Scope winter sport industry in Beijing 2022 city Zhangjiakou

(Xinhua) 13:45, January 27, 2022

ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- To host an Olympic Winter Games may beyond anyone's imagination dating back to 20 years ago. When the first cable car in Chongli was set up, the place was generally known as an agricultural county, which was even blurry to the downtown people 80 kilometers away in Zhangjiakou.

Now over 20 percent of the local people are now involving in the winter sports industry in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou city, where one of the Beijing 2022 competition zones locates.

The total investment to winter sports industry among the whole Zhangjiakou area has reached 55.6 billion RMB, nearly 8.8 billion U.S. dollars.

February 4's grand opening of the Olympic Winter Games is approaching and Chongli may have the honor to welcome the Game's first gold from Cross-Country Skiing event.

With the joint efforts from the government and social sectors, the city of Zhangjiakou in Beijing's neighboring Hebei province now enjoys a booming winter sports industry riding the wave of the Olympics.

Wanlong CEO Luo Li is one of some Chinese entrepreneurs who are also skiing enthusiasts and have been behind the winter sports industry development in Chongli.

After going to ski several times in South Korea, Luo, who was running a chain bakery business then, raised his ambition to establish 'a real advanced ski resort' in North China.

He had full confidence to copy the commercial success of South Korea's ski resorts when starting well-regarded Wanlong ski resort, the second resort in Chongli and the first one to be equipped with cable cars.

"However, I soon found out I had wrong estimation on the Chinese ski population, as well as people's income levels and the traffic condition between Chongli and Beijing.

"For a long time, my resort only had less than 100 customers per day.

"After all, it was in 2003," said Luo.

"The first significant growth of the consumer number took place around 2008. I have to say that the 2008 Beijing Olympics has really increased people's interest in exploring new sports experience like skiing," Luo added.

10 years after the Beijing 2008, he began to feel the much huger influence from Beijing 2022 on skiing.

A typical phenomenon that Luo mentioned is more and more guests from the south are coming to his resort and some of them may stay for skiing for several weeks.

The more obvious change is, after nearly 20 years' financial bleeding, his resort eventually sees the dawn light to make a balance.

"Apparently, running ski resort was a tough task. I was really naive when I entered this field, but luckily I learned a lot and survived. It is all out of my love of skiing," said the Wanlong CEO.

The recent data shows running the ski resort is no longer a "small business". In the last snow season, Chongli received 2.462 million tourists, and earned 2.02 billion yuan (about 320 million U.S. dollars).

Luo Li believes that there will be even greater opportunity for skiing business "after the Beijing 2022".

"Now the skiing sport has got unprecedented high interests from the common people all over China, and our people have enough money to afford it.

"The high-speed rail, the airport, the hotels, all the facilities built for the Beijing 2022 are indeed the infrastructures to welcome the booming Chongli's skiing market in the future," he commented.

The soaring skiing market has also been attracting capital players.

An example is the Fulong group that invests a real estate and ski resort complex named Forlong resort in Chongli. The group also runs the banking and mining industry.

"One of the Forlong resort's targets is to meet the IPO (Initial Public Offerings) standard in the next three years," said Zhang Litao, the general manager of Fulong group's culture and tourism department.

Zhang Litao also mentioned that in order to expand the Forlong resort's ability to continue operations in the non-snow season, they'll introduce several recreational facilities such as indoor surfing.

The surge of investment has brought Zhangjiakou nine large ski resorts, the total piste length of which has reached 164 kilometers. Those factors are comparable to the ski areas in Japan and Europe.

But Zhangjiakou's winter sports industry is not limited to skiing and tourism.

"In the past decade, our government has invited a number of snow and ice equipment manufacturers," the city's vice mayor Liu Haifeng said.

Well-known international entities like snow gun manufacture TechnoAlpin and cable car company MND have already set production bases in a winter equipment industrial park here.

"The total output value of this industrial park has reached 590 million yuan (about 93.3 million U.S. dollars)," said Bai Jianhai, chief of this industrial park.

Meanwhile, the local labor market and vocational education have also been changed.

At many vocational colleges in Zhangjiakou, young people who want to become ski instructors are being trained.

Good salary is obviously attracting young local people to flow into the winter sports industry as the income of a ski instructor may reach 150,000 RMB, nearly 23,730 U.S. dollars, per-snow season. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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