Covid-19 : Malaysian theme parks rack up losses of RM500 million, prioritise visitors’ safety with cautious reopening

Water parks, a component of Malaysian theme parks. need to continuously ensure that pools are chlorinated. ― Picture courtesy of Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark
Water parks, a component of Malaysian theme parks. need to continuously ensure that pools are chlorinated. ― Picture courtesy of Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark

PETALING JAYA, July 21 ― Theme parks in Malaysia have suffered losses estimated at RM500 million over the four months of the movement control order (MCO).

According to Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Parks and Family Attractions (MAATFA) committee member Shahrul Nizar Ahmad the staggering losses did not take into account potential and future losses.

“This figure represents total losses from the closure of 88 theme parks registered under MAATFA during the MCO.”

While theme parks are struggling, there is hope on the horizon as local visitors are slowly making their way back amid the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period as doors begin to reopen.

“With the interstate travel ban being lifted, many have ventured into visiting theme centres in the country.

“After a few months of quarantine under the MCO and the conditional movement control order, Malaysians are eager and ready to get out of their homes to embrace some semblance of normality.”

“This is especially so for families with children who miss their outings to theme parks and outdoor attractions,” said Shahrul, saying that the steady increase in number of visitors was helped by heavy promotion campaigns.

“However, for theme parks with a heavier reliance on tourists, a slower sentiment is expected this time around.

“This is because of the restricted number of people that are allowed, coupled with the fact that only local tourists are permitted to visit theme parks.”

“We (MAATFA) don't have a full picture of the number of people visiting during the RMCO as many theme parks are still planning to reopen within the next few weeks.”

He said that since theme parks are now allowed to operate, strict social distancing rules and frequent sanitising is of the utmost priority.

“There are times when even MAATFA president Tan Sri Richard Koh has also conducted ‘spot checks’ to monitor whether they (theme parks) are complying with the social distancing rules or not.

“As part of MAATFA, we even have our own Whatsapp group to keep our members accountable and to always prioritise visitors safety among other things.”

Shahrul said he was confident its members are doing their best to ensure all were sticking to the strict protocols, especially social distancing measures, the parks are water-based park, dry or family entertainment centres.

“For water-based parks, it is mandatory that pools are chlorinated and water quality checked.

“Indoor amusement parks and family entertainment centres will need to prioritise sanitising video games consoles in arcades and also for high-touch equipment.|

Ensuring visitors’ safety, he said, is of utmost importance, with staff trained to be well-equipped with standard operating procedures put in place.

“When staff are able to grasp the rules properly, they will be able to educate visitors about the importance of following safety rules such as not exceeding a certain number when going for a certain ride.

“And this is important to make sure that visitors do not flout the rules.”

To woo the public to return, ticket pricing and discounts among ways employed by theme parks.

“Discounted ticket pricing and promotions are one of the many ways to thank visitors for their continued patronage.

“Apart from that, additional promotions within the parks itself coupled with special activities targeted at children are also ways to encourage repeat visits to theme parks.”

He further suggested more perks that theme parks could consider.

“Perhaps theme parks can consider introducing a Loyalty Card whereby after a certain number of visits, customers would receive a complimentary ticket for their subsequent visit.

“Theme parks can also consider introducing social media competitions where winners would win free entry vouchers to theme parks.”

Shahrul however said MAATFA’s top priority is reassuring visitors that standard operating procedures would safeguard their well-being amid trying times and repeated send the message of strictly adhering to health and safety measures.

Local visitors have been visiting theme parks thanks to the easing of travel restrictions during the RMCO. ― Picture courtesy of Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark
Local visitors have been visiting theme parks thanks to the easing of travel restrictions during the RMCO. ― Picture courtesy of Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark

“The majority of people have also expressed their contentment in being able to visit theme parks after a long hiatus.

“This is also important to help spur the nation’s tourism industry that has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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