Developers plan $500m mini-China in Australia
Updated: 2012-12-06 02:19
By Zhou Wa (China Daily)
Australia plans to open a Chinese theme park with highlights including a full-scale replica of the gates to the Forbidden City. Local residents, who hope to boost the region's economy through tourism, are showing a huge interest in the project.
The council of Wyong Shire, located about 80 kilometers north of Sydney, has signed an agreement to sell 157,000 square meters of land to the Australian Chinese Theme Park Pty Ltd for $10 million, for the construction of the $500 million theme park.
The sprawling park will also feature a nine-story temple housing a giant Buddha and a mini-city modeled on water towns in South China.
The first stage is likely to be a replica of the gates to the Forbidden City, Beijing's Imperial Palace, complete with red walls and golden roofs.
There will also be a section constructed in the architectural style of the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, with small courtyards typical of a Chinese neighborhood, and another in the style of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
Other areas will include a theater, a royal villa and a children's section devoted to pandas, though it will not include live animals.
Chinese restaurants will also be built in the park, said Cameron Bell, a communication officer for the project. The first phase of construction is expected to start in 2015, while the remaining stages are expected to begin in 2018, he said.
"What this proposal will do is turn the Wyong Shire into a tourist Mecca and bring millions of dollars worth of tourism into the area,” said Wyong Shire Mayor Doug Eaton in a statement on the city's website.
The mayor said he hopes the park will be another must-see for tourists, along with Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Bruce Zhong, chairman of the company building the theme park, said it will enrich the Australian tourism industry. He added that the number of well-known tourism attractions in the country is quite limited.
The park also will give a major boost to local employment by offering more than 1,000 new jobs, said Zhong. He hopes Australians will come and visit. "It will be easy to reach for all Australians, based on the convenient road and railway networks in the country,” he said.
Louis Taylor, who lives in Perth, said the theme park idea is "fantastic” and he will surely visit it. "I would expect to see some Chinese scenery and, if possible, experience Chinese food and drink or even try to make Chinese food myself,” he said.
Yang Yanfei, a Chinese international student at Queensland University of Technology, said, "I will probably take my Australian friends there when the park is set up,” adding that international students do not have many amusements in Australia.
More than 400,000 Chinese tourists visit the state of New South Wales each year.
Australia earlier unveiled its Asian Century White Paper, outlining its great interest in improving communication and cooperation with Asian countries.
But Chinese people so far have not shown much interest in going to Australia to visit the park.
Guo Lingmei, spokeswoman for BTG International Travel & Tour, said the park will face a big challenge in attracting Chinese tourists because they can visit the real sites in their home country rather than seeing fakes in a foreign one.
Liu Yedan and AFP contributed to this story.