Shanghai, China, June 4, 2014 － Alitrip (www.alitrip.com), the online travel booking platform under Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA), today announced its collaboration with the Consulate General of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Shanghai to introduce in the near future a credit-based online visa application process for mainland Chinese residents traveling to Luxembourg. Leveraging the scoring system of Sesame Credit, a credit agency under Alibaba Group's related company Ant Financial Services Group, the move aims to give eligible Chinese residents increased convenience to travel abroad by lowering their barrier to obtaining travel visas and expediting their visa application process. Alitrip unveiled its credit-based online visa application service for the first time in late May, with Singapore being the first travel destination covered by this new initiative.
As a result of the collaboration announced today, users of Alitrip's online visa application platform (www.alitrip.com/qianzheng/) traveling to Luxembourg will be given the opportunity to begin their Luxembourg visa application online, which will significantly reduce the amount of time involved compared with the traditional means of visa application. For applicants with a certain level of Sesame Scores, the Consulate General of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Shanghai will accept their personal Sesame Credit reports as a proof of financial capabilities, substituting documents like bank records as proof of assets. All original documents will still need to be provided to the Consulate at a later stage as Schengen rules foresee.
Singapore, known as one of the top 10 outbound travel destinations among Chinese tourists, has recently become the first destination covered by Alitrip's credit-based online visa application service. Individuals with a certain level of Sesame Scores traveling to Singapore can apply for their visa entirely online through the Alitrip online visa application platform, and be exempted from the need to submit their proof of residence and financial capabilities. Once the visa application has been accepted and paid for, an electronic visa will be directly emailed to the applicants. In 2014, Alitrip facilitated the issuing of 110,000 Singapore visas for its users.
Sesame Credit is a scoring system that generates individual credit scores for consumers by tapping into Alibaba Group and Ant Financial's vast online ecosystem and other personal credit information sources. Sesame Scores, which range from 350 to 950 points, are calculated based on five factors – credit history, behavioral preference, fulfillment capability, personal attributes and social network – and are indications of the users' creditworthiness. Alitrip has been incorporating the use of Sesame Scores into its platform to help travel service providers assess their customers' trustworthiness and offer more convenient services to eligible customers.
"Alitrip has been striving to help Chinese consumers lower their cost of outbound travels by leveraging the power of the Internet, so we are very excited to roll out this simplified visa application process for our qualified users," said Li Shaohua, general manager of Alitrip. "Our newly introduced credit-based visa application service is an example of our ongoing effort to draw on our online ecosystem to offer a more streamlined user experience to those who have established a track record of trustworthiness. We will explore possibilities to introduce similar initiatives for other popular travel destinations."
"In Luxembourg, travelers can experience the best of Western Europe's history, culture and natural beauty on a small spot, for example by visiting some of the many castles of my country. One of these castles is in Schengen, the tiny village where the Schengen Area was created, which makes Luxembourg an ideal starting point for visiting other European countries of this single visa zone. Our good relationship with Alibaba group is further underlined by this collaboration with Alitrip, and we are looking forward to welcoming their users and make it less of a hassle for credible Chinese residents to come and explore the only Grand-Duchy in the World," said Luc Decker,Consul-General of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Shanghai.
"As Singapore's leading travel agency, we are excited about Alitrip's introduction of a simpler visa application process to provide more potential travelers with greater ease of access to our country," said Michael Xiao, Chairman of Six Stars Tours & Services Pte Ltd.
Alitrip's online visa application platform features a host of independent visa application agents, covering various types of visas for most of the countries and regions in the world. To diversify choices for Chinese outbound travelers and further promote the importance of good credit, Alitrip will explore opportunities to implement its credit-based online visa application service for more travel destinations.
Previously known as "Taobao Travel," Alitrip (www.alitrip.com) was established as an independent online travel booking platform in October 2014. It currently has a large number of quality merchants on its platform providing Chinese consumers with a range of products and services including domestic and international flight tickets, hotel bookings, vacation packages and visa applications. Alitrip is dedicated to creating value for consumers by offering wide product selections, customized products, comprehensive after-sales protection and an innovative user experience. Alitrip is a business within Alibaba Group.