Financial Secretary Paul Chan says the new measures for Ocean Park in the annual budget were made because the attraction had suffered financial difficulties in recent years.
A total of HK$310 million will be allocated over the next few years to support Ocean Park in developing educational and tourism projects. The park will distribute 10,000 complimentary admission tickets to primary and secondary school students in the coming year.
The park, wholly owned by the government, lost HK$241 million and HK$234 million in the years 2015/16 and 2016/17 respectively.
Chan did not give a direct answer when asked how did he came up with the figure of HK$310 million, but said details will be revealed later.
“Ocean Park is somewhere that a lot of Hong Kong families visit. Over the past few years, the park has encountered some financial difficulties,” Chan said during a Finance Committee meeting at the legislature on Thursday.
“Please don’t be mistaken. The main point is not those 10,000 tickets – they were given to the students by Ocean Park out of its own courtesy. For me, I wish to improve Ocean Park’s service using the funds.”
Lawmaker Claudia Mo said animal rights activists were furious about the supporting measures as it went against the international trend of closing performance parks which involve marine animals.
“If you truly wish to conduct education through tourism, why don’t you [hand out tickets] to the Wetland Park?” she asked Chan. “We have up to 800,000 primary and secondary school students, who are you giving the tickets to?”
She also suggested other ways to educate students by working with environmental protection groups to visit and appreciate wildlife, sea life and cattle.
Chan said Ocean Park attached importance to animal rights and animal performances have changed a lot since the park’s establishment.
But Mo said Chan should have handed out money to the public instead of the park. In response, Chan said the park was “Hong Kong people’s park.”
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