Improved transport drives winter tourism boom in Xinjiang
Source: China Daily
Visitors try traditional Kazakh wooden skis at Hemu village in Altay prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]
Visitors flock to Altay prefecture to view dramatic scenery and diverse cultural events
The winter snow in Kanas national park, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has turned into white treasure for the local population.
Kanas, a Mongolian word that means "a beautiful and mysterious place", is known for its picturesque landscapes, where tourists are captivated by the primitive beauty of its soaring mountains, intersecting ravines and gullies, luxuriant forests and grasslands, clear waters and fresh air.
Bordering Mongolia and Russia, it has long been popular as a summer getaway. But it is becoming increasingly attractive as a winter wonderland. Improved transportation and accommodation in the area have attracted growing numbers of tourists to Altay prefecture in winter to see snow-covered scenery and diverse cultural attractions.
"Kanas is not only beautiful in summer, but attractive year-round," said Sawurqik, a herdsman in Hemu who has turned her home into a homestay where she provides meals, rooms and activities－visitors can enjoy authentic Kazakh specialties such as horse meat noodles and milk tea.
Sawurqik used to have visitors only in summer and fall. But now she is busy in the cold season too as hundreds of tourists come to spend their winter holidays.
"In recent years, our family has earned more than 20,000 yuan ($3,065) per year due to the development of tourism, accounting for half our total income," she said.
As the allure of the cold season has grown, more local households have seized the opportunity to offer accommodations and meals to tourists and provide a variety of activities, such as horse rides, fishing, skiing and other local sports.
With winter lasting five months or more, the area is coated with snow for up to 180 days a year and its skiing conditions could well be on a par with the Swiss Alps, according to Li Bin, Altay's deputy Party chief.
At the first snow festival in Hemu on Jan 1, visitors saw a string of exciting shows involving ski jumping, snowmobiling, Alpine skiing and ancient hunting practices.
Some archaeologists believe the area was one of the first places where humans used skis. Paleolithic rock paintings of people using skis were discovered in 2005. Visitors can also take part in a search for wolves, which will be held for the second time this year, according to the park's administrative committee.
During the adventure, visitors travel in a horse-drawn sleigh, which remains the primary means of winter transportation in Kanas.
Celebrations for Spring Festival and a winter scenery photography competition have also been arranged, the committee said.
Hemu villagers jump into snowdrifts to entertain tourists during the snow festival. [Photo/Xinhua]
Edited by Zhao LinBack>>