Tapping New Trends to Restart Local Economies
China Today (English)|September 2020
AFTER China brought the COVID-19 epidemic under control, shops in many cities began to extend their business hours and set up outdoor shopping places; night markets have become busy again.
JIANG HAOFENG

During the process, the country is trying to tap various new trends to help the reopening of local economies safely and smoothly.

B&B on TikTok

“Hello everyone and welcome to Fenghuang Ancient City. I promise that girls will like the following scenic spot I am going to introduce,” Mr. Li, who was born in the 1980s and runs a B&B in Fenghuang, Hunan Province, said during a live broadcast on the video sharing platform TikTok. The video recorded before May 1 this year has already received more than 600 likes. More encouragingly, this video really brought business to his B&B. When a family of three learned that there was no epidemic in the ancient city, they drove by.

Initially, Li’s wife operated a B&B in Fenghuang by herself. Later, because she needed to take care of their daughter, Li returned to the ancient city to take care of the business. During the epidemic, Li was very worried. Every day when he opened his eyes, he thought about how another RMB 1,500 was gone, since the house is rented, and the transfer fee is RMB 400,000. The decorations of 12 rooms cost over RMB 1 million, and the labor costs are RMB 150,000 a year. The subsequent rent is RMB 150,000 per year. If the epidemic was not brought under control nationwide, even though there were no cases in the ancient city, it would be very difficult financially for the family since tourists from other parts of the country and beyond could not come. Fortunately, after the epidemic was brought under control across China, since March the number of customers has begun to slowly grow.

During the epidemic, Li continued to update his short videos on TikTok. He told various stories of the ancient town and took audiences on tours around the ancient city online. Other B&B owners in the city also did the same thing.

After seeing the video, a family of three drove to Fenghuang to spend the weekend, and contacted Li on WeChat. When they reached the ancient city, Li picked them up and scanned their health codes on their mobile phones. In the evening, Li’s family accompanied the guests to eat dinner in the courtyard. Later, Li received a call from another group of guests. Though the number of customers is not yet back to the level of last year, Li’s business is no longer in the red.

In June, local businesses began to flourish again. Compared with the fact that the accounts barely broke even when the business resumed in March, the shopkeepers finally ushered in a turnaround during early summer months.

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