Baidu doubles the reach of its maps service to tap into China’s global travel boom

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Baidu, China’s most popular mobile mapping app with 348 million active users, is massively expanding its maps service to take it into 106 new countries.

Baidu Maps already has basic information worldwide, but the global push will see the service gain more detailed and accurate information, alongside new “points of interest.” These are notable landmarks or activities in each country which Baidu has acquired through working with national tourism bureaus — so information like opening-closing times for attractions, discounted hotels and shopping malls nearby, etc.

These additions will double the global reach of Baidu Maps, which claims 70 percent of the Chinese consumer market, to 209 “countries and regions” across Asia Pacific, Africa, and North and South America. It claims more than 120 points of interest among those locations.

This expansion is designed to complement the increasing numbers of Chinese tourists worldwide. A recent report co-authored by Visa estimates that China’s travel spending came in at $137 billion last year. That figure is forecast to increase by 87 percent over the next 10 years, taking China’s spending to double that of the U.S., and more than the UK, Russia and Germany combined. More than 500

No surprise, then, that local tourism boards are keen to pair with Baidu on this initiative. It isn’t just a one-way deal. Baidu has agreed to provide user review information to help tourism authorities “plan promotional activities for Chinese travellers during local festivals and travel peak seasons.”