Chinese theme park operator Songcheng has unveiled plans to build a $400 million theme park on the Gold Coast in the company’s first move to overseas markets, as major Chinese companies tap into increasing demand for tourism offerings from both local and international travellers.
Songcheng Performance Development, which is little known in Australia, is controlled by probably China’s most successful theme park entrepreneur, Huang Qiaoling, and is also one of the ten biggest theme park operators in the world, according to Forbes.
The Shenzhen-listed company has won board approval for its local arm to build the “The Australia Legendary Kingdom” project at Nerang on the Gold Coast, a filing to the stock exchange shows.
The theme park will feature an “Australian Legend” grand performance, which will be “world class”, and the theme park will offer different precincts including “Australian Aboriginal Cultural Village”, “Wild Australia” and “Mysterious Orient”.
“The project will also offer a mixture of Australian culture and oriental culture, which will meet diversified tourist demand from different age groups,” the company’s said in the filing.
Songcheng said it will splash about 2 billion Chinese yuan ($400m) on the first-stage investment, which includes about $66.3m for the cost of the land.
About $329.6m will be spent on the design and construction of the park itself, which is located 10km from Surfers Paradise, according to the company.
But it is believed the final investment in the park could rise above the quoted figures, particularly with the project likely to be built in stages.
Songcheng has gained Foreign Investment Review Board approval for the project, according to China’s Securities Journal.
The company has been described as a fast-moving Chinese developer having ‘unique’ capacities in tourism, according to industry sources who have dealt with Songcheng.
Real estate agent Roland Evans of Canford Property Group has advised on the transaction but declined to comment on Monday.
Songcheng, based in Hangzhou, branded itself as the biggest stage performance operator in China with 30 stages and 65,000 seats. Its stage performances are held in some of China’s most famous tourist cities, such as Hangzhou, Sanya, Lijiang and Jiuzhaigou. It also owns and operates over 30 theme parks in China.
The Gold Coast plan will be the company’s first overseas project, and will likely lead to more ventures in other overseas markets.
“This investment is the first step for Songcheng to go international, and also a key move for us to create the world’s No 1 stage performance operator,” the company said.
Mr Huang, who founded the group, has a background in literature studies and once undertook acedamic researches into one of China’s four great classical novels, “Dream of the Red Chamber”.
Songcheng, a relatively late comer to Australia, appears to be moving ahead of other Chinese companies that are also assessing opportunities to build theme parks here.
Dalian Wanda, one of China’s biggest real estate developers and also a theme park operator in China, has also shown interest in Australia’s tourism sector.