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Disneyland in Hong Kong comes under fire after missing attendance targets

Hong Kong Disneyland's new director said Wednesday he was confident the park would boost attendance significantly in the years ahead after its initial shaky performance.

The park, a joint venture between The Walt Disney Co. and the Hong Kong government, has come under fire after missing attendance targets since opening in September 2005.

Andrew Kam, named last month as the park's managing director, said he expects attendance will "definitely" be greater than previous years as he pushes to expand the company's business.

"I expect myself, working with my team, to aggressively grow this business. Attendance is obviously a very important indicator," Kam told reporters without giving a specific attendance target.

Kam, a former marketing and sales executive at Coca-Cola with 20 years of China experience, indicated the company would look to bring in more visitors from mainland China by working with travel agencies and offering new events and attractions. The company may also add to its work force on the mainland.

"Right now we are merely just scratching the surface of the business in China," Kam said. "That's why I personally I feel very, very confident about the future."

In its first year, Hong Kong Disneyland fell 400,000 short of its target 5.6 million audience.

Park officials have been secretive about numbers in the second and third years, but local media reports estimated up to 4.8 million visited the park in its second year. Company officials say the park has seen "steady and healthy" growth.

Kam said Hong Kong Disneyland, criticized in the past for being too small and lacking the high-profile rides, was still in talks with the government on expanding the park but declined to give details.

The Walt Disney Co. is based in Burbank, California.

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