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​Kidzania shuts: 103 staff to get severance packages

Published on: 18-Jun-2020

​Experts say business outlook for such attractions is bleak and more such venues may shut down amid restrictions to control the pandemic

Indoor theme park Kidzania Singapore is closing for good after four years due to challenging business conditions.

"After four joyful years on Sentosa Island, Kidzania Singapore will not be reopening its doors upon the lifting of the circuit breaker and other social restrictions," it said in a media statement yesterday.

The Sentosa-based family attraction opened in 2016 and is designed as a small city, complete with paved streets, buildings and vehicles.

Through games and role-play, Kidzania educated children about different occupations and the concept of earning and managing money.

But it said it has been a challenge for it "to achieve the returns needed over the years", an issue exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Aside from zero ticket revenue due to the temporary closure since early April, revenue has also been impacted as commercial partners have reduced their participation due to financial constraints and cost control efforts," it added.

Kidzania said the closure will affect 103 of its employees, who will all "receive appropriate severance packages with salaries, medical and other benefits paid up till their last day of service".

"It is the intent that the severance package, which stands on the higher end of the industry norm, will go some way to ease any difficulties for team members over the next few months," it said.

The attraction added that it is "currently conducting workshops and working with several employment bodies to assist staff in finding new employment as quickly as possible".

It advised customers with unused tickets and annual passes to write to it at: News that the popular theme park will not reopen has left some parents and children feeling downcast.

Mrs Zara Ong, a housewife and the mother of two sons aged seven and nine, said she and her family were very upset to hear about the closure.

"Our trips to Kidzania were always so enjoyable and educational," said Mrs Ong, 43, who takes her children to the attraction three to four times a year.

"My boys got to explore in a very safe, friendly and encouraging environment. We love that the children get to decide what they want to try out, get a feel of what it's like to do the different jobs and learn the processes."

Her older son Natanel, nine, said: "I don't want Kidzania to close. I like it there as it is fun. This is the only place I get to be on my own to explore for the whole day."

Mrs Nurul Diyana Norazmi, 27, an administrative executive who has a five-year-old son, said: "It's really very sad that Kidzania has to close down after just four years of operations in Singapore."

Asked about the closure of Kidzania Singapore, experts said the business outlook for such attractions is bleak. 

Given that the restrictions on many entertainment venues have not been lifted, more such venues might be on the brink of closing down.

Professor Sharon Ng, 46, associate professor of marketing at Nanyang Technological University's business school, said: "Though there are some subsidies from the Government, the fixed cost for many entertainment venues is very high. Psychologically, many consumers will also be cautious about going to crowded places.

"Coupled with the lack of tourists, which make up a significant portion of their target market, this will dramatically reduce their revenue."

Dr Leonard Lee, 48, deputy head of research at the National University of Singapore's business school shared a more optimistic view, saying businesses must learn to adapt.

"These companies could transform these challenges into opportunities, take a hard look at their core competencies and reorient themselves by offering other, more outbreak-resilient services.

"Companies that are agile and are able to be the first movers may not only survive the pandemic, but also thrive in the long run," he added.

Children in a safari-themed parade last year at Kidzania Singapore. Designed as a small city, it aimed to educate children about different occupations and money management through games and role-play.

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