FUZHOU (China) • Opening an oil-paper umbrella to wander around the rainy ancient alleys and listening to traditional Chinese opera on the stage of a waterside pavilion, a nostalgic visit to the renowned southern Chinese city of Fuzhou has been broadcast live to more than 100,000 viewers who are trapped at home amid the corona-virus outbreak.

Most scenic spots across the country have closed their doors to reduce the gathering of crowds while eager tourists at home turn to online tours to catch a glimpse of the early spring.

Livestreaming platforms and travel agencies have teamed up with interested tourist sites to make online sightseeing more accessible.

And celebrities from popular social-media platforms are invited to spice up online guided tours.

“Compared with offline visits, the touring route for livestreaming requires more detailed planning,” said Chen Yingying, a docent in a scenic spot in Fuzhou.

“Stories must be told in a limited period and highlight the history of the architecture, folklore, food and culture, and real-time interaction with the audience is also necessary.”

As Chinese video applications such as Kuaishou.com launched livestreaming tours, more scenic spots started to warm up to the idea in an attempt to get a slice of the potentially lucrative market.

Since Feb 24, a live programme series created by China’s largest online travel agency Trip.com Group and Kuaishou.com has attracted nearly 10 million views with 15 episodes, including visits to Hangzhou, Xi’an, Macau and Fuzhou, as well as Malaysia and Canada.

Li Rui, host of the show, said he expects the journey to be both interesting and informative to audiences.

It is a smart way for the tourism industry to respond to the latest livestreaming craze, said Jin Meng, who is with the marketing department of Trip.com Group. The lack of tourists during the coronavirus outbreak also allows the online tours to showcase scenic spots at their best, thus attracting more viewers, Jin said.

The idea has also sparked rising interest in history and culture. Museums, galleries and historic sites have staged exhibitions of their rare treasures and attracted millions of viewers. Some of the restricted areas of the Potala Palace in Tibet were broadcast live for the first time.

In the long run, watching livestreamed tours is likely to become a habit for travellers, Jin said, adding that people can book the tours featured in the livestream.

XINHUA