IAAPA’s Role in the Global Attractions Industry’s Road to Recovery
ORLANDO, Fla., US – For the past year, IAAPA has been working to support members around the world through the COVID-19 pandemic. IAAPA first focused on COVID-19 in early January 2020 as it was beginning to impact our members in Asia. Guest and employee safety has always been our industry’s top priority. We have effectively addressed public health issues in the past, but such instances have paled in comparison to the coronavirus in terms of complexity, concern, speed, and ease of transmission.
The global attractions industry includes a variety of permanently located attractions including theme and amusement parks, water parks, family fun centers, museums, zoos, aquariums, cultural attractions and more. To address the rapidly evolving outbreak, we facilitated calls between our members in Asia so they could share information and discuss modifying operations to reduce the health risks associated the transmission of COVID-19. The outcome of those conversations included the development of preliminary operating guidelines that we shared with our members throughout the region.
As the virus spread and rates of transmission increased, our members started to feel the impact – in their countries, their communities, and their organizations. We also saw consumers begin to worry about visiting member attractions as information about COVID-19 and how it was transmitted seemed to change daily. Soon members from facilities to manufacturer and supplier companies started to feel the impact.
Building from the guidelines established by and for our members in Asia, we expanded that sharing initiative, holding calls and gathering input from the brightest minds in the global attractions industry, from operators and suppliers large and small. The operating guidance was further developed with input and expertise from more than 60 companies around the world. We also enlisted the assistance of a respected infectious disease expert and referenced guidance provided a variety of other industries and government health agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). That information was the foundation for our conversations and ensured the protocols and solutions we developed were based on medical science and the latest information known about COVID-19.
The resulting “COVID-19 Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Global Attractions Industry” was made available to our members in both English and Spanish, and shared with local and regional governments and public authorities tasked with reopening their communities to help communicate the work the industry was doing to ensure safe operations for guests and employees. In addition, a thorough, member-exclusive resource center was created on the IAAPA website to help provide members with timely information, contacts, newsworthy updates and data about the pandemic in each region.
Through this complex and collaborative process, we were confident that attractions, like many other businesses (grocery stores, retail establishments, etc.), could modify their operations and provide safe experiences for guests and employees. And while these new protocols often required limiting capacities to allow for physical distancing, our members worked with their local public health officials to develop operating plans that reduced risks significantly yet drove economic activity at the same time.
The good news is, the protocols have worked as we are not aware of any mass coronavirus infections attributed to parks or attractions in any other country. The guidelines have also been referenced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in their Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism, and the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) in their Attractions: Global Protocols for the New Normal resource.
As we reflect on 2020, it is clear the economic impact of the pandemic on the attractions industry has been devastating. Some attractions closed and were not allowed to reopen - even with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. Some closed for several months in 2020, while others remained open but at limited capacities. Many of these businesses will never reopen again; the effects of lost revenue and business for such an extended time left an irrevocable impact.
We hope government officials around the world will act responsibly and allow attractions to operate with safety protocols in place, even as the pandemic continues to affect many areas. As vaccinations increase and COVID-19 cases subside, we hope government leaders will expeditiously support the full recovery of the attractions, hospitality, and tourism sections so these segments can once again provide the significant economic contributions to the regions they serve.
IAAPA is a diverse and dynamic community of global attractions professionals. As the largest international trade association for permanently located attractions, IAAPA unifies the attractions community, connects people to learn and grow together, and strives to promote the highest professional standards for excellence and safety around the world.
Founded in 1918, IAAPA represents leading industry attractions and supplier companies, consultants and individual members from more than 100 countries. Members include professionals from amusement parks, theme parks, attractions, water parks, resorts, family entertainment centers, zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums, cruise lines, manufacturers, and suppliers.
The association's global headquarters and North America office are located in Orlando, Florida, US. IAAPA also maintains offices in Brussels, Belgium; Hong Kong, China; Shanghai, China; Mexico City, Mexico. Additional information is available at www.IAAPA.org or through IAAPA’s social media channels: @IAAPAHQ #IAAPA.
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Susan Storey: [email protected] or +1 321/319-7615