Skiing boom persists as China welcomes new snow season

(Xinhua) 10:05, November 23, 2023

HARBIN, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- As a cold front grips northern China, bringing temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius in many regions, skiing enthusiasts are rejoicing over the resulting snowfall, eagerly preparing to hit the slopes.

Yabuli, the renowned ski resort in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, has experienced a surge in visitors since its official opening on November 9, with over 11,000 people already enjoying the slopes.

"I fell in love with skiing two years ago at a resort near Beijing," said Wang Minhuai, a tourist from the capital city. "This year, I planned this trip to Harbin with my friends in advance, and we arrived in Yabuli on the 9th."

Keketuohai International Ski Resort in Altay, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was the first ski resort in the country to kick off the new ski season this year. Since October, it has welcomed over 86,000 ski and snowboarding enthusiasts from across the nation, generating revenue of approximately 23.6 million yuan (3.27 million U.S. dollars).

Jiangjun Mountain Ski Resort, also located in Altay, has attracted thousands of visitors since introducing night sessions this year.

"This is my first time in Xinjiang, and also my first time at Jiangjun Mountain Ski Resort. I love night skiing. It's serene and the scenery is beautiful," said Yang Lei, a tourist from Changsha in central China.

Zhangjiakou, co-host of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Hebei Province, is also preparing for a busy ski season. "The opening weekend for Fulong Ski Resort is on November 18-19, and nearly 1,200 hotel rooms in the park have already been fully booked," said Gao Haoran, a manager at Zhangjiakou's Fulong Four Seasons Town International Resort.

Data from Meituan, an app providing services such as bike-sharing, ticket-booking and maps, revealed a 209 percent increase in ski ticket orders from November 1 to 9 compared to the same period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Beijing was awarded the hosting rights to the 2022 Winter Olympics in 2015, winter sports have experienced a rapid rise in popularity in China, a trend that continues to this day. "We anticipate that this year will likely witness the most prosperous ski season in the past five years," said Wang Ji, marketing director of Beijing's Jundu Mountain Ski Resort.

Zou Xinxian, a professor at Beijing Sport University, attributed the continuous development of ice and snow sports in China not only to people's enthusiasm, but also to the rapid improvement of facilities.

According to a white paper on China's ski industry, the number of ski resorts in China has grown from 200 to over 700 in the span of a decade. In 2014, there were only five indoor ski resorts in China; by 2023, that number exceeded 50.

Thanks to the construction of indoor facilities, skiing in south China is gaining popularity just as in the north. Ticket sales for indoor ski areas in Guangzhou, Chongqing and Kunming have nearly tripled compared to the same period in 2019, according to tour operator Qunar.com.

A report released by the China Tourism Academy predicts that China's ice and snow leisure sites will receive over 520 million visits with revenue surpassing 720 billion yuan during the 2024-2025 period.

"The tremendous demand for winter sports will greatly contribute to the economy, and there is still significant potential for the years to come," said Xu Hongcai, an economic analyst at the China Association of Policy Science.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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