MENA leisure industry bleeding $6.71bn per month says experts

MENALAC has stated that the leisure and attraction industry is a vital part of the MENA economy

Prakash Vivekanand
Prakash Vivekanand

The Middle East and North Africa Leisure Attractions Council (MENALAC), the representative body for the industry, has revealed the deep financial impact of COVID-19 and how the sector may struggle moving forward. According to the Council, the industry is currently losing an average of US$6.71 billion per month due to COVID-19, with losses reaching a potential $80.58 billion this year. 

The Council explained that within travel and tourism, theme parks, amusement parks and family entertainment contribute a large percentage of jobs generated and revenues. MENALAC VP Silvio Liedtke said: “The leisure and attractions industry is an important part of the economy in the Middle East and its contribution to the region’s gross GDP is quite significant. It also employs a large number of professionals – making it one of the largest employers in the economy.”

Liedtke added: “With the complete shutdown, our industry is currently in an extremely difficult position and if this crisis lingers for a prolonged period of time, many leisure entertainment attractions may will find it very difficult to operate in a sustainable way and will have to reassess their business models and viabilities.”

Much like those in the aviation industry and the travel and tourism industry, MENALAC has called upon the region’s governments to save businesses from collapse. MENALAC secretary-general Prakash Vivekanand revealed that many attractions companies have seen revenues drop by 50-80% in February, before total lockdown was called for in March. Vivekanand said: “We urgently need support from our governments in the form of debt relief, repayment waivers, rent waivers, utility rebates and a cashflow support to meet our immediate staff and operating costs, sanitisation and upkeep of our facilities. The governments in the region have already initiated some steps in this direction and we are indeed thankful and grateful to them. Reduction in residence visa costs, a VAT holiday until the end of the year, import duty rebates will all help our industry to revive and also pass on incentives to the consumer, who is also affected by this crisis.”

The theme and amusement park market in the Middle East and Africa was expected to grow 33.77% from $302 million in 2019 to $404 million in 2020.

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