NE China ice and snow proving a magnet for travelers-Xinhua

NE China ice and snow proving a magnet for travelers

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-04 15:32:15

A tourist has fun at the Sun Island scenic area in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 1, 2024.  (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)

SHENYANG, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- Once she arrived in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, Shi Lei discovered immediately that she couldn't resist the lure of the snow, as she found herself flushing due to both excitement and the winter cold.

"When I looked down from the plane, I saw the land coated in white, which looked so magical," said the woman from Shanghai, a metropolis in east China located 1,000-plus kilometers from Shenyang.

In this city, which served as capital of Manchu before the establishment of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), where temperatures well below zero Celsius are normal in winter, Shi and her boyfriend planned to celebrate the beginning of 2024 by visiting the Qing-era imperial palace complex and eating braised goose in an iron pot, a form of traditional cuisine in the northeast of China.

China's former major industrial heartland and once called the "rust belt" because of the difficulties it encountered in terms of transformation and development, northeast China, which consists of the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, is now known best for its rich ice and snow resources and is welcoming many visitors from across the country this winter.

While many flock to the northeast for winter sports like skiing, Shuangfeng Forest Farm which is known as China's "Snow Town," has also proved a significant attraction, having received close to 600,000 visitors from the start of this winter season until the end of 2023.

Located in the city of Mudanjiang in Heilongjiang Province, the "Snow Town" rose to fame in recent years thanks to its unique setting and climate, with the thickness of its average annual snowfall reaching up to 2.6 meters.

The "Snow Town" opened to the public on November 10 last year, 32 days earlier than in 2022, with lanterns and snow sculptures prepared for visitors. Another tourist attraction in Heilongjiang, the Harbin Ice-Snow World, a renowned ice-and-snow theme park covering 810,000 square meters, opened on December 18 last year.

To greet visitors, a number of buses in Harbin were turned into mobile discos featuring neon lights and music. Some local residents, dressed in cotton-padded jackets with red-and-green floral patterns typical in northeast China, provided taxi services for visitors free of charge.

During the three-day New Year holiday, Harbin received a total of 3.04 million visitors, raking in over 5.9 billion yuan (about 831 million U.S. dollars) in tourism revenue.

Tourists queue for rides on an ice slide at the Harbin Ice-Snow World in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 1, 2024. (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei)

According to Tujia, a Chinese homestay booking platform, Harbin for the first time became the most popular destination in China in terms of the number of homestay bookings, increasing 27-fold during the New Year holiday period year on year, while the number of homestay bookings in Shenyang saw a 20-fold rise in this period.

Li Kai, deputy head of the China Academy of Northeast Revitalization, attributed the popularity of northeast China among tourists to both the greater popularity of winter sports, boosted significantly by the high-profile 2022 Winter Olympics in China, and the change of image of this former "rest belt" region. "The stereotypical perception of the region as a desolate industrial base is being shaken off," he said.

In addition, northeast China gained more exposure on screen, with several popular TV dramas set there recently. Suspense dramas "The Long Season" and "Nobody Knows" were rated at 9.4 and 7.7 out of 10, respectively, in the past two years on popular review site Douban, arousing people's interest in their filming locations.

This photo taken on Jan. 1, 2024 shows fireworks above the Fantawild Adventure in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province. Various events are held across the country to celebrate the New Year. (Xinhua/Long Lei)

Chen Mingxin was among the tourists who decided to see what northeast China was really like.

"I was impressed by the warm-heartedness of people and the grandeur of buildings," said the tourist from east China's Jiangsu Province. "I could still see traces of industrial civilization in many cities, and felt too fascinated to leave!"

Local cultural and tourism officials were also busy promoting tourist resources through various means, hoping to attract visitors from elsewhere in China.

"Today I brought the northeast China-style cloth with a floral pattern, and I invite you to spend the winter vacation or celebrate the Spring Festival in Shenyang," said Liu Kebin, head of the Shenyang city bureau of culture, tourism, radio and television, to students in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan Province ahead of the New Year holiday break. Liu then threw the cloth he brought into the crowd, and students vied to catch it.

Cheng Chaogong, chief researcher with the Tongcheng Research Institute affiliated to a major online travel agency, noted that with all the benefits it delivers to northeast China, the influx of a large number of tourists is also a test of local service, management and quick response capabilities in the northeast.

"Local governments and tourist enterprises should take this chance to improve themselves," he said.

Li Kai hoped that the travel frenzy will help visitors learn more about the northeastern provinces, so that other industries there can also be positively affected. "We need to make the tourism boom a long-term one, boosting the comprehensive economic development of the region," he said. 


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