60-metre-high Ferris wheel to open in September at HK$100 per trip
Operators finally outline schedule for launch at Central ferry piers site
People willing to part with HK$100 will be able to view Victoria Harbour from 60 metres in the air from this autumn.
Operators of the Ferris wheel billed as Hong Kong's answer to the London Eye say they plan a soft opening in September to "build awareness", with an official launch later.
If it goes ahead, the opening will come more than a year into a three-year tenancy granted to Swiss AEX to operate the wheel at the Central ferry piers.
Although the site has been vacant for a year, the company has told the Harbourfront Commission it is "finalising the appointment of an internationally renowned contractor to be responsible for the preparatory footings and construction work".
It said the wheel would have 42 gondolas, each holding eight to 10 passengers, and it expected a million passengers a year - a rate of 2,740 a day.
"A soft launch of the project will take place in September to build awareness and anticipation. A higher-profile 'launch' will, thereafter, be carried out in cooperation with the Harbourfront Commission, Hong Kong Tourism Board, district representatives and the Hong Kong government," it said in a paper sent to the commission. The price will be HK$100 for adults and HK$70 for children.
The company said investigation work started last June and teams for project and construction management and landscape design had been appointed.
"Swiss AEX briefed [Central and] Western District Council last week and will meet with the Harbourfront Commission on Monday," director Leon Snep said. "We prefer to brief them first out of respect and gratitude towards the HK government for winning the tender.
"Once we've done so, we're happy to answer any questions the public and the South China Morning Post may have."
Travel Industry Council chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng said HK$100 sounded a reasonable price. He said: "It would be an attractive ride, given that one can see Victoria Harbour with no obstruction. It would be best to go around sunset."
To meet the target number of one million visitors a year, a fully occupied wheel would have to rotate more than six times a day.
Wu said it was hard to say whether the number could be met until more information was available about the gondolas, such as whether they would be air conditioned.
Harbourfront Commission member Paul Zimmerman said the schedule was tight if the wheel was to be open in September. "I'm very surprised that the site is still vacant," he said.