china should encourage cloud tourism china daily columnist - China should encourage cloud tourism: China Daily columnist

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – As the Labour Day week approaches, the domestic tourism sector is gearing up to restart operations.

But with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Health Commission jointly issuing a statement, on April 13, stressing that epidemic prevention and control measures be strictly followed at tourist sites and the number of visitors be restricted, the answer could lie in “cloud tourism”.

This refers to a new, non-contact immersive sight-seeing experience that depends on advanced technology such as live-streaming, 5G and virtual reality.

The technology enables tourists to enjoy scenic spots without actually going there.

With most scenic spots shut down to contain the novel Coronavirus, the trend is fast catching up.

In March, domestic live-streaming platform Douyin launched an online program allowing users to “visit Yunnan” and take in scenic spots such as the Yulong Snow Mountain and the local customs and practices.

Till April 21, “cloud visiting Dunhuang”, a WeChat mini program taking one to Dunhuang’s Mogao Caves, had registered 12 million person-time visits in two months. That’s half the number of tourists that visited Gansu province during last year’s National Day holiday week.

Most scenic spots are eager to reopen after three months of closure, but indoor scenic spots such as museums, where people gather in large numbers, are still not devoid of infection risk.

If the preventive measures are relaxed, the novel coronavirus, which has largely been contained at a huge cost in the past three months, could make a comeback.

Cloud tourism, instead, allows tourists to enjoy a tourist spot by being at home. The new concept is also exploring the possibilities of making money online.

On March 27, several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Hanyangling Museum jointly launched a live-streaming on Pinduoduo, an e-commerce platform, selling historical and cultural knowledge that attracted numerous audiences.

As preventive measures could be in place for some time, the tourism industry should consider hopping onto the cloud tourism bandwagon to survive.

The writer is a columnist with the paper. China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.

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