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Theme park tourism in Hong Kong Essay

I: Abstract

Tourism is one of the most important income sources for Hong Kong. The Government wants to develop Hong Kong as a major tourism destination in the world. Under this situation, amusement park is becoming more and more important here. At this moment Hong Kong only have one large-scale theme park- Ocean Park, but in next year Hong Kong Disneyland will be opened. Government predicts HKDL will attract a lot of tourists from all over the world, especially from Mainland China. So it wants to develop and encourage theme park tourism in Hong Kong.

II: Introduction

Tourism is going to be one of the most important income sources of Hong Kong. In the recent years, Hong Kong Government encourages the development of tourism strongly. For examples, like Government encourages the mainlanders to visit HK as a free walker, develop Lantau Island to be a multi- function tourism spots and to organize a numerous of special events. It hopes the ‘smile industry’ can be the main pillar of Hong Kong economy. Under this situation, Theme park tourism becomes one of the core items that Government wants to develop and encourage. Therefore, in 1999, HK government decided to cooperate with an international famous theme park company- Disneyland (DL) to build the fifth DL theme park in the world. They hope this project can boost HK tourism to the peak and can make HK to be the most attractive tourism destination.

Therefore, my final thesis topic is ‘Evaluate the development, expectation and prospective of locals and tourists, and the effectiveness of theme park tourism in Hong Kong’. In my first part, I will focus on the characteristic, strength and special features of amusement parks tourism in Hong Kong and I will make a comparison between Ocean Park and Disneyland. For examples, like the facilities, attractions, transportation, accommodation, marketing strategy, management skills, the role of HK Government and culture of the theme park. The main part of my research is to evaluate the attractiveness of the theme park to the overseas and local tourists, what age groups are more interested in this kind of tourism, what type of tourist theme park can attract more, what kind of attractions in the theme park can attract them to visit the most, what is their expectation, prospective and opinion to the Ocean Park. Together what is their expectation and prospective of Hong Kong Disneyland. My main study area is Ocean Park and I will make some comparison with HKDL.

In fact the study of Hong Kong tourism is not very popular. There are not many scholars had done this before. Therefore, one of my limitations is difficult to find the relevance literatures and journals about Hong Kong theme park tourism. Together, HKDL is not opened yet also is my limitation to get the first hand resources. Due to this reason, I will base on the government issues, statistic data and articles of amusement park magazine and the theme park study of other countries. Together I will do some field studies, personal interview and on site survey to collect the first hand information.

III. Background

In 1970’s the first theme park appeared in HK- Ocean Park. Its theme is the Ocean features. Therefore, in the Ocean Park we can find the largest Aquarium in Asia. At the very beginning, it was sponsored by Jockey Club. So everything was run very smooth. 1980’s and early 90’s were the prime time for Ocean Park. However, the good time never last long. In 1988, Jockey Club decided to withdraw the sponsorship and together the numbers of visitor was declining every year. At the same time, Disneyland decides to cooperate with HK Government and to construct the third overseas theme park in Penny’s Bay. Therefore, Ocean Park is facing the obstacles both from internal and external factors. It is the time for it to rethink its market value and also how to survive after the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disneyland is an international famous brand name. This first Disneyland opened in Anaheim in 1950’s. It aims to develop a dream place for the visitors, a fantasyland for the adult and a safe adventure land for the family. It has its own unique, strong culture, brand and symbol. It is going to be opened in HK next year. No matter HK Government or Disneyland are predicting this project can bring a great benefits to HK.

IV: Literature Review:

My study is about the Amusement Park Tourism of Hong Kong, so it involves in numbers of different geography aspects. Including the area of Tourism geography, economic geography and urban geography. In my research, it will be concentrate to discuss the development of Amusement Park Tourism of Hong Kong. My study will be focus into one major Amusement Parks in Hong Kong – Ocean Park. Hong Kong Disneyland would be compare with Ocean Park in certain aspect and would be concentrated to discuss about the prospective and expectation of the locals and tourists about it.

The Amusement Park tourism in Hong Kong is being more and more important. Especially, after the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland next year, it will become one of the major attractions of Hong Kong. It will attract million of tourists from all around the world to come to Hong Kong. However, there are not much scholars had been studied in this area. That is the reason that I am interesting in this area.

