CBN Friday Special丨Citywalk: Discovering the unexplored in cities may lead to unexpected gains

2023年10月13日 20:36   21世紀經濟報道 21財經APP   李瑩亮

In the past week, the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day once again converged to form an eight-day "Super Golden Week" holiday. 

This is not only a long holiday for family gathering plans, but also an excellent opportunity for people to make plans for sightseeing tours. 

A total of 826 million domestic passenger trips were made in China during the eight-day holidays, generating 753.43 billion yuan ($104.68 billion), up 130% year-on-year, official data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

Behind this phenomenon is a trend of people caring more about tourism qualities. The eight-day holidays have made "in-depth" tours the top choice for many tourists. Among them, a new niche market is gaining traction, especially with younger people. It’s the so-called “Citywalk”.

With both domestic and foreign travel at record highs during this extended holidays, some seeking a more relaxing time are opting to roam around a city browsing shops, taking photos, and doing whatever they wish to, according to a set route or without one.

In contrast to conventional travel methods popular among Chinese travelers, which typically sees them “checking-in” at notable tourist hotspots, the “Citywalk” has as its goal the immersion into a local culture and lifestyle rather than hitting certain “must-see” spots.

Data from Tongcheng Travel shows that travel searches related to "Citywalk" increased by 108% in July from the previous month. Walking routes in popular destinations such as Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Suzhou and Changsha have attracted great interest from young travelers.

What’s Citywalk?

Gather together a couple of good friends and take a leisurely stroll through the streets — this is what many youngsters in China enjoy doing when they visit a new city.

To them, Citywalk means "roaming around the city" on foot. Walkers get away from internet famous hotspots and commercial hubs, instead they follow a distinctive urban route, soaking up the atmosphere, exploring old buildings, browsing boutique shops, sipping a cup of coffee, or indulging in authentic local snacks.

Hashtags and keywords for Citywalk are trending across multiple Chinese social media platforms, as more and more people look to share their experiences and thoughts online.

On Gen Z trend bible Xiaohongshu, blogs and hashtags “Citywalk” have 2 million and 4.5 million views respectively. An official page dedicated to the trend called “Strolling the Street to Eat Delicious Food” can also be found when searching for Citywalk on the platform.

Even though Citywalk is relatively niche and new, many see a huge potential in it, as tourists nowadays are paying more attention to personalized travel services. Many tour guides also try to expand their influence online, sharing their experiences in a bid to attract potential customers.

The "China Travel Consumption Trends Insight White Paper (2023 Edition)," jointly released by Tencent Marketing Insight and Tongcheng Research Institute, states that "travel trends are transitioning towards relaxation, freedom, unknown surprises, and immersiveness." 

New gateway to city cultural rebranding

According to DTCaijing, a data research media based in Shanghai, culture, scenery, food and urban life are among the most attractive aims for city walkers.

Exploring the history and culture of a city is one way for walkers to deepen their understanding of an urban surrounding. Personal experience is more direct and leaves a deeper impression than watching videos or reading books. 

Beijing, a city that blends tradition and modernity, has become one of the hottest destinations for city walk enthusiasts. Exploring the historic hutongs allows walkers to immerse themselves in the charm of the city's history while experiencing the bustling life of its inhabitants. Meanwhile, it also offers a plethora of gastronomic delights, creative boutique shops and fashionable destinations. 

If you enjoy the scenery of the romantic and poetic atmosphere of the West Lake in Hangzhou, while watching athletes score medals at the Asian Games, then scrolling around Hangzhou will sure get you up and going. 

Boosted by the doubling effects of the sports event and extended holidays, Hangzhou’s tourism orders during the Asian Games witnessed a staggering increase of 280% compared to the previous year. This has propelled Hangzhou to the position of one of the top three popular destinations for National Day holiday tourists.

Potential of Citywalk still in question

Citywalkers inadvertently opened up new consumption scenes, as many walkers prefer routes that link local specialties, beverage shops, cultural and creative stores, bookstores and more, capturing the attention of shopkeepers, travel agencies, and others who have introduced small-scale tourism products. 

Some scholars believe the renewed interest in urban environments is largely due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which forced city dwellers to notice what is happening in the vicinity of their homes. 

Places that may have been only a few kilometers away from residents' homes were suddenly of interest after being ignored for a long time. In the post-pandemic era, areas where people live are being paid attention to again.

Although Citywalk represents an opportunity for tour guides and travel service providers to offer a more tailored and professional service, many participants maintain that they are only willing to pay two-digit prices, regarding costs exceeding a hundred yuan as disproportionate. 

Citywalk is still an emerging industry in China. 

For Citywalkers, the new trend is often regarded as social activities for exploring and disseminating urban culture, making new friends with similar interest and sharing feelings with fellow walkers. And it inevitably becomes pointless to have to pay big money for such a personal experience, thus making it harder to directly cash in on the new trend.

However, for local governments, Citywalk is likely an alternative way and opportunity to showcase the city’s charisma, excavate the uniqueness of local culture and history, and eventually promote the recovery of the consumption market. 

Experts propose continual innovation and responsiveness to the diverse demands of consumers to ensure that Citywalk drives the upgrade of consumption, by fine-tuning local tourism infrastructure, digging deeper in the quintessential beauty of urban landscape, rather than treating it just as a fleeting fad.

In fact, prior to the Golden Week holiday, major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an and Jinan have launched official “Citywalk” maps and routes offering tourism and consumption tips.

For instance, Shanghai has established Citywalk routes using public bus routes to help day-trippers reach more far-flung districts by public transport and continue on foot. Local officials in the southern city of Haikou had also held a “Citywalk” event along with folk and cultural activities.










不打卡網紅店,漫無目的地穿梭溜達,用腳步記錄和丈量 ,就像開一座城市的盲盒……









一方水土養一方citywalk。抖音上,上海#City walk、#武漢City walk、#北京City walk、#西安City walk、#長沙City walk等話題量上榜top5。
















Executive Editor: Sonia YU

Editor: LI Yanxia

Host: Stephanie LI

Writer: Stephanie LI 

Sound Editor: Stephanie LI

Graphic Designer: ZHENG Wenjing, LIAO Yuanni

Produced by 21st Century Business Herald Dept. of Overseas News.

Presented by SFC

編委:  于曉娜






21世紀經濟報道海外部 制作

南方財經全媒體集團  出品