No jab, no entry mulled as park seeks $2.8b

Local | Sophie Hui 26 Jan 2021

Ocean Park will consider allowing only people vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter when it reopens, chairman Lau Ming-wai said while seeking HK$2.79 billion funding to help it stay afloat.

The government and the park's executives yesterday attended the Legislative Council's economic development panel meeting to explain development plans and answer questions.

New People's Party chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee asked if the park will do anything to boost its financial viability.

She also said that she hoped the park would require contractors for projects in the lower park area, which will open to the public for free, be in line with Ocean Park's themes.

"We don't want to see retail shops like those in Causeway Bay or Canton Road. Can we find stores like Discovery Channel, National Geographic, to align with the education and conservation themes of Ocean Park?" she said.

Lau said the park "definitely needs to consider how to do our best in pandemic prevention, including considering not allowing visitors to enter without a vaccination record."

Lawmakers also questioned the park on its financial status.

Starry Lee Wai-king, head of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, asked whether the park will seek more public funding in the future.

"Taxpayers don't want to keep giving you money I am worried a year later, because of unsuccessful tenders or the pandemic, you will be back to ask for money, and citizens will have more complaints," Lee said.

Commerce and economic development chief Edward Yau Tang-wah said there are no plans to come back with another funding request in the near future, as the park will see an operating surplus by 2024/25.

Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai questioned if the park will lose its uniqueness by outsourcing its operations to private developers. "I am afraid Ocean Park may even has to change its name. Maybe it will have to call itself 'South Park?'"

Yau said although partnerships and tenders have been made, the overall framework of the management and themes will still be in the hands of Ocean Park.

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