Luneng and BBC team up for leisure park ven­ture

TheWen­chang re­sort will use top con­cepts of Bri­tish broad­caster

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By LYUCHANG lvchang@chi­

Luneng Group, a unit of State Grid Corp, the elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion util­ity, said it will build amuse­ment parks jointly with BBC World­wide in China.

Luneng Group en­gages in real es­tate and clean en­ergy. The parks foray comes on the back of the boom in the lo­cal leisure in­dus­try.

Its newven­tures will be ex­e­cuted by Luneng Com­merce and Tourism Prop­erty Co, a sub­sidiary, which will use the con­cepts of BBC World­wide’s two money-spin­ners: Top Gear, a mo­tor­ing show, and BBC Earth, a doc­u­men­tary fea­tur­ing nat­u­ral his­tory.

The parks will come up at its com­plex in Wen­chang, Hainan province, a South China Sea is­land that is a tourist hot spot.

Zhou Tao, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Luneng Com­merce and Tourism, said the com­pany will in­vest nearly 10 bil­lion yuan ($1.5 bil­lion) on the 400,000-square-me­ter re­sort and to buy the in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights from BBC World­wide.

“What we’ll of­fer would be a to­tally dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. I think the con­cepts of na­ture, hu­man­ity and mo­tor­cars will be loved by the Chi­nese vis­i­tors,” he said.

The park is es­ti­mated to at­tract about 3 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2019, the first year of its op­er­a­tions, and about 5 mil­lion pro­gres­sively, Zhou said, cit­ing a fea­si­bil­ity re­port.

In ad­di­tion to con­ven­tional theme parks, the­com­pany will build a wa­ter park by team­ing up with ProSlide, a global wa­ter slide man­u­fac­turer and wa­ter park plan­ner. The ven­ture will en­tail an in­vest­ment of 1 bil­lion yuan.

He said the parks are aimed at driv­ing lo­cal economies, gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment, en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tors to stay longer and to per­suad­ing trav­el­ers in the re­gion to squeeze in a visit to the theme park into their itin­er­ar­ies.

Luneng Com­merce and Tourism’s ven­tures are in line with the ex­plo­sion of new theme parks in a re­gion hun­gry to be en­ter­tained, he said.

Re­sort be­he­moths have been mak­ing a bee­line for China of late. Dis­ney­land opened its big­gest re­sort and park in Shang­hai in June. It is ex­pect­ing 10 mil­lion vis­i­tors this year alone.

Univer­sal is plan­ning a big­ger park in Bei­jing. The Dalian Wanda group has un­veiled plans for as many as 15 cul­ture­mega parks across China. Chi­nese theme park de­vel­oper Fangte Happy World, which al­ready op­er­ates 13 ven­tures, plans to open more this year.

Not sur­pris­ingly, mar­ket ex­perts cau­tioned that sus­tain­abil­ity, growth and prof­itabil­ity could prove to be con­cerns in China’s theme park in­dus­try.

“They can’t all re­ally de­velop, some of them won’t hap­pen,” Den­nis Speigel, pres­i­dent of In­ter­na­tional Theme Park Ser­vices in theUS, said.

Zhou, a vet­eran of the com­mer­cial prop­erty busi­ness, said ev­ery player should seek to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it­self from oth­ers to be able to turn prof­itable.

“Dis­ney­land may be con­sid­ered as a dom­i­nant force, but we are dif­fer­ent. Our kind of theme park at­trac­tions aren’t alike. We work for fam­ily-ori­ented mar­kets,” he said.

It is a view that Stephen Davies, BBC World­wide’s direc­tor of live en­ter­tain­ment, un­der­stands. “I think noth­ing in the world would be sim­i­lar to our Top Gear and BBC Earth con­cepts, be­cause it is some­thing which brings all ar­eas of the world into one place, so you can visit ex­pe­ri­ence the whole earth in one day,” he said.

So far this year, Luneng Group has earned 42 bil­lion yuan from prop­erty sales, not far from its an­nual tar­get of 60 bil­lion yuan.


The stand of Luneng Group at a prop­erty expo in Bei­jing.

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