IAAPA Expo Europe highlights digitalisation, tech & sustainability
After a year of recovery and adaptation adding new Covid-19 safety protocols to business operations, amusement parks and other attractions gathered for Europe’s largest event for the leisure sector, IAAPA Expo Europe. Organised by IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, brought industry professionals together to meet from 27 to 30 September, at the Fira Gran Via Barcelona venue, and to learn first-hand what is new and next for the sector.
At the opening event of the new edition of the IAAPA Expo Europe, which took place on Tuesday at the Fira, the president and CEO of IAAPA, Hal McEvoy, highlighted the importance of recovering this annual meeting and seeing first-hand the great work carried out by professionals in the sector to carry out solutions that aspire to revolutionize leisure, as we know it now.
“The industry professionals who are with us this week are committed to moving forward and are learning new ways to add technology to their businesses in response to the global pandemic. Technology has played a significant role as parks have added new protocols and security measures, as well as helped enhance the visitor experience and support sustainable efforts.” Jakob Wahl, Executive Director and Vice-President of IAAPA EMEA, highlighted the work of the association and its efforts to keep professionals connected and continue advancing in an industry that annually welcomes more than 520 million guests worldwide.
Maintaining connection across the industry, coupled with the industry’s commitment to the health and safety of guests and employees, helped the industry adapt for a successful and a safe reopening of parks and attractions.
“Thanks to partnership and commitment to the industry, the parks that have opened in 2021 have reported having recovered much of the attendance figures, with some matching and exceeding 2019 levels. This speaks to the public’s trust that the safety protocols the industry implemented in response to the global pandemic were the right ones, and their desire to return to these recreational spaces to have fun with the family and the friends,” Jakob added.
As the main event of the leisure industry in Europe, the Expo focused on helping participants reinvent themselves, restart and reconnect with a vigorous commercial exhibition, special and exclusive events, and exclusive educational programs. This is the fifteenth year IAAPA Expo Europe has taken place in the region and the first time since 2016 since it was hosted in Barcelona. “Barcelona is one of the leading tourist cities in the world, and great parks and attractions are in and around the area. Tibidabo, one of the hallmarks of the city, PortAventura World, the largest amusement park in Spain and one of Europe’s top destinations; as well as other parks and attractions in the country, including Warner Park in Madrid, Puy Du Fou Espana and Siam Park in the Canary Islands,” Hal shared.
During IAAPA Expo Europe, the tradeshow floor featured 439 exhibiting companies from 43 countries, and more than 25 from Spain. IAAPA Expo Europe attendees represented international attractions industry leaders, decision makers and visionaries from all industry segments, from manufacturers and suppliers to owners and operators.
Among the novelties of this year, new rides, advances in technological solutions, virtual reality and augmented reality experiences and more were found on the trade show floor.
Amanda Thompson OBE, Chairman of the IAAPA Board of Directors shared at the opening ceremony: “I am delighted that today is the first day in almost 20 months that our global industry has been able to come together in person to meet, learn, exchange ideas, buy and benefit from the wealth of resources IAAPA offers its members. Let IAAPA Expo Europe begin!”
The opening ceremony was also attended by Mr. Albert Batlle, Deputy Mayor of the Prevention and Security area of the Barcelona City Council who was part of the tour of authorities who visited some of the main exhibitors of the IAAPA Expo Europe.