My research will be briefly discuss about the characteristic, strength and special feature of theme parks in Hong Kong and the relationship between government and the Theme Park cooperation. The main part of my research is to discuss about the degree of attractiveness of theme park tourism both to the locals and the oversea tourists, the expectation, opinions and prospective of the tourists and locals to the theme park. Deborah Philips, Foucault, Dyer, Alan Fyall, Brain Garrod, Anna Leask, Peter E. Murphy and Andrew Lainsbury are some of the key scholars of the theme park tourism, theme park management and Disneyland study. In my research, the second hand resources I will use are the newspaper, news, documentary, journals and the books. But I also will do some interviews and surveys to collect the first hand information.

First of all, we need to have a very clear concept of what is Theme Park. According to Deborah Philips, ‘Theme park is an alien territory in the city. It is in a recognizable geographical location, but it makes no reference to the local landscape or culture.’ For example, if you are going to Tokyo Disneyland, you can only experience the American culture but not the Japanese culture. Even Foucalt also has a similar view about theme park. ‘A sort of place that lies outside all places and yet is actually localizable.’ Furthermore, in the article ‘the functions of story in the theme park’, it stated that theme park is a zone to which families and groups travel in order to experience a world that is defined as a site of leisure, and which is especially visited at holiday times.

All the theme park would have its own theme. But normally they are ‘magic’, education, entertainment and enchantment. For examples, like Ocean Park, it aims to provide a place for the visitors to learn more about the ocean life, the importance of conservation and at the same time also is a place for relaxing and having some fun. To Disneyland, it is a place, which is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real (Poster 1998:172). Furthermore, Disneyland also promises the adult that they can re-experience the childhood through the fairytale, Disney’s magic and the atmosphere inside the park.

Attractions are one of the core elements of theme park. According to Swarbrooke(2000:267) ‘Visitor attractions are at the heart of the tourism industry, they are motivators that make people want to take a trip in the first place.’ Therefore, if the theme park can provide some very attractive attractions to the tourist then it would be own essential weapon in a struggle for tourist business. The purpose for providing the new attraction is not only can meet the locals taste but also have to match the taste of oversea tourists.

There are four key factors of the successful attraction. They are entertainment, education, aesthetics and escapism. Therefore, most of the theme parks are designed as an imagescape. According to Waltz Disney, ‘he wants to create a buffer between his fantasy world and the real world. To develop a place for safe adventure.’ In my research, I would like to investigate how Ocean Park and Disneyland can fulfill into these 4 elements and to find out the tastes of tourists and locals.

Theme park is a space unequivocally devoted to pleasure; a zone to which families and groups travel in order to experience a world that is defines as a site of leisure. Many researchers have pointed out that Theme Park is for family, so that it is importance of the children’s influence on the decision to visit or not, particularly when both parents are working. So there are many advertisements are children orientated. Base on the research from Disneyland ‘Theme park has become a site of ritual celebration for families and groups on important occasion.’ They aim to attract children to go to their theme park with their parents. However, through my observation, adolescence and adult are becoming more and more important to the theme park. As they have a very strong consuming power.

Therefore, even Disneyland or Ocean Park also change their target consumer and want to provide more attractions to attract the new potential consumer to visit. However, at the same time, it is also very important to attract the visitors to re-visit again. Attracting repeat business requires potential guests to be convinced that pervious visits are inferior substitutes for vacation experiences at the new and improved parks (Bradley M. Braun and Mark Soskin: 2003) As the potential visitors are limited, therefore one of the essential jobs for the theme park is to provide new attractions to attract the old visitors to go to the park again. In my research, I would like to discover how they attract more adolescence and adult to visit, especially for Ocean Park. At the same time also want to find out how Ocean Park attract the tourists to re-visit the park again.

Some scholars argued that there is no relationship between the admission price consciousness and the frequency of visits. That’s mean, even the admission fee is very high but if the theme park can provide something new and exciting then it still can attract a millions of people and make the profit from it. For example, like the case of Disney World and Universal Studio in Florida. Therefore, I would like to use Ocean Park as an example to prove that theory can be use in Hong Kong or not and to make a comparison about the admission fee between Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland.

