Prepared remarks of Charlie Bray, President & CEO Intl. Assoc. of Amusement Parks and Attractions, at the First Summit Forum on the Chinese Amusement Industry’s Innovation and Development Thursday, October 25, 2007 Suzhou, China
Introduction – Congratulations to CAAPA
Thank you for that generous welcome. It is indeed a pleasure to be here this morning to participate in this impressive and important event. I fully appreciate the various demands on your time, so I hope you’ll find my remarks on the world of amusement and leisure both interesting and beneficial.
I want to begin by thanking the China Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions for its wonderful hospitality, particularly Chairman Liu Jingwang, your many distinguished Vice Chairmen, and Secretary General Feng Yuguo. I also want to recognize and congratulate CAAPA on its 20th anniversary as an organization.
Like the industry it represents, CAAPA has made great progress in just two decades. With a current membership of nearly 400, the association’s permanent staff and standing committees are dedicated to the long-term success of the amusement and attractions sector in China. Its member facilities, manufacturers, and suppliers all benefit greatly from the services CAAPA provides, especially events like this inaugural Summit Forum and tomorrow’s opening of the 16th China Attractions Expo.
We at IAAPA are delighted by this development, for it represents further progress in growing Asia’s attractions and leisure business, and in strengthening a key regional industry partner.
And when CAAPA is stronger, we’re all stronger – a concept that guides the Global Alliance partnerships we’ve established in China and elsewhere since 2005. I’ll have more to say about these agreements later on, but in a little more than two years, our partnership with CAAPA has already produced an expanded relationship through our work together on the 2006 Asian Expo in Shanghai, an ongoing cooperative business plan, and initial industry growth benchmarks that have been met or exceeded.
All of these achievements are commendable, and I fully expect many more of them in the next few years as both CAAPA and China’s attractions segment continue to advance. With all that is happening in this country and throughout the wider Asian region when it comes to leisure, this Summit Forum presents a timely opportunity to discuss how this incredible growth fits within today’s world of amusement.
A Global Industry Needs A Global Organization
I say “world” because this industry is truly an international one, with parks and suppliers located across the globe – and that’s where IAAPA enters the picture, for we work to support the industry worldwide.
Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for attractions and their suppliers. Currently, over 40 percent of our facility members are from outside the U.S. Through our Global Alliances program, we have agreements with 16 national or regional associations around the world, which means that 90 percent of our members are now served in their native language within their own geographic region.
IAAPA is also leading the way in the industry’s efforts to develop a universal set of ride safety standards and to foster more widespread ride incident reporting. And the three premier trade shows we own help fulfill our mission of bringing buyers and sellers together in different regions across the globe.
This conference marks another step in that process of relationship-building. The aim of my remarks is to discuss the global and regional status of the amusement sector, as well as how the industry’s past experience and current trends can benefit China’s rising attractions market.
Worldwide Outlook is Strong
In the past few years, the international travel and tourism sector has faced several major challenges, from the Iraq war to health scares to high fuel prices to security concerns. Fortunately, the fundamentals of the global leisure business remain strong and full of promise, with many significant new projects ongoing around the world. In the amusement and theme park sector alone, hundreds of new rides and other attractions are opening this year worldwide.
Most importantly, the number of people with both leisure time and discretionary income seems poised to continue rising globally in the future. Thus, with travel and tourism facilities appearing in more and more markets, the industry is well-placed to take advantage of these trends.
Consequently, the World Travel & Tourism Council expects bullish growth worldwide in this sector in 2007 and beyond, at 4 percent this year and 4.3 percent annually over the next 10 years.
Within this expanding sector, the amusement and attractions segment is expected to contribute its own steady increase. Fueled by vibrant expansion in nations throughout Asia and elsewhere, the global attractions and leisure business is expected to grow steadily. Worldwide visitation was up over 2 percent in 2006, and consumer spending on theme parks is slated to rise by nearly five percent annually through 2011 – resulting in a $28.5 billion industry.
This increase will be lead by the fastest-growing attractions market today: the Asia Pacific region, whose 5.5 percent yearly growth rate over the next half-decade will push its share of the industry’s global revenues to more than $8 billion. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, much of this regional growth will be driven by the continued rapid development of the amusement and leisure segment in China, which is predicted to expand nearly 7 percent a year through 2011. Over the next five years, a host of Asian projects financed by both local and overseas investors – such as the Wuhu Huaqiang Amusement Park in Anhui province – are scheduled to be joined by Universal Studios parks in Singapore and South Korea, a Paramount Pictures-themed park in South Korea, and perhaps a second Disney park in China.
