With the 2022 Winter Olympic Games approaching, ski resorts in Beijing, a co-host of the event, are growing in popularity among tourists.
Data from online travel platform Ctrip show that bookings of tickets to ski resorts during the three-day New Year holiday surged by 86 percent year-on-year. On average, one out of every five Ctrip users in North and Northeast China, who searched their nearby holiday destinations, opted for a ski resort.
Beijing's ski resorts, including Nanshan, Vanke Shijinglong, Jundushan, and Huaibei International, were among the favorites, according to data from various travel platforms.
Currently, Nanshan situated in the city's Miyun district, limits its daily visitor number to 6,000 by day and 3,000 at night, said Xu Xinwen, its marketing executive. He estimated that the limit on visitor numbers will continue through the schools' winter break and the upcoming weeklong Spring Festival holiday.
The night session is open until 9:30 pm, according to the ski's website.
The Tus Ice & Snow resort, in Shijingshan district, has a tight daily schedule for training in figure skating and ice hockey.
Geng Bingwa, an athlete-turned-coach at the resort, told China Today magazine that she has hands-on experience about the changes that have taken place in the country's ice and snow activities.
"Figure skating used to be an obscure sport when I was practicing as an athlete," Geng recalled. She used to serve on the national figure skating team and began to work as a coach in 2017.
In contrast, whenever the ice rink is open nowadays, it is crowded with children, she said. "Currently, I coach more than 20 children in skating. They have far more understanding of and enthusiasm for ice and snow sports than what people had in the past."
Ready to host the upcoming Winter Olympics, Beijing is promoting the integration of cultural tourism with sports and increasing efforts to develop tourism centered on ice and snow resources, thus creating a friendlier atmosphere for the Games, said Liu Bin, deputy head of the Beijing Bureau of Culture and Tourism.
"We launched a selection of 22 ice and snow tourism routes across the city in 2021, providing tourists with a more diverse and enriched portfolio of options for winter travel," Liu said.
"A series of promotional activities have drawn attention from tourists and inspired more enthusiasm for ice and snow sports," he said.
A report on China's ice and snow industry, released at the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo 2021 in September, shows that the ice and snow industry nationwide reached 423.5 billion yuan ($66.46 billion) in their combined output value at the end of 2019, an increase of 56.9 percent from 270 billion yuan in 2015.
The number of visits to ice and snow attractions is forecast to surpass 500 million and they are estimated to generate more than 1.1 trillion yuan in tourism spending in 2025, according to the report.
Beijing's Yanqing district, one of the 2022 Winter Olympic competition areas, has received more than 11.75 million visits to ice and snow attractions. It has raked in 823 million yuan in business tourism revenue since China won the bid in 2015 to host the winter sports gala, said Jiang Hao, deputy head of the district.