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Chinese investment in North Weald set to boost tourism in the area
A bid to turn Epping into a popular location for Chinese tourists and business people could provide a significant boost to the local economy, it is claimed.
Phoenix Publishing and Media Group, which is based in Jiangsu province and has an annual turnover of £1.8bn, recently purchased the Travelodge hotel and adjacent Little Chef opposite Blakes Golf Course in North Weald.
The company is planning a major refurbishment and hopes to attract thousands from China every year.
Epping market stallholder Caroline Skinnider, 50, who runs the Eclectic stall hopes the hotel could provide a welcome boost to the area.
She said: “Anything that brings business to the area is a good thing.
“I don’t care who owns it as long as they respect the area and its history.”
Rob Dixon is manager of Ashlyn’s Farm, which borders the old Travelodge site.
He said: “The more businesses we can have in this area the stronger we will be because each business will attract more people to the area.”
Steve Sprigg, 59, assistant manager at Coles in High Street, said: “If more people come through the town they will see what we have to offer.”
John Price, chairman of the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, described the takeover as “great news”.
“China is a big country looking for places to spend its money. We need to do more of this sort of thing,” he added.
Essex County Council, which has close ties with businesses based in Jiangsu for 25 years, said Phoenix chose the site due to its proximity to Stansted Airport and hopes to create a base for Chinese tourism.
A council spokesman said: “For Epping, this investment has saved the jobs that were threatened and it means that more long-haul visitors will be attracted to the district.
“The total that Chinese tourists spent worldwide in 2012 was 40% higher than the year before. So this is a trend we want to take advantage of using the Essex-Jiangsu link.”