MICE development hits Kinmen

    Country report | Dec 2011/Jan 2012

    By Glenn Smith

    Photo courtesy of Meet Taiwan

    Kinmen, a cluster of islands near China’s Xiamen and governed by Taiwan, could be the final frontier for Taiwan’s MICE industry. In the 1950s, Generalissmo Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists faced off here against Chairman Mao’s communists. But with the end of hostilities, the troops have left, the beaches are demined, and forts and tunnels are refitted as museums and concert venues.

    For commercial property developers, Kinmen is the last bit of virgin real estate along China’s populous coast.

    Thomas Xiao, CEO of Kinmen County’s Industrial Department and Investment Promotion Committee, said the only available MICE facility is a 300-seat centre at National Quemoy University. But at least two projects will change that.

    The first is already underway and marks the first time a Chinese interest has been allowed to invest in Taiwan’s hotel sector. It is a yet-to-be-named five-star resort spearheaded by Xiamen property developer, Wu Youhua, president of Xiamen Huatian Group. Last May, his subsidiary, Gangaotai Commodity Shopping Co, which operates duty-free stores in Xiamen, formed a joint venture with Kinmen’s Yanming Development and Construction. The new company E. R. Group broke ground on a site beside Kinmen’s Tai Lake last month, and will complete the project within three years.

    The second is being organised under agencies of Xiao and Kinmen County, and is a reconfiguration of Kinmen’s key port, Sheuitou. The Shueitou International Harbor Economic and Trade Park will include an international conference centre and exhibition venue, in addition to a tourist hotel, trade centre, duty-free mall, tourist boat pier and yacht club.

    “We will be looking for investors next year,” said Xiao. “We expect to break ground in 2013 and be finished by 2016.”

    Kinmen is also drawing casino developers. Taiwan’s president Ma Ying-jeou pledged to legalise gambling on the outer islands during his 2008 campaign, and Kinmen county councillor, Tsang-Chiang Chen, is petitioning for a referendum that could make that happen. They are betting on a multipurpose venue, with acres of meeting facilities, to rival the gaming resorts of Singapore and Macau.

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