Skiers compete in a race at Thaiwoo Ski Resort in Chongli district, Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province. (CHINA DAILY)
Buildup to 2022 Olympics helps make skiing holidays popular
Chongli, about 150 kilometers northwest of Beijing, has become a mecca for China's fast-growing band of skiing enthusiasts in the three years since the capital successfully bid to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Even though 35-year-old Wang Yang, a media worker and enthusiastic skier from Beijing, knows the ski resorts will be crowded at this time of the year, he's maintaining his weekly routine of trips to Chongli, a district in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province.
To escape the stress of city life, he drives three and a half hours every weekend from his home in western Beijing's Gongzhufen area to Genting Resort Secret Garden, a ski resort in Chongli.
"I have been enchanted with skiing for seven years," Wang said, adding that the thrill of skiing down a snow-covered mountain at high speed always makes him eager to go again.
He used to ski closer to home but has opted for Chongli as a regular skiing spot in recent years because it has become a "big star" in the skiing world since July 2015, when Beijing won the right to co-host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Chongli will hold 50 Olympic events in six disciplines-snowboarding, freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined and biathlon-according to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
"It's a great thrill for a ski-lover like me to play at a host venue for an Olympic Games because all of its infrastructure must be at international level," Wang said.
Hosting the Winter Olympics has given Chongli great momentum to further develop its winter sports industry.
A winter sports destination for two decades, the district now boasts seven resorts for skiing and skating, four of which are listed among the top 10 in China, according to its tourism bureau.
The resorts have 169 ski slopes with a total length of 162 kilometers, and can host more than 50,000 skiers a day.
In 2017, about 4 million tourists visited Chongli, mainly for skiing, three times as many as in 2012, according to the district's tourism bureau.
Thaiwoo Ski Resort, a resort in Chongli with 34 ski slopes covering 800,000 square meters, expects to receive 250,000 visitors during the 2018-19 winter season, which runs from November to April, according to its marketing director, Wu Qiong.