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Crowds flock to see Olympic venue

Wang Wei and Zhang Yu
Updated: Feb 16,2016 8:40 AM     China Daily

Tourist numbers surged in Chongli, Hebei province, this Spring Festival as more than half a million visitors flocked to see the future Winter Olympic Games venue.

According to the local tourism department, around 532,000 tourists visited over the weeklong holiday-a 25.8 percent increase on the year before.

Chongli district, which is administrated by Zhangjiakou, will play host to most of the snow events at the 2022 Games, alongside venues in Beijing’s downtown and Yanqing district.

The successful bid for the Games has made Chongli famous for winter sports throughout the country, resulting in twice as many people visiting Genting Resort Secret Garden ski resort this year, according to Zhao Qiong, its marketing director.

Estimating that up to 4,000 people per day visited the resort at the height of the Spring Festival, Zhao said that turnover had also increased by 51 percent this snow season-from November to February-when compared to the same period last year.

“We could have had more visitors if transportation was more convenient, as some holidaymakers were prevented from coming after roads were closed because of the snow,” said Zhao.

“The Olympic Games has indeed made Chongli better known, but because skiing is such a highly-skilled and expensive sport, we don’t expect the number of skiers to suddenly increase just because of the successful bid.”

One such would-be skier is Xing Shitian, from Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.

He said he had heard about the advanced sports facilities at Chongli and was impressed by the condition of the snow at the “world-class ski resorts”, but did not try to ski because there was still a lot to learn.

Other holidaymakers were similarly intrigued by the future Olympics venue, according to Liu Chunzhi, a hostess at a family-run hotel with 15 rooms in Chongli.

In the past, most of her guests were from neighboring Beijing, Tianjin and other cities in Hebei, she said.

But during this holiday, there were holidaymakers from southern cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou as well.

“They mainly stayed in Beijing and came to Chongli on their way back home,” said Liu. The hotel was fully booked on Feb 11-the fourth day after Lunar New Year.

“They didn’t know how to ski, but they wanted to see what the host city looks like. Thanks to the Games, they now consider Chongli a scenic spot.”

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