Ocean Park’s six-year Master Redevelopment Plan (MRP), which concluded last year with the opening of Polar Adventure, has created a “New Ocean Park” experience that is attracting more local and overseas visitors than ever. In particular, the number of visitors from various Southeast Asian markets, including Korea, the Philippines, India, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia, has risen by 60% over the past five years. On the 30th of May, with a full month to go before its current fiscal year ends on 30 June, Ocean Park broke its annual attendance record for the ninth time in a decade by surpassing the 7.1 million mark set last fiscal year.
The record-breaking guest, Mr. Wu, was a tourist from Taiwan. He and his accompanying family members were treated by Dr. Allan Zeman to a dining experience at Neptune’s Restaurant and the Honorary Panda Keeper’s programme. As well, Mr. Wu and his family members each received a ten-year VIP Pass and a set of Ocean Park souvenirs.
Dr. Peter Lam Kin-ngok, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, expressed delight that Ocean Park had helped mark yet another brilliant chapter for Hong Kong's tourism industry. He not only lauded the Park for winning the Applause Award, the most prestigious accolade in the international theme park industry, but also congratulated it on securing a third 5-year accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, building on the Park's status as the first and only facility outside the Americas to be an Association member.
Dr. Zeman said, “We are honoured that Ocean Park has won the appreciation and recognition of the Hong Kong public and the theme park industry. We are particularly grateful to the Wu family and visitors from around the world for their enthusiasm for Ocean Park. The completion of the MRP in July 2012 has brought the number of attractions at the Park to 85. We have also added 10 animal encounter programmes and Behind-the-Scene tours so that guests can better understand the importance of conservation through close encounters with our animal ambassadors, further fulfilling our mission to connect people with nature.
The public can also join the Park in supporting conservation research projects in Hong Kong and across Asia by making donations to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong (OPCFHK). Not only did 9 out of the past 11 months set a new high in attendance, the number of guests for August 2012 reached the 1 million level, the highest for a single month in our 36-year history. In addition, the continuous growth in attendance translates into ever higher amounts donated to OPCFHK as Ocean Park donates a portion of admission revenue, proceeds from panda merchandise sales and guest programme fees, as well as the entirety of admission revenue from our annual Conservation Day in January to the Foundation.
During the first ten months of this fiscal year (i.e. up to April 2013), Ocean Park has donated $12.03 million to OPCFHK; the amount is already over 10% above the HK$10.92 million donated for the entire 2011-12 fiscal year. In particular, contributions from animal encounter programmes, wedding events, and Tuxedos Restaurant have reached $1.14 million already, more than five times last year’s total of $210,000.”
Dr. Zeman added, “We are committed to enhancing the Ocean Park experience in order to appeal to local and overseas visitors. The number of guests from key Asian markets, including Korea, the Philippines, India, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia, have risen by 60% over the past five years, a testament to Ocean Park’s growing status as a world-class destination. In addition to the recent opening of many new attractions under our MRP, a number of world-class attractions will be launched starting from 2014. They include the new Shark Mystique and Adventures in Australia, featuring koalas and more, which will open in mid-2014 and the fourth quarter of 2014 respectively.
With the expected completion of the South Island Line of the MTR in 2015 ahead of the anticipated opening of Ocean Hotel near our main entrance, Ocean Park will offer visitors a highly convenient accommodation option and transform Hong Kong People’s Park into a premier international resort destination.”
Shark Mystique, scheduled to open during the summer of 2014, will offer a unique combination of conservation and education, enabling guests to learn about the behaviour of sharks and appreciate the importance of maintaining marine biodiversity. Visitors will also be encouraged to do their part to promote conservation. The new aquarium has a capacity of 2,200 tonnes, five times bigger than the previous facility. It will house 100 sharks representing 15 different species, including the slow-moving ragged-toothed shark; the sawfish, which is a distant relative of the prehistoric tyrannosaurus; and spotted wobbegong and zebra sharks, both known for their camouflaging abilities.
Dr. Zeman noted that on 24 May 2013, the Legislative Council officially approved a loan totalling HK$2.29 billion from the Government for Ocean Park to develop a new Water World. The exciting news came at a time when detailed plans are being made for the development. Scheduled for opening in 2017, the Water World will be the first and only waterfront water park in Asia, featuring the world’s longest lazy river. Bringing back Hong Kong people’s fondest memories, the new attraction will span 440,000 square feet, and boast 25 attractions, double the number of the old water park, including 13 state-of-the-art giant water slides and two wave pools. With both indoor and outdoor areas, the facility will remain open all year round. Featuring a translucent domed roof, the planned Water World will present a new architectural marvel in Hong Kong.
The domed roof is designed to promote air circulation and offer shelter for optimised indoor temperature control. The translucent material will offer the benefit of letting in natural light to ensure healthy growth of the indoor plants, thereby enhancing the visual appearance of the environment. The Water World project is expected to create 2,900 new employment positions for the year 2018 and 4,299 jobs by 2048. Between 2014 and 2048, it is set to contribute HK$18 billion to the GDP of Hong Kong.
Dr. Peter Lam Kin-ngok, Chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, visited Ocean Park today to witness the remarkable record-breaking moment. Expressing delight at the Park’s achievement, he said, “On behalf of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Mr. Wu and his family to Hong Kong’s People Park. Ocean Park is the pride of Hong Kong, as well as a major pillar of local tourism. Its latest plans to transform itself into a world-class tourist destination will help Hong Kong cope with the projected double-digit growth in tourist arrivals over the next ten years. The efforts will also create new jobs for the local tourism industry.
We are also glad that Ocean Park is continuing its commitment to fostering collaboration among its peers, not least by taking the lead to form the Hong Kong Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions last year. As always, the Hong Kong Tourism Board will work closely with Ocean Park to launch large-scale promotion campaigns abroad, with a view to drawing visitors from around the world and enabling them to fully enjoy Hong Kong's world-class attractions and tourism facilities.”
Mrs. Wu, the record-breaking guest, said, “We have long been looking forward to visiting Ocean Park because of its unique combination of fun rides and animal species from different parts of the world. With so many things to see and do here at Ocean Park, we will definitely return to Taiwan with wonderful memories.”
Ocean Park received thousands of well wishes and words of encouragement from guests through its website in the past 10 days. To thank the public for their loyal support, Ocean Park is giving away a total of 710 free tickets so fans can share in the joy of the record-breaking achievement.
* Ocean Park's fiscal year for 2012/2013 runs from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.