Tourists checking in
Photo Credit: VCG

Behind the Fame: What Makes a Viral Travel Destination?

How cities fight for tourists with social media marketing and enhanced hospitality, despite the strain visitors place on local infrastructure

This April, lured by tantalizing videos of malatang online, Lin Yi finally yielded to temptation and embarked on an exhilarating two-day trip to Tianshui, Gansu province.

Half an hour’s ride later from their hometown in nearby Shaanxi province, Lin and her friends emerged from the high-speed rail station, where they were warmly greeted by volunteers who directed them toward the special Tianshui malatang lines, from which they could head straight to the crowded eateries selling the city’s viral “spicy hot pot” dish. “Everyone here is friendly and willing to help if you ask for directions,” says the 23-year-old college graduate. “There were performances in the square near Tianqiao from morning to night. I also saw people cleaning the railings on the bridge,” adds Lin, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym for this piece.

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author Yang Tingting (杨婷婷)

Yang Tingting is a Chinese editor at The World of Chinese. Interested in telling Chinese stories, she writes mainly about culture, language, and society.

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