The tourism department of Tahe county in northeast China whipped up a blizzard on social media after the department head posed for a short video on Douyin (Chinese TikTok) promoting the region.
The video aimed at promoting the Oroqen ethnic group, one of China’s official 55 ethnic minorities, since 2023 is also the 70th anniversary of their settlement in the region. According to the China Statistical Yearbook 2021, the Oroqen group currently comprises 9168 people, 47% of whom are based in Heilongjiang province where Tahe county is located.
The Tahe country tourism department previously posted a video of a boy dressed in traditional Oroqen winter clothing during Harbin city’s annual Snow and Ice World, triggering the hashtag “Oroqen attire” to hit 5 million views across the short video platforms Douyin and Kuaishou.
For the most recent video, the head of the department herself, Du Bo, posed in a snow-covered birch forest dressed in a floor-length white gown resembling traditional Oroqen garb. The video features a voiceover from the department head Du Bo narrating her experience of shooting the footage, which took two hours and caused her to be numb and rush for a ginger tea by the end.
An accompanying hashtag popped up on Weibo, “Culture and tourism director wore a dress in minus 20 degrees to represent her hometown”, which has gained almost 200 million views so far. Whilst some netizens praised the Tahe tourism department for the hard work and ingenuity, others were more critical and suggested it was simply a show put on by to officials’ to fulfil “dreams of stardom”.
Du Bo is just the latest in a stream of “department head influencers” steadily taking China’s tourism industry by storm. Government officials responsible for tourism in lesser-known areas of Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Hubei have already been utilising short video platforms over the past year to put their hometowns on the map. Now that domestic tourism is sharply on the rise in China, regional tourism departments have the perfect opportunity to up their social media game and attract more tourists in the year ahead.