Malaysia was the fourth most popular tourism destination worldwide for Chinese travellers during the October Golden Week holiday period, according to data by popular spending app Alipay. Malaysia beat Singapore in the ASEAN region, coming in just behind Thailand as the preferred tourism destination. Malaysia also recorded an increase of 1.4 times in transaction volume this year compared to 2018 for the Golden Week period.

A statement from Alipay said the average spend per user was RMB1,339 (RM789) with the most popular spending destinations being the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, convenience stores and departmental stores. It added that although Malaysia remains popular as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens, it has yet to fulfill its potential due to a lack of widespread mobile payment usage in the country. “This is evident in the growth numbers we see in terms of transaction volume, but the average spend amount per user is lower than the global average, mainly due to the locations where mobile payments are accepted.

“There is an opportunity here that businesses can tap to drive greater sales, as more than 90 per cent of Chinese tourists have stated their willingness to spend more in stores accepting mobile payments,” said Alipay’s Cross-border Business for South and Southeast Asia general manager Cherry Huang. She added that if Malaysian businesses and merchants were to embrace mobile payments, this would prove a great opportunity to attract even more Chinese tourists, with yearly transaction volume and average spend per user anticipated to rise.

China’s Golden Week refers to three different holiday periods, with the one at the beginning of October commonly known as the National Day Golden Week. The October period can sometimes be extended up to eight days if the Mid-Autumn Festival is within calendar range. Government data indicated that Chinese tourism growth took a dip during the latest Golden Week. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said Chinese tourist sites received 782 million visits during the holiday, up well over 7% from last year’s 726 million, but slower than reported growth of more than 9% in 2018, and down from a 10% increase in 2017. “Golden Week data point to a slowdown,” Ting Lu, Nomura’s chief China economist, said in the title of a report distributed Wednesday. “As China’s economy has become increasingly reliant on consumption to drive its growth, data from ‘golden weeks’ have become a good barometer of China’s consumption growth trend.”

According to the Balance of Payments Report released by China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange the outbound travel expenditure of Chinese travellers reached USD 127.5 billion in the first half of 2019. More than half was spent in Asian destinations. During the first half of this year the Chinese travellers spent USD 127.5 billion on overseas travel. Mobile payment had increased rapidly but the most common payment method was through bank card payment. The turnover has doubled over the same period last year. Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Taiwan and South Korea were the top five Asian destinations. France, Italy, the UK  and Switzerland were the most popular destinations in the West.

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