Zoomarine opened its doors to the public 13 years ago and since then has added many new amusements and leisure pursuits to its list of activities. Resident reporter GEORGE FLETCHER spoke to marketing and operations manager, Pedro Ferreira, about the success of Zoomarine amidst the general fall in tourism and future plans for the park.
Resident – Considering recent reports concerning the drop in tourism this summer, Zoomarine still seems very busy. Has this drop been noticed at Zoomarine?
Zoomarine – There are many claims that there has been a significant drop in tourism this year. Although Zoomarine has noticed a slight decrease in visitors, we have not recorded any plummeting figures. I accept that there is a small downward curve in tourism figures – however it is only minor.
Resident – What do you think has affected tourism this year in the Algarve?
Zoomarine – I think that there are many factors that have contributed to this. Firstly, Portugal played host to the Euro2004 tournament, which obviously affected business at Zoomarine. We are a family fun and wildlife park, so because of the sheer volume of football fans travelling to the Algarve specifically for the Euro, we suffered a small decrease in visitor numbers.
The next thing to consider is the weather. We rely on decent weather at Zoomarine – if it’s too hot, everybody is at the beach. It cannot be raining either, and it rained for practically the whole of May, which is a little unusual; and last week we experienced a couple of drizzly days. However, yesterday, our entrance figures doubled from the previous day when the weather was gloomy, which we were pleased to observe. The economic climate in Portugal and some other European countries is not too healthy either. So although there has been a small fall, there are obvious reasons for it.
Resident – So who is your main market?
Zoomarine – We have visitors from all different countries across the world and our activities are conducted mainly in Portuguese and English. Obviously, Europeans are our main customers, but more specifically our visitors are Portuguese holidaymakers who have travelled down for their holidays during August – our busiest month – and also throughout the rest of the year.
Resident – Do you think the Algarve is becoming too expensive and people are opting for cheaper holidays in places like Turkey and Croatia?
Zoomarine – I think that the cost of anything is entirely relative to its quality. For example, you could argue that because of Turkey’s location on the map, it is not as safe as the Algarve and can offer a cheaper holiday because of a lack of guaranteed security. The Algarve should not be influenced by the cheaper deals that are being offered in the rest of Europe. If you are offering a quality service to a tourist, you should not decrease your prices in order to compete with prices elsewhere, unless you have lowered the quality of your service. The emphasis should always remain on the level of quality you are providing the customer.
Resident – So, how does Zoomarine continue to provide quality to visitors to the Algarve?
Zoomarine – In many ways. At the moment we are executing a three-year investment plan, which includes refurbishment and expansion. So far this year, we have revamped the eating areas, some of the offices and much more. Our long-term plan is to expand and, in winter, when we close the swimming pools to visitors, we will start work on improving those too – we are constantly improving. Zoomarine has changed a lot in the past few years and we hope to always be able to offer visitors new and exciting activities to do here at the park.
Resident – What attractions are you planning for Zoomarine?
Zoomarine – At the moment, our main visitors are families. However, if you are a teenager, the last thing you want to do is spend the whole day with your parents. So, as part of our expansion programme, we are building rides that are a bit more ‘white knuckle’. We want to ensure that we cater for all markets, including teenagers, who always enjoy more exhilarating rides and activities.
Resident – And what can people who visit Zoomarine this summer expect?
Zoomarine – Alongside our expansion, we are also continuing to modernise – some of the shows we now have on include huge sound systems, special effects and much more. At the moment we have a dolphin show, a tropical bird show, a sea lion and seal show and a birds of prey show. This is as well as all the zoological areas and the leisure and amusement areas. And, of course, we have been offering an interaction with dolphins experience for a couple of years now, which everybody thoroughly enjoys. We are also expanding globally and are currently building another Zoomarine in Rome, although I can’t give you details at the moment.
It seems it is business as usual for staff and animals at Zoomarine. For more information about the park and the activities it offers, call 289 560 300 or visit the website at www.zoomarine.com