After expanding its businesses in North Asia, Chinese online travel platform Tongcheng, or “Ly.com”, will enter the Southeast Asia market by setting up a joint venture with Wenmei Holidays, which already has a subsidiary in Thailand, Chinese tech media outlet TechWeb reported on Wednesday.
The new joint venture aims to serve Chinese tourists traveling to Thailand and to develop Thai tourism resources. Tourism in Thailand is one of Wenmei Holidays’ most competitive businesses, which the company said serves close to 100,000 Chinese travelers visiting Thailand every year.
The Bangkok Post reported that Chinese tourists was the largest group of foreign tourists visiting China last year, amounting to 7.9 million, citing data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The platform’s core business expansion in 2016 will be overseas tourism. Tongcheng came to an agreement to establish a joint venture with Japan’s long-established tourism agency H.I.S. Co. Ltd. last November, and a month later struck a similar deal with South Korea’s Lotte Travel.
Tongcheng was established in 2004 in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai. The company attracted investment from Tencent and Ctrip in 2014. Its most recent funding in July 2015 included an investment of RMB 3.5 billion (USD 560 million) from commercial property giant Dalian Wanda Group. Tencent and CITIC Capital also participated in this round of fundraising.
The platform’s major rival is Tuniu.com, which is backed by China’s second largest e-commerce platform JD.com. Tuniu mainly focuses on tour packages, cruises, driving holidays, day trips, and company outings.
The two platforms are competing with China’s Expedia, Ctrip, which has a valuation of USD 10.2 billion. Ctrip merged with its former rival Qunar last October.