Cable car adds day pass to halt drop in visitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2012, 12:00am


The 40 per cent decline in local visitors to the Lantau cable car since it reopened two months ago has prompted it to join forces with bus and boat operators to boost business.

General admissions were down 10 per cent, while the number of overseas and mainland visitors had returned to the levels seen before the closure in January, the Ngong Ping 360 company said.

It blamed the rainy weather for the drop in visitors, denying that it was related to a lack of confidence in the tourist attraction.

The 5.7-kilometre cable car route between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping was closed from January 25, when vibrations triggered a sensor on the bullwheel, which winds the cable, bringing the system to a halt. About 800 passengers were left stranded in the gondolas in mid-air for two hours on an extremely cold day, 3 degrees Celsius. The service resumed on April 5 after repairs.

Ngong Ping 360 managing director Wilson Shao Shing-ming said the drop in local visitors had declined further since its reopening. At the beginning of April, the number of local visitors was at 70 to 80 per cent of patronage before the closure. Then it deteriorated, and was now only at 60 per cent.

'That shows it's nothing about confidence,' he said. 'Otherwise, the situation should be the opposite, with fewer visitors in the beginning.'

Shao said the rainy weather in the past two months had deterred locals from going out, but the effect on tourists was minimal, as they were only in the city for a few days.

Before the closure, the attraction received 4,000 people a day on weekdays, and 7,000 on weekends.

Shao said the cable car had stepped up monitoring of vibrations, which was done every two weeks, and other signs of abrasion, and it had not noticed anything abnormal.

The attraction has co-operated with New Lantao Bus and a Tai O boat operator to launch a day pass, which includes a return trip on the cable car, unlimited trips on more than 20 bus routes and a boat trip in Tai O.

The passes range from HK$180 to HK$240 for adults, depending on the type of gondola a person chooses. Visitors can save 15 to 30 per cent off the original price. Tickets are available from next Friday.

Shao said the attraction expected the day pass to bring in more local visitors who wanted to explore more of the island. He hoped the new package could attract 100 to 200 more people a day on the cable car.

Matthew Wong Leung-pak, managing director of Kwoon Chung Bus, which operates New Lantao Bus, said Ngong Ping 360 had stolen some of its business in the beginning, but he hoped their co-operation could attract more visitors to Lantau.

The attraction comprises the cable car and the Ngong Ping Village - a Buddhist-themed tourism facility.