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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
China's travel industry to rival U.S. -report

BEIJING, April 25 (Reuters) - China will grab the world's second-largest share of global travel and tourism spending after the United States by 2016, an industry body said in a report published this week.

"We're all running very fast to keep up with the changes that are taking place," the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) quoted its president, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, as saying at the launch of the group's report just three years after its last one.

"Although we would normally wait five or even 10 years before returning to a country to update the report, it is clear that China's travel and tourism industry is moving at the speed of light," he said.

The WTTC report for China, Hong Kong and Macau forecast that China's tourism demand -- comprised of consumption, investment, government spending and exports -- will grow by an average 8.7 percent per annum between 2007 and 2016.

It said China's tourism demand will grow by 14 percent this year alone to 2.77 trillion yuan ($345.7 billion).

Foreign visitors' spending will account for 588.2 billion yuan ($73.41 billion), representing 7.4 percent of China's total exports in 2006, the report said.

Travel and tourism will directly account for 2.9 percent of China's total GDP in 2006, and its combined direct and indirect economic impact is expected to account for 13.7 percent.

China's tourism industry will directly employ over 17 million people, with related employment from capital investment and government spending to total over 77 million jobs in 2006.

The report made a raft of recommendations to improve China's tourism and travel industry, including establishing paid vacations to encourage Chinese workers to travel more and promoting English language skills.

Despite the rapid growth of the country's tourism industry, China remains a challenging destination for international visitors due to poor infrastructure and a dearth of foreign language skills. ($1=8.012 Yuan)
 

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Chinese flee overseas for lunar new year cheer

BEIJING, Feb 14 (Reuters Life!) - Clutching plane tickets in the teeming departure hall of Beijing airport, Wang Wei is happy he isn't going to his hometown for Chinese New Year.

The 36-year-old engineer is one of thousands escaping China's frosty northern winter and defying the tradition of spending the lunar new year holiday with family at home.

"Of course, we will miss seeing the parents and relatives, but it will be nice to get some warm weather in Thailand," Wang said, as he corralled his family around him. The lunar new year starts on Feb. 18.

The trickle of outward bound tourists may be swamped by the more than 2 billion domestic bus, train and boat trips ferrying people between hometowns and adopted cities -- a phenomenon dubbed the "world's greatest human migration".

But as incomes rise, China's swelling ranks of cashed-up pleasure-seekers have taken to overseas travel with gusto.

Liang Yuli, a travel agent with state-run China International Travel Service, said her office sold out most tickets to overseas flights a month before the lunar new year starts on Feb. 18.

"The demand for overseas travel this year has been incredible," said Liang. "It was quite unexpected... People want to go overseas simply because they can now."

Most Chinese employees are still confined to three, state-sanctioned "golden" weeks of holidays falling in May, October and the start of the lunar new year in early spring.

But instead of spending them with family as usual, more and more Chinese are opting to go abroad to shop, see the sites or lounge on a palm-fringed beach instead.

The number of overseas trips has soared over the past decade, with some 35 million trips in 2006 compared to 620,000 trips in 1990, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

With the average disposable income rising, and the yuan steadily gaining against the U.S. dollar, more Chinese can now afford to travel abroad.

Travel restrictions have also loosened in recent years. From having only six approved countries to visit in 1999, tourists can choose from 129 as of December 2006.

ITCHY FEET

Chinese tourists used to make forays mainly to nearby countries like South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, but now South Africa, Egypt and even Malta attract growing numbers.

But this surge in outbound travellers is proving too much for China's creaky, but rapidly developing, tourism infrastructure.

About a third of passengers wait for hours for flights at airports strained beyond capacity, according to state media.

These travellers should count themselves lucky they can get on a plane at all, said Zhu Dahong, a 25-year-old Beijing office worker who will spend the new year in Hong Kong.

A native of Weihai, in China's eastern Shandong province, Zhu clearly remembers the sleepless, 17-hour train journeys back home where he was crammed in carriages with hundreds of students and poor migrant workers.

"It's not enjoyable at all. It's very uncomfortable -- and you must keep an eye on your belongings at all times."

