Port Aventura has kicked off the summer campaign this Saturday, with a capacity limited to 30% due to covid imperative and a strong Catalan accent among its visitors. The theme park thus opens its 26th course and plans to ride its attractions to between 5,000 and 8,000 people this weekend, according to management calculations.
Eager for entertainment, to oxygenate the mind after 14 months of pandemic and smile under the mask. This is the atmosphere that was breathed in the opening of doors this Saturday morning. About twenty cars were already queuing at the gates of the enclosure at nine in the morning, an hour before the opening. With some French registration, but an eminently local audience.
“It’s the first time we’ve come in summer. I’m looking forward to trying the water attractions,” explains six-year-old Paula. Together with her sister Áurea, 9, they have brought their parents to the park. “We usually come every year for December,” says the mother. “For my birthday,” Paula adds quickly.
You even want to explain everything. This family from Mollerusa broke the tradition last year for covid reasons and this time they have changed the visit in ‘colla’ for the family ‘petit committee’. They were not the only ones. From the park they still do not give data on how the season was, although looking at the economic and tourism indicators, it is intuited that it was weak.
For this summer, the management foresees that some 3.6 million customers will parade through its attractions, 70% than in a precovid season. The opening has been made with a capacity of 30%, which they hope to be able to expand to 100% as the vaccination campaign progresses.
Despite wearing a Colombian national team shirt, Joan is more Catalan than the ‘pà amb tomàquet’ or the ‘carn d’olla’. This 20-year-old young man has come with his friends to spend Saturday in Port Aventura. “I’m up to the p … of the ‘crown’. We have come to have fun,” he sums up, clear and concise. More than one buys the argument after 14 months of pandemic.
Joan is the example of the changes in the profile of the visitor that the covid has introduced. Younger and fewer families. Before the virus the proportion was 20-80 and now it has gone to 35-65, as detailed by the management.
And a local audience, with a residual foreign visitor . “6% of the visitors this weekend are French, when they are usually 15%. And the English market is still stopped”, says the general director of business, David García. “National reserves have risen 30% compared to 2019,” he adds.
Starting at half throttle is noticeable taking a walk in the park. There are no large crowds , part of the beach bars are closed and only four of the six annex hotels are in operation. The prospect of reopening is gradual and management plans to open the fifth at the end of the month and have all six with overnight stays during the summer. 90% of the workforce has left the erte and is operational
The covid protocols are also present. Hydroalcoholic gel at the entrance of all the attractions and blue points on the floor of the queue, to guide the line and try to respect the meter and a half distance. In some it is fulfilled and in others, the most popular, somewhat less.
The company has invested five million euros in sanitary measures and a crew of 50 workers thoroughly disinfects all the machines every morning. And during the day, that moment of itching and adrenaline of the visitor about to ride the attraction lasts a few more seconds to give the workers room to give it a quick clean.
The day has accompanied this Saturday reopening. Sunny day, but without annoying heat. Those with sun cream on the nose and neck and who like ice cream for the throat. Martí, 12, has bought the idea (and his father has paid for it).
It is the first year that comes and it gives the meter and 40 centimeters that the Shambhala demands. In a year in which the pandemic has given more turns to life than those given by this attraction, Martí has been given this surprise for his birthday. With a smile that comes out of his mask, he prepares to take all the possible trips to the compost.