Reopening safety advice for Middle East visitor attractions

MENALAC’s Health and Safety Committee is drafting a set of minimum standards and procedures for its members to follow before they reopen.

Since COVID-19 forced the leisure and attractions industry to shut down in March, the industry in the Middle East is losing US$6.71 billion per month. Now that it is starting to reopen, Middle East and North Africa Leisure & Attractions Council (MENALAC) is providing its members with procedures to follow.

Vice-President of MENALAC, Silvio Liedtke, emphasised that reopening leisure attractions, including malls, cinemas, theme parks and FECs, must be done safely and “for a prolonged period of time”.

This is in order to prevent another lockdown and to gain the trust of visitors. This will help to restart the leisure industry in the Middle-East as lockdowns and restrictions are lifted.

Members urged to follow standards

Liedtke continued, saying that “we urge members and operators to follow these recommended standards in conjunction with the standards that are specifically prescribed by authorities in your city/country of operation.”

He also said that “there will be new technology upgrades in facilities that include reduced human contacts … to ensure that the customers face minimum touchpoints.” He stated that social distancing in public areas will have to continue until the “situation improves”.

These new reopening procedures are therefore unlikely to change for a while. Visitors and operators will have to adapt to a new way of experiencing the attractions industry.

The Middle East North Africa Leisure Attractions Council will also provide information and reference materials on its website for members to use.

New procedures in place

Many MENALAC members have already started to implement new Standard Operating Procedures to protect the health of their employees and visitors. These include training staff, providing hand sanitiser and PPE as well as regularly cleaning facilities.

Theme park operators are currently finalising their risk assessment and response plans in order to reopen. They are also assessing the impact of social distancing and increased safety procedures on their ticketing and pricing.

Meanwhile, a new luxury experiential tourism island off the coast of Dubai, The Heart of Europe, is set to open its first phase by the end of 2020. The project will feature more than 100,000 coral reefs since sustainability is a core feature of the island.