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Altay in major push to boost winter tourism

  Altay, located in northern part of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, seeks to tap into its rich winter tourist resources and become a hot tourist destination for snow sports and snow-related tourist market, said the local tourist authorities at a promotion event held in Beijing on Monday.

  Winter tourist resources and new itineraries developed to suit various tourists groups were introduced at the event, which was attended by nearly 100 travel agencies and experienced travelers.

  The Altay region boasts rich landscape forms, from glacial rivers, forests and grasslands to alpine valleys, lakes, wetlands and deserts.

  With three five-A scenic attractions including the well-known Kanas Lake, as well as more than 200 quality tourist destinations scattered along the picturesque Altay Mountains, the Altay area is regarded as one of the most promising tourist markets in Xinjiang.

  The snow season in Altay lasts for as long as seven months, or eight months in its mountain areas. And the average snow thickness along the Altay Mountains is more than one meter. Also, the snow is the so-called "powder snow", which is believed to be the most suitable for snow sports.

  The long snow season, large amount and excellent quality of snow won Altay the award title "Snow Capital of China" from the National Climate Center in August.

  The special environment and climate conditions in Altay also make skiing an indispensable survival skill for people in the region, and it has been closely related to human life and economic development through history.

  In 2005, an ancient rock painting depicting people hunting with skis, dating back more than 120,000 years, was found in the area. This discovery has provided solid evidence of the area’s long tradition and culture in skiing.

  Currently three ski fields have been built in Altay, including China’s only alpine ski resort in a city, and the only ski resort in the country where heli-skiing is offered, as well as a new ski field that has second alpine downhill track in China that meets the requirements for the Olympic Games.

  Other special winter tourist experiences include winter fishing on the Ulungur Lake; festival experience with the local ethnic groups; a road trip through a snow mountain canyon; horse sledding and ice sculpturing.

  Also, to boost winter tourism, several direct flight routes connecting the area with major cities in the country, such as Shenzhen, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Nanjing and Xi’an, opened earlier this year.

  Meanwhile, flights connecting Altay and other parts of Xinjiang have been introduced.

  To ensure the smooth flow of traffic, the local government has upgraded all winter tourist roads, with a focus on traffic safety inspections in key scenic spots such as the Kanas Lake area.

  Separately, the local meteorological departments will also release timely information to ensure safe and smooth travel for tourists.