VISITOR NUMBERS STILL DOWN AT VILLAGE ROADSHOW THEME PARKS

VISITOR NUMBERS STILL DOWN AT VILLAGE ROADSHOW THEME PARKS

ONE year on from the tragic deaths a Dreamworld, rival operator Village Roadshow is still suffering from the fallout.

The company, which operates the Movie World, Wet'n'Wild, and Seaworld theme parks, is still experiencing low visitations numbers a year after the Thunder River Rapids accident at rival Dreamworld.

Chairman Robert Kirby says the effect of the Dreamworld tragedy echoed across the whole of Australia.

"Although not in one of our theme parks, the unprecedented publicity around the tragedy resulted in broad based community concerns about safety of rides, dramatically impacting the earnings of our Australian theme parks," says Kirby.

The company, at its annual general meeting on Friday, says the Gold Coast theme park attendance to October 31 was 5.4 per cent behind last year's but it was expected to pick up in the summer trading period.

"The trend in attendance in FY18 to date has been largely positive relative to attendances following the Dreamworld tragedy; however the unfortunate but inevitable publicity surrounding the anniversary of the accident resulted in a noticeable decline in attendance which has subsequently levelled out in November."

The group does expect to begin paying dividends again after a lengthy intermission between payouts.

Kirby says the board was "confident of being able to recommend a return to dividends before the end of FY18."

Currently, the group is constructing a new theme park business called Topgolf on the Gold Coast, a golf based entertainment facility, which is opening in mid-2018.

The group's performance in the cinema sector has been "significantly below the prior corresponding period" according to Kirby, reflecting an industry wide depressed box office.

"Reflecting the underperformance of titles early in the year, the Australian Cinema Exhibition business is now expected to slightly underperform the prior year overall, says Kirby.

In August the company posted a net profit of $23.6 million, which was less than half of its $50.9 million result in FY16 and EBITDA also fell to $136.3 million, down from a previous $168.8 million.

Co-chief executive of Village Roadshow Graham Burke says the company performed as well as it could in the face of "headwinds that could never have been contemplated".
"Stealing from the words of Queen Elizabeth, this truly has been our 'annus horribilis," says Burke.

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