PHOTO: June Ko, Paul Noland, and Wuthichai Luangamornlert
At the Asian Attractions Expo in Singapore, InPark had the opportunity to meet with several leaders from IAAPA to talk about the status of the industry in Asia. Participating in the interview were:
-Paul Noland, President and CEO of IAAPA (PN)
-June Ko, Vice President of Asia Pacific Operations for IAAPA (JK)
-Wuthichai Luangamornlert, Managing Director of Siam Park in Bangkok, Thailand and IAAPA Board Director (WL)
People often talk about tourism in China, but how are Chinese tourists having an impact on travel and attractions elsewhere in SE Asia?
JK: With China’s expanding middle class we expect an increasing flow of tourists from China.
WL: Tourism is actually a major export from China. However [per cap] spending from Chinese tourists needs to be increased. The major players in the industry are helping to educate tourists on ways to spend money on retail, dining and experiences at attractions.
What is your outlook for SE Asia?
WL: The market is certainly growing and it’s very diverse. However the problem is the region is scattered in a variety of islands and nations. It can be difficult for major companies to come in because there is no major landmass [and the accompanying population] like the US or China. It’s my opinion that smaller integrated resorts are the solution.
Additionally, there are many different governments in the region with different rules and policies. This provides more competition, but it can also be an incentive to improve the end product.
What trends are you noticing for parks in the region?
PN: We are seeing parks capitalize on the nostalgia factor. Successive generations like to share experiences that they enjoyed growing up. So the trend is to create high quality rides that all members of the family can enjoy.
WL: I agree. In SE Asia family rides are the most talked about on social media.
What plans does IAAPA have for the Asia Pacific division?
JK: We will be opening up a satellite office in Shanghai [current IAAPA offices are in Hong Kong]. The Hong Kong office will focus more on SE Asia while the Shanghai satellite office will focus on China. We hope to have that finalized by the end of the year.
We are also working on promoting employment. There is lots of room for people to grow in this industry, so we are working with governments and educational institutions in the region to develop a larger qualified labor pool.
Can you identify any hot spots in the region and particular types of attractions that are finding the most success?
PN: Vietnam has huge growth potential right now, and we also are seeing growth in Malaysia, South Korea and India.
In this region, waterparks and FEC’s are the bread and butter for the attractions industry. Eco-parks also show promise.
WL: It’s especially desirable for the local population to have waterparks available because of their more affordable price point and the mild temperatures.
What can the Asian market teach the industry?
JK: Particularly in SE Asia, the climate provides a big learning curve for Western suppliers. Humidity is consistently high and storms are unpredictable and frequent. The industry is learning how to install and operate attractions in this region.
WL: With the growth of tourism, many people will want to invest in parks in this region. But it is hard for people to understand the investment process in SE Asia. It’s simply a different system here and the scale is different, so outside investors will need to understand that to be successful.