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November 23, 2016

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Expansion plan for HK Disneyland at US$1.4b

WALT Disney will expand its loss-making Hong Kong Disneyland theme park with a US$1.4 billion investment to try to attract more visitors, the US entertainment company and its local government partner said yesterday.

Hong Kong Disneyland, the firm’s smallest park, has been hit by weak local retail and tourism markets and suffered its first loss in four years in 2015. It cut an unspecified number of jobs earlier this year.

The Hong Kong resort also faces competition from other theme park operators fighting for Chinese mainland visitors, including Dalian Wanda, which plans to spend billions of dollars to launch at least 20 tourism parks in China.

The Hong Kong city government, which owns a 53 percent stake in the theme park, will chip in US$750 million, while Disney will pay around US$650 million for the expansion running from 2018 to 2023.

The Hong Kong resort will add Frozen and Marvel themed areas — attractions that it hopes can help differentiate it from other parks around the world, including a Shanghai Disney Resort opened in June.

Disney said this month that attendance had declined at its parks in Hong Kong, Paris and California during the most recent quarter, while 4 million people visited the Shanghai park in its first four months.

Hong Kong’s retail and tourism industries have been ailing.

The city saw a 6.1 percent fall in the number of tourists in the first nine months of this year, including a bigger drop from the Chinese mainland, according to official tourist board data.

“Everybody knows tourism in the region, especially in Hong Kong, has been challenging, so it’s not just Hong Kong Disneyland,” Samuel Lau, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland, said at a press conference announcing the plan.

“We need to quickly double up to make sure we invest in tourism in the long run. Some of these projects will take time to build and create, and now is the time.”

Disney said the expansion will create 3,500 jobs and eventually bring another 600 jobs within the park.


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