Hangzhou is launching a world-wide tourism campaign starting tomorrow (Monday, February 20th). The centerpiece of the campaign is to be a television ad produced by the BBC which will air on BBC World. As part of the campaign there will also be PR pieces published by Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and National Geographic Traveler.
Hangzhou is only the third city in China to run ads on foreign television (after Beijing and Shanghai) and the Hangzhou Tourism Commission is apparently pushing to put Hangzhou in the same league. They figure that at the moment not many people in the West have really heard of Hangzhou and the idea of this campaign is to change that.
Hangzhou is a nice city. But I’ve always looked at it more as a place an expat might go for a weekend break from Shanghai. I don’t see it being a worthwhile inclusion on a first-trip itinerary for any tourist. Even as a second-tier tourist city, I could list a number of other destinations that I’d place before it. West Lake is lovely, it’s a relatively peaceful and pretty city, but there is nothing really special about Hangzhou. It’s an “if you have time” destination.
But others disagree with me: Hangzhou made the New York Times’ list of “41 Places to Go in 2011”. Would it be cynical to think it’s inclusion on that list might be somehow related to this advertising campaign? Anyway, maybe this advertising campaign will convince people: it’s costing them US$3 million after all. And while I think there are far more interesting places in China, I can’t imagine any tourist being disappointed in Hangzhou either.