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Officials get in character to boost tourism

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-25 07:08
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Liu Jiehua, a local official, wears a traditional costume. NEW MEDIA CENTER OF ANYANG

During a promotional event in Beijing on Friday for the Yinxu Ruins in Henan province's Anyang, Liu Jiehua, head of Anyang's culture, radio, television, sports and tourism bureau, dressed up like Fuhao, China's first-known female general, who lived in the 13th century BC.

Liu donned the special garb to promote the historical site and encourage more tourists to visit.

Liu Jiehua, a local official, wears a traditional costume. NEW MEDIA CENTER OF ANYANG

Netizens were impressed by Liu's attention to detail and authenticity, saying that it's a good way to present traditional Chinese culture.

A popular short film that attracted tens of thousands of likes features a woman wearing white headwear and an all-white dress of the Oroqen ethnic group wandering in a snow-covered birch forest. Du Bo, head of Tahe county's bureau of culture, sports, radio, television and tourism in Heilongjiang province, filmed herself as such to showcase Oroqen ethnic customs.

Du said she spent two hours shooting and shivering outside as temperatures hovered below -20 C during the filming, which was ultimately edited down to under a minute. She said she hopes to showcase the beauty of snow and ice with the short film.

Du Bo, head of Tahe county's bureau of culture, sports, radio, television and tourism in Heilongjiang province. [Photo/Sina Weibo]

The intensifying competition among Chinese grassroots officials, performing before the camera with various creative videos to attract tourists, has recently become a popular social media trend in China.

From riding horses and dressing like astronauts to donning traditional ethnic costumes, the normally serious officials are going all out to revitalize local tourism. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism posted a collection of these officials' works on Tuesday on its official Weibo account. The short films of the bureau heads have been watched over 300 million times.

Most netizens welcome this creative competition among these officials, as they help viewers know more about local featured scenic spots in small counties and remote places. However, some question whether officials should mimic ancient customs for commercial purposes.

Fan Zhou, head of the Beijing Jinghe Institute of Culture and Tourism, said it's a good phenomenon that officials are making short videos and being spokespersons for their tourist attractions.

The tourism industry in China is fast recovering. During the Spring Festival holiday, 308 million domestic tourist trips were made, up 23.1 percent from last year and around 88.6 percent of the numbers seen during the holiday in 2019, said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Domestic tourism revenue during this year's Spring Festival reached 375.8 billion yuan ($54.12 billion), up 30 percent year-on-year.

Gao Fu, president of the Beijing branch of Skal International, a professional organization of tourism leaders around the globe, expects the domestic tourist market to return to pre-pandemic levels in May. After more than three years of the contagion, this will be a new start for all tourist attractions.

As social media and short videos have been attracting more attention, local officials have been embracing new media platforms to promote their tourism sectors. It has become an effective channel to expand the number of tourists and even help with rural vitalization.

Liu Jiehua, a local official, wears a traditional costume. NEW MEDIA CENTER OF ANYANG

The officials also take part in livestreaming shows to sell local featured products, utilizing their online influence gained by the widely viewed short videos. With over 5 million followers on social media, He Jiaolong, deputy head of the Ili Kazakh autonomous prefecture culture and tourism bureau in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has helped sell 210 million yuan worth of goods and create over 2,000 jobs through her livestreaming shows.

Gao said using social media platforms can help reach more potential tourists than traditional means of promotion.

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