China builds bigger Buddhas to entice tourists

By Laura Ma, for CNNUpdated 7th February 2014
Travelers who get kicks out of posing with huge Buddha statues have 10 more reasons to head to China this year.
The company responsible for Hong Kong's 34-meter-tall Tian Tan Buddha and Hainan's 108-meter-tall Guanyin of the South Sea of Sanya statue plans to throw up 10 more huge Buddha replicas during 2014, according to the Chinese magazine New Weekly (Chinese only).
The new builds have been inspired by the success, and profits, at Lingshan Park in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, which features an 88-meter-tall Buddha statue also built by Aerosun Corporation, and drew 3.8 million visitors last year.
The statue helped earn the park more than RMB 1.2 billion ($194 million) in 2013 according to the South China Morning Post.
Tourism excellence
Of the 408 visitors who reviewed the park on, 205 people rated the attraction as "excellent."
Spiritual and profitable.
Spiritual and profitable.
Courtesy McKay Savage
"Lingshan tourist center is a great afternoon out, sure there is a lot of captive marketing but after spending that amount of money on such a beautiful place they deserve to make a few RMB out of us," wrote KeefieG from East London, South Africa in November.
Mr Xie X from Dobbstown was more skeptical: "This is a tourist trap if I ever saw one. I mean really, over two hundred RMB to see a statue? And not even any historical relevance," he wrote in his review.
Other big Buddhas
The world's tallest Buddha is also the world's largest statue -- China's Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan County, Henan Province totals 208 meters from the base of its pedestal to the top of its head.
The world's largest stone Buddha -- the 71-meter-high Leshan Giant Buddha -- can be found in Mount Emei Scenic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in China's Sichuan Province.
It was carved out of a hillside more than 1,200 year ago.
Hong Kong's Tian Tan Buddha is a relatively diminutive 34 meters tall. Its total height would barely reach the Spring Temple Buddha's knees.
Nevertheless, the Hong Kong tourism board estimates more than one million people visit the Buddha each year, many of whom get there via the 20-minute Ngong Ping cable car ride.