SOURCE / ECONOMY
Universal Beijing draws eager tourists
Beijing resort to help unleash huge spending wave
Published: Sep 21, 2021 07:13 PM
Tourists watch a stunt performance at the theme land of WaterWorld at the Universal Beijing Resort in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 20, 2021. The Universal Beijing Resort, currently the largest in scale worldwide, opened to the public on Monday. The resort, covering 4 square km, includes the highly anticipated Universal Studios Beijing theme park, the Universal CityWalk, and two hotels. (Photo: Xinhua)

Tourists watch a stunt performance at the theme land of WaterWorld at the Universal Beijing Resort in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 20, 2021. The Universal Beijing Resort, currently the largest in scale worldwide, opened to the public on Monday. The resort, covering 4 square km, includes the highly anticipated Universal Studios Beijing theme park, the Universal CityWalk, and two hotels. (Photo: Xinhua)


The Universal Beijing Resort formally opened to tourists on Monday after 20 years of planning and construction. Its grand opening, at a time when cross-border travel remains suspended, has caught the attention of the whole country, with throngs of excited travelers flocking to the theme park for different cultural and entertainment experiences despite long lines and comparatively high prices.

Industry insiders and experts said that Chinese consumers' high enthusiasm for the resort reflects their increasing spending power, with many shifting to focus more on quality and experience. Meanwhile, the new park is expected to greatly drive employment and the local economy in the longer term.

"Compared with Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan and Singapore, the attractions and services at Universal Beijing Resort are not bad, although prices are a little bit higher," a Beijing resident surnamed Jia, who is also engaged in the tourism industry, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

He said that his family of three spent over 4,000 yuan ($619) at the resort on tickets, meals, Harry Potter-themed outfits and wands, as well as some small souvenirs.

Ticket prices for Universal Studios Beijing range from 418 yuan to 748 yuan, and visitors have to buy an "excellent speed pass" for another 400 yuan, or directly buy a "VIP VIP experience" pass for 1,200 yuan to avoid long lines.

However, consumers' enthusiasm for visiting the theme park didn't diminish because of the prices, with tickets for the first day all gone within 30 minutes after online sales began on September 14.

"There were so many people, and you have to wait in line for up to 70 minutes to visit some projects on Monday," Jia said. His team also booked tickets for more than 600 people on the opening day, and he said that most clients wanted to buy excellent speed pass tickets and VIP experience tickets.

It seems that many people do not think that it is too expensive to spend over 1,000 yuan a day at such a theme park - instead, they have higher requirements for a visit that saves time and offers comfort.

According to a report domestic travel platform Qunar sent to the Global Times, apart from Beijing, cities including Shanghai, Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province and Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province are major sources of visitors to the Universal resort. It noted that about 60 percent of travelers from Shanghai are born after 1990.

Experts said that this underscores a consumption upgrade that is gaining steam, especially among the younger generation, while domestic residents' willingness and ability to spend have increased along with their disposable incomes.

Zhang Lingyun, a professor of tourism development at Beijing International Studies University, said that given the branding influence of Universal and residents' reluctance to travel amid the pandemic, huge consumption potential driven by the new resort is expected to be unleashed in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the fifth Universal theme park in the world and the third in Asia, with a total investment of over 50 billion yuan, the resort is estimated to generate annual revenue exceeding 10 billion yuan, domestic news site yicai.com reported, citing local officials. 

Related accommodation and catering will generate more than 2 billion yuan of synergistic economic effects, the report said, noting that construction of phases two and three is now at the planning stage, and characteristic towns and cultural and tourism industries can be developed around the resort.

Given that there are about 10,000 employees at the new resort, about 70,000 jobs are likely to be created directly and indirectly in the long term, including those manufacturing souvenirs and cultural products related to Universal Studio and those engaged in the hospitality industry, Zhang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Qunar data showed that there are more than 50 hotels within 5 kilometers of the resort. Bookings for those hotels surged 15 times during the Mid-Autumn Festival holidays (from Sunday to Tuesday) this year, compared with the same holiday in 2019.

Jia said that Universal Beijing should diversify ticket sales channels and step up cooperation with travel agencies so that the concept of resorts can be given full play with packaged businesses such as photography services for travelers, accommodation and group tours.


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