Ocean park

Hong Kong’s ocean park loses appeal to Greater Bay Area theme parks

The Hong Kong government has promised Ocean Park a HK$10.6 billion bailout to regain its status as a top attraction in the region. Authorities blame ongoing anti-government protests for the losses as well as growing competition from parks north of the border and record tourist numbers in mainland China. Recovery measures are urgent: a drop of more than 3 million visitors was expected in 2020, even before the temporary closure.

Theme parks in the region

The so-called Greater Bay Area (GBA), comprising Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in neighboring Guangdong province, is currently home to eight of the top 20 theme parks in the Asia-Pacific region. In 2018, these competing parks – all within a 70km radius – attracted 42 million visitors in total, of which Ocean Park received a 13.7% share.

Annual visitors to Ocean Park have fallen to 5.7 million

The tourism sector in Hong Kong has taken a beating since June 2019, with the flow of visitors generally decreasing by 14%. The number of visitors to Ocean Park fell to 5.7 million that year, after surpassing 7.5 million a few years earlier. The drop in mainland Chinese visitors to the park actually dates back to 2016, coinciding with an increase in the number of theme parks in the area and a strong Hong Kong dollar making visits to the city more expensive. The following graph shows the number of visitors to the GBA’s eight main parks since 2006.

Position of GBA Theme Parks in Asia-Pacific

Positions of top GBA parks against the top 20 amusement parks in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ocean Park in red since 2016

Ocean Park has been operating at a loss since 2015. The situation worsened in 2019, with total debt now approaching HK$6 billion.

Size of theme parks in GBA

The eight GBA parks cover a total of almost 12 square kilometers. New construction and park development slowed in China in 2016 due to funding and liquidity issues related to changes in state policy.

The number of annual visitors to theme parks run by the world’s leading operators exceeded half a billion in 2017. The total number of annual visits to the top 20 parks reached 226 million people, more than the entire the population of Brazil.