Amusement parks: a season “massacred” by the health pass

The president of the National Syndicate of Leisure, Attraction and Cultural Spaces (Snelac) does not take off. In an interview published this morning in the columns of the daily “Le Parisien-Today in France”Arnaud Bennet denounces the obligation of the health pass since July 21, which is literally “massacring” the tourist season of amusement and leisure parks:

“Overall, there is a very strong drop, from 20% to 50% depending on the site, and up to 70% at some. The smaller the site, the more the purchase is impulsive, the day before or the same morningand the fewer tickets we sell because of the health pass”, he explains.

A heavyweight in tourism and leisure

In the field of tourism and leisure, the sector of amusement or historical parks, zoos, aquariums, is a heavyweight: it employs a total of some 50,000 people and achieves an annual turnover of 3 billion euros in effect, says the Snelac which claims to federate 500 companies.

For Arnaud Bennet, this measure is “useless” since the activities of these parks take place in essence in the open air and not in closed places. And he suggests that it is also an unfair measure because so far, he claims, no cluster has ever formed inside a park:

“There is a very clear disaffection in all our parks because of an unnecessary measure in these outdoor spaces, where the security protocol had worked very well last summer” (…) “we are slaughtering the season and businesses, while there has never been a cluster in a park”, he denounces.

Unpreparedness, uncertainty, bugs… tensions with customers

Arnaud Bennet says to himself “appalled by the political improvidence”. And the union leader to align the arguments to criticize the government action which, he denounces, activates for the discotheques on one side but forgets the amusement parks on the other:

“On large sites, we could have set up a system of tests on car parks, but the decree, which allows it for nightclubs, has not even been extended to parks. Which means that all costs would be borne by us.”

In addition to the problem of the additional costs of this new measure, there is also the lack of preparation and education: according to him, the parks have not had “no delay to set up this pass” which generated tensions with customers at the entrance to the facilities. Indeed, some visitors “arrive by car after two or three hours on the road and are not even aware of the measure”.

The union leader refers in particular to the attack, reported by The Lorraine Republicanof which the director of the Walygator park, in Moselle, was the victim on Sunday July 25, admonished then molested by a visitor claiming to be doubly vaccinated but whose QR Code displayed an invalid health pass – undoubtedly a TousAntiCovid Verif application bug.

Amusement parks adapt quickly and proactively

However, the day after the announcement on Monday July 12 by the President of the Republic of the gradual generalization of the health pass, the situation in the amusement parks did not seem as perilous as the leader of Snelac and the he atmosphere was one of voluntarism if not optimism.

On Tuesday July 13, in fact, amusement parks such as Puy du Fou and Parc Astérix (affiliated with Snelac as well as Eurodisney) ensured that they prepare quickly for the implementation of the health pass in a few days by allowing their visitors to test on entry.

“We share the objective of putting a definitive end to this epidemic. From July 21, a health pass will be required except for children under 12 and there should be flexibility up to 18 years old. We will do everything to keep our visitors safe: we will offer on-site tests, in our main sites,” Dominique Thillaud, director general of Compagnie des Alpes since June 1, told AFP.

The leader of the group, which also owns Parc Astérix, Parcs Walibi and the Musée Grévin, added:

“We will not leave anyone at the door and we will continue to put in place the health security protocols” (…) “We are testing our agility as operators, because the deadlines are extremely short.”

Dominque Thillaud insisted on the challenge that this represents:

“Two-thirds of our visitors are under 35, they were late eligible for vaccination: it’s a big challenge.”

Likewise, the group expects the “precise methods of implementation” the health pass for car park employees, many of whom are seasonal workers, and hopes that the government will put in place “specific measures”:

“At Parc Astérix, having the 2,500 employees take tests every 48 hours is a logistical challenge”.

For its part, the Puy du Fou park announced on July 13 that it would also facilitate access to the health pass for its visitors over the age of 12, by generalizing the antigenic tests on site, already offered to the some 15,000 spectators who attended its night show “La Cinéscénie” since July 1st.

Some 2,000 free tests were carried out during the first three performances, in partnership with the Regional Health Agency (ARS) and a regional laboratory, he said in a press release. Puy du Fou will extend the health pass to its entire park, i.e. “20 shows, 23 restaurants, 8 bars and 6 hotels” over 150 hectares, on July 21.

“Mitigate the impact of the suddenness” of the measure

Less than two weeks ago, the implementation of the health pass was therefore undertaken under the sign of consultation: all the professional organizations of the sectors concerned by the extension of the health pass (restaurants, traders, sports halls , places of leisure and attractions) were indeed consulted on Tuesday July 13 by the Ministry of the Economy.

“We will see what can be done to somewhat mitigate the impact of the suddenness” of the measure, said Mr. Thillaud at the time.

In view of the reaction this morning of the representative union of 500 companies in the sector, it seems that the account is not there.

In fact, the feedback from the field is, for some, worrying, like the Family Park amusement park, in Sorigny, which has seen its attendance drop by more than half since the establishment of the health pass. The New Republic reports the words of Patrick Bonneau, the manager, who affirms that attendance has completely plunged: from more than 2,000 visitors last Tuesday, to 700 the next day.

“On the day of the application of the health pass, Wednesday, our entries fell by 68% compared to the day before. The next day, 50%. It’s catastrophic ! »he said on Saturday July 24 in the columns of the regional daily.

(with AFP and regional dailies)