Cash boost for Shanghai park no threat to Hong Kong Disneyland, say bosses

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 2013, 7:33am

A huge government cash injection for Shanghai's Disneyland will not take the magic away from Hong Kong's Disney resort, bosses at the attraction say.

The Shanghai park will be one of the beneficiaries of the huge loan package from the Agricultural Bank of China.

But the Hong Kong park has big plans of its own and the Hong Kong government, the majority shareholder, announced earlier this year that a new zone featuring Marvel superheroes - including the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor - will be built.

Disney is also understood to be negotiating with the government to build three new hotels, and plans a shopping street outside the park.

A Disney spokesman said that of the 45 per cent of its visitors who came from the mainland, half were from southern provinces and were likely to continue to find the Hong Kong site a more convenient destination than Shanghai.

"As long as Hong Kong maintains its strength as a shopping and dining paradise, it will remain appealing to that group of tourists," the spokesman said.

The Disney competition is a microcosm of a wider battle between Hong Kong and Shanghai to be recognised as China's financial capital.

Shanghai's infrastructure is catching up fast, but Hong Kong still has the edge in terms of "software" - including human capital and the rule of law - says Terence Chong Tai-leung, an associate professor of economics at the Chinese University.

"In the long run, Shanghai will grow faster than Hong Kong given the emphasis it is given by the country," he said. "Hong Kong must retain its talents."

And Chong does not believe Hong Kong needs to follow the Shanghai model of large-scale public stimulus as the city's economy is largely driven by the private sector. Besides, the Hong Kong government has vast financial reserves and would have no need to borrow money like Shanghai.