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Gold Coast theme parks impacted by failure to secure Federal Government loan deal

Gold Coast theme parks impacted by failure to secure Federal Government loan deal
June 26, 2020

The Gold Coast's major theme parks have been impacted by the collapse of a deal which would have delivered financial relief from the Federal Government.

With Sea World set to become the first of the region’s theme parks to reopen following the Coronavirus shutdown, Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail has reported that "eight-figure loans earmarked for Village Roadshow and Ardent Leisure’s Dreamworld have been taken off the table" by the Federal Government.

With the attractions suffering ongoing losses during the COVID-19 lockdown - Dreamworld is reported to be losing $10 million a month - Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones reportedly described the collapse of the deal as a "kick in the guts".

However, Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham rejected suggestions the Federal Government had turned its back on Gold Coast theme parks, pointing to the millions of dollars in JobKeeper payments to help employees during the enforced closures.

As reported by The Courier-Mail, theme park executive had been in talks for several months with Export Finance Australia about securing loans to help battle through the coronavirus crisis and as recently as last week were under the impression the money would be forthcoming.

However, those talks have now collapsed, leaving theme parks, among the Queensland tourism industry’s biggest employers, without access to millions of dollars.

Upset by the decision, Village Roadshow Chief Executive Clark Kirby told The Courier-Mail "for months we’ve been negotiating with Export Finance Australia to contribute funding to Village’s reopening plans (and) without warning, we were told last week that those negotiations were over.

“It’s disappointing to say the least.

“But the state government has been great.

“We continue to make positive progress with the state government regarding their funding support to help us get back to business.”

Dreamworld Chief Executive, John Osborne added "we were extremely disappointed.

“We had been working with them for three months and had every indication it was going to be successful.”

Osborne would not be drawn on the impact of the decision on Dreamworld’s future but would continue to seek other forms of assistance throughout the most difficult period in the park’s 38-year history, noting "we’re grateful that our staff are receiving JobKeeper and we’re still working with the Queensland government on various funding options."

Minister Birmingham defended the Federal Government’s support of the theme park industry, going on to say “the Federal Government is providing these two companies with more than $80 million in support via JobKeeper and other programs.

“With these attractions starting to re-open, the best way to support them would be to see some interstate visitors flowing through their gates.”

He also said the Federal Government’s $1 billion recovery fund to help industries ‘disproportionably affected’ by the Coronavirus pandemic had directly helped Queensland tourism businesses.

Sea World, along with the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary are set to reopen to the public today, with Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast to follow next month.

Dreamworld has yet to advise of a date when it will reopen.

Image: Sea World's Storm Coaster ride (top) and Clark Kirby at Movie World (below).

Related Articles

24th June 2020 - Shutdown impacts Dreamworld’s plans for construction of new rollercoaster

18th June 2020 - Ardent Leisure shareholders launch class action over Dreamworld deaths

17th June 2020 - Village Roadshow announces reopening schedule for Gold Coast theme parks

5th June 2020 - Ardent and Village Roadshow look for early reopening of Gold Coast theme parks

22nd May 2020 - Financial impact of Coronavirus puts new rides at Gold Coast theme parks on hold

19th May 2020 - Queensland Government provides emergency funding for theme parks and wildlife attractions

15th May 2020 - Fair Work Commission rules against Village Roadshow Theme Parks worker who opposed being forced to take leave

15th May 2020 - Industry considers economics of post-Coronavirus reopening with limited numbers

12th May 2020 - Village Roadshow Chief Executive calls for JobKeeper extension as Queensland Government’s Coronavirus easing roadmap suggests reopening of theme parks, entertainment venues and stadiums in June

6th April 2020 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks backs staff during lockdown

16th March 2020 - Gold Coast theme parks to remain open as Coronavirus fears lead to international closures

24th February 2020 - AALARA highlights Australian theme parks’ ongoing safety commitments

23rd December 2019 - Attendances at Disney’s theme parks beats the world’s top sporting leagues

11th September 2019 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks reveal schedule for opening of new Sea World attractions

3rd July 2019 - Access and perimeter security solution secures Village Roadshow Theme Parks

25th May 2019 - Village Roadshow reveals $50 million investment into Gold Coast theme parks

22nd May 2019 - Clark Kirby explains his drive to ‘challenge everything’ within Village Roadshow Theme Parks

17th May 2019 - New safety rules for Queensland theme parks and attractions now in force

4th March 2019 - Queensland Goverment reveals tougher safety regulations for amusement rides and theme parks

17th October 2018 - New brands and resort theme parks drive Merlin Entertainments growth

26th September 2018 - Ardent Leisure facing naming challenges with new Dreamworld simulator ride

5th September 2018 - Dreamworld partners with Canberra’s National Zoo to aid Wild Tiger Conservation

3rd June 2017 - Global Theme Index shows mixed attendance trends for theme parks

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