Winter sports in China eye white-hot growth

Skiing, snowboarding boom, sparking expansion of various related business segments

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-19 09:28
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Skiers have a whale of a time at the Silk Road Ski Resort in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Dec 23. [Photo provided to China Daily]

An imaginative integration of fields like sports, health, business, tourism and culture is stoking the rapid growth of winter sports in China, building on the initial momentum imparted by the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. This is leading to expansion of facilities like ski resorts, snow slopes, ice rinks, snowboarding parks and indoor venues, with supporting attractions like cable cars at such places further boosting not only the sector's pull, but revenues.

According to the General Administration of Sport of China, the total number of visitors to 19 national ski resorts in November and December alone reached 9.43 million, up a staggering 316 percent year-on-year, with revenue from related sports and other activities reaching 6.46 billion yuan ($898 million), up 543 percent year-on-year.

Hu Wei, CEO of Nanshan Ski Resort, an established skiing venue in Beijing, said: "This snow season has seen a 5 to 10 percent increase in both visitors and revenue compared to the previous year. To accommodate the growing influx of visitors, we've expanded our fleet with eight new snow machines."

Since the 2022 Winter Olympics, there has been a noticeable surge in new participants joining winter sports, he said. "This was fueled by the enduring excitement over snow, a precious resource in a country where many people reside in the southern part that does not receive much snowfall."

To ride the rising popularity of snow sports and grow its business, Nanshan Ski Resort has partnered with international coaches from Canada and Japan to promote freestyle snowboarding through training programs and competitions.

Hu said: "Beijing's climate is ideal for freestyle snowboarding. It rarely experiences heavy snowfall that would obscure the slopes, making it ideal for training and competitions."

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