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Hong Kong Disneyland pushes prices to record high with new ticketing system

  • By: Junzhe JIANG、Yuqi CHUEdited by: Bella Ding
  • 2023-09-20

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has revealed price increases in certain ticket categories while rolling out a new tier of day passes for its most popular periods, effective from Wednesday. Disney created a four-tier ticketing system. The newly added Tier 4 day pass costs HK$879 for adults and HK$659 for children, a 15.8% hike over the previous highest "Peak Plus Days". “Select days that historically see high demand will be tiered as Tier 4 days. The Tier 4 days will start to kick in during the coming Christmas season,” said a spokesman, according to the press release. Tiers 2 and 3 tickets, or what used to be “Peak Plus Days” and “Peak Days”, now cost HK$799 and HK$719 respectively. The price of Tier 1, original “Regular Days”, remains the same. Prices for annual passes including silver, gold and platinum cards have also gone up. Students will no longer pay the same price as children and instead will pay an extra 15% for passes. Adult and children tickets have gone up by around 9%, while senior tickets remain unchanged. Local people and magic annual pass holders can renew their passes at the current prices before Nov. 15. Hong Kongers can also purchase annual passes at current prices before the date. Some mainlanders decided to buy annual passes ahead of the price hike. Summer Xia, a 23-year-old mainland student and her friends spent more than 45 minutes online before they could buy their tickets. During the process, Disney’s official page was overloaded and paralyzed several times. “Disney is going to launch its new Frozen-themed zone,” said Xia, “We were waiting for the Magic Access Group of 3 Special Offer but decided to purchase now to save money.” According to the Resort, the new tiered-pricing structure aims to effectively manage visits and market demand. …

Business

Explainer: Is the United Kingdom a cryptocurrency friendly nation?

  • By: Tiffany MaEdited by: Alison Leung
  • 2023-08-01

Reporters: Kelly Yau and Tiffany Ma The Pembury Tavern, the first pub in London that accepted Bitcoin in 2013 was found to have stopped accepting the cryptocurrency for years.  The pub’s General Manager Stuart said accepting Bitcoin “is basically too dangerous”. The pub first accepted Bitcoin in 2013 as a “promotional event” that lasted “for a short period of time”, he said. During the promotion period, the pub sold about £800 of alcohol to customers through Bitcoin.  However, Stuart added that they “haven’t done it (accepting Bitcoin) for years”. Why did the pub accept Bitcoin as one of the payment methods at first? Though the pub did not recognise Bitcoin as a payment method nowadays, the original idea of accepting Bitcoin came from its founder, Stephen Early.   Early bought some Bitcoin in 2011 but realised there were not many places for using it so he kept them first.  With the Bitcoins soon worth 20 times what Early paid for them, he thought other Bitcoin holders may love to purchase the pub’s products with their Bitcoin. As a former computer scientist, Early created a Bitcoin payment software and displayed a QR code in his pub.  Customers paid for the pub’s food and drinks by scanning the code. What is Bitcoin and cryptocurrency? Bitcoin, a type of cryptocurrency, is a digital currency that exists both virtually and digitally to conduct transactions through blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are not reliant on any central authority, such as governments, while transactions are verified and records are maintained by a decentralised system using cryptography. Ethereum, Litecoin and Binance Coin are some other examples of cryptocurrencies. Why is the United Kingdom considered as a cryptocurrency friendly place? Cryptocurrency holding and trading are legal in the United Kingdom although some other countries such as China have outlawed them. The country …

