March 1, 2023

Leisure projects worth $41bn underway in Mideast: report

categories : tourism

Leisure and entertainment projects worth over $41 billion are currently underway in the Middle East, said a report by business intelligence platform ABiQ ahead of the upcoming Leisure Entertainment & Attractions (LEA) Conference in Dubai, UAE.

The LEA Conference is set to take place on March 13, 2023 with an aim is to discuss opportunities and challenges for the industry alongside a strong focus on achieving excellence in guest experience.

The LEA Conference will be co-located with the Menalac Waterpark Conference 2023 (March 12), Safety Day (March 14) and the annual Menalac Awards ceremony (March 15).

After a few difficult years the leisure and entertainment industry, particularly in the GCC, is now regaining the growth momentum, the report said.

“Looking back, I’d like to phrase 2022 as the grand reopening for the entertainment sector, the journey from the ‘new norm’ to the ‘back to norm’,” said Fernando Medroa, Vice President – Entertainment & Hotels for Kuwait-based Alshaya Group.

“In Kuwait we’ve noticed a shift in seeking entertainment locally therein intensifying efforts by both public and private sector entities through initiatives such as Winter Wonderland, Cirque du Soleil, Disney on Ice, Disney Princesses and Shrek making appearances in the country.”

On its part, Alshaya Group has opened QUEST Tag Arena its own concept in The Avenues mall, which is also home to TEKZONE and KidZania. “In the last quarter of 2022 we opened a new Laser Arena at QUEST,” Medroa revealed.

Meanwhile, commenting on Bahrain’s leisure and entertainment industry, Mohammed Khalifa, Manager, Seef Entertainment said, “The average revenue generated by the entertainment sector ranges between BHD6 and 8 million annually and this by a country with a population of 1.7 million.”

Having said that Bahrain attracts significant tourist numbers with a target to attract 14.1 million tourists by 2026 as part of the Kingdoms’ Economic Recovery Plan. This is expected to fuel more leisure and entertainment focused offerings.

A closer look at FECs
“Indoor entertainment centers in good locations are recording robust performance and have in most cases exceeded pre-Covid levels already. Less attractive locations have not fared quite as good,” stated Silvio Liedtke, CEO, Landmark Leisure with its portfolio including Fun City, Fun Works, Fun Ville and many more where visitor spending has “certainly seen significant growth” compared to pre-Covid times.

“Overall, longer dwell time and rise in spending indicate growth meaning customers who make their way into entertainment spaces spend more time and money than pre-Covid in the same locations,” Liedtke explained.

The indoor leisure and entertainment market in the GCC is at “inflection point,” Liedtke observed.

“Disruptors like VR and AR, strong IP-led product ranges and social entertainment are changing the landscape of our industry leading to a vibrant and dynamic market with new ideas, innovations and new concepts springing up almost daily,” Liedtke added.

“It’s certainly an amazing time to see the creativity and diversity at play. Landlords are keen to fill their malls with more than just retail. The choices for customers are now enormous and will continue to grow. This of course puts pressure on the traditional FEC model to stay relevant and profitable, particularly given cost pressures on rents, utilities and staff, coupled with inflationary pressures on the asset purchasing front.”

State of supply chain
Amid growth indications can supply chain related disruptions be overlooked? An area that was a massive challenge in 2021-22.

“The supply chain situation has certainly improved since the very disrupted times in 2021-22. We have seen production lead times for products reduce since December 2022. However, we are still not at the same level as the pre-Covid era. That’s why we routinely urge our customers to forecast and pre-plan their product orders based on their desired and planned opening dates,” shared Prakash Vivekanand, Managing Director, Amusement Services International LLC.

The road ahead
With several new and diverse leisure and entertainment facilities coming up across the region the depth and breadth of offerings have indeed increased. As technology paves the way for more engaging, thrilling, interactive and immersive content the region will always have the investment appetite and room for newer attractions.

“The missing bit is possibly the guest experience across several leisure facilities. Today’s consumer demands an enhanced journey and experience, and the focus should be on complementing cutting-edge content with enhanced customer experience making each visit memorable,” Vivekanand observed.

Besides an enhanced customer experience, today’s consumer also demands more interaction, gamification and group play. Resultantly, a flurry of products is being designed and aligned to meet this demand. And such products must be backed by sound operational strategies to deliver the experience and ensure repeat visitations.



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