HONG KONG, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong Disneyland celebrated the fifth anniversary of its operation on Sunday, with Managing Director Andrew Kam saying it had received up to 8 million Chinese mainland tourists in the last five years of operation.
Kam told reporters at the theme park that tourists from China's mainland accounted for nearly 40 percent of Hong Kong Disneyland's total tourists every year. In the past five years, just over 20 million tourists had visited Hong Kong Disneyland, he said.
Hong Kong Disneyland, the world's smallest Disney theme park, was open to visitors on Sept. 12 in 2005. It was jointly built by the Hong Kong government and Walt Disney and Co., the world's largest media company and theme-park operator, with the Hong Kong government owning more than 50 percent of stake.
Despite of flocks of tourists, the theme park was still suffering losses.
On Jan. 19 this year, Hong Kong Disneyland said it made a net loss of 1.315 billion HK dollars (169 million U.S. dollars) in the fiscal year of 2009, which ended on Oct. 3 2009. The park's operating loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was cut 57 percent year on year to 70 million HK dollars in the fiscal year 2009.
On this, Kam explained that it was natural for Hong Kong Disneyland, as a huge infrastructure project with huge investment, to have a long payback period.
He said Hong Kong Disneyland would have more tourists and income in the next few years by making use of a massive expansion plan, which was being underway.
Kam said he was very optimistic over the future of Hong Kong Disneyland, even by taking into consideration of possible competition from Shanghai's planning Disneyland.
"As you know, about the Shanghai Disneyland, the agreement is still being negotiated. So it is not finalized. And what we have in the Hong Kong Disneyland, we have guests coming from Southeast Asia, from Hong Kong, and some of our guests obviously from China' s mainland," he said.
"When we look forward, the park will continue to grow, particularly with our expansion, which is being underway. So in the next few years, we are going to see a much bigger park in Hong Kong."
More than that, Kam said Hong Kong, as an international tourism destination, has its own advantages as many overseas tourists came to the city not only for the Disneyland, but also for other attractions such as gourmet and horse racing.
"As long as Hong Kong maintains its advantages, Hong Kong Disneyland won't have any big problems," he said.
Last December, Hong Kong Disneyland started its first major expansion since its opening in 2005. The expansion, expected to be completed by 2014, would include three themed areas -- "Grizzly Gulch", "Mystic Point" and "Toy Story Land". Total cost was put at more than 6 billion HK dollars.
Also on Sunday, more than 4,000 people including Hong Kong Disneyland's Cast Members, partners from the community and guests from the city's tourism industry gathered at the resort and took part in a photo-taking event.
In addition, the Walt Disney Company said it would donate 1 million HK dollars in a scholarship fund to be awarded to 100 students studying hotel and tourism, and design under the Vocational Training Council. (1 U.S. dollar equals 7.77 HK dollars)