Alton Towers owner to build Chinese parks.
Byline: EMMA JAMES News Reporter
ALTON Towers bosses are set to create theme parks across China, including a Legoland replica, in order to help boost falling profits.
Merlin Entertainments have seen profits fall from PS47 million to PS37 million since the Smiler crash at the Staffordshire theme park in June.
Now they have announced that they will be developing new attractions with China Media Capital (CMC).
This news comes weeks after Smiler crash victim Vicky Balch had a home visit from Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Officer Nick Varney, telling her that the ride would be re-opening as company profits had fallen since the incident.
Vicky and Leah Washington both had to have a leg amputated after the incident on June 2, where The Smiler rollercoaster they were riding in crashed into an empty carriage.
Speaking about the joint venture, Merlin chief executive Nick Varney identified China as a key growth market for the group.
Mr Varney added, "We are delighted to announce that we are forming a joint venture with CMC and are honoured to be able to make an announcement at such an important event to showcase British creativity and celebrate China and UK collaboration.
"We're also very excited to be working with CMC on the development and roll out of new brands. By working together in partnership we will be able to combine our expertise in operating world-class attractions with CMC's insight and expertise in the Chinese market."
The announcement has been timed to coincide with the Chinese president Xi Jinping's visit to the UK this week, despite snubbing the West Midlands.
Currently Merlin has five attractions in China, Madame Tussauds in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Wuhan along with a Chang Feng Ocean World Aquarium in Shanghai.
The partnership has announced that three further attractions will open in the next 18 months - a Legoland Discovery Center in Shanghai, and a Madame Tussauds and Sea Life Aquarium in Chongging.
The Smiler crash earlier this year