Looking forward with optimism — that was the theme of the opening address at IAAPA Expo Europe 2021, and it carried through the week as the Expo brought attractions industry professionals together in Barcelona, Spain. Preliminary estimates indicate the Expo attracted 8,500 participants, including 5,800 qualified buyers and 439 exhibiting companies. The buyer participants represented 3,200 companies. The first IAAPA hosted Expo since 2019, IAAPA Expo Europe focused on resilience, innovation and moving forward.
“IAAPA Expo Europe represents a fresh start for our entire industry,” said Jakob Wahl, vice president and executive director, IAAPA Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), during the opening session. “This Expo is about preparing for the future, inspiring each other and sharing important learnings from the global pandemic.”
The education conference began at theme park destination PortAventura World. The resort hosted the IAAPA Safety Institute, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the park as well as IAAPA EMEA’s first-ever Sustainability Day. The full-day sustainability event featured industry professionals from the EMEA region sharing their parks’ strategies for becoming carbon neutral, incorporating sustainability practices throughout their facilities and providing guidelines to create a sustainability plan that supports business goals. Participants also took an exclusive tour of PortAventura Dreams, the park’s onsite resort which provides annually complimentary visits to 200 children with critical illnesses and their families.
To recognize PortAventura’s commitment to sustainability and pioneering efforts across all lines of business, as well as its openness in sharing best practices with the industry, IAAPA presented the first-ever “IAAPA EMEA Award for Extraordinary Efforts on Sustainability” to the park during the Expo.
Photos courtesy of IAAPA.
On Tuesday, internationally known travel writer Doug Lansky presented the opening keynote presentation about using challenge and crisis as inspiration for positive change. His engaging speech was then followed by Amanda Thompson OBE, Chairman of the Board of Directors, IAAPA; Hal McEvoy, President and CEO, IAAPA; and Jakob Wahl, Vice President and Executive Director, IAAPA EMEA; officially cutting the blue ribbon and declaring the trade show floor open.
Exhibitors and attendees filled two halls of the Fira Barcelona Gran Via, and together discussed critical business needs, discovered new products and services and looked at solutions to entertain guests while meeting new guidelines and procedures that have evolved due to the global pandemic.
“The attractions industry truly is like a family,” shared Hal McEvoy, president and CEO, IAAPA. “To finally come back together — in person — means a great deal. We understand our members and the industry are still working through the ongoing impact of COVID-19, but we are confident the industry will emerge from these challenges stronger than ever. Our role is to help members and the global attractions industry push through, and IAAPA Expo Europe was an important step toward full recovery.”
“This week’s show demonstrates the strength of the attractions industry throughout the EMEA region, and the rest of the world,” continued McEvoy. “Exhibitors represented more than 43 countries around the world. International attendees came to meet with them and make serious buying decisions for their upcoming season and beyond.”
Plans for IAAPA Expo Europe 2022 are already underway. IAAPA Expo Europe 2022 will take place in London, United Kingdom, from Sept. 13–15.