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PW MAY19 31-33 Industry Influencer.qxp_Layout 1 24/05/2019 15:39 Page 33


Industry Influencer www.parkworld-online.com


With the late Princess Diana at Thorpe Park


“We are also very keen to promote the fact that this is no


longer a seasonal industry – most of our member businesses are open all year round. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 -15 years, we are seeing more crossover, for example Web Adventure in York is an indoor attraction with outdoor facilities, so it is its own type of attraction. “We’ll see more farm attractions too in the coming years,


some of them are superb and there are a couple that could even compete with our theme parks in terms of scale. It’s a real growth area.” I ask Paul what he sees as the industry’s greatest success.


“Two things,” he says. ”The way that the industry has invested in itself over the last five to ten years by creating resorts and including accommodation in their offer so that more people will want to stay in the UK and holiday. “If you’ve got something that’s worth seeing, that’s been


upgraded in some way they will; a great example of this is Port Lympne in Kent, Bob O’Connor really led the way with bespoke accommodation. “It went from having nobody staying overnight to


On Brexit…


“We are officially bored of talking about Brexit! Though it will probably encourage more staycationing, which is good for our members. I don’t really like the word


‘staycation’, we have moved on from that – many of our members are now effectively resorts, with an accommodation offer be it a tent, a pod or a hotel. The one difficulty we are seeing


as a result of Brexit is recruitment, it is getting more and more difficult to get enough staff to operate in these areas, particularly in the food and beverages sector. As an industry we are going


50,000 a year staying overnight. It’s an idea that has been shared across the industry; it started with glamping but we are now seeing pods, tree houses and hotels popping up everywhere. “That’s the great thing about this industry, we are happy to share, which


to have to look at this and discuss how to deal with it. In my day we recruited across Europe and that’s dropping off, not because anything has actually changed, but due to the perception that it will do.


leads me onto the second thing – the way we come together as an industry to ensure ride safety. We work very hard in the area of ride safety and appropriately so as it’s key. “I get a lot of support from UK businesses, who lend me people to sit on


national councils with the HSE, engineers, ride safety technicians, so I get to move things forward with their support.


MAY 2019


“There are an awful lot of people that work very hard


behind the scenes and are really motivated in terms of making it safer. It’s not just me, everybody is 100% behind it, including the management committee at Balppa who back absolutely everything we do and that’s not going to change. I can tap into their expertise. There is absolutely nobody


saying ‘that’s not my problem, that’s not me’”. So what are the challenges going forward? “It’s very hard


to get anybody to listen to anything that isn’t Brexit related. So it will be interesting to see what the emphasis goes back onto once Brexit is resolved. “The other big challenge is our weather; we need to look


at how our businesses respond to the patterns in it and in many ways, adapt to look after the environment more too. I wouldn’t say we are behind other countries, but I think we do need to make a step change based on what we have learned in the last few weeks [recent climate change protests]. “Just dealing with a few straws isn’t going to be enough;


we have been tinkering around the issue for a while now, but with everything that has gone on the last few weeks, we are realising it’s not just about straws, it’s actually more dramatic than that. And we need to focus on the dramatic. “We seemed to jump two steps rather than one at a time and now we are going to have to jump several more than


that to make a change. I’m not sure what that is or what it looks like, but I just think we are going to have to be part of that.” Parting thoughts? “What I do is really enjoyable, because this is the only


industry I’ve ever worked in, I’ve known people a very long time, and I’m delighted that everyone works so hard for the benefit of the industry and loves sharing information, and going to see other attractions and meeting people. It still has that energy that I found on that first ghost ride back in 1986.”


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