The stress of the holiday crush is enough to put many young Chinese off staying home, especially when family gatherings are boring and routine, said Zhao Ran, a 24-year-old auditor.

"I've been doing this for over 20 years," said Zhao, who spent last new year in Thailand with a friend. "I want to escape these stuffy traditions and try different things."

"I think people flying overseas for the holidays is a good thing. It means we are learning to change," he added.

The need for change is a sentiment travel agent Liang hears constantly when arranging beach holidays or shopping tours.

"People often they think that they can be with their families and eat delicious food at any time," Liang said. "But there are not so many chances to travel internationally. People want something new -- not to just sit at home and watch television." ($1=7.749 Yuan)
 

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FEATURE-Adventurous young Chinese hit backpacking trail alone

BEIJING, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Armed with backpacks, sleeping bags, budget travel guides, and hunger for a wider world long beyond their reach, backpackers from China are likely to be heading to a youth hostel near you.

Loosened travel restrictions and a booming economy mean that growing numbers of young Chinese have visas and cash to travel abroad as never before -- and many of them are opting for the free-wheeling coming-of-age journeys of counterparts in the West.

"Travel has changed my attitude toward the world in every aspect of life and work," said Cao Jiyin, 24, a psychology graduate from the eastern city of Hangzhou, who last summer roamed around India.

It's a dramatic change from past decades, when Communist China was isolated from the world and travel abroad was a rare privilege available only to a politically favoured elite.

These days with more open borders and money in their pockets, most Chinese tourists opt for rigid package tours abroad.

But a growing band of young Chinese travel independently all over their own country, and now also backpack across Europe, Africa and other exotic destinations.

"Travel today has become fashionable for the young generation," Cai Jinghui, head of guidebook publisher Lonely Planet's Chinese-language editions, told Reuters.

"For young people, group travel is not real travel. It is a signal that you don't have the ability to explore," added Cai, sitting in a fashionable cafe crowded with Chinese and foreign backpackers.

HIGH DEMAND

Lonely Planet, the producer of hundreds of guides to exotic spots, started publishing Chinese editions only last year. It sold out all 5,000 copies of its initial run of Chinese-language Europe guides within one month.

Its goal now is to recruit young Chinese backpackers to write guide books for Chinese travellers with special attention to their own likes-and-dislikes -- such as finding a Chinese restaurant in Rome.

"We realized that we had underestimated the market for the European guide, we did not expect such high demand," Cai said.

The number of overseas trips from China has soared over the past decade, with some 35 million trips in 2006, compared to just 620,000 trips in 1990, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

This surge in overseas travel has matched China's rapid economic growth, as an urban middle class enjoys the benefits of double-digit growth.

Domestic tourism is also booming. Around 150 million people took to the road, rail and air during this year's "golden week" Labour Day holiday in May.

Independent travel and backpacking have become so popular that for the past five years Hu Deng, a professor at China's People's University, has taught China's only "Independent Travel" class.

His classes are always full and up to 500 students pack the auditorium, many of them standing, eager to learn how to survive tough-looking visa officers, unfamiliar foods and faces, and jostling for a cheap bed.

"I am just a window, and through me they can find a very different world," explained Hu. "I think independent travel allows us to better respect each other."

One industry that has benefited from this surge in travel is travel outfitting stores. The Wu Dao Kou area in Beijing's university district has seen an explosion in outdoor and travel related stores.

These stores stock everything from North Face backpacks to crampons for mountain climbing -- or at least the cheap copies that China is notorious for. For some image-conscious young Chinese, having the right gear is essential.

"Some may have very advanced equipment to show off how professional they are," said Cai Xiaomei, a backpacker from the eastern coastal city of Xiamen.

But others are looking for the transforming experiences that come with distant places. Chen Xi, 21, from the southwestern city of Chongqing, has backpacked in Turkey, India, Pakistan and South Korea.

"It's important to spend more time in a few places rather than seeing many places in the same amount of time," she said.

"Many of my friends want to hear about my stories, but they don't want to go to these places themselves."

