|A sign for Liu Mingwen's Hostel hangs on his lodge in China's Snow Town in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province. Liu Zheng / For China Daily|
Hostel owners find white gold over winter for skiers and snowboarders
Before the turn of this century, Liu Mingwen was a driver, a machinist and an official of a State-owned farm in China's most northeast province, Heilongjiang. Now he is a hostel owner in China's Snow Town.
"We can't rely on excessive logging any longer and need to take full advantage of snow resources," said Liu, a former employee of the Dahailin Bureau of Forestry and the first hostel owner in the snow town.
Fifty-six years have passed since Liu arrived at Dahailin Forest Farm, originally called Shuangfeng Forest Farm. In addition to working as a woodcutter, he has also been a tractor driver, machinist, director of the manufacturing department and head of the logistics department of Shuangfeng Forest Farm.
He made another career change when he saw the potential of snow tourism from skiers and snowboarders in Northeast China and opened a hostel in the snow town.
The community is located in a timber farm under Dahailin Bureau of Forestry. The region offers a distinct climate, formed by the cold air from Lake Baikal and the warm current from the Sea of Japan.
In 1999, in compliance with the Tianbao Project, an initiative put forward by the Chinese government to protect natural forest resources, Dahailin Bureau of Forestry's ecological transformation began. Liu's village was renamed China's Snow Town and a snow tourism industry was put on the agenda.
In the same year, Liu retired from the bureau and started to manage his lodge.
Two years later, in 2001, the Snow Country National Forest Park was approved by the National Forestry Administration.
"The ice and snow in the village have become valuable platinum," said Li Hong, deputy director of the publicity department of the Heilongjiang provincial government.
As of December, 118 hostels have been successfully established and managed by woodcutter families. Tourism revenue has become the main source of income for the forestry bureau and the annual average turnover of the hostels can reach tens of thousands of yuan.
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