China quickly became the largest trading partner and source of tourists for Singapore once diplomatic ties were officially established in 1990. This connectivity has been furthered by the city-state’s China-smart approach and large Chinese population, a factor which has created an unparalleled literacy of the country and its outbound travelers.
As such, the perpetual fine-tuning of Singapore’s China strategy has come to be expected. Singapore Tourist Board (STB) has long developed its brand through on the ground marketing in Beijing and Shanghai, partnerships with Chinese companies such as Alibaba, and an increasingly strong digital presence. Its latest move is to become the first country to launch a WeChat Mini Program specifically catering to so-called Chinese MICE travelers (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions).
While the initiative’s primarily function is to facilitate businesspeople — the program directly connects organizers and Chinese attendees as well as offering scheduling, news and information — the Mini Program also recognizes the cultural needs of the business traveler. Increasingly, Chinese businesspeople are extending overseas visits for leisure purposes and STB is using the program to provide information about cultural events, destinations, and restaurants.
The Mini Program will also issue curated cultural and retail offerings specifically for Chinese business travelers. This extends to in-program ticket purchase opportunities (facilitated by WeChat Pay) at venues such as Gardens by the Bay, Sports Hub, Sentosa and Faber Peak.
“We are pleased to collaborate with SACEOS and WeChat to be the first country destination in the world to develop the MeetSG WeChat Mini Programme for Chinese MICE travelers,” said SDTB deputy chief executive, Melissa Ow.
The move comes at a time of surging Chinese interest in Singapore. The frequency and convenience of flights to the Southeast Asian city has long made it an attractive short-term getaway, but recent events in Hong Kong have furthered the popularity. Singapore saw a year-on-year increase of 7.8 percent of mainland Chinese visitors and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.