VISA PROBLEMS

But Chinese backpackers run up against bureaucratic obstacles many of their Western counterparts do not.

Few countries give visa-free entry to Chinese citizens. Getting hold of a visa can be hard and sometimes expensive, with painfully long queues and no certainty of approval.

"Visas are the most difficult issue for us," said Chen. "This past summer I was rejected for a Nigerian visa."

When they do make it abroad, China's backpackers can then find themselves treated as awkward ambassadors for their country, peppered with questions about the Olympic Games, human rights and other contentious topics.

Not the cool experience that these young travellers yearn for.

"I am not a good arguer," Cai said of these encounters. "I just told them what my opinions on these issues were, but didn't really talk about them deeply."
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Postcard: Shenzhen
10 December 2007
Time




Happy Valley contains over 50 attractions.


Happy Valley in Beijing is modeled on a western park with six "lands": Firth Forest, Aegean Sea, Atlantis, Lost Maya, Shangri-La and Ant Kingdom, shown in this photo.







Shenzhen's Windows of the World park recreates the entire planet, in small, easily digested sections. In this photo, the heads of Kon-Tiki can be glimpsed behind Manhattan's pre-9/11 skyline.


A Chinese man wears a replica of a space suit, at the Space Travel Theme Park in Beijing. The capsule behind him is a copy of the U.S. Mercury module.


A genuine Soviet aircraft carrier is the main attraction at the Minsk World theme park in Shenzhen. The vessel features models of its original weapons system and MiG fighter jets on the flying deck.


A woman and her son enter a pyramid at Beijing's Egyptian Theme Park.


A performer breathes fire at Guilin's Merryland. The complex includes a five star hotel and golf course.


Three jockeys pilot ostriches down a racecourse at the Wild Animal Park in Shanghai.


As the Chinese middle class expands, so does its curious appetite for foreign-themed amusement parks. Behind the scenes at China's very own Swiss alpine resort.

Lederhosen, fondue and dried-seaweed snacks? Guten Tag from Shenzhen! Nestled in rolling hills outside this southern boomtown is China's very own version of Interlaken. No detail of the famed Swiss alpine resort appears to have been ignored in this local facsimile, from ski chalets, mineral baths and roasting sausages to the fräulein in braids who greets you on arrival. Perhaps the only thing missing from this Chinese alpine idyll is, well, snow.

The resort, known as OCT East, is just the latest of dozens of foreign-themed parks springing up all over China. Shanghai has its Weimar Village, Beijing has Greek villas, and Hong Kong has its very own Disneyland--all built in hopes of cashing in on the deepening pockets of a growing middle class eager to absorb Western culture. Tourism revenue now accounts for 6% of China's GDP (or more than $600 billion), and the industry is expected to grow 10% annually for the next five years. The World Tourism Organization predicts China will be the globe's largest tourism market by 2020

Shenzhen's Interlaken offers Chinese tourists a little taste of Europe closer to home. Its developer, Shenzhen OCT Sanzhou Investment, has sunk nearly $450 million into the park's 2,200 acres (890 hectares). Located on a crystal-clear man-made lake, the centerpiece is a 300-room, five-star hotel with a Gothic cathedral lobby and an Austrian chef. The drive for authenticity is relentless: last summer an alpine songfest even brought yodelers to the resort. You can tour the property aboard an antique railroad that circles it, or view it from the highest summit--some 50 ft. (15 m) above--before plunging down the slope on the gondola cum roller coaster. Says hotel event manager Selina Liu: "All of our guests say they forget they're not in Europe."

That may be an exaggeration. After all, the vast majority of OCT East's visitors and its 3,000-person staff are ethnically Chinese--there just aren't that many Europeans on hand--and Shenzhen's average annual temperature is 75ºF (24ºC). A recent passenger on the scenic railroad snacked on boiled chicken feet, a local delicacy unlikely to be found in the Alps. Down a short path from the Swiss village is a working Chinese tea plantation, and each afternoon the development's 1,300-seat theater sells out its Zen Tea Show. Performed against the world's largest LCD screen, this hour-long spectacle combines ballet, kung fu and dancing teapots while reminding the audience of China's Buddhist roots. A mountaintop temple is being built nearby to ensure the resort's feng shui, and reminders of modern China are everywhere within the alpine resort itself. One of those quaint Swiss chalets is, in fact, a KFC outlet, while that "mist" rising from the hills is actually smog.

