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'Furnace city' develops taste for snow sports

China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-24 16:51

The Jinfo Mountain ski resort in Chongqing has become a popular destination for skiers.[Photo by Gan Haomin/For China Daily]

CHONGQING — In the snowless urban landscape of Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, a surprising fervor for winter sports has taken hold, transforming this "furnace city" known for its scorching summers into a hub for ice and snow tourism.

It is true that the urban areas in Chongqing rarely snow. However, the passion for skiing among its residents is palpable, resonating even with those hailing from the snowy northeast of China.

"I feel people's passion for snow and skiing here in Chongqing," said Ma Fuqiang, a ski instructor at Jinfo Mountain ski resort and a native of Heilongjiang, a Northeast China province.

"Most tourists at the ski resort here are beginners. They get very excited when they see snow, driving a high demand for ski instructors," Ma added.

In the Jinfo Mountain ski resort alone, there are more than 140 ski instructors, most of whom come from Northeast China. They usually work here from mid-November to early March. They said they provide services for a steady stream of customers. While on weekends or holidays, the resort even experiences a shortage of instructors.

In 2023, more than 15,000 primary and secondary school students visited this skiing spot, according to Wang Junbo, who is in charge of the resort.

Statistics showed that more than 4.88 million people participated in winter sports in Chongqing from 2018 to the end of 2022. Data from China's leading online platforms Meituan and Dianping showed that in December 2023, online searches for "skiing" in Chongqing surged by more than 250 percent compared to November, while bookings for skiing venues in the city increased by more than 120 percent compared to the same period of 2022.

To bolster the development of winter sports and meet the demands of ice and snow enthusiasts, Chongqing has established 23 winter sports venues. People can also access diverse winter sports and activities throughout the year.

Mountainous Chongqing is renowned for its spicy hotpot culture. For many winter sports enthusiasts, enjoying the bubbling hotpot after exercising in the ice and snow is an ideal choice.

Wen Jingtong, a tourist visiting Chongqing's Nantian Lake scenic area in Fengdu county, feasted on the culinary delights in the snowfield with her friends. "It was a marvelous and unique experience," she said.

The Nantian Lake scenic area has rolled out a series of ice and snow tourism activities this winter, drawing nearly 250,000 tourists and generating a revenue exceeding 71 million yuan ($10 million), up 132.9 percent and 60.22 percent year-on-year, respectively.

The city has organized more than 200 cultural and tourism activities this winter, many of which include ice and snow-related activities, continuing until the end of February.

Luo Zibai, an expert with the China Tourism Academy, said Chongqing has unique potential to develop ice and snow tourism. The city's abundant mountain resources offer a distinctive winter landscape unlike that of northern China.

Statistics showed that the mountainous area of Chongqing spans approximately 62,100 square kilometers, accounting for 75 percent of the city's total land area. Additionally, 22 counties and districts within the city have mountains exceeding 1.2 kilometers in height, offering abundant ice and snow tourism resources.

"For urban dwellers accustomed to snowless winters, skiing in the high mountains is undoubtedly appealing and joyful," said Luo, adding that southerners' curiosity about snow is one of the driving forces behind the booming winter tourism industry.




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