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Travel & Leisure

Hello Kitty theme park to open on Chinese resort island Hainan

Venue seeks to attract 2m visitors a year after it opens in 2024

A Hello Kitty-themed store in Hong Kong.

BEIJING -- A theme park featuring the lovable Japanese icon Hello Kitty is planning to open its doors in 2024 on the tropical island of Hainan, China, where the leisure and recreation market is fast growing.

A Shanghai-based unit of Sanrio, the Japanese company behind one of the world's most recognizable brands, signed a deal Monday to develop the theme park with Chinese company Funde Holding Group, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. The companies plan to build a comprehensive theme park that will include a hotel and retail shops, seeking to attract 2 million visitors a year.

Known as a tropical vacation destination, Hainan is increasing efforts to attract foreign investment, including expanding visa-free travel to the island. In the first half of this year, tourism revenue totaled about $7.1 billion, up 9.1% from the same period a year ago, according to Xinhua.

Theme park operators see big opportunities in China, where consumers have been spending more on leisure and other services. Shanghai Disney Resort launched in 2016, and a Universal Studios is set to open in Beijing as early as 2021.

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