Winter visitors give Heilongjiang warm praise

Numerous attractions draw tourists to northeastern province, despite bitterly cold conditions

By ZHOU HUIYING and TIAN XUEFEI in Harbin | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-01-10 07:05
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Visitors line up to use the slide at Sun Island in Harbin, Heilongjiang. ZHAO TIANHUA/FOR CHINA DAILY

Despite arriving in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, at midnight on Friday, Tiantian rose early the next day and spent the entire morning taking photos on the square in front of Saint Sophia Cathedral.

"This is my most important task during my trip to the city," said the 32-year-old from Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu province, who uses a nickname. "Wearing European-style royal attire and holding a scepter, I enjoy the experience of dressing up as a princess."

The cathedral, one of the best-known landmarks in Harbin and a well-preserved example of Byzantine architecture in China, is open to the public as an architectural art gallery.

Tiantian said: "As such photos are quite popular on social media platforms, I booked my assignment with a travel photography shop in Harbin several days in advance. I have never seen such magnificent Russian-style architecture before, and I am really looking forward to receiving my photos."

The Harbin branch of Daka Travel Photography has received 40 to 50 customers each day since it opened last month.

Zhao Wenlin, manager of the business, said: "Most of our customers come from southern areas of China, such as Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Shanghai. Their ages range from eight to about 50.

"Daka Travel Photography, which is based in Beijing, has branches nationwide, but the one in Harbin is by far the company's busiest.

"There are at least 200 photographic shops in surrounding areas, and our staff members usually work from 9 am to midnight. As Spring Festival approaches, I believe we will become even busier."

Although Harbin is now witnessing its coldest season, the city known for its ice and snow has become a hot tourist destination this winter, attracting countless visitors from across the country.

Data from the Harbin bureau of culture, broadcasting, TV and tourism show that during the three-day New Year holiday, the city welcomed nearly 3.05 million visitors, earning 5.91 billion yuan ($825.62 million) in revenue — a record high for tourism in Harbin during this period.

A report by online travel agency Ctrip said that during the New Year holiday, more than 75 percent of the tourists visiting Harbin were mainly from Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen, Guangdong. Bookings during the holiday rose by 158 percent year-on-year.

Among the city's scenic spots, Harbin Ice and Snow World is the most popular. The venue received 163,200 visitors during the New Year holiday, a year-on-year rise of 435 percent, and earned income of 46.18 million yuan, up by 494 percent year-on-year, data from the provincial department of culture and tourism show.

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