Hong Kong Disneyland turns a profit for first time

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 9:23pm

Hong Kong Disneyland finally turned a profit after seven years in operation thanks to a surge in revenue after welcoming a record number of visitors last year.

The company, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, announced on Monday it had recorded a net profit of HK$109 million for the fiscal year up to September 2012, after unbroken losses since its opening in 2005.

The latest profit compares with losses of HK$237 million in the 2011 fiscal year, HK$718 million in 2010, and HK$1.31 billion in 2009.

The company, which is majority owned by the Hong Kong government, also claimed to be the top Hong Kong theme park in terms of revenue.

It registered a “record-breaking” revenue of HK$4.27 billion, up 18 per cent over the preceding year, which it said gave it the highest theme park revenue in the city.

Attendance at the park, located on Lantau Island, grew to a record 6.73 million, up 13 per cent or almost 50 per cent in five years, providing relief for the resort, which has been battling lower-than-expected numbers since it opening.

Visits by Hong Kong residents posted a record growth of 21 per cent, while visits by mainland visitors expanded by 13 per cent. Revenue meanwhile grew 18 per cent year-on-year to HK$4.27 billion.

We will continue to expand the resort. There is no question about that, the only question is when, how big and what to do

It recorded a double-digit attendance growth for key South East Asian markets, and hotel occupancy rose from 91 in 2011 to 92 per cent 2012.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s managing director Andrew Kam said it was ”very encouraging” to see the “significant improvement”.

He added: “Attendance, hotel occupancy and guest spending levels continued to reach all-time highs.”

Kam said the park’s route to profit had been slowed by the financial crisis, as well as the 2009 swine flu and bird flu outbreak, which saw travel demand fall.

In a bid to boost arrivals, the park has added two new attractions since November 2011, including a Toy Story-themed area, with the third one scheduled to open in the middle of 2013, a year ahead of schedule.

Kam said the new attractions were crucial to its turnaround.

“It’s a decision that changed the course of Hong Kong Disneyland development,” he said.

Kam said the park would consider its next phase of expansion, but declined to give details.

“We will continue to expand the resort. There is no question about that, the only question is when, how big and what to do.”

Hong Kong Disneyland has been desperate to ramp up the number and quality of its attractions as it seeks to lure more visitors while facing stiff competition from local rival Ocean Park.

Critics have attributed many of its problems to its size – it is the smallest of all the Disney’s theme parks – and a lack of attractions catered to the key mainland China market, which accounts for nearly half of its visitors.

Doubts about the park’s future have further been stoked since China gave approval for a Disneyland park to be built in Shanghai that is set to open in 2015 at the earliest.

A deal to open Hong Kong Disneyland was signed in 1999 as part of a plan to boost the city’s economy as it reeled from the Asian financial crisis.