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Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 22:34

Disneyland resort to get huge revamp

By Oswald Chan

HK govt, Walt Disney to invest US$1.4 billion in expansion due for completion in 2023.

Disneyland resort to get huge revamp
In this June 10, 2016, file photo, a girl poses with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

The Hong Kong government and Walt Disney Co are embarking on a HK$10.9 billion (US$1.406 billion) expansion of the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL), with features that include the world's first Frozen and Marvel-themed facilities to fend off fierce market competition since the Shanghai Disneyland opened in June this year.

The Frozen and Marvel-themed facilities are located at the Phase 1 site of HKDL where land formation work has been completed to enable timely commencement of the expansion works. The government will explore the Phase 2 development of HKDL as its long-term development plan.

"(The expansion) would attract more high-spending and overnight visitors ... hence benefiting tourism-related industries in Hong Kong...

Gregory So Kam-leung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development

"(The expansion) would attract more high-spending and overnight visitors from more diversified market sources, hence benefiting tourism-related industries in Hong Kong, in line with fostering the development of the tourism industry in a healthy, sustainable and high value-adding manner," Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said at news conference on Tuesday.

The expansion and development plan will run from 2018 until 2023, and the total number of attractions will increase from about 110 to over 130 after completion. The plan will also transform the current Sleeping Beauty Castle which is expected to close to all visitors from next year until 2019.

According to the financial arrangement, the government will inject HK$5.8 billion as new capital for the expansion plan into Hongkong International Theme Parks Ltd, the operator of HKDL, based on the government's 53 percent holding in the joint venture company. The remaining HK$5.1 billion will be borne by WDC. The shareholding ratio will remain unchanged after the capital injection.

The expansion comes after the park's first descent into the red in five years and large-scale layoffs earlier this year. It lost a total of HK$148 million last year after three years of profitability, while the number of visitors to the park dropped 9.3 percent.

Apart from the city's tourism downturn, which saw visitor numbers dip 9.6 percent in the first 10 months of the year, HKDL is also facing stiff competition from its mainland counterpart.

Shanghai Disneyland-which opened in June-has been flooded with visitors. The mainland park is three times bigger, but ticket prices are similar to those charged by the Hong Kong park.

"Since the opening of Shanghai Disneyland, actually more tourists visited HKDL because of its unique positioning and attractions," So said at the news conference.

"Shanghai Disneyland helped to promote the Disneyland brand in Asia. Together with HKDL's international flavor and government investment in infrastructure, now it is the time to make long-term tourism facilities investment in Hong Kong," noted Samuel Lau Wing-kee, executive vice-president and managing director of HKDL.

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