Chinese theme park 'mecca' planned for Australia
Staff Reporter and Agence France-Presse in Sydney
Build it, and they will come.
That appears to be the logic behind a planned A$500 million (HK$4 billion) Chinese theme park in Australia - an ambitious project officials say could rival the popularity of Sydney Opera House as a tourist draw.
The seven-sectioned theme park, which will feature a full-size replica of the Forbidden City gates, restaurants and a resort, will be built 80 kilometres north of Sydney.
It will include a 400-year-old Ming dynasty museum that will be dismantled in China and rebuilt at the site. There will also be a section devoted to pandas, though not with any live animals.
Wyong Shire Council on the New South Wales central coast signed a A$10 million deal to sell 15.7 hectares of land to the company behind the proposal, Australian Chinese Theme Park.
Construction is set to begin in 2015 and be finished by 2020. On completion it is expected to employ up to 2,000 people.
The project has reportedly been met with great enthusiasm by consular officials and the Shanghai Municipal People's Government.
There was no word on who is helping the company bankroll the project, but a spokeswoman, Amanda Li, said it included private investors in China, who see the potential of tapping Australia's domestic tourism market as well as the growing number of visitors from China to Australia.
China is Australia's fastest growing and most valuable international tourism market, worth more than A$3.8 billion in 2011, with more than 400,000 Chinese visitors going to New South Wales state each year.
"What this proposal will do is turn the Wyong Shire into a tourist mecca and bring millions of dollars worth of tourism into the area - which will have a flow-on effect to the entire region's economy," Wyong Mayor Doug Eaton said.
"Outside the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, this has the potential to be among the biggest tourist attractions in the state."