Middle Kingdom to shut door on history

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2001, 12:00am

Ocean Park's decade-old Middle Kingdom - which showcases Chinese history - is to be closed because it has proved a flop with mainland visitors.

The park will announce today that the attraction, featuring traditional culture and heritage, will close on March 10.

Fifteen staff, including performers, will be laid off with two months' salary as compensation.

Most of the 10,000 square-foot Kingdom will be demolished and redeveloped in line with a government study to revitalise Aberdeen harbour as a new tourist spot.

Opened in January 1990, Middle Kingdom was described as 'a walk through the 5,000 years of Chinese history'.

It is also the last mini-theme park in the SAR mimicking traditional Chinese history following the closure of the Sung dynasty park at Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park in 1996.

A spokesman for Ocean Park said the closure had been made in response to changing demand as more Chinese visitors came to the park. 'Despite an increase in visitors, the flow to the Middle Kingdom is apparently declining,' he said.

Of 3.3 million visitors to the park last year, one-third were from the mainland.

It was expected that there would be an average annual growth of 14 per cent to the year 2008.

The Hong Kong Tourist Association admitted Middle Kingdom had lost its appeal to tourists but stressed that did not signify that Chinese culture no longer lured them.

'There is still a great deal of Chinese culture and heritage appealing to long-haul tourists,' an association spokeswoman said.

Despite the kingdom's closure, the park is to retain a restaurant and a theatre. A dinner theatre programme will be provided from June in collaboration with the tourist association to cater for visitors.

Ocean Park said it hoped that after the redevelopment, it would be upgraded as a world-class entertainment facility on a par with Disneyland.