No investor was interested in Ocean Park's project for transforming the lowland area into a retail, dining and entertainment hub, says park chairman Paulo Pong Kin-yee.
In an interview with Scarlet Tso Hung, the dean of the School of Communication at Hang Seng University, and associate dean Ronald Chiu Ying-chun, Pong said the park did not receive any applications for the makeover plan when tendering closed in July.
Pong said the park started approaching investors in August last year and received a good response. However, it received no application during the tendering period from February to July, and he believes many investors backed off due to the fifth wave of Covid
"The investors and retail stores had a high expectation to the RDE area in the Ocean Park because Hongkongers love to go shopping. However, they have been frightened by the fifth wave of outbreak and became more cautious," Pong said.
But he said the unsuccessful tendering did not mean the revamp plan failed, as the construction of the lowland area is only part of the park's redevelopment.
He said the park will adjust its development strategy and may relaunch the tender.
The Legislative Council last year approved the HK$6.78 billion Ocean Park revamp plan, and Pong said the park is now operating well.
"Since the park received the Legco Finance Committee's fund in March last year, the park is operating well except for the days when the park had to be closed due to the pandemic," Pong said. "If normality can be restored in the coming few years, the park will no longer need to apply to the government for more funds. Instead, the park could pay for itself in the long-term."
Asked if the park will consider building property in the park's area, Pong said the planned retail, dining and entertainment area in the downhill area will include new stores and restaurants, which is not much different from building property. Pong added that he hopes the tender for the park's headland redevelopment could go smoothly.
"The new Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong opened in August and is already fully booked until the end of the year, which shows that Ocean Park still has a lot of potential," he said.
Pong also said the park will become a conservation and education center to raise public awareness of the protection of nature and marine ecology.
Meanwhile, Ocean Park's Water World said it will hold Halloween activities from October 1 to 31.