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A luxury-focused version of this article originated on our sister site Jing Daily.

Shanghai hopes to bolster its strong position in the domestic tourism market after a resurgent performance in H2 2020. This week, local authorities announced plans to double the city’s tourism revenue over the next five years, with a clear focus on cultural tourism and digital events. 

The move, announced by Fang Shizhong, head of the local culture and tourism bureau at the inaugural Tourism Plus Shanghai 2021, outlined plans to build 20 so-called smart scenic areas and 600 smart hotels in 2021, as well as establish relationships with several top international tourism brands and flagship tourism events. 

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The Jing Travel Take: Shanghai’s tourism expansion plans speak to a broader push to build up domestic consumption and capitalize on the absence of international tourism destinations. From rolling back duty-free regulations in Hainan, to the flurry of discount dining and accommodation coupons released by local governments, to eye-catching deals on China’s online travel agencies, China’s whole tourism industry seems to be responding to the unique opportunity presented by the past year. 

The expo at which Fang made the announcement was indicative of domestic tourism hopes in 2021 with hundreds of attractions from across China advertising the virtues of their respective destinations to thousands of visitors who were comfortable and confident enough to gather inside. 

For Shanghai, specifically, boosting consumption appears to mean increasing the attractiveness of short-stay trips and staycations in the city. The push to rapidly develop smart hotels touches upon the increased consumer demand during the pandemic for accommodation that is hygienic, technology-enabled (often service-less), and affordable. Expect the attractiveness of home rentals to continue to grow in tandem.

Shanghai fared better than most tier-1 cities during 2020, receiving 236 million domestic visitors with revenues reaching $42.8 billion. And there’s certainly room for growth with the China Tourism Academy predicting that around of 4.1 billion trips will be taken this year, a 42 percent increase from 2020. Shanghai is blessed with a rich mixture of cultural history, world-class shopping, and fine dining; strong government support will only help it attract more domestic tourists. 

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