Visitors are drawn to a booth that shows winter sports products during the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, Sept 5, 2020. (Photo: China Daily)
BEIJING - With China effectively containing the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, winter sports are leading the recovery and their untapped potential has drawn widespread attention at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) held in Beijing.
More than 300 overseas winter sports companies and goods manufacturers, as well as over 100 international sports organizations and foreign representatives in the industry gathered to discuss the winter sports economy.
Experts reached a consensus during the panel discussions that China's winter sports sector has become a new link that brings the country's service trade in sports closer to its foreign counterparts in spite of the pandemic.
China's winter sports industry has maintained an annual growth of 15 percent over recent years, and winter sports venues across the country saw more than 23.45 million consumers in 2019, said Zhang Li, vice-president of the China branch of IDG Capital, at a CIFTIS forum.
Zhang said the industry was struck by the outbreak of COVID-19, followed by the nationwide closure of more than 1,100 ski resorts and ice rinks, but as the situation improves, related sports centers gradually recovered and ultimately thrived.
A winter sports center that started business in June in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, for example, welcomed 300,000 customers on the first day of opening, said Zhang.
It is estimated that the size of China's winter sports sector will expand to 800 billion yuan (about $117 billion) in 2022 and the total industrial scale will reach 1 trillion yuan by 2025, said Li Yingchuan, vice-director of the General Administration of Sport of China and vice-president of the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The profitable sector also appeals to worldwide business players. Austrian ropeway manufacturer Dopplemayr exhibited its newly developed ropeway system and cabins during this year's CIFTIS. As one of the world's first ropeway research and development companies, Dopplemayr has constructed around 15,000 ropeways across the globe.
"In the past three days, our booth has been crowded with visitors who are interested in our products and service," said Li Yanqiu, CEO of Sanhe Dopplemayr Transport Systems Co Ltd at a parallel forum.
The company set up its Asian headquarters and production base in North China's Hebei province as China is an attractive market, said Li.
A large number of major overseas operators are introducing leading management skills and ski equipment manufacturing techniques into the Chinese market to meet the diversified demand of customers and help complete the industrial chain, said Yu Yang, president of Beijing Carving Ski Sports Development Corp at the parallel forum.
Meanwhile, domestic players are driving the industry so that a new development pattern known as "dual circulation" will be formed, Yu said.
Social capital continues to flow into the property market, tourist projects and cultural performances near winter sports venues, which has expanded the winter sports service trade and ensures the sustainable development of the venues, Yu added.
As China pledges to build its capital city of Beijing into a demonstration zone that will deepen its opening up of the service industry, the winter sports service trade will inject new energy into the development of global exchanges.