SeaLink Travel Group, which recently diversified from shipping into accommodation, has further spread its wings by investing $3.2 million in UWAI, a new Chinese travel marketing app part-owned by Chairman Andrew McEvoy while also becoming its largest customer.
UWAI markets local travel businesses to Chinese tourists. Its name translates as “travel overseas” in Mandarin and has been successfully trialled in South Australia, where 1500 businesses have signed up.
“We believe it will appeal to the fast-growing Chinese free independent traveller segment which is an increasingly important part of the tourism market both in Australia and overseas,” said SeaLink Managing Director Jeff Ellison.
He did not reveal the equity stake SeaLink had acquired.
Meanwhile, SeaLink has signed a two-year Master Services Agreement with UWAI and ultimate plans to integrate the app into its booking system.
“This will help SeaLink to directly target the growing Chinese free independent traveller market in Australia and help us better understand the needs and priorities of these customers,” Ellison said.
Andrew McEvoy, Chair of SeaLink Travel Group, helped co-found UWAI in December 2017 and is on its executive team. SLK says he played no role in negotiations.
McEvoy’s co-founders are Andrew Taylor and Simon Henry, who also developed Juwai.com, claimed to be the world’s largest platform for Chinese to find international property, which they sold in 2016.
“With this agreement in place, SeaLink will become UWAI’s largest corporate client,” said Mr Henry.