The name Wang Jianlin may not resonate with you, but according to the South China Morning Post he is the richest man in China and recently announced plans to build the world’s biggest tourism enterprise which will overtake the current giant, Disney.
The chairman of the Wanda Group stated that his holding company will achieve an annual revenue of 100 billion Yuan (one Yuan currently equals .16 US Cents), attain annual net profits of US$10 billion and handle 200 million visitors by as early as 2020.
At this stage he has not ruled out entry into the aviation segment after China lifted a five year restrictions on applications for new airlines in 2013 ‘spawning a wave of privately owned start-up carriers’.
To even try and understand the exponential growth, Wanda’s in house travel agency revenue is expected to reach 10 billion Yuan this year, 20 billion by 2017 and 40 billion by 2020.
Last month Wang together with Tencent Holdings and Citic Capital led a US$967 million acquisition of ticketing website, Ly.com, which is currently the country’s third largest online travel site in terms of revenue generated.
The Wanda Group includes the ownership and/or management of over 70 luxury hotels, the world’s largest cinema operation, 110 plazas, 22 million square metres of leasable property, film and television production, substantial print media interests, art investment with total assets exceeding US$85 billion and spanning across four continents.
Barbados of course, is not alone is seeing the potential of the growth in Chinese tourism, but the bigger issue is exactly how are we going to tap at least some of that market. My own initial thoughts are that ‘we’ as a single destination will find it very difficult, but as a region, incorporating both lodging and cruise ship options, we could stand a far better chance.
With our diplomatic presence in China, perhaps high level discussions have already taken place with Mr. Jianlin, to see how we can smart partner with his global plans. Also with Sir Kyffin Simpson’s amazing success in China, it would be foolish not to involve his proven expertise and I am sure as a good patriot he may gladly agree, subject to his clearly demanding time restraints.
Also hopefully our tourism planners and prime movers are working in the background with the local global brands like Hilton, Radisson, Marriott and Fairmont allowing chosen staff members to undertake ‘internships’ in their Chinese properties to ensure we have a better understanding of their culture, dietary and service expectations.
China has had a long and sustained investment interest in both Barbados and the Caribbean generally and especially in the tourism sector. A figure of US$7 billion was quoted by Adam Wu, the CEO of China Business Network as the amount of Chinese funded projects in the region during 2009 alone.
One thing for sure we cannot afford to ignore one of the fastest growing tourism markets on the planet. By November 2014 China’s yearly outbound tourists reached 100 million for the first time and finished 107 million by the end of that year, representing a 19.49 per cent increase over 2013.