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SeaWorld stems tide of attendance and revenue decline; firms up plans for Middle East expansion

Attendances and revenues at SeaWorld attractions during 2015 were reported as almost the same as the previous year, as CEO Joel Manby insists the marine park company is stabilising.

Manby also announced progress in SeaWorld’s global expansion plans, saying the company had “moved to the next phase of our international development strategy" and signed an MoU with a Middle Eastern partner.

SeaWorld Entertainments released its annual earnings report last week, showing revenues of US$1.37bn (€1.26bn, £986m) in 2015 - compared to US$1.38bn (€1.27bn, £994m) in 2014 - and park attendance of 22.47 million, compared to 22.40 million in 2014.

EBITDA income for last year was US$361.1m (€332.2m, £260m), compared to US$370.1m (€340.4m, £266m) the year before. Net income for 2015 was US$49.1m (€45.2m, £35.4m), slightly less than the US$49.9m (€45.9m, £35.9m) for the preceding year.

In the last quarter of last year, attendance and revenue also grew, though Q1 2016 has seen numbers weaken as bad weather deters visitors.

“These are continued indications that the business is stabilising,” said Manby. “Our near-term priorities remain clear: execute our strategy with a focus on operational excellence and deliver the consistent and sustainable financial performance expected of our great organisation.”

SeaWorld recently announced changes in leadership at the company, as well as two new rollercoasters in Florida, an aquarium-based submarine ride attraction at its park in San Diego and a new dolphin habitat and guest experience in Texas.

“Over the course of the year we will continue to focus on our simplified pricing plan and explore opportunities to further develop our resort strategy as we continue to implement the key components of our plan,” Manby said.

SeaWorld has been struggling to get back on an even keel since the release of the documentary film Blackfish, which catalogues alleged mistreatment of killer whales and the death of three people as a result. Manby, who was appointed CEO in March 2015, announced a long-term strategy last year to halt the decline of the company which, he said, was starting to work.

“I feel we have the right plan. We're executing the strategy we outlined in November with an intense focus on operational excellence and delivering the consistent and sustainable financial performance expected of our organisation,” he said.

The plan included making the SeaWorld brand about “experiences that matter”, providing guests with distinct and unique experiences, revenue growth, financial discipline and tackling brand issues.

seaworld  orca  marine  entertainment  blackfish  joel manby  dubai  middle east 
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Attendances and revenues at SeaWorld attractions during 2015 were reported as almost the same as the previous year, as CEO Joel Manby insists the marine park company is stabilising. Manby also announced progress in SeaWorld’s global expansion plans, saying the company had “moved to the next phase of our international development strategy" and signed an MoU with a Middle Eastern partner. SeaWorld Entertainments released its annual earnings report last week,
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Aerial view of the killer whale show stadium at SeaWorld, a marine life theme park in San Diego Bay, California / Shutterstock / f8grapher
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