Theme parks will not survive if entertainment tax not removed

While the recovery of domestic tourism has been encouraging, attendance still falls short from the target, says expert


THEME park operators, among the most adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, are appealing to the government to abolish the 25% entertainment tax, which will allow them to survive on ticket sales that are more affordable for middle- and lower-class families.

The Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Park and Family Attractions (MAATFA) president Tan Sri Richard CK Koh said if the appeal is not considered, the theme park and attractions industry will not survive another year.

“This will also hopefully encourage the middle- and lower-class families to come to our parks as they may then afford the tickets,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

To address the new norms and challenges faced by the industry, he said the association is increasing the play and service value for visitors by also offering aggressive discounts.

“We will be offering good quality foods and services for in-park spending, good discounted advance ticket purchases to boost cashflow, reliance on domestic travellers especially families and deal-seekers, and immediate improvements on customer experience as a whole,” he said.

He also said while the recovery of domestic tourism has been encouraging, attendance still falls short from the target as not all locals are comfortable enough to begin their travels.

“There are outdoor parks performing better against last year, in terms of attendance, but still suffer from lower per capita spending across the board, while the same cannot be said for indoor attractions as sentiments are softer.

“However, all attractions would still be subjected to weekend and holiday attendance as weekday reliance on groups, especially school groups, is yet to recover,” he said.

Similarly, indoor attractions are also not as well attended versus outdoor theme parks.

Last month, an indoor adventure theme park was also opened at the Paradigm Mall after one year of development and six months of physical building work by a Dubai-based theme park developer Sim Leisure Group.

It offers 12 attractions in total, but there are plans to bring over 20 within the next two years.

Last week, to ramp up the attendance and visitorship, KidZania Kuala Lumpur (KL) has partnered Klook, an online itinerary and activities platform — tapping into the digital user base when it comes to ticket purchases.

KidZania KL, which was previously rumoured to see a permanent shutdown, is an indoor edutainment theme park that is a member of MAATFA.

Its mayor Shahrul Nizar Ahmad said Malaysians’ purchase behaviour has shifted to the online space.

“We hope that by moving our ticket purchasing online, we can drive up the domestic tourism and attendance, while also speeding up the entry and overall process to enter the park.

“By doing this, then families in Malaysia can also spend their children’s school holidays in a beneficial way,” he said.

Koh said the association is hopeful that Malaysians will continue their support to visit (theme parks), have fun and spend time with their families while respecting and exercising all standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented by the industry.

“Right now, visitors can enjoy the big discounts and best deals that have never been offered before, such as five-star hotels offering 50% discounts.

“Malaysians should also explore the array of holiday destinations within Malaysia,” he said.

He added that this is the best time to explore the wonders of our country which is as good, if not better, as many tourist attractions in other countries.

“We have many hidden treasures in Malaysia, especially Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.