Coronavirus has catalyzed a series of firsts across China’s cultural sector; a first virtual exhibition opening at Beijing’s National Museum, a first live stream tour of Lhasa’s Potala Palace, a first gathering of museums on short-video platform Douyin (China’s version of TikTok), and now a new set of comprehensive health and safety protocols for attractions. 

So thorough has the embrace of digital platforms by China’s cultural sector been and so enthusiastic the response of audiences that an essential question lingered as Chinese cultural attractions began to reopen. Namely, has the pandemic fundamentally changed the behaviors of Chinese consumers in respect to cultural activities? 

If cultural audiences and their expectations have changed, how should organizations plan culture and travel activities going forward? A recent report produced by Morning Consult, a global data intelligence company, shed some light on these questions. Below are three key lessons:

Health and safety remain the top concern for Chinese consumers 

Whether opening an exhibition at a museum or enticing travelers to book a beach vacation, health and safety is the main concern for Chinese consumers. According to the study, more than 80 percent of Chinese adults remain concerned about the outbreak. Clear communication and regularly updating health and safety measures for Chinese audiences is key. Destinations must understand that rebuilding consumer confidence requires patience, dedication, and innovation. 

Continue to innovate to meet consumer demands  

As consumers grow more comfortable spending on streaming platforms, organizations should consider creating innovative education products for children and adults — as well as products promoting healthy lifestyle, leisure, and relaxation. Even though lockdown measures have been lifted in much of China, people continue to spend more time at home and on digital platforms. Cultural destinations need to continue to find new ways to engage audiences virtually to meet this growing demand. Consider collaborating with influencers or local brands to establish a presence on streaming platforms, organizing virtual educational activities for families, or joining larger campaigns with other cultural destinations.

China-reliant destinations must diversify 

For cultural destinations that have grown heavily reliant on Chinese visitors in recent years, the outlook of Chinese outbound travel remains dim even once stay-at-home orders are lifted. Based on the study, only one in five Chinese consumers have expressed an interest in traveling outside of China in the coming months. While this might be unfortunate news to many, it remains a good opportunity for cultural destinations, tourism services, and agencies to reexamine their core audiences.