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Theme parks ride again

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-06 09:44
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Tomb Sweeping Festival serves as the best opportunity for theme parks to see a revival in fortunes and get back on track. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As Tomb Sweeping Festival approached and the battle against COVID-19 is on the wane, amusement venues around the country are courting entertainment deprived tourists, Xu Lin reports.

As Chinese have been confined to their houses due to the COVID-19 outbreak for over two months, they had to cancel their travel during the Spring Festival holiday and take virtual trips instead, via online photos, short videos and livestreams produced by scenic areas.

Since China's fight against COVID-19 began winding down, theme parks across the country have started to reopen, with strict measures in place to prevent further spread of the virus. Many promise to offer Chinese medical professionals free tickets throughout 2020.

Before entry, visitors are required to present their IDs and health QR codes and undergo temperature checks. They have to make a reservation in advance and wear a mask. Some theme parks regulate that mobile payment should be used instead of cash, as part of their non-contact service to reduce potential risk.

After the Spring Festival, the first national holiday is Tomb Sweeping Festival-which takes place between April 4 and 6-that serves as the best opportunity for theme parks to see a revival in fortunes and get back on track.

A recent report from Alibaba's online travel service provider, Fliggy, shows that Chinese tourists are most interested in amusement parks, hiking, flowers, and zoos.

The report says many of the most popular destinations for the Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday are those that found favor with people during recent virtual travel activities, like Chengdu, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park attracted over 20 million viewers during its 30 livestreams before reopening on March 20. It was closed on March 30 due to Shanghai's strict policy to counter COVID-19, where some indoor scenic areas were recently required to close again such as Shanghai Ocean Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Shanghai.

"Children like to watch our livestreams about polar animals like penguins. Livestreams allow us to build our brand and attract potential tourists, as a preparation for the time when they are ready and able to visit physically," says Zheng Fang, senior director of marketing department, Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Ltd.

Several of the company's ocean parks, like those in Qingdao and Yantai, Shandong province, have already been reopened to tourists, with more set to unlock their doors again.

She says Haichang ocean parks have arranged their operations, such as the date of reopening and the specific areas that will be accessible, in accordance with the local government's requirements regarding precautions for containing the further spread of COVID-19.

Haichang ocean parks have a strict, real-time, monitoring of tourist numbers and will control the outdoor and indoor flows if they surpass the regulated figures.

Zhang says that, in the company's ocean parks, staff members work in shifts, and regular disinfection of the living environment and health checks of animals is performed around the clock. Staff have to ensure the animals' food, such as fruits, vegetables and fish, arrive on time and offer them a balanced diet.

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