Dalian Wanda Group, controlled by Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, is embarking on an ambitious plan in the Greater Bay Area by tapping into the tourism potentials of Zhaoqing city in southern Guangdong province.
The property-to-entertainment conglomerate has teamed up with the Zhaoqing municipal government to develop a state-level tourist resort by 2022, according to a Tuesday notice on Zhaoqing Fabu, the government’s official WeChat account.
The resort will include holiday and leisure centres, sporting, exhibition and cultural centres and a retail mall. A Dalian Wanda group official confirmed the partnership but declined to comment on the investment outlay.
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“We are hoping to make Zhaoqing a world-renowned tourism destination and sporting events city,” Wang was quoted as saying during the signing ceremony. “We will reshape Zhaoqing and its tourism development and make the mega culture and tourism project unprecedented, never to be duplicated and a miracle.”
Zhaoqing, located in the western part of Guangdong, is the largest by land area among nine provincial cities which make up the Greater Bay Area with Macau and Hong Kong. The size of the bay area economy is about US$1.65 trillion.
The city’s best selling points to tourists are the picturesque Seven Star Crags and the Dinghu Mountains. It was also home to some of the illustrious names in Chinese history, including the legendary Justice Bao and Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci.
The Zhaoqing government plans to build more hotels and tourist facilities in the next five year to spur the industry and aims to receive 60 million visitors in 2025, up from 45.3 million last year.
China expects to record 550 million domestic trips during the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday season beginning from October 1, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Sunday.
Tourism contributed more than 11 per cent to China’s economic output last year, and is expected to be a cornerstone of the central government’s goal to create a consumption-driven economy. China’s gross domestic product grew 3.2 per cent last quarter, rebounding from a historic contraction of 6.8 per cent in the first three months of 2020 following the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Zhaoqing project could rank among Wang’s biggest yet in the sector. His group announced a 12 billion yuan (US$1.76 billion/HK$13.6 billion) theme park in 2018 in Yan’an, the Chinese Communist Party’s birthplace in northwesters Shaanxi province.
The group is also building a 20 billion yuan tourism project in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in northwest China and a step-off point along the ancient Silk Road.
Wang is the 16th richest person in China on Forbes’ Rich List based on his net worth of US$13.8 billion.
His focus on domestic projects follows troubles from his debt-funded overseas expansion into luxury yacht building, cinema chains and sports management company which later unravelled during the recent financial and Covid-19 crises.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Guangzhou begins airport expansion as city jostles with Shenzhen and Hong Kong for aviation dominance
- ‘We are dying’: Hong Kong tourism industry pleads with government to restart travel, with Shenzhen trips first on list
- Developers eye Guishan Island’s reclamation to augment Lantau plan in easing Hong Kong’s land woes in test for Greater Bay Area
- Zhaoqing grows tourism dollars on Seven Star Crags, legends of Justice Bao and Jesuit Matteo Ricci
- The bay area city of Zhaoqing was once home to the Italian Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci, who drew the first modern Chinese map of the world
This article Dalian Wanda unveils ambitious Zhaoqing tourism project in latest bet on Greater Bay Area economy first appeared on South China Morning Post