Christchurch Airport is partnering with Alibaba, the world's largest retail commerce company, to connect small and regional New Zealand businesses with Chinese visitors before, during and after their visit.
The agreement, announced today, is designed to improve the experience and ease for Chinese visitors while in New Zealand and extend opportunities for New Zealand's many small businesses after Chinese visitors return home.
Chinese travellers will be able to use the Alibaba Group apps they are most familiar with to plan their visit, while they tour New Zealand (including shopping and financial transactions) and after they return to China.
In 2016, 443 million Chinese consumers purchased products and services through Alibaba Group's apps.
The announcement comes amid a Chinese tourism boom with even more visitors expected to come to New Zealand from China in coming years.
Christchurch Airport chief executive Malcolm Johns said the goal was to build a better experience for Chinese visitors across New Zealand.
"This agreement has the potential to super-charge regional development across New Zealand, by unlocking micro-exporting using tourism as the basis for the first meeting between the parties."
The project roll-out will start in the South Island under the airport's "South" programme, which was developed following the 2011 earthquakes and brings all South Island regional tourism organisations and major South Island tourism operators together.
The "South" partners undertook seven international trade missions to Australia, South East Asia and China last year, developing a value-enhancing proposition to international visitors.
Alibaba Group Australian and New Zealand managing director Maggie Zhou said the memorandum of understanding would improve convenience for Chinese consumers and better connect New Zealand small-and-medium enterprises with the China market.
Christchurch Airport aims to introduce Alipay to at least 50 South Island SMEs in the first year, while investing significantly in the necessary support and infrastructure.
Mr Johns said the company's investment meant small-to-medium businesses could take advantage of this opportunity to connect with such a significant market without having to fund the infrastructure themselves.