“The billionaires list, while it is a rarified universe, does reflect the enormous changes apparent in the global economy, ” said Forbes Media Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes, in a press conference announcing the results yesterday.
The U.S. held onto the greatest share of the billionaires, with 34 percent, followed by the Asia- Pacific region with 27 percent. “This year, the United States is still number one but the lead is shrinking, ” said Forbes. Ten years ago U.S. residents accounted for about 50 percent of the list, he said. “The trend is very real.”
Key geographical trends highlighted were:
- For the first time in a decade, the Asia-Pacific region had more billionaires than Europe, gaining the most billionaires of any region, with 105 newcomers;
- Of the 214 new billionaires this year 54 were from China and 31 from Russia;
- Moscow knocked New York off the top spot with the greatest number of billionaires: 79 to New York’s 58; and
- Mexican Carlos Slim, whose holdings include America Movil SAB, the biggest mobile-phone company in the Americas, with 225 million wireless subscribers, remained the world’s richest person for a second year with estimated assets of $74 billion, an increase of $20.5 billion.
This week in Blooloop News and Facts we saw evidence of the rapid growth of the Asian tourism and leisure sector with:
- A glimpse of the Shanghai Disneyland blueprint with the first phase investment of $3.7bn attracting an estimated 7.3 million visitors a year. First phase construction starts in May on the Chinese “Magic Kingdom, ” “Epcot” and “Animal Kingdom” and the park is set to open in 2015;
- Singapore Tourism receipts for 2010 were estimated at S$18.8bn, up 49% on 2009 (see also Lion City roars in 2010);
- Siam Park City aims to increase the number of visits to its amusement park from 1.3 million last year to 2 million this year, and up to 3 million in the next three to five years; and
- Shenzhen Overseas Chinese Town (OCT Group is the largest tourism company in China with a series of popular theme parks including Happy Valley, Windows of the World, Splendid China, and China Folk Culture Village in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu) recorded 78% growth in 2010 net profits
Internet billionaires are faring well:
- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, jumped to 52nd this year from 212th place last year; and
- Mark Pincus, founder of San Francisco-based Zynga Inc., creator of FarmVille was a first time entrant this year. Games are big business with 2011 being tipped as the Year of Gamification by Gabe Zichermann (see Gamepocalypse or Gametopia : What Can Gamification Offer Theme Parks And Attractions?).
Finally, we see an increase in luxury spending as the rich get richer and BRIC citizens demand high status goods. The wealthiest European, Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest maker of luxury goods, jumped to fourth from seventh as his net worth increased $13.5 bn to $41bn. (LVMH announced Monday it will acquire a controlling stake in Bulgari SpA , the world’s third-largest jeweller.) This echoes the increasing social stratification of out-of-home entertainment and leisure noted by Randy White in his recent article for Blooloop. Attractions should look to meet the high expectations of higher socio-economic households both in terms of their offerings and beyond to their associated brand values.
Intriguing though the analysis of the billionaire list is, maybe we should remember physicist Niels Bohr’s warning: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”. “Twenty years ago Japan was said to take over the world. Today it is not even holding its own, ” said Forbes. “So things do change.”
Mulan image, kind courtesy Walt Disney Attractions: Chinese-born actress Ming-Na Wen, the voice of the character “Mulan” in the Disney animated films “Mulan” and “Mulan II, ” poses with Mulan’s guardian dragon, “Mushu, ” July 25, 2008 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.