Advertisement is an important tool for attracting the new and potential visitors to visit the theme park. Such kind of advertisement is not only for local, but is globally. They want to develop their own brand to be international. So they can attract similar customers in different countries. Therefore, we can find that even the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) will be next year. But there are numerous of advertisements you can find in newspaper, magazines, radio, Internet, television, even there is a Disneyland Channel in Jade channel. Will them cause a ‘Disney Fever’ occur in Hong Kong also? However, how Ocean Park using this means to promote its business? We know that before 1997’s Ocean Park did not realize advertisement was so important. But at this moment, the marketing strategy of Ocean Park has some changing. It put more afford and cost in the promotion. Therefore, I have an interest to find out the difference of adverting strategy between HKDL and Ocean Park.

Culture, symbol and logo are three essential components. Disneyland has developed a strong and clear culture and brand for its theme park. It had been ‘designed not as a place where anyone would go casually to take a roller-coaster ride or buy a hot dog, but as the goal of a family adventure.’ Mickey Mouse, Donald duck, Minnie I think no one would say I don’t who are they. They are already in the mind of everyone, no matter kids or adults. However, how about Ocean Park? Is there any character that is familiar to everyone? From this we can find out Brand Development is very important to the Theme Park. So in my research, I want to study deeply about these three components in HKDL and Ocean Park, and how them affect the business of the theme park.

Income of Theme Park cannot only depend on the admission fee; it also has to expand its income sources. Hotel, restaurant and merchandise are the secondary income source for the theme park. They are account for a large spending part for the tourist in the theme park. Therefore, mostly the theme park wants to encourage their visitors to spend more inside the park. For example, like Disneyland never allow the tourists to bring their own food. Furthermore, it also produces a numerous of products for tourists to buy. Mainly the souvenir shops are located in Western Main Street, which is the next to the main entrance, so this can persuade the visitors to buy more.

Furthermore, Disneyland mainly would provide accommodations for the visitors and encourage them to spend more than one day in the park. However, how about Ocean Park? According to the data from Ocean Park in 1999, its revenue was highly depended on the admission fee but not the secondary source. Therefore, in this year, Ocean Park decides to do something to increase its competitive power with HKDL. It plans to build a hotel in the nearly future. It hopes that can attract more visitors to come to the park.

Sponsorship also is an important income for the theme park. Through cooperate with certain cooperation, the theme park not only can receive the sponsorship to develop its own new attraction but also can increase the opportunity to appear in the public. For example, like Ocean is cooperating with Kodak. Kodak has sponsored a lot into the development of new attractions. This make Ocean Park can invest more and attract more tourists. Furthermore, Disneyland also has a fully experience to cooperate with different cooperation. Therefore, within the park you can see a lot of advertisements, like coke cola, Fuji and so on. Even in HKDL, it also has cooperated with Chow Tai Foo to carry out a series of Mickey jewelry.

According to some articles from Amusement Park magazine, I can discover that Ocean Park is doing a lot of things to attract the local people and the overseas tourists to go to. Especially, for the local, as most of the Hong Kong people have been to Ocean Park at least one time. Therefore, if there is no new attraction there then it is a bit difficult to attract local people to go to Ocean Park again. However, if it develops a new attraction then it is not only time consuming but also is a need a huge cost.

Therefore, in these few years Ocean Park tries to carry out some special events, for example, like Halloween, Christmas and Chinese New Year events. Both of them can attract a lot of local people to go to, however, how about the overseas and mainland tourists? Are they also attracting by these events? In my research I also want to study how such events help Ocean Park to overcome its difficulties time and how they help Ocean Park to compete with HK Disneyland in the future.

Visitor friendly policy also is very essential thing to attract the visitor. Therefore, for example, Disneyland want to cut down the waiting time for the visitor therefore it carries out the FASTPASS policy and also to show the waiting time clearly to the tourists. All of want to create a good experience and memory to the tourists and hope they can come again. Moreover, the pay one-price admission system also is good for the visitors. This can maximum the fun for the tourists. Furthermore, HKDL is going to open soon, however, there are already four Disneyland in the world, namely, Anaheim Disneyland, Disney world in Florida, Paris Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland. Therefore, can HKDL attract the tourists to come to again? Will it be the reason for the tourists to come to Hong Kong? So I want to find out, can HK Disneyland attract the tourists to come to Hong Kong after its grand opening in next year.

According to Armstrong (1988), he suggested that Human Resources Management is a more distinct and valuable management function. Storey (1995) also defined HRM as a ‘distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic employment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques.’ Therefore, HRM is important to the development of Theme Park Tourism. The HRM of Disneyland is very famous. It has its own training school- Disney University to train the workers and to develop its own working culture, language and value. In my research, I would like to study more the HRM of Ocean Park and compare it with the management culture of Disneyland.

