New festival leisure modes boost tourism
NEW leisure modes have become emerging drivers for China’s domestic tourism, with local tours and online tourism widely favored during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.
The holiday, also known as the Lunar New Year, lasted from February 11 to 17 this year. Unlike in the past, when billions of passenger trips were made for the most important Chinese festival, many people have avoided long-distance travel this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In late January, the Ministry of Transport cut its forecast of passenger flow to around 1.15 billion passenger trips for the 40-day Spring Festival travel season this year. It marks a drop of more than 20 percent year on year, and a plunge of over 60 percent from 2019.
Zhang Jiuling and her parents working in Shanghai did not leave for their hometown in northeastern China during the holiday.
Instead, they joined a city walking tour along the Huangpu River, where people can enjoy the juxtapositional beauty of modern urban facilities and century-old buildings, revealing the historical path of the city’s industrialization. They also visited museums and art galleries in Shanghai.
“Staying put in Shanghai has brought me a chance to get to know more about the city where I was raised,” said Zhang, 16. “I’ve found another kind of happiness in the Lunar New Year.”
Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based travel agency Spring Tour, said that compared with the Spring Festival in 2019, the company’s local tourism products increased by 1.5 times, with the number of city walking tours surging by five times this year.
“Some 80 percent of our guests were stay-puts,” she said.
The average occupancy rate of hotels in Shanghai’s suburban areas, including Jinshan, Songjiang and Chongming, stood at 57 percent last week. It is up by 27 percentage points from the same period in 2019, according to the city’s administration of culture and tourism.
A report issued by the online platform Meituan showed that more than 50 percent of its users prefer travel destinations within 50 kilometers. In addition to traditional winter attractions such as hot springs and skiing venues, urban zoos, botanical gardens and parks have become widely-browsed choices.
Online travel agency TongchengeLong said its hotel bookings from locals for the first three days of the festival were 32.5 percent higher than for the same holiday in 2019.
In Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province, several tourist attractions are too popular to make a reservation.
He Rui, an official with the city’s bureau of culture and tourism, said cultural centers and libraries are open to the public free of charge.
On the premise of strictly implementing epidemic prevention and control measures, 10 scenic spots are free for people staying put for the holiday.
The Longquan Temple on Taishan Mountain, one of the major historical and cultural sites in Taiyuan, received nearly 4,000 visitors on February 13, many more than the pre-epidemic years.
“I didn’t expect so many people in the off-season, as we still charge each visitor 30 yuan (US$4.60) for entrance,” said Zhang Zhimin, curator of the temple’s administrative body Taishan Mountain Museum. He added that most of the visitors are locals and migrant workers staying in Taiyuan.
After seeing the lost Buddha head shown at the gala on television on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, Taiyuan resident Chen Fei drove to the Tianlongshan Grottoes to visit the retrieved treasure, only to find the attraction was closed for forest protection and fire prevention.
“Disappointed as I was, I have discovered the beauty and mystery of the grottoes online,” said Chen, 29.
Through the WeChat official account of the Tianlongshan Grottoes Museum, Chen visited a digital restoration exhibition. It includes the pictures and messages of the retrieved head via virtual reality technology.
The Tianlongshan Grottoes in Taiyuan are notable for the Buddha statues located within. Construction of the caves began in the Eastern Wei Dynasty (AD 534-550) and continued until the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).
The stone Buddha head, stolen from one of the statues almost a century ago, was brought back from Japan in mid-December.
For the people who stay at home, online tours have become a new choice. It enables them to enjoy the beauty of tourist attractions while avoiding cross-infections.
In Shanghai, museums, art galleries and other public cultural venues held more than 300 online exhibitions. Internet giants, including Trip.com Group, Baidu and Meituan, also hosted online activities to showcase the city’s cultural appeal during the holiday.
In the resort-rich province of Yunnan in southwest China, the online travel platform of Go-Yunnan has launched live feeds of famous scenic spots such as the Lugu Lake and the Meri Snow Mountain.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said that China is creating a space for cultural and tourism development where both non-local tourists and residents are integrated into a unified tourism market.
“With the integration of cultural and tourism development and the introduction of science and technology, the sense of gain and satisfaction of Chinese people will further improve,” said Dai.
AN exhibition featuring Dunhuang culture is unveiled at Shanghai Shimao International Plaza with exquisite displays and interactive experience, to celebrate the Chinese Luna New Year. Cooperated with Dunhuang Museum, the exhibition, which runs till March 31, creates a dreamland back to the golden time of Dunhuang during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).
Located on the M floor, the exhibition is divided into six parts. Clouds from the Chinese traditional paintings are hung at the entrance, and walking across the clouds is a ceremony to step into the dreamland. The second part is a magic corridor, counting the numbers of the visitors entering the
Then the “Dunhuang dream” starts. The pictures of murals of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes are displayed on the wall. Decorated with colorful Tang-style lanterns, it’s where to enjoy the traditional feitian (flying godness) performance.
As a highlight, the feitian dancers will invite visitors to their party — the traditional music turns to punk style, a creative attempt of modern and traditional. The fifth part is a lotus stage with flying petals and ribbons. It’s the place to make a new year wish, in the same way of Dunhuang over 1,000 years ago.
The Dunhuang adventure ended with a pop-up store, offering the culture and creative products by Dunhuang Museum. There are a series of lovely couplets, red envelopes and calendars designed for the Chinese year of the Ox.
The Dunhuang decoration continues to the whole plaza, the feitian dancers may show up at the entrance as a surprise. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors must wear masks, show a green health code and have their temperatures checked before entering.
THE medical documentary “Innovators’ Prescription” will start airing on Docu TV at 4pm on February 24.
Produced by Shanghai Media Group's Documentary Center, it is the first Chinese documentary that follows the entire research and development processes behind a new type of cancer drug.
The 50-minute program examines how Chinese scientists cooperate with physicians and patients to successfully develop an anti-cancer drug after numerous clinical experiments. Photomicrography technology is applied in the process of shooting to record how the medicine works.
The drug is believed to be an effective treatment for neuroendocrine tumor, a disease that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs died from.
According to Chen Kaixian, member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it is costly and time-consuming to develop a new medicine, especially an anticancer drug. On average, it takes about 10 years to develop one new medicine in China, and only one in 20 that are tested on people is likely to be approved and actually make it to market.
Pointing its lens at “pharmacy valley,” which is located in Pudong New Area’s Zhangjiang Science City, the documentary aims to shine a light on how the Chinese government supports and cultivates medical professionals and research.
Those who miss the show on Wednesday can check out the streaming platforms Youku and Bilibili for a rerun.