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Winter Olympics offer businesses chance to win big

By Sun Xiaochen (chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2016-03-13 14:18:55


With the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on the horizon and the skiing industry gaining momentum in China, observers are calling for a concerted effort to integrate all the relevant businesses to ensure sustainable post-Olympic development.

The call comes in the light of an investment boom that followed Beijing winning the right to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics along with co-host Zhangjiakou in Hebei province. Since the announcement in July, the surge in investment in winter recreation has seen 108 new ski resorts built in North China, according to the 2015 Ski Industry Report of China published last month at the Asia Pacific Snow Conference.

The report said 568 ski resorts have been operating in 25 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Last year, they attracted 12.5 million visits, a 21 percent increase on 2014.

However, experts have pointed out that the growth and investment would benefit from more integration and business planning.

"To avoid wasting resources and operational difficulties after the Olympics, local governments and property developers should take local tourism, accommodation and transportation, as well as environmental protection plans, into account and look at the bigger picture," said Yang Hua, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee.

Yang Jingzhi, former deputy director of Hebei provincial sports bureau, echoed the comments of his fellow CPPCC member, in urging Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei to work closely together on planning the growth of the skiing industry and relevant businesses.

Inspired by Chinese President Xi Jinping's call to develop winter sports, Beijing 2022 set a goal of getting 300 million Chinese people involved in skating and skiing en route to hosting the Olympics.

The potential for businesses from this massive increase in skiers and skaters is huge and there is likely to be a corresponding surge in manufacturing as people clamor for high-tech winter sports equipment and apparel, said Bian Zhiliang, chairman of Taishan Sports Industry Group.

"We need to work closely with established foreign brands that lead in winter sportswear to make up for our weaknesses in design, processing and talent," he said. "China's manufacturers are already producing tons of goods for foreign brands. It's time for us to build our own brands in winter sports."

And this potential is attracting investment from overseas as ski resort operators and makers of outdoor brands explore opportunities in China.

At last month's ISPO Beijing exhibition, a major multi-segment trade fair for outdoor, skiing and action sports in the Asia Pacific area, 490 exhibitors representing more than 700 brands, mostly from overseas, displayed their products and services before more than 38,000 visitors at the China National Convention Center.

Several companies, including Austrian brand Northland, demonstrated their latest products and technologies especially designed for the Chinese market.

Klaus Dittrich, CEO and president of Neue Messe München, the organizer of the fair, predicted a greater development of winter and outdoor sports in China in the lead up to the 2022 Olympics.

"The 2022 Winter Olympics offer great opportunities for the whole of China. Despite the slowdown in economic growth known as the "new normal," the signs in the sports industry all point toward growth. The Winter Olympics are set to bring a boom in the popularity of winter sports."