platform,” he said.
Dr Zhang Yang from the China Tourism Academy said, "When people travel abroad now, they find information on social platforms including WeChat. In the past, they travelled with travel agencies, but now they like to plan their trips themselves.”
The WeChat app has more than 1.1 billion monthly active users, who use it for everything from paying bills, booking train and plane tickets to researching attractions.