Riding the wave
Updated: 2016-06-10 08:30
By Hu Yuanyuan(China Daily Europe)
Disney's new resort and theme park in Shanghai is scheduled to open on June 16. It will be the largest in the world.
The Eden Project, the attraction in southwest England, also signed a deal with property developer China Jinmao Holdings Ltd last year to build China Eden, a tourism and education project, in the east-coast city of Qingdao.
It will be the Eden Project's first venture in Asia, according to Tim Smit, its co-founder and executive vice-chairman. "This opportunity is exciting because our partners share our view that we should build a project that builds on 4,000 years of Chinese relations with the environment and Eden's fresh approach to education," he said in a media release.
China already has about 3,000 large and small theme parks, according to Yang Yanfeng, an associate professor with the China Tourism Academy. However, he says, less than 10 percent are profitable.
To make money, Wang Xuguang, president of Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Co Ltd, which manages several aquatic-themed parks in China, says the positioning, planning, core products and operating capabilities of such attractions are decisive factors.
Chen Shi, assistant general manager of TFTR Investment Co Ltd, which holds interests in amusement parks, adds that there is a structural imbalance in the industry in China. "Only those that really meet the market demand can have steady cash flow," he says. "Services as well as intellectual property are core to being competitive."
Parks with light assets, quality services, mature IP, innovative facilities and lots of interaction with visitors can stand out among the fierce competition, he says, adding that with China's soaring demand for leisure and travel he is optimistic about the market potential for theme parks.
Chinese consumer spending reached the highest level in the first quarter of this year, despite the country's economic slowdown, according to a May 31 report by market researchers Nielsen. Lynn Xu, its senior vice-president in China, says there is massive growth potential for spending on leisure and tourism in third-tier cities and rural areas.
So even though Disney is facing stiff competition, it looks like being a happy ending for theme park fans.