To further cement trade ties, boost investment flows and encourage tourism between South Africa and China, Standard Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) have launched the I Go South Africa loyalty programme in partnership with South African Tourism.
This initiative, which is part of ICBC’s I Go Global rewards scheme for its card holders in China, was unveiled in Johannesburg, on Wednesday.
It will capitalise on the growing appetite among Chinese travellers to visit South Africa by offering a range of discounts and special offers from South African merchants across the travel, hospitality and lifestyle sectors, Standard Bank group card and emerging payments head Lincoln Mali said at the launch.
“ICBC is the biggest bank in the world, with approximately 139-million credit cards and as many debit card customers,” he said, explaining the rationale behind the new loyalty programme, which was designed by Standard Bank in partnership with the Chinese financial institution.
“Tourism from China has increased drastically over the last few years, and we expect more than 100 000 Chinese tourists in South Africa next year, with an average transaction value of R18 500 each. This spells good news for the South African economy and for Standard Bank’s thousands of merchants.”
ICBC banking card department GM Wang Dufu said that, to further improve the internationalisation strategy of the ICBC, the bank was increasing and extending its primary product line abroad.
“The I Go South Africa campaign combines both Chinese and South African advantages, as ICBC credit card holders can enjoy a convenient, comfortable and cost effective shopping, travelling and leisure experience,” he said.
At the same time, a similar campaign, I Go China, will attract Standard Bank cardholders to enjoy tourist and shopping experience in China.
Dufu said both campaigns would increase the partnership and economic cooperation between China and South Africa.
“This partnership represents a dynamic meeting of our two countries’ banking and business sectors, with the close involvement of the public sector too. In so doing, it perfectly illustrates how, in the spirit of our #WeDoTourism movement, tourism truly cuts across different industries and sectors, and affects each and every one of us,” South African Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa said.
She noted that the benefits and new avenues opened up by tourism were far-reaching and vast.
She hailed the I Go South Africa public–private partnership, adding that “tourism growth from China will help us in our ongoing drive to create new, sustainable jobs in the tourism value chain.”
I Go South Africa offers a number of benefits specifically for ICBC cardholders travelling to South Africa for leisure.
These include up to 21% “cash back” on certain transactions, free WiFi, card protection insurance, accommodation deals with a premium hotel and restaurant group and discounted return flights from Hong Kong to South Africa.
“In many cases, Chinese investment and trade has played an integral part in encouraging economic and infrastructure development in Africa, and in growing trade and investment flows between China and the continent. The partnership between Standard Bank and the ICBC has contributed to moving various African countries forward for many years,” Mali said.