Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese entertainment giant owned by the country’s richest man, has opened the first phase of a sprawling 34 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion) tourism park in the eastern city of Hefei.
The 160-hectare first phase of Hefei Wanda City, which opened on Saturday, includes a theme park, hotels and a shopping mall, Reuters reports.
The second phase will be an “indoor recreation project”, according to a statement from the company.
Wanda intends to extend the park into a third phase, which is still in the planning stages, it said.
Wanda is building similar projects around the country, betting that China’s rising incomes will drive more domestic tourism.
In an interview with Reuters last month, chairman Wang Jianlin said that Wanda would look to build at least 20 such complexes in China.
Wang has been open about his rivalry with Walt Disney Co., which opened a US$5.5 billion resort in Shanghai in June.
“At Wanda, I always say we want to ensure Disney is not profitable for 10 to 20 years in this business segment in China,” he told state-run China Central Television in a May interview.
China’s slowing economy has taken a toll on some areas of consumer spending.
Wanda has been investing heavily as it seeks to triple revenues from its cultural division – which includes entertainment, sports and tourism – to 150 billion yuan (US$22.5 billion) by 2020.
On Friday, Wanda announced a partnership with Sony Pictures under which Wanda will market Sony Pictures’ films and co-finance some upcoming movie releases of Sony Corp’s film unit in China.
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