The U.S. attractions sector will increase its revenue by nearly 4 percent a year during this period, and will remain the world’s largest amusement market, worth $14 billion by 2011. Regular infusions of capital investment for new rides and attractions will fuel both attendance and visitor spending, along with entire new facilities like Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, SeaWorld Orlando’s Aquatica waterpark, and Schlitterbahn Vacation Village in Kansas City.
The annual growth rate for the amusement sector in Europe and the Middle East is expected to be just over 5 percent through 2011. Continuing consolidation of park ownership in Europe and the construction of new facilities throughout the region, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Eastern Europe, will provide the fresh experiences that generate an anticipated rise in both attendance and guest spending. These investments range from the Dubailand mega-project in the UAE to Efteling’s addition of a second hotel, Dreamland Resort, at its complex in the Netherlands to a wave of new rides, shows, and attractions at numerous parks.
In Latin America, the attractions segment is slated to grow by nearly 5 percent annually over the next five years, based on steadily rising disposable income across the region and new small-park openings like Divercity and Vertigo Park, both in Colombia, and Aventura Selvagem in Brazil.
Equally important, industry manufacturers and suppliers have been generally pleased with the amount of work they obtained during IAAPA’s three trade shows over the past year, and business is increasing in the service sectors that do the initial work in developing facilities.
With parks and attractions around the world having experienced another year of growth in 2007, the stage is set for a continued increase in capital investment heading into 2008, and many suppliers are indeed reporting that business is up, so we’re optimistic of what lies ahead.
Clearly, then, the worldwide amusement sector is on the upswing. But understanding why is just as important as the figures themselves, for the answers contain the keys to continued success. I’d like to take a few minutes to explore some of the trends and developments that are driving our industry numbers upward.
Creating Memorable Experiences By Personalizing the Connection
In more and more places around the world today, daily life is hectic and often stressful – it’s full of what you have to do, and “time” is an increasingly valuable commodity. Conversely, theme parks and attractions are about what you, your family, and your friends want to do – enjoying quality experiences in exchange for your valuable time, and enjoyment rather than stress.
That’s a good recipe for success, but these days our product is one of many possible “wants,” all competing for that small window of people’s time and attention. How can the amusement and leisure segment win this progressively competitive battle? Essentially, it comes down to how we can best serve our customers and give them exactly what they want – memorable experiences.
And that starts by giving them some of the things that go into creating a memorable experience – things like choice, control, a sense of connection. It’s this ability for guests to customize their interaction with your facility that can produce what is ultimately, for them, a personal memory.
Such personalized interaction can take place long before – and after – a patron sets foot in your park or attraction. The methods for reaching out to a consumer, on a one-to-one basis, have risen greatly, while the costs and complexities for many of these technologies have steadily decreased.
Facility websites have gone from a one-way posting of information to a two-way forum for customer feedback and interaction. Whether consumers are participating in a ride naming contest, submitting a written or video entry for a daily web log, downloading a ring tone for their cell phone or a podcast for their iPod, asking questions in a chat session, or signing up for an e-newsletter or text messages – every one of them is engaging your facility in a personal way.
In addition, the trip planning features on websites are becoming more advanced by the day, allowing a level of customization previously unimaginable. Entertainment Bookings Concepts in Denmark has developed the Adventure Resource Planner, a versatile online scheduling tool for planning visits to parks and attractions. The system lets guests choose “reserved” times for certain rides, producing an itinerary that optimizes the schedule for incorporating additional rides, shows, and dining.
Once guests enter your facility, you can continue that customized service in many ways. Remember: it’s about choice, control, connection – all contributing to a memorable experience.
One option is text messaging, which is becoming increasingly widespread. A sign-up area on your website allows patrons to receive short in-park messages on their cell phone screens, alerting them to souvenir discounts, show times, and food specials. Some parks have also started using text messages as a queue line management tool. This innovation allows more parks to adopt some form of this guest service that was inaugurated by Disney’s FASTPASS system and the Q-bot from England-based Lo-Q. Visitors can even utilize text messaging to get in on the act at the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor attraction inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, where guests are invited to text their favorite jokes to the monsters for use during the show.
