The growing public demand for reacreational winter sports driven by Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics will significantly boost tourism to the Chinese capital, said officials.
Visiting the Bird's Nest or the Water Cube has been a must for tourists who visit Beijing while the city's bid for the 2022 Olympics is expected to further lure global visitors with new winter sports facilities and promotions in its bidding plan, said Wang Yue, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.
"Sports-themed packages such as venue-exploring tours and sports merchandizing sales have contributed a lot to Beijing's tourism industry since the 2008 Olympics. The bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics will build upon the momentum to further boost the business," Wang said at a press conference to unveil Beijing's Winter-Olympic-themed New Year countdown celebration on Monday.
"A variety of winter sports facilities will be built in Beijing and the surrounding areas. We believe they will become new attractions for the city even in tourism low seasons during winter, when traditionally people would stay indoors rather than traveling around, and lure more visitors to participate in city's already-growing recreational winter sports," said Wang.
According to the tourism development commission, there are 27 well-equipped skating and skiing resorts around Beijing receiving more than 2.5 million consumers annually.
Some of the landmark 2008 Olympics venues like the MasterCard Center, formerly known as Wukesong Arena, have built new facilities to cater to the increasing number of winter sports enthusiasts in Beijing.
The Iceworld Sports Land, an outdoor skating festival introduced from the Netherlands, opened its doors to consumers on the flat square outside the MasterCard Center, which hosted the 2008 Olympics' basketball tournament, over the weekend.
The 15,000-square-meter park, which features a 1,800sqm skating rink, a 600sqm bumper-car rink and a 10m high ice slide, has attracted more than 6,000 visitors since its trial operation on Dec 9, according to operator Bloomage International Investment Group.
Wang Hui, spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee, envisioned that the upcoming activities highlighted by the New Year countdown will stimulate the winter recreation boom.
"There is only one winter before the International Olympic Committee announces the 2022 host city next July, so this winter is our chance to demonstrate to the world how passionate Chinese people are about winter sports and relevant activities, as well as the winter sports resources in the city," said Wang.
According the tourism commission, the New Year countdown celebrations will be held at Beijing's Olympic Park downtown, at the foot of the Great Wall in Yanqing county and the skiing resorts in co-host city Zhangjiakou in Hebei province on the night of Dec 31.
The entire event will last for four hours featuring arts performances, winter sports demonstrations and interactions between winter Olympians and the audience before the coming of the 2015 New Year.