Shanghai boosts services for inbound travelers

Updated: Apr 30, 2024 By WANG YING in Shanghai China Daily Print
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High-rises dominate the skyline on both sides of the Huangpu River in Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Shanghai is looking to extensively increase the number of point of sale machines that accept foreign bank cards to 80,000 this year, in an effort to offer convenience to inbound travelers, officials said.

That would be a significant jump from last year's 45,000 machines, Shanghai Vice-Mayor Hua Yuan said on Saturday.

The decision is included in a 15-item action plan that aims to facilitate payment convenience in the city. The plan was announced by Hua during the launching ceremony for the city's International Consumption Season and the fifth Shanghai Shopping Festival.

The action plan is committed to increasing the acceptance of domestic as well as international bank cards in key retail scenarios, optimizing cash services at multiple levels, enhancing mobile payment convenience, boosting banking services, and establishing comprehensive service centers for foreign visitors at Shanghai's two airports.

To improve cash services, the municipal government will accelerate the upgrade of the city's self-service machines to allow cash withdrawals using foreign bank cards at Shanghai's self-service machines.

In the meantime, 650,000 purses containing coins will be made available at venues to facilitate cash payments, while convenience stores and taxis will be encouraged to have coins and bank notes on hand so they can provide change for those who pay with cash.

Shanghai also plans to increase the number of foreign currency exchange points to 319 by the end of the year.

According to the plan, mobile payment services will be streamlined, including optimization of user interfaces, an increase in payment amount limits, and tailored services for the elderly.

Yang Jing, an official from the Shanghai Bureau of Culture and Tourism, was quoted by local news portal ThePaper.cn as saying that since the launch of the inbound tourism promotion campaign Visit Shanghai in December, the city has seen a rapid increase in the number of visitors coming from outside China.

The number of inbound foreign travelers to Shanghai reached 1.19 million in the first quarter of this year, a nearly sevenfold year-on-year increase and a 6.6 percent increase from the last quarter of 2023, according to data from Shanghai Customs.

For the five-day May Day holiday, which begins on Wednesday, Shanghai's two airports and its international cruise terminals are expected to handle 513,000 passenger trips, according to data from the Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection.

In addition to the action plan announced on Saturday, Shanghai's municipal government is taking other steps to provide a better payment experience for inbound travelers. For example, starting on April 15, point of sale machines have been added to all the service centers at Shanghai's subway stations to facilitate the use of foreign bank cards for purchasing subway tickets. The machines can handle domestic as well as international bank cards.

On April 12, a total of 50 taxis became the first in Shanghai to allow individuals, including expatriate residents and visitors, to pay with foreign bank cards. A total of 1,000 taxis with the optimized payment service are expected to be available in Shanghai by the end of June. The service will further expand to more than 2,000 taxis ahead of the seventh China International Import Expo, which is set for Nov 5-10 in the city.

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