The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games have inspired an increasing number of people to take up sports, including ice and snow sports, thereby boosting the overall sports industry.
As a result, China's sports market will continue to expand at an accelerated rate in the next few years. It is expected to exceed 5 trillion yuan ($790 billion) by 2025, with the consumer base of the ice and snow tourism sector increasing to 500 million people and the potential total market rising to more than 1.1 trillion yuan, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the overall sports industry's revenue.
Thanks to younger sports enthusiasts and the diverse sports and tourism trends, the country's ice and snow industry, along with winter sports and tourism development programs will boost the overall economy and high-quality development.
By the end of 2019, the combined output value of the ice and snow industry had reached 423.5 billion yuan, up 56.9 percent from about 270 billion yuan in 2015. And by the end of 2020, the number of winter sports enthusiasts had crossed 20.9 million despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, before this year the fact that China would host the 2022 Winter Games helped local governments to encourage more and more people to take up winter sports and boost the ice and snow sports industry.
A large number of ice rinks, snow slopes and resorts have been built to seize the new opportunities offered by people's growing interest in winter sports, and an increasing number of jobs created to meet the growing needs of the sports industry and winter sports enthusiasts. For example, the number of winter sports-related professionals had reached 115,200 in Hebei province by the end of 2019, with about 75,100 of them working for the construction industry.
Besides, in an effort to meet people's need to be physically fit, the authorities expedited the construction of sports facilities in every area that was scheduled to host winter sports events. For example, 184 prefecture-level cities organized more than 1,200 snow sports events involving 250 million people. And all this prompted more people to try out ice and snow sports.
In addition, China winning the bid for the 2022 Winter Games led to the upgrading of the winter sports and related industries. For example, Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, co-host city for the Winter Games, introduced a new development plan, emphasizing snow sports-related construction, tourism, manufacturing and entertainment.
China's winter sports industry has shown strong practical and innovation ability－for instance, 38.24 percent of the cable cars near snow slopes in 2020 were developed domestically, a big increase compared with only 7.69 percent domestically-made ones in 2015, according to the 2020 China Ski Industry White Book. The book also said the manufacturing and service sectors of the winter sports and related industries will be an important driver of economic growth.
The country can benefit from the Winter Games legacy, too, by developing the construction, transportation, manufacturing and service sectors of the ice and snow sports economy. In fact, the authorities have announced that the sports facilities in Beijing and Zhangjiakou will be opened to the public after the Winter Games. This will unleash the development potential of the sites and boost consumption.
The fact that people will be encouraged to visit Winter Games' venues and people from the southern parts of China will comprise a big section of consumers in the winter sports market will help boost economic growth in both urban and rural areas. And the integration of various industries, due mainly to the Winter Games, will help the development of an array of new businesses and improve the management of sporting events.
The Winter Games have also provided an opportunity for China to adjust the supply and demand structure, transform the traditional industries, speed up urbanization, become more adept at hosting international events, and bolster the sustainable development of the sports industry.
As such, the government should support enterprises to strengthen their innovation capability, focus more on specialization and improve their brand value. It should also establish a group of highly-competitive leading sports enterprises, reuse the Winter Games venues to cater to the people's needs, and host more international winter sports events so more people would be inspired to take up winter sports, in order to boost domestic consumption, which in turn will contribute to economic growth.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
The author is director of the School of Economics and Management, Shanghai University of Sport.If you have a specific expertise, or would like to share your thought about our stories, then send us your writings at email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org.