To better connect with the growing wave of mobile-savvy FITs emerging from China, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has partnered four major Chinese digital players to attract these visitors to the Lion City.
This marks STB’s most comprehensive initiative yet, comprising four first-time partnerships and two new product launches with current partners. First-time partners are Chinese OTAs Alitrip and Tuniu, and social review sites Dianping and Mafengwo.
All of them signed a MoU with STB earlier last month, agreeing to curate and distribute content on Singapore over a period of two to three years to their users.
Meanwhile, existing partners WeChat and Baidu have both rolled out new products. The digital partnerships will feature attractions such as the River Safari and Gardens by the Bay in a new YourSingapore WeChat account, while offerings at the Sentosa HarbourFront precinct will be detailed in a new Baidu Connect service.
Edward Chew, STB’s regional director (Greater China), said: “We are seeing more Chinese FIT visitors in recent years. Besides the need for comprehensive information for trip planning, they also desire real-time useful tips, navigation, payment and translation tools to explore a destination independently.”
Applauding these new partnerships, Joseph Sze, director of China from Siam Express, said: “This (initiave) gives Singapore the first-mover advantage in this aspect because (STB) is the first NTO that has done something so major.
“Chinese travellers are very dependent on their mobile devices and they will (appreciate) the convenience of the real-time information of the travel destinations provided by these digital services,” he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Michael Chong, manager of global business at Star Holiday Mart, said: “It is good to use different platforms to attract the Chinese so that they will be engaged (with Singapore).”
Nevertheless, the traditional media remains an important outreach channel for industry players. Khoo Shao Tze, chairman of Sentosa Harbourfront Business Association, said: “We still utilise publicity tools through traditional media to access the Chinese market, but if Chinese tourists want to go deeper (into Sentosa as a destination), Baidu Connect will allow that depth.”
Of the 1.7 million Chinese visitors to Singapore in 2014, 80 per cent were either FITs or free-and-easy travellers. China is currently the second largest source market for the South-east Asia country.