Lai Fung Holdings Ltd, the developer of the Novotown tourist development on the mainland Chinese island of Hengqin, has announced it will build a motorbike-themed “experience centre” based on the Ducati brand. The Italian motorcycle maker Ducati Motor Holding SpA has licensed its brand to Hong Kong-listed Lai Fung for 10 years from the date of the centre’s opening, with an option for a further 10 years.
The announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday said the Ducati experience centre would occupy 4,500 square metres and offer what it termed “interactive motorcycle racing”, places to eat, and shops.
The Chinese authorities envisage Hengqin as a draw for tourists, with non-gaming attractions to complement Macau’s casinos and tourism highlights. Hengqin is next door to Macau. A highway and bridge joins the island to Macau’s Cotai district.
In a separate announcement, Lai Fung said it had “secured certain key partners” for Novotown Phase II. The company said it also had an agreement with Spanish football club Real Madrid to put up an entertainment facility based on the storied club, and another with Harrow School, a private secondary school in London in the United Kingdom, to create an educational institution on Hengqin.
Each of the developments was said to be in the planning for the second phase of the Novotown project, and the construction of each of the attractions depends on winning planning approvals and successfully obtaining the necessary land.
The premium for the 143,768-square-metres (1.5-million-sq-feet) land concession required for Phase II would be nearly CNY762 million (US$110.6 million) said Lai Fung, adding that a unit of the firm would – if successful in its land acquisition bid – spend a minimum of CNY3.5 billion on development – inclusive of land costs.
A ramping up of non-gaming tourism entertainment on Hengqin – to complement existing facilities such as the Chimelong International Ocean Tourist Resort, which features hotels and theme parks and is popular with visitors from other parts of mainland China – has been touted as a way of developing a market for “two-centre holidays” that include Macau as part of the itinerary.
In Thursday’s announcement, Lai Fung told the Hong Kong exchange it was exploring business and investment opportunities in the cultural- and entertainment-related sectors in mainland China. “The board of Lai Fung believes that the motorcycle-themed experiences that will be featured in the centre will broaden the entertainment horizon in Novotown and Hengqin, and the association with Ducati will raise the profile of Lai Fung,” the statement read.
The first phase of the Novotown site is to include Lionsgate Entertainment World; a venue called National Geographic Ultimate Explorer; and a Hengqin Hyatt Regency Hotel among its attractions. The Lionsgate-themed venue should open in the first half of next year and is described as “Asia’s first movie-themed indoor interactive experience” for the Hollywood film studio
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