Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Europe’s amusement parks lack tourists

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Munich Lake Constance instead of Costa Brava: Many Germans spend their holidays this year in their own country. This is a blessing for German amusement parks and a huge problem for many others. Because especially the operators in southern Europe live from foreign guests. “Parks with a regional catchment area are currently doing easier than those that depend on tourists,” says Jakob Wahl, Executive Director of the World Association of Amusement Parks IAAPA.

The amusement parks were closed throughout the spring due to the Corona pandemic in Europe. In the meantime, the roller coasters are running again. In many places, however, companies are not really satisfied. The number of visitors is limited everywhere so that guests can keep their distance. Therefore, the business is hardly worth it. “At best, we make a black zero when operating at the current level,” says Roland Mack, head and partner of the Europapark, Germany’s largest amusement park.

Compared to the competitors around the Mediterranean, the Badener can still be quite satisfied with his amusement park in Rust, between Offenburg and Freiburg. Because the parks in Italy, Spain or Portugal mostly live from tourists who come from all over Europe in summer. This year, however, they mostly stay away. The UK government has just decided that returning travelers from Spain should go into 14-day quarantine. This makes the trip into the sun unattractive and damages large parks like Port Aventura southwest of Barcelona.

In addition: The costs for the operators are currently extraordinarily high. “The operators put a lot of money in their hands to make the visit to the park as safe as possible,” says association official Wahl. Additional staff are on the move in the parks to draw guests’ attention to the Corona rules. The sanitary facilities were adapted, the restaurants and the waiting areas were remodeled. Masks are mandatory in many places indoors and on rides, and tickets can usually only be bought in advance.

The leisure industry is an industry that should not be underestimated. According to the IAAPA, operators on the continent typically sell more than 270 million tickets every year. The association covers more than 300 amusement parks, over 500 entertainment facilities for families and 235 water parks. They generate annual sales of almost ten billion euros and employ almost 90,000 people.

Huge losses in America

According to IAAPA 2018, the 71 operators in Germany had 46 million visitors. They posted revenues of almost 1.2 billion euros and employed around 15,000 people.

This year the numbers are likely to be significantly lower everywhere. A visit to an amusement park seems to be a relatively safe affair. “There is no known case where the virus was transmitted in a park. This is important for the entire industry, ”said association manager Wahl.

Nevertheless, the parks in Sweden are closed. In all the countries where there were the least restrictions on the population. However, people are not allowed to ride roller coasters there. “This is a big blow to the industry,” complains Wahl. The parks in Sweden usually sell 17 million tickets a year and have a turnover of over 400 million euros.

If the parks in the rest of Europe do not have to close again because of Corona, most operators are likely to survive, Wahl said: “We hope that most will get away with a black eye.” However, some companies would like to introduce new products that they are currently using Year had planned to start in 2021. And of course it cannot be ruled out that companies run out of money. Wahl: “The crisis is not yet over. It may be that one or the other park changes hands. ”

A look at America shows that business in Europe is still comparatively good. The media giant Comcast suffered a $ 399 million loss to Universal Parks in the second quarter. Sales fell 94 percent between April and the end of June. Given the huge number of new infections, consumers are likely to remain reluctant to visit parks in Florida in the future. The parks in California have been dense for months anyway.

In Europe, on the other hand, operators have some good news. “It is very encouraging that visitors spend an average of more money in the parks,” says functionary Wahl. If the long-distance trip has to be canceled, more is left for the home leave.

More: Europapark founder Roland Mack fears for his life’s work.

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