The big news for those following outbound tourism news from the world’s largest outbound source market was discouraging—best described in a two-sentence introduction a current news summary: “The spread of the Delta variant has prompted a dramatic response from authorities in China, including mass testing and travel restrictions. China’s scrutiny of cross-border travel and trade is also likely to put further pressure on supply chains and affect Chinese imports. As other countries employ a herd immunity approach to living with the virus, what can be learned from China’s zero-tolerance policy?”
Everyone was looking for an answer to what became a menacing situation:
—According to the usually reliable online news site, bignewsnetwork.com, Chinese officials indicated that the current outbreak is linked to the airport in the eastern city of Nanjing.
—The same news site said that more than 30 Chinese officials were fired or received other punishments for allegedly failing to respond adequately to the latest COVID-19 surge in China.
—Among those who lost their jobs were a vice mayor, along with heads of city districts and health commissions. Also let go were staff in hospital management, airport managers and tourism department officials.
—Other reports said the highly contagious Delta variant was transmitted among airport workers and has since spread from Hainan province in the south to Inner Mongolia in the far north.
—The outbreak in China has resulted in other new travel restrictions, lockdowns of communities and the sealing off of the city of Zhangjiajie’s 1.5 million people.
The irony is that the bad news came in the wake of official reports which indicated that travel was recovering, and getting closer to those of 2019. For instance:
● The Chinese broadcast news outlet, CGTN, reported the Chinese made over 1.8 billion domestic trips in the first half of 2021, up by 100.8 percent from the same period in 2020, official data showed.
● A total of 1.024 billion and 847 million domestic trips were made in the first and second quarter, a surge of 247.1 percent and 33 percent year on year, respectively, said China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
● Domestic tourism revenue stood at 1.63 trillion yuan (about $250 billion) during this period, up by 157.9 percent year on year, it said.
●The country’s tourism industry welcomed a fast recovery in the first half of 2021. Domestic trips and tourism revenue had recovered to about 60.9 percent and 58.6 percent, respectively, of the level of the first half of 2019, the ministry said.
● China saw its per capita expenditure on tourism go up by 28.5 percent to settle at 872.27 yuan (roughly $135) in the January-June period.
Who is Viya? Midst all of the above, there is one ongoing story that seems to captivate the Chinese appetite for big, “good” news.
From Bloomberg News: “A millionaire at 34 and bigger than ‘Sunday Night Football,’ China’s star saleswoman Viya rules a $60 billion world of live online shopping.”
From Jing Travel—travel marketers might want to follow the example (and success) of their colleagues in Macao—there is this excerpt from its email newsletter.
“Macau Government Tourism Office collaborated with Viya, China’s leading female livestreamer, to host a broadcast selling travel packages and hotel room bookings to the city.
“The Jing Travel Angle: There is no bigger star in China’s livestreaming e-commerce ecosystem than Viya. In nightly broadcasts that blend elements of the infomercial with informal conversation, Viya consistently reaches millions somewhat irrespective of the product at hand.
“Macau is the latest stakeholder in China’s tourism industry to lean into the strategy with Wen Qihua, the tourism office’s director, making an appearance alongside Viya in a livestream that reached 15 million viewers. The show was a success. In the course of an hour, Viya sold $13 million in exclusive travel packages and hotel reservations.
“China’s livestreaming e-commerce trend continues to grow. Last year, more than 60 percent of the country’s internet users watched livestreams with the market expected to be worth $300 billion by the end of 2021.”