Kung fu's home hopes to get a kick out of listing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 December, 2007, 12:00am

The government of Dengfeng city - birthplace of kung fu and home to the famed Shaolin Monastery - is planning a public listing of its key tourist facilities in Hong Kong.

The company will include transport and hotel assets, such as the cable car that takes visitors to the top of Song Shan Mountain, but not the monastery or Shaolin Scenic Spot.

Tourism official Pei Songxian declined to say how much money the government aimed to raise or give precise details of the assets to be listed.

Tourism is the pillar industry of Dengfeng, accounting for one-third of the city's gross domestic product. Official statistics show 4.13 million tourists visited the city in Henan province last year, up 29 per cent from a year earlier. The city boasts a string of attractions, the most famous of which are the Shaolin Scenic Spot and Shaolin Monastery.

There are six star-graded hotels in Dengfeng, according to the city tourism bureau, but it is not clear how many will be injected into Songshan Shaolin Tourism Group, the listing vehicle set up by the government.

Abbot Shi Yongxin said the monastery, which runs businesses from kung fu shows to film production and food and medicine products, would not seek a listing in the short term because it could destroy the reputation of Shaolin.

'To become involved in such a highly risky business is against the spirit of Buddha,' he said. 'And we have adequate money to support what we want to do.'

The monastery's executive director, Shi Yanlin, said admission fees and devotees' donations amounted to about 50 million yuan this year, up from last year's 32 million yuan.

Mr Pei refused to disclose how the proceeds from the proposed share offering would be used, but indicated that the Dengfeng government wanted to open a chain of vegetarian restaurants across the mainland next year, with the flagship restaurant to be opened near the monastery.