Ocean Park reimagined

Top News | Charlotte Luo 14 Jan 2020

Ocean Park is bound to deplete its cash balance within the year as it appeals for a HK$10.6 billion funding from the government and asks to defer repayments of two loans for eight years.

The park, which has been in financial difficulties for four consecutive years, said the funding would allow for plans to build more than 20 new attractions and revamp 10 existing draws to debut from 2023 to 2027.

The park also sought to defer the commencement date for repayment of the two government loans - for a redevelopment plan in 2005 and a Tai Shue Wan development project in 2013 from September 2021 to September 2029 while keeping the repayment period unchanged at 10 and 12 years respectively.

It also asked the government to waive the interest for the two loans starting from the first day of the calendar month pending the Legislative Council's finance committee's approval.

In a paper submitted to the Legco panel on economic development for a discussion set for Monday, the park's outstanding loan balance would reach HK$8 billion by the end of the 2028-29 financial year if the interest rates for the two loans remain unchanged.

The park said the high interest would "significantly affect its capability to sustain its business operation and carry out the improvement works" under the new repositioning plan.

Several rides are set to be demolished under plans that would offer more than 100 attractions following the expansion's completion.

The new attractions, together with refurbished ones, would be organized into seven zones. Among them, the Ocean Square zone with its dining and retail facilities, as well as live performances, would be open to the public for free.

The park hopes to build a new 10,000-square-foot education center for more comprehensive programs in collaboration with other institutions.

Park chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng said the repositioning plan will build on its legacy of blending entertainment with education and conservation.

"The proposed blueprint and creative concepts are based on extensive research and conceptualized using the design thinking approach, with guests at the epicenter every step of the way," he said.

"We are confident this repositioning plan will give the park a much-needed boost and reshape its future."

The park is expected to attract up to 7.5 million visitors in the financial year 2027-28, generating HK$43.8 billion in projected economic benefits to Hong Kong.

Visitor numbers dropped 30 percent year-on-year to 1.9 million in the July to December period "due to the persisting social incidents."

Hong Kong Tourism Board chairman Pang Yiu-kai said the board welcomes the new blueprint and if the plan is carried out, it will further improve the city's attractiveness for tourists following the opening of new rides and hi-tech amusement facilities.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho said his party does not support the HK$10.6 billion plan, criticizing it for being purely conceptual, while park debts remain unpaid.

charlotte.luo@singtaonewscorp.com

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