Northern provinces to drive ice, snow economy, according to local people's congresses

China Daily Updated: 2024-01-29


Tourists visit the China Snow Town scenic area in Heilongjiang province on Wednesday. [FU TIAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, should not only focus on the boost to consumption brought by the recent jump in ice and snow tourism, but also seize opportunities around hosting the 9th Asian Winter Games in 2025, deputies said at the ongoing annual session of the Heilongjiang Provincial People's Congress.

"In 2023, Heilongjiang carried out a series of measures to activate the cultural tourism market, and introduced high-quality tourism development plans to release tourism consumption potential," Liang Huiling, governor of the province, said while delivering a government work report to the session, which opened on Wednesday in Harbin. "In the winter, Heilongjiang has become the most popular ice and snow tourist destination in the country.

"In 2024, Heilongjiang will continue to improve the development quality of its cultural tourism industry via strengthening its market-oriented operation, standardized construction and management," she said. "We have set the goal of receiving over 100 million tourists with tourism revenue exceeding 150 billion yuan ($21 billion) in the ice and snow season of 2024."

Data from the provincial department of culture and tourism show that last year the province received over 218 million tourists, a year-on-year increase of 85.1 percent, and achieved tourism revenue of 221 billion yuan, more than a threefold year-on-year increase.

"It is necessary to maintain the heat of winter tourism in Harbin and seize the opportunity to promote its summer tourism," said Jiao Hongwei, a deputy and head of Heilongjiang Jiao's Eye Hospital. "Harbin has the reputation of both a summer capital and ice city. The city should fully develop its tourism resources and increase tourist routes, which can help attract more tourists to stay longer."

Like many other deputies, Zhang Jingfeng expects ice and snow tourism in Heilongjiang can reach a new stage by taking advantage of the 9th Asian Winter Games.

"In my proposal, I have suggested fully mobilizing the resources of ice and snow literature, sports and tourism to create a batch of literature and art works for the Games, which can also show the unique charm of Heilongjiang's ice and snow culture," said Zhang, also deputy director of Harbin Symphony Orchestra.

Deputy Sui Xifeng said that it is necessary to develop transportation to support the ice and snow industry.

"Transportation is the basic support and prerequisite for ice and snow tourism, especially for the vast and sparsely populated northern border provinces," said Sui, president of Heilongjiang Beidacang Group. "A three-dimensional transportation network, including aviation, railway and highway can bring convenience to tourism.

"On the other hand, some new tourism formats, such as self-driving tourism, can also create a new space for the development of transportation," she added.

In neighboring Jilin and Liaoning provinces, mentions of the ice and snow economy have also been common during the local two sessions.

"In 2023, Jilin launched a 1 trillion yuan tourism industry action and promoted the interaction of winter and summer tourism," the province's governor, Hu Yuting, said while delivering a government work report on Wednesday. "In 2023, Jilin received 314 million tourists and achieved tourism income of 527.7 billion yuan."

The province has identified tourism as a 1 trillion yuan pillar industry during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, with winter tourism occupying a significant portion.

"In 2024, we will continue to make efforts to build the province's world-class snow and ice brands, snow and ice tourism resorts and summer resorts," he said. "We expect to see the total tourism revenue exceed 600 billion yuan."

Liaoning is aiming to build a stronger and higher-quality ice and snow economy, according to its government work report released on Tuesday.

According to a provincial work plan, the growth rate of the ice and snow economy will be higher than the growth of regional gross domestic product by 2025, becoming a new bright spot in Liaoning's economic development.

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