Culture & Leisure

Hong Kong immigrants take a breather from “lower-end” UK jobs

  • By: Yixin GaoEdited by: Bella Ding
  • 2023-07-26

With more than 144,000 Hong Kong people immigrating to Britain since the launch of the British Overseas Visa scheme in January 2021, their living and working conditions in the country are major concerns. Some found it difficult to get a decent job in the United Kingdom and others chose to start their own business or yielded to lower-end jobs in the foreign country. Fanny Leung, one of the shop owners of a Hong Kong style rice noodle restaurant called Yun Gui Chuan, considers the catering industry as a good opportunity to develop a new business. She said the rental cost of shops in London is much cheaper than in Hong Kong. But as some Asian ingredients are not commonly used in Britain, the expenses of importing ingredients are higher than in Hong Kong. The restaurant also needs to pay higher salaries to staff. “There are not many similar restaurants in London so the market environment is quite friendly to us. And even though some ingredients are relatively hard to get, many important ones (ingredients), such as pork, are much cheaper than in Hong Kong. However, the high tax rate is indeed a big disadvantage to running a business in Britain,” said Leung. However, revenue is more fluctuated in the UK. Fanny explained that one of the reasons is that footfall of the restaurant will be affected by the weather, season or even weekdays. “In Brick Lane, the footfall will have a great jump during the weekend, they may have to work continuously without resting or lunch hours to serve the customer.” She also believes that the footfall in winter will drop sharply, making their revenue varied. Yun Gui Chuan is a fast casual restaurant chain founded in Hong Kong more than 9 years ago. Operating a London branch of the …

Business

Corporate and government seek more ESG practices in small businesses

  • By: Nga Ying LAU、Yuchen LIEdited by: Bella Ding、Rex Cheuk、Yuhe WANG
  • 2023-07-26

Dehtlet, a Hong Kong-based small and medium-sized enterprise specialising in innovative eco-toilet systems, has received international and Hong Kong awards for improving the environment. The eco-toilet system has undergone more than seven generations of modification. The use of fabric glass in producing the eco-toilets at first was later found to contaminate the environment and so low-density polyethene, a material that poses less harm to the environment was adopted instead. “We are still searching for technologies in making reclaimed rubber as suitable construction materials to replace low-density polyethene, which would still create pollutants during the manufacturing process,” said Lian Chan Lai-yan, the co-founder and managing director of Dehlet. By deploying wind power, thermal power and gravity to conduct aerobic decomposition, the eco-system separates faeces and urine through aerobic decomposition. The separation process does not require the use of water, which avoids the effluent problems associated with water treatment, and the solid could eventually return to nature while the liquid can be used for handwashing. Chan said that reported by the United Nations, the sanitation coverage in rural areas of mainland China was even 2% lower than that of Kenya, shocking her husband and her to hop on the train of a sustainable business. Citizens getting infected through bathroom drain pipes during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 also inspired her to improve the toilet system amid the ongoing gloom of COVID-19. In line with the career they wish to contribute to, recent years have witnessed the growing awareness of the Environment, Social and Governance concepts within corporates, ranking higher in the business agenda. “The ESG standards become more demanding as most of our customers are listed and multinational corporations,” said Chan. A Deutsche Bank research found out that more companies are adopting ESG as it could improve the …

Business

High inflation and anti-strike laws ignite London train workers, but people complain about their strikes

  • By: REN Ziyi DavidEdited by: REN Ziyi David
  • 2023-07-26

About one and a half months ago, Gyrd Hanks planned to watch the Eurovision Song Contest Final in person, which is about three hours of public transport from his home at London Zone 5. However, on May 13th, when the final contest began, he was sitting on the couch, drinking beers, and watching the show live on TV, all because of the RMT strike that disrupted the Avanti West Coast line operation. The Avanti West Coast Line was not alone. A total of 19 rail operators were affected due to the strike that took place on May 12th and 13th, led by RMT and ASLEF unions, as their salary increase proposals got declined amid the sky-high inflation rate in the UK and the new anti-strike law. Although the strike gained support from the public, some have raised complaints. Hanks said he understood the frustration and dissatisfaction of the train workers. Still, being a fan of the Eurovision Contest, he was rather unhappy about not being able to attend the show in person. “The inflation and ascending living costs are something we all need to face. Sometimes I feel like the unions are too greedy,” he said. According to National Rail, the strike covered “large areas of the national network.” National Rail also warned about late start and disruption of the network on the day following the striking day. “I have four kids, plus my wife. That makes it difficult for us to go on a private vehicle for any trips together,” said Hanks. He said that the family heavily relies on the rail or buses to travel. The RMT and ASLEF union strikes forced him to cancel the Eurovision Contest family trip. The long-term salary dispute between the RMT union members and the company triggered the strike once again. The …

