With the 2022 Winter Olympics fast approaching, the enthusiasm for ice-and-snow sports is growing nationwide, making the sports services exhibition a popular destination at the ongoing China International Fair for Trade in Services.
As one of the eight thematic exhibitions being held at Shougang Industrial Park, the sports services exhibition covers 12,900 square meters, and has attracted more than 200 well-known businesses to showcase their innovation and marketing strengths both online and offline.
The sports services exhibition is comprised of three sections focused on winter sports, international trade in services, and sports combined with culture.
A highlight of the winter sports section, the World Winter Sports (Beijing) Expo, which opened on Friday, is leveraging global ice-and-snow industrial resources, with overseas exhibitors accounting for more than 60 percent of the total.
At the nearly 500-sq-m pavilion for Italy, the guest country of honor for the expo, the Italian National Tourism Agency and the country's Veneto region, as well as more than 20 businesses and organizations, are displaying ice-and-snow sports equipment and technologies, together with winter tourism resources.
Gianpaolo Bruno, trade commissioner of the Italian Trade Commission's Beijing Office, told Chinese media that the exhibits are mostly related to winter sports, including outdoor sports equipment and tourism products centering on the Alps.
Bruno said they wanted to introduce Italian alpinist experiences to Chinese consumers, helping them learn more about skiing and climbing.
Other countries including Austria, Japan, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Belarus are also flexing their ice-and-snow muscle in industrial and cultural resources.
Since its launch during the 2012 CIFTIS, the sports services exhibition has attracted participants from more than 50 countries and regions.
China's ice-and-snow industry is booming at the moment, and there is a national goal of attracting 300 million Chinese people to ice rinks and ski slopes, which indicates broad cooperation opportunities for the business communities in China and Italy, Bruno said.
Currently, more than 6.18 million businesses are involved in the sports industry in China, and around 77 percent of them were founded in the past five years, news portal Jiemian reported.
And more than 310,000 of them are engaged in the sectors related to sports competitions.
The Chinese market of sports competitions and performances is forecast to reach 40.09 billion yuan ($6.2 billion) in 2021, Jiemian quoted the estimation from an industrial research institute as saying.
To date, nearly 7,000 businesses specialize in ice-and-snow sports, mainly based in Harbin, Heilongjiang province in Northeast China, and the twin host cities of the 2022 Winter Olympics: Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. More than half of those businesses were founded over the past five years.
Preparations for the Winter Olympic Games have promoted China's rapid comprehensive growth in sports, said Zhao Yinggang, an official from the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The influence of the Winter Olympics has gone far beyond competitions and sports－it will further boost the social and economic development of cities, countries and regions, Zhao noted.
The ongoing CIFTIS has attracted legions of sports-related businesses.
At the exhibition booth of Beijing Matrix Technologies, it is displaying a piece of paper-thin new material that can work as a protective shield against extreme temperatures.
Zhong Feipeng, chief scientist at the company, told China Radio International Online that he expects such a thin material to gain popularity among overseas buyers.
"CIFTIS provides a most effective platform for businesses to enter the international market," Zhong said. "We received more than 300 emails from overseas via CIFTIS last year and have reached strategic cooperation with a good few large multinationals."
Yang Yan, business development director at Snow 51, a Shanghai-based online skiing service platform, told CRI Online: "CIFTIS is an ideal venue to showcase our technologies. Through exchanges with industry-leading companies, we can rapidly grow from a green hand to a key component of China's digitalized sports industrial chain."
Digital technologies have broken the constraints of weather and venues on skiing sports, she said. "Now we have more people using technologies to create, locate and nurture this market."
On Saturday alone, 14 sports projects totaling 11.1 billion yuan were signed, a record high at the sports services exhibition, according to organizers.