As China’s burgeoning middle class and travel demand fuels growth of the domestic theme park industry, Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group is pursuing an aggressive expansion of its mega cultural tourism projects across the country.
A significant catalyst in the growth of China’s theme park industry, the Wanda Group is already operating 10 cultural tourism projects in secondary cities like Wuhan, Nanchang, Hefei and Harbin, with is expected to have 18 mega projects by 2021.
Wanda Travel Culture Innovation Group, senior vice president and Beijing Wanda Themed Entertainment, president, Andrew Kam, said: “We hope to create a one-stop shop resort for mainland Chinese so they could enjoy leisure and entertainment culture without going overseas.
“Opportunities came knocking when China started promoting short holidays other than traditional week-long golden weeks. This opens up opportunity for domestic travellers to venture into close-by areas for holidays.”
Wanda has intentions to plant an integrated resort in each key provincial cities like Wuxi and Kunming, with projects in Chengdu, Guilin and Chongqing already in the design stage.
The sixth Wanda City – a mega cultural tourism project – debuted in Harbin last year with a gross floor area of 900,000m2, combining a mall, an outdoor theme park in Russian architecture style, three hotels, a stage show and the world’s largest indoor ski park at 80,000m2. Wanda City Qingdao, featuring the world’s biggest movie studio, opened in April 2018.
The flagship US$78 million Guangzhou Wanda City, scheduled to open on June 15, 2019, will mark the group’s first foray into the tier-one city of China.
Kam added: “As a key development for Southern China, we estimate about 20 million visitors for the first-year operation in Guangzhou and would be able to break even in second year. Rather than competing with existing operators head to head, we are going to make the pie bigger by focusing on (new types of) products i.e. world’s second largest indoor ski park and indoor water park.”
China’s entertainment industry development might have taken off much later than the US, but Wanda Group’s general manager of sales and marketing Tony Duan pointed out that stiff competition in China has driven the enrichment of park content as well as partnerships to enhance experience.
“We make sure to have many different formats in theme park to meet users’ diversified and sophisticated demands,” he explained, citing the example of the Han show available in Harbin and Xishuangbanna, which combines technology with dance, acrobatics, wushu (martial art), gymnastics.
In addition to the 4,000m2 Han Show theatre in Wuhan, Wanda is also planning one for the Guangzhou Wanda City.