Internet service giant Tencent and the City of Helsinki launched a groundbreaking WeChat Helsinki mini program on Thursday 15 February. The new application offers Helsinki travel information in Chinese to almost one billion WeChat users. As a pioneer in utilising open data, Helsinki will continue to work closely with Tencent to further develop the application.
China is the largest outbound tourism market in the world. The cooperation between Helsinki and Tencent gives the Finnish capital a groundbreaking channel straight into the mobile devices of WeChat users. Helsinki has set itself the goal of being the most digitalised city in the world, and the cooperation with Tencent ensures that the city is already now a globally remarkable innovator in digital tourism services.
In September 2017 the City of Helsinki and Tencent signed a cooperation agreement, according to which Helsinki will serve as an intelligent tourism model for Chinese outbound tourism. The two cooperation partners have since codeveloped a destination mini program that offers Helsinki travel information to almost one billion WeChat users.
On Thursday 15 February the Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori and General Manager Zhan Shu from Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center launched the new WeChat Helsinki mini program as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Helsinki.
Helsinki uses its open data resources to take digital tourism to the next level
The initial version of the WeChat Helsinki mini program allows users to access content about Helsinki’s sights, services, events and transportation. Panoramic Helsinki 360-photos, a translation service and emergency help are also included.
As a pioneer in utilising open data, Helsinki will continue to work closely with Tencent to further develop the application. Helsinki’s open data resources include databases for places, events and services. The aim is to build an application that provides users with comprehensive, professional and real-time information and services.
“Helsinki’s strategic aim is to be the forerunner city of digitalisation in the near future. For travellers we want to be the safest, most functional and happiest place to visit. The Helsinki mini program makes it possible to share what’s best about Helsinki with millions of Chinese people in a way that creates a sharable, local experience,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki.
"This is Tencent’s first overseas pilot cooperation project in the field of smart city tourism. The project provides comprehensive and practical information about overseas destinations for Chinese tourists and a more convenient platform for overseas destinations to showcase their urban charm. Helsinki wants to build a more tailored travel experience for Chinese visitors, and forming a partnership with Tencent is the right way to do that," states Zhan Shu, General Manager of the Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center.
In the near future the WeChat Helsinki mini program will also include an interactive map and a public transportation journey planner. The aim is also to include the possibility to buy mobile tickets for public transport and test the WeChat Pay integration for some of the services.
Helsinki is the fastest transit city from China to Europe
The Finnish airline Finnair offers nearly 40 direct flights a week from seven major Chinese cities to Helsinki. Helsinki’s excellent accessibility has given the Finnish capital a head start in the Chinese tourism market, and now the same step has been taken also digitally.
Helsinki has become increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in recent years. The number of registered overnight stays by Chinese travellers in Helsinki has more than doubled in the past five years. In 2017 the number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors increased by 29,3 percent over the previous year to 135 000.
Helsinki joined the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in 2014. The valuable membership has enabled new business contacts and opened significant opportunities for cooperation in China. The WTCF has selected Helsinki to be the host city of its 2019 summit meeting. Beijing and Helsinki have been sister cities since 2006.
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