Rajeev Jalnapurkar, Chairman, Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries, says the amusement park industry continues to recover from the pandemic effect and it is important to focus on interactive tourism, both for domestic and inbound tourists.
The amusement park industry suffered a huge setback even after COVID cases reduced and travel opened for everyone. However, Rajeev Jalnapurkar, Chairman, Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries (IAAPI), says, “COVID was a challenge and fortunately the good news is that all the parks across the country are doing well. We as an association represent theme parks, amusement park, water parks, adventure parks, snow parks, as well as aquariums and visitors attractions. We even have a spiritual experience at the Saiteerth — India’s first devotional theme park in Shirdi. We also have a special indoor-attractions called family entertainment centres, which number to about 2,000 in India,” he said.
He claimed that the association also has manufacturers. “They manufacture rides and experiences. We attended the Dharamshala state tourism ministers’ meeting last year to share what this industry was doing. That was the first time we were invited to talk about it,” he mentioned. Highlighting the challenges that this industry is facing, he shared, “We have challenges, especially in terms of GST, which has been 18 per cent. We also have a challenge of import duties. This industry has three arms — infrastructure, investment and employment. This is the only industry where skill development is our strength because the people who work in a park for years at length must keep smiling and make the people laugh and smile. In India, we have observed that it’s mostly the middle class and upper middle class that goes to the park. I always believe that to have a higher happiness quotient, we require more parks.”
However, he believes that India is way behind other Asian countries when it comes to adventure park industry. “If you compare India with other Asian countries, we are at the infant stage. Average footfall with a good park is about 1.5 to 2 million (in a year), whereas in neighbouring countries, it is about three times or four times higher. I have always felt that if the government partners with us, especially state governments, by giving land for our infrastructure. We have always told the central government, that if they can write down or cut down the GST and give us an opportunity to move more on the land bank or creating special zones like in tourism, India will have huge opportunities to grow,” he said.
“There is a lot of talk on eco-tourism, adventure tourism and experiential tourism, but no
one is talking about interactive tourism. We as an industry believe in giving experience and it’s a lifetime investment for the guest who wants to come to experience adventure parks,” he concluded.