Investment and its power in driving up standards, says Paolo Sidoli

Porthcawl
Astra Games Austin Powers LB
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The British seaside is enjoying a resurgence in popularity with UK holidaymakers which has led to strong investment and a demand for the latest equipment says leading children’s ride specialist Paolo Sidoli.

Our company is based on the coast in Porthcawl,” explains industry stalwart Paolo Sidoli, “and we can see the year-on-year increase in visitor numbers and its positive impact to our local economy”.

Sidoli, a man who clearly knows his stuff after decades of specialising in the children’s rides sector, cited various reasons why the British public are choosing to holiday at home: “People are reappraising their leisure time and they are taking more frequent and shorter trips to the coast, which can be reached in no time at all.

“The public will always take their main holidays abroad – but it is becoming more costly and as a result only a limited number of overseas holidays can be taken in a year – this is the case for families, when one considers that children cannot be taken out of term time, so they must pay premium prices for flights. However, a visit to the seaside, particularly during the weekend is very easy and can be done frequently with extended families.And let’s not forget that the dog can be brought to the coast as well.”

Oh yes, the dog; holiday habits, as Sildoli suggests, can be complex, but the staycation patterns are returning. “I have noticed that over the past 10 years there has been a significant increase in people’s mobility – there are more vehicles on the road and the motorcar is used more often for smaller journeys. Therefore many resorts that have easy access are seeing the benefits of this change in behaviour.”

The great news is that the money spent at the UK seaside makes it more attractive for greater numbers of people to visit – this raises standards and drives everyone to do the same. “Whether it is hotels, restaurants, cafes, refurbished piers and entertainment centres,improved public conveniences or better parking and public transport, we are seeing more attractions for the seaside visitor and this is increasing spend across the board,” said Sidoli.

An it’s a view reinforced on his own doorstep:”For example,my home town of Porthcawl has witnessed this regeneration. Marine defences are being upgraded, the small harbour has been modernised, parking has improved and more catering facilities have opened.The local holiday park, Trecco Bay,is continually upgrading their facilities and is operating at full capacity while the local amusement park and FEC’s have been injecting plenty of exciting new coin-op to their already popular offerings.Firework displays are commonplace and even our local theatre is now attracting top acts.

“Not even the temperamental weather can dampen the enthusiasm for a trip to the seaside.Weather apps on mobile phones ensures that people will now choose which days to visit and which days to stay away.There is another interesting phenomenon we are witnessing: that our resort gets disproportionately busier on the fine days but a lot quieter on the bad weather days, much quieter than in previous years as people are better informed on when the bad weather days fall.”

Operators at the coast, he said, have made a clear statement of intent: their premises are more inviting and attractive and they are replacing their ageing equipment on an ever regular basis.

“Increasingly, we are seeing amusement centres offering a wide range of indoor games, including children’s rides, simulators,VR and redemption.These FECs have now become indoor fairgrounds,” said Sidoli. “This is why we are seeing a demand for our rides – they are mini fairground rides for children, offering engaging and varied movements, interactivity and the option of redemption. The customer wants to see something new each time they visit an amusement premises. For the operator, it is all about showcasing the best coin-op and giving a great leisure experience and supplying a service that is second to none. The focus is now on the customer rather than on the cashbox and this philosophy is being reaped by many coastal operators and there are many examples which have been highlighted in Coinslot in recent months.”

“The UK coastline is varied, accessible, appealing to all ages and gives terrific value for money. Yet for many years,the political narrative and dialogue on various media platforms was focussed on the high street and out of town retailing. The seaside never seemed to come up in topics of discussion. I think that the monopolistic influence on people’s leisure time held by the big retailers and corporations is not the force it once was and that today everybody has woken up to the compelling offerings of the seaside town. So let’s stand up and all of us broadcast the fun we can have at our seaside.”


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