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Emerging tech breathes new life into flagging tourism enterprises

Updated: Feb 25, 2021 China Daily Print
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Emerging technologies are helping companies in the tourism industry to ward off the novel coronavirus effect, generate revenue, and bring in tourists via online and offline strategies, experts said.

A case in point is the series of short videos featuring a slideway on a sea of flowers in Huangshan, East China's Anhui province, that went viral on short video platform Douyin during the Lunar New Year holiday.

For instance, a 20-second video featured a girl sliding down the 150-meter rainbow-like slideway surrounded by large tracts of fully-bloomed flowers in Shilin, Yixian county of Huangshan. It received nearly 100,000 views within a few hours.

"When we saw the video, it felt like the natural beauty of Yixian was right in front of us," said Hu Shuimei, 47, a housewife from Tunxi, Huangshan.

The video is the brainchild of Yixian County Hui Huang Tourism Group, which owns and operates several local scenic spots such as the well-known Xidi and Hongcun villages, to diversify its business and face challenges from the pandemic.

The slideway in Shilin is one of the upgraded projects to enrich amusements at local tourist spots. The group has invested nearly 100 million yuan ($15.48 million) for building and upgrading new infrastructure, including glass water-slide rafting, zip lines, and glass sightseeing cable bridges.

"It will take some time for tourism to boom again but it is more important to boost and build up our strengths," said Sheng Zhijun, vice-chairman of Yixian County Hui Huang Tourism Group.

Though many people remained in their workplaces during the Spring Festival due to pandemic restrictions, they are keenly following redevelopment at the various scenic spots.

According to Sheng, in Xidi ancient village, the company has leveraged emerging technologies to develop a unique night tour and is currently livestreaming it so that people can enjoy the tour without leaving their homes.

Xidi ancient village is a time-honored ancient village in Yixian county, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. The company has used three-dimensional mapping, water curtains, laser projection, and virtual music to provide an immersive and memorable experience for tourists.

According to a report published by the World Research Think Tank, the Xidi night tour is a new form of consumption that integrates existing cultural tourism resources and modern technologies.

Last year, the number of tourist trips to the scenic spots of Yixian County Hui Huang Tourism Group reached 808,900, up 60 percent on a yearly basis, according to company data.

Efforts by companies in Huangshan, a city that boasts a slew of attractions such as Mount Huangshan and Xidi, has bolstered the prospects of the tourism sector. During the Spring Festival period, the city saw 1.775 million tourist trips and earned a revenue of 860 million yuan.

"New technologies such as big data and online streaming will help companies get a better understanding of industries and enable them to tailor customized, personalized products," said Ouyang Rihui, assistant dean of the China Center for Internet Economy Research at the Central University of Finance and Economics.

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