During a weekend in October, I took some time out to visit the Yanqing Winter Olympics Village in suburban Beijing. The neat facilities are impressive, and the long-range cable car ride was quite an experience, thanks to the beautiful mountain views.
The village is home to China's only Alpine skiing track that meets Olympic standards. Now that the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 is over, the track is expected to open to public sometime this winter. This is expected to further boost travelers' enthusiasm for ice and snow tours.
Like many others, I intend to go skiing when the facility opens. When millions begin to throng such venues, especially ski resorts and hotels with similar features that have mushroomed nationwide in recent times, rise in vacation sales is expected to be inversely correlated to steep drops in winter temperature.
Tuniu Corp, a Nanjing, Jiangsu province-based online travel agency, said consumers now prefer sightseeing tours to natural and cultural landscapes like snow mountains, rimes, ice sculptures and snow sculptures. In the first half of November, bookings for those spots accounted for more than half of the total among those who took ice and snow tours.
Skiing and skating are popular among young travelers who constitute the main consumers of ice and snow trips. Most of China's ice and snow tourism resources are located in Northeast China, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei-province region, and the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions, Tuniu found.
"Young Chinese consumers, especially Generation Z consumers, or those who were born between the mid-1990s and early this century, are willing to try something new and challenge themselves. Ice and snow trips satisfy such demands," said Zhang Weilin, an analyst at the LeadLeo Research Institute, a market research provider.
During the snow season of 2021-22, Jilin province received 2.18 million skiers, ranking second only to Beijing. It has thus become the second-largest ski destination in China, according to a skiing industry research report by the Beijing Ski Association.
On Nov 19, a number of ski venues in the province officially started operations, marking the arrival of the new snow season. The local travel bureau and online travel agency Trip.com Group, China's largest online travel agency, together issued vouchers to local residents to help stimulate their desire for consumption, as their spending confidence has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the weekend of Nov 19-20, reservations for hotel rooms and sightseeing spots related to ice and snow in Jilin surged by nearly 10 times and 13 times, respectively, over the previous week. The volumes jumped more than 60 percent year-on-year, according to Trip.com.