The government is planning to pump billions of dollars into Ocean Park to help it stay afloat, as the cash-strapped attraction switches to a new business model.
The park revealed on Monday that entrance fees will be waived, and its 42,000 square metres lowland area near the MTR station will be turned into what it calls a retail, dining and entertainment zone outsourced to other service providers.
In the upper park area south of Brick Hill, visitors will be charged for individual attractions.
The chairman of the park, Lau Ming-wai, said some thrill rides will be replaced by new features like zipline rides.
Over half of the facilities will also be outsourced, but a new water park expected to open this summer will be managed by the Ocean Park Corporation itself.
Lau dismissed concerns that outsourcing attractions will lead to a mass layoff.
"There will actually be more jobs on site than before. That of course, those jobs will be split between the Ocean Park Corporation itself and other operators. So in the long-run, I think there is a net job creation effect on this," Lau said.
The SAR government, for its part, said it is planning to offer the park a one-off grant of HK$1.67 billion to "give the park flexibility for its transition".
The administration also proposed giving Ocean Park an additional HK$1.1 billion over the coming four years for its conservation and education programmes.
The government said it will waive the 5 percent interest for two loans totalling HK$5.4 billion and push back the deadline from this September to 2028 for Ocean Park to start repaying the debts.
The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, says he believes it's the right thing to do to inject more funds into the park.
"Ocean Park is more than a theme park, it's more than roller coasters. The ingredients that we are going to sort of rejuvenate... are some of the unleashed potential actually equipped by the park," he said at a joint press conference with the park's chairman.
"The ideas being put forward will definitely be better than the status quo, at the moment," Yau said.