Star Ferry plans shops and cafes to stay afloat

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 May, 2006, 12:00am

The expanded Star Ferry pier scheduled to open in July will feature shops and restaurants to entice people to take the longer walk to its new location by the outlying islands ferry piers.


The old building beside the General Post Office will be torn down to make way for the Central reclamation.


The company is building a three-storey building at Pier No7, with the top floor featuring cafes, restaurants and shops for those merely wanting to enjoy the views of Victoria Harbour. An exhibition area will display historical photographs of the Star Ferry.


Managing director Frankie Yick Chi-ming said the move would cost the company 10 to 13 per cent of its patronage. 'We are faced with great financial pressure,' Mr Yick said.


'Hong Kong people are impatient. If they find that it is taking them more time to walk from the piers to the MTR or bus station, they will react quickly.


'It will not be enough for our piers to function as a transport depot only. We have to make the place interesting to both locals and tourists to generate extra income.'


A further 20 per cent drop is also possible if a plan to move the Tsim Sha Tsui bus terminus away from the pier area goes ahead.


The company plans to upgrade the Tsim Sha Tsui piers to resemble a 1912 replica of its Central pier. Shopping and dining features will also be included in the plan. 'We should see if there is a need to increase ferry fares one or two months after moving to the new piers in Central.'


The service began in 1888 when Parsi businessman Dorabjee Nowrojee charged passengers to ride the boats he used to ferry his workers to and fro. He sold his four vessels, all bearing the name 'Star', to the Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf Godown Company in 1898.