In a bid to promote itself as a desirable tourist destination to travelers aroud the world, Chengdu says it has launched an online marketing campaign that utilizes foreign social-networking sites such as Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and Flickr.
The campaign is the brainchild of the Hong Kong-based Chengdu Tourism Operations Center, and the March 2011 launch of the Chengdu pages on these sites—three of which are blocked within China—apparently called for Chengdu officials to hold "a special ceremony" in celebration. Chengdu is reportedly the only mainland Chinese city to have launched such a campaign.
The pages highlight traditional Chengdu attractions: pandas, cartoon pandas, pandas at play, Sichuan opera, and more pandas. Indeed, reported China Daily, "Chengdu and Hong Kong tourism agency officials worked together on promoting Chengdu as the 'hometown of the typical Chinese panda'."
No links to the official Chengdu pages on the social-networking sites were provided.
In addition to this online promotional campaign, Xinhua Gallery Media Co. has rented airtime on one of New York's Times Square LCD screens. The 19.5 by 12.2-meter screen, at 2 Times Square, has been displaying Xinhua news broadcasts as well as advertising to promote China since August 1. According to the Tianfu Morning Post report, Chengdu and Shanghai are the only Chinese cities with their own advertisements on the billboard.
Xinhua rather ridiculously toots its own horn about the broadcasts here, offering quotes supposedly from a freelance cameraman who lists awfully specific statistics about Xinhua, despite the fact that he's never been to China, that praise Xinhua as a "global news agency," and its ad design as "very modern." Snort. (In contrast, Times Square passersby quoted by Reuters seemed much less enthusiastic and far more indifferent to the campaign.)
In related news, Chengdu came in second place in an online poll run by the State Council, the Culture Bureau, and the China Travel Service. Garnering over 5.7 million votes during the course of two months, the poll asked voters to choose the "city with the most Chinese culture." Chengdu received 148,505 votes, second only to Beijing. Xi'an, Nanjing, Lhasa, Dali, Guangzhou, Guilin, Pingyao, and Qingdao rounded out the top 10.
Finally, Chengdu promises to "upgrade its official tourism website in good time," according to the China Daily report. We remain skeptical, given the aforementioned site's current status.
Image from CRI English