Photo taken on Jan.2, 2022 shows the aerial view of Ice and Snow World in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province. (Photo: Xinhua)
Every winter in northeast China, the coldest places are often the hottest tourist spots. This is especially true right now, with the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics fast approaching and the Chinese people’s passion for the cold greater than ever.
Ice and Snow World, a famous seasonal attraction in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, was teeming with tourists during the recent New Years holiday, which lasted from Saturday to Monday.
Covering an area of 820,000 square meters, the park has used some 230,000 cubic meters of ice and snow to create 65 different landscapes this year, with the popular “super ice slide” attraction extended to 423 meters.
Comprehensive COVID-19 prevention measures are in place. Visitors can be seen lining up in an orderly fashion at the gate, scanning their health codes and taking their temperature before entering the park.
Park tour guide Liu Lu spends about six hours a day in freezing weather showing visitors the sights and explaining how the ice was collected and how the park was built.
“When I see tourists enjoying the park, I see the value of my work and I am not at all cold,” Liu said.
Located in the Changbai Mountains, the Snow Village in Hailin City in Heilongjiang kicked off its annual tourist season on December 29, when local temperatures dropped to around minus 20 degrees Celsius, turning the village into a snow-capped wonderland.
Fan Zhaoyi runs a host family in the village. A few days before it opened, it stored a lot of food and had some maintenance work done in anticipation of the influx of tourists.
Fan said the attraction has become increasingly popular with visitors to southern China, where awe-inspiring snow-capped landscapes are hard to find. In the northern village, the snowy weather can last for seven months a year.
The village organized emergency drills for all staff and provided training on infectious disease prevention and emergency response. It is also equipped with a mobile nucleic acid analysis laboratory with a daily analysis capacity of 10,000 samples.
The Snow Village was once a forest farm, and Fan once worked there as a lumberjack. The development of ice and snow tourism has benefited both local economic modernization and environmental protection efforts.
In recent years, the Chinese people’s fervor for winter sports has also increased, with night skiing in the spotlight. Experts noted that the night skiing economy has become a new economic driving force in northern China.
Songhuahu Ski Area, a well-known urban ski resort in Jilin City, Jilin Province, introduced night skiing sessions in 2016, and the number of participants increased from 30,000 to around 100,000 in 2021 , according to Wang Jiayu, director of the remedy.
“Night skiing is a great way for me to deal with stress,” said Zhang Tian, a frequent visitor. “It has become an integral part of my winter entertainment.”
Businessmen are now catching up with the latest trend by creating catering and hospitality services as well as hot springs around ski resorts. Zhao Chunjie, who has been an avid skier for 10 years, recently opened a homestay near the resort town of Songhuahu.
“My host family can accommodate over 100 people, and tourists from southern China make up 70-80% of the total,” he said, noting that the host family is already full for the holidays. Lunar New Year in February.
Zhao is quite confident in his business. “I think more people will take up ice and snow sports after the 2022 Winter Olympics are over,” he said.