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Heilongjiang sees jump in winter tourism

Northernmost province works to greet tourists with icy yet warm experience

By Zhou Huiying and Tian Xuefei in Harbin | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-02 10:32
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Crystal clear ice and snow artworks turn Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, into a sparkling scene. [Photo by Zhao Tianhua/For China Daily]

Northernmost province works to greet tourists with icy yet warm experience

Despite the extremely cold weather, northernmost Heilongjiang province has become one of the top domestic travel destinations this winter.

On Sunday — the last day of 2023 — the province released a "New Year's Thank-You Letter to Domestic and Overseas Tourists" via local media to express their gratitude.

"Thanks for your enthusiastic visits to magnificent and beautiful Heilongjiang," the letter said. "Tourists' tracks in the Harbin Ice and Snow World, the Snow Town, the Yabuli Ski Resort and China's northernmost city Mohe have created a beautiful landscape in the province."

The opening of the 25th Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin in mid-December continues to fuel tourism in the provincial capital.

In the 810,000-square-meter amusement park, visitors are attracted by the dazzling world after dark. They can appreciate more than 1,000 artworks made of more than 250,000 cubic meters of ice and snow.

According to homestay platform Tujia, Harbin was China's top homestay destination for winter this year for the first time.

The letter urged travelers to venture beyond the icy allure of Harbin. It beckoned them to the barbecues of Qiqihar, the hot springs of Daqing, the dawn in China's easternmost city Fuyuan, and the border city Heihe "where you can enjoy the urban customs of the integration of Europe and Asia".

Acknowledging the importance of feedback, the letter vowed to cherish tourists' suggestions, promising improvements through the 12345 hotline and social media platforms. This commitment was mirrored by government departments, which the letter assured were fortifying market supervision and problem-solving mechanisms.

The letter also recognized the power of user-generated content.

"All the short videos and travel articles you post online are the best promotion of Heilongjiang. Your likes and comments are also the greatest encouragement to Heilongjiang, which can increase awareness of the province's unique scenery, high-quality products and its warmhearted residents," the letter said.

During the cold winter, tourists felt the full enthusiasm of local people in the northeast, especially those tourists from southern regions.

"My friends and I spent New Year's Eve at the Harbin Ice and Snow World," said Liu Yuanqi, a visitor from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. "It's really one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen as the dazzling fireworks burst in the sky, turning the park into a fairy-tale world.

"However, due to the late time we left the park, we found it difficult to find a taxi," she said. "At that time, a private car emblazoned with the words 'Welcome southern guests, I'll give you a ride for free' stopped in front of us and the driver told us he could take us to the hotel.

"The driver refused our payment," she said. "He told me that he felt happy that he could do something for his hometown, which also made me feel quite warm."

To meet the needs of passengers, the Harbin Metro extended its operating hours. It also issued a free subway ferry ticket, which can be used between the two stations of the Sun Island to the Ice and Snow World, where the 36th China Harbin Sun Island International Snow Sculpture Art Expo and the 25th Harbin Ice and Snow World are held.

On Saturday, Xu Qin, Party secretary of Heilongjiang, and Liang Huiling, governor of the province, inspected Harbin to check the work of holiday duty and safety production, tourism services and market guarantee, Heilongjiang Daily reported.

Among tourists on the frozen Songhua River, where a series of ice and snow experience programs have been built at the Harbin Ice and Snow Carnival, Xu required related departments to adhere to safety first, provide warm service, and well manage the ice amusement projects to ensure the safe operation of amusement facilities, and the orderly management of ice activities.

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