The anticipated bonanza has yet to materialize for OCT East's investors, however. Since it opened in the summer, the resort has averaged about 2,000 visitors per day--about 4,000 fewer than the developers had hoped to attract during peak periods. But even more established theme parks have also struggled to attract visitors. In its first year, Hong Kong's Disneyland, which opened in September 2005, had about 15,000 visitors per day, about 40% of its capacity. And guests have complained about long lines and high prices at the amusement park. "It wasn't what I hoped for," says Alex Xu, who recently visited the park from Beijing. "I'd rather save my money and go to the real Disney World someday."

In a country where per capita annual income remains below $2,000, OCT East's $20 entrance fee is an extravagance for many. Still, a local visitor, Zhang Zihua, says she'll return. "I want to bring my daughter," Zhang says. "I want her to work hard to travel to Europe when she's older." To lure the 10-year-old, Zhang is taking home an irresistible souvenir: a box of imported Swiss chocolates.
 

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Really cool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Canada threatens China with WTO action over tourism ban

OTTAWA, Jan 8, 2008 (AFP) - Canada's Trade Minister David Emerson said Tuesday he is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to try to force China to allow its citizens to visit his country, if the issue is not resolved soon.

In a teleconference from Beijing, he accused Chinese officials of unfair discrimination in refusing to designate Canada an approved tourism destination, while granting more than 130 other countries the special status.

After three years of fruitless negotiations, he said, "we really have got to the point where we have to move it along in a meaningful way in a relatively short time frame or we will have no choice but to explore the WTO option."

The status quo "could do economic damage to Canada," he added, explaining that most foreign trips to the United States, which has been christened a favorable vacation spot by Beijing, include a stopover in Canada.

Emerson refused to "speculate" on the reasons behind the stalemate, but observers have suggested Ottawa's fierce human rights criticisms of China may have hit a nerve.

"Sure, we're hearing people express concern that there may be some atmospheric frictions out there that they're a little bit concerned about, but (Chinese officials) are wanting to move on," commented Emerson.

In October, Beijing protested a meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Dalai Lama in October, claiming the Nobel laureate is a dangerous figure agitating for Tibetan independence.

The same month, Canada announced it would veto foreign takeovers of Canadian firms over national security concerns, if warranted.

As well, it set out terms and conditions under which foreign state-owned companies -- sometimes guided by political motives -- would be allowed to acquire assets in Canada.

Although most believed the new rules aimed to curb Chinese investment in Canada, particularly by the state-owned China Investment Corporation, Emerson dismissed their suspicions.

"Canada is anxious to have Chinese investments," he insisted.

The buyout guidelines "are designed not to discourage acquisitions by state-owned enterprises, but to ensure that when those companies acquire Canadian companies that they have governance systems and transparency arrangements in place and that they are operating as an economic, commercial corporation not as a political arm," he said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Zhuhai's ocean park passes green test
Marine attraction nearer to construction

11 April 2009
South China Morning Post

Zhuhai has moved one step closer to getting a massive ocean-themed entertainment centre, said to be the largest in Asia.

The 143-hectare Zhuhai Chime-Long Ocean World passed its preliminary environmental impact assessment on Wednesday, according to an announcement posted yesterday on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection's South China Institute of Environmental Science.

Preparation work is under way for a more detailed environmental study before construction begins in December. The project is expected to be completed in 2012.

A Zhuhai Chime-Long investment company plans to invest up to 3.05 billion yuan (HK$3.46 billion) in the park, the environmental impact assessment revealed.

The investment company belongs to Chime-Long Group, a theme park conglomerate based in Guangzhou's Panyu district.

