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AALARA 2019 conference to highlight a sector ready for safety-based resurgence
Buffeted by uncertainty over recent years, managers of Australia's theme parks and major visitor attractions are set to have the potential for a resurgent sector presented to them at this week's Australian Amusement, Leisure and Recreation Association (AALARA) Conference and Trade Show on the Gold Coast.
Running from 20th to 23rd May, the conference will be addressed by Clark Kirby of Village Roadshow Theme Parks; ASTM representatives Ben Sheldon, Katerina Koperno and Cindy Sypher; Tim Newman-Morris of Lollipops Playland; industry education consultant Sean McKeogh; Chris Zumwalt of BridgeClimb Sydney; Adrian Summers of Warner Bros. Movie World; Andrew Ross of URBNSurf and experiences entrepreneur Lynton V Harris.
A late addition to the program will also see Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace address the Conference at 10.00 am on Wednesday 22nd May.
Minister Grace has been responsible for the tougher safety regulations for amusement rides and theme parks introduced from 1st May.
The regulations require improved competency and training of ride operators and, for major attractions, a new safety case and licensing system.
Developed in the wake of the deaths of four guests at Dreamworld in October 2016 and in advance of the release of the Coroner’s report on those deaths, Minister Grace has previously advised that the changes were about doing everything possible to ensure amusement rides and theme parks were as safe as possible.
Her address to the conference is expected to remind operators of their obligations but also outline how the Australian theme parks sector has never been safer for attractions guests.
These sentiments are expected to be echoed by other Conference speakers, confident that the sector has a bright future moving forward with better managed rides, enhanced safety and planned investment in new and existing attractions.
One former AALARA board member, who asked not to be named, stated "there has never been a better or safer time for the public to come to a park.
"Across Australia there are new rides, new levels of safety and great experiences to be enjoyed."
However, the former AALARA board member was critical of the Association for not being more active in promoting the industry's safety record, advising "AALARA has a role in representing its members' interests and it has pretty much been silent since the Dreamworld tragedy.
"I know it conducted some research on Australia's 12 major theme parks, waterparks and ride-based attractions over several years which showed that among more than five million visits a year there had just been a handful of safety incidents.
"Yet, for some reason it chose not to release this information."
The former Board member added "back in the early 2000s, when the public liability insurance crisis hit, then-President Jim Eddy was always on the front foot in emphasising the safety record of the amusement industry, explaining that the Australian amusement ride and theme park industry had an exemplary safety record and that Australia’s amusement ride and theme park operators have an unwavering commitment to safety to Governments, regulators and media.
"Its a shame that in this age of so many more media channels that AALARA isn't doing this now."
Formed in 1995, AALARA is the industry peak body for safety, operations and management.
In campaigning for the introduction of ‘rider responsibility’ legislation in the late 1990s, AALARA research showed that among 25 million visits by Australians and overseas visitors to 12 of Australia’s major amusement and theme parks between 1993 and 1997, there were no fatalities and a 0.00018% occurrence of any type of incident.
The AALARA 2019 Conference and Trade Show is being held at The Star on the Gold Coast from 20th to 22nd May.
Click here for more information in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.
Images: Dreamworld's soon-to-open SkyVoyager is expected to boost visitation to the Gold Coast theme park (top) and Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace is set to address this week's AALARA Conference (below).
13th May 2019 - Dreamworld Tiger Cubs make first public appearance
8th April 2019 - Ardent Leisure borrows $225 million for attractions investment
2nd November 2018 - Dreamworld begins countdown to Sky Voyager launch
28th August 2018 - AALARA highlights reasons for Association membership
9th May 2018 - Focus on attractions safety at 2018 AALARA Conference
14th March 2017 - Village Roadshow Theme Parks highlights safety and maintenance systems
17th May 2017 - Dax Eddy takes on AALARA Presidency
16th July 2014 - AALARA launches state of the attractions industry survey
1st October 2010 - AALARA Acts on Queensland Weapons Law and Laser Skirmish
9th December 2009 - Eddy Leaves as Wollongong Tourism Reaches New Heights
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