JD Group, parent company of e-commerce giant JD.com, has inked a strategic partnership with a state-owned tourism operator as the online services conglomerate strengthens its presence in the travel industry.

Why it matters: JD’s renewed push into the tourism sector underscores its confidence in the industry’s revival, which was brought to near-standstill by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Details: On Monday JD Group announced a partnership with Beijing-based tourism services operator Beijing Tourism Group (BTG) on the construction of intelligent services and smart cities.

  • As part of the deal, JD Group and JD’s technology service arm JD Digits have made a strategic investment of undisclosed size in Beijing BTG Huilian Technology, a subsidiary. It will act as the main body for the cooperation, promoting digitization of consumer-facing services in the tourism group.
  • JD will help BTG build digital insights and private cloud platforms in order to improve its management of customers, merchants, and logistics, as well as capital and information flow.

Context: In June, JD sold all of its 21% stake in Tuniu, once a top online travel agency in China, for $65 million, five years after leading a $500 million round in the company in 2015.

  • The BTG investment comes more than one month after JD pumped RMB 450 million ($63 million) in travel service Caissa, for a 7.4% stake.
  • Travel in China is beginning to show signs of recovery as new cases of the novel coronavirus decline.
  • Tech giants like Alibaba—a JD.com rival which has a solid presence in the travel market with its tourism unit Fliggy—and Ctrip are offering discounts and coupons to spur travel consumption.
  • BTG is involved in various areas of the tourism segment including travel agencies, dining, hotels, shopping, and entertainment.
  • Operating assets worth more than RMB 10 billion, the company is behind 132 brands including four domestically listed entities: hotel chain BTG Hotels, retail business Wangfujing and Beijing Capital Retailing Group, and roast duck restaurant brand Quanjude. The company operates more than 7,000 offline stores across 400 cities.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.