Following is the full text of the opening remarks (English only) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at the Preparing for Hong Kong Disneyland Conference today (February 19):
Mr Pressler, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, a warm welcome to our overseas visitors, in particular our friends from The Walt Disney Company, who are in Hong Kong for this important and timely conference, "Preparing for Hong Kong Disneyland".
I say timely because we only have a little over four years to turn the Disney Dream into a Hong Kong reality. That's what this conference is all about. Anybody who has been involved with a project of this magnitude will understand that four years is not a long time. Walt Disney once said that "it's kind of fun to do the impossible". I don't believe we have an impossible task ahead of us, although it is a truly formidable task. However, with early preparation I'm certain that, come opening day, the only thing we will have to worry about is having fun with family and friends. That's what Disneyland is all about.
It is now 15 months since we announced plans to build Hong Kong Disneyland. The decision was received very well in Hong Kong and has generated considerable interest overseas, especially in this part of the world.
Since then much has been done by the Hong Kong SAR Government and The Walt Disney Company to get the project up and running. Today, that process takes another step forward by spelling out, in some detail, the opportunities and benefits likely to flow from this strategic tourism infrastructure project.
Now is the time for the tourism industry to come on board, and to help start preparing for the arrival of Mickey, Minnie and the Magic Kingdom. Airlines, travel agents, transport companies, hotels, caterers and a range of service providers all need to focus on some down-to-earth issues, for example: the extra hotel rooms required, the marketing of the theme park here and abroad as well as handling the extra visitors and training staff to meet new demands. The programme over the next two days touches on these and other relevant topics.
I have absolutely no doubt that Hong Kong Disneyland will be a tremendous asset for our community. It will help consolidate and enhance our position as the region's Number One tourist destination as well as a major international city. It will enrich our commercial culture and business practices and introduce new cutting edge technology at a time when Hong Kong is positioning itself as a centre for innovation and technology in the Asia-Pacific region.
More than $22 billion in public funds have been earmarked for the project, including $13.6 billion for site formation and infrastructure, a $5.6 billion loan and $3.25 billion in equity. This is a very large investment in Hong Kong terms. But it will deliver a far greater dividend in return - about $148 billion in economic benefits over a 40-year period. Hong Kong Disneyland is expected to attract almost 1.5 million new tourists a year to Hong Kong in the beginning, rising to almost 3 million after 15 years. Additional spending by tourists should amount to $8.3 billion in the first year of operation, rising to $16.8 billion a year after 20 years. These are big numbers which will no doubt help create tens of thousands of new jobs. They also indicate just how much work lies ahead of us.
The next few years will throw up many, many challenges. But if by chance the going gets a little tough we may all do well to remember another gem of wisdom from Walt Disney, who reminds us that: "I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing - that it was all started by a Mouse."
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all the very best over the next two days. I look forward to hearing how it all goes.
End/Monday, February 19, 2001