Inside observe on the nice outside

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Outdoor sports and leisure activities, like this long-distance running event in Chongli District in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, are gaining popularity among China’s middle class. CHINA DAILY

New national guidelines show the way for the outdoor sports and leisure sector

Despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese government remains optimistic about the growth of outdoor sports and leisure activities, with the sector’s total production value expected to exceed 3 trillion yuan ($414 billion) by 2025.

While hosting major international sporting events is still suspended due to the pandemic, public enthusiasm for outdoor sports in China continues to grow as the country’s health-conscious middle class embraces fitness as a fashionable lifestyle choice.

In order to better guide the development of the sector, the General Administration of Sport of China has issued guidelines for the development of the outdoor sports industry, with support and input from the country’s economic planning, urban planning, natural resource management, culture and tourism Issued 2022 -25.

The document released on Monday addresses six main tasks, including exploring more natural resources for outdoor sports projects, improving the layout of such projects, stimulating consumption and diversifying services, and developing the outdoor sector into a growth pillar for the entire sports industry, which is expected to reach a total size of 5 trillion yuan by 2025.

The guidance document is the first of its kind nationally and is a timely boost to the industry, which urgently needs scientific design, sustainable planning and safety regulation, say experts.

“From marathon running to cycling, skiing to hiking, Chinese people, especially city dwellers, are increasingly interested in such exercises not only to keep fit but also as a social outlet,” said Wang Xueli, director of Tsinghua University’s Sports Development Center Industry .

“Young people in particular are drawn to adventurous and vibrant outdoor sports – a trend being driven by social media,” she added.

“However, the risky nature of such activities and the potential violation of environmental regulations by both individual enthusiasts and companies in the industry pose challenges that are addressed in the newly released guidelines.”

Illustrative of Wang’s point is the recent boom in paddling on Beijing’s park lakes and urban waterways, such as the Liangma River in downtown and the Wenyu River in the eastern suburbs.

The popularity of paddleboarding has spurred business opportunities in training and equipment rentals, but has also led to clashes with city government agencies and property enforcement agencies.

The guidance document seeks to avoid such disputes, with one of its core principles being to “open more natural resources, national parks and urban areas to outdoor exercise in innovative ways, using environmental protection as a foundation.” According to Zhou Lijun, a researcher at Zhejiang University, this strategy can help ensure safer and more organized outdoor activities.

“How to make the most of all kinds of natural resources under the condition of adequate protection for outdoor sports is a challenging practice worldwide,” said Zhou, director of the National Sports Industry Research Center at the university.

“The guidelines will educate businesses and governing bodies on how they can work together to create more space for outdoor sports while keeping their operations in check.”

Inspired by the success of Beijing 2022, mass participation in skiing and snowboarding is expected to reach new heights this winter as several major mountain resorts centered around Beijing and its co-host Zhangjiakou in Hebei Province prepare to capitalize on Olympic heritage .

According to the policy document, an outdoor sports and tourism belt based on winter sports consumption will be built from the country’s northeastern border to the northwestern end, including Beijing and Hebei, with continuous investment in resort construction, equipment manufacturing, training and accommodation is invested.

The development of winter sports facilities, which led to 346 million Chinese people participating in winter sports at least once by the time the games opened in February, is expected to generate a total gross value of 1 trillion yuan by 2025, according to an industry report released in September.

“The potential of winter sports remains huge, even though the ski boom has already swept across northern China in recent years,” said Li Xiaoming, deputy director of winter sports administration at the Beijing Municipal Sports Bureau.

“Today more than ever, the industry needs regulations on business operations and security measures. The national guide is a great help, but it is more important that companies operate in a sustainable and responsible manner.”