by Pradeep Sharma
With India’s GDP now touching 9.8% and an increase in many citizen’s disposable income, the average Indian has now started thinking about entertainment away from home and active ways to explore and enjoy their free time.
In 2006 alone, the Indian amusement industry witnessed a 56.3% jump in investment. This year it is expected to be close to 47% (by March 2008). This has lead to many businesses and investment houses taking fun seriously. There are currently more than 3,080 shopping malls under construction in India, 90% of which will include indoor entertainment centres.
Apart for indoor attractions, the business is also growing outdoors. One of the biggest construction and real estate groups in Delhi, for example, is planning an amusement park in the mega city of Chandigarh. Two major parks are both nearing completion in the National Capital Region (NCR) around Delhi, one of which has already launched featuring rides from Europe. Estimated investment is close to US$530 million.
International Recreation Parks (IRPPL) is also setting up two parks, one in Noida and the other in Rohini. The park in Noida covers 150 acres and is split between amusement park (85%) and commercial space (15%). Phase I of the project, named Noida Entertainment City (E-City) was due to open last month. By the time it is complete, developers predict the park will attract close to 2.5 million annual visitors.
Promoted by the Saagar family in the holy city of Hridwar is a theme park based on holy Hindu character Epic Ramayana, which is being developed at a cost of $25 million. The people of Coimbatore, meanwhile, will soon be able to enjoy the Maharaja World theme park.
Other up and coming projects include two theme parks by ISKCON, one in Bangalore with investment totalling $62.5 million, and another in Vrindavan (Dwarka), spread over 600 acres and worth $250 million. In the state of Himachal, a ski village and theme park is being developed, the first of six sites offered up for amusement activities.
Even the state of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to provide active entertainment to the youth, with a theme park located on the banks of the River Tawi spread over an area of 250 acres. This will aim to benefit from the overspill of visitors to the holy Vaishnodevi shrine, visited by millions of Hindus every year.
In India, some entrepreneurs are using more and more creative ideas when it comes to developing attractions. In the state of Kerala, for example, the Oyester theme park in Kasaragod will have an eco-tourism theme. The government is keen to encourage young people away from their usual habits and to learn more about Indian religion, culture and the environment. Eco-tourism is one of the most talked about topics in many states and projects such as that in Kasaragod are a positive way of promoting India’s contribution to global environmental affairs.
Pradeep Sharma has been in business for 25 years, as both an operator and supplier to the Indian amusement industry. Currently based in Mumbai, he heads up Bombay Amusement Rides and is an active member of IAAPI. www.bombayamusement.com