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OCT Group finds formula for success

By Huang Ying  (China Daily)

15:31, April 04, 2013

Tourists play a real-life version of the video game Angry Birds at the Window of the World amusement park in Changsha, Hunan province. DI LU / FOR CHINA DAILY

As many theme parks struggle, a State-owned enterprise has flourished. Huang Ying examines the reasons behind the company's rapid growth.

Theme parks may seem to be a good choice for property tycoons and eager speculators in the current economic environment, as the government continues to tighten controls on the real estate market and boosts the development of the culture industry. However, the fact is that among the theme parks now operating in the Chinese mainland, only a fraction of them make a profit, analysts say.

Overseas Chinese Town Group is one of the few that dedicates itself to the culture industry among State-owned enterprises. Under the management of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, OCT Group has established a well-organized layout for theme parks across the country over the past two decades.

The tourism and culture giant's first theme park, Splendid China, opened in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 1989.

OCT Group developed some other projects that can be categorized into three types. One kind is amusement parks, entertaining people and offering recreation services, while another offers resorts, combining leisure activities and scenic spots for tourists. The third type comprises miniaturized scenic spots.

The Happy Valley parks belong to the first group. They have gained in popularity since the first one opened in Shenzhen in 1998.

OCT Group now operates five Happy Valleys across the nation, making it the first domestic theme-park chain brand. The other four are in Beijing; Chengdu, Sichuan province; Shanghai; and Wuhan, Hubei province. The sixth one in Tianjin is scheduled to open within this year.

In the second category are OCT East, in Shenzhen, and OCT Taizhou, in Jiangsu province. Another project of this kind is under construction in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, and is scheduled to be completed this year, according to the company.

Window of the World parks in Shenzhen and Changsha, Central China's Hunan province, with miniature models of top international tourist attractions, belong to the third kind.

OCT Group made the list of top 10 amusement park chains worldwide for the first time in 2008, ranking eighth with an attendance of 13.4 million. The group kept its ranking in the list in the following three years, according to the Global Attractions Attendance Report released by the Themed Entertainment Association and the Economics practice at AECOM.

In 2011, of the top 20 amusement or theme parks in Asia as measured by attendance, nine are in the Chinese mainland, and five are owned by OCT Group, the report said.

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