Ice-snow town built on barren mountains injects vitality into local villages

(People's Daily Online) 13:48, December 30, 2022

Built on barren mountains, an ice-snow town in Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, has witnessed a growing number of ski lovers while injecting vitality into local villages.

Fourteen years ago, Chen Jinduan, general manager of a recreation company of Western Evergreen, envisaged building an ice-snow town in the barren mountains near Shijiazhuang, and turning a stone pit in the mountains into a ski area during his tour there. Despite various concerns as skiing was not popular back then, he was optimistic about the prospects of winter sports. Starting with ecological restoration projects, the company then worked on outdoor pistes and artificial snowmaking. Open for less than three months every year, the ice-snow town opened in December 2013, and it achieved a balanced budget in just three years.

Photo shows Western Evergreen ski resort in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. (Photo/Hebei Radio and TV Station)

As the number of tourists continued to grow, the company went on to build an indoor skiing area, the first in Hebei, which opened roughly two years later. Today, the ice-snow town, which covers over 200 mu (about 13.3 hectares) of land, has become a professional ski resort that is open all year long.

Li Bin, head of the coaches here, recalled that back in the early days, tourists saw skiing as a novelty, but thanks to a surge in popularity of winter sports in China, more tourists treat it seriously and seek professional advice from the coaches. “The coaches are as busy as a bee during holidays,” he said, though the number of coaches has expanded from 20 to over 100 now.

“Our company has been promoting winter sports in recent years with the help of the government,” said Cui Da, marketing manager of the recreation company of Western Evergreen. Cui added that the ice-snow town launches promotional activities in communities and schools, and offers vouchers. “We also hold live-streaming sessions on winter sports, which usually attracts over 10,000 viewers.”

Tourists ski at Western Evergreen ski resort in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province. (Photo/Hebei Radio and TV Station)

Moreover, the thriving ice-snow town has brought tangible benefits to local villagers. Villagers who transferred their land to the company can receive 1,200 yuan (about $172.3) in rent for each mu of land annually, compared to only 400 yuan per year earned from doing farm work, according to Liang Zhongxin, a former official of Liangzhuang village. Besides, villagers either work in the ice-snow town or run agritainment businesses. “Each person can earn an extra nearly 50,000 yuan every year on average,” Liang said.

“The ice-snow town has boosted winter sports tourism, advanced the integrated development of culture and tourism, and contributed to the country’s rural vitalization drive,” said Zhang Kun, operation director of the recreation company of Western Evergreen. Thanks to the project, over 20,000 mu of land and mountains have been afforested, and over 1,000 job opportunities have been created for local villagers.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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