With Queensland’s swift management of COVID-19, the Sunshine State is set to recover quicker than its southern neighbours and the State Government is aiming to restart its tourism industry via a $69.9m support package for Ardent Leisure (ASX: ALG) which will re-open Dreamworld and WhiteWater World in September.
The financial assistance packages totaling $69.9 million comprises a secured three-year loan of $66.9 million and a grant of $3 million. Granted under the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 Industry Support Package and Queensland Tourism Icons Program 2020, the funding will assist Ardent re-open their iconic theme parks which have long been a staple of the State’s tourist attractions.
“We appreciate the Queensland Government’s strong recognition of the important role that the theme park industry plays in the economic development of Queensland and the broader tourism industry in Australia,” said Ardent Leisure CEO, Dr Gary Weiss.
“The Queensland Government’s foresight in providing this financial assistance package will enable Ardent to reopen its iconic theme parks, continue to employ hundreds of people and, once the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, continue to invest in future tourism infrastructure and create more local jobs.”
While plans are in place to now re-open their two theme parks by mid-September, they will be doing so under COVID Safe Plans which will mean the attractions operate with 50% historical capacity.
The funding applies only to Ardent’s theme parks division and is independent of their US Main Event Entertainment division which has been the subject of corporate interest for the past 12 months. In June, Ardent sold 24.2% of the division for USD $80m to a US-based private investment firm. At the time, it had re-opened 28 of their 44 entertainment centres.
Ardent Leisure will update the market on their FY20 financials on 27 August, however, much of the lost revenue has already been reflected in ALG’s share price which closed yesterday at $0.33, well down on their 52-week high of $1.65 in January before the pandemic commenced.
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