The group runs a water theme park, a night-time zoo, a crocodile park, a wildlife park and several hotels in Guangdong.

The company declined to comment on the Zhuhai project, but a staff member involved said it was reportedly to be the biggest in Asia in terms of area.

Ocean World will have an ocean circus, night safari, convention centre, hotels and residential buildings, according to the Macao Daily News.

It will apparently be developed in several phases, with the first one entirely on land.

The park will be built on Zhuhai's Hengqin Island, which Beijing has designated as a base for the diversification of Macau's economy.

Just a few hundred metres from Macau's Cotai Strip, Hengqin is three times the size of Macau but has fewer than 7,000 residents. The place is well known for oyster breeding.

Hong Kong's Ocean Park is spending about HK$5.5 billion to redevelop its facilities.

A tourism expert in Hong Kong said he was not worried by the potential competition the new park could pose to Hong Kong's Ocean Park.

Joseph Tung Yao-chung, executive director of Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council, said: "Whether an ocean park is attractive or not depends very much on its facilities and whether it can provide a good education for kids.

"Size is not everything. I believe it will provide extra incentive for our park to be even better."

A Hong Kong Ocean Park spokeswoman said more theme parks in the region would provide customers with more choices and benefit their leisure lives.

Ocean Park was confident it would continue to thrive because of its unique attractions, she said.

Oyster restaurants in the neighbourhood of the future Zhuhai Ocean World said the city government had told them to move before the end of this year, to pave way for the theme park's construction.

"The government still hasn't told us how they will compensate us," a restaurant manager said.
 

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Do Chinese like western world so much that they copy it?

And why on earth do they copy American space theme? They have their own space program. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Life's a beach as summer and sand add to a festival of fun and frolics
20 June 2009
Shanghai Daily

It's approaching that time of the year again when it's good to sneak out of the sultry summer heat of the downtown area and take a dip in cool sea water, time to switch off the aircon and take a stroll along a sandy beach.

If you are looking for a quick getaway from Shanghai to enjoy sun and surf, Sunny Beach (Bi Hai Jin Sha in Chinese) in Fengxian District just might be the ideal destination.

A two-month beach festival, featuring an international animation carnival, will be held this summer in the district's Haiwan Tourism Zone, a scenic bay area located in the city's southernmost tip. It runs from July 3 through the whole summer holiday till the end of August, and will probably be extended to early September.

The annual animation gala will include Cosplay shows, a beach beauty contest, rock band performances, concerts by pop stars from Hong Kong and China's mainland, animation films and dance performances by Taiwanese aborigines.

An area of more than 30,000 square meters has been set aside for the festival, including a rain forest theme park, a well-equipped chidren's zone, a square for video game fans and an open-air animation exhibition hall.

As well, a Gourmets' Town housing more than 120 restaurants and bars will be open this summer.

The animation carnival starts next month and will run the whole summer.

It is expected to attract more than 1 million tourists to the beach.

One of the highlights of the festival will be the lucky draw. Each night at 8pm during the festival there will be a draw from the day's admission tickets. Each night the very lucky ticket holder will win a car.

Runners-up will be given two Shanghai-Malaysia round-trip airline tickets, and third-prize winners will get electric bikes.

It is a good way to boost the bay's tourism industry this summer, says Xu Jianjun, a spokesman for the local government. "This animation festival, for the first time, combines the fashion industry, showbiz and beach tourism."

The festival's traditional Cosplay contest will be joined more than 120 teams from Japan, South Korea and China.

The Beach Beauty Competition will see more than 200 attractive young ladies parading their assets along the beach.

August will feature a Japanese Animation Festival, a very important part of the fun. Everyday from 9am to midnight, fans can get up close and comfortable with their favorite cartoon characters ¨® the omnipotent blue machine cat Doraemon, the mischievous Crayon Shin-Chan or the cute lazy Sakura Momoko.

The rain forest theme park will introduce some Chinese-made animation films to display and help boost the lackluster domestic animation industry.

The price of admission this year has risen steeply. Tickets from Monday to Friday will cost 120 yuan (US$17.70) and at the weekend will be 160 yuan, a big jump compared with last year's 50 yuan and 80 yuan admission costs.

