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Will Chinese visit China theme park - in Australia?

(Shanghai Daily)

10:21, July 09, 2013

Backers hope to pack in tourists with replicas of Beijing's Palace Museum, a nine-story temple and a panda-less 'panda paradise.' It's no joke Down Under, where the economy is in need of a boost. Jane Wardell reports.

A mayor in Australia's coastal Wyong region and a Chinese businessman are hoping to pack in Chinese tourists by building a theme park outside Sydney with a full-size replica of Beijing's Forbidden City and a nine-story temple housing a giant Buddha.

News of the park has already made headlines in China and the theory is it will attract visitors like Americans visiting EuroDisney - a familiar cultural icon in a new and exotic location.

"We were the fourth or fifth (local government) council they approached after everybody else laughed in their face," said Wyong Mayor Doug Eaton, who hopes to attract millions of Chinese tourists.

Construction on the A$500 million (US$480 million) theme park is due to start in the second half of next year. It is one of the more unusual attempts by Australia to win a slice of the world's largest outbound tourism market as it looks for an economic boost to replace its fading mining boom.

As some economists voice concerns that Australia is at risk of falling into its first recession in 22 years, the nation is again turning to its biggest trading partner - this time targeting China's affluent globetrotters.

The privately held Australian Chinese Theme Park Pty Ltd (ACTP) hopes its development around 90 kilometers northeast of Sydney becomes a major destination alongside the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

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