|09 August, 2017

Dubai Parks and Resorts reports "disappointing" theme park visitor numbers

Company says it will revise pricing structure and introduce special offers as it looks to boost ticket sales

People walk into Columbia Pictures gate in the Dubai Parks and Resorts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 30, 2017.

People walk into Columbia Pictures gate in the Dubai Parks and Resorts in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 30, 2017.

REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah
09 August 2017

DXB Entertainments revealed on Wednesday that it had attracted one million visitors to its Dubai Parks and Resorts theme parks in the first six months of 2017 - putting it considerably behind its target of attracting 6.7 million visitors for the whole of the year.

Revenue for the six-month period was 279 million UAE dirhams ($75.96 million), on which it declared a loss of 578 million UAE dirhams.

It said the number of visitors in the second quarter stood at 414,000, which was lower than the first quarter. The company said this was expected, due to seasonality (as fewer tourists visit in the hotter summer months).

Mohamed Almulla, CEO of DXB Entertainments, said in a press statement: “For the remainder of 2017 and into 2018, our primary strategy for Dubai Parks and Resorts is to drive visitor volumes, focusing on repeat visitation from the resident and regional markets. We are in the process of simplifying our pricing structure and revising our annual pass offering, to include competitive pricing, special offers and an attractive package of additional discounts and benefits.

"Internationally, we will continue to focus on the core source markets of China, Russia, India, the United Kingdom and Germany through our tour and travel network.

“We expect to generate moderate visitor figures due to the hot weather in the third quarter, and plan to achieve an increase in visitation and revenue during the last quarter of the year."

The company also announced a new organisational structure after it was handed responsibility for a group of leisure assets owned by its majority shareholder, Meraas Holding.

It now has three operating divisions - theme parks, family entertainment centres, and retail and hospitality.

The theme parks business will be run by Ahmad Hussain bin Essa, who was previously the CEO of Dubai's Global Village complex. Ahmed Al Rayyes has been named as general manager of its retail and hospitality arm, a division that contains the Lapita Hotel, Riverland Dubai and Roxy Cinemas, as well as the proposed new Legoland Hotel. He joined the company in June as chief corporate support officer, having also previously worked at Global Village as chief commercial officer.

Alongside Roxy Cinemas, DXB Entertainments will also manage other leisure assets owned by Meraas, including Hub Zero, Splash Pad, The Green Planet and Mattel Play Town. It said that it would also "seek further opportunities to manage complementary leisure and entertainment offerings in the UAE".

Ayub Ansari, a senior analyst with Bahrain-based Securities and Investment Company, described the company's second quarter results as "fairly disappointing".

Speaking to Zawya via a telephone interview on Wednesday, Ansari said DXB Entertainments' revenue came in below his expectation, which was due mainly to the fact that the number of visitors to the park was lower than expected.

"Despite the fact that they were very aggressive on their ticket pricing, park visits were down by almost 30 percent quarter-on-quarter," Ansari said.

He added that the one positive achieved from the results was a reduction in operating expenses. Headcount has declined by about 15 percent over the past six months - to 2,710 by the end of the second quarter, from 3,184 at the end of 2016.

A spokesman for the company said in an emailed statement that since the start of the park's operations, "the company has been actively identifying operational synergies and streamlining business process to drive cost efficiencies".

The spokesman said that its strategy to boost visitor numbers would involve driving repeat visits from UAE residents and from guests in other regional markets. The company is also looking at "cross marketing and promotions" between the assets under its management, as well as leveraging third-party contacts and sponsorships.

The theme parks at the 10.5 billion UAE dirham first phase of Dubai Parks and Resorts include the motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, Legoland Dubai and Legoland Water Parks, which opened between October 31 last year and January 2. The 2.7 billion UAE dirham second phase containing a Six Flags Dubai  park is due to open in late 2019.

© Zawya 2017