A SHIN­ING EX­AM­PLE TO FOL­LOW

The re­cep­tion for Shanghai Dis­ney­land has been noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal and ex­perts be­lieve the com­pany is the first of many sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties that will open in China's boom­ing theme park in­dus­try

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

ex­pects the num­ber of fam­ily trav­el­ers to rise dur­ing the sum­mer.

Ma Xu and his fam­ily of eight vis­ited the Shanghai Dis­ney­land on its open­ing day on June 16. The 75-year-old said the theme park was a great place for his large fam­ily to spend qual­ity time to­gether, adding that there was a lack of such fa­cil­i­ties in Shanghai in the past.

His daugh­ter, who had been to the other five Dis­ney­land parks around the world, said that one of the main rea­sons why they had to visit the Shanghai theme park was be­cause her par­ents are too old to travel long dis­tances.

How­ever, group travel to the theme park has not fared well. The re­port said that this travel choice only made up 25 per­cent of the to­tal.

“Tick­ets and ho­tel stays are sell­ing very well. Group prod­ucts, on the other hand, aren’t do­ing as well,” said Wang Ying, who works for a travel agency in Fu­jian prov­ince.

The Ctrip re­port added that Shanghai Dis­ney­land could beat the Palace Mu­seum in Bei­jing as the most-vis­ited tourist site in the coun­try. The lat­ter re­ceived 15 mil­lion trav­el­ers last year while Dis­ney is ex­pected to do the same, cre­at­ing rev­enues of up to 33 bil­lion yuan within a year.

Based on Ctrip’s book­ing sta­tis­tics, the av­er­age spend­ing of tourists at the Shanghai Dis­ney Re­sort is about 2,219 yuan ($333.75). In con­trast, tourists spend be­tween 7,000 and 8,000 yuan at Tokyo Dis­ney­land.

Trav­el­ers from Chengdu, the cap­i­tal of Southeast China’s Sichuan prov­ince, were the big­gest spen­ders with an av­er­age of 3,128 yuan. In con­trast, those who spent the low­est were from Shanghai (1,125 yuan).

The re­port also re­vealed that com­fort, rather than price, is the top pri­or­ity for peo­ple trav­el­ing to Shanghai Dis­ney­land — 61 per­cent of con­sumers chose to stay in five star ho­tels, 30.9 per­cent stayed in four star ho­tels while only 9 per­cent picked eco­nomic ho­tels.

Mean­while, Shanghai res­i­dents have shown the strong­est in­ter­est in tour­ing the park and re­sort in the sum­mer, and they make up 4 per­cent of the trav­el­ers who have booked trips to the theme park be­tween June and Septem­ber. This is fol­lowed by trav­el­ers from Bei­jing, Hangzhou, Nan­jing, Tian­jin, Wuhan and Guangzhou.

While most of the 300 theme parks in China are un­prof­itable, in­dus­try ex­perts be­lieve that Dis­ney will lead the in­com­ing wave of mega parks de­vel­oped by both lo­cal and for­eign op­er­a­tors in a tourism in­dus­try that is set to dou­ble in size by 2020.

Ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg, about 60 more parks will open in China by 2020, in­clud­ing Dalian Wanda Group’s chain of 15 Wanda Ci­ties. An­other ma­jor theme park that opened this year in Shanghai was the Legoland Dis­cov­ery Cen­ter. Over in Bei­jing, the Univer­sal Park is on track for its open­ing in 2019.

In Zhuhai, the Chime­l­ong Ocean King­dom re­ceived 7.5 mil­lion vis­i­tors last year, a 36 per­cent growth from 2014. The theme park has also added two more ho­tels to the com­plex, tak­ing its room to­tal to more than 4,000. The Songcheng Group, which has theme parks in ci­ties such as Hangzhou, Li­jiang and Sanya, also posted a 53 per­cent in­crease in at­ten­dance last year.

“China is big enough for theme parks of all sizes and styles. I don’t think it is a ques­tion of com­pe­ti­tion — it is about the di­ver­sity of of­fer­ings,” said Kelly Ryner, president of Thinkwell Asia, a US-based theme park de­sign com­pany.

This sen­ti­ment was echoed in a TEA/AECOM re­port, which also stated that China’s theme park in­dus­try still has room for growth and is al­ready of­fer­ing bet­ter qual­ity for con­sumers. The re­port also fore­cast that the Asian theme park mar­ket will over­take its North Amer­i­can coun­ter­part by 2020.

“This boom in the theme park mar­ket will likely con­tinue for an­other five years and we can ex­pect to see great suc­cesses and fail­ures. There will al­ways be projects that don’t suc­ceed be­cause of poor con­cept, poor lo­ca­tion or un­der­fund­ing,” said the re­port.

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