Baidu Map touts local mobile app launch

Baidu Map touts local mobile app launch

Target is to sign up 10m Chinese tourists

Shaoyu Zhang (left), general manager of Baidu Global Maps, and Hu Yong, general manager of the global business unit, show the display of the Baidu Map app for Chinese speakers.
Shaoyu Zhang (left), general manager of Baidu Global Maps, and Hu Yong, general manager of the global business unit, show the display of the Baidu Map app for Chinese speakers.

Chinese tourists finally have their own version of a free mobile mapping app after Chinese search giant Baidu officially launched its travel map for outbound tourists.

In collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Baidu Map is primarily expected to attract Chinese self-guided individual travellers with high spending power.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand is expected to reach 10 million this year, an increase from 8 million in 2015, generating 509 billion baht in revenue, up 35%, said TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

Thailand is one of the first countries Baidu selected to launch its mobile mapping service outside China, said Richard Lee, director of the international business development department at Baidu Inc.

"Thailand is a strategic country for Baidu as it is the most popular destination for Chinese travellers," he said.

Baidu plans to roll out its mapping service in 18 countries as part of the group's business expansion overseas.

The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the TAT yesterday to promote Thailand's tourism industry among Chinese tourists.

Baidu Map is available in Mandarin Chinese and Thai. It offers maps of Thailand's tourist attractions, restaurants and hotels for a combined 17,000 places.

Mr Lee said Baidu is also working with the TAT to develop service apps to provide information about popular tourist attractions with audio.

Baidu Map has more than 500 million active users globally. Global searches on Baidu, the most popular search engine in China, number 10 billion a day.

Mr Lee said Baidu has 7 million monthly active users in Thailand after its inception four years ago. The company has introduced six local mobile apps here.

Baidu expects revenue from overseas operations to increase significantly this year, fuelled by the collaboration with Google AdMob, a mobile advertising platform specifically designed for mobile apps, and the company's own digital ad platform service.

Mr Lee said Baidu is shifting its business focus from PC-based to mobile-based services to capitalise on a continued surge in mobile internet usage.

In 2015, mobile revenue contributed 60% of Baidu's total revenue.

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