Vancouver’s tourism industry association, Tourism Vancouver, is partnering with the Chinese internet giant Tencent with the aim of attracting more Chinese tourists to the city.
China is the fastest growing online travel market, according to travel industry research firm Phocuswright, and Tourism Vancouver is hoping to get a piece of this growing market.
“Tencent media platforms are used by 90% of China’s population,” said Stephen Pearce, Tourism Vancouver’s vice-president of marketing. ”[This] will give Vancouver a powerful boost in in the travel market.”
Tencent is the owner of the country’s most popular social media app, WeChat. Many social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, are blocked in China, leaving WeChat as the most popular social media app in the country. According to data from the company, WeChat has a 93% smartphone penetration rate in China’s Tier I cities.
As part of the three-year deal, Tencent and Tourism Vancouver will launch a WeChat city app to provide real-time support to Chinese tourists. The app will offer interactive services catered to Chinese tourists including interactive itineraries, check-in features and location-based information.
The deal also includes a requirement that Tencent Travel and its partner Trip Advisor China promote Vancouver as an international model for what they are calling “smart tourism.”
This new partnership dovetails with the city’s plan to expand public access to Wi-Fi initiated earlier this year, a move that was lauded by Tourism Vancouver CFO Ted Lee as an important step to the development of Vancouver as a “smart tourism” destination.
China is Vancouver’s second largest international travel market after the U.S. In 2018 Tourism Vancouver is expecting more than 333,000 overnight tourists, up 11% from 2017. The tourism industry as a whole contributes $4.8 billion in GDP to Metro Vancouver.