Allan Zeman's successor at Ocean Park has big shoes to fill

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 3:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 4:12pm

Ask anyone about Ocean Park and their impressions may range from it being a fascinating kingdom of marine life to a place full of interesting amusement rides. Some may go further and mention the man behind this homegrown success - Allan Zeman - whose stewardship saw the theme park become a world-class tourist attraction. Sadly, no position can be held forever. After an 11-year stint, he will step down as chairman at the end of the month.

Few corporate chiefs have hogged the media limelight more than Zeman. The "father of Lan Kwai Fong", a Hong Kong nightlife mecca, was no stranger to the community when he took up the post. The entrepreneur brought his flamboyant style to the job; down the years he has dressed up as a Chinese vampire, a jellyfish and a sexy female dancer to drum up publicity for the park. His contribution goes beyond raising Ocean Park's profile. Having taken the helm in 2003 when the city's economy was severely affected by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, he steered through a series of revamps and expansions that helped boost visitor numbers and turn deficits into multimillion-dollar surpluses. The 37-year-old attraction has not only survived competition from Hong Kong Disneyland; its strong performance has, arguably, put pressure on the Lantau theme park to raise its game.

Corporate success is rarely the result of the efforts of one individual. But the achievements of Ocean Park can undoubtedly be attributed to the fine management team under Zeman's leadership. He will be succeeded by veteran banker Leo Kung Lin-cheng, long his deputy. Zeman had already served much longer than the six-year norm set down by the government for holders of positions on statutory bodies. Linking his departure with politics is unnecessary.

With more than seven million visitors and a surplus of HK$127 million last year, the oceanarium is now among the world's most popular. It is to be hoped that Ocean Park will continue to be as successful in future.