Disney Shanghai: Good for China, Bad for Hong Kong
Posted by: Frederik Balfour on November 05
It’s been a crummy 24 hours for the Hong Kong tourism industry. The first piece of bad news: China has given the green light to Disney to build a theme park in Shanghai. The $3.5 billion Chinese facility will sprawl across about 1,000 acres which will dwarf Hong Kong Disneyland’s 296 acre lot. Mainland Chinese account for more than one third of the visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland, and once the Magic Kingdom sets up in the Middle Kingdom much of that business will get cannibalized. Hong Kong legislator Emily Lau, a long-time critic of Hong Kong Disneyland in which the government has invested billions, called the news a “devastating blow.”Source : BusinessWeekEqually important perhaps is that Hong Kong’s air quality leads to unfavorable comparisons with its regional rival Singapore which has has long benefited from its reputation as the cleanest and safest metropolis in Southeast Asia. More recently the Singapore government has made a big push to improve the city’s tourism attractions by hosting the Formula One race and allowing casinos to open their doors next year. Another selling point for Singapore: a Universal Studios theme park is also set to open in early 2010. Though smaller than Hong Kong Disneyland, its proximity to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will give it an advantage over Hong Kong.
But Shanghai is clearly the bigger threat to Hong Kong. Here’s what Parita Chitakasem, research manager at Euromonitor International in Singapore, who specializes in theme parks, had to say to me in an email. “Disneyland Shanghai will have two big features which will make it more attractive than its Hong Kong counterpart: although it is still early days, Disneyland in Shanghai will probably offer a much better experience for your money than Disneyland in Hong Kong – initial plans show that Shanghai’s Disneyland will be six times bigger compared to the current size of Hong Kong Disneyland, which is very small (only 16 attractions). Also, for visitors from mainland China, it will be much easier to travel to Disneyland in Shanghai, as there are no visa/cross border concerns to take care of.”