BEIJING: The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics has ushered in a rare development opportunity for China’s ice and snow economy.
By October 2021, 24.56% of the Chinese population — some 346 million Chinese people — had taken part in winter sports and recreational ice and snow activities, surpassing the goal of 300 million the country set in 2015 when Beijing won the Olympic bid.
With the high participating rate comes a rapidly expanding market for China’s winter sports industry. Indoor ice rinks are set up in trendy malls; ski resorts are also built-in low-latitude high-altitude regions of the country; schools and universities start to offer winter sports courses, according to an article published by CEN.
Winter sports are extending to other regions besides North China, offering all-year-round entertainment.
The winter sports fever is also injecting vigor to ice and snow tourism. For example, Jilin Province, a ski paradise in Northeast China, has held the “Snow Expo” for five consecutive years since the winter of 2015-2016 as a prelude to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. During the 2018-2019 snow season, the province attracted more than 84 million visits, and the tourism revenue reached 169.8 billion yuan, an increase of 62% and 86% respectively compared with the figures of the same period three years ago. Today, Jilin is home to 46 ski resorts, with 347 ski trails extending 298 kilometers and covering 1,032 hectares. Besides the fantastic equipment, offering corresponding supporting services, such as accommodation, rehabilitation, and cultural activities, will surely give ice and snow tourism a further boost.
The enthusiasm for ice and snow will benefit the industry of gear and equipment as well. Innovative equipment exhibited at the 2021 Harbin Ice and Snow Expo online and smart sports gear will be applied during the Olympics and beyond. High-end technologies adopted at the Olympic venues may be adapted to ice rinks and snow resorts nationwide. The 2022 Winter Games will be a starting point from which China’s ice and snow industry will be taken to the next level.
Ice and snow are as valuable as gold and silver. The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics provides golden opportunities. Its legacy won’t just be the chilly ice and snow, but rather a winter sports fever that fuels the development of the ice and snow industry and enriches people’s lives.