Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

From one continent to another

by Pradeep Sharma

Having spent some time this summer travelling in Europe, it has given me chance to reflect upon the differences between the amusement industry there and at home in India.

Of late most of the ride manufacturers in Europe have realised the growing business opportunity in India. Maybe this isn’t so surprising. As I mentioned in my last article (Park World, August 2007), India has already touched an attractive GDP of 9.8%, and very soon it will reach double figures.

In Europe itself, the amusement business is nearly saturated. Bad weather this summer season has also contributed to poor attendance at the parks this year in many parts of Europe. Rain has washed away part of the profits.

Some new products, like the Topple Tower from Huss, Splash Battle by Preston & Barbieri or Zamperla’s Disk ‘O’, have enjoyed success, but not many products are being designed exclusively for Europe anymore. Several of the continent’s manufacturers have closed or are experiencing hard times for this very reason.

Cost of production has been a deterrent not only for the new products, but also for established rides and attractions. Most of the growth-oriented manufacturers realised this many years ago and moved part of their production to East Europe, China, the Philippines etc. Those that have been successful have not only survived but made good profits too, though the quality has been a concern in some cases.

India is still a market focused on price. Though big parks like Essel World, Veega Land, Wonderla and Noida Entertainment City (pictured) have installed imported rides from Europe and USA, the masses are not yet ready for the expensive machines. Buyers in India expect inexpensive equipment, but still with quality.

The 2007 season was also not very good for the Indian amusement parks. Epidemic outbreak in the south had been one of the main causes of low attendance compared to last year. Exponential growth in shopping malls and indoor centres has also contributed to the decline.

So what those European manufacturers that have started looking towards India more seriously are doing is developing an economical range of amusement rides. Some of them are even willing to part with the technical drawings for fabricated structures like walkways, fences and decorative items in order to reduce the final cost.

The Bureau of Indian Standards has also started working on harmonisation of standards for amusement rides in co-ordination with IAAPI (the Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industry), for which the author has been appointed chairman of the committee.

Pradeep Sharma has been in business for 25 years, as both an operator and supplier to the Indian amusement industry. Currently based in Mumbai, he heads up Bombay Amusement Rides and is an active member of IAAPI.

rator and supplier to the Indian amusement industry. Currently based in Mumbai, he heads up Bombay Amusement Rides and is an active member of IAAPI.

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