Last year, nearly 320,000 visitors from China spent $304 million on attractions, hotels, retails and restaurants in Toronto, so it only made sense that two of the city’s biggest tourist draws would begin accepting two of China’s biggest mobile payment options.
The CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada recently announced that it will now accept WeChat Pay and Alipay, allowing people paying in Chinese RMB to convert to Canadian dollars through the apps. Together, WeChat Pay and Alipay have more than 1.3 billion active users. Tourism Toronto partnered with OTT Pay Inc. to introduce the mobile payment services to Toronto businesses, and the apps launched in Canada last spring.
Earlier this year, the Government of Canada and the Government of China announced this year is the Year of Canada-China Tourism. The celebrations officially kick off with an opening ceremonies hosted by the China National Tourism Administration on March 21 in Toronto.
Allowing visitors from China to use the aforementioned apps will make their experience much more enjoyable, Johanne Bélanger, president and CEO of Tourism Toronto, said in a March 8 press release.
“That sense of welcome Toronto is known for extends to welcoming the payment options that many Chinese visitors are comfortable using,” she said.
Neil Jones, the CN Tower’s chief operating officer, said 1.9 million people visit the CN Tower every year, and with WeChat Pay and Alipay, they’re expecting even more in 2018. Ripley’s Aquarium’s general manager Peter Doyle said it’s important to adopt technology that makes it easier for people to visit.
“Since launching WeChat Pay and Alipay we have seen more and more Chinese visitors visiting and choosing mobile payment apps,” he said.
According to Tourism Toronto, China has been the city’s largest overseas market since 2014, and over the past five years, visits from China have increased by more than 100 per cent. The $304 million Chinese visitors spent in Toronto last year represented a 147 per cent increase over five years.
The provincial government will continue to work with tourism partners in the country to adopt innovation that supports growth in the industry, said Daiene Vernile, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
“We know that Ontario is a preferred destination for tourists from China and it’s important that we make it convenient for visitors to pay in their currency of choice,” she said.