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Singapore success for Asian Attractions Expo

A record-breaking 5,350 industry professionals participated in last month’s Asian Attractions Expo (AAE), the Asia Pacific region trade show and conference from IAAPA.

Staged at the Sands Expo and Convention Center – part of the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort – from 4 to 7 June, the AAE venue was an attraction in itself with its stunning Skypark and 150m infinity pool overlooking the Singapore skyline. IAAPA sold out its MBS room block well in advance, giving those delegates and exhibitors lucky enough to stay there some first-class “R&R” when they were able to tear themselves away from the exhibition halls or events. Other plumped for more affordable options.

Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands

The attendance figure quoted, which includes more than 3,600 buyers, is up slightly on last year in Hong Kong, nevertheless some of the 286 exhibitors observed that the halls did seem quieter. Maybe that is a reflection of how much this show has grown in recent years, now occupying 6,824 net square meters of space – the most expansive exhibition floor in AAE’s history. There was certainly a consensus among companies Park World talked to that they “had to be there.”

“Asian Attractions Expo 2013’s success reflects the tremendous industry growth in the Asia-Pacific region and confirms it as the attractions industry’s leading event for industry professionals,” remarked IAAPA president and CEO, Paul Noland.

As has now become the case at all IAAPA trade shows, the event kicked off with a showbiz-style opening ceremony. In this case the production was overseen by the entertainment team from Enchanted Kingdom in the Philippines, including a contribution from park owner and IAAPA vice-chairman Mario Mamon as Gangnam Style singer Psy, plus appearances by Sesame Street characters from Universal Studios Singapore.

Official AAE social events and networking opportunities included Wednesday night’s party at Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) new Marine Life Park. Whilst the accompanying waterpark and aquarium tours were interesting, the backdrop for the event and the weather failed to live up to last year’s spectacular shindig at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Many then returned to RWS the following night for the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association) Party at Universal Studios. If anything there were probably too many events at RWS given its location.

AAE attendees assemble for a photo call at Legoland Malyasia on a pre-show tour of local attractions
AAE attendees assemble for a photo call at Legoland Malyasia on a pre-show tour of local attractions

A number of tours were offered before, during and after the show, including a hop across the Singapore Straits to see Themed Attractions & Resorts’ first attractions in Malaysia, namely Legoland and Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park (including Hello Kitty Town and Little Big Club). Like the early morning trip to Universal Studios, it was a sell out. A party of 35 AAE attendees and IAAPA representatives embarked on a post-show tour to Bali.

Attendance at the education conference totalled nearly 1,500, with large turnouts for sessions including (among others) What’s New in Asia, Social Media and a presentation from Wanda Cultural Tourism chairman Yuan Wang outlining the group’s impressive portfolio of parks, resorts and hotels across China. Almost 300 people bought tickets for Thursday’s Leadership Breakfast with Ocean Park chief executive, Tom Mehrmann.

So how was AAE 2013 on the show floor for the exhibitors? “Phenomenal,” smiled DymoRides’ David Vatcher, adding that he was currently in advanced talks on two projects in Asia, and will be opening another soon in Australia.

Attendance at the education sessions was strong
Attendance at the education sessions was strong

“The show’s been pretty good for Mack Rides,” Maximillian Roeser informed Park World. “If you look around it does not seem so busy, but people are stopping by. Asia is an important market for us and next year we will expand our booth.”

A large and slick-looking booth was contributed near the front of the hall by Kingsmen, but as a Singapore company specialising in exhibition design you’d expect no less. The firm diversified into the attractions industry after working theming for the local Universal Studios and is now involved with high profile upcoming Chinese projects including Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai and Shanghai Disney Resort.

New Austrian media-based experience specialist Attraktion! stopped plenty of visitors in their tracks with the Playoke Dance game on its booth. “The first reactions have been good,” Markus Beyr informed us. “The product could be operated either on a pay-to-play basis or perhaps as a pre-show to another attraction.”

A general view of the show floor
A general view of the show floor

“The Dubai show [DEAL] was maybe better for attendance, but AAE is of equal importance,” observed Coen Nieuwenstein on the Gerstlauer Amusement Rides booth. “There’s a lot of potential in the Asia Pacific region, and we already projects in Japan and Australia.”

“I think this is better than two years ago at Sentosa,” offered Zierer’s Marina Ernst. “The first day was very good, we were busy all day and we also signed an order at the show. The Asian market is a good market right now, whereas Europe is slowing down. We have not seen many Chinese customers here though.”

“Indonesia is the hot market in South East Asia right now,” added Zamperla’s Andrea Cielo, “it’s booming; everywhere there are new parks. “Singapore is an attractive place to come, and we were maybe expecting to see more people at the show, but we cannot complain.” Among the sales made by the Italian manufacturer was a Hydro Mania ride for an unnamed Asian client.

“The show is nice,” concluded David Jia of prolific Chinese ride manufacturer Golden Horse Amusement Equipment, which was exhibiting details of a new product called Fantasy Fly. “We will have a huge booth next year in Beijing. I think there is room for two shows – CAAPA for the domestic market, and AAE for the rest of Asia.”

Things certainly look likely to get interesting in 2014 when AAE is staged in the Chinese capital from 17 to 20 June, just a few months after the annual trade show from the Chinese Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (CAAPA) at the same venue.

iaapa.org/expos/asian-attractions-expo

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