A number of facilities are taking customization to another level, using products like “Cruiser.” Developed by Park-Tours Inc. in San Diego, California, Cruiser turns a cell phone or PDA device into a personal tour guide. Several parks have gone beyond the virtual and are offering an actual personal tour guide with their premium-price VIP packages. And numerous waterparks now offer individual poolside cabanas – a private oasis with extra services, for families or groups seeking an experience that meets their specific needs.
Another, more widespread way to offer this customized service is through DVDs. Imagine being the star of a digital movie dedicated to your favorite ride experience or even your entire day in the park, and in a format that you can share electronically with family and friends! Well, the technology to provide guests with such a tailored story of their visit is steadily coming on line.
This personal connection is also integral to providing guests with what I call perfect moments, and it’s this ability that sets our facilities apart from the rest of the global entertainment industry.
The generation that is coming of age now is one that lives for moments. Moreover, people in general feel they have less time to spend with the ones they love and are looking to share such moments together – ones they won’t find just sitting and watching TV in the same room or chatting with someone on the computer.
We are an industry that is uniquely positioned to fill this fundamental need, for our facilities are more than just thrills. Instead, they offer all-encompassing experiences that create great memories – great moments – through the magic of theming. With its emphasis on immersing the guest within the story and involving them through interactive features, theming allows rides to be more than just rides – they become unique adventures, frequently based on popular brands or classic stories.
Using elaborate set decoration and vivid special effects, the industry has expanded the application of themed environments to restaurants, shops, and entire parks. And the concept just keeps on growing in popularity, as people can’t seem to get enough of experiences that truly surround you and make you feel as if you’ve escaped to a different place or time.
Destinations, Mega-Resorts, and Waterparks
As if to prove the point, the rise in destination parks and mega-resorts has taken themed immersion to a whole new level – one that extends for days or even a week at a time!
Many operators now consider it a business requirement to include a full-scale waterpark within or next to a hard ride park, and we continue to see multi-activity “destination” parks being developed in various parts of the world and in various segments of the industry. The current transformation of the Columbus, Ohio Zoo in the U.S. is a prime example of this trend. In addition to an expansion of the zoological exhibits, the 580-acre complex will also include a major waterpark, a family-oriented ride park, and an 18-hole golf course with clubhouse. The first phases of this project are scheduled to open next year.
Combining these and other types of activities with hotel accommodations is even more attractive to parks, as it caters to many vacationers’ desires for some variety in their stay – such as rides, shopping, water activities, dining, and entertainment – but all in one place over the space of 2, 3, 4, even 7 days. Right now, new hotels are opening or planned for Germany’s Europa Park, Universal Studios Hollywood, Chessington in England, Tokyo Disneyland, and Efteling in the Netherlands – to name just a few.
And this blending of various industry segments into a complete escape for visitors is reaching even greater heights with the coming growth in mega-resorts like Sentosa Island in Singapore, Dubailand, the Venetian Macao Resort, and the Federation Island project in Russia. In light of their sheer size, diversity of offerings, and widespread presence around the globe, these super-destinations are likely to influence the development of the amusement and attractions industry for years to come in new and unforeseeable ways.
For instance, when waterslide tubes and tank-side pools can literally make you feel like you’re swimming with sharks, as guests now do at the Golden Nugget resort in Las Vegas, who’s to say what’s next? And as this region rides its current wave of leisure development, much of this new creativity will make its debut right here in China and the rest of Asia.
One of the constant elements that appear in almost all these plans is a waterpark … or two or three of them. To say that waterparks are in a growth period at present would be a vast understatement. Rather, this sector of the attractions industry is growing by leaps and bounds, particularly indoor waterpark complexes attached to resort hotels. In the U.S. alone, the number of these fun and innovative facilities has increased from 18 in 2000 to more than 180 today, with numerous others in the planning stages or under construction.
And this growth is not just limited to the U.S. New indoor and outdoor waterparks are appearing from Australia to the Bahamas, from Vietnam to the Czech Republic. Just last month, the largest waterpark in the Middle East opened in Bahrain. Moreover, waterparks are usually one of the central features of existing or planned destination parks and mega-resorts. To many industry experts, this seems only natural.
According to Dan Martin of Economics Research Associates, “Waterparks are a great fit for destinations and resorts because of their broad appeal, offering such diverse experiences as spa facilities, ‘relaxing’ adventures like lazy rivers, more challenging activities like surfing wavepools and water coasters, and finally waterplay areas and wading pools for the youngest guests. In short, just about everyone likes to play in the water.”
Something For Anytime and For Everyone
The rise of destination parks and mega-resorts has further boosted two trends that have already been spreading throughout the industry in the past several years: expanded seasons and offering attractions for all ages.
