Company not against second terminal
I refer to Kevin Sinclair's column headlined 'While we chatter, tourist dollars go sailing by' (South China Morning Post, July 17).
Mr Sinclair's article suggested that chairman of the Wharf Group Peter Woo, opposes the new cruise terminal plan. The Wharf Group owns Ocean Terminal.
This assertion is incorrect. Our company neither opposes nor supports a new cruise terminal. The column also failed to reflect the group's views outlined in a written reply to Mr Sinclair in response to his specific inquiry regarding Wharf's position and the terms of the land lease agreement between the government and Wharf.
In this reply we said that in the original land lease agreement of Ocean Terminal between the government and Wharf, it was stipulated that the government would not build or financially assist in the building of another ocean terminal within the harbour limit, unless the chief executive felt Ocean Terminal was inadequate for the needs of Hong Kong.
The number of international cruise ships coming to Hong Kong dropped from 62 in 1997 to 32 in 2001 and the number of international cruise passengers fell from 48,000 to 25,000 over the same period. Berth utilisation by these ships at Ocean Terminal was only 5.6 per cent last year. The total berth utilisation rate was 64 per cent in 2001, which including local cruises, of which cruise-to-nowhere (that is, cruises with no specific destination) utilised 44 per cent of total capacity.
Wharf does not object to the future development of a second privately-owned cruise terminal with no government subsidy, if and when genuine demand calls for such facilities.
Ocean Terminal is the preferred location as a cruise terminal because of its ideal location along the harbour front, and its proximity to hotels, public transport, shopping centres and entertainment venues. Tsim Sha Tsui is the most famous destination for tourists visiting Hong Kong. Ocean Terminal's attraction will be enhanced when the proposed ferris wheel project is realised.
The public deserve to be given the hard facts about Ocean Terminal. These facts will enable policymakers and investors to make an informed decision on any new cruise terminal in Hong Kong and how such a terminal should be funded.
Executive Assistant to Chairman