16 February 2019
Ocean Park is taking steps to shore up revenues after suffering a huge deficit in the year ended June amid a slide in visitor numbers. Photo: HKEJ
Ocean Park is taking steps to shore up revenues after suffering a huge deficit in the year ended June amid a slide in visitor numbers. Photo: HKEJ

Ocean Park to raise ticket prices after record deficit

Ocean Park, Hong Kong’s popular marine-themed tourist attraction, announced plans to raise ticket prices after suffering its biggest deficit in nearly 30 years. 

The company said it will hike the admission fee by 13.8 percent from January 1 in a bid to shore up revenues, which took a hit due to a sharp drop in visitor numbers.

In the fiscal year ended June, the theme park recorded a deficit of HK$240 million (US$30.9 million), compared to a surplus of HK$45.2 million in the previous year, according to an announcement Wednesday.

It represented the largest loss since 1897, when the park ceased to be a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and also marked the first deficit since 2003 when Hong Kong was battered by the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic.

Revenue fell as park attendance figures slid 18.8 percent to 6 million, mainly due a slide in visitors from the mainland, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. 

Ticket sales income dropped 18.6 percent to HK$1.13 billion in the year to June, while in-park consumption by tourists fell 16.4 percent to HK$480 million.

To turn around the business, Ocean Park will adopt a two-pronged strategy of hiking the entrance fees and adding some facilities that will stay open until late in the evening, chairman Leo Kung Lin-cheng said on Wednesday. 

From next month, the ticket fee will rise to HK$438 for adults and HK$219 for children, from the current HK$385 and HK$193.

In a concession to locals, Hong Kong residents will be charged the new rates only from March. 

According to Vivian Lee, Ocean Park’s executive director of marketing and sales, attributed the worsened financial figures due to several factors, including a drop in tourism groups from the mainland, intense market competition, a stronger Hong Kong dollar and a slower Chinese economy as well as some unexpected incidents.

Though she claimed that visitor numbers have risen since July and that consumption in the park has increased, the company has deemed it necessary to do more to bolster its financial performance.

The emphasis is on boosting income rather than cost-cutting.

Chairman Kung admitted that the park has been using its reserves, which currently stand at about HK$2 billion, to support operations.

He said he is confident that the new ticket prices will still be competitive and that they will not have a negative effect on visitor numbers.

Among other initiatives, Ocean Park will add a food and amusement zone near its lake, with opening hours from 6 pm to 11 pm on weekdays so as to attract people after they get off work.

Some existing restaurants in the theme park will also prolong their business hours.

The new zone is expected to open by the Chinese New Year holidays between late January and early February, according to Kung.

As for cost-cuts, Kung promised that there won’t be any lay-offs for the park’s employees. But the company will strive to save as much as HK$70 million in electricity costs through a series of measures, he said.

Looking ahead, Ocean Park is pinning hopes that MTR’s new South Island Line, which is scheduled to begin operations on Dec. 28, will help bring in more visitors.

Meanwhile, two hotels coming up near the park and a upcoming water park can also shore up business.

The hotels and the water park are scheduled to go into operation in 2018.

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