Tourism took a widespread hit in the wake of the pandemic bringing about challenging times for businesses and people all over the world. At the same time, technological development and innovation took place befitting a more agile tourism market. These new shifts in tourism services and technology have not only changed the world but also the way we will travel in the future. In order to keep up with the current digital transformation of the tourism industry governments are rolling out initiatives to accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions and much-needed digital infrastructure.

As businesses and consumers are looking towards the future of travel, Asia provides an interesting look at what a digitally-integrated ecosystem for tourism and consumption may look like. China rose as an important innovator of technology in many areas and is one of the leading major economies in the region that was able to recover thanks to its rapid adoption of new technologies. Its consumers are more digitally-savvy than ever with the barrier between offline and online consumer experiences blurred. Automation and technology have helped its locals provide a plethora of convenient and accessible solutions for any imaginable service. In fact, China’s tourism industry saw a recovery in 2021 with domestic tourism revenue reaching about $478 billion, a 35% increase year on year. The China Tourism Academy (CTA) expects domestic tourism revenue to reach an estimated $598 billion in 2022. Furthermore, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has aligned with digitalization, as revealed in the 14th Five-year development plan, using new technologies and providing an enriched form of tourism through the internet-powered tourism industry.

With all this in mind, how can businesses prepare to fit into a more sustainable model? Here’s a look at some of the major technologies and trends that are shaping the future of tourism through the advancements we have noticed in China and the rest of the world.

Virtual Tourism

Tourism has gone online due to the restrictions of social distancing and concerns for health safety in crowded areas. Virtual tourism grew in popularity alongside live-streaming and digitally interactive technology such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). In China, online platforms such as Douyin (Chinese version of Tik-Tok) live-streamed a series of tours that featured influencers and celebrities. Arts and cultural institutions such as the Palace Museum in Beijing implemented a variety of digital formats to engage audiences. Their stream of an empty Forbidden City in the spring season brought over 11 million digital visitors. Beyond video, VR/AR tourism provides the basis for building up better travel planning and allows for richer experiences through 3D visualization, interactive content, and more.

Smart Technology & Automation

Many contactless technology solutions have become popular as health safety takes on a bigger priority with consumers and travelers all over the world. Contactless check-in, food serving robots, digital ordering stands, as well as unmanned shops are some of the emerging technologies changing the way we will consume in the future. Moreover, the digitalization of such processes provides better data for companies to build better-suited solutions that are all accessible within a few clicks on a mobile device. Hotels have developed apps that can act as digital door locks to lock or open doors from a mobile device without the need to touch the doorknobs. Other businesses have also adapted to the digital environment by using technology to send out real-time information for safer travel and emergency information. Apps become the concierge that helps travels with their needs.

Apps with such capabilities have been in use in China for many years now. Food delivery, hotel booking, getting loans, ticketing, and more are easily accessed in a single app. For example, WeChat and Meituan are some examples of such super apps that provide multiple services in various sectors. The only difference with the virus is that such innovations are being directly applied to its tourism industry. No need for physical visits to travel agents or the bank for services and a safe method that saves time. One of the most significant developments was the digital vaccine passports which simplified the tracking and management of infections at a country-wide scale.


Part of a travel experience usually involves the consumption of distinctly local goods and services. However, when there is no travel, consumers can only look towards products to have a taste of that experience. Cross-border e-commerce has seen rapid development in China since before the start of the virus outbreak. While a logistics slowdown remains a hurdle for cross-border e-commerce, this market for China has grown approximately 10 times over the past 5 years. In 2020 China’s cross-border e-commerce imports and exports reached about $260.9 billion, up 31.1% year on year. Data from 2021 proves that China was still going strong with cross-border e-commerce import and export increasing 20.1% year-on-year from January to September. (Link to article on cross border e-commerce below)

Unlock New China during the COVID era

Entering the Chinese market takes time and extensive research as well as a deep understanding of consumer insights, trends, and local behaviors. Engaging in all these activities may be expensive and impossible for small to medium-sized businesses around the world. With the added constraints of COVID-19, finding an efficient and cost-effective solution is vital to unlocking the potential of the Chinese market. However, finding partners that can digest both the international and local Chinese perspectives can be hard and risky. 

Under the goal of connecting global cultures to the Chinese youth, Shake to Win has been facilitating China market access for SMEs, cultural organizations, as well as public institutions from all over the world, building commercial and emotional bridges between distinct nations and helping Chinese consumers to reach the most unique places, products, and people. We offer an extensive range of services including localization, social media, online marketing, offline campaigns, e-commerce, and more, leaving you to focus on your business without the need to learn Chinese from your local destination. For more information or business collaboration please contact,