Avalanche of skiers hit the slopes for festival2023-02-27 | chinadaily
CHANGCHUN — Snowboards and sleds have become the latest additions to luggage for Lunar New Year travelers, along with local specialties and gifts for family get-togethers.
Even a year after the conclusion of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, enthusiasm for winter sports continues to grip China, impelling a legion of winter tourists to join the first Spring Festival travel rush after the country relaxed COVID-19 measures.
Many people took advantage of the holiday season to hit the slopes and enjoy the snowy weather.
"Apart from suitcases, snowboards, sleds and other winter sports gear are the most common items of luggage at the airport this holiday," said Zhang Haili, a manager at the Changchun Longjia International Airport in Jilin province, which is home to several world-class ski resorts.
Through the 40-day holiday rush, the province's airports registered 15,500 flights and 1.93 million passenger trips, up 9.56 percent and 0.56 percent, respectively, from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to the Jilin Civil Airports Group Company.
Winter sports tourists accounted for more than 60 percent of the air traffic, according to the company.
Since last December, Changbaishan Airport in Baishan has increased domestic flights to cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing in Jiangsu province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.
Last month, it handled a record 90,000 passengers, up 89.59 percent year-on-year and 35.77 percent higher than in 2019.
Located just 15 kilometers from the airport, the Changbai Mountain Wanda International Resort has become a popular destination for ski enthusiasts from the eastern and southern regions of China.
Song Wei, a veteran skier from Shanghai, has been practicing at the resort since last month.
"I used to go to Japan and Europe to ski, but now Changbai Mountain is my new destination," Song said.
During the Spring Festival holiday, the resort's revenue exceeded 10 million yuan ($1.46 million) for three consecutive days, the most it has made since 2012.
"With high-speed railways and flights linking the resort, people now have easier access to winter sports fun," said Yang Zhe, a manager of the resort.