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Packed Like Sardines – Hangzhou Sees Huge Wave of Tourism After G20

After the end of the G20, China’s hosting city of Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in popularity. Now that world leaders have left town, the tourists are streaming in – but not everyone is happy with the crowded scenes.

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After the end of the G20, China’s hosting city of Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in popularity. Now that world leaders have left town, the tourists are streaming in – but not everyone is happy with the crowded scenes.

On September 4 & 5, world leaders convened in the city of Hangzhou for the annual G20 summit. It marked China’s first time as host of the international forum. Some highlights of the summit included the adoption of the Hangzhou Consensus and plans for implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement.

Since its conclusion, the summit has generally been regarded a success, especially for China. Being the G20’s hosting country, the summit gave China an opportunity to open its doors and not only present its ideas and viewpoints to the world, but also show its cities and landscapes from their best side – especially the city of Hangzhou has seen a boom in tourism after the summit.

Marketing the City

Before and during the G20, China has made ample efforts to put a spotlight on Hangzhou, one of China’s seven ancient capitals and one of the country’s most important tourist cities. In various Hangzhou G20 promo campaigns, the city has presented itself as a place full of cultural heritage, folk arts, and scenic views.

Besides the various videos showcasing what Hangzhou has to offer, there was also the the G20 concert titled “Hangzhou, A Living Poem”, which featured a symphony concert and gala on water directed by Zhang Yimou, who also produced the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony. The hour-long performance was held on a stage at Hangzou’s famous West Lake, highlighting its stunning scenery.

Chinese netizens on Sina Weibo praised Zhang’s work. One netizen (@茶之风) said: “A moonlit night on the spring river, the Impression of West Lake is as good as the Beijing Olympic ceremony.”

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According to a poll by the South China Morning Post, 52% of participants deemed the West Lake is the most unmissable experience for G20 visitors to Hangzhou.

Hometown of Alibaba

Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, also further promoted the city in a 5-minute video that discusses the important role Hangzhou plays as a China’s tech and entrepreneurship hub. Jack Ma is a native of Hangzhou, where the Alibaba Headquarters are also based. Ma says in the video: “I feel so proud of this city. No matter where in the world I go I always miss it. Every 10 or 15 days I wanna be back.”

Hangzhou’s image as the hometown of Alibaba was further emphasized when the prime ministers of Canada and Italy also took some time to visit the headquarters.

Tourist Boom

Since the end of the G20 summit, Hangzhou has seen a sharp increase in tourism, especially during the weekend of 10/11 September directly following the end of the summit. Apart from all promo videos and Zhang’s concert, the various pictures of world leaders roaming around the city to visit scenic spots and eat local food allegedly also played an important role in the tourism boom.

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Argentine President Mauricio Macri, for example, was photographed biking around Hangzhou with his wife Juliana Awad. Brazilian president Michel Temer was spotted shopping around the city and buying leather shoes.

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The post-summit bustling Hangzhou forms a stark contrast to the pre-G20 urban scenery; the city was then even described as a “ghost town” as factories were shut down and one third of the city’s population was ‘convinced’ to leave town in preparation of the summit.

The Downside of Popularity

Currently, Hangzhou is anything but a “ghost town”. According to one travel agency in China, the number of tickets booked to Hangzhou have now increased dramatically – twice as many as those sold last year around the same time. The trend is expected to continue as Chinese national holidays come up later in September and October.

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Although the tourism boom is a post-summit “bonus” for the city of Hangzhou, there are also some worries about the stream of visitors. Some netizens expose the mess they leave around town; noodle cups, pet bottles, and paper cups are left behind all around the city’s scenic spots by negligent visitors.

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One sanitation worker told local media that as much as 14 ton of garbage was collected in the city within one day recently – about five time more than previous periods.

There are also reports of people using local parks as public toilets.

Some spots were reportedly so crowded that people felt unwell and needed medical assistance.

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Not just the locals, but also the tourists are suffering from Hangzhou’s current “tourist problem”. Many netizens complain that they could hardly get through and that several places in Hangzhou were just so overcrowded with tour groups that it was no use going there.

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Some netizens even wonder if Hangzhou will ever be the same: “The city of Hangzhou has changed the G20, but has the G20 now also changed the city of Hangzhou?”

It will undoubtedly still take some time before Hangzhou will regain some of its pre-G20 tranquility. Until that time, some netizens advise people not to visit the city, that is simply “packed like sardines”.

By Yanling Xu and Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Yanling Xu is a freelance writer and recent college graduate. Originally from Xiamen, China, she studied in the U.S. and received her Bachelor degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies from Grinnell College. Yanling currently resides in Chicago.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. World Population

    February 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    http://live-counter.com/world-population/
    …..Rather, 4.3 people are born on average in every second while 1.8 die in the same time. In a whole, this implies an increase in the global population of 2.5 people per second (4.3 born people minus 1.8 dead people equals 2.5)…

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China Marketing & Advertising

Secret Tests Expose That Beijing’s Five-Star Luxury Hotels Do Not Change Bed Sheets

Secret tests run by a review organization have exposed how Beijing’s top-notch hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean their toilet seats. The report has caused a great commotion on Chinese social media, where it has become the talk of the day.

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Secret tests run by a review organization have exposed how Beijing’s top-notch hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean their toilet seats. The report has caused great commotion on Chinese social media, where it has become the talk of the day.

An online report by an assessment organization has exposed how some of Beijing’s 5-star luxury hotels do not change their bed sheets or clean the toilet seats after guests check out. The tests concern the renowned hotel chains Hilton, the W, Intercontinental, Marriot, and Shangri-La.

