China is set to be the world’s theme park capital by 2020

Theme parks in China are estimated to make US$12 billion by 2020. Source: Shutterstock

CHINA doesn’t spring to mind when thinking about the world’s best-loved and most visited theme parks. However, according to a study by consulting company Euromonitor International, China is set to surpass the US and Japan in the theme park market by 2020.

In 2016 China’s theme parks saw 200 million thrill-seekers and cartoon character enthusiasts pass through the shiny gates, and according to a new report by Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town Holding Company, a sponsor unit of the China Tourist Attractions Association, China is set to leap into first place on the theme park chart.

Thirteen of the 20 most visited Asian theme parks are in China. These include Disneyland Shanghai, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Changzhou Dinosaur Park and Hello Kitty Park.

Fire flame exploding from an artificial volcano in Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China. Source: Shutterstock.com

According to a joint report by market-research firm, Euromonitor International, and World Travel Market, an estimated US$12 billion is set to be made in Chinese theme park retail by 2020, which is 367 percent increase from the relatively stale sales in 2010.

The sudden rise in tourists who are eager to get their adrenaline rushing on rides or families meeting their cartoon idols is due to the explosion of China’s middle class.

A disposable income for the Chinese consumer is becoming more prevalent, and people can spend a little on leisure activities, opposed to just necessities.

A positive finding by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) estimates that by 2030, 75 percent of China’s population will identify as middle-class citizens. Not only is this good news for the people, but also for investors.

Fifty-nine theme parks are set to open in China in coming years, Euromonitor said. This influx of new builds means Shanghai Disneyland have some tough competition to ensure a slew of visitors pass through the golden gates.

But it isn’t all fun and games in the world of theme parks investors. Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man and owner of entertainment group Wanda Group Co. told Chinese state television station CCTV, “at Wanda I always say we want to ensure Disney is not profitable for 10 to 20 years in this business segment in China.”

With theme park investors competing with one another and China’s middle class rapidly rising, it will be essential to get a balance that suits both companies and consumers.