Digitalization breathes new life into China's cultural, tourism industries

(Xinhua) 13:02, November 14, 2023

XI'AN, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- A captivating 14-second jump-cut video showing an actress seamlessly changing into various roles from traditional Chinese opera has rapidly gained online attention.

With over a million views and tens of thousands of likes, this video has introduced netizens to the rare national intangible cultural heritage known as Han Diao Guangguang. This localised style of Qinqiang Opera from Shaanxi Province, northwest China, can be traced to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The distinctive genre, prevalent in the city of Hanzhong, was officially included in the national intangible cultural heritage protection list in 2006.

Li Yazhi, from the Han Diao Guang Guang Inheritance and Development Center in Hanzhong, is the creator behind the recent viral success. She was first inspired to make short videos to promote the traditional opera in 2022, and has already amassed over 14,000 followers on Douyin, the popular short-video platform.

"The ancient opera has found a young audience online," Li said. While initially drawn by the performative spectacle of opera, she said her fans quickly began to ask for more insight and knowledge about the practice itself.

The era of short video platforms offers huge potential for practitioners and inheritors of intangible cultural heritage. A report issued by Douyin earlier this year reveals that there were an average of 19,000 intangible cultural heritage live broadcasts every day on Douyin as of May 2023.

Digital technology can help overcome spatial limitations while creating new modes and ways for communication, experiences, and cultural protection and inheritance in the cultural and tourism industries, said Li Biao, deputy dean of the School of Journalism and Communication, Renmin University of China.

China has introduced a series of policies aimed at fostering and regulating the development of emerging digital business models in the cultural and tourism sector, igniting digital exploration across the industry.

In October, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism selected 10 demonstration cases that were spearheading digital innovation in culture and tourism. Among them is the Luoyang virtual reality (VR) project, a VR immersive theater that transports visitors to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for a virtual trip around the city.

"The VR experience combines traditional Chinese culture, location-based performance, and VR panoramic interaction," said An Tonglei, general manager of Xi'an Lightop Animation Technology Co., Ltd., one of the producers behind the theater project.

With annual output value surging to an impressive 10 million yuan (about 1.4 million U.S. dollars) from 1 million yuan in five years, the animation production company is the epitome of the rapid growth associated with the digital cultural and tourism industries.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals that in the first three quarters of 2023, cultural enterprises generated a total operating income of 9.16 trillion yuan, a 7.7 percent increase compared to the same period the previous year.

Delving deeper, 16 sub-industries specializing in innovative new cultural business models contributed an operating income of 3.69 trillion yuan, posting a compelling 15.2 percent year-on-year growth rate.

"Digital technology has not only brought new ways of expression to traditional culture, but also nurtured a new track of economic growth," An said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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