New Shanghai Ocean Park hoping to glean some of Disney’s magic and net 5 million visitors a year
Haichang Ocean Park Holdings, the mainland’s largest marine theme park operator, is targeting annual attendance of five million visitors at its soon-to-open venue in Shanghai, buoyed by the rising affluence of people living in the Yangtze River Delta region.
Wang Xuguang, chief executive of the Hong Kong-listed company which is based in the northern Chinese city of Dalian, told South China Morning Post that estimate was based on a joint assessment with local tourism authorities on entertainment demands.
“We previously eyed three million visitors a year, but after further study into market demand and consumer spending power, we think that was an underestimate,” he said. “The success of Shanghai Disneyland has also inspired us to set a higher target.”
Trials are due to start at the park in August before it officially opens to the public in late September.
Its creation is viewed as the latest part of Shanghai’s ongoing plan to build itself into a world-class tourist destination.
Shanghai municipality is keen to create synergies between it and the city’s Disneyland and has expanded the motorway that links the two, meaning you can drive between them in less than half and hour.
A staggering 330 million people live in the Yangtze River Delta, who are within a three-hour drive of the sites.
The US$5.5 billion Shanghai Disneyland attracted 11 million visitors in its first 12 months of operation to June 2017, nearly double the number of visitors who visited Hong Kong’s Ocean Park in the same period, which also saw a 4 per cent fall in visitors to 5.8 million and an annual loss of HK$234.4 million (US$29.86 million).
The Haichang site is built on the banks of Dishui Lake, near to the Yangshan deep water port, and claims to house more marine species that any other park worldwide.
Li Wenjie, chief executive of Shanghai Yaheng International Travel, said that while its key catchment area is undoubtedly the Yangtze River Delta, its Hong Kong rival is also a target.
Pricing is certainly in its favour, too, added Wang, with admission fees costing 30-40 per cent less than Shanghai Disneyland, which costs at 499 yuan (US$79.50) during peak times such as holidays and weekends, and 370 yuan on other days. Hong Kong Ocean Park charges less at HK$480 (US$61.18) for adults and HK$240 for children.
“People in eastern China have bigger spending power, and we are studying closely on how to price and distribute our tickets.”
Haichang operates eight ocean parks across the mainland, and reported annual net profit of 280 million yuan in 2017, up 39.2 per cent from a year earlier. Revenue grew 1.8 per cent to 1.62 billion yuan.