The COVID-19 lockdown has had a profound impact on a sector that is rooted in people coming together. The global International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) team has been working to minimise that impact.

IAAPA LogoIAAPA is connecting members, ensuring the voice of the industry is heard, and putting strategies in place for emerging from the COVID-19 lockdown into a future that is safe for guests, staff, and businesses.

Blooloop spoke with leaders at IAAPA about the challenges facing the industry during the current crisis, They also talked about working in collaboration with local associations, government bodies and members.

The Association is working to liaise with governments, connect the industry, and to establish standardised guidelines as evidence for safe practice to governments, to build trust for guests, and to help the industry rise together as soon and as safely as possible.

IAAPA’s COVID-19 reopening guidance

Randy Davis IAAPA COVID-19Randy Davis, Senior Vice President, Safety and Advocacy for IAAPA, outlined a summary of the Association’s efforts and resources. He told Blooloop:

“The creation of IAAPA’s Reopening Guidance: Considerations for the Attractions Industry has played a pivotal role in IAAPA’s global reopening efforts.”

IAAPA’s Reopening Guidance was developed in partnership with attractions members and operators from around the world as well as with health-related guidance from government agencies and medical professionals.

The guidance outlines principles and approaches to consider for reopening once local government officials remove ‘stay-at-home’ orders, allow businesses to reopen, and say it’s safe for citizens to move around their community. It has been shared with government agencies outlining steps taken to demonstrate readiness to reopen, and complements member’s own plans.

IAAPA member resources for COVID-19

“IAAPA also quickly developed a comprehensive member resource centre on its website,” said Davis. “Updated regularly, IAAPA created this site to provide current, relevant and important information and resources from global health authorities, copies of advocacy letters and statements, and links to industry-specific guidelines.

“The site also features sections by region. This is to help global members find quick links to advocacy updates and new information important to their location.”

“IAAPA understands that connection during this time is important to members. Particularly as facilities look to reopen. As manufacturers and suppliers around the world pivoted to produce needed products, such as personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, masks and more, IAAPA worked to help connect members with each other.”

“The Reopening Products and Services page is a complimentary list which is updated regularly. It highlights the products and services members are offering to help organizations reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Communication is key

IAAPA also moved quickly to ensure members could communicate with each other through technology

“New digital discussion groups and channels, through Workplace, Slack and more have helped bring members together. IAAPA’s Education Team added more webinars. In addition, it provided a new series of professional development seminars members could take part in, for free, at any time.”

IAAPA Virtual Expo Asia

“IAAPA understood continuing education, conversation, preparation and partnership were key to helping members navigate through this unprecedented time.”

IAAPA’s Global Advocacy and Government Relations Support

During the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, IAAPA’s global advocacy efforts focused on urging governments to provide support to IAAPA members and their employees. Davis explains:

“As regions around the world have continued to move through various stages of reacting to the pandemic, IAAPA has worked alongside members through each phase. In many areas of the world, the focus has begun to shift to reopening. But IAAPA continues to advocate in all areas, working alongside members that remain closed, those that have begun to reopen and those that are operating under new guidelines.”

As regions around the world have continued to move through various stages of reacting to the pandemic, IAAPA has worked alongside members through each phase

IAAPA’s four regional vice presidents provided a summary of the association’s key advocacy efforts. Together, they gave Blooloop an insight into each IAAPA member region around the world.

IAAPA advocacy in EMEA

Jacob Wahl IAAPAJakob Wahl, VP and Executive Director, IAAPA Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) said:

“IAAPA sought financial relief, fiscal aid, and employment-related support for the attractions industry. This was through The Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET), as well as The European Tourism Manifesto Alliance.”

Both alliances represent many tourism-related associations across the European Union:

“IAAPA sent a letter to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) referring to IAAPA’s reopening guidance. This expressed IAAPA’s continued openness for exchange and sector input.

“At first, the outreach to key policymakers focused on alleviating the economic effects of COVID-19. Now, we are focussing our efforts on rebuilding trust and strength. We want to support a resilient, sustainable, and digitised tourism industry in the EU.

“In the Middle East, where the Travel and Tourism Sector supports 5.4 million jobs, IAAPA’s partner association the Middle East and North Africa Leisure & Attractions Council (MENALAC) has worked closely with authorities to receive support from regional governments in the form of debt relief, repayment waivers, rent waivers, utility rebates and cashflow support.

