On the 14th of June, IAAPA CEO Paul Noland opened the 2016 Asian Attractions Expo with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando shooting that had happened a day prior. It was a somber and appropriate tribute – a necessary time of quiet in an event otherwise bustling with noise and activity.
InPark Editor Martin Palicki was on hand for the expo, including the opening ceremonies, trade show, education sessions and special events. InPark also got a chance to interview IAAPA leaders about the Asian market. Here are highlights from the opening session as well as that interview.
Quotable Quotes from the Opening Ceremony
June Ko, Vice President of Asia Pacific Operations: We encourage everyone to create opportunity through innovation.
Paul Noland: The Asia Pacific region is leading the world in theme park attendance. Over 540 million visitors are forecast by 2019.
John McReynolds, IAAPA Board Chairman: 414 companies exhibited over 12,339 square meters during the 2016 Expo. Compare that with the last time the show was in Shanghai (2006) with 120 exhibitors over 2,500 square meters.
Paul Noland: Not only is the industry coming to Asia, but it is buying products from Asia.
Interview with June Ko, Paul Noland and Ocean Park Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Matthias Li
International parks are getting more active in China. Does this present an opportunity or a challenge?
Matthias Li: This is a good opportunity for the theme park industry in China. The market is huge and as more theme parks come to China each park must develop and come up with new ideas. It is also good for supporting industries as well, including local manufacturers and consultants.
With the arrival of Shanghai Disneyland, Hello Kitty and other branded parks, what is your outlook for the region?
June Ko: Many new parks in the region is great for the industry in China and the Asia Pacific area. They bring up the entire standard in the industry as well as attendance.
Matthias Li: In the Shanghai area we have a population base of 100 million. With new parks and domestic parks both available it will give consumers many choices and be good for the region.
What is the biggest challenge the industry faces in China?
Paul Noland: The good news is the challenge isn’t that there is enough demand. People are being educated on what parks offer and all parks are better off when an international park comes into the region. It helps encourage parks to strive for repeat visitors.
VR technology is emerging in the theme parks. What’s your take?
Paul Noland: It is an emerging trend and successfully being used to synchronize video with motion. It allows operators the ability to revitalize old attractions and I think it will be very successful.
How is the Chinese tourist impacting parks in other Asia Pacific countries?
Mattheis Li: The mainland Chinese tourist is very important for us all. Many of the countries are starting to implement friendly tourist policies as Chinese visitors seek out more vacation and recreation destinations. Chinese companies are now buying up other facilities such as Club Med in nearby countries with the goal of marketing them to Chinese tourists.
June Ko: In some parks I’ve been to I’ve noticed a trend to cater to Chinese and Southeast Asian visitors in their food and beverage offerings. Many parks are starting to cater to those different needs, which I think is very important.