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Shanghai’s Vision for a Metaverse Future

By Eleni Murru
Eleni Murru

4 Min

July 3, 2023

Shanghai, the bustling Chinese metropolis with a staggering population of 29 million people, has just unveiled an ambitious plan that aims to revolutionize the tourism and cultural sectors through the integration of the metaverse. Set to be completed by 2025, this groundbreaking initiative is projected to generate billions of dollars in revenue.

Not only is Shanghai the largest city in China, but it also serves as the country's financial capital. With its recent announcement, the city is clearly determined to shake up the cultural and tourism industries like never before.

The goal is nothing short of impressive—to generate an annual revenue of 50 billion yuan (approximately $6.9 billion) through metaverse-based cultural and tourism projects. While the plan doesn't explicitly mention cryptocurrencies, considering their official ban in China, one can't help but wonder if there's been an unofficial shift in that direction.

By the end of 2025, Shanghai plans to develop and launch 30 metaverse projects centered around culture and tourism. These innovative initiatives will focus on what the city calls "smart tourism”.

Shanghai plans to boost the creation of blockchain-based digital art, investigate how digital art can be incorporated into gaming platforms, and assist metaverse entertainment ventures, such as those featuring virtual celebrities.

But that's not all. Shanghai also envisions integrating metaverse technologies into its real-world tourist attractions, allowing visitors to engage with locations through augmented reality, explore with avatar tour guides, and enjoy other metaverse-based services. It's an immersive and interactive way to enhance the traditional tourism experience.

The Metaverse: a New Pillar of Shanghai’s Economy

The metaverse isn't just a fleeting trend for Shanghai; it's poised to become a foundational pillar of the city's economy. In fact, in July 2022, the Shanghai city government released a policy paper outlining its strategy to cultivate a metaverse industry worth 350 billion yuan ($52 billion) by the end of 2025. Additionally, Shanghai plans to establish a substantial $1.4 billion industry fund dedicated to fueling metaverse innovation.

It's clear that Shanghai is taking massive strides to embrace the metaverse and unlock its untapped potential. The fusion of technology and culture is set to redefine the tourism landscape, inviting visitors to embark on immersive journeys and creating new opportunities for economic growth.

Shanghai is developing several projects to enhance its tourism industry through the metaverse. For example, the “Digital Shenzhou” project will create a virtual version of the city that people can explore, and the “Metaverse Museum” project will display exhibits from different museums in the city in a virtual space. The city will also use the metaverse to provide virtual tours of its popular attractions.

China’s Metaverse Wave

Shanghai is not alone in its metaverse ambitions, as other Chinese cities like Beijing, Nanjing, and Zhengzhou have also unveiled significant plans for this emerging technology.

For example, Beijing introduced a comprehensive two-year metaverse plan last August, focusing on the tourism and education sectors. While Shanghai's original five-year plan for the metaverse aimed for an annual revenue of 350 billion yuan and $52 billion by 2025, it appears to have been scaled back. Nevertheless, Shanghai is still committed to investing a substantial $1.4 billion in the metaverse industry.

Meanwhile, Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, issued a set of policy proposals Wednesday aimed at supporting metaverse companies operating within its jurisdiction, with plans to establish a 10 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion) fund dedicated to the industry. On the other hand, in May 2023, Nanjing introduced the “Blockchain Technology and Application Innovation Platform of China” to advance metaverse research and development across the country.

The metaverse revolution is gaining momentum across various cities in China, and Shanghai is determined to establish itself as a prominent metaverse hub. While the scale of its plans may have been adjusted, the city's commitment and significant investments in the metaverse industry demonstrate its ambition to embrace this transformative technology and seize the economic and cultural opportunities it presents. As the metaverse landscape continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to witness the impact and growth of this groundbreaking innovation in different sectors and urban environments.