Against the backdrop of falling Chinese tourist numbers and increasingly hostile bilateral sentiment, Brand USA and San Diego Tourism Authority are taking matters into their own hands.

Brand USA, the organisation dedicated to trumpeting the virtues of an American vacation to a global audience, made its intensions clear in late August by announcing mega pop star Jane Zhang would front its China-facing “Feel the USA” campaign. Its latest partnership involves San Diego Tourism Authority (SDTA), Alipay, China’s foremost digital payment platform, and Fliggy, Alibaba’s online travel agent platform.

Alipay has created a City Discovery Page to improve the travel experience for the estimated 120,000 Chinese who visit to the southern Californian city annually. The page offers a wealth of Mandarin information including an interactive map, travel tips, and details on the more than 200 merchants and cultural institutions who accept Alipay. Participating Alipay merchants include San Diego Air and Space Museum, USS Midway, San Diego Air and Space Museum, and SeaWorld San Diego.

“We decided to partner with Alibaba because they’re a trusted brand in China. The power of the Alibaba partnership is the user base,” said Brian Hilemon, Director of Marketing Partnerships for the San Diego Tourism Authority, “they can message Chinese visitors with stories and itineraries and deals and offers in a way that nobody else can.”

Indeed, with more than 900 million users, Alipay’s reach and brand strength is unmatched in the Chinese market. Fliggy, a major player in the world of Chinese vacation booking, will further the city’s reach in China. Fliggy’s app has launched a San Diego City specific page featuring itinerary recommendations, directly bookable tickets, travel tips, and discount coupons.

“Fliggy helps us attract new visitors to San Diego and Alipay helps them discover the city once they’re here,” said Hilemon.

Blessed with 70 miles of pristine coastline, world-class cultural institutions, and a vibrant culinary scene, Brand USA believes connecting with Alipay and Fliggy will raise the city’s profile in the minds of Chinese travelers to the U.S.

“The Chinese traveler is accustomed to using Alipay and Fliggy in their day-to-day lives. So, we wanted to help make it as convenient and welcoming as possible for them as they visit,” said Christopher L. Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA.


Edited by Richard Whiddington