The market, which has been following ambitious expansion plans in the amusements industry, remains resilient, according to industry leaders.
“Although one of the world’s most ambitious attractions projects ever undertaken – Dubailand – has become a victim of the worldwide credit crunch with announcements of delays, suspensions and, in some cases, job losses, it has always been accepted by industry insiders that the original schedule may have been somewhat optimistic anyway, credit crunch or not. The current situation, therefore, offers a perfect opportunity for re-assessment and reflection,”
says Gerry Robinson, Administrative Officer for the Amusement Industry Council of Europe.
According to Robinson, despite the economic downturn there is no doubt that the majority of the projects will materialise and thus create a valuable tourism resource, not only for Dubai, but also for the reputation of the Middle East as tourist destination.
“The recent placement of the US Six Flags organisation into Chapter 11 protection and other park closures or project hold-backs elsewhere is countered by the growth of the attractions and entertainment industry from within the Middle East and Asia,” he remarks.
While amusement parks are seen as the main focus for the leisure industry there are many other types of attractions that appeal to visitors, including zoos, museums, shopping malls, hotels, and in the case of the Middle East – cultural attractions, all of which provide some form of leisure facility.
“Of growing importance to visitors is the cultural heritage of the region and this is often overlooked as a motivational factor to attract and excite the tourist,” Robinson says.
For the past 15 years it has been the smaller attractions and amusement outlets that have provided the bulk of the facilities for family entertainment, indeed the original Dubai Entertainment, Amusement and Leisure (DEAL) exhibition, then known as the Theme Park and Fun Centre, mainly presented products for that specific market.
DEAL will celebrate its 15th anniversary when it takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre April 26-28, 2009, making it the longest running business gathering for the Middle East’s amusement industry.
Culture and heritage will play a key role as, alongside companies showcasing the very latest in rides, games and play equipment; water facilities; audiovisual and theatre equipment, there will be local exhibitors promoting regional attractions.
“The Middle East has big ambitions when it comes to amusements, and some of the world’s largest suppliers will be present at the show. However, DEAL is the region’s meeting place for the amusements industry and it is only right that the show should continue to represent regional talent,” said Abdul Rehman Falaknaz, President, International Expo-Consults (IEC), organisers of DEAL.
DEAL 2009 will also incorporate a one-day seminar programme. Organised and presented by ALES-UK (Amusement & Leisure Equipment Suppliers), the seminar series will take place on April 27 and will tackle such topics as setting up a theme park, managing multi-use facilities and the importance of staff training. The educational component of DEAL 2009 is endorsed by TEA and AiCE, supported by UK Trade & Investment, and sponsored by EMBED.
Substantial industry support for DEAL is given by the Amusement Industry Council of Europe, including Association Fabricantes Y Exp. Maquinas de la Foia de Bunyol (Spain) Associazone Nazionale Costruttori Attrezzature, Spettcoli Viaggianti (Italy); Amusement & Leisure Equipment Suppliers of the UK; American Amusement Manufacturers Association); International Association for the Leisure & Entertainment Industries; India Association of Amusement Parks & Industries; and the World Water Park Association.
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