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Walking into memories

China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-11 08:12

A canopy of trees provides Xinhua road with a natural cover.CHINA DAILY

Behind the boom

The reason behind the recent sudden surge in interest in city walks has been widely discussed on Chinese social media platforms. Many netizens attribute this trend to the "hangover caused by COVID-19".

"During the pandemic, it is not easy to travel like people used to. As such, they started to notice and value the beauty of what's in front of them," says Xu Anni, a 34-year-old tour guide in Shanghai.

Other reasons may include how city walking is an affordable way to relax while getting to see new places and meet new friends.

Xu points out that the government's continuous efforts in promoting cultural tourism and city governance have also been critical to making Shanghai a popular destination for city walks.

"Shanghai is a city with unique charms. It is safe, clean, open, friendly and international, and has easy access to all kinds of information," Xu adds.

One of the first professional guides for city walks in Shanghai, Xu first started her tour business on tourism website Qyer and Airbnb about a decade ago. She already knows the city like the back of her hand, and she enjoys her job.

"Compared with a decade ago, Shanghai is becoming better and more beautiful thanks to the government's urban renewal efforts," she explains.

"The heritage architecture has been well-preserved in the city. Old buildings like industrial plants are well renovated. Roads and transportation have become more convenient. Even the public restrooms have been upgraded and are well-maintained — this is something I personally regard as a very important factor in city walks."

Besides infrastructure upgrades, Shanghai authorities have also been introducing diverse cultural and lifestyle events that encourage people to explore the city on foot.

For instance, last month, the Music in the Summer Air festival took music to the streets of Shanghai's Xuhui district.

During the event, three musicians — a violinist, a saxophonist and a flutist — performed classical music in public spaces, such as Xiangyang Park, the Wukang Road tourist center, Zikawei library and in front of the ancient Longhua temple.

These roads and public spaces were chosen because they are among the most popular spots for leisure walking.

Earlier this month, Xiaohongshu launched a lifestyle festival in the city's Huangpu district that features light shows, food and sporting events, night markets and a host of activities related to music, art and photography. The festival is running until Sunday.

"Shanghai is always being refreshed. Even the local residents have to rediscover the city every now and then," says Xu.

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