As Economics Research Associates has noted, “Categories throughout the industry are blurring on all continents as parks add second-gate attractions and hundreds of hotel rooms, and otherwise expand in ways that transform them into integrated resorts capable of operating year-round or nearly so, with increasingly diverse revenue streams.”
Amusement parks and attractions have gradually extended their operating schedules by putting on creative and fun celebrations during the shoulder seasons for Christmas, New Year’s, Fall or Halloween, Mardi Gras, Spring or Easter breaks, and other special occasions. These celebrations often include the development of themed merchandise, food & beverage, decorations, and costumed characters – all to immerse the visitor in the experience.
These events have opened a whole new revenue stream for attractions, by driving up overall annual attendance and by utilizing the facility’s capital assets over more of the entire year. In fact, parks that are just now being developed in China and elsewhere can make these events even more cost-effective by incorporating the necessary infrastructure – like wider paths, electrical upgrades, and sound system enhancements for holiday parades – within their initial planning, rather than trying to add it after a park is built. Such operational flexibility is only becoming more important, as the range of activities at destinations and resorts is now extending the day and the season, in some cases, to 24 hours and year-round.
Additionally, parks have been steadily targeting an ever-widening demographic by increasing the number of options for guests of all ages, such as more live entertainment, animal shows, more family rides, interactive experiences, and night life offerings.
Our facilities have become multi-generational venues, even more so with the advent of destination parks and mega-resorts. There are a variety of things for all members of the family to see and do, but we also need to create plenty of options for families to do things together as well. The more opportunities you provide where the whole family can converge and enjoy the same attraction, even if it’s for different reasons, the more likely you’ll provide that perfect moment for your guests who want a wonderful experience together. I think this will prove to be particularly true in China, where the family is so central to its culture and customs.
Strong Industry Growth Predicted for China and Asia
That my exploration of trends should lead me back to China is only fitting, for we can already see the application of these and many other industry innovations in this country and throughout the rest of Asia.
The upward trend in industry growth globally mirrors that which continues to charge ahead in Asia, the most dynamic leisure and attractions market today. This region is now home to more than a third of the top 25 attended theme parks in the world, and the rise in visitation at its own top 10 parks was twice that of worldwide attendance growth last year. And numerous projects are on the horizon. The potential for further visitors to the region’s parks and attractions is so great that, by 2011, Asia will account for almost 30 percent of the world’s theme park revenues.
As a result, analysts view the region as the international growth leader in the amusement segment. PricewaterhouseCoopers sees Asia leading the way in the industry with a rise in revenue of 5.5 percent annually over the next several years, and the consulting firm Economics Research Associates predicts a similar rate of increase. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, attendance at Asia’s theme parks is expected to hit 283 million by 2011, growing at an annual rate of 3 percent, with China and India continuing to emerge as major theme park markets.
- Let me just quickly list off some other facts about the Asian amusement and attractions sector:
- When it comes to theme parks with at least 500,000 annual visitors, Asia has more of them than North America.
- Euromonitor is predicting a 25 percent jump in attendance at Asia’s theme parks between now and 2010.
- According to Economics Research Associates, Asia’s theme parks & leisure segment is currently growing five times faster, on a yearly basis, than either the West European or American attractions markets.
- There are more than 230 Chinese manufacturers and suppliers to the worldwide amusement industry, whose total annual sales will soon approach half a billion dollars.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that China’s attractions sector will experience the region’s fastest expansion over the next half-decade, at a rate of nearly 7 percent a year.
Clearly, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the booming amusement and leisure business in Asia and particularly in China. I must congratulate each and every one of you for identifying existing opportunities and growing the market to where it is today. And the future should only get better, for the potential of this market is enormous – especially when you consider that, at current growth rates, more than 98 percent of the approximately two billion people in east Asia will be living above the poverty line by 2010. In just seven years, Credit Suisse expects that China will be the world’s second-largest consumer market.
Analysts have noticed that the current rise in disposable income is no longer limited to a narrow slice of the Chinese population, instead producing a steadily expanding middle class. In the words of MSN Money earlier this year, “The benefits of a decade of red-hot economic growth are slowly spilling over from the big cities along China’s eastern seaboard into parts of the vast inland territory, particularly ‘next-tier’ cities such as Wuhan, Chongqing, and Sian.”
