Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Thursday 17th September, 2015
Merlin Entertainments, the company that owns the theme park Alton Towers, has seen its profits hit after a sharp fall in visitor numbers to its park following a high-profile accident there in June.
Alton Towers has long been one of England’s most popular theme park attractions but its visitor numbers have declined significantly since 16 people were injured in a collision on one of its rides.
Overall, Merlin Entertainments, which also owns Chessington World of Adventure and Thorpe Park, has seen an 11.4 per cent drop in revenues from its theme park operations since the beginning of the year.
Last year, Merlin’s theme park businesses generated £87 million in profits but the latest estimates are that the comparable figure for 2015 will be between £40 million and £50 million.
Alton Towers was temporarily closed in June immediately after an incident on its ‘Smiler’ rollercoaster caused injury to several visitors, with Merlin also taking the decision at the time to suspend some of its other rollercoasters and to suspend all advertising efforts for the its theme parks.
Alton Towers’ owners have said that the fallout from the headline-grabbing accident in early summer could continue to have an impact well into 2016.
“The performance of our Legoland Parks Operating Group has remained strong, with very positive guest satisfaction,” said Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments.
“However, this has been offset by the impact of reduced visitation across the Resort Theme Parks Operating Group, primarily at Alton Towers resort, and euro weakness impacting visitation at our London attractions.”
The accident on Alton Towers’ Smiler ride occurred on June 2nd when a carriage carrying members of the public collided unexpectedly with an empty carriage on the same ride.
In the cases of two young women, Leah Washington and Vicky Balch, the incident resulted in injuries severe enough to require leg amputations, while others on the same carriage suffered broken legs and badly damaged knees.
As well as its various theme parks around the country, Merlin also owns a number of other well-known UK tourist attractions including the London Eye, Blackpool Tower and Warwick Castle.