In South Africa, among other measures, IAAPA particularly welcomed the Tourism Relief Fund, R200 million overall. The Ministry of Tourism made this available to assist small and medium-sized enterprises. This includes  tour guides in the tourism and hospitality sector.”

In terms of the reopening and recovery of the industry in the EMEA region, Wahl said:

“IAAPA joined support efforts to end quarantines, adapt voucher policies, and provide long-term support for travel and tourism.”

IAAPA Advocacy in Latin America

Paulina Reyes IAAPAPaulina Reyes, VP and Executive Director, IAAPA Latin America, Caribbean, said:

“In Latin America, IAAPA began its advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 crisis by sending letters to the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. This was to ask for government assistance for the industry.”

While these efforts seeking support continue, IAAPA has more recently pursued advocating for the industry to reopen:

“The IAAPA Reopening Guidance has been shared with governments and associations in the region. An important part of this work has been explaining why attractions are different from mass gatherings. And are therefore able to open safely at an earlier stage.

“IAAPA successfully urged the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to endorse the IAAPA Reopening Guidance. This was through the work of an IAAPA member who is also a member of the UNWTO.

IAAPA facilitates continuous information exchange between and among members. It also supports national associations and members across Latin America and the Caribbean region.”

IAAPA Advocacy in North America

John Hallenbeck IAAPA COVID-19John Hallenbeck, VP and Executive Director, IAAPA North America, added his perspective:

“In the U.S., IAAPA on the federal level has held many meetings with members of Congress and their staff. It is a part of broad coalitions and sent letters to the U.S. Administration and U.S. Congressional Leadership, discussing how COVID-19 has affected the industry.

“Here, IAAPA has been advocating for policy issues that are important to the industry during these challenging times.

“A few of the issues  IAAPA has been advocating for on the federal level include: Small Business Administration-related loans, tax credits, mid-size lending programs in the Emergency Stabilization Fund,  a federal backstop for pandemic risk insurance, and liability protections for businesses that are following best practices to protect guests and workers against COVID-related illness. These efforts are ongoing.”

Working collaboratively

IAAPA is working with state governors, agencies, and task-forces during the COVID-19 crisis. This is in order to provide subject matter expertise, best practices and protocols to allow for the safe reopening of the attractions industry.

IAAPA is focusing on reopening plans, facility updates and communicating with local provincial and government officials

“These efforts utilize the IAAPA Reopening Guidance,” says Hallenbeck. “IAAPA is also working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is so that it can provide expertise on our industry for the CDC to use in its reopening guidance.

“The IAAPA team has worked with members throughout Canada. It is focusing on reopening plans, facility updates and communicating with local provincial and government officials. Grassroots efforts in Canada have been providing support to IAAPA members. This includes manufacturer and supplier facilities, as well as Canadian tourism groups and organizations.”

IAAPA Advocacy in APAC

June Ko IAAPA COVID 19June Ko, VP and Executive Director, IAAPA Asia Pacific, said:

“There are more than 30 countries and regions in Asia Pacific. IAAPA worked closely with over 15 national associations to exchange advocacy resources and open letter templates in support of our members in each country. This has helped members in many countries send letters to their governments for assistance. Especially during the early stages of the outbreak in January 2020.”

Governments in the Asia-Pacific region have launched various economic stimulation programs since the outbreak first began.

“IAAPA consolidated these measures by country or region for members to reference and to apply for applicable relief. These measures are reflected in the IAAPA COVID-19 member resources page. This covers Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, India, Hong Kong SAR, China and Australia.”

The government reopening guidelines first issued by the Chinese Tourism sector were introduced by IAAPA in March as a resource for other attractions to plan for their reopening:

“The IAAPA APAC team assembled a group of attractions professionals within the APAC region in February 2020. They developed a regional reopening best practices document. The group also provided a support group that all IAAPA members could connect to. Here, they could ask any questions they had relating to COVID-19.

“This approach, along with the global IAAPA Reopening Guidance, was shared with national associations for adoption and reference. It helped to support operators with their discussions with government departments on reopening.”

Background image courtesy of Cedar Fair