TEA and AECOM’s Index report shows industry resilience and recovery

2020 was a difficult year for theme parks, water parks and museums, which are by their nature dedicated to bringing people together for shared experiences. Around the world, due to the pandemic most of these venues were closed for significant periods in 2020, and steep attendance declines were the inevitable result. At the same time, operators and markets have shown remarkable resiliency and are already on the path to recovery in 2021, considered a “bounce-back year” in what is forecast to be a three-year recovery cycle.

This is explored in the 2020 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, the definitive resource of attendance information on the world’s most-visited theme parks, water parks and museums, now in its 15th annual edition. This annual, calendar-year study is produced by collaboration of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the Economics practice at AECOM. The new, 2020 edition was officially released Sept 22, 2021.

“The TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index truly sets the bar for how our global association serves the global leisure industry,” said TEA International Board President Chuck Fawcett of Animax Designs. “Theme parks, water parks and museums are landmarks of cultural tourism and engines of economic development, and the TEA/AECOM Theme Index provides critical benchmarking and context for key decision makers. TEA values its continuing partnership with AECOM and the ability to provide this valuable resource to our business community.”

The 2020 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index studies the sector by region (The Americas, Asia-Pacific, EMEA), the global market as a whole and the top operators. The report charts and discusses the effects of the pandemic on the industry in 2020 and the subsequent signs of recovery and heightened innovation already begun.

“The 2020 attendance numbers are largely due to regulatory restrictions limiting parks’ operating days and capacities and not park popularity and management,” said John Robinett, Senior Vice President – Economics, AECOM. “We are already seeing a surge of pent-up demand. The speed with which guests returned to parks and museums once they reopened attests to the vital role these leisure outlets play in people’s lives.”

Robinett said, “We can’t expect recovery to equal an instant return to 2019 numbers: those represented an economic peak, the best in five decades. A more realistic expectation would be to achieve a level comparable to an average of several years pre-COVID. Following the steep drop of 2020, we can expect that 2021 will manifest as a bounce-back year and that 2022 will usher in real recovery. In 2023, guest expectations will rise, and operators should plan and budget for reinvestment accordingly.”

Access to the full report is available at the TEA website and AECOM website

Cover image courtesy Puy du Fou: Puy du Fou España in Toledo, Spain features four daytime shows, three period villages and a night show. The newly opened park builds on the success of the operator’s original Puy du Fou park in France.

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