China is launching major celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party which will officially take place on July 1. The celebration will mostly target domestic travellers, as the country remains firmly closed to the rest of the world.

Created in Shanghai on July 1st, 1921, nobody could then imagine that this small gathering of revolution-minded Chinese citizens would turn into the driving force of a country which is now among the third most powerful in the world.

Such an achievement provides an opportunity for celebrations and also to congratulate China’s government and Communist Party officials. As Chinese travellers are not allowed to go abroad, the anniversary appears as a perfect momentum to boost domestic tourism.

“Red Tourism”, which was launched two decades ago to promote historical attractions and places linked to the fate of the Communist Party and its leaders are going from strength to strength. Earlier this year, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism handpicked 100 of the country’s top tour guides working in designated “red sites” to receive further training. And turn into the new representatives of the “red spirit”. Hundreds of new sites have been recently added in the list of red tourism destinations.

In an interview with CNN, Mimi Li, associate professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and an expert on Chinese tourism policy indicated that “in 2020, the number of red tourists exceeded 100 million and contributed to 11% of domestic travel.” 2021 will see further growth as tour operators, cities and regions push for new red activities.

Historic secondary destinations tourism boom

Travel online booking company CTrip expects to generate 50 million “red travellers” through its platform thanks to the promotion of 100 bespoke routes for “red pilgrims”. Although propaganda is never far away, it also helps to foster sustainable tourism as many of these historic sites are considered second- or even third-tier destinations.

As the birthplace to China’s Communist Party, the city of Shanghai is particularly active in the promotion of the anniversary. Visitors are being invited to learn about Shanghai’s revolutionary past and talk to city residents about the history of the party.

Shanghai officially counts a total of 612 historic sites related to the revolutionary campaigns between 1919 and 1949. Tours and routes have been designed not only for locals but also for expats and overseas reporters to visit historic sites. They include, for example, the Memorial of the First National Congress of the CPC, according to Zhou Huilin, head of the publicity department of the CPC Shanghai Committee.

Shanghai also introduced A “red” city double-decker bus which provides hop-on-hop-off sightseeing stops linked to major revolutionary sites in town.

The route includes five stops – the sites of the first, second and fourth national congresses of the CPC, the May 30th Movement Monument and Nanjing Road E. The 20-kilometre trip takes 90 minutes and costs 20 yuan for adults. The bus runs each hour between 8:30am and 4pm on Tuesdays through Sundays during trial operations.

Currently, only the Memorial of the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China is open to the public. However, normal operations will begin when the sites of the first, second and fourth national congresses of the Communist Party of China open to the public, and buses will run every 30 minutes.

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