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SeaLink Travel Group invest in UWAI Limited

Tuesday 20 March 2018

SeaLink Travel Group (ASX: SLK, “SeaLink”) is pleased to announce two transactions with UWAI Limited, a tourism technology company incorporated in Hong Kong (“UWAI”).

  1. Strategic investment of US$2.5 million (A$3.2 million) investment in UWAI Limited, and separately
  2. Entry into a Master Services Agreement for UWAI Products and Services. 

UWAI (pronounced “you why” translates as “travel overseas” in Mandarin) has built a world first Tourism Application which makes it easier for foreign language visitors to engage with local businesses over a wide range of services including travel, food & beverage, tours, accommodation, shopping and sightseeing.

International tourism contributed A$41.2 billion to the Australian economy year end 2017, of which 57% (A$23.4 billion) was spent with local businesses. As a tourism service utility, UWAI provides access and transparency to this sizable and often elusive market, fostering greater engagement with local businesses, and greater choice and freedom for tourists to independently explore more of what Australia has on offer. 

UWAI launched in South Australia in September 2017 and has experienced significant growth with over 1,500 businesses signing up across South Australia, and garnering the endorsement of 18 local tourism bodies including: South Australian Tourism Commission, The City of Adelaide, the Adelaide Airport, Australian Hotels Association (SA), Kangaroo Island Tourism, Study Adelaide, South Australian Tourism Industry Council, and the Restaurant & Catering Association (SA).

Businesses subscribing to UWAI are provided with an easy, one stop solution to reach international tourists at home and overseas. They are provided with a unique UWAI Smart Decal for display, allowing tourists to scan revealing details of the products, deals and services, translated into their own language. Ordering and communication for the user happens in their own language, and is provided back to the business in English. UWAI is currently available in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and English. 

INVESTMENT IN UWAI

SeaLink has entered into a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (“SAFE”) of US$2.5m to a specified minimum shareholding in UWAI upon the occurrence of specific trigger events or a “sunset” date of 30 June 2020. 

“UWAI is the world’s first digital tourism application, providing innovative digital infrastructure for international tourists to engage with businesses. It bridges the gaps of language, information and trust between international tourists and in-country businesses. 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,” SeaLink Managing Director Jeff Ellison said.

“SeaLink’s investment in UWAI aligns with our long term strategic direction to grow our existing businesses, increase our market share, and invest in new technologies which present opportunities for complementary and diversified growth.

“Technological innovation is revolutionising all industries and the tourism sector is no exception. UWAI has already established itself as an industry innovator with an immediate impressive uptake by both businesses and tourists.

“We are attracted to the proven capabilities and record of success of founders Simon Henry and Andrew Taylor in the Chinese online market. We believe that its strategy has applications to other major international tourism destinations, providing further potential upside in the value of our investment.”

“The problem we are solving is how to help more international visitors spend more money with more local businesses. Small business is the lifeblood of the economy, and anything we can do to help “spread the spend” means all Australian benefit from the tourism boom,” UWAI founder and CEO Simon Henry said.

“We are very excited with the roll-out to date of UWAI in Australia and the strong level of interest in our technology shown by major State and national tourism bodies. SeaLink’s investment is a strong vote of confidence from a leading Australian tourism enterprise with a growing base of international visitors. By contributing to the funding of our development, SeaLink is also recognising its strong potential applications in the future to popular Chinese destinations such as the USA and Japan.”

MASTER SERVICES AGREEMENT

SeaLink has entered in to a Master Services Agreement (the Agreement) with UWAI, to deploy UWAI products and services across selected SeaLink businesses and channels. The Agreement is for two years and on standard commercial terms of UWAI products and pricing.

“For SeaLink, it will give us direct access to visitors to Australia both before they leave their country as well as when they are in Australia. The technology will provide important information on the location, activities and interests of visitors to our shores, helping SeaLink to grow our sales reach. SeaLink plans to then marry UWAI’s application and market research to its leading reservation and booking system ‘QuickTravel’ to create a direct conduit to the key growth markets in Asia,” Mr Ellison said.

“We aim to use UWAI’s tools to improve our customer analytics capabilities. 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.

“It is an adrenaline shot of confidence when a customer also invests in your company and your vision.” UWAI CEO Simon Henry said.

“With this agreement in place, SeaLink will become UWAI’s largest corporate client. Our team is excited to be rolling out UWAI to SeaLink’s businesses around Australia. For UWAI, we are ready to go national after a highly successful beta launch in South Australia.” Mr Henry stated. 

About Andrew Taylor and Simon Henry

This is Andrew Taylor and Simon Henry’s second start up. Their first, Juwai.com was founded in 2010, and the pair left management of the company in 2015 and successfully sold the business in 2016. The company became the world’s largest platform for Chinese to find international property, with over 3 million visitors per month, over 2.5 million property listings from over 90 countries around the world. They are the only foreigners to have ever created a trusted Chinese brand from the ground up and world experts on outbound Chinese travel and investment. They were named the most influential foreign owned website in china, spoke at the G20 Global café in Brisbane 2014, invited to the closed door Boao Forum in HangZhou in 2015 and spoke to the full board of the FIRB to share their insights on Chinese investment in Australia.

Declaration of interest by SeaLink Travel Group Limited Chair, Andrew McEvoy.

Mr Andrew McEvoy, Chair of SeaLink Travel Group, became a Co-Founder of UWAI in December 2017 and is on its executive team. Mr McEvoy disclosed his interest in UWAI to SeaLink Travel Group, and did not participate in SeaLink Board deliberations regarding the investment in UWAI Limited, nor did he participate in managements negotiations to enter into a commercial agreement with UWAI Limited. 

For more information please call:
Michael Hughes, Commercial Director, 0438 993 898
Helen McCombie, 0411 756 248

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