China clamping down on unsustainable theme park boom

China’s central planning body has warned developers about the country’s ongoing theme park boom, raising concerns over potentially unpayable debts and low grade or copycat developments, as new parks continue to spring up across the country.

As of the end of 2015, China had 59 parks planned or under construction, with the figure now thought to be in the hundreds. This explosion in theme park development in the country is due in part to the Chinese government lifting a ban on theme park approvals in 2013, enabling parks under CN¥5bn (US$800m, €717m, £633m) to be approved at a provincial level, encouraging further investors.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) – which has broad administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy – theme park developers should strengthen supervision to “prevent the formation of local debt risks, social risks and financial risks.”

“In the development of theme parks we’ve seen unclear concepts, blind construction, imitations and plagiarism, low-standard duplication and other issues,” said an NDRC statement, which also added that in certain areas “local debt risks” were starting to emerge.

For future plans, the NDRC says that entertainment firms should involve the government more planning such developments, with particular care placed on developments worth more than CN¥1.5bn (US$237m, €191.8m, £166.8m).

Attractions sales in China grew significantly last year, increasing 27 per cent to CN¥39.5bn (€5.1bn, £4.4bn), with Mintel data predicting the market to more than double in size to CN¥89.2bn (US$14.2bn, €11.5bn, £10bn) by 2022.

In June last year, China’s government removed restrictions on foreign investment in large-scale theme park projects as part of a pledge to open the country’s economy – the second largest in the world – to wider foreign investment.

Major developments in the country include those from the likes of Disney, Universal, Wanda and now Sunac. The NDRC says that new property developments around theme parks, including commercial and residential properties, will be closer scrutinised and must gain separate approval.

As its theme park sector continues to thrive, China predicts spending at its parks to reach nearly US$12bn (€10.7bn, £9.5bn) by 2020, with visitor numbers surpassing 330 million people. As Chinese disposable income rises, attractions are reaping the rewards, with tourism numbers increasing as more leisure opportunities become available to tourists.

China  government  theme park  National Development and Reform Commission  Disney  Universal  Wanda  Sunac  Mintel 
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China’s central planning body has warned developers about the country’s ongoing theme park boom, raising concerns over potentially unpayable debts and low grade or copycat developments, as new parks continue to spring up across the country. As of the end of 2015, China had 59 parks planned or under construction, with the figure now thought to be in the hundreds. This explosion in theme park development in the country is
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