Location: Harbin, China. If frosty locales with vast snow design and ice palaces get your blood circulating, schedule several days at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
My first visit was in early January 2004. Amazing! Since its inception in 1999, the sheer number and size of sculptures in the Sun Island Park area with frosty trees, healthy amounts of snow and ice serving as a wonderful backdrop has grown.
You might be asking what this has to do with business and/or community development. Obviously its the influx of tourists from China and beyond. In 2004 the entry fee to the Sun Island area was 150RMB. Many ice sculptures dotted the Songhua River area which is adjacent to Sun Island. There were no additional fees to see these ice carvings.
My next visit occurred in January 2009 and business related changes had been made. A separate ice sculpture, about a 2k walk from Sun Island was created to house the mammoth ice sculptures. A fee of 150RMB is levied. Its hard to ignore as you can view the sculptures from at least 1k away. Along with shops, shows and restaurants the city has turned this into a wonderful revenue stream not seen in previous years.
Finally, the main shopping area was growing and not completely built out in 2004. That has changed. The shopping is first rate and with an idyllic Russian facade makes for a pleasant evening stroll. There is even a super sized Wal-Mart for all the necessities like tissue and medicine to keep you healthy in the extreme cold.
Congratulations to Harbin for re-structuring a wonderful snow and ice show and improving its shopping area to maximize its tourism appeal in the heart of December/January leading up to the Lunar New Year.