To facilitate transport, shuttle bus lines between the city center and the beach will be launched from the Xinzhuang Metro Station, the Shanghai Stadium, the Shanghai Tourist Transport Center, the Yuanshen Stadium in Pudong New Area, and Huaihai and Xizang roads.

Sunny Beach boasts a long coastline, 654,700 square meters of water, 47,100 square meters of green belt and 70,000 square meters of man-made beach based on more than 120,000 tons of sand, transported from Hainan Island.

Tents, cabins and wooden paths are found along the beach. In the south, the 680,000 square meters of blue sea is set aside for sailing. The western area of the beach is a water sports zone, covering 1.51 million square meters.

The dock can accommodate up to 20 yachts, and tourists can enjoy a yacht ride or take a cruise in a motorboat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
First individual Chinese tourists visit Japan
8 July 2009
Agence France Presse

Japan on Wednesday welcomed the first Chinese tourists travelling individually rather than on tours, under visa changes that aim to lure more wealthy foreigners amid the recession.

Until now, Chinese tourists had to travel in groups escorted by tour guides from both countries, a rule meant to prevent illegal immigration.

But in response to growing demand, Tokyo started issuing visas to individual Chinese tourists this month.

At Tokyo's Narita Airport, Japan Airlines arranged a warm welcome for the 19 tourists from Beijing and Shanghai. They were greeted by a person dressed as Hello Kitty wearing a traditional Japanese kimono.

Several children arriving from China were given stuffed toys of the cartoon cat, which Japan has chosen as a "friendship ambassador" to promote tourism, especially from the Hong Kong and China markets.

"Welcome to Japan," said Yoshiaki Hompo, head of the Japan Tourism Agency.

"There are no more worries about swine flu. Please enjoy your travels in Japan."

Japan expected 65 individual tourist arrivals from China on Wednesday, flying in on JAL, All Nippon Airways and Air China to several airports throughout the country, the tourist agency said.

"The Chinese market has great potential for tourism, especially for wealthy people to come here and boost consumption," said Hompo.

"Japan and China have had a complex history, but the exchanges of people could enhance mutual understanding," he added. "I want them to enjoy shopping and walking around freely in Japan."

Fan Chengyan, a 51-year-old businesswoman who arrived with her four children, said she would spend five days travelling around Japan.

"If I had time, I would like to see Kyoto, Mount Fuji and many areas of Tokyo. I heard Japan is a very environmentally friendly country. So I want to experience that," she said.

Under the new visa rules for China, applicants for individual tourist visas need "good references in terms of occupation, financial resources and other factors," the government has said.

The annual number of Chinese arrivals in Japan -- including both business visitors and tourists -- reached one million last year and is projected to hit 1.25 million in 2010.
 

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A challenge of biblical proportions for Disney
6 November 2009
SCMP

Can Pirates of the Caribbean compete with the parting of the Red Sea in the mainland's theme park popularity stakes?

Hong Kong businessman Leung Moon-lam and a group of fellow Christians are planning to build a 4.5 billion yuan (HK$5.1 billion) Bible and Chinese culture theme park on a 2.3 square kilometre site in Tieling, Liaoning province.

With the world focused on the construction of a Disney theme park in Shanghai, Leung and his fellow Harmony World developers say Mickey Mouse does not have to be the only choice for mainlanders.

While young visitors to Disney will have to be satisfied with Space Mountain and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Harmony World will have Noah's Ark, David fighting Goliath and Moses parting the Red Sea.

Harmony World will be the first project of its kind in the world, according to Yan Fook Church senior pastor Patrick So Wing-chi, who came up with the idea with Leung.

There are some biblical theme parks such as The Holy Land Experience in the US, but So said there was nothing combining Christianity with Chinese culture.

Sun Hung Kai Properties opened a Noah's Ark attraction in Ma Wan Park in May and So said the Hong Kong developer had shared its experiences and was happy to provide support.

So said the project had received the central government's blessing.

