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Olympic fans cheer on with plastic

The thousands of tourists who have come to Beijing to cheer on their favourite athletes and countries have contributed more than just their Olympic spirit - they have given an immediate financial lift to the Chinese economy.On the opening day alone of the Games, international tourists spent nearly US$10 million in China using plastic, according to Visa.

The biggest spenders were from the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Visitors from these five locations accounted for more than half of all Visa card spend on the opening day.

Richard Chang, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Greater China and the Philippines for Visa said, “China has almost spared no expense to welcome visitors to the Games. The message given at the Opening Ceremony was loud and strong, drawing attention to the country’s rich history and culture through the most innovative, creative programme that most of us have ever seen. And that message went far and wide, even reaching record levels of television audiences in the US.”

Top Ten Visa Card Spenders by Country on Day One of the Games as percentage of total spend:
1. USA 19%

2. Japan 13%

3. Hong Kong 9%

4. South Korea 7%

5. UK 6%

6. Taiwan 5%

7. France 5%

8. Germany 3%

9. Australia 3%

10. Singapore 2%

Visa has been a sponsor of the Olympic Games for 22 years, and is the exclusive card of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Visa and its client financial institutions in China also have installed more than 90,000 ATMs and signed up some 216,000 merchant locations or outlets throughout China to help prepare for the expected influx of international visitors this year and beyond.