Provinces wage cutthroat competition to woo visitors

Pop stars among celebrities recruited to promote local attractions

By Zou Shuo | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-19 06:29
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Tourists enjoy a trip to Volga Manor in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, on Jan 7. The ice and snow at the venue attracts visitors from across China. [Photo/Xinhua]

Numerous short-video clips posted by local authorities on social media platforms are attracting widespread attention from netizens across China.

The footage is aimed at turning online engagement into tourism revenue.

Hashtags such as "local culture and tourism bureaus going crazy, trying to outperform each other, and open to online suggestions to promote themselves" are trending on several platforms.

The cutthroat competition began as authorities attempted to copy the success story of Harbin, the capital of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, which has become an internet sensation and a must-visit destination this winter.

The unprecedented influx of tourists, captivated by the stunning icy landscape in Harbin and the warm hospitality of local people, has resulted in the city becoming the most talked-about and sought-after travel destination in China this winter.

In the first four days of this year, 55 topics about tourism in Harbin trended on Sina Weibo, generating more than 1 billion views. Douyin, the name TikTok uses in China, and Xiaohongshu have also witnessed numerous trending hashtags related to how Harbin has "spoiled" travelers, along with the hospitality shown to them by local people and the authorities.

During the three-day New Year holiday, Harbin attracted more than 3 million visitors, generating a record-breaking 5.9 billion yuan ($830 million) in tourism revenue, with both figures setting records.

Harbin's success has spurred other areas to compete for online attention on the Douyin platform.

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