Sunday 25 September 2022
 
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ANALYSIS

Time for Mena waterpark heads to step up sustainability game

DUBAI, 6 days ago

With water conservation ranking as among the top sustainability best practices for the leisure and attractions sector, it is high time the regional waterparks industry stepped up its game by setting benchmarks for best practices in sustainability, say leading industry experts.
 
For the leisure and attractions industry, it makes perfect business sense to create environmentally friendly attractions while making them cutting-edge, entertaining and attractive to visitors. 
 
Today, an attraction which is also sustainable is highly respected by the public and can drive brand loyalty, an increase in visitors and revenue growth, they pointed out.
 
With water conservation ranking as among the top sustainability best practices for attractions, this begs the question – with water being at the heart of every waterpark, can waterparks lead the attractions industry in becoming sustainable and environmentally friendly? 
 
The Mena waterpark industry, they stated, is known for challenging yesterday's standards and setting new benchmarks in terms of creating the biggest and deepest iconic water attractions. 
 
Can regional water parks also set benchmarks for best practices in sustainability? This query was posed to the leading players in the UAE waterpark industry.
 
Chris Swartz, General Manager of Wild Wadi Waterpark and Matthew Matt Spurgeon, Director of Engineering at Wild Wadi Waterpark, said: "In a region where water is highly valued Wild Wadi approaches this from the triple bottom line. Through our sustainability and capital programmes, the executive team meets on a regular basis to discuss energy-saving strategies which involve our building management system team, so we are grounded in the reality of what can and cannot be done."
 
Kelly Timmins, the Director of Conservation, Education and Corporate Social Responsibility, Atlantis Aquaventure, said: "We launched the Atlantis Atlas Project in June 2021 as part of our commitment to do business in ways that are good for both people and planet. We do this by focusing on Responsible Operations, Conservation & Animal Welfare, Education & Awareness, and Corporate Social Responsibility."
 
"We seek and implement new ways to improve our operations to reduce our environmental impacts through sourcing products and servicing responsibly, effectively managing waste, energy and reducing carbon emissions, and preserving water," stated Timmins.
 
Sustainable water parks in Mena
 
Mike Rigby, GM & RVP, Middle East & India, WhiteWater said: "Water is a major part of the fun at a waterpark, and our team at WhiteWater recognize that it is our responsibility to ensure that this fun doesn’t risk our planet’s future. In 2020, we pledged to work across every area of our business to minimise carbon and waste impacts to ensure our products are the benchmark for sustainability in our industry."
 
"We look at how we can minimise our impact from design through to construction and installation to create products and parks to use less water, prevent water loss, and become more energy efficient," he stated.
 
With the water park landscape design, its architecture team uses decades of experience to create a site plan with the least environmental impact possible. 
 
"This includes looking at how the ride will operate and how we can use building structures and wildlife to minimise impacts. One method is to look at the building orientation, so a park has strategic shade and windbreaks, another method is adding native wildflowers to enhance biodiversity, reduce water needs, and create habitats," explained Rigby.
 
Enhanced landscape development can act as a carbon absorption if designed properly while increasing the park's aesthetic," he added.
 
Design to prevent water loss in parks
 
According to Rigby, the sustainability work begins on day one during the architecture and design stage. Working from the ground up, the architecture team recommends materials like Life Floor which don't heat up under the sun to help minimise water absorption. 
 
WhiteWater also uses proprietary software to perform 3D modelling and simulations of our rides to calculate how much water will be used so there is no over-specifying of the pumps and water loss is reduced and contained within the ride, he added.
 
Ray Smegal, Chief Commercial Officer, ProSlide, said: "We have a responsibility to ensure a vibrant and successful waterpark industry for the long term. It’s key that we think about future generations so that they can continue to enjoy waterparks in a responsible and sustainable way."
 
"ProSlide’s vision for sustainability is built upon two key pillars - sustainable manufacturing and efficient technology," he stated. 
 
Smegal pointed out that ProSlide was always visioning forward to the next waterpark technology that will transform waterparks. This includes new guest experiences as well as technologies that make waterparks more efficient and sustainable. 
 
"An example is our next-generation BLAST water propulsion system for ProSlide Water Coasters. Using our experience from our hi-tech LIM propulsion, we developed BLAST which utilises multiple water nozzles in an array from the top to the bottom of the water coaster’s upward booster zones. It is now the gold standard for modern water propulsion technologies and significantly reduces water flow and power," he added.
 
Tim Sheehan, Director of Planning at Aquatic Development Group, said: "Environmental sustainability will only be adopted as standard practice when we as designers/suppliers can illustrate to clients/developers how certain relatively inexpensive supplemental initial costs can pay off financially in the long run."
 
"As a group, we need to focus better on incorporating this as standard practice when we design our parks. Our belief is that given the rising concerns about temperature rise, utility costs, and diminishing resources that all parks will have to become 'Eco-parks'," he added. 
 
On how future waterparks will be, Sheehan said: "We can already see different water and amusement parks building eco-friendly initiatives. The vision for the future is a vibrant, sustainable, and prosperous water park industry. One in which we can all enjoy the excitement, thrill, and wonder of water parks that are built and operated in a responsible and sustainable manner and become much more environmentally efficient. The good news is our global industry has the talent and expertise to make it happen," he added. 
 
Mishal Al Hokair, the President of Menalac (Mena Leisure and Attractions Council) said: "If we have to ensure a good future for our children and their children, sustainability is non-negotiable and must be embraced as a top priority by all industries."
 
Menalac, for its part is doing its bit to highlight and raise awareness about the importance of sustainability in our leisure and attractions industry. 
 
In 2022 we introduced a new award category in our annual awards – The Menalac Best Impactful Sustainability Campaign Of The Year Award 2022. We have conducted education sessions on sustainability in the leisure and attractions industry," stated Al Hokair. 
 
"Our health and safety committee is also working on a Playbook on Sustainable Waterparks. We are committed to sustainability and will continue to highlight the importance of building sustainable attractions," he added.-TradeArabia News Service



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