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Chinese property giants look for a share in winter sports

2015-03-21 11:02 Xinhua Web Editor: Li Yan

China's real estate companies are looking forward to having a slice of cake in a booming winter sports market that followed Beijing's joint bid with neighboring Zhangjiakou for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

The past decade saw China's winter sports market attract enormous investments and about 400 skiing resorts built all over the country.

After years of expansion, China's property sector, one of the most lucrative industries, has been cooling down with the mounting pressure of piled-up inventory.

Leading developers such as China Vanke and Dalian Wanda Group have shifted their focus to the newly rising tourism real estate and ski resorts, after Beijing announced a joint bid with Zhangjiakou.

On Jan. 16 this year, Vanke opened Songhua Lake Ski Resort to skiers from home and aborad, starting to involve in the winter sports industry.

The resort, located in the city of Jilin, northeast China's Jilin Province, was built in the 1960s and served as the a venue for the 6th Chinese National Winter Games.

Vanke plans to put in 40 billion yuan to upgrade the resort and make it one of the world leading ski destinations in future.

Twelve pistes are open to tourists in Songhua Lake resort, and all the 34 pistes totalling 31 kilometers will be used in 2016.

"With China's economy developing, the leisure sports industry including skiing has been speeding up. North China boasts of natural snow resources and millions of people are willing to have their try on snow. The industry might not be very profitable now, but in the long run, the ski industry is definitely lucrative," said Wei Qinghua, one of the top advisors in the skiing industry.

"Compared with that of some European countries and Japan, skiing industry in China is lagging, which, in some ways, means a huge potential market," Wei added.

Yu Liang, the CEO of China Vanke, said the initiative will harvest remarkable economic and social benefits.

"Vanke has been making efforts to transform and the Songhua Lake Ski Resort. This is important to us, because we are exploring more business opportunities and space. We are hoping to set an example for other real estate developers," Yu said.

"And we are hoping to build a world class ski resort and inspire more Chinese to take to the sport. Now the country is bidding for the Winter Olympics, It's part of the Chinese Dream," Yu added.

Dalian Wanda Group, another real estate giant, is also drawn to the skiing industries by building a ski resort at the foot of the Changbai Mountain in Jilin. Wanda even built an indoor skiing ground in east China's Guangzhou, a tropical city which never sees natural snow.

"The country is inspiring more and more people to play winter sports. If we can have a Winter Olympics on home soil, it will be a golden opportunity to boost winter sports in every dimension, including government's support, competitive results and the skiing market," said Yi Jiandong, a sports industry analyst. Enditem

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