In a bid to attract more Chinese visitors to Nelson Mandela Bay, the city’s tourism agency has partnered with an international bank card company whose services are already used by Chinese nationals in 168 countries.
The Chinese company, UnionPay International (UPI), signed an agreement with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism on Tuesday at the Tourism Indaba in Durban.
The tourism agency attended the indaba, Africa’s biggest tourism trade show, to market the city as a world-class tourism destination to international buyers and the media.
The UnionPay card, accepted at more than 23 million merchants and 1.64 million ATMs around the world, enables Chinese travellers to do cost-effective and secure cross-border transactions.
It also provides access to special hospitality offers.
Tourism agency chief executive Mandlakazi Skefile said the agreement with UPI would bolster tourism in the Bay.
“The achievement of this collaboration will enhance the accessibility of Nelson Mandela Bay to Chinese visitors,” Skefile said.
“China has become one of South Africa’s core tourism markets, with visitor numbers growing by 38% in 2016 to about 117 144 a month.”
She said the tourism agency would aim to provide other services for Chinese tourists by engaging with local companies to offer packages and discounts for cardholders.
All FNB, Absa and Standard Bank merchants could activate UPI cards through these banks.
“There are already some places signed up, such as Baywest Mall, Sanccob and Addo Wildlife, to name a few.
“As the [memorandum] commences, [the agency] will support [Nelson Mandela Bay] products to sign up with UPI.”
African UPI general manager Luping Zhang said: “Formalising this industry partnership will promote visitor numbers to Nelson Mandela Bay, as this will enhance payment convenience alongside joint marketing initiatives.”
Packages being offered at a local level would be incorporated into the firm’s global “Fly to the World” campaign.
Participating merchants in this campaign include airport duty-free shops, department stores and brand stores, car rentals, restaurants, cruises, tourist attractions and communication service providers.
UPI also hoped to roll out a plan that would allow cards to be issued to consumers in South Africa.