Tourism craze doesn’t melt in China’s ‘icy baby’, Harbin


Visitors at the Harbin International Ice & Snow Festival in Harbin, in January. — Bloomberg

Harbin, known as China’s “ice city” in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, reported a 35% year-on-year increase in the number of tourists and a 71.7% increase in tourism revenue during China’s recent May Day holiday, demonstrating the sustained growth and development vitality of the city’s tourism market.

During the five-day break, Harbin welcomed more than 6.2 million tourists, generating tourism revenue of nearly CNY7.3bil (RM4.79bil), according to the city’s tourism department.

Data released by Ctrip, a leading travel platform in China, shows an 85% year-on-year increase in inbound tourism orders to Harbin as a destination.

The city has witnessed a tourism boom since gaining popularity on social media platforms last winter. Harbin’s abundant ice-and-snow resources, attentive services for tourists and favourable government policies have transformed it into a bustling holiday destination.

During the three-day New Year holiday, the city welcomed nearly 3.05 million visitors, raking in CNY5.91bil (RM3.88bil) in tourism revenue.

Both the number of tourists and the amount of tourism revenue surpassed the figures for 2019, marking a historical peak.

Despite the melting of ice and snow and the closure of the landmark theme park, Harbin Ice-Snow World, enthusiasm for tourism in the ice city remains undiminished. To attract more tourists and improve overall services, Harbin has introduced an array of activities, innovated consumer scenes, and enhanced the consumer experience during the holiday.

On the first day of the May Day holiday, a giant inflatable castle theme park opened to the public at the Ice-Snow World site. A brand new 18m-tall inflatable snowman replaced the original snowman, attracting parents and children to experience the new theme park.

“The tourism boom in Harbin shouldn’t be limited to just the winter season; it should flourish all year round,” said Wang Hongxin, director of the culture and tourism bureau of Harbin.

Theme buses and theme cruise ships have offered the opportunity to enjoy the city’s sites, nighttime light shows, drone performances, and the scenic Songhua River. The city has also hosted dramas, symphonies, ballets and other performances for tourists from across the world.

“I didn’t expect to see such large crowds at all the major attractions. I went out with friends and felt the bustling atmosphere during the holiday, which made me very happy,” said Cang Xin, a local resident.

To further boost summer tourism, Harbin will host more activities featuring music, beer, and performance festivals. – Xinhua

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