Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou are the top three influential tourism cities online, according to a newly-released digital assets list.
The list was released during a Chinese Tourism Destinations and National Image forum at Tsinghua University. Besides the top three, Sanya of Hainan province, Tai'an of Shandong province and Huangshan of Anhui province also ranked among the top 10 tourism cities.
Those tourism cities were valued on three indexes, namely active and useful tourism information that tourists could access from the Internet, the frequency in which tourists clicked on that information, as well as the total number of reviews from tourists and the percentage of positive feedback on the Internet. It covers the process from getting to know tourism destinations, to making their travel decisions and sharing their experiences.
Besides the list of tourism cities, the forum also released other lists, including the top 10 scenic spots, along with the top 10 overseas countries and regions in terms of digital influence.
Like any other industry, the Internet and mobile Internet is reshaping the tourism industry and changing the way tourists choose tourism destinations.
Liu Qi, general manager of Sina Weibo's life and tourism department, said public reviews were playing an important role in tourists' decision making. Sina Weibo is a Twitter-like social networking platform on the Chinese mainland.
"We found that the tourism destinations that have the largest scale of discussion on Sina Weibo also attract the largest group of tourists in real life," Liu said. "For an example, in 2015, seven of the top 10 overseas destinations we picked up based on sharing on Sina Weibo were also on the top 10 overseas destinations released by China National Tourism Administration."
Liu said an increase in the sharing of travel experiences on the Internet would trigger more visitors to destinations.
"However, bad news also travel very fast on the Internet," Liu added. "Disney of Shanghai has occupied the topic list since 2015. And we also noticed that the shrimp scandal of Qinghai, Shandong province has undermined the city's years of promotion as a good tourism destination."
Su Tong, CEO of Hylink Advertising, said more than 80 percent of tourists' travel decisions were directly influenced by their families, friends and colleges.
"Traditional promotions such as adverting on television are not as helpful as before," Su said. "It is impossible for tourism destinations to wait until travelers find you. You need to provide more valued information for them to share.
"In the age of mobile Internet, we should focus on the travelers and their sharing on the social networking sites. Promotion of tourism destinations should not only promote the place, you should promote the experience."