Hong Kong’s Ocean Park posts HK$236.5 million loss, marking third straight year in the red
- Annual report says typhoons partly to blame for performance as attraction was forced to close, affecting visitor numbers
- Entrance fees to be frozen until June 30 next year
Hong Kong’s iconic Ocean Park suffered losses of HK$236.5 million (US$30.3 million) last year, its third straight year in the red, according to its latest annual report released on Wednesday.
The attraction in Wong Chuk Hang previously lost HK$234 million in the financial year ending June 30, 2017, following a HK$241 million deficit the year before.
Revenue grew 4 per cent last year as total visitor numbers remained flat at 5.8 million. An Ocean Park spokeswoman said mainland tourists accounted for 40 per cent of the entertainment park's total visitors, with locals accounting for another 40 per cent and the rest coming from overseas.
The park failed to benefit from the 6.9 per cent growth in Hong Kong’s tourist arrivals, about 61 million people, during the 12 months ending June 30.
The report said Ocean Park had been forced to shut for three days because of various typhoons, which affected the number of local visitors.
Park chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng said the park’s losses arose partly from higher maintenance costs, operating costs, financial expenses and depreciation charges.
However, he said the attraction was on track for a transformation into a resort destination.
“The park’s evolution has also seen the adoption of new technologies to enhance the guest experience, and a widened food and beverage portfolio,” he said.
Ocean Park was rated the fifth most popular attraction by tourists staying overnight in 2017. Rival theme park Hong Kong Disneyland was ranked No 3.
The park also announced on Wednesday that entrance fees would be frozen until June 30 next year.
The not-for-profit organisation run by a statutory board was bailed out by the government earlier this year with a HK$310 million cash injection and ordered to reinvent itself.
The park said part of the funds would be used to create an evening multimedia show, which would combine video, lighting, architecture, sound and special effects at Aqua City Lagoon, located at the heart of the park.
It will also finance the set-up of an education hub with an interactive learning centre covering the conservation of natural habitats, ecosystems and biological diversity.
Lawmaker Yiu Si-wing, who represents the tourism sector, said the park needed to revise its business model by reducing its reliance on mainland tour groups and increasing the number of individual travellers as competition heated up in the region.
“There are signs fewer mainland tour groups are coming to Hong Kong, and when they visit, they stay for a shorter time because of more expensive accommodation,” he said, adding that the city’s room rates had jumped 5 per cent on average last year.
“The park needs a robust inside-out overhaul of its features for rejuvenation in the long run.”
Yiu said Disneyland on Lantau Island was spending HK$10.9 billion to add new products over six years – up to 2023 – which could help it fend off competition from the giant Chimelong theme park and resort in Zhuhai.
Ocean Park’s first hotel, a Marriott, is due to officially open early next year, while completion of the HK$2.9 billion all-season water park is expected in late 2019.