Prof Hon Patrick Lau Sau-shing SBS, JP tabled Ocean Park’s 2008/2009 annual report, ending 30 June 2009, at the Legislative Council (Legco).
Mr. Lau reported that Ocean Park, an educational, recreational and community asset, completed one of the best years in its history. More than 4.8 million guests visited and took home fun-filled experiences that were also inspired by nature. Efforts to constantly evolve have helped reinforce Ocean Park as a key tourist icon for Hong Kong. While Ocean Park has experienced the same ups and downs as the rest of the world, its financial status remains robust and the Park is well-positioned for further growth.
An Ocean Park Board member and a member of the Legislative Council (Legco), Mr Lau said the latest attendance was just 5% off the Park’s all-time record of 5.03 million, reached in the previous financial year. Total revenue was HK$893.5 million, with a final surplus of HK$98.6 million.
During the year, Ocean Park had to address more than just the global economic downturn. Visa control adjustments in the Mainland affected attendance, as did debilitating typhoons and rainstorms, and human swine flu. Yet the Ocean Park team identified and responded to market shifts quickly and astutely and so maintained the Park’s strong market position. The Park’s performance was driven by the “Big Five” annual events that renewed the core offerings and reinforced Ocean Park’s standing as a top-of-mind must-see attraction.
Mr Lau reported that Ocean Park’s HK$5.55 billion Master Redevelopment Project (MRP) is progressing well. An exciting MRP breakthrough was the commissioning of the new Veterinary Centre, the best-equipped facility of its kind in Asia. In April, Ocean Park celebrated the grand opening of the first major MRP attraction – Amazing Asian Animals – featuring the iconic Giant Panda Adventure. Mr Lau also reported the tremendous headway made with the Ocean Express funicular system. This attraction subsequently opened in September 2009.
With the Mainland accounting for close to half the number of guests visiting annually, Ocean Park demonstrated its commitment to the market with the opening of its second representative office in Mainland China, this time in Shanghai, and commenced preparations for an office in Beijing. New consumer campaigns in Ocean Park’s stronghold markets in the Pearl River Delta region helped Ocean Park maintain its position as the top-of-mind, must-see attraction in Hong Kong.
Mr Lau said that, as a Hong Kong tourist icon, Ocean Park actively promoted itself in the global arena, and often collaborated with the Hong Kong Tourism Board on trade and media roadshows to market Hong Kong as a premier destination in places like India, Philippines, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere in the region.
He also welcomed the Town Planning Board’s conditional approval of the Section 16 application for the Park’s planned hotel developments – Ocean Hotel, Fisherman’s Wharf and Spa Hotel, Hotel. These developments will augment the Park’s MRP as it evolves into a world-class resort and attraction, Mr Lau reported.
The Park’s education arm, the Ocean Park Academy, brought over 1, 000 compelling programmes to 38, 000 school children. The Park’s commitment to conservation was as strong as ever with no less than HK$7.48 million channelled through its charity foundation, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong (OPCFHK), in aid of 40 conservation, research and education projects. This funding also supported the rebuilding of panda reserves in Sichuan after the May 2008 earthquake.
As Hong Kong’s People’s Park, Ocean Park ran more corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes than any comparable park in the world. These included a host of admission concessions with a value equivalent to HK$52 million. The Park also supported social enterprise initiatives with the launch of the first-ever Theme Park F&B Services Trainee Programme that helped 25 young people develop specialised hospitality skills. Meanwhile, the “Big Five” annual events created employment for over 1, 000 extra seasonal staff, while the commissioning of Amazing Asian Animals created 100 new posts, with another 50 posts for Ocean Express.
Dr. Allan Zeman, Chairman of Ocean Park, said: “Ocean Park once again made a strong contribution to our community, our economy and our tourism industry, while touching the lives of people from around the world. But we could only make this happen with the support from our local and overseas guests, the many business partners here, in the Mainland and elsewhere, and all our staff, to whom we extend our heartfelt gratitude. Looking forward, we have wonderful opportunities for growth, in terms of spare land for further development, and our proven ability to build traffic from many geographic and demographic markets. I am confident this much-loved theme park will continue to fulfil its inspiring vision of connecting people with nature.”
Ocean Park’s 2008/2009 fiscal year is from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.