Wonderla eyes takeover of debt-burdened theme parks

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on July 22, 2021

Earmarks ₹500 crore investments

Wonderla Holidays has earmarked investments worth ₹500 crore to set up small-size parks and resorts, coupled with the acquisition of some debt-burdened theme parks in the country and the upcoming facility in Chennai.

Post Covid, several theme parks in the country are in a financial crisis or have become bankrupt with the pandemic hitting their business prospects. “We are exploring opportunities to take over the operations of at least 3 to 4 theme parks in Gujarat, Maharashtra and NCR either through equity participation or management contract,” Arun K Chittilappilli, Managing Director, Wonderla Holidays, told BusinessLine.

Discussions are in progress and it would take at least one year for the deal to materialise, he added.

New park in TN

Wonderla amusement park, which is coming up at Chennai, is expected to be operational by next year. “We have so far invested around ₹100 crore in the facility which includes land, land development, and procuring some land rides. The works have been suspended due to lockdown and we are awaiting some more clearances from the new government in Tamil Nadu to carry forward the remaining works,” he said.

Arun also pointed out that the company has evinced interest in the invitation extended by the Odisha government to set up an amusement park there.

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Cost-saving measures

Asked on the impact of the pandemic, he said the lockdown has severely affected the business and the net loss was to the tune of ₹48 crore. The revenue was literally nil, but the company had taken multiple cost reduction and rationalisation measures to reduce cash burn.

He also complimented the employees who have voluntarily come forward for deduction of about 50-75 per cent of their salaries.

However, he went on to add that the amusement park industry is on the path of revival with the easing of lockdown. The park in Hyderabad will be operational by August 5 followed by Bengaluru. However, the opening of the Kochi facility will take some more time as the Covid curve has not yet eased in Kerala.

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On the path of revival

There has been an encouraging trend in the market, thanks to the crowd which shows the interest to visit amusement parks. It is a sign towards the revival of local tourism, he said and requested the governments to take proactive steps in an effective manner to sustain the momentum.

“Wonderla parks have been visited by nearly 3.5 crore visitors since 2000 and we are ready to woo visitors with the lifting of lockdown, as the company has administered Covid vaccines to 90 per cent of the staff,” Arun adds.

The company has also made a strategic shift towards digital marketing in the Covid times through website booking for entry. Almost 40 per cent of the tickets are now through online bookings, he said, adding that plans are afoot to provide some promotional offers as well.

Published on July 22, 2021

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