By offering the Chinese smartphone app payment platform Alipay, Central Otago businesses can attract more Chinese visitors and encourage them to spend more in their premises.
Christchurch International Airport (CIA) Alibaba project director Ken Freer held a workshop about the platform in Alexandra in February and following that 175 businesses signed up for Alipay.
According to Tourism New Zealand’s “China visitor information” report, released in April, 407,000 Chinese people visited New Zealand last year, and nearly half of them spent nights in Otago.
Those numbers were projected to grow 12.1% a year, which meant by 2023 about 913,000 Chinese visitors would be coming here annually.
Mr Freer said New Zealand was “leading the curve” worldwide in its use of Alipay, along with the Nordic countries and Australia.
More than 520million Chinese used Alipay, and of those who visited New Zealand last year, about 80% of the adults would have the platform, compared with about 15% who had credit cards.
“It is a great opportunity for Central Otago businesses to put themselves in front of the Chinese travellers,” he said.
Wanaka’s Puzzling World operations manager Duncan Spear said the business installed Alipay on February 7, in time for Chinese New Year, which started on February 16.
“We had between 25 and 55 [Alipay] transactions a day during that month then,” Mr Spear said.
Puzzling World had experienced a 35%-40% increase in business from Chinese visitors over the past five years, Chinese New Year being the peak period.
“Alipay is user friendly for them and for us.
“It is what their norm is and for us, and we want to offer what is normal for them.
“It is about increasing their spending while they are here, and about instant confirmation [of the transaction], and they are happy the transaction is done and dusted.”
Mr Freer said it was important the visitors felt familiar with their method of payment and more were comfortable with the platform than they were with credit cards or cash.
“Where visitors have prebooked with tourism operators, if businesses accept Alipay, their [Chinese] customers are much more likely to consider making additional purchases when at the business, such as souvenirs or photos,” Mr Freer said.
He said businesses such as food and beverage retailers which accepted Alipay were also benefiting as Chinese visitors tended to take their custom to them.
According to Tourism New Zealand and Statistics New Zealand data for the year ending September 2017, 407,000 Chinese visited New Zealand during the period, 303,000 of them on holiday.
The average length of stay for Chinese visitors was 18 days and each spent on average $4068 during their stay.
Chinese visitors’ annual contribution to the New Zealand economy is $1.5billion.