Shanghai International Resort goes from strength to strength

Li Qian
Globally, many tourist destinations are reeling. But it's a different story at the Shanghai International Resort in the Pudong New Area.
Li Qian
Shot by Zhou Shengjie. Edited by Zhong Youyang. Subtitles by Yang Yang.

Globally, many tourist destinations are reeling. But it’s a different story at the Shanghai International Resort in the Pudong New Area.

The resort, including Shanghai Disney Resort, Shanghai Village and Shanghai Lavender Park, is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Shanghai.

This year, it is estimated the resort will receive 14 million visits, about 80 percent of last year’s number, despite months of closure early this year due to COVID-19 outbreak. It had 710,000 visits, up 52.5 percent, during the eight-day National Day holiday in October.

Shanghai Village, known by locals as Yi Ou Lai, has witnessed a year-on-year increase of 105 percent in sales revenues, and 58 percent in visits. In October,  sales revenue increased 94 percent on the same period last year.

Tourism is struggling to survive in the rest of the world but it has recovered and is booming in China. 

Efforts by local authorities have helped a lot, according to Mark Israel, chief executive officer of Value Retail China which runs the outlet.

“At the beginning of the year when COVID-19 appeared, none of us knew what to expect,” he said. “But our Chinese partnership helped us figure out shopping protocols including temperature measurement, mask wearing and health code checks. We couldn’t have reopened the outlet efficiently by ourselves.”

Shanghai Village opened in May 2016 as the newest member of the company’s Bicester Village Shopping Collection, which has 11 luxury outlet shopping centers in Europe and China.

According to Israel, the company was attracted by Pudong’s international vibe, attractive consumer market and good business environment.

“We have over 200 brands in the Shanghai Village," he said. "Each one of them needs to go through processes to be able to do business. We’ve seen in these years it’s been easier and easier for them to get licenses, obtain information, or understand how to operate within this specific market.

“On the business development side, there are a lot of efforts from authorities to really build it into a tourist destination. People around the country have become more aware of us thanks to events like shopping festivals and tourism festivals."

Shanghai International Resort goes from strength to strength
Zhou Shengjie / SHINE

Shanghai Disneyland.

Shanghai Disney Resort, adjacent to Shanghai Village, opened in June 2016 as the sixth Disney Resort globally.

The original opening was really a tremendous milestone for Disney as it represented the largest foreign investment in the Walt Disney company history, according to Murray King, vice president of public affairs for Shanghai Disney Resort.

It has proved to be one of the most successful investments of the company. In the first year, Shanghai Disneyland became a top 10 theme park destination globally.

“We’ve been distinctly Chinese," King said, as one of the reasons behind its success. "We're giving guests the authentic Disney experience with the right cultural elements in the way that Chinese families want to experience."

King added the decision to consider Shanghai was made many years before it was opened.

The company focuses on major cities, major economies with major consumer demands that have an interest in and love for the Disney brand. 

“Compared with other Chinese cities, Shanghai really stands out for being an international business face of China,” he said. “And it sits at the heart of the Yangtze River Delta region which is a huge consumer market. So, it’s the perfect place. Since we made the decision, Shanghai is even closer to the rest of China thanks to the build-up of highway network and high-speed rail. People from pretty much the entire country can come.”

Pudong was an “obvious choice."

“The first idea  started in the early 1990s, the same time  when Pudong was opened up," he said. "The last 30 years of development and opening-up really mirrored China’s development. The most iconic example is the skyline of Lujiazui, the incredible infrastructure of the maglev train, high-speed rail and the subway network. This is really the future development leading  where China is going.

“We want to be part of that. Shanghai and Pudong’s future is about the service industry, from financial to cultural to tourism. And Disney is a global leader in cultural and tourism industries overall.”

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