Theme park operators hopeful to reopen for the vaccinated, at least

Matfa members are losing between RM1m and RM2m daily, while bigger players continue to lose millions of ringgit a month


THE Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Park and Family Attractions (Matfa) appeals to the government to reopen soon or industry players will lose even more money as the sector is among the worst-hit by the pandemic.

The government had announced the transition of the Klang Valley and Putrajaya into Phase 2 since last Friday, while the tourism sector will reopen on Sept 16.

While this spells good news for the tourism-based industry sectors, Matfa president Tan Sri Richard CK Koh said at the present moment, theme parks are still not in the list for reopening.

However, a small percentage of theme parks are hopeful to reopen soon.

Koh stressed that 50% of theme park operators are planning for reopening in the third quarter of 2021, but most are still waiting for clear government’s directives for reopening, while some are planning to reopen next year.

“We hope that the interstate travel is allowed for all those vaccinated, otherwise business will be bad as we will lose even more money to open when there’s no business, instead of keeping it closed.

“We have always been doing daily maintenance and have been preparing for reopening,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Matfa members are losing between RM1 million and RM2 million daily since the latest lockdown began, while the bigger players continue to lose millions of ringgit a month.

Koh underscored that theme parks will only accept those fully vaccinated and children accompanied by vaccinated persons or guardians.

“Theme parks and attractions are capital-intensive business, but we are also the first to close and last to reopen whenever there is a lockdown.

“Theme parks and attractions are good for family gatherings, providing relaxation and releasing stress,” he added.

Based on a survey by the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Development Cooperatives, it is estimated that some 580,000 businesses — representing 49% of the micro, small and medium enterprises — are at risk of failing by October if they are not allowed to restart their operations by then.

The closure of these businesses, which are mostly in the first close, last open category, also means that more than seven million Malaysians would be unemployed.

Sunway Theme Parks ED Calvin Ho echoed the sentiment and said they are still waiting with bated breath for the government’s announcement on the leisure and hospitality industry.

“We’re in the middle of curating new programmes that will be pertinent in this post-lockdown environment. Both parks have been actively creating new content, especially in our vast outdoors, and we’re eager to showcase them to all of you.

“We’re strictly adhering to the guidelines that have been imposed by the government and health authorities,” he told TMR.

Additionally, Sunway Theme Parks has introduced several safety measures for both staff and guests to ensure that everyone can play in a safe environment.

Ho said one such measure is regular sanitisation of high traffic areas in its 128 acres park (51.8ha or the size of approximately 100 football fields) combined and pivoting its open-air activities and shows.

“We are optimistic that the domestic travel scene will rebound once the restrictions are lifted and Sunway Theme Parks will have a slew of programmes to excite the local tourism scene,” he reckoned.

Meanwhile, Berjaya Times Square Theme Park Sdn Bhd (BTSTP) GM Chong Chun Keong said the teams have put into place various crisis management response and recovery plans.

“We have also incorporated the indoor theme park guidelines into our operational SOPs (standard operating procedures) for post Movement Control Order (MCO).

“Since the MCO, we continue on with our regular maintenance and inspection on all our rides while adhering to government policies, including constantly cleaning and sanitising all surfaces and areas.

“Additionally, 64% of all our BTSTP staff have completed their vaccination, 34% are awaiting a second dose and 2% are still waiting for an appointment. We target to have the theme park at 90% fully vaccinated by the end of September 2021,” he told TMR.

He said if theme parks are able to open, BTSTP plans to adhere to the government’s SOPs and maintain

the same strict standards as above and require guests to be fully vaccinated before entering BTSTP.

“Moreover, until the situation improves, we would not encourage children below the age of 12 years old to enter the theme park.

“When we are able to reopen, we seek the kind understanding from our guests and theme park fans to be patient should the lines require a longer wait and to observe all SOPs as set by BTSTP, guided by the government. Together let us build a safe and fun environment for all,” he added.