chart: Ocean Park in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, is currently closed due to Covid-19. The theme park hopes a revamp of its business model will help it stay afloat. Photo: Winson Wong


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Ocean Park in Aberdeen, Hong Kong, is currently closed thanks to Covid-19. The concept park hopes a revamp of its small business design will enable it stay afloat. Photograph: Winson Wong

Hong Kong has gone by two chaotic a long time, roiled very first by social unrest and then a world wide pandemic. The city’s economic climate is at a standstill, not just for personal companies but also public companies like Ocean Park.

Owing to bad administration, amongst other motives, Ocean Park has been suffering losses for consecutive a long time. Its troubles have been compounded by the park’s temporary closure for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. The park’s operation was suspended for 237 days last calendar year. The most current closure began on December 2 with no close date set.

Previous yr, the Legislative Council granted a HK$5.4 billion bailout for the park to enable make it rewarding all over again. But the sum, a chunk of which went in the direction of paying out off business loans and similar economical expenses, is not going to be ample to protect the park’s operational expenditures.

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Two months ago, the park unveiled its system to question for one more HK$2.8 billion of federal government financial support in guidance of its marine conservation and education endeavours for the up coming 4 years. The govt will also request Legco acceptance to waive the park’s curiosity payments of its two prior financial loans.

Clearly, Ocean Park’s existing company design is not sustainable. To switch the circumstance about, the secretary for commerce and financial enhancement has place forward a program. The lower park place will no extended cost an entrance price, and will be reassigned for retail and entertainment uses. The enterprises will be outsourced to distributors.

Under the revamp, the cable autos, aquarium and other animal displays would be retained. Rides would not have to have to charge a uniform price. New sights will be included, such as H2o Entire world, that is scheduled to open up this summer.

The government’s approach is to support Ocean Park by the tough period and make the transition to a sustainable business enterprise product. The tactic has its pros and cons.

1st, Ocean Park is a economically impartial non-gain organisation. It sits on land furnished free by the Hong Kong governing administration. It was in the beginning funded by the Hong Kong Jockey Club for marine conservation and training, as nicely as an amusement park for the basic community.

On the other hand, below administration by the Ocean Park Corporation, it has now turned into a tourism place that competes with Hong Kong Disneyland. The preliminary goal of maritime education and conservation has been undermined, or even overlooked.

It is a good notion to revamp the park’s enterprise design by opening the decreased park area to the public for free. But outsourcing retail and amusement companies to personal firms will just take the park further from its main mission as a non-earnings organisation.

To make superior use of community means, all the services in the lowland space, largely animal displays and marine conservation parts, should really be operated by the Leisure and Cultural Expert services Department.

The govt has also proposed to demolish some rides in the higher park place, and establish the vacated land into an journey-themed zone. That would stir up extra competition involving Ocean Park and Disneyland.

Fate of Disneyland, Ocean Park hangs on Hong Kong’s tourism long run

On the other hand, a good concept need not go to waste. The govt could take into account applying the system on the land adjacent to Disneyland, which is reserved for its potential expansion. Killing two birds with one particular stone, this would improve Disneyland’s competitiveness as an amusement park, as very well as lessen costs by outsourcing rides and experience facilities to private operators.

The vacated headland at Ocean Park could be employed for household progress. The revenue from land sales could lead to a basis set up to support the day-to-day procedure of the park, as well as marine education and learning and conservation.

It is the elephant in the space that the clock is ticking for Ocean Park Corporation. The two former chairmen, Philip Chen Nan-lok and Allan Zeman, did a good work in building the park in the early stages but, since then, the park has grow to be a losing proposition and performed significantly as well minor on marine education and learning and conservation.

If Ocean Park is to get back on monitor and fulfil its initial mission, the governing administration need to just take on the administration job, and prevent letting businessmen run the show.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator

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