By Xinhua writer Li Hualing
CHONGQING, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- There's snow somewhere every month of the year, but what can you expect if you want to ski in Chongqing, China's so-called "parched city"?
Right before the Chinese New Year, the city's largest alpine ski resort Nantianhu opened to the public, attracting thousands of interested tourists and locals.
Located three hours' drive from Chongqing's main district, the Nantianhu Ski Resort is an artificial snow park that covers 60,000 square meters, with an average altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level.
To enable more people to learn skiing, the resort has professional coaches to teach new learners, Nantianhu Ski Resort manager He Jie said.
19-year-old Lin Xinyan came to Nantianhu with her family and had her first taste of skiing. "My family used to travel to Hainan for the sea and beaches during the Spring Festival, but this year we decided to explore something new. Skiing is amazing!"
For most southerners in China, winter sports like skiing were previously hard to reach. Southern cities seldom see snowfall, and going to northern cities or even abroad to experience skiing was a difficult and costly proposition.
However, since 2015, when Beijing won the rights to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, China has earmarked the winter sports industry as a significant growth area.
In 2016, a national plan was formulated to build around 800 ski resorts by 2020, which is fundamental to ensuring the country achieves its target of encouraging 300 million people to get involved in winter sports.
As a result, ski facilities are increasingly being constructed in China's southern cities. In Chongqing, there are six artificial ski resorts, and other cities like Chengdu, Guizhou and Guangzhou are also witnessing a boom in winter sports.
In comparison with China's northern regions, where the winter sports industry is more developed, He Jie believes that southern cities have a greater market to tap into, with people's increasing curiosity for skiing and their growing purchasing power.
"Chinese people are increasingly willing to try new things. They will fall in love with skiing. I'm happy to see more and more Chinese people participating in winter sports," she said.
(Yang Shiyan also contributed to the story.)