Helsinki taps Tencent link to China

HELSINKI, Finland, 25 September 2017: Helsinki, World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) and Tencent have signed a tripartite cooperation agreement, to boost promotions in China’s massive outbound market.

The agreement was signed at the WTCF Los Angeles Fragrant Hills Tourism Summit 2017.

Helsinki continues to see travel from China grow with the registered overnight stays by Chinese travellers  more than doubling in the past five years to reach 90,000 in 2016.

Chinese tourists in front of Helsinki’s Cathedral (Flickr).

During the first six months of 2017, Chinese overnight stays increased 43.6% year on year.

The cooperation agreement taps Tencent’s strengths as a a media influence and advanced technology supplier in China.

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

From left to right: Shu Zhan, General Manager of Tencent Tourism; Su Yu, Secretary-General of WTCF; Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing.

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 1 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.

Helsinki was designated City of Design in 2012 by UNESCO and described as the third coolest place to visit in 2017 by National Geographic Traveller.

“Cooperation with Tencent and WTCF is a huge opportunity for Helsinki to be seen on the biggest digital platform in China to display various aspects of Helsinki and serve Chinese outbound tourists… (it) represents a great advance in innovation, said Helsinki Marketing CEO Laura Aalto.

Helsinki’s success in the China market so far has been driven by  Finnair’s six direct flights to China. It serves Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Xi’an. Finnair will launch direct flights between Nanjing and Helsinki in May 2018 on a route that the airline claims is the shortest to Europe.

“Helsinki’s future appearance on WeChat is an excellent way to raise awareness about Helsinki among Chinese travellers,” said Finnair’s chief commercial officer Juha Järvinen. “Travel planning and decision-making in China have already moved on to mobile platforms, and the Finnish tourism industry should use 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.

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.