New £500,000 daredevil ride stuck in lockdown storage says Pleasure Beach boss
PUBLISHED: 14:06 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 22 May 2020
The boss of one of Norfolk’s oldest tourist attractions has revealed a new ride bought for summer 2020 remains unbuilt because of coronavirus.
Albert Jones, managing director of Great Yarmouth’s Pleasure Beach, bought the £500,000 ‘Lightning 360’ – a first for Norfolk – back in February to boost the summer season.
But because of coronavirus it remains a haulier and is awaiting a team from Italy to assemble it.
Mr Jones, who runs the Pleasure Beach which has been going since 1909, was speaking in response to the government’s consideration of an extra bank holiday in October.
He praised the government for everything they were trying to do but he said it would be too late for him.
He added that his attraction, hopefully reopening in mid July, but would need to close in mid September because of the restrictions on operating.
The ride, which sits on a tower, with eight arms each supporting a two-seater plane, which can be controlled by the user and turns 360 degrees, was made in northern Italy and was in the process of being shipped to Norfolk when the outbreak hit.
Mr Jones is hopeful that it will be in place for the summer but the firm has already lost takings they had banked on.
“It will take us years to recoup that money, it was all paid for,” Mr Jones said. “We just need to try and take enough to get us through the winter. I hope we can keep going but it’s going to be tough.
“It’s the unknown, plans have to change all the time but you have to get it in perspective – 36,000 people have lost their lives and that puts all this into context.”
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Mr Jones also outlined new safety measures that will be put in place for the reopening including entry and rides being prepaid and numbers restricted.
“It may be a better experience for customers, they’ll be able to get on more rides,” he added.
Other tourism bosses, although welcoming the idea of another bank holiday, said they too were hampered by the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when they could open and how. And when their seasons should have kicked off at Easter, an extra bank holiday was not going to be enough to recoup losses, they said.
Deb Jordan, who runs Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, with husband Bill, said: “The additional bank holiday proposal for October would be a welcome opportunity for tourism businesses to extend the season and regain lost business from the May bank holidays.
“We rely heavily on our main season starting at Easter so, sadly, we have lost a large proportion of our main season income already. There is still, of course, a lot of uncertainty as to how the industry will pan out over the next few months and beyond. Reopening safely in time for a summer season, with public confidence being so important and a desire to visit and support businesses such as ours, will be a crucial factor in how the rest of the year will look for us.”
At Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure, in Lenwade, a spokeswoman said: “A new bank holiday could be a welcomed addition especially in light of asking the government to provide more support to the tourism industry, however we are still some way from knowing what the sector will look like in an already challenging environment and whether we can safely open up in the summer following government guidelines.
“October also sees cooler weather generally as well as half term and also the end of the government furlough support for many people so it will be a case of waiting for more government information.”
And at Holkham estate, Lucy Downing, head of marketing, said: “It is difficult in the current climate to gauge what October will look like, however public holidays usually provide a welcome boost to visitor numbers wishing to enjoy an experience with their loved ones.
“At Holkham, that can be the beach, the hall, an event, the walled garden or simply a walk around the grounds.
“We therefore welcome the idea of an additional bank holiday weekend this October in the hope that conditions will allow. It will certainly give everyone something to look forward to, and we all need that at the moment.”
The idea for an extra bank holiday was put forward by the UK’s tourism agency Visit Britain. Its acting head, Patricia Yates told MPs that tourism would see losses of around £37 billion as a result of coronavirus.
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