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Site 5: EcoSki Resort Construction in Heilongjiang Province

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on September 4, 2007 at 8:37:49 pm




China's growing 'ice and snow economy'
Jan 4, 2007
BEIJING - Chinese ski resorts are converting their resources into a niche market, drawing millions of visitors during the winter months.

The "ice and snow economy" is gaining momentum in the northern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Heilongjiang has been the first province in the country to see the potential of developing its resources as a major winter tourist attraction. Its winter lasts for about four months, with heavy

snowfalls throughout the period. It has more than 70 ski resorts and 150 ski slopes, accounting for more than 60% of the country's winter resort facilities.

Heilongjiang Tourism Department statistics show that the province received more than 3.2 million visitors during last year's spring festival, gaining income of more than 2 billion yuan (US$256 million). Tourism is now one of the key drivers of the Heilongjiang's economic growth.

Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, is famous for its annual ice-and-snow extravaganzas. The city's ice-lantern shows and ice and snow sculpture competitions are becoming world-famous, attracting local and foreign visitors every year.

"We received more visitors from the United States, Russia, Germany, and the special administrative region of Hong Kong last year," said Bo Xiru, director of the tourism bureau. "The province is playing a leading role in winter tourism in the country."

The sector has spurred the economic growth of other related industries in the province. Harbin's hotel occupancy rate was up more than 80% last year, the Heilongjiang Daily reported.

In cooperation with the Canadian city of Montreal, last year's snow-sculpture exhibition in Harbin added a new dimension. Two sculptures, Crossing the Bering Strait and Niagara Falls, both reported to be 250 meters long and 28 meters high and involving more than 13,000 cubic meters of snow, will be entered in the Guinness World Records.

Jilin province is also attracting tourists with its various winter sports. And this season, Changchun, its capital, introduced an international ski competition, Vasaloppet China, from Sweden.

Liaoning province, with its geographic advantages, is promoting itself as the first stop in northeastern China for enthusiasts of ice and snow sports. The province spent millions of yuan in 2005 to build the Northeast Asia Ski Resort in the Shenyang National Forest Park.

Xinjiang recently kicked off its Silk Road Ice and Snow Festival, in a bid to grab a piece of the winter-sports pie. The industry is also providing other related work for its people. Once heavily reliant on stock breeding, some have now moved into the catering business. There are now almost 30 ski resorts surrounding Urumqi, the capital, which can accommodate about 20,000 people a day.

Winter tourism earned Xinjiang 4.6 billion yuan in 2005.


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