Find something cool in summer! China's indoor ice and snow industry attracts tourists

(Xinhua) 08:19, July 09, 2024

HARBIN, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Despite the sweltering summer heat, tourists visiting Harbin, the capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, now has a new attraction to explore -- the world's largest indoor ice and snow theme park.

The long-awaited indoor theme park project, designed to maintain temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius, opened on Saturday. It features nine themed areas showcasing lifelike ice sculptures illuminated by colorful lighting.

"It attracted over 3,000 visitors on its first day and is expected to receive numerous tourists during the summer holiday," said Sun Zemin, deputy director of the sales and marketing department of Harbin Ice and Snow World Park Co., Ltd.

A visitor is seen at an indoor ice and snow theme park in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, July 6, 2024. (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei)

Known as "Ice City," Harbin went viral on social media last winter due to its rich ice and snow resources, as well as its vibrant winter tourism.

Although winter has passed, the city is ambitiously expanding its appeal through innovation, aiming to attract more tourists and take its share in the summer tourism market.

Covering an area of over 23,000 square meters, the indoor project was certified by Guinness World Records as the "largest indoor ice and snow theme park (permanent)" in the world on Saturday.

Visitors are seen at an indoor ice and snow theme park in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, July 6, 2024. (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei)

In addition to its vast indoor ice and snow wonderland, Harbin offers many choices for cold-weather enthusiasts in the summer.

Yu Guohui, 60, and his friends from south China's Guangdong Province said they were impressed by the exquisite ice sculptures at the Ice and Snow Culture Museum, including replicas of Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa and a section of the Great Wall of China.

"Back in my hometown, the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius, but here we are shivering in this world of ice sculptures. It's as amazing as time travel," said Yu, who journeyed over 2,000 kilometers north to experience a different, cooler summer trip.

Visitors collect cold-proof clothes before entering an indoor ice and snow theme park at Harbin Ice and Snow World Park in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, July 6, 2024. (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei)

At an 80,000-square-meter indoor ski resort in Harbin, skiers of different levels can enjoy the country's largest indoor ski resort, which features eight snow trails and a vertical drop of up to 80 meters.

"The maximum number of skiers we have had in one day was 3,500 this summer, ranging in age from 5 to over 60," staffer Fu Wei said, noting that the resort received 320,000 tourists last year. Nowadays, professional ski teams from Russia, the Republic of Korea and Japan undertake summer training at the Harbin resort.

China's northern region, which is rich in ice and snow resources, is accelerating the development of its ice and snow industry, offering diverse services tailored to different groups. With the nationwide promotion of the industry, ski resort management models and skilled personnel are traveling from the north to other parts of the country, promoting the development of winter sports and injecting vitality into the country's thriving ice and snow industry.

Li Jiangtao is one such ski instructor who has moved away from home. In March, Li accepted a job and moved to the southwestern Chongqing Municipality from Zhangjiakou City, co-host of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in north China's Hebei Province. Chongqing, a city known for its high temperatures, is often compared to a furnace.

At an indoor skiing facility in Chongqing Jihua Park, where Li works as an instructor, the summer holiday season has brought a peak in visitor numbers.

A skier skis at Chongqing Jihua Park in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, June 18, 2024. (Xinhua/Wang Quanchao)

"Southern China is witnessing rapid economic development, strengthened purchasing power and growing enthusiasm for winter sports among its locals. The ice and snow industry here is a lucrative gold mine," Li said.

Li has not been the only one to travel from the north to the south to take part in the gold rush following the end of northern China's snow season. Many other ski coaches have flocked to indoor ski resorts in southern provinces.

"Ice and snow sports are no longer exclusive to the north, especially after the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and there are more and more ice and snow enthusiasts in Chongqing," said Zhang Ge, deputy director of the Chongqing Winter Sports Management Center.

In Chongqing alone, there are five indoor ice rinks and two indoor ski resorts that allow all-seasons participation in ice and snow sports. From 2018 to 2023, the municipality saw approximately 5.5 million people participate in ice and snow sports.

In Guangzhou, the capital city of south China's Guangdong Province, the Sunac Snow Park, also an indoor ice and snow theme park, has become a popular destination for ice and snow enthusiasts for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and surrounding regions in recent years.

Statistics show that by 2023, the province has 34 ice and snow sports venues, covering a total area of 177,500 square meters. Among these, there are 24 ice skating venues and 10 skiing venues.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, a massive indoor skiing complex, located in Lin-gang Special Area, has completed its construction and, following testing and inspection, is set to open this summer.

The project has garnered significant attention due to its vast total building area of approximately 300,000 square meters. It includes a large indoor ski resort, a water park, a boutique hotel and a resort hotel. The ski resort features over 20 snow play activities and three ski slopes of varying difficulty levels.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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