Yang Changqing has been up and down The Yellow Mountain dozens of times in the past week. Once, he climbed to the top of the 1,864m mountain and began singing for the camera. Another time, he was in the middle of a pedestrian bridge, doing popular calisthenics to attract an online audience. But most of the time, the 37-year-old tour guide poses in front of empty shops and attractions, moving his camera lens for those who experience the view on their phones.
Huangshan is always a popular tourist destination during the May Day holiday. Even in early 2020, when the epidemic first broke out, the park authorities had to close the scenic area after tourists jammed the mountain paths. In 2021, as the epidemic appeared to recede in China, tourism figures returned to pre-pandemic levels of 93%. But this year is different. Travel during the May Day holiday has been severely affected as China battles the latest outbreak of the virus. Tour guides have had to adapt. Some change careers and others learn new ways of working, such as "surfing" their itineraries. This week, Yang saw only about 50 tourists a day at the Huangshan scenic area. But he has more than 400,000 followers on Douyin.
Fearing the epidemic, the local tourism association started training courses in 2020 to help tour guides switch to other industries, including hotel management and webcasting. Yang, who was working at a local mask factory to make a living, thought he should try livestreaming. But he soon found that livestreaming in the scenic area was far more tiring than leading a tour group. "When leading a tour group, you just go through the scenic area strictly according to the plan. But during a live broadcast, the audience asks you to stay where you are until they are satisfied with what they see. To capture the sunrise, he had to start climbing the mountain at 3 am, sometimes waiting for hours for the "sea of clouds", and sometimes spending the night on the mountain.
But many guides have no choice. Xiao Xiao is a tour guide at Lushan National Park, which has been closed since March due to the outbreak. "There are no tourists, so I can only broadcast live from the scenic spot," she said. Local governments have noticed the trend and are offering support, such as providing live training sessions and connecting tour guides with jobs in other industries.
Many places are finding new ways to promote cloud tourism. During the quarantine lockdown in March, the southern technology hub of Shenzhen launched an online channel to let people enjoy the famous Wutong Mountain cotton azalea flower fair. The popular Xishuangbanna Water-splashing Festival also hosts an online event, with local tour guides celebrating the event via livestreams.
(Source: Global Times)