Shot in the arm for parks

Updated: 2013-02-28 06:59

By Li Likui in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong's two theme parks - Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park - are to get a much-needed shot in the arm amid a tourism crunch.

The government will grant two plots of land for new attractions to be built there by 2017. Hong Kong Disneyland will have a new themed area featuring "Marvel Heroes" which will be the first of its kind in the world, while Ocean Park will get an all-weather Water World at Tai Shue Wan.

Seven hectares of land will be set aside for the new attraction at Disneyland, but the government will not fork out any money for the project. The costs will come directly from the theme park's revenues.

Hong Kong Disneyland had earlier recorded a net profit of more than HK$100 million for the first time since its opening seven years ago. As the major stakeholder of the theme park, the government has decided to use the profit for the park's future expansion.

Shot in the arm for parks

Ocean Park, however, will receive a HK$2.3 billion loan from the government, repayable over 20 years, for its new project. The funding request will be submitted to the Legislative Council's Finance Committee in the next few months.

Water World will be capable of accommodating 15,000 visitors, create 2,800 jobs and bring revenues of HK$840 million. Admission prices will be different from those of the main park and the attraction will be designed with environmental concerns in mind.

Ocean Park won the prestigious 2012 Applause Award for being the best theme park in the world. It is the first Asian theme park to have been bestowed such an honor.

Tourism is a key segment of Hong Kong's economy, hiring some 230,000 people and accounting for 4.5 percent of its GDP.

The city hosted 48 million visitors last year - up 16 percent from 2011. Total spending associated with inbound tourism rose by 16.5 percent to more than HK$300 billion.

The travel industry gave the thumbs-up for the new attractions at the two theme parks.

Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong chairman, Michael Wu, said the city should see an increase in its visitor capacity with the new features.

James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said the industry will benefit from the government's latest measures to boost the local economy.

Meanwhile, the government will extend the operation of the Mega Events Fund last year amid the success it has achieved in sponsoring several major international events, including the Hong Kong Open Championship golf tournament.

(HK Edition 02/28/2013 page3)