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IT job cuts, delayed exams lead to dip in Wonderla amusement park footfall

As part of its expansion plans, the company is planning to invest around Rs 350 crore in Chennai

Gireesh Babu  |  Chennai 

Wonderla
Wonderla: The company has seen flat footfalls at its park in Kochi and 13% decline in its Bengaluru park

Holidays Ltd, an amusement park with a presence in Bengaluru, Kochi and Hyderabad, has said the challenges in the IT industry, among other factors, has hit its footfall in the quarter ended March 2017. The company, listed on the exchanges, said it is also looking at increasing the price of the tickets or passes due to the expected changes in (GST).

The company has seen flat footfalls at its park in Kochi and 13 per cent decline in its Bengaluru park. This is primarily due to weak consumer sentiment, due to the whole challenges in the IT industry, but more than that it is also because of a shift in some of the exam timings, said Arun Chittilappilly, managing director, Holidays Ltd. 

It has been seen as an overall sentiment and it has a bearing on the footfalls, he said. However, April has seen a positive sign, while May might show a slight negative or flat performance. "So, I do not know, it is hard to kind of put a number on it. I think more relevant to what happened last quarter is also the fact that some of our exam schedules have changed and that had some role to play in our footfall decline as well. So, it is not easy for me to say it is just one factor..." said Chittilappilly in a recent analyst call. He added that this year the Easter holidays was in April and last year it was in March, which brought in more footfalls last year compared to this year.

The footfall in Bengaluru, where it also has a resort along with the park, was at 1.04 million, while it was at 1.08 million in 2012. Chittilappilly maintained that the issue has more to do with the pricing strategy, with a price increase of 10-15 per cent every year, growing footfall would be difficult.

"I think it will continue unfortunately for another year or so because with the again we will have to take another aggressive price hike and if that happens then I do not think it is possible for us to look at a significant footfall growth," he said. He added that the company would not take the burden of and hope for a footfall rise, and the philosophy of the company has been that anytime any kind of taxation hits, it would pass it on completely to the customer. The rate of price increase due to is not finalised. 

The company, however, has seen a growth in business in its park in Hyderabad, which is comparatively a new one. 

In the current financial year, also increased the prices of tickets by 8-10 per cent across the parks it operates and the prices have been fluctuating for the past few years, which might also have impacted the footfall, said the company officials. The average ticket rates are around Rs 1,000 in Kochi, around Rs 1,100–1,200 in Bengaluru and around Rs 950–1,000 in Hyderabad.

As part of its expansion plans, the company is planning to invest around Rs 350 crore in Chennai to set up an amusement park. It is currently acquiring around 58 acres of land in Chennai and the construction is expected to start in the third quarter of the current financial year. The investment would be from internal accruals and debt.  It is expecting the first park in Chennai to be operational in the first half of FY20. 

The company is also planning to start another park and a hotel or a convention centre at a later stage in Chennai.

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