Expectations of tapping this potential amusement market are further supported by the increasing number of budget airlines flying more routes throughout China and the entire Asian region, which has broadened access to travel beyond just the wealthy and should, in turn, lead to consumer tastes growing in sophistication very quickly.
Doing It Well Means Doing It Right
Now while the future of attractions and leisure in China appears bright, there are some general operational lessons from the worldwide amusement sector that are worth noting to ensure that all this promise becomes a strong, sustainable, and vibrant reality capable of long-term success.
The common bond and underlying business philosophy that ties parks and attractions of all sizes and locations together is providing guests with a safe, fun, quality experience every time. That expectation on the part of guests is what lies at the heart of the industry’s enduring popularity. Consequently, developing and operating attractions successfully means continuing to do things right, in China and around the world.
Feasibility studies and business forecasts are the first crucial step in this process, analyzing relevant market forces and providing a realistic assessment of underlying economic conditions. The use of these studies has become quite widespread in China and that’s important, for all of this information helps developers make sustainable decisions that impact every aspect of running a theme park or attraction. As Harrison “Buzz” Price, the originator of such reports, has put it, “The feasibility study is the foundation of your amusement facility, so make sure it’s rock solid.”
Once a facility is up and running, then standardized and documented procedures become integral to its operational success, covering everything from maintenance to training to food & beverage to cash management to guest service. This attention to detail also applies to continuous capital investment, not only for sensational new attractions, but also for the day-to-day upkeep and refurbishment of the facility itself.
Just listen to the industry consultants at Economics Research Associates: “Investment that keeps the park looking fresh and well-maintained is not lost on guests. You can’t neglect central operating expenses and continue to perform. If you don’t pay attention to it, you will suffer in the long term.”
Safety is Fundamental, So Get Involved
Most critically – all of these items, and more, must be built upon safety.
While the amusement parks and attractions industry is in the business of fun, it takes all aspects of this business very seriously, especially safety. Safety is and must always be fundamental to what we do – it must be incorporated into our business plans right from the start. A concern for the welfare of our guests, from the time they enter our gates until they leave, makes it essential to provide a safe form of recreation.
Through programs relating to maintenance, operations, and training, facilities are actively and constantly engaged in promoting safety. Parks also comply with any relevant governmental codes and requirements, and follow detailed manufacturer guidelines for inspection and safety.
I want to commend China for the significant work it’s done since 2000 in implementing a unified national code of amusement equipment inspections, as well as its more recent work in the areas of training and design. The ever-increasing attention to safety exhibited by parks and manufacturers in China is notable, as is the recent progress made on amusement safety in such Asian countries as India, Singapore, and South Korea.
Because safety is a principal concern of the entire industry, a great deal of effort is dedicated to the broad dissemination of relevant expertise and data, and IAAPA plays a crucial role in this process. Such efforts include the ongoing development of a comprehensive set of standards that provides a baseline for all to follow – a topic of great interest to China, as both its facility and manufacturer segments continue to expand. Among well-established industry standards, the guidelines which have received the most global input in the past several years are those produced by ASTM International.
Founded in 1898, ASTM International is a not-for-profit organization that provides a global forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services. More than 30,000 individuals from 100 nations are members of ASTM International, representing producers, consumers, government, and academia. In over 130 varied industry areas, ASTM standards serve as the basis for manufacturing, procurement, regulatory activities, and commercial transactions around the globe.
Since 1978, ASTM has worked with numerous members of the amusement industry, government officials, and other interested parties in the development of exacting ride safety standards. These leading minds in the global attractions industry – more than 440 at last count – have helped establish various standards on design and manufacture, testing, operation, maintenance, inspection, and quality assurance.
ASTM is also playing an increasing role in the ongoing effort to further globalize safety standards in the amusement industry through the consensus-based meetings held by the IAAPA International Standards Harmonization Group. Founded in November 2003, this body is working with standards officials from around the world to eventually produce and implement a set of universal ride safety criteria, and I’m very pleased to note China’s continuing partnership in this important endeavor. The creation of consistent global standards will benefit amusement facilities and manufacturers alike, from the park’s assurance that rides meet world-class safety specifications to the supplier’s assurance that he no longer has to bear the costly expense of re-engineering his rides for each region or even each country.
IAAPA is also promoting best safety practices in the area of ride incident reporting, having partnered with the National Safety Council since 2003 on an annual nationwide incident reporting process for U.S. fixed-site rides. Now, we are working to spread the development of Incident Reporting systems farther afield by presenting the idea to our Global Alliance partners including China, supplying general background materials, and encouraging them to adopt this as a goal for their associations. The ultimate objective is to create a system of global voluntary reporting, for only by sharing this information publicly can we keep patrons even safer, as well as effectively document our excellent safety record whenever the industry comes under scrutiny.
