With the recent announcement that Attractions Africa is now AAVEA, the African Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions, we sat down with Executive Director Sabine Lehmann to chat about the new association and its plans for the future.
You announced the launch of an association for visitor experiences and attractions at the 2018 Attractions Africa Conference. How did this come about?
Visitor experiences and attractions have been asking to form an association that focusses specifically on their needs. Attractions are the backbone of the tourism industry, but we have not had a platform or association to which we could raise concerns that affect our operations.
AAVEA seeks to rectify the desire for representation, and to work within the broader tourism industry towards growth and professionalism.
Why is now the right time for an association of this nature?
After five years of successful Attractions Africa conferences, we have built an amazing community of visitor experience and attraction professionals. From their feedback, it was clear that we needed to evolve into a body that fully represents the interests and needs of visitor experiences and attractions, including data gathering and benchmarking, advocacy, and skills training.
There is no specialised body focussing on skills training for visitor experiences and attractions in our South African or African tourism economies. The result is that too many attractions are built with no support for the ongoing successful management thereof. All other continents have an attractions association – it is time that Africa had one too.
What inspired the name change to AAVEA?
We chose to add “visitor experiences” to our existing attractions identity so that we could indicate the wide-ranging nature of our members. We represent museums, cableways, cultural and historical sites, wine farms, aquariums, theme parks, cycle tours, boat experiences – and everyone in between.
What do you and the Board hope to achieve with the association?
Visitor experiences and attractions play an important role in the tourism economy and are often the reason people choose to visit a city or region in the first place. We hope to raise the profile of attractions within the tourism industry, be the voice of the attractions sector, and contribute to the quality of attraction and visitor experience management.
What are AAVEA’s first few exciting projects you look forward to members and the tourism industry being involved in?
One of our first advocacy issues will be to raise awareness with the Department of Education and the South African Department of Tourism about the negative effect that aligning coastal and inland school holidays has on both attractions and domestic visitors.
We are also excited to roll out our 2019 conference programme as well as a series of regional seminars – important pillars of our educational focus.
Attractions Africa, now AAVEA, has worked with the International Association of Attractions and Amusement Parks (IAAPA) on both the conference and the idea of the association over the past few years. How will they be contributing to the success of both going forward?
IAAPA, and specifically its Europe, Middle East, and Africa group (IAAPA EMEA), has recognised the importance of the African attractions industry and has supported our annual Attractions Africa Conference over the past five years.
In 2019, we are looking forward to IAAPA EMEA hosting its Institute for Attraction Managers training course in Cape Town, and in 2020 their global leadership forum in South Africa.
AAVEA readers, we want to hear from you!