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Performing arts boom opens new doors for tourists

By CHEN NAN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-08 07:18
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Residents watch a traditional opera performance at the Shuitingmen historical and cultural block in Quzhou. JIN ZHENDONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

A report released by the China Association of Performing Arts on Nov 30 said the number of fans traveling across the country to watch live performances, both indoors and outdoors, reached about 111 million in the first three quarters of this year, exceeding the figure for 2019, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.

Some 68,900 live performances were staged nationwide in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year rise of 183.5 percent. In the second quarter, the figure reached 124,400, a rise of 713.1 percent compared with the same quarter last year, while in the third quarter, 149,100 live performances took place in China, up by 577.7 percent year-on-year.

The nation's booming performing arts scene has also helped promote tourism, the report said. Large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, are no strangers to pop stars drawing up tour plans. However, this year, a handful of third-tier and lower-tier cities were also included in artists' schedules.

Gong Xiaofeng, head of the Quzhou culture, radio, television and tourism bureau's tourism development center, said, "Previously, the city didn't hold that many major cultural events, and frankly we were concerned when we heard that Xue Zhiqian was going to perform two concerts in Quzhou.

"We had never had big stars like him appear here, so we started preparing for the concerts more than a year in advance, as the schedule changed several times.

"The local government even launched a new department to organize and coordinate major cultural events by gathering staff members from different departments, including traffic and security. This was a great opportunity for us to display the city's culture and history to attract more visitors. It was also a great challenge in every respect, with a large number of people flocking to Quzhou."

Xue's concerts attracted 56,000 fans, including 46,000 from outside Quzhou. The city is located close to the borders of four provinces — Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangxi and Anhui — and fans traveling to watch the concerts mainly came from the Zhejiang cities of Hangzhou, Jinhua, Ningbo and Shaoxing, data from the new Quzhou government department — the Major Sports and Cultural Projects Promotion Office — showed.

Fans in the 18-30 age bracket comprised about 86 percent of audience members.

Since March, Quzhou has also staged concerts by other pop stars, including Jeff Chang and Alex To, along with music festivals and galas featuring singers such as Li Yuchun and Pu Shu.

Gong said, "We provided additional buses and shared bikes for fans attending large concerts, and performance venues laid on shuttle buses for fans, making their travel arrangements much easier."

The concerts brought huge economic benefits to the local authorities in Quzhou, who made every effort to introduce additional attractions for visitors.

For example, booths selling local food were set up outside the performance venues. The Quzhou tourism department also allowed fans to visit some destinations for free, on condition that they showed their concert tickets.

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