‘Cloud tourism’ a new fad amid COVID-related travel restrictions – Travel

During the Labor Day Holiday in early May, Zha Liguo, an experienced tour guide, enjoyed five sunrises and sunsets over Huangshan Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in east China’s Anhui Province.

He was joined by hundreds of thousands of travel enthusiasts enjoying the stunning views on their mobile devices in what has become known as “cloud tourism”.

During the five-day vacation, Zha, 44, began his day with a 5am broadcast of the sunrise at the top of the mountain. He then hiked more than 10 km through the Grand Canyon and waited for the sunset with his only companion – three cell phones.

“Cloud tourism” has become a new trend in China as people are advised not to take long trips due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Thanks to live streaming, people can visit tourist attractions virtually and enjoy the scenery without going outside.

A live tour of Shanghai Wild Animal Park drew over 10 million viewers in less than a month. During the Labor Day holiday, more than 1 million tourists virtually visited several cultural sites, scenic spots and museums in Taiyuan, north China’s Shanxi Province.

After working in the tourism industry for more than two decades, Zha began experimenting with live streaming in 2020 due to the impact of the epidemic. His approachable personality, engaging presentation skills, and high-quality filming have helped him gain more than 700,000 followers in three years.

“The epidemic has made it difficult for many people to travel far away. I hope to share the beautiful views of Huangshan Mountain in different seasons from my own perspective,” Zha said.

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In 2021, he lived on Huangshan Mountain for more than 280 days, and the live broadcast lasted more than 2,000 hours, attracting over 51 million viewers.

Not far from Huangshan Mountain, Hongcun Ancient Village, a renowned cultural heritage site in Yixian County, is also exploring new opportunities.

In less than a year since Village created an official live streaming account on Douyin in August 2021, it has garnered more than 100,000 followers.

“In addition to the scenery, we also introduce local traditional folk customs and intangible cultural heritages such as lantern-making and wood-carving to the public,” said Huang Jie, deputy general manager of a local tourism company.

“Cloud tourism” has not only increased the attractiveness of tourist attractions, but also boosted the growth of local industries and products. Sales of relevant products in the scenic zone skyrocketed in live-streamed shows, said Cheng Qiuping of Huangshan Tourism Development Co., Ltd.

The live video streams have also built a huge potential customer base for years to come.

“I enjoy mountaineering and would like to go to Huangshan Mountain in the future,” read a message left on Zha’s live stream.

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