Government and the private cooperation always have a good relationship. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) becomes more and more common in the world and many different commercial aspects. Especially in the theme park industry, as it is not only has to develop a theme park but also need a numerous of infrastructures, like transportation, electricity, water supply, and so on. Therefore, it needs to seek the cooperation of Government. Disneyland has a long history to cooperate with the Government. For example, the land of Anaheim Disneyland is come from the local government. At this time, Hong Kong government also participates a lot into the HKDL project. Not only provides the infrastructure but also the money. Although Hong Kong Government is the biggest shareholder in this project however, all the decision power is belonging to Disneyland.

There is a same case in Ocean Park, for example, the land for ocean Park is provided by Government. In return, through the theme park tourism, this also brings many benefits to Hong Kong. For example, employment opportunity, stimulate the tourism, make Hong Kong to be well known internationally. However, are of them can come to be truth? Can theme park tourism bring the profit to Hong Kong or not? For example, at this time Hong Kong has invested millions in this project, but is it can bring so many benefits to HK? Furthermore, besides the infrastructure or money investment, I also still want to know whether is there anything else that Government has done to encourage the development of Theme park in Hong Kong. Together, I want to find out that is there any help that government has offered to Ocean Park and how Government assist Ocean Park to face the obstacles.

Most of the articles, books and journals are giving me some very general concept of theme park management. They explain the definition of the theme park, the management skills and the marketing strategy of the theme park. Furthermore, they explain how to promote the theme park and how to train up the workers. Moreover, they have pointed out the essential of creating its own brand and culture. In addition, many books also have explained that mostly the tourists have multi-expectation and prospective about the theme park before they visit it. But in Hong Kong, can Ocean park and HK Disneyland fulfill their needs, expectation and prospective. And Ocean Park in what area disappoints the locals and tourists the most? And what should Ocean Park have to do to improve its image and to fulfill the locals and tourists needs.

However, there is lack of study is about the theme park in Hong Kong. So it is still leaving a numerous of questions. For example, what do the local and oversea tourists want to get what from the theme park? Furthermore, what does government do to promote the theme park tourism and how to help Ocean Park to survive after the opening of HKDL? What are the special characters of the Hong Kong theme parks? Furthermore, how the theme parks in Hong Kong can have their own brand and which is difference to the others? Lastly, can theme park be a main attraction and objective for the tourists? Therefore, I would like to collect some information through doing the surveys and interviews. Together, I will collect some information from the tourism board of Hong Kong, official Websites of HKDL and Ocean Park, annual report of Ocean Park.

V. Methodology

In my research I will use the quantitative methods to collect the first hand information about the taste, expectation, prospective and opinions of the tourists and locals, degree of attractiveness of theme park to the local and oversea tourists and will they come to Hong Kong for Disneyland.

First of all, what is the meaning of quantitative methods? These methods generally involve statistic analysis. It is generalize about the survey population with a certain degree of confidence. Thus quantitative methods rely on numerical evidence to test the hypotheses. There are several advantages for using this method. First of all, large sample sizes commonly used are more representative of population. This can increase the degree of confidence. Much information in the tourism industry is required in a quantitative form to enable managers to make decisions. Data are easily summarized and analyzed using computer. However, there are also some disadvantages of quantitative methods. First of all, it is difficult to reflect individuals’ life history and experiences. Furthermore, it needs large samples for statistical analysis. This is not only time consuming but also it is very costly. Bias maybe caused by poor questions or poor interviewers which affects people’s answer.

As I will use the quantitative methods as one of my tools to collect the first hand resources, therefore, I have to calculate the sample size first. According to Moser, ‘How big a sample do I need?’ Before, set up a sample size, we have to bear in mind is due to I only have limit time and resources, so that it is difficult for me to set up a very big sample size, as larger the sample size the greater the resources require. In my research the sample size is 300, and I suppose the response rate is around 50%. Therefore, I will prepare 600 to 700 pieces of questionnaire. In my survey, I suppose 50% are found to be local residents and 50% are tourists. But the actual amount for the whole population could be expected to be between 30% and 70%.

