Zibo looks to capitalize on windfall from BBQ craze

2024-01-24 09:50:42China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Visitors check out new energy vehicles during an event in Zibo, Shandong province, in August. (Photo/China Daily)

The barbecue craze in Zibo last year has had a lasting impact on the city, with governments at various levels seeking to utilize the fame to boost consumption, said deputies at the ongoing session of the 14th Shandong People's Congress.

Tourist destinations in Shandong, such as Zibo and Weihai, gained nationwide recognition last year, leading to a 60 percent surge in both tourist numbers and revenue for the province, Zhou Naixiang, governor of Shandong, said while delivering the government work report to the congress on Monday.

Zibo, an old industrial city that barely featured on most people's list of must-visit places, attracted a huge influx of visitors-particularly young people-from around the country over a three-month period last year thanks to its barbecue craze.

Driven by the tourism boom, the city's retail sales of consumer goods experienced a year-on-year increase of 9.6 percent, with accommodation revenue growing by 28.1 percent and catering revenue increasing by 25.8 percent, the city government said.

"We have been considering how to effectively harness the impact of Zibo barbecue to further the city's development," said Su Zhenhua, a deputy and the head of the Zhangdian district government in Zibo.

"As the central urban area of Zibo, we are diversifying our business landscape, particularly by introducing trendy products and brands that appeal to young people, and organizing festival events to stimulate consumption," said Su.

Zibo aims to develop as a nighttime cultural and tourism consumption hub this year, with plans to host events such as music and barbecue festivals.

Inspired by Zibo barbecue and the booming popularity of Harbin's ice and snow tourism, Liu Guishu, a deputy and the Party secretary of San'anzi village in Weifang, a city neighboring Zibo, said he plans to leverage social media to promote the village's culture and tourism.

"We will establish a distribution center to bring together local specialty products, and use methods such as short videos and livestreaming to promote our products," said Liu.

Tourism focused on experience and local specialties is on the rise, said Gao Honglei, a member of the 13th Shandong Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

"Local residents' hospitality acts as a catalyst for the growing popularity of tourist destinations," Gao added.

"Shandong is a province rich in culture and tourism. By integrating the development of culture and tourism, more cities in Shandong will achieve similar success."

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