Luneng and BBC team up for leisure park venture
TheWenchang resort will use top concepts of British broadcaster
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.