Key Resources and Continued Partnership
The fact that we’ll have more guests to keep safe is evident just by a short list of attractions planned for the region: Manila Ocean Park in the Philippines, Cartoon Network Townsville outside New Delhi, the Ho Tram resort project in Vietnam, an MGM-themed park in South Korea, and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not facility on Thailand’s resort island of Phuket. In this country, there’s ongoing planning or construction for Shanghai Shimao Wonderland, more Happy Valley parks from the OCT Group, Kids City in Hangzhou, Ocean Park’s current expansion in Hong Kong, the China Today theme park in Shenzhen, and MGM Studio World in Shanghai. All of this, of course, is in addition to the numerous projects I’ve already mentioned or which have been completed over the past 18 months.
Many of these plans incorporate the blending of leisure segments I talked about earlier, and as the amusement industry keeps evolving, so too does IAAPA, in order to remain a key resource for our members and partners here in China, in Asia, and around the world. We’re growing our European office next year, with new staff and more services, and we’re continuing to expand our presence and role in the Asian market. One way we’re doing that is through our Global Alliances program.
Under Global Alliances, IAAPA is establishing formal partnerships with state, national, and regional industry groups around the world that are mutually beneficial, based on written and measurable business plans. The goal is to discover new ways to strengthen the effectiveness and autonomy of these associations for the benefit of our industry in different regions.
We now have strong and growing alliances throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including agreements with the industry organizations in China, India, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand.
These alliances allow us to develop better products and services for the industry, and to better connect you with resources, customers, and partners across the globe, including an increasing number who have cross-cultural experience and understanding. Our signature events for building such partnerships and connecting buyers with sellers are the three premier industry trade shows we own:
- IAAPA Attractions Expo, taking place this year and next in Orlando, in mid-November;
- Euro Attractions Show 2008, which will be held twice next year – first in Nice, France, January 23rd thru 25th, and then in Munich, Germany, September 30th thru October 2nd;
- IAAPA’s Asian Attractions Expo 2008 at the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, July 16th thru 18th.
These trade shows are market leaders and are truly can’t-miss events each year in the global attractions business, if you’re looking for the latest products and services in the world of fun. Attendees also benefit from the diverse selection of educational workshops and facility tours, as well as from unsurpassed networking opportunities at various social events and on the show floor. Exhibiting manufacturers and suppliers, from China and elsewhere, gain vital exposure to the world-class size, variety, and quality of buyers that are drawn to these three expos. In short, our shows have got it all for anyone interested in what’s next for the worldwide amusement industry, and I encourage you to attend any one of them, or even all three.
I’d like to take a moment to particularly highlight the IAAPA’s Asian Attractions Expo, which is a key component in our efforts to help serve and grow the attractions sector in the region. This event continues to provide the finest opportunities in the Asian amusement industry for buyers and sellers to meet and do business. In the recent past, 83 percent of buyers have indicated that they have purchasing authority, and 72 percent have intended to make purchases at the show.
The 2007 edition of the expo this past June in Bangkok was no less of a success. Nearly 3,200 facility owners and operators from 50 countries navigated an active show floor that featured 144 exhibiting companies from 26 nations. In addition to offering the region’s facilities easy access to the world’s top parks and attractions suppliers, the event also provided first-class educational offerings and numerous networking opportunities for industry professionals.
I want to thank CAAPA, its members, and the entire Chinese attractions industry for their support of prior Asian Expos, especially the 2005 show in Hong Kong and the 2006 event in Shanghai. And we look forward to your continuing support and working closely with CAAPA on the 2008 expo in Macau and on the 2009 event in Beijing.
This collaboration, as well as other initiatives undertaken through our Global Alliance agreement, will only further enhance what is already a very strong and sincere partnership.
So once again, on behalf of IAAPA, I am very pleased to be here today, as we all work to grow this region and the attractions industry. And I look forward to working even more closely with you in the future, for there is much we can accomplish together.
I hope my remarks have provided you with a good overview of the global and regional status of the amusement and leisure sector, as well as a greater appreciation of how the industry’s past experience and current trends can benefit China’s rising attractions market.
Thank you very much. I’d be delighted to try and answer any questions you might have.
# # #