The Wanda Group operates a portfolio of 67 Wanda Plazas, 38 five-star hotels, 6,000 cinema screens and 63 karaoke outlets across China. Here executive vice-chairman of Wanda Cultural Tourism, Yuan Wang shares Wanda’s vision with Park World readers.
Founded in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian in 1988, the Wanda Group operates in four major industries, commercial property, department stores, luxury hotels and culture/tourism. Its hotels, cinemas and other developments currently generate an annual income of RMB 141.7 billion (€23bn/$17.5bn). Last year the group consolidated all its culture/tourism operations, including theme parks, cinemas, film and television production and performing arts, under the umbrella of Wanda Cultural Tourism, based in Beijing.
What were some of your first projects as Wanda Cultural Industry?
We invested RMB 20 billion in a large snow and ski resort project in 2012, the Changbaishan International Resort. This includes the largest ski field in Asia, nine resort hotels, tourist towns, live performance theatres, cinemas, museums, etc. The project exceeded our expectations in its opening year. We also invested RMB 50 billion in the Wuhan Central Cultural District.
What new attractions will you be opening in the next 12 months?
Wanda will open a film-based entertainment venue in Wuhan in 2014, which will be the first of its kind in China to bring together several of the latest entertainment programmes enabled by cutting-edge film technologies. Construction will start soon also on our Beijing Cultural Tourism City project. In addition, Wanda will open a high tech traditional stage and present the world’s best water show, Han Shows.
How does your product differ to that of other operators?
Wanda’s recreational attractions are usually part of a large comprehensive cultural programme, so as to present to the market an integrated “one-stop shop” touring experience. In terms of creativity, our products are based on the various historical cultures of China and blended with international elements. Our theme parks and cultural attractions are an extremely important and growing part of the business for the Wanda Group.
Exactly how does Chinese culture influence the content of your attractions?
Wanda’s attractions are throughout China. Every planned project will take into consideration and highlight the unique traditional cultures of the place where the project locates as the source of our creativity.
What impact do you expect will the opening of Disney Shanghai Resort will have on the parks and attractions industry in China?
The opening of Disney in Shanghai will greatly stimulate the Chinese attraction industry and improve the whole industry chain, from the creative planning through to production.
Do you expect more international operators to come into China?
Of course, since the consumer demand for the cultural entertainment is increasing as the disposable income of Chinese people is increasing, more and more international developers and operators will enter the Chinese market.
When do you expect Chinese operators to expand into other countries?
Well, Wanda is doing so right now, as a part of our long term strategic plan.
What is the biggest opportunity for Chinese attraction operators right now?
The market demand is huge, but there are few projects of high taste and good quality. This is the biggest opportunity for Chinese attraction developers and operators; to create attractions of excellence. I believe it will take about 10 years for the market to reach maturity.
What Wanda does
Wanda Cultural Tourism operates a wide variety of attractions including theme parks, movie parks, children’s cities, cinemas, theatres, ski resorts and high-end hotels. Many of these components are clustered together in its Wanda Plaza and larger Wanda City developments.
Some of the group’s present and upcoming projects include International Resorts in Changbaishan and Xishuangbanna, Wanda City developments in Dalian, Harbin, Nanchang, Wuxi and theme parks in Guangzhou, Hefei and Qingdao.
The Wuhan Central Cultural District is a massive RMB 50 billion ($8.1bn/ €6.2bn) development earmarked for capital of the Hubei Province. Covering a central 1.8 sq km site between the city’s East Lake and Sand Lake, “culture will be the core part” of the project, which will comprise elements of tourism, commerce, business and residential dwelling.
Together with the American Frank Corporation, Wanda also operates a performing arts company, which boasts a RMB 10 billion budget and is currently working on two major projects in Wuhan.