"We are not going to hard-sell our religion," he said. "In a way, Chinese culture and the Bible share a similar value - harmony.

"We want to build a localised theme park, not an imported one ... [we hope] people do not just set their eyes on Mickey Mouse."

Leung said a major feature of the proposed theme park would be a "cultural zone" presenting Bible stories and introducing Western culture to mainlanders. The Tieling city government invited Leung to invest in the city in 2007. He said the theme park would also explore the parallel development of Chinese culture.

Harmony World will enter a tough market, with an estimated 70 per cent of the mainland's 2,500 theme parks in the red. Several have shut their doors in recent years, meaning Harmony World may have to rely on divine help to survive.

Despite the challenges, Leung is upbeat. He said Bible stories, including Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, the division of Israel into Judah and Israel and the story of Noah's Ark, would be told using modern techniques.

"For example, visitors can speak to the animals, fight with a giant Goliath and see how Moses parts the Red Sea," he said.

Other entertainment will include Water World, an amusement park and a theatre. It will also include a chapel for wedding ceremonies, a hotel and shopping facilities.

A letter of intent was signed with the city government last year and construction work is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year. The 1.8 billion yuan first phase - which will feature Noah Ark's and the rainbow covenant - should be completed in 2011.

"If we can raise 900 million yuan, and can arrange a loan of 900 million yuan, that will be enough," So said. They would welcome donations, sponsorship, loans and direct investment. He did not say how much the theme park had raised so far.

Canadian-based theme-park designer Forrec, which designed Canada's Wonderland in Toronto and Universal Studios Florida, will design Harmony World, and final plans will be ready by the end of this month.

As part of the project, So said they would raise a fund to support poor, disabled and blind people, as well as many victims from last year's Sichuan earthquake.

He said a new light railway connecting Shenyang with Tieling was being built.

"That will speed visitors from Shenyang to the park entrance in only 20 minutes," So said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Is a small start for Disney just a big ploy?
Magic Kingdom's final size still not known

25 November 2009
South China Morning Post

How big Shanghai Disneyland will ultimately become remains a pressing question, after Beijing announced that only 116 hectares had been reserved for the city's long-coveted theme park.

The announcement raised eyebrows, as the space represents only a quarter of the 4 sq km, or 400 hectares, reported when Shanghai unveiled its plan for the mega project three weeks ago.

So officially, Shanghai Disneyland will be smaller than its Hong Kong rival, which covers 126 hectares. But as time goes by, Shanghai could become the biggest.

Two Shanghai government officials with the knowledge of the matter said that the statement by the National Development and Reform Commission referred only to the first phase of construction, and that there would be future expansion.

Admitting that details of the project had yet to be finalised, one Pudong district government official said that the Shanghai park would definitely outgrow its Hong Kong counterpart.

It may boil down to tactics that the mainland is adopting to nurture the growth of its own Magic Kingdom.

First, the central government and Shanghai municipality have yet to allay concerns of a bitter rivalry between Shanghai and Hong Kong as they up the ante to vie for tourists.

It is a middle road that Shanghai appears to be taking, to steady Hong Kong nerves and demonstrate effusive goodwill after Li Bincheng, a division director of the city's tourism administration, made upbeat remarks in August that the densely populated China market could sustain even three Disney theme parks.

It is believed that Shanghai's park, set to open in 2014, will eventually cover 10 sq km, after second- and third-phase expansions.

A Shanghai-based political analyst, who asked not to be identified, said: "It's another game of politics. Beijing definitely has its reasons to understate the size of the first phase."

Second, Beijing has to play down fears of an invasion of Western culture, after a group of scholars and government officials lodged complaints that the landing of Mickey Mouse would give full play to the United States' entertainment industry in China, denting the growth of homegrown companies and eroding the country's cultural heritage.

Analysts said the mainland was taking a go-slow approach to build Shanghai Disneyland, as it considered the potential damage to the domestic entertainment sector.

It was reported that the Ministry of Culture objected to the building of the park last year when the central government reviewed Shanghai's proposal for the multibillion-yuan project.

