China | Wanda unveils US$15 billion tourism project for Xian
The Wanda City theme park in Hefei, Anhui province, opened in September, 2016. Photo: AFP
The Wanda City theme park in Hefei, Anhui province, opened in September, 2016. Photo: AFP

Wanda unveils US$15 billion tourism project for Xian

Home of the terracotta warriors to become part of billionaire's theme park network

November 17, 2016 12:24 PM (UTC+8)

Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group plans to spend 103 billion yuan (US$14.99 billion) on a tourism-focused development and 19 shopping malls in the northwestern province of Shaanxi, home to the terracotta warriors.

The strategic cooperation agreement, signed with the Shaanxi government this week, follows the earlier announcement by Wanda of a similar US$14.7 billion project in the southern province of Hunan.

The Shaanxi investment includes a 50 billion yuan Wanda City — usually comprised of theme parks, shopping malls, hotels and residential projects — in the provincial capital Xian, Wanda said.

“[The construction] will bring modern tourism experiences to the ancient city, promoting the upgrading of the city’s tourism industry,” the company owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, said in a statement.

The 19 shopping malls would promote commercial development in rural areas, the company added. The project would also bring international sporting events like the Ironman triathlon competition, which Wanda acquired for US$650 million last August, to Xian.

Wanda has earmarked over US$60 billion for theme parks in China, banking on rising incomes to drive domestic tourism. Earlier this year, Wang said the group would look to build at least 20 Wanda Cities in China.

The group opened its first two Wanda Cities this year, in Nanchang in the southeastern Jiangxi province in May, and the second in Hefei in the east of the country in September.

Wang aspires to build the No. 1 tourism company globally by 2020 and has been open about his rivalry with Disney, which opened a US$5.5 billion resort in Shanghai in June.

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