Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday launched an unprecedented job fair aiming to hire 600 frontline staff for a string of new features coming this year as the city finally opened to visitors from overseas and mainland China.
The loss-making theme park also said it would not rule out further recruitment this year if the tourism industry recovered following the lifting of travel curbs.
Among the around 3,000 jobseekers at the resort was Oscar Lai, a 21-year-old who had spent half a year in the city’s Lai Chi Rehabilitation Centre for his role in the 2019 anti-government protests.
Lai, who has been looking for a job for more than a year, said prospective employers often stopped contacting him after noticing his criminal record.
Colin Chang, director of Hong Kong Disneyland’s talent acquisition, said they launched the recruitment drive to cope with the completion of the park’s new facilities and to be better equipped to receive visitors from overseas and the mainland.
He added that he would not rule out further recruitment within the year.
Chang also insisted the resort was adequately staffed, adding the park, which opens five days a week and closes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, might adjust its opening time according to demand.
In the second half of this year, the park will feature an attraction called World of Frozen, inspired by the 2013 Disney film Frozen about a princess who teams up with an iceman, his reindeer and a snowman to find her sister.
According to Chang, most of those recruited will be junior staff with a salary range of HK$15,000 (US$1,912) to HK$20,000.
Hong Kong Disneyland managing director Michael Moriarty on Thursday said they would continue to work closely with the city’s Tourism Board.
“We just can’t wait to show our tourists what exciting offers we have right now,” he said.
“We are preparing to welcome more international and mainland tourists back to Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland,” Moriarty added.
“We are well placed to be the first [destination] to reactivate Hong Kong’s tourism industry and bring differentiated offerings to guests from overseas and mainland China.”
Cross-border travel between Hong Kong and the mainland reopened on January 8, while Covid-19 testing requirements for travellers are set to be dropped as early as next Monday.
On Thursday, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu launched the “Hello Hong Kong” campaign to lure visitors back to the city, with the first phase worth at least HK$100,000.
As part of the tourism drive, the Airport Authority will cover the cost of 700,000 free airline tickets under a HK$2 billion relief package put in place three years ago for the aviation industry. Hong Kong will also host a series of major trade shows and conventions, as well as sports and arts events.
The city government owns 52 per cent of the park on Lantau Island, with the rest held by the US-based Walt Disney Company via a joint venture called Hong Kong International Theme Parks.
The theme park has faced a series of blows in recent years. Tourism declined throughout the second half of 2019 as Hong Kong experienced months of social unrest, before visitor arrivals dried up altogether in 2020 when Covid-19 struck.
It posted HK$2.4 billion in losses for its last financial year – the seventh consecutive loss-making year. The park has turned a profit only three times since opening in 2005.