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Switzerland exports fun to Vietnam

The park is scheduled to open in 2004.


A Swiss-led consortium is to open a theme park in Ho Chi Minh City to tap into the spending power of Vietnam's growing middle-class.

The park will include a roller coaster and other rides, a water park, an interactive technology exhibition and an open-air cinema seating 2,000 people.

"Vietnam has a huge population of about 80 million, and in Ho Chi Minh City the economy is hustling and bustling," Walt Beglinger, chairman of SaigoMax, the company behind the venture, told swissinfo.

Not only the number but also the age of inhabitants makes Vietnam attractive to SaigoMax: more than half the country's population is aged below 30.

Vietnam's youth is increasingly interested in the world outside the communist country, which is reflected in the park's theme - "The Five Continents".

"Vietnamese people still have restrictions on foreign travel. We are basically bringing the world to them," said Beglinger.

Gap in the market

The consortium says that there is a dire need for a full-sized entertainment park with educational and cultural components in Ho Chi Minh City to cater for its seven million inhabitants.

Only few comparable entertainment options are available; existing facilities are dated, limited in scope, and generally lack real entertainment value, claims SaigoMax.

The 47-hectare park - scheduled to open in 2004 - will also offer the Vietnamese a glimpse of Swiss food and culture.

"We are planning on having a strong Swiss element at the park, including Swiss restaurants and miniature trains that are replicas from canton Graubünden," added Beglinger.

The consortium of Swiss, European and Asian companies has raised about $42 million to fund the park. Construction is set to begin in early 2003.



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