China’s 14th National Winter Games heat up tourism in N China

February 16, 2024
Updated 2024/02/16 at 8:20 PM
4 Min Read

HOHHOT, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — As the sun climbed high in Hulunbuir, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Bat Suh donned his traditional Mongolian robe and filled the air with lively Mongolian folk music, stepping out of his Mongolian yurt to warmly welcome tourists from across the country.

Hulunbuir, known for its beautiful grasslands and vast forests in summer, is a famous tourist destination. However, winter, spanning seven months with temperatures plummeting well below minus 20 degrees Celsius, usually presents challenges for herdsmen living on the grasslands.

But this winter, unlike previous years, has proven to be remarkably different for Bat Suh.

With the commencement of China’s 14th National Winter Games on February 17 here, the usual winter lull has transformed into a flurry of activity. Featuring over 3,700 athletes participating in 176 events, this edition marks the largest and most extensive in the history of the National Winter Games.

Bat Suh, a 50-year-old local herdsman, has been involved in tourism for 12 years. He describes this winter as the busiest he has experienced. “The impact of the ’14th Winter Games’ is very apparent. This winter, we have seen an increase in tourists, as well as many activities,” he explained.

In anticipation of the Winter Games, Bat Suh and his partners have been hosting a daily winter sports Nadam fair since December last year. Here, tourists can immerse themselves in the essence of Mongolian culture and traditional sports, engaging in activities like Bokh (Mongolian-style wrestling), horseback archery, and camel plowing.

Despite the biting chill and the vast grasslands blanketed in snow, tourists remain undeterred in their enthusiasm for winter sports activities.

Amidst cheers, Zhang Ruitang, a visitor from Hebei Province, showcased his skills in Bokh, defeating local Mongolian youths to claim victory. Nearby, his sister Zhang Ruiyang captured this precious experience on her phone.

Fourteen-year-old Zhang Ruiyang, a devoted fan of speed skating star Lin Xiaojun and a short track speed skating enthusiast for more than a year, saw her winter dream come to life in Hulunbuir. Her parents had planned an immersive experience for her and her brother, scheduling to attend three days of short track speed skating competitions back-to-back.

“Here we can not only watch the national team athletes compete up close, but also experience the Mongolian traditional culture,” said Zhang’s mother, Zheng Xian, adding that many people are coming here to watch the 14th national Winter Games, and it is difficult to book tickets.

“This is the first time for my hometown to host such a grand event. I am so proud,” Bat Suh said with a smile, proudly noting that his two daughters are set to perform at the opening ceremony.

The fervor for winter sports has revitalized Hulunbuir’s off-peak tourist season and has given Bat Suh hope for the development of his career. “In the new year, my wish is to continue organizing nomadic cultural activities, developing live performance projects, and providing visitors from afar to better experience Mongolian culture and customs,” he shared.

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