Chinese Firms Dongdu Invests in Nova Scotia

Chinese tourism to Nova Scotia could blossom under a memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday in Halifax.

a�?The core idea of Chinese tourists travelling the world is central to this opportunity,a�? said Ron Smith, chief executive officer of Nova Scotia Business Inc., the provincea��s business development agency, after signing the memorandum with Marvin H.L. Li, chairman ofA�Dongdu International GroupA�of Shanghai.

a�?The chairmana��s vision is that Nova Scotia will become a desirable location for Chinese tourists to be comfortable and have an experience thata��s different and meaningful to them,a�? Smith said.
a�?More and more, theya��re able and willing to travel overseas to do these things. That could lead to who knows what.a�?
The memorandum, also signed by Paul Kent, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Halifax Partnership, formalized Dongdua��s intentions to carry out a multi-phase investment and development plan in Halifax and other parts of Nova Scotia.
Dongdu, which calls itself a real estate, high technology and lifestyle-oriented company, has more than 20 years of business experience in China, Hong Kong and the United States.
The company has acquired nine properties and a property management company in Nova Scotia, its only Canadian investments to date.
It is renovating the Pacific Building on Barrington Street, a property it acquired last year. The building housesA�ChivesA�restaurant.
Local Dongdu spokesman Stephen Dempsey, speaking for Li through an interpretor, didna��t put a dollar figure on the firma��s investment in Nova Scotia but said the company has a broad vision.
a�?Ita��s probably carried over 10 or even a 20-year time frame,a�? he said, acknowledging that tourism is a key part of the strategy.
a�?There are 100 million Chinese tourists travelling the world these days.a�?
Dempsey said Dongdu expects to begin a couple of projects this year in Guysborough County.
a�?Wea��re hoping to be in a position very soon to publicly disclose the nature of those projects,a�? he said.
a�?Primarily, the interest is in what we have in rural Nova Scotia, which is clean, green and pristine.a�?
According to a video on the companya��s website, Dongdu plans a residential development called Indian Harbour Lakes to be built on 1,200 hectares of forest near St. Marya��s, Guysborough County.
The video describes a luxurious, eco-friendly hideway that will include villas with swimming pools, spas, tennis courts and stables.
Dempsey said Dongdu hopes to incorporate established local attractions in its Guysborough plans.
a�?For example, Sherbrooke Village is seen as an interesting component,a�? he said.
a�?(Dongdu) plans on integrating some of those local artisans into the project as that is developed.a�?
Guysborough County officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Dongdua��s long-term plans include resort developments, a Halifax technology centre and film production that could be used to expose Chinese tourists to Nova Scotiaa��s natural landscape.
a�?If there are films made here that are popular in China, people in China will think a�?Where is that? Thata��s a nice place, Ia��d like to go there,a�� and that ties in with the tourism,a�? said Smith, who also couldna��t say how much Dongdu might invest in the province.
a�?They are certainly talking major investment.a�?
Dongdu has helped establish a tourism student exchange program between Mount Saint Vincent Universitya��s tourism program and China East Normal University in Shanghai, Dempsey said.
a�?Theya��ve already worked on a strategy to integrate Nova Scotiaa��s tourism strategy to the Chinese market.a�?
Li said in a news release that several factors prompted his companya��s investment in Nova Scotia.
a�?Nova Scotia and Halifax have an abundance of well-educated people, many universities and international students, beautiful scenery, interesting tourist attractions, as well as superior transportation linkages and emerging new technologies, all of which make it a compelling location for (Dongdu) to establish its first Canadian location.a�?
Kent said the partnership, which markets Halifax as a business destination, looked forward to working with Dongdu to explore economic opportunities for the municipality and the province.

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