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Wonderla Holidays awaits clearances for project in Chennai

Monday, 27 Jul 2020
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Wonderla Holidays, an amusement park operator, is waiting for final approval from the Department of Town & Country Planning to commence its project near Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 
 
The company had made an investment to the tune of Rs 109 crore for the project till March 2020. 
 
Wonderla Holidays received approval for the project and the Tamil Nadu government allowed an exemption from 10 percent local body tax on ticket revenue for a period of five years from the date of commencement of commercial operations. 
 
The company has to renegotiate the exemption period in view of the delay in construction work due to COVID-19 lockdown. 
 
The Chennai project was the company's major planned investment which would be the fourth such facility for the Group. Following the lockdown, the construction work at the site was halted. Once the lockdown is lifted, the company will resume work. 
 
The company had to put on hold the project for some time as there was a levy of local body entertainment tax of 10 percent by the state government under Tamil Nadu Local Authorities Entertainment Tax Act 2017 over and above the GST of 18 percent. 
 
However, the company later made a representation to the state government seeking exemption for amusement parks from levy of LBT considering majority of visitors were from school and college besides the huge capital expenditure required for construction. 
 
The state government had specifically exempted the company from levy of LBT for a period of five years since the project was signed during the Global Investors Meet. 
 
The company has obtained no objection certificates (NOCs) from fire department, pollution control board, forest department and was awaiting final clearance from the Department of Town and Country Planning. 
 
As per the current scenario it is difficult to complete the construction before 30 September 2021. It intends to appeal to the state government for duly extending the exemption period to cover the COVID-19 lockdown delay. 
 
Once the final clearance is received, the company will analyse the situation and take a decision on the commencement of project construction. 
 
The company's first priority after the lockdown is lifted is to reopen the existing parks and resorts and thereafter commencing the construction of the Chennai project. 
 
Apart from this, the company owns 93.17 acre in Kochi (Kerala), 81.75 acre in Bengaluru (Karnataka) and 49.50 acre in Hyderabad (Telangana). 
 
The company will focus on improving the existing parks to get more footfalls, expansion through setting up new amusement parks and enhancing visitor experience. 
 
The company was working on redesigning the Wonderla website to attract more traffic and streamline online ticket booking systems. A new portal exclusively for tour operators is also in the works.
 
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