Ocean park

Hong Kong’s Ocean Park faces bankruptcy as pandemic takes its toll

After being out of business for more than 100 days, the Shanghai Disneyland theme park has become the first Disney park in the world to officially reopen after a coronavirus shutdown. Online tickets for the first day of reopening sold out in just three minutes. Some Disney fans have taken special time off to fly from other cities to Shanghai, the only place in the world right now where they can meet beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

Frequent disinfection and social distancing will be practiced in cafes, queues and even on rides. With these strict measures becoming somewhat standard in public places, tourists are happy to see the “princess return”.

The reopening of Shanghai Disney is seen as a sign of recovery for China’s tourism sector. The industry also expects “retaliatory consumption” after the epidemic subsides.

However, the situation of another famous theme park seems less optimistic.

Ocean Park, one of Hong Kong’s iconic amusement parks, could go bankrupt by the end of June if it does not receive an urgent HK$5.4 billion ($700 million) bailout. US dollars), a local official warned on May 11.

But that comes as no surprise to the industry as Ocean Park is just one of many tourist attractions hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In fact, the amusement park was facing financial difficulties even before the novel coronavirus outbreak. Four consecutive years of losses and the slow progress of his new water park project had already led his financial statements into a big mess. Ocean Park’s visitor numbers fell 40 percent year-on-year to 3.3 million, and the company’s annual loss stretched to HK$557 million in the past fiscal year.

In January, the government planned to inject HK$10.64 billion into the government-owned tourist site for long-term renovation. However, the city’s commerce and economic development secretary, Edward Yau Tang-wah, said on Monday that officials had changed their plans as the coronavirus pandemic crippled the city’s tourism sector, prompting authorities to use the public funds more wisely. .

CGTN has learned that some local voices oppose funding for the Ocean Park rescue as the tourism industry lost out even during last year’s peak season, meaning land could be taken away for social housing if the park goes bankrupt.

The proposed emergency aid package will be considered by the special administrative region’s legislature on May 15, determining the fate of the 43-year-old theme park.

“The challenges facing Ocean Park are unprecedented,” Yau said, adding that “without help, the park will not be able to survive.”

Another theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland, has yet to announce its reopening plans. Walt Disney Chief Financial Officer Christine M. McCarthy shows no optimism about Hong Kong Disneyland’s near-term prospects. Hong Kong Disneyland’s financial performance has been unsatisfactory for five consecutive years. The park’s financial statements last September showed a monthly loss of HK$105 million, nearly double the figure for 2018.

McCarthy said it was difficult to estimate when Hong Kong Disneyland and other parks, hotels and cruise lines around the world will fully reopen.