Fairground rides are slightly more expensive this summer. / sur

Fairground businesses call for help if the sector is to survive

They have been hit hard by the pandemic and rising costs but say they can’t put prices up because people won't pay, so they are calling on town halls to help

VANESSA MELGAR Malaga

After two years of the pandemic many people are looking forward to being able to enjoy the fairs again this summer but owners of fairground businesses, while glad to be back at work, say they are finding the extra costs hard to meet and are calling on town halls to help.

In Malaga province, the Association of Fairground Businesses has just over 100 members. Some only work in the province and others travel all over Andalucía. They have lost members because some were obliged to find employment in other sectors during the pandemic, and those that remain, some of them businesses which have been handed down through families for generations, say they are struggling. This is seasonal work, they point out, and it is hard to make ends meet.

Rafael Blánquez, the president of the association, said it has been very difficult for the sector to survive the pandemic.

Fellow association member Antonio Ramírez said that town halls will have to help out because the fairground businesses cannot increase their prices very much. “Who is going to pay five euros for their child to go on a ride? If the councils won’t help us with the costs, we won’t be able to come to their fairs,” he pointed out.

"We just want to work"

Blánquez said that some town halls have come to their aid, by charging them less or keeping their charge the same, but that is not enough.

“We have to pay our insurance, certifications, assembly costs, transport, social security… we just want to work and for people to come to the fairs,” he said. “Instead of paying a singer 20,000 euros, pay them 10,000. If our fuel is costing us 400 euros now instead of 200, we’re not going to be able to make ends meet”.

Uncertain future

The sector also faces competition from amusement parks which are open all year, and Ramírez says fairground businesses are becoming increasingly less profitable and the future looks uncertain. They are all looking forward to the Malaga Fair this month, the biggest event of the year, which is thought to represent about 60 million euros of the 100 million earned by the sector each year.