Business Hong Kong

Hong Kong ferris wheel grinds to a halt as operator’s land license expires

The Hong Kong Observation Wheel has closed its doors for business, after the operator’s land lease expired.

The ferris wheel sits on the Central harbourfront in front of Central Piers No.9 and No.10. The Lands Department previously leased the area to Swiss AEX Holding Limited in May 2013 to construct and operate the tourist attraction.

On Monday, the company’s land lease expired. On Tuesday, visitors who showed up to the attraction found that the wheel had closed for business.

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The Hong Kong Observation Wheel. Photo: Wikicommons.

Miss Wong, who lives in Yau Tong, told HK01: “I’m so disappointed – I brought my kids here especially today, thinking that we could have a day out just before the end of the summer holiday. My kids are really disappointed too!”

The company is offering refunds to customers who had previously purchased tickets to the ride. A PR representative from the Hong Kong Observation Wheel told HKFP that the company had no further comment regarding the closure.

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The website of the Hong Kong Observation Wheel says that the ride is “closed today.” Photo: The Hong Kong Observation Wheel screenshot.

The Development Bureau told HKFP that it had previously reminded the company to provide the public with early notice of the closure. It said that a successor company, Entertainment Corporation Limited, had successfully leased the area from the Lands Department on May 23, and that the firm is currently in negotiations with Swiss AEX regarding the future operation of the ride.

Under a three-year short-term tenancy contract, the land – covering an area of 7,320 square metres – is leased at a rate of of HK$1.5 million per month.

The bureau told HKFP that the company is allowed to continue operating the ferris wheel under the current terms of tenancy. It said that the re-opening date of the attraction will depend on the company’s new business arrangements, and the time required for it to gain a government license.

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The Hong Kong Observation Wheel. Photo: Max Pixel.

Measuring 60 metres in height, the ferris wheel features 42 gondolas which carry eight passengers each. Previously, an adult ticket cost HK$100 and a children’s ticket cost HK$70. The duration of one ride was 20 minutes, with each ride including three rounds.

Similar attractions exist in the form of the Singapore Flyer and the London Eye in the UK.

The Task Force on Harbourfront Developments first tabled the wheel for discussion in May 2014. It said that the wheel would be a new tourist attraction on the harbourfront, and provide another vantage point from which people could see the city’s skyline.

After around eight months of construction, the ride was opened to the public in December 2014.

Hong Kong ferris wheel grinds to a halt as operator's land license expires