CPC National Congress memorials in Shanghai listed as top-level tourist attractions
Flourishing red tourism
Published: Feb 21, 2023 11:34 PM
The memorial of the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai Photo: VCG

The memorial of the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai Photo: VCG

The memorials of the first, second and fourth National Congresses of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were recently granted 5A-level rating, the highest rating for Chinese scenic spots. Together, the three red historical sites have become China's new top-level tourist attractions.

All located in downtown Shanghai, the three memorials, where the CPC held national congresses in its early days in the 1920s, were witnesses to the Party's founding and early development during a difficult time when China was suffering external invasions and internal chaos. Today, they are Shanghai's most famous red tourism destinations.

The three memorials' new 5A-level status epitomizes the growing attention and popularity China's red tourism sites have received in recent years, said industry observers. 

"Additionally, since increasingly vivid and advanced interactive technology is being used to enrich the visiting experience, red tourism has promising development prospects ahead," Yang Yong, a Shanghai-based tourism management scholar, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Precious spiritual wealth

Hearing that Shanghai had "new" 5A-level red tourist attractions, tourist Yin Nongling couldn't wait to go there as soon as she arrived in the city last week.

The three memorials are close to each other and near the Huangpu River. By taking a red-themed tour bus specifically designed for the memorials, Yin was able to visit all three sites within a day.

Yin recalled her trip with excitement. 

"A Party member myself, I've been longing to visit the sites," she told the Global Times, saying that the site of the CPC's first National Congress impressed her the most. 

"It was where our Party was born. It was the beginning of a great story."

Yin numbers among the numerous visitors nationwide who flood the three memorials almost all year round. The memorial of the first National Congress of the CPC, for instance, saw a total of 660,000 visitors in 2022, the Global Times learned from memorial representatives on Tuesday. 

During the Spring Festival holidays in January, nearly 7,000 people visited the memorial every day.

The Party secretly held its first, second and fourth National Congresses respectively in 1921, 1922 and 1924 in Shanghai under the threat of Kuomintang reactionaries. The sites witnessed how the CPC's revolutionary pioneers tried hard to find a way to save millions of Chinese people from weakness and poverty. 

"The [memorials]… are the most precious spiritual wealth," Fang Shizhong, head of the Shanghai ­Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism, said at a ceremony held on February 16 marking the memorials' 5A-level rating upgrade.

The memorial of the fourth National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai  Photo: VCG

The memorial of the fourth National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai Photo: VCG

New ways to tell a story

The three memorials are Shanghai's first red-themed 5A-level tourist attractions. More than 10 of China's 318 5A scenic spots are red-themed ones, including the world-renowned Yan'an Revolutionary Scenic Area in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

To be granted 5A-level rating, a red-themed tourist attraction should meet certain standards, such as having profound historical significance, and modern and lively showcasing methods, said Yang, who is also the deputy director of the ­College of Economics and Management at East China Normal University. 

"Taking these two standards into account, the three memorials are ­worthy of the 5A title," Yang noted.

To attract more visitors, especially young ones, the three sites have been equipped with multimedia interactive devices that tell the CPC story in a more interesting and up-to-date way. 

Visitors at the memorial of the CPC's first National Congress can wear VR (virtual reality) devices to take a special "journey" back to the early 20th century and "talk" to the Party's forerunners. At the memorial of the CPC's second National Congress, visitors are able to "walk around" the congress site with the help of AR (augmented reality) technology.

Yin praised the interactive tech used at the sites. "Learning Party history in these places was not only meaningful, but also a lot fun," she told the Global Times.

As 5A tourist attractions, the three memorials in Shanghai set the example for the many red-themed scenic spots across the country, Yang said.

"China has rich red tourism resources, and they are a welcome sight for today's young people, who have a strong sense of national pride and a high recognition of the Party," he said. "I'm very optimistic about the future of the red tourism industry."