Zhangjiakou in north China's Hebei province taps into the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games to promote the development of the winter sport industry.
ZHANGJIAKOU, China, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- To host an Olympic Winter Games may seem beyond anyone's imagination dating back to 20 years ago. When the first cable car in Chongli was set up, the place was generally known as an agricultural county, which was even blurry to people 80 kilometers away in downtown Zhangjiakou.
Now over 20 percent of the local people are involved in the winter sports industry in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou city, where one of the Beijing 2022 competition zones is located.
The total investment in the winter sports industry among the whole Zhangjiakou area has reached 55.6 billion RMB, nearly 8.8 billion U.S. dollars.
February 4's grand opening of the Olympic Winter Games is approaching and Chongli may have the honor to welcome the Game's first gold in the cross-country skiing event.
With the joint efforts from the government and social sectors, the city of Zhangjiakou in Beijing's neighboring Hebei province now enjoys a booming winter sports industry riding the wave of the Olympics.
Wanlong CEO Luo Li is one of some Chinese entrepreneurs who are also skiing enthusiasts and have been behind the winter sports industry development in Chongli.
After going to ski several times in South Korea, Luo, who was running a chain bakery business then, raised his ambition to establish 'a real and advanced ski resort' in North China.
He had full confidence to copy the commercial success of South Korea's ski resorts when starting well-regarded Wanlong ski resort, the second resort in Chongli and the first one to be equipped with cable cars.
The recent data shows running the ski resort is no longer a "small business". In the last snow season, Chongli received 2.462 million tourists, and earned 2.02 billion yuan (about 320 million U.S. dollars).
Luo believes that there will be even greater opportunity for skiing business "after the Beijing 2022".
"Now the skiing sport has got unprecedented high interests from the ordinary people all over China, and our people have enough money to afford it.
"The high-speed rail, the airport, the hotels, all the facilities built for the Beijing 2022 are indeed the infrastructures to welcome the booming Chongli's skiing market in the future," he commented.
The soaring skiing market has also been attracting capital players.
An example is the Fulong group that invests a real estate and ski resort complex named Forlong resort in Chongli. The group also runs the banking and mining industry.
"One of the Forlong resort's targets is to meet the IPO (Initial Public Offerings) standard in the next three years," said Zhang Litao, the general manager of Fulong group's culture and tourism department.
Zhang also mentioned that in order to expand the Forlong resort's ability to continue operations in the non-snow season, they'll introduce several recreational facilities such as indoor surfing.
Zhang Litao, general manager of Fulong group's culture and tourism department. (Xinhua/Lu Xingji)
The surge of investment has brought Zhangjiakou nine large ski resorts, the total piste length of which has reached 164 kilometers. Those factors are comparable to the ski areas in Japan and Europe.
But Zhangjiakou's winter sports industry is not limited to skiing and tourism.
"In the past decade, our government has invited a number of snow and ice equipment manufacturers," the city's vice mayor Liu Haifeng said.
Well-known international entities like snow gun manufacturer TechnoAlpin and cable car company MND have already set production bases in a winter equipment industrial park here.
"The total output value of this industrial park has reached 590 million yuan (about 93.3 million U.S. dollars)," said Bai Jianhai, chief of the park.
A technician checks the snow gun in Zhangjiakou's TechnoAlpin factory. (Photo by Mou Yu/Xinhua)
Meanwhile, the local labor market and vocational education have also been changed.
At many vocational colleges in Zhangjiakou, young people who want to become ski instructors are being trained.
Good salary is obviously attracting young local people to flow into the winter sports industry as the income of a ski instructor may reach 150,000 RMB, nearly 23,730 U.S. dollars, per-snow season.