Mon, 19 Feb 2018

Helsinki Enhances Travel Experience for Chinese Travellers

Internet service giant Tencent and the City of Helsinki last week launched a WeChat Helsinki mini program.

The new application offers Helsinki travel information in Chinese to almost one billion WeChat users.

China is the largest outbound tourism market in the world. The cooperation between Helsinki and Tencent gives the Finnish capital a groundbreaking channel straight into the mobile devices of WeChat users. Helsinki has set itself the goal of being the most digitalised city in the world, and the cooperation with Tencent ensures that the city is already now a globally remarkable innovator in digital tourism services.

"This is Tencent's first overseas pilot cooperation project in the field of smart city tourism," said Zhan Shu, General Manager of the Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center. "The project provides comprehensive and practical information about overseas destinations for Chinese tourists and a more convenient platform for overseas destinations to showcase their urban charm. Helsinki wants to build a more tailored travel experience for Chinese visitors, and forming a partnership with Tencent is the right way to do that."

The Allas Sea Pool is a lookout spot and garden-like oasis situated in Helsinki's southernmost seaside. With its land and sea areas it covers almost a hectare (2.47 acres) of the city centre. Photo: Eetu Ahanen. Click to enlarge.

In September 2017 the City of Helsinki and Tencent signed a cooperation agreement, according to which Helsinki will serve as an intelligent tourism model for Chinese outbound tourism. The two cooperation partners have since co-developed a destination mini program that offers Helsinki travel information to almost one billion WeChat users.

The initial version of the WeChat Helsinki mini program allows users to access content about Helsinki's sights, services, events and transportation. Panoramic Helsinki 360-photos, a translation service and emergency help are also included.

"Helsinki's strategic aim is to be the forerunner city of digitalisation in the near future. For travellers we want to be the safest, most functional and happiest place to visit. The Helsinki mini program makes it possible to share what's best about Helsinki with millions of Chinese people in a way that creates a sharable, local experience," said Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki.

In the near future the WeChat Helsinki mini program will also include an interactive map and a public transportation journey planner. The aim is also to include the possibility to buy mobile tickets for public transport and test the WeChat Pay integration for some of the services.

Finnair offers nearly 40 direct flights a week from seven major Chinese cities to Helsinki and the  number of registered overnight stays by Chinese travellers in Helsinki has more than doubled in the past five years. In 2017 the number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors increased by 29.3% on the previous year to 135,000.

The Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) has selected Helsinki to be the host city of its 2019 summit meeting. Beijing and Helsinki have been sister cities since 2006.

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