Ocean Park visitor numbers slip on wet weather, new rules for mainland tourists

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 December, 2014, 7:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 December, 2014, 7:40pm

Annual visitor numbers at Ocean Park slipped for to 7.6 million from last year’s record peak as new mainland tourism rules and wet weather dented visitor numbers.

Ocean Park’s annual report showed attendance had fallen to 7.6 million people in the year to June this year, down from more than 7.7 million in the previous year – which had been a ninth consecutive record for the attraction.

Incoming chairman Leo Kung blamed wet weather in the summer of last year and a downpours in April for the drop, as well as new tourist laws for mainland visitors.

“The introduction of China’s new tourism law in October last year also immediately stunted the growth in group arrivals from the Mainland,” Kung said.

China introduced a ban on “forced shopping,” or tours sold at below cost price where tour companies recoup costs through commission made in shops.

Group visitor numbers fell by 30 per cent in October and November last year as a result of the new laws, according to the park’s public affairs director Una Lau.

Despite the fall in visitor numbers, Ocean Park revenue reached a new high at just shy of HK$2 billion, according to the annual report.

Animal mortalities at Ocean Park rose to 1,107 in the year to June this year, up from 695 in the previous year.

An audit at the park gave the number of animals housed at the end of June as 12,344, up from 12,177 on July 1, last year.

The highest number of deaths recorded was for fish, which totalled 989. Of these, 231 deaths occurred during the quarantine period while the majority of other fish in the park’s collection died from old age. At the end of June, 11,225 fish were recorded as living at the attraction.

Lau said this increase was a result of the short lifespan of fish in the Grand Aquarium exhibit.

Animals born in the park this year include two Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, three spotted seals, 21 penguins and 65 goldfish.

An adult male green turtle named Simon, who had arrived at the park as a baby in 2002, was released into the sea this year fitted with a tracking device. Satellite data showed he migrated northward this summer.