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Alipay reports surge in outbound Chinese tourist spending during national day holiday 2023

A Chinese traveler making payment with Alipay in Dubai Mall. Alipay is accepted in over 70 countries and regions worldwide

Alipay reveals a significant uptick in spending by outbound Chinese travelers during China’s National Day holiday, notably in shopping and digital services.

HANGZHOU – Alipay reported that the average spending of outbound Chinese travelers during the first five days of China’s National Day holiday 2023 — from 29 September to 6 October — has surpassed the level in 2019, as the growth momentum for outbound Chinese tourism since the beginning of 2023 continues.

Shopping continues to be one of the most beloved activities among Chinese tourists when they travel abroad. During the period, the highest expenditure via Alipay was on purchasing goods, including skincare products and duty-free goods, surpassing spending on all other activities. Food and beverages, as well as accommodation, ranked as the second and third largest spending categories, respectively.

In addition to paying for goods and services with the Alipay app, Chinese tourists have increasingly turned to the various digital travel services on Alipay to elevate their travel experience. During the first five days of the Holiday, currency exchange, Coupon Hub, tax refund, and transportation were the most used services by Alipay users. In particular, the number of transportation-related transactions rose 16 times compared with the same period in 2019.

Alipay in collaboration with its partners worldwide now provides a full suite of travel services to outbound Chinese tourists, ranging from hotel and air-ticket booking, in-store payment, taxi-hailing, public transport, food delivery to tax refund. Alipay users can order a taxi in over 2,000 cities outside the Chinese mainland. During this holiday, they can also enjoy an extra 20% tax refund from major retailers in France, Italy and Spain. The Coupon Hub contains offers, some of exclusive to Alipay users, provided by brands in most destinations.

A recent survey on Chinese outbound tourism found that Chinese travelers of all ages embrace digital technology in travel planning and prefer mobile payments, with an overwhelming 84% expecting to use mobile payments, such as Alipay. Chinese consumers prefer mobile payments for their transparent and favorable exchange rates (60%), discounts and other value-added services offered (60%), expense tracking facilitation (56%), and safety and convenience over cash (55%).

Chinese travelers also prefer personalized services such as Chinese-language shopping guides (83%) and exclusive offers. Local merchants keen on luring Chinese tourists may need to gear up for Chinese mobile payment methods and consider offering other value-added services tailored for Chinese tourists, according to the study carried out by the Centre for Sustainable Finance Innovation at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The most popular destinations based on total spending via Alipay remained largely consistent with the previous major holidays this year. Geographically close Asian destinations, including Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Malaysia, and European countries, such as France and Italy, continued to dominate the list. However, there was a notable increase in Chinese tourist spending via Alipay in less-explored destinations like Estonia and Qatar compared to the same period in 2019, indicating a shift in travel preferences.

From September 29 to October 6, the number of daily transactions by inbound visitors to China using the 10 Alipay+ partner e-wallets (AlipayHK, mPay, Hipay, OCBC, Changi Pay, Touch ‘n Go eWallet, TrueMoney, Kakao Pay, Naver Pay and Toss Pay) increased by as much as 200%.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.