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Cheers! International beer festivals attract multitudes to beat the summer heat

Updated : 2023-08-08

By ( Xinhua )

Tourists propose a toast at the Harbin International Beer Festival in July. CHINA DAILY
Despite blistering heat waves, China's tourism market is taking off in the first summer since the country lifted COVID-19 control measures. And beer festivals in a number of Chinese cities are attracting huge crowds.
With travel restrictions lifted, many more people are traveling this summer and visiting beer festivals in cities like Qingdao, Dalian and Harbin.
As the world's second-largest economy recovers from the pandemic, these beer events are adding momentum to China's busy summer travel market as well as consumer spending.
In the summer, tourists traditionally escape the heat and flock to coastal cities like Qingdao and Dalian, and to cities like Harbin in the country's northeast. Local beer festivals are now adding appeal to these popular destinations.
The Harbin International Beer Festival opened on July 20 in the capital of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. It offers more than 500 varieties of beer from more than 30 brands. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances and themed parades.
On July 14, the Qingdao International Beer Festival kicked off in the coastal city of Qingdao in East China's Shandong province, showcasing more than 2,000 varieties of beer from over 40 countries and regions — a record number.
Inaugurated in 1991, Qingdao's beer festival has grown into the largest and most influential beer event in China. It is now one of the four major beer festivals in the world.
It has also become a carnival of sorts for tourists from domestic and international locations. The event features over 300 activities, including live music performances, art shows, sports events, beer-drinking competitions and beer culture fashion shows.
The festival will run for 24 days in the home city of the renowned Tsingtao Brewery and is expected to attract more than 5 million visitors this year, triple that of 2022.
"Beer is a universal language and festivals are human rituals of empathy. The combination of these two things is the most important factor in the success of the Qingdao International Beer Festival," said Lin Xingyu, one of the festival's senior consultants.
Micheal Bhatti, an international student from Australia, was in the crowd at the Qingdao beer festival, studying the drinks menu at the entrance to a beer tent.
"This is my first time at the beer festival. I like to taste different kinds of beers and the activities they arrange," Bhatti said. Qingdao is an open and inclusive city, he observed, and locals are friendly.
The beer festivals are giving a boost to consumption — a major driver of China's economy — as tourists spend lavishly during summer vacations.
During a seafood and beer festival in Qingdao, a vendor surnamed Ye is selling fresh seafood, including clams, sea snails, oysters and tongue fish.
"At around 3 am every day, the fishing vessels bring back the freshest seafood at affordable prices. My business is not only about making money, but promoting our seafood to more people," Ye said.
Wang Chong is busy entertaining guests in his store on Dengzhou Road, a beer street in Qingdao. He operates three specialty product stores, selling beer ice cream, beer fruit tea and beer bread.
"Since June, our three stores have received an average of more than 1,500 customers per day. Beer has become a part of daily life," Wang said. "To my surprise, our goods attract many foreign visitors. They know a lot about Tsingtao beer and are willing to try its products."
China's economy is seeing a robust recovery this year with consumer consumption regaining momentum.
In the first half of 2023, China's GDP expanded 5.5 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, retail sales of consumer goods grew 8.2 percent; 8.9 percentage points higher than a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Consumption in the catering and tourism sectors has surpassed pre-pandemic levels and consumers' contribution to economic growth reached 77.2 percent for the first six months of the year, said Jin Xiandong, an official of the National Development and Reform Commission.
Many types of consumption activities, including shopping festivals, fairs and sales promotion activities, are being held concurrently with beer festivals, said Wang Zhongwu, a professor at Shandong University.
"They can give a strong boost to summer tourism and the nighttime economy, and help to accelerate the country's post-pandemic economic recovery," Wang said.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said that popular tourist destinations, new and old, are doing everything possible to attract tourists with products integrated with culture.
"Holiday consumption continues to be refreshed, fitting the trend of Chinese residents' consumption upgrade," said Wang Yun, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research. "Further efforts should be made on the supply side to provide more high-quality goods and services, promoting the continued recovery and expansion of consumption."

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