In my research, I would like to carry out an on site interview. I would choose the entrance of Ocean Park as one of my on site interview location. Therefore, I can get the immediately responses and opinions from the visitors before they visit and after their visitation of Ocean Park. Due to HK Disneyland is not yet open in Hong Kong, so it is a bit difficult for me to do the survey about it. So I will do the survey about HK Disneyland in Ocean Park As I suppose the respondents also may have interest about Disneyland. But to avoid the bias I also will do the survey about Disneyland in some tourist spots .I can have a personal contact with the respondent.

Furthermore, interviewer as necessary can give verbal explanations. Moreover, misunderstanding is reduced as the interviewer can gauge if respondent has understood the questions. In addition, it can avoid the problems of limited literacy and unanswered questions. Lastly, the response rates usually high, it can be up to 95%. Together can reduce the opportunity to get some irrelevant data. However, this may cause some bias because if I only do my interview in Ocean Park then mainly most of the opinions will be more positive and is a bit difficult to collect some negative opinions. Furthermore, in somehow it is a bit time consuming and costly.

Besides on site interview, I also will use Internet as a media to do the questionnaire. I will spread the questionnaire through ICQ and e-mail. This can reduces the costs involved in travel. It is more easily to collect the information from people in different countries. However, mainly the response a rate of this method is bit low and very easy receives the useless data or wrong answers.

Lastly, I will have office- based interviews with one of the marketing director of HKDL to get the first hand information about HKDL from him. There are several advantages. First of all, it can be arranged at respondent’s own convenience, therefore the interview can be longer and collect more detail information. Wider range of questioning techniques can be used and the response rate is high. However, I need time to contact with the respondent and the information about behavior and opinions is retrospective and may have some bias information from him.

There are several sample selecting methods, I will choose to use the simple random sampling method. It is used where the members of a population are similar or homogenous. Furthermore, it is one of the easiest ways to do the survey. It gives an equal chance to everyone and can reduce the problem of bias. However, it is also easy receive some irrelevant data. Therefore, together I will use the cluster sampling method. As I only have limit time and resources. Therefore, it is impossible to carry out the survey all over Hong Kong, as the area is too large. So I will choose several interview points to do my survey. They are namely, Ocean Park entrance and inside the park, TST, Peak and airport.

Second Hand resources are important to my research, especially HKDL will be open in the next year. But what is the difference between literature review and second hand resources? The purpose of the literature review is to gain knowledge of the subject. But the second resources of the data form part of the actual data collection. They have been collected for another purpose.

In my research, I will study of the characteristic of the Ocean Park and HKDL. I would like to study what kind of attractions, accommodation, and transportation we can find in the Ocean Park and HKDL. I will collect the information from its official website, park map, official statistic and Hong Kong tourism board. The latest news about the park will be from newspaper and amusement park magazine. I will collect the transportation information from the City bus and minibus company, together from the website of MTR as it is deciding to construct a extend line to Ocean Park from Central.

Due to HKDL is not yet open so I couldn’t have a field investigation of HKDL. At this moment it is quite difficult to collect the first hand resources about HKDL. Therefore, in the part of HKDL I will more depend on the second hand resources. I will collect the data and information of HKDL through its official website, magazines, newspaper and from the Hong Kong tourism board.

V Conclusion

To conclude, the status of theme park tourism in Hong Kong will become more and more important. It will be one of the major attractions to attract tourists from all over the world. At this moment Ocean Park is the only large-scale theme park in Hong Kong, however HKDL will be open next year. After the grand opening of HKDL, then how Ocean Park is survive under this strong competitor, or Ocean Park has to cooperate with HKDL? But no matter Ocean Park decide to do, she will face a difficult time when HKDL coming to Hong Kong next year. In my research I will be focus on investigation the facilities, transportation, accommodation and attractions of both Ocean Park and HKDL. Together, I will discover the taste, opinions, expectation, prospective and interest about theme parks of the locals and the tourists. Furthermore, the role of the Government in encourages the development of theme park tourism

VI. Outline of the research

September Define the topic of the final thesis

September to November Literature Review

November Prepare the research proposal

Prepare the questionnaire

Contact with HKDL

December Hand the research proposal

Presentation about the proposal

January to February Do the on site survey

Personal interview

Field study in Ocean Park

Analysis the data

March Prepare the Final Thesis and presentation

VII. Bibliography

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24. Tony Lisanti Disney’s lesson for retailers Discount store news: New York 1998

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