The tests were done by a company named ‘Better Choice, Better Life’ (literally ‘Blueberry Testing’ 蓝莓评测), which has over 60,500 followers on their Weibo account.

In a video released online on September 4, the research team says:

“As a review organization, we’ve found some unexpected results in a test which triggers a horrible assumption. We’ve seen messes of different industries in our tests. However, none of them have shocked us like this. The test result may lead to serious debate. But everyone deserves the truth, which is why we decided to release it.”

The video shows how members of the team check into several top hotels and mark their room’s sheets, quilt covers, toilets, and bathtubs with fluorescence stamps that can only be detected through a UV torch. These stamps will be removed when their surface is washed or gently wiped.

After messing up the room a bit, they then check out the next day and let other team members book exactly the same room after them to see if the bed linens and other room items are properly cleaned after guests leave.

The team found that in most cases, the pillow case, bed sheets, and/or quilt covers still had the same stamps on them, meaning that their linens were not only unwashed, but also were not changed at all.

They also found their marks had not been wiped off the toilet covers and toilet seats – which were not even touched after the check-out of the previous guests. They also found that the drinking glasses in the bathroom were left untouched by the hotel cleaners.

The team concluded that Beijing’s Hilton, Sanlitun Intercontinental, and W Hotel did not change their bed sheets after previous guests had departed and new guests had arrived. The JW Marriott Beijing did change the bed sheets and quilt cover, but not the pillow cases. Shangri-La changed all the bed linen except for one pillow case.

None of the hotels were found to have cleaned the bathtubs, nor the toilets, and all of them greatly lacked in their hygiene and service quality.

The standard room prices for the hotels vary between approximately US$200 and US$400 per night; all are over 2000 RMB.

Under hashtags such as “5-Star Hotels Do Not Change Their Bed Sheets” (#五星酒店不换床单#), the report has become a big topic of debate on Chinese social media.

“Knowing they don’t even change the water glasses, are you still willing to stay at these ‘luxurious’ hotels?”, some netizens wondered.

“We should set up an independent network of hotel guests,” one commenter suggested: “And leave hidden marks for each other so the next guest can check whether or not the room is clean.”

Some people write that they are not surprised by the outcome of the tests, saying they often bring their own sheets or pillows to hotels for this reason.

In response to the controversy, the Beijing Tourism Association held an official meeting with the management of the concerning hotels on the morning of September 5.

In an announcement on Weibo, they stated that they asked the hotels for clarification about the controversy, and required them to face up to their company’s problems and to actively solve these issues and improve their quality of service.

The Beijing Tourism Association also stated that they would increase the supervision of these hotels, and would implement a strict inspection of their hygiene standards and service quality.

By Miranda Barnes & Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Marketing & Advertising

“It’s All Staged!” Cosplayer Viral Story Turns Out To Be Marketing Stunt

The story of a dressed-up ‘cosplay’ girl being scolded by an elderly woman on the Beijing subway went viral over the past week. It now turns out the scene was staged for marketing purposes. It’s not the first time a viral video turns out to be a publicity stunt.

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The story of a dressed-up ‘cosplay’ girl being scolded by an elderly woman on the Beijing subway went viral on Chinese social media over the past week. It now turns out the scene was staged for marketing purposes. This is not the first time a viral video turns out to be a publicity stunt.

It is often photos and videos of everyday scenes on public transport or on the streets that go viral on Chinese media. A pregnant woman making a fuss in the subway, a loud fight between two girls, or two men riding bumper cars on a traffic lane.

This week, a video of a young woman being scolded on the Beijing subway for wearing a cosplay outfit went viral on Chinese social media.

The video, allegedly secretly filmed by a bystander, was shared by Tencent News and other Chinese media platforms. It shows an older woman on Beijing’s Line 10 telling the girl off, saying it is people like her who are a bad influence to her grandchildren, that she is neglecting her duties, and wearing clothes that are too revealing.

The story attracted much attention on social media, where many netizens sided with the young woman and praised her for responding coolly although the woman was attacking her.

Now, the story has taken a sharp turn as it turns out that the whole scene was staged with the purpose of generating more attention for the ad behind the older lady, several sources write.

The company promoted in the ad is Womai.com, a
healthy food shopping website in China that delivers to one’s door. In the ad, the website promotes its ‘coolness’; it says it is not just ‘cool’ (or ‘cold’) because it allows shoppers to stay inside with the air conditioning on, but also because it makes ‘cold jokes’ (冷笑话 corny jokes) on its ad posters.

This is not the first time a viral story turns out to be staged. In 2015, photos of a ‘romantic proposal’ made its rounds on social media when a young man asked his pregnant girlfriend to marry him using over 50 packs of diapers in the shape of a giant heart. One bag of diapers carried a diamond ring inside. It was later said the scene was sponsored by Libero Diapers.

In 2016, a video showing a woman making a scene in a hospital after having to pay nearly $700 to see a doctor also went viral on Weibo. It prompted outrage on Chinese social media about malpractices in Chinese hospitals, where patients often get scammed by hospital scalpers.

Later, netizens discussed how the video probably was a marketing stunt for Yihu365, an online platform that offers its services in making hospital appointments.

Viral marketing stunts also often occur outside of China. In a smart campaign, Range Rover parked one of its cars outside of Harrods in the UK in 2016, spray painted with the words “Cheater” and “Hope she was worth it.” As photos of the car were immediately shared by people walking by on social media, the story became bigger and bigger, with even BBC reporting about it.

With dozens of everyday scenes going viral on Chinese social media every day, ‘fake virals’ have become a business opportunity for advertising companies. But because of China’s critical social media users, fake virals hardly ever last long. But by the time it goes viral, its marketing purpose has already been fulfilled.

By Manya Koetse

Thanks to Miranda Zhou Barnes.

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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