China stimulates smart tourism by improving 5G signal coverage in scenic areas

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The construction of a 5G base station at Xixi’nan scenic area, east China’s Anhui province, is in full swing. The foundations of the telecommunications tower have already been finished and are now going through the 28-day curing period. After the concrete is fully cured, the cell tower will be erected.

Although the continuous rain and snow lately, the construction progress has remained unaffected, as the rainy and snowy days happened to overlap the curing period of the concrete foundations of the 5G base station, said Yu Falin, an executive with China Tower, constructor of the cell tower. The scenic area would be covered by 5G signals in about half a month, Yu added.

Poor network signal and slow Internet speed has been quite a headache for business owners and tourists at Xixi’nan scenic area in Huizhou district, Huangshan city, Anhui.

“Sometimes tourists can’t use QR code to pay due to poor network signal”, said Xu Ruoxia, who runs a cafe at the tourist attraction.

In response to the scenic area’s needs for faster Internet speed and better network signal, China Tower, Chinese telecom operators and the government of Xixi’nan township carried out close consultation and then kicked off the construction of the 5G base station last year.

Yu has fully involved himself in every link of the preparations for the project, from the siting to investigation, blueprint preparation to on-site lineation.

To achieve 5G coverage in key parts of the scenic area and at the same time minimize the environmental impact, Yu and his colleagues decided to build a bionic tree base station in the maple and poplar forest next to the parking lot of the scenic spot.

Last year, Xixi’nan scenic area received a total of 500,000 tourists, according to Wang Weizhi, member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committee of Xixi’nan township. After the 5G base station is completed, the township will develop smart tourism and establish a digital tour guide system for integrated tourism, Wang said.

With the digital tour guide system, tourists will be able to scan QR code with their mobile phones to access a hand-drawn map and travel routes of the scenic area, and various attractions, business forms, activities, etc. will be marked on the map, Wang said.

“When tourists come to the marked points, they will trigger audio tour guide and can check the introduction to and comments on the place,” Wang explained.

The official believes that 5G network can not only improve visitors’ experience, but ensure their accurate, fast, and direct access to information about the scenic area and create various application scenarios.

So far, Anhui has built over 50,000 5G base stations, and covered 16 prefecture-level cities and Mount Huangshan, Mount Jiuhua, and other major scenic spots in the province with 5G network.

This year, it launched a campaign aimed at building more than 25,000 5G base stations throughout the year to achieve full coverage of 5G networks in industrial parks above the provincial level.

With the application of new technologies, including the Internet, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), in the tourism sector, smart tourism with digital, networked and intelligent scenarios has become a new driving force for the high-quality development of the industry.

China will promote mass tourism and smart tourism, and promote the construction of smart tourism destinations, according to the country’s economic and social development blueprint, the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

Data from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) suggested that during the week-long Spring Festival holiday earlier this month, up to 60 percent of the tourists who visited tourist attractions across the country made reservations online beforehand; and the proportion stood at 40 percent to 50 percent in ordinary days.

China’s online tourism consumption has reached the one trillion yuan ($158 billion) level, according to the MCT.

While the tourism sector picks up speed in digital transformation and development, the integration of the Internet into tourism is becoming an important driving force for the transformation, upgrading and high-quality development of the industry, as well as the source of new scenarios of mass tourism and a new engine of smart tourism.

In China, the construction of smart scenic spots and smart rural tourism is gaining momentum as 5G, big data, cloud computing, AI, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other new-generation information technologies are being increasingly employed in the tourism sector.

An increasing number of tourists make reservations online before visiting tourist attractions. Meanwhile, various regions are actively exploring smart tourism-related public service platforms, providing tourists with diversified experiences and services by enabling them to better enjoy scenic areas with the help of mobile phones and by scanning QR codes.

Besides, many scenic spots and museums have developed online digital experience products to present tourism resources with the help of digital technologies. They have also cultivated new business forms such as virtual tour, online performance, live streaming show, and online exhibition, creating new scenarios of immersive travel experience.




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