The Pakistan Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (PAAPA) President, Khalid Khan, has said that the year-long closure of amusement parks across the country due to coronavirus pandemic has led to a severe financial crunch for the sector. He demanded of the government to immediately reopen all amusement parks across the country to save their managements from bankruptcy.
Khan said that between 35,000 to 40,000 people were employed in this sector but their jobs were now in danger due to the persistent closure. He warned if the reopening of amusement parks was delayed any further, thousands of people would lose their jobs.
He said amusement parks have been closed since March 2020, but their owners had to date paid employees’ salaries besides bearing the burden of rentals and utility bills, while the federal and provincial governments had provided no relief to the sector which was now on the verge of collapse.
The PAAPA president said 70 to 75 per cent of this sector’s annual revenue is earned on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha. Since parks were closed on Eid-ul-Fitr, the sector suffered a loss that could not be compensated for years to come.
He stated like other sectors of the economy, amusement parks contributed a lot to the exchequer in the form of taxes, utility bills etc. while providing employment to tens of thousands of people. However, due to the government's reluctance to help this sector, it was facing a deficit of millions of rupees.
Khan said amusement parks were also part of the service industry and they can operate easily while following SOPs and ensuring social distancing was maintained in the open air. He said the business community part of the sector was expecting the removal of restrictions in the meeting of NCOC on May 19 but they were disappointed with their decision to continue the closure of amusement parks.
He said the government should immediately consult stakeholders and address their grievances and resolve them. He reiterated his demand that amusement parks be opened at the earliest as the livelihood of 40,000 families depended on it.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2021.