China's tourism activity in recent years has seen enormous growth, thanks to rapid urbanization, rising disposable incomes and relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel. Before the pandemic in 2019, Mainland China had the largest outbound travel market in the world, with the country generating 6.6 trillion yuan in the travel and tourism industry, according to Statista.

Unfortunately, as the world faced the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, China witnessed a 60% dip in tourism revenue, around 80% decrease in visitor arrivals and almost 87% drop in tourist departures in 2020. But, with the end of the pandemic and China’s travel restrictions lifted, demand is now strong among Chinese tourists.

To improve the payment experience for these international visitors, MasterCard in partnership with China’s leading digital payment platform, Alipay, has launched a new cashless payments option for travellers in the country. 

The initiative is part of the existing pact between the duo payment platforms to provide improved digital payment solutions to both consumers and merchants.

With the latest initiative, international travellers in China can pay like a local when travelling around the Chinese Mainland. The option is available regardless of where in the world their Mastercard card was issued. Cardholders simply need to link their existing Mastercard credit or debit card to the Alipay digital wallet – and that’s all.

The Alipay-Mastercard partnership increases the chances for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones (SMEs), to do business with foreign tourists who will now have access to the most extensively used payment method in China, enabling them to travel freely and without difficulty.