Photo: Andreas Andersen, Hal McEvoy and June Ko
InPark joined other industry journalists in a roundtable with IAAPA leadership during the Asian Attractions Expo. Responding to questions were Hal McEvoy, Interim CEO of IAAPA; Andreas Andersen, IAAPA Chairman of the Board as well as CEO and President of Liseberg park (read more about Andreas); and June Ko, VP of Asia Pacific Operations for IAAPA.
What impacts do you think the recent changes in China’s approach to land use for theme parks and cultural attractions will have on the market?
Hal McEvoy: We continue to see great growth in the region. We recently opened an office in Shanghai that will be supporting June and the Hong Kong team. Our Global Outlook report shows that in 2016 for the Asia Pacific Region, spending went up over 8%, attendance increased over 6%, and per capita spending increased over 1% as well. China accounts for about 77% of that increase. So guests are visiting parks in China and our feeling is that China will continue to see good growth.
Andreas Andersen: Although we are optimistic and see growth, we have to understand that the markets are always cyclical. We will see ups and downs. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the Asia Pacific region, and will continue to see growth, but we also plan for these cycles and movements in the marketplace.
In particular, what about the focus on Hainan Island?
June Ko: As we know, the Chinese government is very supportive of Hainan Island and we do know there will be continued regulations that might support growth there, and that’s why many investors are looking at Hainan Island as a destination to invest in. We are happy to see our members already there. Since the government is very supportive of that region we can see very quick growth within the next two years. Because there are already international investors and brands are already there, I don’t think it’s a great surprise to anyone to see additional growth there.
There is still discussion on what is to be opened in different areas of Hainan Island that have not yet been developed. Most of the attractions are in the Northern and Southern areas; there is still land to be discovered. The infrastructure is in place (trains, airports) so we are looking forward to that expansion. It is defintily moving in the right direction. Hainan Island will be a very hot destination.
Additionally, I have heard there is the potential to open up Hainan Island to be visa free for more countries, which would be an added benefit.
How is the success in the Asia Pacific region impacting IAAPA’s search for a new CEO?
Hal McEvoy: The IAAPA board is conducting a worldwide search. Our expectation is that it will probably take a couple of more months to complete this process, and when the board feels they have the right candidate, you can expect an announcement.
Andreas Andersen: IAAPA is truly a global association and the show in Hong Kong is a testament to that fact. International experience is important for the CEO role and will be considered in the hiring process.
How are the impending changes to global trade policies impacting our industry?
June Ko: Trade policies in general are constantly changing. As an association, we support the industry and the needs of our members. We are here to ensure sustainability and support systems for our members. We have the IAAPA news flash and other mechanisms where we communicate changes in the marketplace to our members. IAAPA is the voice and backbone of the industry and not just one region. Our core expertise is to be that voice in not one country or one region but the whole world.
Andreas Andersen: In addition to that, you can see in places like in Latin America, we have seen conditions that ease taxes levied on amusement rides. While in some areas you may see the opposite, in other areas of the world we will see that it will be easier to gain access to attractions and supplies.
Hal McEvoy: We are here to educate leaders in the world and working with our members to try to make sure that tariffs are fair. We are looking for some positive changes in the next few years, but it takes time for these processes to go into place. Our role is to try to move things forward in the industry that will support our members.
How are you celebrating the 100th anniversary of IAAPA?
Hal McEvoy: We are really excited about our 100th anniversary and building the future is really the direction we are looking at as we move toward our Expo in Orlando. What we’ve done all year is to create a series of celebrations for our members. For example this week at Ocean Park we will have a celebration of our 100th anniversary with our members. In November at Orlando we will have the big wrap up, a big celebration that ends with a bang. Organizationally, we are setting the foundation for the next 100 years: celebrating the past and building the future. The future of our industry looks bright and we are very excited about the happiness and memories our industry gives to people around the world.