There’s more to unlocking the country’s leisure industry than just the economic benefits. The nation’s mental health is also a beneficiary of the doors re-opening again. Paul Kelly, Balppa’s chief executive, talks to Coinslot about the key role the industry can play in reviving both the spirits and the economy.
The country’s parks, piers and attractions will play an important role in helping the mental as well as the economic rehabilitation of the nation, according to Paul Kelly, chief executive of British Association Leisure Parks Piers and Attractions.
BALPPA, which last week confirmed a 17 percent increase in membership in the first two months of lockdown, said: “The mental health of the nation will be so important going forward. When we come out of this, there is still going to be a very difficult time ahead for everyone. Our industry has always been about family time and having fun. The nation needs that to look forward to.”
With the majority of attractions preparing for a July 4 re-opening, Kelly believes that outdoor venues represent a minimum risk in terms of transmission of the virus. “Piers are similar to other large scale outdoor attractions and we believe, can safely open from the 4th July,” he said. “That is a message we have got across to the government on a regular basis. I don’t feel there is a logical argument against this but they are being extremely cautious at the moment. It’s not just piers, there are hundreds of venues that could fit into that description including theme parks, play centres and farm attractions.”
In addition to the immediate requirements of getting the sector back to business at the earliest, safest opportunity, BALPPA is pushing an agenda of economic support to keep businesses alive and trading. “The message is about how long our businesses will be affected for. Even if they open this Summer they will need assistance right through to next Easter as they have missed so much of the season.
“It’s difficult to judge the number of business closures that we can expect, but our message to government is support the leisure and hospitality sector over the next 12 months with grants and furlough schemes, protect their cash flow and enable them to retain their staff. This should not be done with more loans and debts. Investment in the future of one of our major industries is needed.”