They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. The Chinese city which has been the focus of world attention since the Sars Cov 2 pandemic has launched a new tourism titled "Let's meet in Wuhan."
With an urban population the size of New York the city in central China is the country's ninth largest. However, before this year the city of eleven million in Hubei province was virtually unknown to international, English-speaking tourists.
That was until it emerged as a primary source for the coronavirus pandemic, after the World Health Organisation identified a fish market the possible origin of the disease. Since then Wuhan has been synonymous with the virus. However, with the world's captive attention Wuhan's tourism bureau is eager to let tourists know what's on offer.
In spite recording the first cases of the new disease in December last year, a strict three-month lockdown eradicated the disease in the city. There have been no cases reported by Wuhan since May this year. The recovery of the city's domestic tourism has been seen as a triumph.
Last month – during the domestic holiday of Golden Week – the city recorded 18.8 visitors during the week of October 1-8. In spite of international travellers being locked out by the ongoing pandemic, tourism revenue was supported by domestic Chinese travellers at around $2 billion – or 70 per cent normal levels according to the Chinese Ministry of Culture.
Pent up curiosity after months of national lockdown led to the city becoming a domestic tourism hotspot for Chinese, wanting to see where it happened. According to website Skift, Wuhan was the most visited city in China for the period.
The phenomenon has been described as "revenge spending" by Chinese academics. A boom of pent-up interest after a period of repression – the term initially referred to the increase in spending following the Cultural Revolution of the 1980s – but it might has well have been invented to describe Wuhan's post-Covid tourism surge.
There's an undeniable curiosity surrounding the city that grabbed the world's attention during a pandemic.
For now international travel is still in the grip of the Coronavirus. Travel to mainland China has been out of the question for international tourists. MFAT's travel restrictions have been in place since February along with the "do not travel" advisory in response to Covid 19. Air links and travel options are still "significantly reduced" and visitors from New Zealand currently need to provide negative Nucleic Acid and Anti-Body Blood tests results before departure, according to the Chinese embassy to New Zealand.
However, that has not stopped the city of Wuhan publicising its attractions via English-language media accounts.
The Twitter and Facebook accounts belonging to the government organisation Visit Wuhan have been highlighting some esoteric aspects of the city, which it calls "the most inspiring place to visit in central China".
Most recently this has included a three-minute video highlighting parts of the city and its surrounding. Showcasing bars, parks and music venues which have been open since September, the video was published by the Wuhan Culture and Tourism Bureau entices with the message: "we, who love it, hope more people can understand."
"Look forward to meeting you in Wuhan."
What to see in Wuhan
Zhangdu Lake Wetland
The submerged forests of Xinzhou, 70km outside the urban hub, appears prominently in the new tourism campaign.
Hanyang Iron Works Museum
A museum to the city's industrial heritage and iron production. You'll find it riveting.
East Lake gardens and Tulip Theme Park
A theme park dedicated to flowers, complete with windmill and flower sculptures is one of many "flower village" gardens on the city's East Lake Green way.
Yellow Crane Tower
The traditional Chinese tower was rebuilt on designs of a tower from AD223. The tower has been destroyed twelve times, but its latest incarnation has been in place on the banks of the Yellow River since 1981.
Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park
The water park caused a stir after images of a packed public pool party were published in August. With definitely no social distancing or PPE on show, the park's 15,000 guests were used a sign that the city was no longer concerned by the Coronavirus.
Wuhan Sports Centre
The indoor venue which holds 7500 spectators has recently been reconverted for use as an arena. In February it was used as the Fang Cang temporary hospital to treat over 1000 patients with Covid 19, according to Chinese-owned Global Times.