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IAAPA calls for EU action to improve the business environment for parks and attractions

Press Release

Brussels, November 26th 2014

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) calls for EU action to improve the business environment for parks and attractions

During the recent Euro Attractions Show in Amsterdam, the IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions) launched its manifesto "European Amusement Parks and Attractions: Driving Leisure and Tourism in Europe". The manifesto contains eight challenges for the sector along with solutions that IAAPA Europe believes will help parks and attractions to keep on growing, investing and attracting tourists to the benefit of the European economy. These challenges were laid out to senior members of the European Parliament - including  Andreas Schwab MEP, Wim van de Camp MEP and Lambert van Nistelrooij - at a meeting in Brussels on the 4th November, one day after the  new European Commissioner for tourism, Elzbieta Bienkowska,took office.

From a global perspective, international tourism in Europe is falling behind other destinations. According to Karen Staley, vice-president of IAAPA Europe, amusement parks can help to arrest this trend: ‘When politicians think leisure and tourism they need to think amusement parks and attractions because our members are attracting record-breaking numbers of visitors and in turn jobs and investment for Europe'.

Amusement parks and attractions deliver nearly 150 million visitors per year which are responsible for around €10 billion of direct and indirect economic benefit to Europe, and this investment stays in Europe because many of the sector’s specialist suppliers are based here. However, IAAPA Europe believes that this performance could be bettered if the business environment could be improved. ‘As our sector looks forward to the next 5 years we see that in several areas  there is still work to be done if our members are to have the best conditions for growth’, said Staley.    

One of these challenges is the rate of VAT applied to amusement parks, which has risen by more than 20% since 2007  (from 12.7% to 15.3%) compared to only an 8% increase in the standard rate of VAT.  In his presentation, Pelle Johannisson, Senior Adviser to the Liseberg Group, Sweden, said the following: ‘Research conducted by IAAPA Europe, shows that reduced rates of VAT for amusement parks is a win-win for governments as well as amusement parks and attractions. They have a positive impact on jobs, investment as well as on the overall tax take'.  

The most important point on the agenda remains the issue of safety in the sector. Miikka Seppälä, CEO of Särkänniemi, Finland, made a plea for governments to raise the standards from 2004: ‘The safety of our guests is our number one priority and we want it to be the number one priority for politicians too! The industry in Europe is well ahead of the existing EN standard so we need Europe to commit to bringing its own standards up to our level’.

A number of other points are also discussed in the manifesto, including honest competition between the public and private sectors, an integrated tourism policy, attention to the specific employment market of the amusement park sector, accessibility for disabled visitors, sustainability and the promotion of innovations in the sector.

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Notes to the Editor:

About the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently located amusement facilities and attractions and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the amusement industry. IAAPA represents more than 4,700 attractions, suppliers, and individual members from more than 90 countries. The association’s global headquarters office is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States. The association maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Orlando, Florida, United States. www.IAAPA.org

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