A new agreement enables additional travel solutions, while a high-level Finnish delegation goes on a charm offensive.
Helsinki Marketing, Finnair and the Chinese internet giant Tencent have signed a deal to jointly launch an “intelligent travel solutions project” in the WeChat mini program ecosystem.
Signed in Beijing on September 5, it aims to further enhance the digital services for Chinese travellers visiting Helsinki.
The following day, the mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori, visited Beijing along with a delegation of representatives from the City of Helsinki, Helsinki Marketing, Finavia, Finnair and Visit Finland.
Earlier this year, the Finnish capital and Tencent launched an app-based WeChat MyHelsinki mini-program, which has been developed to respond to the needs in particular of independent Chinese travellers. The new agreement enables additional user-centric travel solutions for the mini-program.
With more and more Chinese seeking to visit cities as independent travellers to find local, authentic experiences, the MyHelsinki program serves as a local guide with multiple functions.
With additional new features, it makes Helsinki the first city in the world to combine tailored personal recommendations, mobility planning and purchase options for travellers in one service.
By the end of the year, Chinese visitors to Helsinki will be able review local tips about the best restaurants or attractions in town, plan their transportation and pay for both transport and restaurant bills using the same app.
The number of Chinese overnight stays in the Finnish capital has more than doubled in the last three years, from 108,000 in 2014 to 221,000 in 2017.
Since its first direct flight from Europe to China in 1988, Finnair has built up to almost 40 weekly flights from Helsinki to seven cities in China. It says it was the first airline in the world to introduce the online payment platform Alipay on board its flights, and Alipay is now widely accepted for travel services in Finland.
Finnair also launched ticket sales via its WeChat account in China late last year. WeChat Pay as a payment method for merchants and service providers is to be launched in Finland later this month.
Since 2016, meanwhile, Helsinki Airport has been a “sister airport” to Beijing Airport, a collaboration that has led to employee exchanges and peer-to-peer learning between the two cities, increasing understanding about Chinese service culture and needs of Chinese travellers.
The Finnish capital will be the host city of the World Tourism Cities Federation Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit in August 2019, and the Helsinki mayor and his delegation are participating at this year’s summit in Qingdao on September 7 to 9.