SOURCE: MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, 2022; PHOTO BY QIANTU
While the pandemic has prevented people from traveling afar, there’s a silver lining to that dark cloud: micro-tourism, or mini-vacations.
Micro-tourism refers to short-distance travel in which people drive two or three hours to a nearby destination and spend two or three days. Instead of requiring an elaborate plan and a lot of money, micro-tourism allows people to be more flexible and is less expensive.
According to China Daily, micro-tourism began catching on seven or eight years ago, but it has been increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic prevention and control measures making long and distant trips less convenient, more and more Chinese people choose to take short trips instead.
Mark Hou from Beijing is one of them. Before the pandemic, the 28-year-old preferred taking long trips abroad or leaving Beijing to see places of interests in other Chinese provinces. But the pandemic meant he had to adapt to a new travel style.
“Traveling a long distance means you should take public transportation. But that would be likely to increase the chances of infection,” Hou said. “To stay healthy, short-distance travel is the better choice.”
But that doesn’t mean Hou has lost fun during his short trips.
After a long and tiring week at work, Hou likes to invite three or four friends and drive to Beijing’s suburbs on weekends. Sometimes they will have a hot spring gathering. Other times, they just bring camping gear, a camera, some food and water, and wander around the mountains or parks.
“In the peach blossom season, we go to the mountains with many peach trees. Walking in the mountains, we not only get the fresh air and have exercise, but also enjoy the beauty of flowers,” Hou explained. “When we feel tired, we can pitch a tent to rest and have a picnic. That can ease tensions of daily life.”
To adapt to the new trend, many cities also create more opportunities for tourists. For example, in 2020, Shanghai launched a number of micro-tourism products for half-day and one-day tours, including exploring cultural heritage sites in the city, experiencing rural life and going hiking. Destinations around cities, parks, campsites and resorts are offering new, specialized facilities and services for RV camping, jubensha parties, barbecues and picnics.
“With these programs, young tourists no longer look to get ‘distance’, but are willing to find new ways to experience their cities,” Feng Rao, head of Mafengwo Tourism Research Center, told People’s Daily.
Travel doesn’t mean you need to go far away to find a resting place for your heart. That’s also the mission of the micro-tourism.