Culture & Leisure

Going green could be expensive but worthwhile in the UK

  • By: Bella Ding、Zimo ZHONG、Le Ha NGUYENEdited by: Bella Ding
  • 2023-07-21

Paprika is a spice made from dried, ground peppers used in Spanish and English cuisines, and among different flavours, smoked paprika won great popularity with BBC listing 261 recipes in total using this ingredient under its food column. The ordinary smoked paprika sold at grocery stores costs around £1.69 for 75g while the same product tagged environment-friendly costs £1.3 for just 10g, or nearly five times more expensive, in Re: Store, a zero waste shop located in Hackney, London. Established in 2019 by founder Megan Adams, Re: Store encourages zero waste-conscious shopping to help protect the planet from harmful degradation. Consumers could bring their own containers for products or utilise paper bags provided by the shop to reduce the use of plastic for packaging. “Our customers want to shop locally and shop sustainably to reduce their environmental impacts,” said Shaniah Bond, assistant manager at Re: Store, “A lot of them like the process of bringing their own jars, filling them and taking them home.” Food waste situation in the UK According to the true cost accounting published by Sustainable Food Trust, people in the UK spend £120 billion annually on food, and an additional £116 billion in environmental and health costs caused by the food and farming industries, which are instead passed onto the public through taxes and expenses related to climate change and environmental damage. Sustainable food reduces the negative environmental impact during their production process, which no longer depends on businesses and systems based on extraction and growth but towards approaches based on the principles of regeneration, sustainability and the circular economy. According to Statista, UK households are estimated to throw away nearly 100 billion pieces of plastic packaging per year, or 66 items per household per week on average. In 2021, the waste reached a staggering number …

Business

ChatGPT-type AI stocks grow with volatility amid investment hype

  • By: Yuhe WANG、Mei Ching LEEEdited by: Bella Ding、Zimo ZHONG、Nga Ying LAU
  • 2023-06-30

The Microsoft-backed OpenAI, the developer of the ChatGPT, announced the launch of the latest artificial intelligence model named GPT-4 with stronger functions on Mar. 14. It can simultaneously process information in images and respond to a 25,000-word request now. ChatGPT sprints to one million users in only five days, creating the fastest-growing consumer application in history compared with technology powerhouses such as Netflix and Twitter, according to Statista. The popularity of the newest version of ChatGPT reached a full score in the evaluation of Google Trends only six days after its debut. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, which is the development of intelligence in machines that are programmed to think like humans, which includes virtual assistants. "AI stocks" refers to stocks of companies focused on developing and applying artificial intelligence technology. The largest players in AI stocks currently are Google and Microsoft, while small companies are usually working on the application of AI rather than invention. Rex Tsang Kai-bong, the founder of AO Summit, an online platform using AI to analyse the flow of stocks, used the example of the application of Google Maps in Gogovan, an app-based logistic platform originated in Hong Kong. “GogoVan can be successful without a need to build another map system because the founders took the chance of applying for Google Maps, so as AI,” said Tsang. However, Tsang was not optimistic about the development of small companies which introduce specific use of AI as he considered small companies with limited revenue and fund for continuous research and development would feel hard to compete with tech giants to introduce specific AI utilization. Microsoft was making a “multiyear, multibillion-dollar” investment in OpenAI, according to the company statement on Jan 23. During the same period, the mean capital expenditures for the Software (System & Application) industry were …

Society

Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023 kicks off Happy Hong Kong

  • By: Hanzhi YANG、Yiyang LIEdited by: Noah Tsang、Ming Min AW YONG
  • 2023-04-30

There was a larger crowd than usual yesterday at the Festival Grand Cinema due to the Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023. Groups of families and young couples could be seen queueing up to get their movie tickets.  On Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023, one movie ticket would cost consumers only HK$30 to watch. This applies to all types of movies in Hong Kong cinemas, whether it's 4DX, IMAX or DBOX. Carol Chan, 33, said, "I walked by the cinema after work on the 27th and found so many tickets left to buy that I bought two, just in time to take the opportunity to go on a date with my boyfriend". Tickets for the Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023, which is one of Hong Kong's "Happy Hong Kong" events, were on sale after 11 am on April 27 at all cinema ticketing websites.  A maximum of four tickets are allowed per person per transaction. Online ticket purchase is subject to the ticket purchase restriction of each theatre. Agens Li, 28, was travelling from Shenzhen to Hong Kong during the Labour Day holiday said, "I bought my movie tickets on the app on the 27th. The movie, The First Exorcist of the Church, was not released on the mainland". She added, "It's really lucky to see the movie on the holiday at such a good price." There are no senior citizen, child and student discounts. All other coupons, movie coupons, membership and bank discounts will not apply on the same day. Organized by the Hong Kong Theatre Association and sponsored by the Film Development Fund, Hong Kong Cinema Day 2023 aims to encourage audiences to experience the joy of returning to the theatre and accelerate the economic recovery of the industry. The "Happy Hong Kong" series, which was unveiled to the …

