Saturday, September 30, 2023

TEA and AECOM 2022 global attraction attendance report published

While regional differences varied greatly, many of the world’s theme parks, water parks and museums moved steadily towards full recovery, with some achieving pre-pandemic levels of success in both attendance and revenue.

2022 will be remembered by most as a year of relaxed pandemic restrictions, pent-up demand for out-of-home experiences and a return to some sense of normalcy. Global attractions, with some exceptions, took advantage of these market conditions to attract impressive numbers of visitors through their turnstiles. In many areas, particularly in North America and Europe, average attendance figures approached 100% of 2019’s record-high numbers.

China, and the markets that rely on Chinese tourists, experienced a different story. Pandemic lockdowns actually increased in China throughout most of 2022, frequently causing a loss of attendance compared to 2021. But with China ending its restrictions in December 2022, the outlook is improved for this part of the world.

Details of these dynamics can be found in the 2022 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, the definitive resource of attendance information on the world’s most-visited theme parks, water parks, and museums, now in its 17th annual edition. This annual, calendar-year study is produced in collaboration with the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and the Economics practice at AECOM. The new, 2022 edition was officially released on June 13, 2023. This report and all prior editions back to 2006 are available to download in full, free of charge from the TEA website and AECOM website.

“The TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index provides valuable data and insight into our industry,” said TEA International Board President Melissa Ruminot of Nassal. “The information provided in the TEA/AECOM Theme Index provides the basis for countless reporting and feasibility studies, supporting further industry growth. TEA is proud to partner with AECOM to provide this important resource to our business community.”

The 2022 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index studies the sector by region – The Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), in addition to the global market as a whole. The report charts and discusses the continued effects of the pandemic on the industry in 2022 and the subsequent signs of recovery and heightened innovation taking place.

“2022 has proven that people are craving experiences with family and friends, which is fueling the near-total recovery for many parts of our industry,” said John Robinett, senior vice president of AECOM’s Economics + Advisory practice. “The pandemic has ushered in a renewed focus on the guest experience, and savvy operators are already taking advantage of the efficiencies new technologies and trends are providing.

“That resulted in some operators seeing 2022 revenues that exceeded 2019 levels, even though attendance often lagged slightly behind. In fact, with continued strong demand, we expect to see even more growth in attendance and revenue for 2023 and beyond.”


In the Americas the story is about pandemic attendance recovery and increased per-cap spending. Revenues often eclipsed pre-pandemic numbers thanks to operators focusing on improving the guest experience through attendance caps, pricing adjustments, technology to control queue times and more. Water parks performed nearly equally as well, benefitting from continued pent-up demand and a good weather season.

“Theme parks and water parks have been looking at ways to reduce friction for guests and make experiences better and more interactive,” said Francisco Refuerzo, an economist with AECOM. “This includes intentionally creating – and selling – technology to allow the guest to more fully interact with experiences in the park.”


While much of the world saw a steady pace of recovery from 2021 into 2022, the story in the Asia Pacific region is more complex. Taken as a whole, the region’s numbers were essentially flat, but there was great disparity between different countries.

Outside of China, pandemic restrictions were relaxed for nearly the entire year, resulting in impressive increases over 2021. Within China, lockdowns were more prevalent than before, drastically impacting park numbers.

“Because of the continued downturn in international tourism, parks in the Asia-Pacific region carried over lessons learned from 2021 in attracting local visitors,” said Beth Chang, the executive director of AECOM’s Economics practice for its Asia region. “With China now reopened and travel starting to pick up, we expect 2022 was the final chapter in this region’s recovery story.”


Less reliant on tourism from outside the continent, European parks showed resiliency in recovery. Added together, the attendance figures for 2022 show a 98% recovery rate compared to 2019 numbers. Waterparks also did particularly well, although indoor parks suffered slightly with closures due to Omicron early in the year. Still, water parks recorded attendance at an impressive 96% of pre-Covid numbers.

“The EMEA region appears poised for great success in 2023,” said Jodie Lock, associate director of economic development with AECOM’s Europe and India region. “Continued reinvestment in the parks, along with a notable regional focus on sustainability initiatives, is likely to drive attendance for the foreseeable future.”


Museums around the globe were challenged by Omicron restrictions at the start of 2022, but the situation improved dramatically for most facilities as the year progressed. Europe and North America saw numbers return to 70% of pre-pandemic levels, but Asian museums only got to 40%, largely due to Chinese lockdowns affecting big cities. Major museums worldwide, relying on a mix of international and domestic visitors along with local residents, continue to feel the impact of delayed international tourism recovery. Pre-pandemic tourism levels in most major cities are projected to return by 2024 or 2025.

Similar to parks, museums are placing renewed focus on the visitor experience. While attendance continues to be driven by special exhibits, many museums are investing in their permanent exhibitions to make them more immersive and engaging. Museums are also more keenly aware of their role in communities, and the expectations that go along with that. Efforts to expand diversity in the workforce and visitor population continue, as do programs that take the museum’s mission outside its traditional campus.

“We see visitor attention spans decreasing, and museums are making changes to adapt to this reality,” said Linda Cheu, vice president with AECOM’s Economics + Advisory practice. “In order to remain relevant, museums are developing their facilities to create interactive and educational spaces where people can spend time together with family and friends. It’s a recipe for success not only for museums, but for visitor attractions the world over.”


The TEA website and AECOM website are the official sources to view and download the latest full version of the 2022 TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index, as well as past reports dating to 2006, free of charge.

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