Christchurch Airport to boost Chinese visitor spending in strategic national partnership with Alibaba

 Christchurch Airport has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Alibaba, the world’s largest retail commerce company, to connect small and regional New Zealand businesses with Chinese visitors before, during and after their visit, opening up the power of micro exporting for New Zealand. 


A media statement from the airport says the agreement is designed to improve the experience and ease for Chinese visitors while in New Zealand and extend opportunities for New Zealand’s many small businesses after Chinese visitors return home.

Chinese travellers will be able to use the Alibaba Group apps they are most familiar with to plan their visit, while they tour New Zealand (including shopping and financial transactions) and after they return to China. In 2016, 443 million Chinese consumers purchased products and services through Alibaba Group’s apps.

Christchurch Airport Chief Executive Malcolm Johns describes the strategic partnership between Alibaba Group and Christchurch Airport as pivotal to unlocking for New Zealand’s regions the power of Alibaba’s international ambition to have two billion consumers in micro trading relationships with tens of millions of businesses around the world by 2026.

“Our goal is to build a better experience for Chinese visitors across New Zealand while creating an ecosystem of Alibaba’s digital Apps that targets value, captures value and creates value for New Zealand’s small and regional businesses. This agreement has the potential to super-charge regional development across New Zealand, by unlocking micro exporting using tourism as the basis for the first meeting between the parties,” he says.

"Alibaba Group’s e-commerce is the biggest in the world. It’s integrated and very powerful, but the raw power of it is not its mass, but its individuality. It’s not about the big numbers, it’s about the one-on-one direct trading relationship that allows for surgical micro-exporting to develop. Christchurch Airport is focused on championing New Zealand’s social and economic growth - with so many small/medium businesses it is one of the best placed countries for micro-exporting using the power of the integrated tech Alibaba has developed.”

Johns says Christchurch Airport approached Alibaba Group with the concept some months ago and received a very warm response. Just a quarter of Chinese residents have a personal credit card and products like Alipay are rapidly replacing credit cards and other forms of payment in China.

“This means Alipay’s availability in New Zealand not only makes it easier for visitors to buy while they are here, but also unlocks value a Chinese visitor can provide to New Zealand. The project will involve more than just Alipay. It will integrate existing Alibaba apps such as Alitrip (to target value ahead of a visit), Fliggy and Ant Financial’s Alipay (to capture value during a visit) and Tmall Global (to create value after a visit),” he said.

The project rollout will start in the South Island under the airport’s “South” programme. “South” is a programme the airport developed following the 2011 earthquakes and brings all South Island regional tourism organisations and major South Island tourism operators together to ‘fly in formation on the international stage’. The “South” partners undertook seven international trade missions to Australia, SE Asia and China last year, developing a value-enhancing proposition to international visitors.

“South has given us deep relationships into the regions and with our other tourism operators, so using it as the starting place for this project means we can roll out quickly and broadly. The North Island is also a key focus and we will reach out to key regional partners there in coming weeks and months,” he says.

Alibaba Group’s Australian and New Zealand Managing Director, Maggie Zhou, said the MOU will improve convenience for Chinese consumers and better connect New Zealand SMEs with the China market.

“Following the opening of our Australian and New Zealand office in February (an event attended by Minister of Economic Development Simon Bridges), Alibaba Group is committed to bringing the power of our e-commerce ecosystem to New Zealand, to assist businesses in engaging Chinese consumers and visitors.  This agreement will also pave the way for wider acceptance of Ant Financial’s payment platform, Alipay, to provide Chinese visitors the option to use their preferred payment method while travelling in the South Island,” she said.

New Zealand products such as honey, alpaca rugs, lavender pillows, seafood and merino products are already among Chinese buyers’ favourite holiday purchases, with the list growing all the time. Christchurch Airport aims to introduce Alipay to at least 50 South Island SMEs in the first year, while investing significantly in the necessary support and infrastructure. Johns said the company’s investment means small to medium businesses can take advantage of this opportunity to connect into such a significant market without having to fund the infrastructure themselves. 

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at Alibaba’s global headquarters in Hangzhou earlier this month.

Posted: Friday 21 April 2017