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Chinese Government looks to slow theme park development boom

Chinese Government looks to slow theme park development boom
April 13, 2018

With more than 60 theme parks under development across the nation, the Chinese Government is looking to slow the pace of theme park development.

As of the end of 2015, China had 59 theme parks planned or under construction and with some reports that the figure could now be in the hundreds China’s central planning body has warned developers that the development boom could see unpayable debts and low grade or copycat developments.

This explosion in theme park development in the country is due in part to the Chinese Government lifting a ban on theme park approvals in 2013, enabling parks under CN¥5 billion (US$800 million to be approved at a provincial level, encouraging further investors.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) – which has broad administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy – theme park developers should strengthen supervision to “prevent the formation of local debt risks, social risks and financial risks.”

An NDRC statement advised “in the development of theme parks we’ve seen unclear concepts, blind construction, imitations and plagiarism, low-standard duplication and other issues,” adding that in certain areas “local debt risks” were starting to emerge.

For future plans, the NDRC says that entertainment firms should involve the Government more planning such developments, with particular care placed on developments worth more than CN¥1.5 billionn (US$237 million).

Attractions sales in China grew significantly last year, increasing 27%, with UK-based market research organisation Mintel predicting the market to more than double in size to CN¥89.2 billion (US$14.2 billion ) by 2022.

In June last year, China’s government removed restrictions on foreign investment in large-scale theme park projects as part of a pledge to open the country’s economy - the second largest in the world - to wider foreign investment.

Major developments in the country include those from the likes of Disney, Universal, Wanda and now Sunac. The NDRC says that new property developments around theme parks, including commercial and residential properties, will be closer scrutinised and must gain separate approval.

As its theme park sector continues to thrive, China predicts spending at its parks to reach nearly US$12 billion by 2020, with visitor numbers surpassing 330 million people. As Chinese disposable income rises, attractions are reaping the rewards, with tourism numbers increasing as more leisure opportunities become available to tourists.

Images: Shanghai Disney Resort (top) and Wanda World Park (below).

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