Cheers! International beer festivals attract large crowds to beat the summer heat
Despite extreme heatwaves, China’s tourism market is taking off in the first summer since the country lifted COVID-19 control measures. Beer festivals in a number of Chinese cities attract huge crowds.
As travel restrictions are lifted, more people are traveling this summer and visiting beer festivals in cities such as Qingdao, Dalian and Harbin.
As the world’s second-largest economy recovers from the pandemic, these beer events are adding momentum to China’s crowded summer travel market as well as consumer spending.
In the summer, tourists usually escape the heat and flock to coastal cities such as Qingdao and Dalian, and to cities such as Harbin in the northeast of the country. Local beer festivals now add appeal to these popular destinations.
The Harbin International Beer Festival opened on July 20 in the capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. It offers more than 500 beers from more than 30 brands. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances and themed parades.
On July 14, the Qingdao International Beer Festival kicked off in the coastal city of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province, showcasing more than 2,000 beers from more than 40 countries and regions – a record number.
Inaugurated in 1991, the Qingdao Beer Festival has grown into the largest and most influential beer event in China. It is now one of the four major beer festivals in the world.
It has also become a carnival of sorts for tourists from local and international locations. The event features more than 300 activities, including live music performances, art shows, sporting events, beer drinking contests and beer culture fashion shows.
The festival will last for 24 days in the famous brewery’s home city of Tsingtao, and is expected to attract more than 5 million visitors this year, tripling the number in 2022.
“Beer is a universal language and festivals are human rituals of compassion. Combining these two things is the most important factor in the success of the Qingdao International Beer Festival,” said Lin Xingyu, a senior advisor to the festival.
Michael Bhatti, an international student from Australia, was in the crowd at the Qingdao Beer Festival, studying the drink menu at the entrance to the beer tent.
“This is my first time at a beer festival. I love tasting different types of beer and the activities they organize,” Bhatti said. He noted that Qingdao is an open and inclusive city, and the local people are friendly.
Beer festivals give a boost to consumption – the main driver of the Chinese economy – as tourists spend lavishly during summer holidays.
During the Seafood and Beer Festival in Qingdao, a vendor named Yi sells fresh seafood, including oysters, sea snails, clams and tongue fish.
“At around 3 a.m. every day, fishing vessels bring back fresh seafood at affordable prices,” Yi said. “My work is not only about making money, but also about promoting our seafood to more people.”
Wang Zhong is busy entertaining guests at his shop on Dingzhou Road, a beer street in Qingdao. He runs three specialty produce stores, where he sells beer ice cream, beer fruit tea and beer bread.
“Since June, our three stores have received an average of more than 1,500 customers a day. Beer has become a part of daily life,” Wang said. “To my surprise, our goods attract many foreign visitors. They know a lot about Tsingtao beer and are willing to try its products.”
The Chinese economy is witnessing a strong recovery this year, with consumer consumption regaining momentum.
In the first half of 2023, China’s GDP expanded by 5.5 percent year on year. Meanwhile, retail sales of consumer goods rose 8.2 percent; An increase of 8.9 percentage points from last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Jin Xiandong, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said consumption in the restaurant and tourism sectors exceeded pre-epidemic levels and consumers’ contribution to economic growth reached 77.2 percent during the first six months of the year.
Wang Zhongwu, a professor at Shandong University, said that many types of consumer activities, including shopping festivals, exhibitions and sales promotion activities, are held in conjunction with beer festivals.
“It can give a strong boost to summer tourism and the night-time economy, and help accelerate the country’s economic recovery after the epidemic,” Wang said.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said that popular tourist destinations, both new and old, are doing everything they can to attract tourists with products integrated with culture.
“Holiday consumption continues to rebound, consistent with the trend of upgrading Chinese population consumption,” said Wang Yun, a researcher with the Academy of Macroeconomic Research. “More efforts should be made on the supply side to provide more high-quality goods and services, promote sustained recovery and expand consumption,” he added.
(Tags for translation)beer