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The BBC's Announcement

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BBC: Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 03:51 GMT

US entertainment giant Walt Disney has confirmed it will build a theme park in Hong Kong under a HK$22.5bn (US$2.9bn) deal that could provide a boost to the territory's ailing tourist industry.

The joint venture, in which the Hong Kong Government will hold a 57% stake, is expected to be up and running in five years.

It will be Disney's third foreign theme park after Paris and Tokyo.

Announcing the deal after several months of negotiations, Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-Wah forecast that the project would produce an estimated US$19.2bn boost to the economy over 40 years. He said: "It is a vote of confidence in our future. It is an enormous boost for the Hong Kong tourist industry. "It's a good deal for Hong Kong. It will produce substantial long-term economic returns.

He appeared in Government House, the mansion of the old British colonial governors, surrounded by Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.

Mr Tung said Hong Kong would put up US$2.88bn. For its part, Disney will initially invest US$320m, according to a company vice-president, Steve Tight.

'Attractive investment'

Alongside a theme park, the project also features a 1,400-room Disney-themed resort hotel complex and a retail, dining and entertainment centre at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island.

The park will be a mix of East and West, centred around a traditional Magic Kingdom castle and featuring performances in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

However the formula will be similar to those used in Disney theme parks elsewhere in the world.

Mr Tight said: "It turns out to be a very strong and attractive investment both for Hong Kong and Disney, and we are very excited about being able to take it forward.

"It provides us with a fantastic Disney anchor here in Hong Kong."

Mr Tung predicted that the park would see an attendance of more than five million in its first year of operation, rising to 10 million after about 15 years.


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