Hangzhou Asian Games promotes long-run local tourism development

Editor's note: Liu Xiangyan is an associate researcher of the Institute of International Studies at China Tourism Academy. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The hosting of the 19th Asian Games, the largest multi-sport event in the region, will similarly inject new vitality into the tourism development of the host city Hangzhou. 

The timing of the Hangzhou Asian Games brings both opportunities and potential challenges for expanding the tourism market. The Asian Games coincided with China's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday. 

This offered an opportunity to draw additional tourists to Hangzhou, particularly sports enthusiasts and fans from both home and abroad. However, they must contend with crowded scenic spots and traffic, and higher hotel prices during the National Day holiday. 

Despite the perceived challenges, data showed that as of October 6, more than 13 million tourists visited the scenery spots in the city. Revenue from travel-related consumption in Hangzhou exceeded 19 billion yuan ($2.6 billion), with an increase of 64 percent on a yearly basis, data from Union Pay showed. The figure surpassed the pre-pandemic level in 2019. 

The Asian Games will also surely create long-term opportunities for Hangzhou. Firstly, it is enhancing Hangzhou's regional and international reputation, garnering more international attention through extensive media coverage of this mega event. Additionally, with a diverse range of participants, including athletes, coaches, officials, media representatives, as well as sports enthusiasts and fans from various countries, their positive experiences will contribute to Hangzhou's growing recognition as a prominent travel destination in Asia and around the world. 

Secondly, as the host of the Asian Games, Hangzhou is poised to offer a diverse range of high-quality cultural and tourism products, particularly souvenirs for visitors. In fact, Hangzhou has launched a wide array of Asian Games cultural and creative products, along with associated merchandise, by delving deeply into the essence of Liangzhu culture, West Lake culture, and the allure of the Song Dynasty. Moreover, this year's Asian Games marks the debut of esports competitions, featuring popular Chinese games such as "Honor of Kings", "Peacekeeper Elite", and "Three Kingdoms: The New War", which are immensely popular among the younger generation in China. In light of this, a series of esports-licensed merchandise has also been introduced for the first time. This not only enriches the souvenir options for both local residents and visitors, but also adds to the vibrancy of the event. In conjunction with the Asian Games' specific activities and the National Day celebrations, cultural and tourism consumption is expected to experience a significant boost this year. 

Lastly, the Asian Games has significantly contributed to the enhancement of Hangzhou's travel environment. Hangzhou has consistently been at the forefront of leveraging digital technologies to enhance accessibility and convenience for visitors, and it has continued this practice for the Asian Games. Throughout the preparations for the Asian Games, Hangzhou has gone to great lengths to introduce digital service platforms such as the "Asian Games Service Desk," "Hangzhou Asian Games Guide," and the "Smart Asian Games All-in-One". These platforms have made it effortless for visitors to access a comprehensive array of services, encompassing ticketing, transportation, event attendance, accommodation, dining, and other essential services. All these digital services will, to some extent, continue to benefit visitors even after the conclusion of the Games. Moreover, as the host city of the Asian Games, Hangzhou has meticulously planned city transportation, environmental initiatives, accommodation, and essential infrastructure that significantly benefit both residents and visitors alike. This comprehensive approach has also extended to the enhancement of various sports facilities. All these facilities will leave a legacy for Hangzhou, and tourists will continue to visit these venues long after the Games have concluded. 

At this moment, we cannot be certain that the Asian Games will directly lead to an expansion of the tourist market. However, China's cultural and tourism industry has been enhanced through the introduction of diverse travel options, the creation of new visiting venues and landmarks, and an overall increase in convenience and accessibility. Over time, the Asian Games will undoubtedly contribute to the growth of the tourism market as more visitors become acquainted with the host city Hangzhou.

Search Trends