May is traditionally a popular time for travel in China given the warmer weather, but like other industries, domestic tourism has suffered due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The China Tourist Attractions Association estimates revenue for tourist destinations in China has plunged 80%.
To help with the recovery, PDD plans to launch a series of livestreaming travel programs to promote travel destinations in China, marrying the immediacy and interactivity of the medium with e-commerce to stimulate local demand.
Furong Town, an ancient town in Hunan Province known for its Tu ethnic traditions, was the subject of a seven-hour livestreaming session on PDD on April 26. Wu Xiao, the town mayor, dressed in his ethnic costume, taught viewers the basic steps of their traditional dance. He also played tour guide and took the viewers to visit the town’s famous waterfall and other sights, such as Baishou Hall and the street where the eponymous movie, Furong Town, was filmed 30 years ago.
Over 6 million messages and likes were sent during the livestreaming session, which was watched by over 35,000 users, many of whom left messages saying they wished to visit Furong Town in person. Luckily for them, there was a special “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” promotion launched in conjunction with the livestream which allowed users to buy attraction tickets at a discounted rate.
As the pandemic situation starts to ease in China, short-distance travel has started to regain momentum, with orders on Pinduoduo for day trip and intra-province travel packages in April growing close to 270% compared to the month of March. Shanghai, Guangdong and Jiangsu area tourist attractions saw the fastest recoveries.
Tourist attractions are turning to livestreaming and leveraging influencers to re-ignite domestic interest in travel. The coronavirus pandemic has also increased interest on the part of tourism businesses and cultural enterprises to accelerate their adoption of digital technologies that can make them more adaptable.
Outside of China, various tourist attractions have also started livestreaming — homebound internet users can now check out anything from famous artworks in museums to even viewing the aurora borealis live. For travellers, travelling the world from the comfort of your couch just got easier.