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Universal Beijing Resort to transform market

(China Daily Global)|Updated : 2020-11-17

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Major structures along the Universal CityWalk commercial complex in Beijing are taking shape in August. [Photo/BAI JIKAI/FOR CHINA DAILY]

China's growth in the leisure sector is a story of supply and demand. It involves a large population with increasing income and desire for travel and leisure, across a large land mass with ever-better transportation infrastructure, said TEA/AECOM 2019 Theme Index and Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report.

The report, released in July, said last year that Asian operators were dominated by OCT, Chimelong, and Fantawild, which all reported high single-or double-digit increases. Among them, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom ascended to the rank of top-attended theme park in China. Its 11.7 million visits in 2019, reflecting an 8.4 percent increase from the year earlier. Shanghai Disney Resort, which reopened in early May, released in August a series of measures to relax ticketing regulations as visitor capacity numbers at tourist sites were raised after an improved COVID-19 situation in the country.

Globally, the general sentiment is that with new health and safety measures, many attractions will be able to get back to business this year. Some are predicting 30 percent to 50 percent of normal business volume for the coming months, and surveys show positive demand from the market, according to the TEA/AECOM report.

New theme parks are in the pipeline, banking on rising domestic tourism demand in China.

Merlin Entertainments, a global leader in location-based entertainment with brands including Legoland, Madame Tussauds and the Dungeons, announced on Nov 6 that it has entered an agreement with the Shanghai Jinshan district government, CMC Inc and KIRKBI to develop a Legoland Resort in Shanghai, which is scheduled to open in 2024.

The total project investment is expected to be around $550 million. Construction of the project is planned to begin next year.

The resort in Shanghai will be one of the largest Legoland resorts in the world, including a 250-room fully themed hotel.

Legoland Shanghai will be located in Jinshan district in southwestern Shanghai. It is expected to attract potential visitors from the enlarged region comprising Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces, which has an estimated population of 220 million.

China is a focus of significant development and investment by Merlin. Since the start of 2018, the company has opened five new attractions, including the world's first Peppa Pig World of Play in Shanghai and Little Big City Beijing.