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Yishui in Shandong: “Night Economy” Hidden in the Small City’s Bustle

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the world, the small city comes alive at night. Yufeng Market in Yishui County is a nostalgic memory for the older generation, and now, it’s back! As summer approaches its midpoint, the signboard at the entrance of Yufeng Market shines with the words “Gathering Food Lovers from All Around to Yishui, Where Delicious Delicacies Converge in Yufeng.” Stepping into the market, on the east side is the “Snack Assembly,” featuring a variety of delicacies such as hand-pulled lamb, pancake wraps, fresh meat pancakes, iced jelly, and sour plum soup. On the west side is the “Food Stalls,” where the fragrance of cumin blends with barbecue sauce, and the stalls are filled with delectable treats.

The “night economy” not only illuminates the city’s nightscape but also attracts crowds and stimulates consumer vitality, becoming a driving force for many cities’ consumption transformation and upgrading. In recent years, the “night market economy” has gradually gained momentum in Yishui County, enriching the nightlife of its residents, from Liunanzhai Food Street to Rainbow Town’s Sleepless City, and now the opening of Yufeng Night Market.

In addition to the night market delicacies, “nighttime tourism” is also a showcase of the “night economy.” Yishui County has focused on creating tourist attractions such as Rainbow Town and Yihhe Sanqiao Scenic Area, integrating the six elements of “eating, staying, traveling, shopping, entertainment, and cultural experiences.” Scenes such as millennium heritage ironwork, Hanfu fashion shows, nighttime cruises on the Yihhe River, and shadow puppetry are only visible when the lights are on. Yimeng pancakes, fried lamb skewers, and deep-fried stinky tofu tantalize taste buds at night, promoting nighttime consumption while driving the transformation and upgrading of handmade and intangible cultural heritage products. It represents a new exploration of the integration of commerce, culture, and tourism development.

On the rapidly developing banks of the river, a “nighttime economy circle” has been created in the Wetland Park. From a distance, the entire Yihhe River coastline dazzles with colorful lights, illuminated boats cruise along the river, and laughter fills the artificial beach. Nighttime cruises on the Yihhe River, children’s go-karting, and beach volleyball have all become trademarks of the “sleepless city.”

“The nighttime Rainbow Town is also more appealing to tourists. On the basis of the ancient town, we have incorporated elements of leisure experiences, such as teahouses and video game arcades, to enrich nighttime business formats and innovate visitor experiences. Recently, large-scale Hanfu fashion shows and Chinese-style feasts have become new highlights of Yishui’s nighttime tourism,” explained Wang Peng, the manager of Yimeng Rainbow Town Scenic Area.

In the next step, Yishui County will continuously innovate the forms of the “night economy” under the “Night Yishui” brand, create new nighttime consumption scenes, extend the “night economy” to various fields such as culture, enterprises, and rural areas, attract external tourists, and enhance Yishui’s cultural and tourism reputation. This will further stimulate the vitality of the consumption level and accelerate the county’s high-quality development.

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