A proposal to redevelop part of Hong Kong’s Ocean Park into a leisure, dining and entertainment area failed to attract outside investors before a tender closed in late July, revealed the attraction’s president.
As part of the HK$6.8 billion revival plan for the struggling Aberdeen theme park following the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, 80,000 square meters near the main entrance to Wong Chuk Hang will be transformed into a retail, dining and entertainment center with free admission.
A tender was launched in February with an undisclosed number of potential investors shortlisted. The original May 31 deadline was later pushed back to July 29. But Paulo Pong Kin-yee, the new chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, said no shortlisted members expressed interest when the tender closed on July 29.
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He attributed it to the fifth wave of Covid-19 cases, which hit the city earlier this year, suggesting it had set back potential investors.
“We will look at all possible plans and see how future developments can help the park become self-sustaining,” Pong said.
He also said that since the Legislative Council allocated the funds in March last year, the park’s operations have been running smoothly, with the exception of pandemic-related closures, and that it is financially sound to the moment, and would be in the years to come if foreign visitors returned.
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But Pong denied that the commercial area plan was a failure, arguing that the project involving external operators in the plain area of the park was only part of it. The park would change its strategy, he said, with a possibility of revival.
The park has been reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has kept tourists away and triggered several closures.
The planned HK$6.8 billion transformation aimed to relaunch the 45-year-old attraction as a financially self-sufficient retail and leisure destination focused on education and conservation, with a variety of outsourced activities proposed.
A park spokesman said on Thursday that it was not entirely out of the question that no tender proposals had been received for the project, given the outbreak of the fifth wave and the volatile situation, associated with a slowdown in global market conditions.
“In order to chart a way forward, the park is currently reviewing the situation, which includes an analysis of the rationales for the invited bidders’ decisions not to bid,” the spokesperson said.
The outsourcing of the Lower Zone was just one of many components of the park’s future strategy and it would continue to drive the necessary implementations for it to successfully transform into a destination focused on conservation and education. , rooted in nature, the spokesperson added.
Lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen, who represents the architecture, surveying, planning and landscape industry, said he was deeply disappointed with the failure of the tender, adding that it reflected a lack of confidence in the market.
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“This will delay the pace of park reforms and may even affect the progress of the ‘Reinvigorate the South Island’ initiative that the government has hinted at in policy speech in 2020,” Tse said, referring to a plan to to improve cultural and leisure facilities in the south of the country. district.
He hoped that the park and the government would review the project and the bidding situation and relaunch the program as soon as possible after adjustments.
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