After a long hiatus, theme parks in Maharashtra will reopen after the state government allowed amusement parks to restart operations from October 22.
One of India’s biggest theme parks, Imagicaa, will be back in action and is expecting strong business in the second phase of reopening.
Anticipating a rebound
Riding on the festive season, Dhimant Bakshi, CEO, Imagicaaworld Entertainment, expects business to reach 55-60 percent of the pre-COVID-19 level by the end of FY22. By the end of FY23, he expects business to reach pre-COVID-19 levels.
While Bakshi said that Imagicaa will be open from Friday to Sunday for the first two weeks, during the Diwali week (November 5-14), the dry park will remain open on all days.
“That’s when (Diwali week) we expect a lot of visitation to build since people from outstation will also come to visit. Our visitor breakup is 60:40 with the majority of the customers coming from the primary catchment areas like Mumbai and Pune and the rest coming from Gujarat and rest of Maharashtra,” said Bakshi.
He added that although revenge tourism is trending, the company will not operate on all days, to control costs.
“In the pandemic phase, when we were shut for 15 out of 18 months, the cost pressure was high. We are walking a tightrope and we want to make sure that we do not overshoot our costs. Hence, we are ramping up operations gradually. We will be happy when we reopen the water park because then we can operate fully. Then it becomes scalable, otherwise weekday operations can impact our P&L (profit and loss),” said Bakshi.
The water park contributes around 45 percent to the overall theme park business.
Footfalls and food
While treading with caution on the cost front, Bakshi is not worried about whether customers will return to amusement parks, citing visitor footfalls during the brief reopening in the first phase.
“We were allowed to reopen for three months (in the first phase of reopening). We were operating around the weekend and the response was good. We were at 70 percent of pre-COVID-19 numbers on a weekend-to-weekend basis. But we missed our peak season of summer as the (second) lockdown orders came on April 5. Just when we were about to reach inflection point we were asked to shut again,” said Bakshi.
Wonderla Holidays, one of the biggest amusement parks in India, restarted operations in Bengaluru and Hyderabad in August and the theme park is seeing strong footfalls, said Wonderla Holidays’ MD, Arun K Chittilappilly.
Although Chittilappilly did not share exact numbers in terms of footfalls due to the upcoming Q2 FY22 results, he said that the current season is better with the theme parks in Bengaluru and Hyderabad registering strong footfalls during the festive period of Dussehra.
Chittilappilly expects the park’s FY22 numbers to be better than the pre-COVID-19 (FY19) period.
Along with footfalls, Chittilappilly noted that there has been some upside on the food and beverage (F&B) front as well.
Even Imagicaa, in the first phase of reopening, had recorded strong business.“When we reopened we did not go to full operations, and only two of our restaurants were reopened. F&B reached 65 percent of pre-COVID-19 numbers,” said Bakshi.
Welcoming guests safely
In an effort to ensure guest safety, Imagicaa is offering virtual queuing. “When guests check in, they can use our app and get a suggested flow of rides in terms of timing. We have taken into account the capacity of the rides and the throughput of the ride to forecast timing of the ride so that guests can avoid congestion around the ride area,” said Bakshi.
In addition, Imagicaa, with capacity to handle 10,000 visitors, will operate at 50 percent capacity.
As for vaccination of employees, Bakshi said that almost 80 percent of the staff is fully vaccinated. “The frontline staff or those who come in contact with guests are fully vaccinated,” he added.
Bakshi and Chittilappilly are confident that the amusement park business will do well as they anticipate good demand.Internet Explorer Channel Network