The industry of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) tourism continues to grow, and social media can serve as an essential tool to promote this trend. Although ICH tourism development is outstanding in China, the language structure and restricted use of social media render ICH difficult for non-Chinese speakers to understand. Using content analysis, this study investigates the structure and relationships among cognitive elements of ICH tourism based on 9074 blogs posted between 2011 and 2020 on Weibo.com, one of the most popular social media platforms in China. The main analysis process consisted of matrix construction, dimension classification, and semantic network analysis. Findings indicated that the cognitive image of ICH tourism on social media can be divided into seven dimensions: institutions, ICH and inheritors, tourism products, traditional festivals and seasons, tourism facilities and services, visitors, and regions. This network vividly illustrates ICH tourism and depicts the roles of organizers, residents, inheritors, and tourists. Among these elements, institutions hold the greatest power to regulate and control ICH tourism activities, and folklore appears to be the most common type of ICH resource that can be developed into tourism activities. Practically, the results offer insight for policymakers regarding ways to better balance the relationships among heritage protection, the business economy, and people’s well-being. Such strategies can promote the industrialization of ICH tourism. In addition, through content analysis, this paper confirms the effectiveness of social media in providing a richer understanding of ICH tourism.
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