Holt Renfrew is now accepting the China Unionpay card at four of its stores. Chinese tourism is on the rise in Canada, as are luxury purchases by Chinese in Canadian stores. Given that shopping is the number one activity for travellers visiting Canada, accepting China Unionpay is a trend we expect to see continue.

The China Unionpay card is the only domestic bank card in China and the leading card that visitors from China and other Asia-Pacific countries use while travelling abroad.

The four Holt Renfrew stores accepting the card are the flagship Toronto Bloor Street, Yorkdale (Toronto), Calgary and Vancouver stores.

Holt Renfrew’s Yorkdale store originally started accepting the card in September when the mall became the first in Canada to accept China Unionpay cards. Various other mall retailers also began accepting the card as part of the mall’s push to attract international shoppers.

China represents one of the fastest growing tourist markets for Canada. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of Chinese visitors to Canada almost doubled from about 165,000 to nearly 300,000. Most of these tourists visited Vancouver and Toronto. By the end of this year, for example, it is expected that the number of mainland Chinese visitors to Vancouver will be almost 180,000, up from just 57,000 in 2001. Some Vancouver luxury retailers reportedly see about 40% of their sales coming from mainland Chinese.

In 2012, Chinese tourists spent an estimated $481 million in Canada with an average expenditure of about $1,670 per person. These numbers are about 20% higher than those in 2011. In total, it’s estimated that Chinese tourists spent US$102 billion worldwide in 2012.

We expect the number of Canadian retailers accepting the China Unionpay card to increase as Chinese tourism continues its boom.