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Olympic Games Opening Day Spending Gives Multi-Million Dollar Boost to China


The international tourists who have joined the more than 11,000 athletes from 204 participating National Olympic Committees* in China for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games have had an immediate impact on the nation’s economy, including nearly US$10 million spent on Visa cards on the opening day of the Games. The money spent by tourists on their Visa credit, debit and prepaid cards on 8 August 2008 showed an increase of 11 percent over last year (8 August 2007).

Opening Day’s biggest Visa spenders were from USA, followed by Japan, Hong Kong SAR, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Visitors from these five locations accounted for more than half of all Visa card spend on 8 August 2008.

Not surprisingly, Visa cards were used primarily to pay for accommodation and to make retail purchases.

Richard Chang, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Greater China and the Philippines for Visa said, "China has almost spared no expense to welcome visitors to the Games. The message sent at the Opening Ceremony was loud and strong, drawing attention to the country’s rich history and culture through the most innovative, creative program that most of us have ever seen. And that message went far and wide, even reaching record levels of television audiences in the USA**. Here in China, their compatriots were also the biggest spenders on Visa cards that same day.

Visa has been a proud sponsor of the Olympic Games for 22 years, and is the exclusive card of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Visa and its client financial institutions in China also have installed more than 90,000 ATMs and signed up some 216,000 merchant locations or outlets throughout China to help prepare for the expected influx of international visitors this year and beyond.

Since 2003, Visa has participated in a global alliance with China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the Beijing Tourism Administration (BTA) to promote tourism to China, improve China’s payment system and increase tourism revenues.

Through its partnership with the BTA, Visa launched a ’Best Merchants in Beijing’ program prior to the Games. The program focuses on providing international payment card acceptance at merchants in nine locations frequented by tourists including Houhai, Sanlitun, the Badaling Great Wall, the Beijing Capital International Airport and the Silk Street, Yaxiu, Liulichang, Hongqiao and Panjiayuan markets.

“A safe and efficient payment system is important to the host country of the Olympic Games as visitors from all over the world expect to be able to make electronic payment as they do at home. To this end, Visa is committed to help China develop a world-class financial infrastructure, and is working closely with the government, tourism bodies and client financial institutions to build a robust electronic payment system in China,” Chang said.


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