Ocean Park Hong Kong will be bailed out by the Hong Kong government, as lawmakers have approved an HK$5.4 billion (US$0.7bn) relief fund for the theme park to keep operating for another 12 months.
According to South China Morning Post, 32 legislators approved the lifeline for Ocean Park, 20 legislators voted against it, and two abstained.
“We can’t see the tourism industry having recovered significantly in a year’s time,” said tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing.
He proposed allowing the theme park to operate like the West Kowloon Cultural District, which sold part of its land for commercial use to drive new sources of income.
Legislators approve lifeline for Ocean Park
“Keeping the park running as a traditional attraction will not help much,” said Yiu. He added that the government should play greater role in the business of Ocean Park.
Ocean Park also sought an HK$10.64 billion ($1.4bn) cash injection from the SAR government in January. However, the funding was watered down in light of coronavirus.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau Tang-wah, previously warned that the theme park could cease operations as early as June, if lawmakers voted down the bailout.
The costs of winding up Ocean Park have previously been estimated to exceed HK$10 billion ($1.3bn).
Ocean Park Hong Kong, which has been closed since January 26, thanked the legislature for approving the bailout. It also promised to use the money wisely.
Ocean Park Hong Kong will use fund carefully
The government told the legislature that the attraction has spent approximately HK$280 million ($36m) annually on conservation and education over the past five years. This amounts to approximately 20.5 percent of its yearly operating expenses.
Ocean Park also invested around HK$120 million ($15m) on amusement rides annually during the same time period, which is about 8.5 percent of its yearly operating expenses.
The resort’s main expenditure during the same time period was on salaries, averaging around HK$690 million ($89m) annually. This is approximately half of Ocean Park’s operating cost.