Introducing: Dalian Wanda Group

by Jeremy Schoolfield

The new theater on the IAAPA Attractions Expo trade show floor was sponsored by the Dalian Wanda Group out of China. The company is new to our industry, so Funworld took some time during the show to speak with Yuan Wang, president of Wanda’s cultural tourism branch, to learn more about the exciting plans for the company’s future.

Can you provide some general information and background about Wanda Group?

Dalian Wanda Group was founded in 1988 and operates in five major industries, including commercial properties, luxury hotels, tourism investment, cultural industry, and a department store chain. By 2011, the Group had assets of 195 billion yuan (US$31.2 billion) and an annual income of 105.1 billion yuan (US$16.8 billion) and pays 16.3 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion) in taxes. By the end of 2012, the Group operates 66 Wanda Plazas, 38 five-star hotels, 5,900 cinema screens, 57 department stores, and 63 variety karaoke outlets across the country.

Why are you interested in entering the attractions industry?

First, it is derived by our corporate spirit of seeking excellence. Wanda’s objective is to become an enterprise of the first level in the world within 10 years. We enter the cultural tourism industry just to further enhance our impact and competitiveness, to truly elevate Wanda to the top echelon of global enterprises.

Second, the attractions industry conforms to our standards when we choose industries to enter: Standard No.1, we can be a big player—Wanda can become the top players in the global attraction industry; Standard No.2, we can make money here—the profitability of the attractions industry is promising; Standard No.3, our operation can go on for a long time—the attractions industry is a sunrise industry worldwide.

What about this industry is appealing to you?

China is already a middle-income country. The development of other countries has shown that their cultural tourism consumption has substantially increased in this phase. The Chinese government has also clearly defined culture and tourism as two national pillar industries. By 2015, the size of the Chinese cultural tourism market is expected to reach US$500 billion. This will be a huge market and also a great opportunity for Wanda.

What types of projects are you targeting right now?

The year of 2012 witnessed the opening of Wanda Group’s Changbaishan International Resort. Apart from this, our Xishuangbanna and Dalian Jinshi projects are also under construction. We are also master planning our Beijing Cultural Tourism City project, and its construction will start soon.

How does the experience gained from your other business ventures apply to your involvement in the attractions industry? Do any of the core concepts cross over?

Wanda has gained a lot of successful experience in the commercial real estate and cultural industries, which we also apply to our development of attraction projects. Among these, the most important is our commercial model and the spirit of innovation.

Take the example of our Wanda Cultural Tourism City: It is the world’s first extra-large comprehensive project integrating culture, tourism, and commerce, based on our rich experience in the commercial, cultural, and tourism industries for numerous years. It has three major features: No.1, its idea creation is unique in the world; No.2, all members of the design team are the world’s top masters; No.3, Wanda has the sole ownership of its intellectual property rights.

There are six major parts in the planning of the Cultural Tourism City, including cultural projects, tourism projects, commercial projects, theme parks, hotels, and the convention center. These are mainly indoor projects, to completely eliminate the weather’s negative effects to the cultural amusement. 

Can you provide a timeline for when these will come online?

The “Han Show” Theatre and the Movie Technology Amusement Park of Wuhan Central Cultural District will be opened for business in 2014. Xishuangbanna International Resort will open in 2015, and Dalian Jinshi and Beijing Cultural Tourism City will open in 2016.

How has joining IAAPA benefitted your organization?

By joining IAAPA, first, Wanda can open its horizon and, second, make more friends. Last, but not least, we can acquire the high-end resources needed for our development. This will greatly benefit Wanda’s development of cultural tourism business.

What were your goals in attending and participating in IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012?

First, to display Wanda’s strength and image to the world; second, to learn and understand the development tendency of the industry; third, to make more friends and promote our business.

Did you accomplish those goals? What did you learn or gain from attending the Expo?

Certainly what we gained exceeds our expectation! IAAPA Attractions Expo is the indicator of the development of the global attractions industry. By learning the products and development concepts of excellent industry peers, we are more confident now in Wanda’s development in the cultural tourism industry.