CIFTIS helps facilitate growth of winter sports in China
Cui Huiao

Interest in winter sports in China has grown. Some 300 million people are expected on the ice and snow this coming season. The China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) offers a platform for buyers and consumers in this lucrative sector, estimated to top over $150 billion by 2025. Equipment, gear and new technologies are on display for consumers to get more familiar with winter sports.

Despite the pandemic, some 20 Italian companies have brought their latest sports equipment and winter sportswear to the CIFTIS.

Gianpaolo Bruno is the trade commissioner of Italian Trade Agency's Beijing office. He said Italian companies are very pragmatic.

"We are here because we strongly believe in this market. We have long-standing tradition in organizing global events and winter sports events. We have wide arrange of companies specializing in different segments of the industry," said Bruno.

Italy has a very mature ice and snow industry thanks to a longstanding Alpine tradition, and strong innovation capabilities of its sport companies. The increasing number of ski resorts and winter sports parks in China provides an opportunity for Italian manufacturers, especially suppliers in the fields of snow sweepers and snow-making systems.

For example, Technoalpin is a leading manufacturer of snow-making systems. Its snow cannons will be of great use for the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics. The company established a branch office in China in 2014, and Lyu Shengming is the marketing director.

"After all our efforts, we are honored that our products will be making snow for all the major competition venues in Beijing 2022, including the National Alpine Ski Center in Yanqing, and the National Biathlon Center in Chongli," said Lyu.

Such involvement is crucial to developing winter sports in China. Government forecasts China's ice and snow market will reach 1 trillion yuan ($156 billion) by 2025, and CIFTIS provides the perfect platform to facilitate such growth.

"For example, we not only display products to be used in the upcoming Olympics, but also our latest technologies, which can be used in future ski resorts. The event allowed us to show our customers what we have developed, and what new services we can provide," said Lyu.

Italy's participation at this year's trade show carries another special significance – the handover from the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 to Milan – Cortina d'Ampezzo 2026. That means more synergy between China and Italy in the winter sports industry.

"We do not want to be vertical and only sponsor ski industry. We would like to have a holistic approach and introduce the concept of Italian mountain lifestyle. That includes art and culture, food and beverage, security and safety, and family values," said Bruno.

China's ski market size has grown by more than 480 percent since 2015 and is expected to hit 26 billion yuan in 2022. But Bruno said, once the Beijing Olympics are over, ensuring a sustainable winter sports industry requires a comprehensive and integrated approach to stay competitive in the marketplace.

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