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Real Madrid adds lustre to China's wannabe 'Orlando' tourist hub

Real Madrid adds lustre to China's wannabe 'Orlando' tourist hub
From Reuters - September 16, 2017

HENGQIN, China (Reuters) - Just a stones throw across a narrow waterway from the worlds largest gambling hub Macau, a former oyster farming island is being transformed into Chinas newest tourism haven.

Dubbed by some as Chinas answer to Floridas Orlando - a global tourist magnet with its cluster of major theme parks - Hengqin has seen property prices more than double over the past two years.

While still a dusty mass of construction sites, Hengqin now draws millions annually to its anchor attraction, the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park, with a slew of hotel, malls and sprawling residential developments being built nearby.Spanish soccer club, Real Madrid, announced last week they would open an interactive virtual reality complex in Hengqin, in partnership with Hong Kong-listed developer, Lai Sun Group (0488.HK).

The 12,000-square metre venue, set to open in 2021, will include virtual reality entertainment and a museum showcasing the clubs history.

The transformation of Hengqin, which is three times as large as Macau, is part of Beijings efforts to bolster links between Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in the Pearl River Delta region, or so-called Greater Bay Area, modelled after other dynamic global bay areas such as Tokyo and San Francisco.

Hengqin will be the Orlando of China. Macau is Las Vegas (and) Hong Kong is New York, said Larry Leung, an executive with Lai Sun that is helping build the Real Madrid complex at its Novotown project in Hengqin. Within an hour you can have them all.

Novotowns entertainment mix will also feature Chinas first Lionsgate movie world with theme rides from blockbuster films such as the Hunger Games and Twilight, as well as a National Geographic educational center. And high-end hotel chains and luxury yacht makers are building more hotels and a marina on Hengqin.

EXPANDING MACAU

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