A leading US real estate and investment firm Platinum Dragon Empire Incorporated (PDE) has tabled plans to develop a Disneyland-style theme park and an aquarium complex in the coastal town of Vung Tau, a popular tourist destination 129 kilometres southeast of Ho Chi Minh City.
The company submitted its plans to Ba Ria-Vung Tau province authorities when a delegation, led by chairman and CEO William Lee, visited the Sea Festival 2006 in Vung Tau last week. It also assigned Good Choice Imports-Exports & Investments, Inc (GCII), one of PDE’s affiliates, to proceed with the two projects, with a combined investment capital of up to $550 million.
One of the proposals includes a theme park project, named ‘Wonderful World’, which will cover nearly 200 hectares in the Vung Tau’s Bau Trung area and feature an amusement park modelled on Disneyland with entertainment for children and adults.
The giant park will also house a “Wonders of the World” site, where spectators will find replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, the Egyptian Pyramids as well as an international conference centre, shopping malls, internationally-standardised hotels and restaurants, 3D cinemas, and open-air stages. The cost for the project is estimated at $300m.
“But the sum will possibly be higher or lower depending on the land area the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province allocates to us to implement the project,” GCII’s president Hanh Duong told Vietnam Investment Review in an exclusive interview last week.
The GCII’s second project is an aquarium complex in Nghinh Phong Cape in Vung Tau coastal town. The multi-storey Vung Tau Aquarium will be modelled on the largest aquarium in the coastal city of Monterey in northern California, USA. The project will be comprised of large aquariums displaying various marine life as well as fastfood restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, booking counters, waiting rooms and showrooms featuring coral, marine plants and information on oceanography.
The estimated capital for the project is up to $250m.
According to Duong, the two projects are to be designed by Gary Olson, an internationally-reputed chief architect and the designer of a number of theme parks in the world.
“Construction on the two projects will begin at the same time and right after the investment license is awarded,” Duong said, adding that the local government has provided them with full support.
“The provincial authorities are all very supportive. They promise to make land available for our projects and help us solve investment procedures under the ‘one-door’ mechanism, even convincing the Vietnamese governmental agencies to approve the projects,” he said.
The two projects are scheduled to finish in two-and-a-half years, but Duong said he wanted them to be operational as soon as possible to cash in on arising opportunities for Vietnam’s tourism industry, particularly as coastal resorts in some regional countries were devastated by the Asian Tsunami in 2004.
“Our ambition is to revitalise the tourism industry in Vung Tau, which has many advantages in terms of location, scenery, beaches and environment but has been neglected by domestic and foreign tourists in recent years due to a lack of attractive tourist products and recreational facilities,” he said.
He is supported by statistical figures, showing that Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province now has only two hotels meeting four-star standards with 185 rooms, equaling 2.7 per cent of the number of four-star rooms in the country. The province does not have any five-star hotels.
PDE’s chairman and CEO William Lee, in a meeting with the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province authorities last week, said he and other American investors wanted to boost tourism development in Vung Tau and transform this coastal city into a world-class tourist destination.
Lee is a Vietnamese American who has strong ties to many Vietnamese businessmen and government officials.
He is also in association with other developers to build a number of projects for the Vietnamese community in the US, including the Little Saigon Plaza and the “V” Heritage Plaza in Bakersfield, California.
He said apart from the two projects, PDE and its affiliates were attempting to become involved in many other projects in industrial infrastructure development, waste water treatment and training sectors in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province under direct investment or technological transfer modes.
No. 757/April 17-23, 2006