Shanghai’s Chongming Island likely site for new Disneyland

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SHANGHAI, Dec. 11 – Chongming Island, China’s third-largest island and designated for ecotourism development, looks likely to become the site of a new Disneyland after 2010.

The island, situated north of Shanghai, will likely get a Disney theme park following the 2010 World Expo a government spokesman for the island said yesterday.

“We have made plenty of efforts to have a Disney theme park. No decision has been made so far. We will make announcements when we know the result. A Disney theme park will probably be built in Shanghai after the World Expo,” the spokesman said.

As the project is a significant one, it will need approval from Beijing before it can proceed. However, links to the island are scheduled to improve once a bridge and tunnel linking Chongming to the Shanghai are completed in time for the World Expo and Beijing will likely move ahead with the project.

Currently, the Disney’s only theme park on the Chinese mainland is located in Hong Kong. A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau told the South China Morning Post: “The mainland’s tourist market is very big, it is big enough to accommodate more than one international theme park. Tourism is not a zero-sum game; every place has its environment and attractions that suit different markets.”

Hong Kong Disneyland, in which the city’s government owns 57 percent to Walt Disney Co.’s 43 percent, has suffered widening losses this year on a fall in attendance and spending by visitors since it opened in 2005. According to MarketWatch, the park missed its first-year target of 5.6 million visitors in 2006 by a margin of 400,000. The park has since declined to provide data for its second operating year, though local media reports say the attendance figures were lower than in the previous year.

Pricewaterhouse Coopers last year estimated that theme parks in China, excluding Hong Kong, will generate US$1.8 billion in 2010, up from US$1.3 billion in 2005. China, the second-largest market, is an area of particular growth, spurred by a rapidly expanding middle class, according to an industry report. According to the TEA/ERA report, new parks are under development near Shanghai, Shenzhen, Zhouzhuang, Wuhu and Guangdong.