Hong Kong defends the Magic Kingdom

Gov't: Park's impact will extend beyond its borders

HONG KONG — Government officials promoting Hong Kong Disneyland went on the defensive Wednesday saying they were not taken for a ride by the Walt Disney Co.

With great fanfare, the city and its new partner announced Tuesday that they will build a theme park, Disney’s second in Asia, to open in 2005.

Not everyone is sold. One opposition legislator called the deal “an unfair treaty.”

The government will make a direct investment of $2.88 billion and get a 57% stake while Disney will put up just $314 million in return for a 43% share.

Profiting in other ways

The government is pointing out that while Disney gets income from park admissions and product sales, Hong Kong gets jobs, tourists, worldwide attention and economic benefits for other businesses.

“Disney’s profit will come solely from the park; that’s the extent of their return,” said financial secretary Donald Tsang. “Our return would go beyond the park’s boundaries. It would come from the entire Hong Kong economy.”

A government economist added that the park will contribute 0.4% to the city’s gross domestic product each year for the next 50 years.

The tourism commission has also outlined six “non-quantifiable” benefits that come with Disney’s arrival: higher standards of quality, technological innovation, improved recreational facilities, enhanced image as a world-class city, employee training and environmental sensitivity.