Hong Kong announces $1.4bn plan to save Ocean Park as visitor numbers plummet

The government of Hong Kong has unveiled a US$1.4bn regeneration plan to save Ocean Park, one of the largest theme parks in Asia, and a casualty of the continuing unrest in the city.

The attraction, located in the Aberdeen district of southern Hong Kong, combines a marine mammal park and an amusement park with more than 80 attractions and rides, including four giant roller-coasters, a cable car and a funicular railway.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports a press briefing, given on Monday, 13 January, by Ocean Park chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng. He revealed that as a result of the turmoil in the region, visitor numbers in the second half of 2019 fell by 30%, and the park had suffered a cash flow deficit of US$77m in the financial year as a whole.

He said that without fresh capital his company would default on US$300m of commercial loans within the next two years, as well as a $470m loan from the government.

Hong Kong’s rescue plan amounts to a comprehensive regeneration of the 92ha attraction, which dates back to 1977. It will be reorganised into seven zones and 20 attractions over the next seven years. Around 10 existing rides will be upgraded or re-themed, and others demolished.

The ethos of the park will also change, with the emphasis being placed on adventure, nature, ecology and conservation.

SCMP quotes Edward Yau Tang-wah, the secretary for economic development, as saying the government’s rescue plan showed its commitment to investment in tourism infrastructure. "We want to help the park ride out this financial storm," he said. "We also need to invest in the future."

Image: The main entrance to Ocean Park in 2013 (Anniewongw/CC BY-SA 3.0)

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