By Amanda Thompson OBE, ICAE
Just a few short weeks ago, many of us were in Los Angeles for global Board meetings and the IAAPA Leadership Summit. This is where we made the decision to postpone IAAPA Expo Asia for a year. Indeed, it was a difficult but very wise decision. China and many Asia Pacific regions were already experiencing the frightening seriousness of this COVID-19 crisis.
Who would have ever believed that in such a short time the entire world would be in lock-down? These are words created for the movie industry but now we are all very much living them. We all share in these unprecedented, and indeed extraordinary times.
Our industry thrives on interaction of people. This is a crucial time of year for us all, no matter if you are a small park, a family entertainment centre, a zoo, aquarium, museum, or a company with multiple parks and locations. We are all in this war against the virus together, bleeding, and struggling to survive. The latch has been firmly clicked shut on all our companies and we need to find ways to survive and look ahead to the future.
The global IAAPA teams have been busier than ever, talking to us all in very different ways. Webinars, conference calls, you name it they are doing it. They are all working from their homes around the world and finding ways to bring us all together. Task forces have been created to discover the best ways for us to come out of lock-down and prepare to reopen.
We must come together as an industry and try to be united in how we provide a safe future for our guests, our staff, and our businesses. Together we will find these solutions.
I personally would like to say a big “THANK YOU” to the IAAPA team members around the world. Please keep up the good work and continue to keep in contact with us, so that we can help each other through these difficult and strange times. We are all under a great deal of pressure and no one has a crystal ball to see the future. We all have our amazingly loyal fans and when we reopen again, we look forward to seeing their familiar faces at our doors ready for the fun and excitement our industry provides.
We can at last see hope arising from China and other areas of the Asia Pacific region. Parks are slowly and thoughtfully re-opening. June Ko, executive director of IAAPA in the Asia-Pacific, has been dealing with this situation since early this year. She will continue to keep us all fully briefed on what the region is doing, and how they are all doing.
Jakob Wahl, executive director of IAAPA Europe, Middle East, Africa, and his team are implementing different avenues of communication so we can remain in contact with each other. The entire team is ready to help all our members. John Hallenbeck in North America and Randy Davis have been working closely with Hal, advocating to US federal and state leaders on behalf of the attractions industry while Paulina Reyes, executive director of Latin America and the Caribbean, continues to ensure our industry voice is heard.
Expos and events are a core part of IAAPA’s services to the industry. Alice Mathu, vice president, exhibitions, conferences, and sales, and her team have all been partnering to ensure information is shared with the M&S community and exhibitor questions are answered. In short – the entire IAAPA team is here for YOU. Please reach out and talk with them.
For those who know me well, I always say Blackpool Pleasure Beach remained open throughout the world wars. This is a world war; we were forced to close to keep everyone safe. Safe is a word we all understand well. We just need to survive. We must be bold and brave. It is my greatest hope, we come through this safely together.
As Her Majesty the Queen said, “We will meet again.”
Until then, please stay strong, please stay safe and know that IAAPA, and this entire industry, have a strong and very big heart.
(IAAPA Chairman of the Board Amanda Thompson OBE, ICAE, is the managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in the United Kingdom.)