China: Covid-19 and Tourism – Live streaming as a tool to develop engagement

ECMO Eu China Market Relations Observatory, cooperating with our firm in scientific partnership with Asian Studies Group, is  recently providing a serie of papers about Tourism Industry in China.

In particular, after the previous analysis concerning a macro perspective on the topic, the current and next tributes will mostly be focused on measures adopted by commercial operators on facing with pandemic phenomena.

The breakout of the Covid-19 has certainly influenced the development of some market sectors that for some years have witnessed a significant growth spike. The tourism industry, due to the limitation of the number of public transportations, is a clear example of this global crisis. This brief article is composed of two initial parts with the aim to analyse two scientific essays through a partial translation, while it ends with a section in which will be proposed one of the strategies to overcome this momentary crisis.

1. The influence of Covid-19 on the Chinese tourism industry.

The dramatic drop of the percentage of the tourism industry revenue is a symbol of the serious impact of Covid-19 in the global economy. In fact, the “Oxford Economics Papers” shows that it had a -5% drop in February 2020 and reached a peak of -86% in April 2020. It is also shown that by the end of the year the trend will return to a value of -35%. (note 1)

articolo 1.1

However, the explosion of Covid-19 caused a gradual restriction of the major means of transport used for both national and international tourist travel. It is estimated that the number of train journeys and the number of flights on 31.01.2020, compared to the same period of the previous year, decreased by 81.9% and 74.5% respectively, symbol of the beginning of an unprecedented period of crisis for the national and international travel agencies. This phenomenon has, however, led many experts of the sector to wonder about the future of their activities, whose lives are put at risk due to the general blockade of all the transport services that in the recent past has allowed the movement of Chinese tourists around the nation and the globe. (note 2)

Despite the global crisis in the tourism sector, Chinese companies have developed alternative strategies to deal with the drop-in flow, ensuring a growth perspective closely linked to the engagement created with consumers. In this way, the growth of these companies soon no longer seems a mirage but a real phenomenon and will exceed the current forecasts. Developing creative products and itineraries as well as optimizing the quality of customer service are just two examples of how the major T.Os are preparing for the end of this global lock down. (note 3)

2. Innovative strategies in the tourism industry. “Travel over the clouds: A virtual experience even after Covid-19”. (note 4)

Podcasts, VR, vlogs and live streaming are just some of the forms of social aggregation most used during this home period, giving users the opportunity to live an audiovisual experience which is gradually gaining a good feedback from the audience interested in the topic. Weibo is an example of one of the most used social media platforms with over ten billion monthly page views and with 80% of users under the age of 35. (note 5)

articolo 1.2

云游 Yúnyóu “Travel over the clouds” is, in fact, a term that encompasses all the expressions andtypes of virtual travel activities where users can join for free. A strategy implemented by the major Chinese agencies to create engagement with the visitor of the platform and try to convert it into a customer. The live streaming activity carried out by the “Museum of the Forbidden City” is the symbol of how a tourist site can be more fascinating in a virtual way rather than in a real situation, full of people, in which you do not have the opportunity to notice the details and listen carefully to the stories of the most symbolic site of the nation. In fact, some users’ comments state: “太赞了”, 原来还有这么多故事, 长知识了” “Tài zànle”, yuánlái hái yǒu zhème duō gùshì, zhǎng zhīshìle” Awesome” “It turns out there are so many stories”, and eventually, “等疫情过去, 一定要再去一次!” “Děng yìqíng guòqù, yīdìng yào zài qù yīcì!” “When the epidemic is over, we must go again!”. (note6)

On 9.03.2020 the live streaming activity organized by the “Panda Research Center” in Chengdu recorded a peak of 600,000 viewers, attracted by the beauty of the Panda cubs. The live streaming organized on 16.03.2020 by the 武汉大学 “Wǔhàn daxué” “University of Wuhan” entitled “樱花 开了” “Yīnghuā kāile” “The cherry blossom” astonished the organizers for having reached 300,000 views within the first minute, as well as the live streaming “海鸥 吃 播” “Hǎi’ōu chī bō” “Live: the banquet of the seagulls” organized in Kunming on 16.02.2020 which reached a peak of 700,000 views. (note7)

3. Conclusions

These initiatives are possible in a society where most citizens have become mature netizens and where the development and efficiency of social media platforms such as Wechat mini programs, vlog platforms such as weibo, bili bili and little red book is now assured globally and can support such a large number of viewers without being destabilized during the live streaming. At the beginning the live streaming activities will not be a solution to monetize immediately but after having built a solid community and several noteworthy impressions, realities such as hotels, restaurants, private transportation companies and wineries will want to be part of the format as sponsor. Social media such as Sina Weibo are in fact very popular platforms to place your ad, which will be located in different social placement categories: Open Screen Ad, Feeds, Hot Search, Video or Floating.(note8)

articolo 1.3


articolo 1.4


T.O should also look at this new concept, where you can also invite partners to promote your long working relationship and make people trust in you and your team for the next experience abroad, turning the engagement into conversion. That is the reason why it should be one of the most stimulating opportunity to follow the social trend of digital content creation, where the key is to build a solid trust with the Chinese traveler, who no longer looks for places where to buy luxury goods, but wants to live creative travel experiences, led by a company which no longer represents the mere intermediary from which to buy a tourist package, but a real platform to rely on. The T.O, therefore, needs to become an influencer in the tourism sector, only then it will be able to meet the needs of the post Covid-19 tourist.


Giorgio Centineo

ECMO – Division Research and Services – Digital Tools in China

For further inquiries

1-Oxford Economic Paper,, (

2-ZHU Kai 祝铠, Xīnguān fèiyán yìqíng duì wǒguó lǚyóu yè fāzhǎn de yǐngxiǎng jí duìcè yánjiū 新冠肺炎疫情对我国 旅游业发展的影响及对策研究 (An Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on China’s Tourism and Its Countermeasures Húběi, Húběi wénlǐ xuéyuàn zīyuán huánjìng yǔ lǚyóu xuéyuàn, 24.04.2020., pag 1.

3ZHU Kai 祝铠, Xīnguān fèiyán yìqíng duì wǒguó lǚyóu yè fāzhǎn de yǐngxiǎng jí duìcè yánjiū 新冠肺炎疫情对我国 旅游业发展的影响及对策研究 (An Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on China’s Tourism and Its Countermeasures), op.cit., pag 3.

4CENG Shiyang 曾诗阳, “Yúnyóu”, bùjǐn shì “yì” shí zhī xū “云游”, 不仅是 “疫” 时之需 (Travel over the clouds: A virtual experience even after Covid-19), Beijin, Jīngjì rìbào, 26.04.2020, pag. 1.
5Weibostats,, (consultato il 01.05.2020).
6CENG Shiyang 曾诗阳, “Yúnyóu”, bùjǐn shì “yì” shí zhī xū “云游”, 不仅是 “疫” 时之需 (Travel over the clouds: A virtual experience even after Covid-19), pag 1.

7ZHAO You 赵优, Lǚyóu rén dāng qǐ zhǔbō zhíbò hǎinán yóu -“Yúnyóu” hǎinán bié yàng měi 旅游人当起主播直播海 南游 – “云游”海南别样美 (Turists discover Hainan through live streaming), Haikou, Hǎinán rìbào, no. A15, 19.03.2020.



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