Snow, ice tourism glows in Altay, NW China's Xinjiang

(People's Daily Online) 13:50, November 14, 2023

Ski enthusiasts frolic at an international ski resort in Altay city, Altay Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. (People's Daily Online/A'erdake Baisihan)

Altay Prefecture in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is situated in the prime latitude zone for skiing, between 45 and 47 degrees north. It boasts a lengthy snow season, superior snow quality, and ample snowfall. The heavy snowfall in Altay used to cause mountain closures, isolation for locals during winter, and natural disasters. However, Altay is now capitalizing on its natural resources to develop ice and snow tourism, transforming the snowy landscape into a valuable asset.

In early October, the Keketuohai International Ski Resort in Altay opened ahead of schedule, commencing a six-month-long ski season. This early opening has attracted skiing enthusiasts from across the country.

"We are enriching the range of winter tourism products, including skiing and hot springs, to cater to the increasing demand for winter tourism. Preparations at the ski resort are almost finished, and we are committed to providing snow enthusiasts with an enhanced skiing and hot spring experience," said Zhang Jiarui, deputy general manager of an international ski resort in Altay.

The majority of tourists used to visit Altay during the peak months of July to September, while winter tourism was not popular. However, Altay possesses a wealth of ice and snow resources, with a snowfall period lasting 179 days and a snow cover period of over 130 days throughout the year. This makes Altay an exceptional destination for ice and snow tourism.

Altay was awarded the title "China's Snow Capital" through the efforts of the China Meteorological Administration and the Communist Party of China (CPC) Altay Prefectural Committee. As such, domestic and foreign enterprises invested in high-standard ski resorts, while the construction of ski training bases and event centers commenced in Altay. These efforts have injected new impetus into the development of ice and snow tourism in Altay.

Li Xia, a tour guide who has traveled to many famous ski resorts around the world, developed a particular fondness for skiing. The excellent snow quality in Altay left a deep impression on her.

In 2019, Li became a ski instructor at an international ski resort in Altay. She said that the number of tourists visiting Altay for skiing has seen a remarkable growth in recent years, resulting in a doubling of her monthly income as an instructor. This surge in winter sports popularity has also spurred the growth of local industries, including hotels, car rentals, and dining, creating more opportunities for people to benefit from tourism.

Zhang Qinghu, who is responsible for establishing a high-quality development pilot zone for China's ice and snow economy in Altay Prefecture (Changbai Mountains - Altay Mountains), revealed plans to invest over 10 billion yuan ($1.37 billion) to develop 11 premium ski resorts and associated facilities.

This endeavor requires the support and assurance of meteorological services to establish a robust safety network for ice and snow tourism, thus facilitating the effective transformation of the ecological value of ice and snow resources.

Altay is enhancing its ice and snow tourism brand by cultivating key enterprises and improving infrastructure at international ski resorts. Over 2,000 hotels and B&B hotels, as well as service stations such as gas stations, charging stations, and parking lots, have been built in Altay. These efforts aim to enhance the ability to accommodate tourists in winter and provide them with a wider range of services.

During the 2023-2024 ice and snow tourism season, Altay will introduce a travel pass that allows tourists to access multiple ski resorts in the prefecture.

Cheng Yunjing, director of the culture and tourism bureau of Altay city, said that in the 2023-2024 snow season, six star-rated hotels will be completed and opened in the city. While continuing to ensure the operation of public buses, taxis, and tourist buses, efforts will be made to promote online car-hailing services and other social vehicles, allowing tourists to travel smoothly.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)


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