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Spain’s famous theme parks call for urgent bail-out to help unlock their gates 

Spain’s massive theme parks which attract millions of tourists every year are calling for urgent financial aid so they can open their doors to the public once again.

Dozens of zoos, adventure worlds, aquariums,
water parks and fairgrounds have stood empty for more than six weeks following
Spain’s State of Emergency order enforced on March 14th due to the coronavirus
epidemic.

Freedom restrictions are slowly being lifted
but no specific date has yet been given as to when theme parks, such as Ferrari
Land, PortAventura and Tivoli Word, can unlock their gates.

The associations representing dozens of
well-known attractions say they ARE ready to open and have been making plans
for the vital health and social distancing measures which will be needed under
the so-called “new norm”.

But they warn that after weeks of having no
customers and no income, they desperately need a government bail-out to help
them cope and to safeguard jobs.

The plea has been made to the Spanish
Government by the Spanish Association of Amusement and Theme Parks  and
the Iberian Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The theme parks and zoos they
represent employ 85,000 workers and attract 26 million people a year.

Despite having been closed since March 14th,
and therefore having no income, the attractions have had to continue
maintenance and, where animals are involved, continue to look after them in the
same way but without ticket receipts to finance it.

The association says the parks DO have
reopening plans that  “include all the measures for the new
norm.”

But they warn: “The prolonged closure of
their facilities and the high maintenance costs that they must continue to bear
compromise the ability of these companies to restart their operations.”

The extensive measures the parks will need to
put in place will include disinfecting all rides and facilities on a daily
basis, keeping visitors apart with social distancing rules, extensive sanitary
measures for the staff and possibly even screens in some cases.

The associations say: “The economic
impact that the COVID-19 crisis and the declaration of the state of emergency
are having on companies is especially severe in the case of amusement parks and
zoos, which have been forced to postpone the start of the season, while they
must continue to bear significant fixed costs to ensure the maintenance of
their facilities.”

In a letter to the Spanish Government, the
association asks for “an urgent economic support plan that mitigates the
effects of the crisis on employment.”

“The parks and zoos, which already have
reopening plans and operational protocols adapted to the new normal, request
the Government for economic and labour support for the reopening, ” they
urge. “Assuming high fixed costs during a period without income has
strained the liquidity of these companies and compromises the maintenance of
their staff, who work in theme parks and zoos.”

The measures called for include continued
financial support for staff for at least six months, total exemption from
Social Security payments for the same period, direct State aid and grants.

President of the Spanish Association of
Amusement and Theme Parks, Guillermo Cruz also called for a reduced rate of
VAT, saying concerts, circuses, theatres and cinemas had enjoyed this for years
but not theme parks. He said this was “significant discrimination”
and placed them at a considerable disadvantage.

Both bodies say they want urgent talks with
the Spanish Executive “be able to get out of this situation as lquickly as
possible and contribute as much as we can to the recovery of the Spanish
economy and society as a whole.”

The 50-plus theme parks which have signed the
letter include Madrid Amusement Park, Seville Aquarium, Barcelona’s Zoological
Park, Loro Parque in Tenerife, MarineLand Mallorca, Fuengirola’s Bioparc, Terra
Natura Benidorm, Oasis Wildlife Fuerteventura, Krazy World and Dinopolis in
Tereul.

All the theme parks have posted “sorry we
are closed” messages on their websites with the promises to visitors that
they will be “back soon”.