Snow, Ice & Hospitality | Harbin Becomes The Brightest Tourism Star In China

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HARBIN-CHINA: This winter, the city of Harbin has spared no effort to show sincerity and creativity in entertaining, if not spoiling, tourists from all over the world.

Currently, Chinese citizens have portrayed the city as a generous big brother who is doing everything possible to entertain guests coming from afar with its unique charms and creative ideas.

Harbin has long been a major tourist attraction in winter, and it has garnered more attention this winter. It ranked fifth among the most popular cities for the 2024 New Year holiday, following Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Among the top 10 cities, Harbin is the only one located in northeast China.

During the recent three-day New Year holiday, Harbin received over 3 million tourists, creating a revenue of 5.9 billion yuan ($826 million), according to the latest data from the Harbin municipal bureau of culture, radio, television and tourism. Both numbers surpassed historic highs.

Wearing puffer jackets, hats and gloves, tens of thousands of tourists would dance to the music in the Harbin Ice-Snow World, an ice and snow theme park, when the temperature was as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Launched in 1999, the park has been a star of the city’s winter tourism. This winter, it has built nearly 1,000 ice and snow sculptures and artistic installations, and a diverse range of activities are on offer to entertain tourists.

The giant ice slide is the most popular item among park-goers. In order to meet the rising demand of tourists, the number of slides has increased from eight in previous years to 14, with the longest one extending 521 meters.

“I waited about five hours before trying the slide, but it’s totally worth it,” He Xiaoyu, who just got off a slide, told China Media Group (CMG) with excitement.

In addition to the allure of icy adventures, Harbin’s tourism boom is also a testament to China’s burgeoning enthusiasm for winter sports, with the city set to host the 2025 Asian Winter Games.

As the hub of rail traffic in northeast China, Harbin connects the world-famous Yabuli ski resort and other famous ice and snow tourist attractions, which can all be reached in two or three hours. While Harbin witnesses an unprecedented surge in winter tourism, cities like Mohe and Yichun also see growing numbers of tourists.

Yang Xiaoliang, a ski instructor, told CMG that he goes to the ski resort almost every day and that high-speed trains are very convenient. Located about 220 kilometers southeast of Harbin, the Yabuli ski resort can be reached by high-speed train in about an hour.

The skiing culture in China is still in the making, with the number of skiers in China expected to reach 35 million by 2027, according to data from Sullivan Consulting.

The boom cannot be attributed to pure luck since Harbin has been preparing for it for a year, said He Jing, director of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Heilongjiang Province.

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