Ice-and-snow tourism gains steam in NE China
Wang Zihao from south China's Guangdong Province couldn't hold back his excitement when he got off the train in the northeastern city of Changchun, which had just been blanketed in snow, something he had never seen before.
"It's the smell of winter," said Wang as he started his Lunar New Year vacation.
Wang was attracted to Changchun not only by the snow but the array of ice-and-snow activities.
In recent years, cities across northeast China have continuously placed emphasis on developing ice-and-snow tourism to get past the "declining industrial base" stereotypes.
In 2016, Jilin Province proposed the construction of world-class ski resorts, first-class skating pavilions and world-class mountain snowboarding resorts.
Today, the Changbaishan Mountain, being one of the top powder snow bases in the world, has become an ideal destination for skiers with its lush ski resorts.
Several cities in northeast China have established their own local brands, making use of their strengths and traditions, such as the rime festival in Jilin City, the winter fishing-themed festival at Chagan Lake in Songyuan City, and the ice-and-snow sculpture festival in Harbin City.
In addition to building a good reputation among travelers, the booming ice-and-snow economy has also boosted purchase orders and cooperation opportunities.
As China further relaxes its COVID-19 travel restrictions, the sector has seen a quick rebound.
"During the three-day New Year holiday, the average number of daily visits has surpassed 4,500, doubling the number before the holiday," said Yan Shuai, sales and marketing manager of the Beidahu Ski Resort, where the Asian Winter Games were held.
The visitor figures are expected to rise significantly during the Spring Festival, Yan added.
Several provinces, including Jilin and Heilongjiang, have also launched consumption voucher schemes to capitalize on the golden period of ice-and-snow travel. Vouchers with a total value of 3 million yuan (443,118 US dollars) will be issued in the city of Jilin to attract visitors from across the country.
Yu Shufen, who runs a homestay near the Beidahu Ski Resort, said the number of tourists is definitely climbing quickly and this year must be a bumper year.