'Perception Issues' See Struggling SeaWorld Profits Nosedive Again

The company still hasn't overcome the fall out from 2013 documentary Blackfish
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Orcas are forced to perform in demeaning, unnatural shows (Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa)

Orcas are forced to perform in demeaning, unnatural shows (Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa)

Ailing entertainment venue SeaWorld has seen another fall in profits this quarter - due in part to 'perception issues'.

The attraction has been suffering a backlash since 2013, when documentary Blackfish revealed how the park abuses orcas and other marine animals.

Since then, park bosses have been unable to reverse the trend of declining visitor numbers.

SeaWorld in crisis

The park has experienced a massive 16 percent fall in net profits compared to a year before.

According to a spokesperson for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.: "Total revenues were $437.7 million, compared to $485.3 million in the third quarter of 2016.

"Net income was $55.0 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, as compared to net income of $65.7 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2016.

"Attendance in the third quarter of 2017 declined by approximately 732,000 guests compared to the prior year third quarter."

Decline

The company has highlighted a number of reasons for its decline, citing 'public perception issues' as one of them.

SeaWorld slashed the marketing budget on its 'national reputation campaign' earlier this year as part of an extensive range of cost-cutting measures (including the loss of 350 jobs) - a move park bosses now believe led to a dip in visitors to its San Diego venue.

In addition, a spokesperson said: "The decline in U.S. domestic attendance, particularly in Orlando, results primarily from the combined impact of reduced national advertising and competitive pressures.

"Attendance for the third quarter was also adversely impacted by the effects of Hurricane Irma in Florida, which caused park closures in Orlando and Tampa, and to a lesser extent, the effects of Hurricane Harvey, which caused park closures and travel disruptions in Texas as well as weather impacts in Virginia."

Fewer people are choosing to witness this kind of animal abuse (Photo: Loadmaster David R. Tribble)

Fewer people are choosing to witness this kind of animal abuse (Photo: Loadmaster David R. Tribble)

'Stabilize the business'

As usual, SeaWorld's Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer, tried to put a positive spin on the stats.

He said: "This quarter, we made progress implementing the targeted actions weFewe outlined in August to stabilize our business and to drive sustainable growth, while continuing to advance the core elements of our five-point plan.

"We also implemented a new restructuring program by eliminating approximately 350 positions by the end of the year.

"We expect to deploy a majority of the cost savings from the restructuring program into enhanced marketing and advertising initiatives in 2018 to drive revenue growth."

"Our compelling product lineup, updated pricing strategies, and aggressive marketing and advertising promotion will begin to roll out early next year which we believe will position us well for improved performance in 2018."

'Abusement park'

Animal rights charity PETA says the company should take heed of its plummeting profits and retire its animals.

According to PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman: "If this abusement park wants to improve its earnings reports, it must overhaul its business model, release the surviving animals into coastal sanctuaries, and commit to earning the public's forgiveness for the cruelty that it has committed."

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