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Ocean Park

Hong Kong’s Ocean Park mega project and luxury Marriott Hotel to launch later than scheduled as ‘demanding’ construction cited

Delayed completion of new water park and Marriott hotel means attractions will miss summer peak of visitors

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2018, 9:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2018, 12:41pm

Two core attractions at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park meant to help revive the city’s tourism sector will each miss their planned debuts in the peak summer season, the Post has learned.

Construction of the HK$2.9 billion (US$369.4 million) water park will not be completed until “November next year at the earliest”, according to a source familiar with the situation.

In addition, Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel, a luxurious 471-room hotel, will not be ready to receive its first guest until the third quarter of this year, another source said. This means a delay of “at least three months” from its original scheduled opening date of June 13.

“The water park is in an awkward situation,” a source close to Ocean Park said. “It’s odd to be launching it either in the middle of the winter or waiting till next summer. “But the management did well in keeping both projects within the budget so far.”

Facing rising competition from Hong Kong Disneyland’s ongoing HK$10.9 billion expansion as well as new tourist attractions in the region, loss-making Ocean Park has pinned its hopes for fresh growth on the all-weather water park and two high-end hotels. The idea is to transform from a 41-year-old theme park into an international resort. The other is a high-end Fullerton Hotel being due for completion in 2021.

Aerial pictures taken by the Post on May 10 showed the water park project was still in the middle of construction. Four gigantic cranes sit on the 400,000 sq ft site, with concrete terraces lining the tranquil bay, Tai Shue Wan, and a green valley. When built, the concrete layers will become terraced platforms, with wave pools and indoor and outdoor slides attached with shops and restaurants.

“The construction work is demanding because the site is very hilly,” the source said. “The management is considering whether to kick it off at the end of 2019 or officially launch it in the summer of 2020.”

Known as Tai Shue Wan Water World, the project is expected to attract 1.5 million visitors in its first year of operation and contribute HK$842 million to the economy in 2018, according to Hong Kong government submissions to Legislative Council in 2013.

An Ocean Park spokeswoman would only say it was due to be completed in 2019, without specifying which month.

A Marriott spokeswoman said the hotel “was intended to be completed in mid-2018”.

Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said he did not want to see any delays in the Ocean Park projects, which he said were crucial to reviving the theme park’s performance and Hong Kong’s tourism recovery.

“Ocean Park has been losing money in the past two years and I hope it will be able to ride on the summer peak seasons and the recent strength in the tourist arrivals,” he said.

Ocean Park’s deficit widened slightly to HK$234.4 million in the financial year ended June 30 compared with a HK$241.1 million deficit a year earlier. There were 4.03 per cent fewer visitors at Ocean Park at 5.8 million last year, which prompted a HK$310 million government bailout in February.

In March, 8.9 per cent more travellers, or 4.99 million people, visited Hong Kong compared with the same period a year ago, and the number of those who stayed overnight rose 6.5 per cent to 2.3 million.