Recreational parks face the challenge of profitability after recovering visitors


They have compensated for the decline in tourist arrivals with increased national demand and government treatment commensurate with their contribution to GDP

After the storm caused by the covid-19 pandemic for your business, amusement and theme parks have already regained a large part of their visitors. The industry’s expectation was to approach and even surpass the 30 million registered visitors in 2019 by the end of 2022 – its best year – but a worse-than-expected year-end in the national and European economy may force us to postpone that target to 2023.

Either way, operators in this industry are more focused on achieving profitability, something they were moving closer to before the global health warning erupted. In 2019, the ten most important companies had a national turnover of almost 486 million euros, in 2020 they were 388 million behind that amount and in 2021 they were still 20% below that.

The initial estimate was to restore a level of activity by 2022 similar to that of three years ago, which at sector level would mean gross generation of EUR 4,900 million (between direct, direct and induced revenues through taxes, for example) for the Spanish economy. However, the November numbers “suggest sales that are slightly below expectations, between 5% and 10% less,” said Francesc Rufas, a professor at the EAE Business School.

“The cause – he warns – would be the reduction of Russian tourists – important for the first national park, PortAventura – and the impact of inflation on consumers.” The recovery of visitors has been carried out “mainly” with large contribution from national clients. According to Rufas, this has meant that in coastal parks, such as the referenced one in Tarragona or Terra Mítica in Benidorm, which are more dependent on tourists (more than 50% of their audience is international), demand is recovering more slowly than in other parks . parks.interieur that, however, “due to their lesser financial capacity, they have suffered more from the impact of the covid and started from a more serious situation.”

Up to October, according to the latest INE data, 63.1 million tourists had visited Spain, representing 84.6% of the people who arrived in the country in the first ten months of 2019. with the payout they made was better, as with a total of 76,433 million euros, it represented 93.4% of the expenditure in the same pre-pandemic period. The latest report from the Exceltur tourism alliance indicates that leisure parks improved their revenues from July to September by 8.9% compared to the third quarter of 2019, according to the valuation of their companies.

Regardless of the effect of inflation, they provide light from the sector. “The pandemic made it necessary to improve economic efficiency and optimize resources, while customers needed more personalized experiences, more VIP products,” explains Diego García, regional director of the Parques Reunidos group for Southern Europe and executive manager of Parque Warner Madrid. “We have changed the way of management so that we favor fewer visitors – the maximum capacity of the park is 30,000 people and the maximum for the year, on Halloween, did not exceed 20,000 – and more spending per capita population”. The numbers support it: this 2022 will have 20% fewer visitors than in 2019, although billing will increase more than 10%.

As in a large part of the sector, this group has also earned itself back in 2021 after the heavy losses of 2020. Next year, Parque Warner will launch a new roller coaster with the character of Batman. Although his most desired project is opening his first hotel establishment, which is still “on the table”. Leaving aside urban procedures, an economic injection such as the VAT reduction would be important.

The industry is demanding that the government lower its current rate from 21% to 10%, as with other tourism and cultural services, to be competitive. And don’t forget that they contribute 3% to the GDP of tourism, which is key for the country. According to a study by KPMG, recreation parks generate 42 euros of indirect and induced impact for every euro of direct impact.

PortAventura is the only Spanish location in the ‘top 10’ most visited in Europe, according to TEA/AECOM’s annual report, a small statistical ‘bible’ for the sector. In 2023, a new attraction will also premiere (another roller coaster, in this case based on the video game ‘Uncharted’) and there will be full connection with LaLiga – in the medium term it will have a theme attraction – and the music channel MTV. The hotel offering, which generates more than a third of its revenue, now has seven establishments, the last of which is external.

In this increasingly digitized sector – 85% of turnover is already done online – another bet like Puy du Fou has conquered a stable niche in Toledo. “This year we will close the 900,000 visitors,” says the CEO, Erwan de la Villéon, who plans to cross the “symbolic milestone” of one million in 2023. The offer, which clearly leans towards the cultural and emotional, will include two new shows. Not surprisingly, theme park performances receive nearly 19 million spectators each year, compared to the 14.1 million who attend performing arts performances nationwide.

The amusement park sector has regained its dynamism after the pandemic and already has new projects, some more advanced, others still in the initial planning phase. Spain receives two of them who want to set new records.

The closest in time is also the closest to a major city. The largest artificial beach in Europe will be located in the municipality of Alovera (Guadalajara), just 50 kilometers from Madrid and in a complex of 2.5 hectares where various water sports can be practiced, such as sailing or surfing. After an investment of 15.6 million euros, it will open in the summer of 2023 and expects to receive more than 300,000 visitors per year.

The second major project underway is also in Castilla-La Mancha. The North American group Toro Verde plans to open the world’s largest wildlife adventure park in 2025. It will have several attractions that they hope to break Guinness records with, such as the longest zip line which will be over 2.83 kilometers from the facility that the same company has in the United Arab Emirates. The planned investment is 37 million (including a luxury hotel) and the complex will occupy 1,200 hectares of public forest in the Sierra de Bascuñana, near Cuenca.

At the end of 2023, Real Madrid’s first theme park will open in Dubai – Barça has had a promotional space on the Chinese island of Hainan since 2018 – following the example of the ‘resort’ that Ferrari already has in the area. In addition to a museum and sporting games of skill, the construction of exclusive roller coasters is planned.

Source: La Verdad


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