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Heilongjiang rolls out new array of winter tourism activities

Updated: Jan 11, 2019 chinadaily.com.cn Print

The northern region of Heilongjiang province has upgraded its winter tourism package and now offers custom-made tours and interactive programs for winter vacationers.

To satisfy the demands of tourists of different age groups, more than 300 events featuring folk celebrations and winter sports as well as over 4,000 art performances will be held between now and April 30, says Zhang Lina, head of the Heilongjiang culture and tourism authority.

Four routes in the province's northernmost point that take tourists to view Beiji village, a volcano, a forest, and a red-crowned crane, have been redesigned, while a special tour of the provincial capital Harbin has been upgraded, according to Zhang.

In addition, more than 10 activities involving ice and snow, including snowmobile rides, snowfield cross-overs, as well as snow and ice art and recreational programs have been introduced. There will also be preferential rates offered for hotels and scenic spots during this promotional period.

Heilongjiang received nearly 130.2 million visitors in the first three quarters of this year, an increase of 12.8 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the provincial culture and tourism authority. Total tourism income reached 179.3 billion yuan ($25.9 billion) for the same period, a rise of about 21.42 percent.

Heilongjiang boasts lush forests, wetlands and lakes, all of which would present a different view in winter. The frozen waterfalls at Jingpo Lake, the exquisite rime-glazed landscapes at Kurbin, and China's largest red pine forests at Yichun are just a few of the many winter wonders one should not miss.

The province's pristine ice and snow has also been highlighted at annual events such as the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, the snow sculpture exhibition at Sun Island and world-class ski events at the Yabuli resort. Scenes of the red-crowned crane at Zhalong National Nature Reserve dancing in the snow have also drawn hordes of nature lovers over the years.

China's successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics has given winter tourism across the country a boost, with the number of winter tourists expected to hit 340 million between 2021 and 2022, according to the China Tourism Academy.

"Heilongjiang's winter sports are the best-developed in the country and contribute the most to China's winter sport and tourism development," says Zhu Chengyi, deputy director of the winter sport management center with China's General Administration of Sport.

The province has a well-developed winter sport infrastructure, which also promises winter fun for travelers, Zhu explains.

Many tourist attractions have launched new programs to entice visitors. For instance, the Polar Museum of Harbin will introduce polar culture to its visitors starting this year.

"For example, we'll help our visitors to understand how local people, such as the Eskimos, live in the polar area and their folk custom and relations with polar animals," says Zhang Zhimin, marketing director with the museum.

The facility also offers polar animal education and performances for young visitors. It attracted 700,000 visitors last year, up 3 percent from the previous year.

Hiking along the border, mass winter hunting, a rime festival and a photography competition will also be held at the Heihe, which is a stone throw's away from Russia.

Mei Hongwei, head of the marketing development division with the Heihe Culture and Tourism Commission said that a warm mineral spring at Wudalianchi has just been opened.

Over at Jiamusi, visitors now have a chance to interact with the local Hezhe people, one of the smallest ethnic groups in the country.

"Visitors would be able to paint fresco and partake in an all-fish banquet with the Hezhe people. They could go fishing on the frozen lake with them too," says Li Guang, deputy director of Jiamusi tourism development commission.

China's well-known short-track speed skater Yang Yang says that she is planning to take her two children back to her hometown of Heilongjiang to see ice lanterns this winter. She adds that she has never seen anything as big as the ice-snow world in Harbin elsewhere on Earth.

She also encourages the daredevils to try swimming in the Songhua River.

"I've tried it myself. It was very scary at the beginning, but the experience of rapid muscle contractions is extremely thrilling," Yang says.

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