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Hong Kong Disneyland turns a profit for first time

Park welcomes a record number of visitors since opening eight years ago

Image Credit: AP
Mickey mouse and other cartoon characters pose during aparade at Hong Kong Disneyland in this 2008 photo. Thepark made HK$109 million last year.
Gulf News

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s struggling Disneyland said on Monday it made a profit in 2012 for the first time since opening eight years ago, thanks to a surge in revenue as it welcomed a record number of visitors.

The park made 109 million Hong Kong dollars (Dh51.62 million, $14.06 million) in the fiscal year ending September 29, 2012, compared with a net loss of HK$237 million the year before.

The result was fuelled by a 13 per cent jump in attendance to a record 6.73 million people, providing relief for the resort, which has been battling lower-than-expected numbers since opening in 2005.

Visits by Hong Kong residents posted a record growth of 21 per cent while visits by mainland visitors expanded by 13 per cent. Revenue meanwhile grew 18 per cent to HK$4.27 billion.

“We are all very excited about the milestone that we have achieved. This is a very significant milestone,” Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s managing director Andrew Kam told reporters.

“We have seen the business has turned a corner. This is very, very encouraging and exciting among our leaders and our shareholders.”

Kam said the turnaround was not easy given the park’s route to profit was slowed by the financial crisis, as well as the 2009 swine flu and bird flu outbreak which saw travel demand fall.

Hong Kong Disneyland, which is majority owned by the city’s government, has been desperate to ramp up the number and quality of its attractions as it seeks to lure more visitors while facing stiff competition from local rival Ocean Park.

Critics have attributed many of its problems to its size - it is the smallest of all the Disney’s theme parks - and a lack of attractions catered to the key China market, which accounts for nearly half of its visitors.

In a bid to boost arrivals, the park has added two new attractions since November 2011 - including a Toy Story-themed area - with the third one scheduled to open in the middle of 2013, a year ahead of schedule.

Kam said the new attractions were most crucial to its turnaround.

“Our expansion is the most critical success factor that contributes to our result this year,” he said.

“This decision certainly is a right decision. It’s a decision that changed the course of Hong Kong Disneyland development.”

Doubts about the park’s future have further been stoked since China gave approval for a Disneyland park to be built in Shanghai.

Kam said the Hong Kong park will consider its next phase of expansion, including for its current two hotels, but declined to give details.

“We will continue to expand the resort. There is no questions about that, the only question is when, how big and what to do.”

The park will also seek to tap the booming Southeast Asia markets, which contributed 1.5 million visitors last year, add curry dishes for South Asian tourists and halal-certified food for Muslim guests.

A deal to open Hong Kong Disneyland was signed in 1999 as part of a plan to boost the city’s economy as it reeled from the Asian financial crisis.