Business

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate drops to 3.3% on the path to full recovery

  • By: Man TSE、Kin Hou POONEdited by: Le Ha NGUYEN、Rex Cheuk、Yixin Gao
  • 2023-03-17

Hong Kong’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate edged lower to 3.3%  in the rolling period from December 2022 to February 2023, amid the full reopening aroused the labour market, according to the data released by the Census and Statistics Department.  Hong Kong’s unemployment rate has shown a tenth-month decreasing trend since April 2022. The latest figure marked a 0.1 percent decrease from the prior period between last November and this January.  The number of seasonally adjusted unemployed persons declined by around 2,700 to 115,700, while the underemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percentage point to 1.3%, with the number of underemployed people decreasing by 4,200 to 47,900. "The labour market conditions should improve further in the near term alongside the continued return of economic activities to normalcy and the rebound in inbound tourism," said Chris Sun Yuk-han, the Secretary for Labor and Welfare.  The combined unemployment rate of the retail, accommodation and food services sectors slightly fell by 0.2 percentage point to 4.3%. The unemployment rate of the retail sector declined by 0.3 percentage point to 3.9%, while the food and beverage service activities sector edged down by 0.1 percentage point to 4.8%.  The unemployment rates of many other sectors, particularly the transportation sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, also accordingly decreased. Hong Kong has been resuming normalcy with the full border reopening with the Mainland. Beijing announced last month that mainland tourists can enter Hong Kong freely without quota limitations and reservations. Hong Kong also lifted the mask mandate, the last Covid restriction in the public area in Hong Kong, on March 1. “After cancelling different Covid prevention policies, more and more people are willing to consume and work outside, so the retail and catering industries are recovering,” said Yuen Wai-kee, the Assistant Professor of the Department of Economics …

Society

HUTCHMED records US$360.8 million annual loss by slow returns on drug investments

  • By: Nga Ying LAU、Ho Yi CHEUNGEdited by: Lok Yi CHU、Bella Ding
  • 2023-02-28

HUTCHMED (China) Ltd (0013), a Hong Kong-based biopharmaceutical company, released its 2022 full-year results today, recording a net loss of US$360.8 million (about HK$2.8 billion) amid slow returns on drug investment. The operating loss climbed 24.2% to US$407.7 million (about HK$3.2 billion) affected by the increased input in research and development, driving the net loss up US$166.2 million (about HK$1.3 billion), or 85 %, year-over-year. “Our oncology and immunology operations have not generated profits and have operated at a net loss, as creating potential global first-in-class or best-in-class drug candidates requires a significant investment of resources over a prolonged period of time,” said Simon To Chi-keung, the Chairman of HUTCHMED, in the full-year results. Clinical studies and the development process of drugs were hampered in 2022 by hospital closures, travel restrictions and shipping difficulties resulting from COVID-19, according to the full-year results. The company’s revenue advanced by 19.7%, or US$70.3 million (about HK$548.3 million), to US$426.4 million (about HK$3.33 billion) in 2022, benefiting primarily from the sales of marketed products in its main businesses of oncology and immunology. It was then offset by the surge in research and development expenses of US$87.8 million (about HK$684.8 million) within the year. HUTCHMED announced its annual results after the market closed. Its stock price, increased by 2.4%, closed at HK$ 25.85 Tuesday. However, HUTCHMED’s stock price dropped 15% in February.  “The significant return would not appear until the final stage of the drug development, which is concerned by shareholders,” said Alvin Cheung Chi-wai, the stock commentator at Prudential Brokerage Limited. HUTCHMED is developing another six anti-tumour drugs in early clinical trials and plans to enter registrational trials in 2023 and early 2024, while the company also reached a US$1.1 billion (about HK$8.6 billion) deal with Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical to license its colon cancer …