Theme park helps boost Manzhouli’s eco­nomic out­look

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WU YONG in Bei­ing and YUAN HUI in Ho­hhot

Liu Jing ad­mits July is a hot month in the border city of Manzhouli in North China’s In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

She also con­fessed it was the busiest time of the year for her as gen­eral man­ager of the Rus­sian Dolls Play­ground theme park.

To il­lus­trate the point, she came up with a few num­bers. In just one day, Liu will serve more than 20,000 tourists. For the whole of July, she will deal with about 600,000 cus­tomers.

“This is just the be­gin­ning,” Liu said with great un­der­state­ment. “I am sure the num­bers will dou­ble or even triple in the com­ing years.”

The theme park show­cases Rus­sian cul­ture, food and mu­sic, and is the jewel in the crown for Manzhouli Port In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice Co Ltd.

Com­pany Chair­man Wang Ze­jun first ar­rived in Manzhouli back in 1992 when the State Coun­cil an­nounced it was an open border city.

Dur­ing the next 25 years, he estab­lished a busi­ness em­pire cov­er­ing ho­tels, travel and in­ter­na­tional trade.

“We seized the golden chance of tourism de­vel­op­ment and made use of Manzhouli’s unique ge­o­graph­i­cal ad­van­tages,” Wang said.

In­ner Mon­go­lia shares a border with Russia and this is boost­ing eco­nomic growth in the re­gion.

Data from the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion showed that cross­bor­der visits reached 3.27 mil­lion last year.

Be­sides a boom­ing tourism sec­tor, new lo­cal gov­ern­ment poli­cies will change the busi­ness land­scape by di­ver­si­fy­ing the econ­omy.

“In­ner Mon­go­lia has re­lied too much on coal and cows, or farm­ing,” said Hang Shuanzhu, head of the In­ner Mon­go­lia So­cial Sciences As­so­ci­a­tion. “We have to ad­just this in­dus­trial struc­ture and de­velop ser­vice in­dus­tries in par­tic­u­lar.”

Tourism has now become a pri­or­ity sec­tor for the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to Li Ji­heng, CPC re­gional chief of

We seized the golden chance of tourism de­vel­op­ment...” Wang Ze­jun, chair­man of Manzhouli Port In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice Co Ltd

the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics from Manzhouli city showed that over­all tourism num­bers hit 30 mil­lion with rev­enue top­ping 20.8 bil­lion yuan ($3.06 bil­lion) last year.

The Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive has been a ma­jor driver in fu­el­ing those fig­ures.

Pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in 2013, the ini­tia­tive aims to build a trade and in­fra­struc­ture net­work con­nect­ing Asia with Europe and Africa along the an­cient Silk Road trade routes.

As one of the most im­por­tant border cities be­tween China and Russia, Manzhouli has at­tracted mil­lions of tourists from home and abroad.

“In the cen­ter of the Rus­sian Dolls Play­ground theme park is a huge doll with three faces of a Mon­go­lia girl, a Chi­nese girl and a Rus­sian girl,” Liu, the gen­eral man­ager, said. “This rep­re­sents peace and pros­per­ity brought by cross-border tourism.”

The at­trac­tion has cer­tainly been a fi­nan­cial win­ner for Manzhouli Port In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice.

Last year, the group’s op­er­at­ing in­come reached 111 mil­lion yuan, an in­crease of 58 per­cent com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2015.

Net profit was 34 mil­lion yuan dur­ing the same time frame, an in­crease of 60 per­cent.

“We plan to in­vest an­other 300 mil­lion yuan to build an ice and snow park, and an in­ter­na­tional camp­ing site in the next few years,” Wang, the chair­man, said.

Huang Wen­shu con­trib­uted to the story.

Con­tact the writer at wuy­ong@chi­

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