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Tencent, Helsinki and WTCF Sign Tripartite Cooperation Agreement

Tencent, Helsinki and World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) have signed a tripartite cooperation agreement, according to which Helsinki will serve as an intelligent tourism model for China outbound tourism.

The cooperation will utilise network broadcasts, a WeChat official account, mini programmes, AR techniques, panoramic maps, big data and other related product services to provide diversified services for Chinese travellers.

Users will be able to experience the urban culture of Helsinki through network broadcasts and other mobile product services, while a Helsinki mini application designed especially for travellers will be made available to almost one billion Tencent users.

The mini programme will allow Tencent users to access important information about Helsinki and local services, as well as pictures, videos, maps, intelligent translations, one-touch SOS function and even online tax returns.

Helsinki will also launch its own WeChat public account by the end of this year.

Designated as City of Design in 2012 by UNESCO and described as the third coolest place to visit in 2017 by National Geographic Traveller, Helsinki is a modern city that offers functional design, unique gastronomy and maritime appeal. Helsinki also offers lively events all year round.

"Cooperation with Tencent and WTCF is a huge opportunity for Helsinki to be seen on the biggest digital platform in China. We are very excited about this project," says Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing. "Our cooperation with the world's top internet company Tencent, using its media promotion and product platform to display various aspects of Helsinki and serve Chinese outbound tourists, represents a great advance in innovation. Helsinki is the shortest and fastest route between Asia and Europe, which has helped Helsinki become the leading long-haul airport in Northern Europe. Launching this program will help make Helsinki as a destination and its attractions more accessible to Chinese travellers."

Helsinki has become increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in recent years. The number of registered overnight stays by Chinese travellers in Helsinki has more than doubled in the past five years, reaching almost 90,000 in 2016. During the first six months of 2017 alone, the number of overnight stays of Chinese visitors increased 43.6% compared to the same period in 2016.

The growth of the number of Chinese visitors has been supported by Finnair's focused Asian strategy, as a result of which flight connections between Helsinki and China are excellent. There are direct flights between 6 major Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Xi'an) and Helsinki, and Finnair will launch direct flights between Nanjing and Helsinki in May 2018.

"Finnair's direct flights from Helsinki to seven destinations in China create a strong base for attracting Chinese travellers to Finland. Helsinki's future appearance on WeChat is an excellent way to raise awareness about Helsinki among Chinese travellers," said Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Offer at Finnair. "Travel planning and decision-making in China have already moved onto mobile platforms, and the Finnish tourism industry should utilise this."

The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) has selected Helsinki to be the host city of its 2019 summit meeting. The decision was announced at this year's summit in Los Angeles on 19 September 2017.

"Helsinki joined the WTCF in 2014. Membership has already proven to be valuable, especially for enabling new business contacts and opening significant opportunities for cooperation in China. The importance of cities continues to grow, especially within the tourism industry, which is why it is important that Helsinki is part of this federation of tourism cities," said Laura Aalto.

The WTCF was founded in Beijing in 2012 with the aim of offering a platform for international tourism cooperation and promoting the sustainable development of tourism. The annual summit is widely publicised in China, so hosting the event offers Helsinki an excellent opportunity to gain visibility in China and attract high-level Chinese officials in connection with the meeting.

 Beijing and Helsinki have been sister cities since 2006.

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