Third, Shanghai has stepped up efforts to cool the red-hot property market amid frenzied land and home purchases, as the news of the park heightened people's expectations of soaring property prices.

On November 4, when Shanghai officially announced its plan to build a Disney theme park, a parcel of land three kilometres from the Disney site was sold at 14,024 yuan (HK$15,935) per square metre in an auction, nearly quadruple what land authorities had targeted.

A wild price gain for Disneyland-related stocks has also panicked officials, with the Shanghai government and the China Securities Regulatory Commission fearing a boom-to-bust cycle when profit-taking sets in.

The Jielong Industry Group, which owns a parcel of land near the Disney site, now trades at more than 500 times its earnings for last year. The average price-to-earnings multiple among Shanghai-listed firms stood at 28 yesterday.

And the Shanghai government could go it alone by expanding the construction site without Beijing's approval.

An economist close to the city government said: "It wouldn't be a surprise if Shanghai took a bold step to unilaterally expand the size of the park, since there remain policy loopholes for the city to take advantage of.

"The city government would say the expanded space is for the related projects such as hotels and commercial buildings."
 

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MORE CHINESE PEOPLE PACKING AS TRAVEL BUG BITES

BEIJING, Oct 1 Asia Pulse - The Chinese tourism market was in full stride with the advent of National Day Golden Week as increasing numbers of people are packing for domestic and international trips.

A China Tourism Academy report published earlier this month predicted that the country would receive 210 million travelers during the Golden Week holiday.

Flight tickets to Shanghai were hard to come by due to the popularity of the World Expo, according to a survey by Ctrip.com, a major Chinese online booking website. The survey also found that hotel prices had soared. For example, hotels in Hangzhou, 176 kilometers from Shanghai, surged 10 to 40 per cent since the middle of September. Other tourist cities such as Chengdu, Changsha and Wuhan, also saw an increase in hotel prices.

More than 30,000 Chinese mainland tourists are expected to travel to Taiwan from Sept 29 to Oct 8, more than double last year's figure, according to Taiwan's Travel Agent Association on Thursday.

About 12,000 mainland tourists traveled to Taiwan during the National Day holiday last year, with an estimated spending power of about NT$760 million (US$24.32 million), figures from the local tourism bureau showed.

In July 2008, Taiwan allowed mainland tourists to visit the island on package tours for stays of up to 15 days. A total of 600,000 mainlanders visited Taiwan last year, and this year's figure is expected to hit 1.5 million.

Also, more people are setting their sights on international travel.

According to Wang Yali of the marketing department at China Travel Service (CTS) head office, these packages were in high demand.

"Traveling abroad is so hot this year that even travel agencies had trouble buying tickets from airline companies, especially those popular lines going to Europe, the United States, Africa and Australia," Wang said.

"All the tour packages between September and November had been snapped up by the end of August," she added.

Overseas tours also sold well at China Youth Travel Service (CYTS), another popular travel agency.

According to Song Xiaohong from the marketing department of CYTS, the company's tour group will take some 3,600 tourists outside China between Oct 1 and 7.

"We announced the Golden Week travel lines in late August, and all were sold out in early September," Song said.

The Golden Week, which refers to the holiday periods of the Spring Festival and National Day, is longer than usual this year because it starts only six days after the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holidays.

"I changed my work shifts and stitched all the holidays together, a total of 10 days. It is a chance to visit places farther away," said Shang Tongtong, a 24 year-old Beijing resident.

The number of people who said they were considering traveling outside China increased 28.93 per cent over the same period in 2009, and the number of tourist routes to Japan, the US and Singapore surged 20 to 30 per cent on a travel website named 51766, according to a report in the Workers' Daily.

"I cannot believe that so many people are going abroad. When I went to the Chongwen exit-entry administration in Beijing in early September, I spent more than three hours waiting in line to get my passport," said Liu Mengmeng, 29, who will travel to the Republic of Korea on Oct 10.

In 2009, China had 42.21 million people traveling abroad. This represented a 5.2 per cent increase from 2008 , according to statistics released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
 
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