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Published on: June 17, 2020, 2:19 p.m.
Struggling to survive
  • File picture of an amusement park in India. Source: Wikipedia

By Yeshi Seli. Assistant Editor, Business India

The outbreak of Covid-19 has cost the amusement park sector very dear. As per estimates, these past three months of lockdown have led to losses in the range of Rs1,100 crore. The sector’s apex body hopes that the government would take notice and salvage them from the current situation.

“What makes it worse is that these past few months were our peak season and the spread of the pandemic has been a major setback for us. Once things open up we would have lost our visitors and our peak earnings and would struggle to survive,” says Ajay Sarin, president, Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industry.

IAAPI, an apex body representing the interests of amusement parks, theme parks, water parks and indoor amusement centres in India, is seeking an urgent stimulus package for the amusement industry to recover from the Covid-19 impact.

India has close to 750 amusement parks and indoor amusement centres which employees nearly 80,000 people directly and over 3 lakh indirectly. Things were looking up till 2019 when the sector earned a revenue of Rs2,261 crore and projected to reach Rs7,444 crore by 2025.

“The amusement industry plays a major role in creating employment both directly and through ancillary and other related industries like hospitality, food and beverage, transport and more. It helps create an economic multiplier effect accelerating the growth of the economy. The amusement industry is in dire straits due to the Covid-19 outbreak. As a consequence, it is looking at pan India financial distress and bankruptcies, closure of businesses and massive job losses,” Sarin added.
 
Positive environment

IAAPI has been making presentations to the government on relaxing the rules of entry in their segment as they feel it would help people unwind and de-stress as many are suffering from depression due to the lockdown. “Once our facilities are open we would assure our customers that they are absolutely safe within the premises.

We have a state-of-the-art aquarium in Chennai and would ensure that all precautions are taken. Visitors would be permitted in batches to avoid overcrowding at all times,” says V.G.P. Ravidas of VGP Universal Kingdom. Meanwhile, some amusement park owners feel that opening up would help create a positive environment for visitors who are reeling under depression by staying indoors for way too long.

“Entertainment parks with their outdoor open spaces provide something for every age group. It would be a perfect way of de-stressing. Besides, our premises would be sanitised in order to eliminate the risk of infection. People would be screened at all entrances and gates,” says Col Kale, joint CEO, Adlabs Imagica.

With almost no revenue due to suspension of operations as a consequence of the pandemic, the amusement park industry is running out of working capital and is finding it difficult to meet its financial obligations such as staff salaries, advance tax, GST, PF, ESI and other state levies, loan interest and instalment payments.

The proposal that IAAPI has submitted to the government, needs an urgent and early redressal else the very parks that entertained millions of people every year, would begin to lose their sheen!

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