The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, today (Tuesday) announced that agreement had been reached to build a Disney theme park and resort in Hong Kong.
He hailed the agreement as the beginning of a new era for Hong Kong as an international tourism destination.
Mr Tung said the Government and The Walt Disney Company would form a joint venture to build a world-class international theme park, a 1 400-room Disney themed resort hotel complex and a retail, dining and entertainment centre at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island. The number of hotel rooms will increase to 2 100 when Phase 1 reaches its full capacity.
"Disney's choice of Hong Kong as the site for its third international theme park destination is a vote of confidence in our city and our future," said Mr Tung.
He said the project would produce an estimated $148 billion boost to the economy over a 40-year period. "We think that is a pretty good return on our investment," Mr Tung said.
The project is subject to approval from the Executive Council, the Legislative Council and The Walt Disney Company Board of Directors.
"It's a good deal for Hong Kong. It will produce substantial long-term economic returns and enhance our international image as a World City where things happen," he said.
Mr Tung described Hong Kong Disneyland as "a key strategic infrastructural component" of a renewed and reinvigorated push to strengthen and consolidate Hong Kong's position as a must-see tourism destination.
Attendance of over five million is expected in the park's first year of operation, rising to 10 million after about 15 years.
The Chief Executive said Hong Kong Disneyland would enrich the quality of life for Hong Kong residents who would have easy access to a world-class theme park with the highest quality recreational facilities.
The massive theme park project would create around 6 000 jobs during the construction phase. In addition, some 10 000 jobs are expected to be created by the land reclamation and other associated works being funded by the Government. Hong Kong Disneyland will generate 18 400 jobs at opening and up to 35 800 new jobs over a 20-year period.
The first phase of Hong Kong Disneyland will occupy about 126 hectares of a 280-hectare site to be formed at Penny's Bay, Lantau Island. It is planned to open in 2005.
The theme park and resort will cost $14.1 billion to build. The Government and Disney will form a joint venture company - Hong Kong International Theme Parks Limited - to develop and operate Hong Kong Disneyland.
The Government will hold 57 per cent of the shares in the company, while initially The Walt Disney Company will hold 43 per cent.
The Government will meet the costs of infrastructure - estimated to be $13.6 billion - which includes reclamation, roads, a ferry pier, utilities, Government facilities, a recreational lagoon and extensive landscaping.
Much of this infrastructure would have been part of the Government's capital works programme to prepare the site for tourism and recreation development even if a Disney theme park and resort were not to be built.
The Government's total investment, including equity, loans and infrastructure expenditure, will be $22.45 billion.
"The Government's investment will be recouped many times over. It is good value for money. And I believe it is something that the people of Hong Kong want," said Mr Tung.
The Commissioner for Tourism, Mr Mike Rowse, who has led the Government's negotiations with the US entertainment company, said he was delighted that a deal had been struck.
"After nine months of solid negotiations I am of course very happy to see that Mickey Mouse has hitched his star to Hong Kong," he said.
"The project will be an enormous boost for Hong Kong's tourism industry and will provide enjoyment to millions of Hong Kong people and visitors from around the world.
"We have spent many, many thousands of hours putting together this package, which is a good deal for Hong Kong. The benefits to Hong Kong as an international city and dynamic tourism destination will far exceed our initial investment."
Photo 1: Picture shows Mr Tung making an announcement on the outcome of the negotiations on the building of a Disney theme park at the stand-up session.
Photo 2: Photo shows Mr Tung answering reporters' questions after the announcement.
Photo 3: The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, held a stand-up session to announce the agreement to build a Disney theme park in Hong Kong at Government House. Picture shows Mr Tung shaking hands with the Disney representatives before making announcement on the outcome of the negotiations.
End/Tuesday, November 2, 1999