Taiwan Land Development Corp (台灣土地開發) yesterday signed an agreement with global travel retailer Dufry AG to start duty-free business in Kinmen, part of the Taiwanese firm’s build-operate-transfer (BOT) project to increase tourism on the island.
The 3,000m2 Wind Lion Plaza, which is to include entertainment, retail and dining facilities, is expected to open to both Taiwanese and Chinese tourists during the first half of next year, Taiwan Land Development said in a filing to the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
The agreement came after China recently announced measures easing visa requirements for its citizens visiting Kinmen, which is a designated duty-free island by Taiwan and connected by a 30-minute ferry ride from China’s Xiamen City in Fujian Province.
It has also been seen by Kinmen County Government as a move to attract visitors from Xiamen and other Chinese cities, after the arrivals by sea from Xiamen declined in the first eight months of the year to about 210,000 tourists, down by 67,000 from the same period last year.
Last year, Kinmen received close to 2 million arrivals from across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan Land Development chairman Chiu Fu-sheng (邱復生) yesterday signed the agreement with Xavier Rossinyol, Dufry’s chief operating officer for Europe, Africa and Asia, in Taipei and expressed his confidence in the investment in Kinmen.
“With this alliance and joint venture, I do believe we can create an innovative and exciting experience for visitors from China, Taiwan and other countries,” Chiu said in a statement.
For Dufry, the latest deal marks the Basel, Switzerland-based retailer’s latest approach to Asia. The company operates 1,400 duty-free and duty-paid shops in 45 countries around the world.
“The new project in Kinmen is a first step to develop the duty free activities in Greater China and perfectly complements our existing duty paid operations in the region,” Dufry chief executive officer Julian Diaz said in a separate statement.
Including the upcoming Kinmen operations, Dufry will operate in 12 locations in the East Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia, he said.
The Wind Lion Plaza is part of a 50-year BOT agreement, which Taiwan Land Development signed with the Kinmen County Government in November 2009.
At that time, the developer said it planned turn the island into an international tourism and leisure spot in five years with a budget of up to NT$10 billion (US$338 million).
The two companies did not disclose the financial terms of their deal yesterday.
The plaza is currently under construction at a site about 200m from Kinmen Shangyi Airport.
The two companies will set up a joint venture to become an anchor tenant of the plaza, and will invite other retailers to set up outlets there.
In the long term, they aim to develop a recreational complex on the island, with main attractions include hotels, a multi-functional entertainment center, medical and healthcare facilities as well as a convention and exhibition center, according to their statements.