Wet'n'Wild rivals face dip in trade

The summer success of Sydney's Wet'n'Wild theme park, which made a profit of almost $6 million in its first few weeks of operation, has been blamed for a decline in visitor numbers at other theme parks.

Dax Eddy, executive director of Jamberoo Action Park, said Jamberoo had recorded a 12 per cent year-on-year decrease in visitor numbers so far this season.

''We can attribute that to Wet'n'Wild,'' said Mr Eddy, who believes the rival park's success is due to the ''pent-up demand'' for a theme park Sydney has experienced since Wonderland's closure in 2003.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Ken Morrison said he had also received reports of a decline in visitor numbers, due to the western Sydney water park.

''Some of our attraction members have reported that they've seen a dip in some of their trade because of the opening of Wet'n'Wild,'' he said.

Mr Morrison declined to name specific members, however the forum counts Luna Park, the Sydney Aquarium, Ardent Leisure (which owns Dreamworld and Whitewater World on the Gold Coast) and Village Roadshow (which owns Sea World, Movie World and Wet'n'Wild in Sydney and the Gold Coast) as members.

All of those companies or attractions declined to comment on the impact of Wet'n'Wild.

Mr Morrison also said Wet'n'Wild's success ''may mean that some families decide not to take a Gold Coast trip because they're getting that experience right at home.''

Wet'n'Wild sold more than 160,000 season passes, worth $12.5 million in revenue, before its opening on December 12.

Despite the drop in visitor numbers at Jamberoo, Mr Eddy welcomed the competition. ''In the long term, it grows the market,'' he said.

''There are currently 2.5 million people going into Queensland from other states to visit theme parks, the NSW market makes up a big portion of that. So the ability to expand on attractions like the Sydney Aquarium, Wet'n'Wild and Jamberoo means we can stem that tide of people leaving to Queensland to get that experience there,'' Mr Eddy said.

Chris Warhurst, general manager of Wet'n'Wild Sydney, said the company's focus ''is growth in the market as opposed to cannibalising the market.''

Gold Coast Tourism chief executive Mark Winter said the western Sydney water park had not had a negative impact on visitor numbers to Gold Coast theme parks.

''Providing that experience to Sydneysiders and people from the greater region might indeed motivate them to look to a trip to the theme park capital to really build on that experience in their next family holiday,'' he said.

Ardent Leisure's recent half yearly results seemed to support this, showing attendance at its theme parks has risen by 13.7 per cent, and it reported in January that attendance was up more than 20 per cent.

In October, the Queensland government, with Ardent Leisure and Village Roadshow, announced its participation in a jointly funded $15 million advertising campaign entitled the Theme Park Capital of Australia, aimed at increasing visitor numbers to the Gold Coast.

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