South Australia pioneers mobile app for Chinese travellers

Chinese travel to Australia is booming, prompting Australian tour operators to turn to digital innovation to better connect with the Chinese traveller. The South Australian Tourism Commission is leading this charge, introducing a new application tailored to Chinese arrivals.

SATC’s latest tourism statistics show China replaced the US as the state’s second largest market for inbound travel for the 12 months to Jun-2017. In total, South Australia welcomed 56,000 Chinese visitors in the last year, up 56% year-on-year. Chinese travellers were also the state’s biggest spenders, with expenditure up 74% to an all time high of AUD352 million.

To address the growth, SATC launched a mobile phone application specifically targeting Chinese visitors known as UWAI (游外 yóu wài – ‘travel abroad’). The app aims to make it easier for Chinese visitors to engage with locals, do business and even order a meal.

The application, founded by entrepreneurial team behind the Chinese translation property app called JUWAI, is now available at 850 South Australia businesses, ranging from wineries to restaurants and tourism experiences.

More businesses are to be added to the app in coming weeks, and more features are in development. UWAI founder Simon Henry has confirmed his team are already working on future UWAI product releases, as well as exploring wearable technology solutions, and in talks with a leading international robotics firm.

South Australian Tourism Minister Leon Bignell underlined the importance of the initiative, stating “successful engagement with the Chinese market is crucial for the South Australia economy – they are an integral part of our AUD6.3 billion visitor economy in addition to being one of our largest trading partners”. The minister added that “taking advantage of smartphone trends and social networks gives us an opportunity to strengthen our tourism relationships with China and help grow South Australia’s economy and jobs”.

Mr Bignell’s remarks echo recent remarks by Tourism Australia MD and CEO John O’Sullivan’s  at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit. Mr O’Sullivan said China is a “mobile led market”, adding that if a company is not on mobile it is not going to get market share in China – “it’s a flat fact”.

SATC leading the trend to innovate in the digital space to respond and cater to the growing, mobile-led Chinese market. Tourism is one of Australia’s five key economic ‘super-growth sectors’ for the next decade and federal and state governments are committing to support innovative marketing and tourism methods, particularly digital platforms.

With the launch of UWAI and aviation capacity set to increase in Dec-2017 with the addition of new service by China Southern, SATC is comfortably on track to reach its 2020 target of 57,000 Chinese visitors and AUD450 million in expenditure.