Winter tourism heats up Lunar New Year in China’s Jilin-Xinhua

Winter tourism heats up Lunar New Year in China’s Jilin-Xinhua

Winter tourism heats up Lunar New Year in China’s Jilin-Xinhua
This aerial photo taken on Jan. 19, 2023 shows a general view of Nangou Village, near Beidahu Ski Resort, northeast China’s Jilin Province. Driven by the economy of winter sports, a growing number of villagers have found their way to wealth. (Xinhua/Yan Linyun)

CHANGCHUN, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — On the eve of the Spring Festival, Zhang Zhaosheng, 57, hurried to hang the Spring Festival couplets before sitting down to make bread with some of the tourists visiting his B&B in Jilin province of northeastern China.

“This year, nearly 200 people celebrated the Spring Festival with us,” said Zhang, a resident of Nangou Village in Jilin’s Yongji County.

Together, Zhang and his guests chatted and laughed happily, sharing Spring Festival customs in their homes and enjoying delicious local foods such as iron pot stew and stewed goose with pickled cabbage.

“They should try our popular dishes to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year,” Zhang said.

A tourist surnamed Zhu traveled over 3,000 kilometers from southern China’s Guangdong Province to spend his Spring Festival at the famous Beidahu Ski Resort, which is only 5 kilometers from Nangou Village.

“Now it is very fashionable to come to the Northeast to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and snow and ice tourism is especially popular this year. I just wanted to spend more vacation time immersing myself in the fun of skiing, and I also wanted to get a true taste of the local way of celebrating the Spring Festival,” said Zhu.

In Nangou, Zhang has witnessed and benefited from the booming snow and ice tourism industry. He was once a farmer and the long winters left him with little to do but pass the time.

With snow and ice sports and tourism constantly heating up, Jilin Province’s highly suitable environment has made it a popular tourist destination. And Nangou and other villages near the Beidahu ski resort have been among the first in the province to reap the benefits of their strategic location.

Zhang started operating a B&B in 2013. “The original intention was to serve a few tourists. I didn’t expect the demand to grow so quickly,” he said.

He expanded the B&B in 2016, offering 16 rooms, and the business offers 60 rooms today. He noted that his family’s annual income has grown from less than 20,000 yuan (about US$2,815) to nearly 300,000 yuan.

“My two sons and daughter have all come back to help,” Zhang said. “This year we saw many familiar faces.”

After finishing their celebratory dinner this year, Zhang’s guests decided to go skiing the next day, and Zhang said he would offer them a free service.

This winter, the Beidahu ski resort increased the number of slopes from 27 to 64, and its skiing area has almost doubled to 239 hectares.

Yin Yixuan, a public relations officer at Beidahu Ski Resort, said the resort welcomed a total of 514,800 tourists from November 18 to February 4, an increase of 41 percent year-on-year, and its revenue increased by more than 40 percent to over 269 million yuan. Average resort hotel occupancy was 85 percent during the period.

“During the Spring Festival, the average daily number of guests exceeded 10,000, and we prepared many festival activities for tourists, such as dragon dances, firework displays and an intangible heritage exhibition,” Yin said.

Spring Festival travel bookings in Jilin saw a remarkable 560 percent year-on-year increase this year, according to a Spring Festival snow and ice tourism market forecast report released by China’s leading travel agency. online in mid-January.

And the growing popularity of winter tourism is boosting the confidence of business owners in the province. Betting on the market’s growing potential, Zhang is considering expanding his B&B business again.

“Nangou can now be called a ‘snow and ice village,’ and I am sure that the snow and ice economy will become more and more hot,” said He Jianming, a village official.

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