Saudi Tourism Authority and Ant Group have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will see the introduction of Alipay+, a suite of unified global mobile payment and marketing solutions, to Saudi Arabia.
The Middle East leads the world in terms of tourism rebound. Between January and July 2023, tourist arrivals in the region were 20 per cent above the pre-pandemic levels, according to a UN World Tourism Organisation report. Globally, cross-border travel is also on the rise. About 700 million tourists travelled internationally between January and July 2023, the report says.
Introduced by Ant Group in 2020, Alipay+ aims to enable local businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to process a wide range of mobile payment methods and reach over 1.4 billion regional and global consumers, through one-time integration and simple technical adaption. Alipay+ is now available in over 50 markets outside China across Asia, Europe, as well as the Middle East.
Choon Yang Quek, chief technology officer at the Saudi Tourism Authority, commented: “We are excited to work with Ant Group to explore introducing their industry-leading technology to Saudi. With the addition of Alipay+, visitors to Saudi will have a more seamless and integrated payment experience by using their familiar home payment methods while exploring new places. This initiative will help boost the growth of the tourism sector in Saudi, as well as foster closer ties between the people from Saudi Arabia and China.”
Connecting Saudi businesses to a greater number of travellers
Douglas Feagin, senior vice president and head of Alipay+ cross-border mobile payment services at Ant Group, said: “We are delighted to join hands with Saudi Tourism Authority to bring Alipay+ to a new market and support international tourism to Saudi Arabia. We firmly believe our collaboration will not only bring more enjoyable travel experience for tourists but also connect Saudi businesses to a greater number of travellers from across the world.”
Alipay+ can provide cross-border tourists with a range of convenient features to further enhance their travel experiences. Visitors can easily make payments using their familiar home payment methods at various merchants, including restaurants, retailers, hotels, and tourist attractions, eliminating the need for cash transactions.
Alhasan Aldabbagh, president of APAC markets at Saudi Tourism Authority, said: “This is great news for our tourism industry, as it will provide more convenience, familiarity, and security for Chinese travellers and other Asian tourists who prefer to use mobile payment methods. We believe this collaboration will enhance the attractiveness of Saudi Arabia as a destination for international visitors and contribute to our vision of becoming a leading global tourism hub.”