Phase One: Aquaria KLCC losing RM4.75m in monthly revenue as reopening date hangs in the air

Aquaria KLCC has already shut its doors twice in 2021 due to spikes in Covid-19 cases. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC
Aquaria KLCC has already shut its doors twice in 2021 due to spikes in Covid-19 cases. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 — The Covid-19 pandemic continues to hit the tourism and hospitality industry hard, and Aquaria KLCC is no exception.

Once filled with the hustle and bustle of excited children and wide-eyed visitors, the aquarium has gone quiet ever since it shut its doors due to the reinstatement of the movement control order (MCO) in Kuala Lumpur on May 7.

It is the second time Aquaria KLCC has had to close in 2021, the first being back in January when the second MCO came into effect.

Aquawalk executive director Daryl Foong told Malay Mail that the absence of visitors means Aquaria KLCC is facing RM4.75 million in monthly revenue losses compared to pre-pandemic times.

In comparison to the recovery movement control order last year when Aquaria KLCC was allowed to open, the loss of revenue now amounts up to RM2.7 million per month.

Keeping the aquarium running is also cutting deeply into its expenses, with monthly rental, electricity bills, facility maintenance, food and essential supplies for the inhabitants, and staff salaries coming up to just under RM1 million.

Foong said that Aquaria KLCC has had to implement several belt-tightening measures to deal with the losses.

“Like many other businesses in our industry, we have had to downsize our staff and have implemented both reduced working hours as well as salary adjustments. 

“These sustainability measures are not about reducing losses anymore, they are about ensuring our business survives into 2022 and beyond. 

“These measures will allow us to continue to support our remaining staff, maintain our facilities, and ensure the inhabitants under our care are looked after,” said Foong.

A diver feeding a shark in one of Aquaria KLCC’s exhibits. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC
A diver feeding a shark in one of Aquaria KLCC’s exhibits. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC

Aquaria KLCC is home to 5,000 terrestrial and aquatic creatures, including green sea turtles, sand tiger sharks, and a giant Pacific octopus.

When asked if Aquaria KLCC is considering auctioning or selling any of its inhabitants to make up for its financial losses, Foong said they have no plans to do so and are committed to giving the best possible care to its living exhibits.

“Our stakeholders and the management team stand by this commitment and will do all we can to insulate our inhabitants from the impact of this pandemic.

“Unless our inhabitants were being given over to the care of another facility of equal size and standard as ours, I do not believe they would find better care than at our facility. 

“Almost all the inhabitants in our aquarium require specialised care and environments, and experienced and knowledgeable stewards to handle them.”

A green sea turtle swims past a diver inside Aquaria KLCC. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC
A green sea turtle swims past a diver inside Aquaria KLCC. — Picture courtesy of Aquaria KLCC

With no signs of the Covid-19 pandemic abating anytime soon, Foong said that Aquaria KLCC will have to weather the challenges ahead while waiting for the green light from the government to reopen.

He added that Aquaria KLCC is in continued negotiations with its partners, including its landlords, to garner much-needed support for the aquarium to stay afloat throughout the FMCO.

“We continue to negotiate with our partners to support us during this emergency period, and appeal especially to our landlords, as rental continues to represent our largest expense.

“Despite other sectors of the economy being allowed to open, ours usually finds itself one of the last to open.

“We will continue to manage our cash flow, providing the best we can to support our staff and giving our inhabitants proper care and management.

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