Natural Attractions Captivate Attendees at IAAPA Summit: Latin America, Caribbean 2022
From gondolas to waterfalls, IAAPA Summit: Latin America, Caribbean and Post Tour 2022 showcased multiple attractions across Brazil, while providing opportunities to make new connections. In late April, IAAPA members from three continents traveled to Brazil to behold a collection of natural attractions.
The natural setting of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, played host to the summit, and Rio de Janeiro set the scene for a vibrant Post Tour.
“It’s always exciting to bring people together in Latin America—especially now, after spending two years at home [during the pandemic],” said Paulina Reyes, vice president and executive director of IAAPA Latin America, Caribbean.
IAAPA Summit: Latin America, Caribbean connected owners, operators, and vendors with the region’s CEOs and senior managers as they toured a collection of parks and attractions located inside Brazil’s Atlantic Forest, home to about 20,000 plant species. This exclusive environment provided fresh learning opportunities, an unparalleled exchange of experiences, and dynamic new business leads. The summit opened with a Brazilian drumline entering the ballroom at the Mabu Thermas Grand Resort in Foz do Iguaçu. The resort town is posed for rapid growth in the next decade.
“Our city is under construction, getting ready to become a city that will become an international tourism magnet,” said Francisco Lacerda Brasileiro, mayor of Foz do Iguaçu. “Foz do Iguaçu is open to investments. We want to unlock the city to investors.”
The opening session concluded with a surprise, as the mascots from the neighboring Blue Park water park entered the conference ballroom. They invited attendees to tour Blue Park, following a networking luncheon and a trip to the neighboring Trade Connections showcase. The vendor area provided decision-makers with information on new products and services directly from the manufacturers and suppliers assembled.
“It was insightful to learn how operators balance sustainability and provide an opportunity for millions of visitors to experience Brazil’s attractions,” said Cory Patrick, sales executive with Leisure Labs.
Attendees strolled through the shaded jungle atmosphere of Blue Park with coconut drinks in hand. The park embraces sustainable practices by using coconuts from indigenous palm trees as a beverage container since they are biodegradable and allow for the Blue Park logo to be branded on the side of each coconut. The container is often shared on social media, generating free publicity for the park.
“Besides forging partnerships with the media, we connect with guests through frequent social media posts—that’s the key to gaining new followers who keep up with us,” said Malu Barreto, marketing director for Blue Park.
Attendees also toured the construction site of a new family play complex and lazy river.
“We’re really excited and proud to be part of this,” said Franceen Gonzales, chief experience officer with WhiteWater, the company supplying Blue Park with the expansion elements. “You get attached to the project, you get attached to the people, and I am just so proud of what they’ve accomplished and look forward to what they’ll do in the future.”
At sunset, participants climbed aboard the new 88-meter-tall Yup Star Foz observation wheel, built on the banks of the Iguaçu and Paraná rivers.
According to Lee Chih Li, operations coordinator with Yup Star Foz, the biggest lesson learned during its first six months was to make time for guest interaction.
“The most important thing I have learned is to enjoy the smiles from our visitors,” he said.
Dinner followed at Marco das Três Fronteiras, a cultural attraction overlooking the borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Attendees were treated to a dance performance under the stars and dinner that included authentic cuisine representative of all three nations.
Day two of IAAPA Summit: Latin America, Caribbean began with a trip to Parque das Aves, a conservation center specializing in the husbandry of 120 species of birds. The zoological center is highly respected for its immersion ponds, nature trails, and expansive aviaries that connect guests with nature and knowledge.
“We want to bring people here; we want them to be enchanted with the beauty and biodiversity,” said Ben Phalan, head of conservation at Parque das Aves. “In doing so, we hope to generate more love and support to care for this biome.”
Next, attendees visited the majestic Iguaçu Falls, forming the border between Brazil and Argentina. A network of nature trails and gantries on the cliffs inside the Iguaçu National Park allowed participants to hike above the expansive collection of waterfalls. The pathways led the brave over the rushing water, where the mist created plentiful rainbows—and opportunities for selfies.
After lunch, the electric trams of Macuco Safari took attendees deep into the Atlantic Forest of Iguaçu National Park, home to jaguar species and ant colonies.
“We believe we are in charge of looking after these treasures,” said Eder Dorneles, Macuco Safari’s commercial manager. “There are many places around the world that you have to build and then sell. Here, it’s the other way around. The income we receive helps to maintain [the national] park.”
After riding an inclinator to a floating dock, attendees climbed aboard boats for a rapids ride, as well as a trip under the Devil’s Throat waterfalls—where nobody stayed dry. The watery adventure produced screams of joy and laughter, and participants disembarked soaked yet happy.
The summit’s third day continued the theme of sustainable attractions with a trip to Itaipu Binacional. The hydroelectric power plant is a joint venture between the nations of Brazil and Paraguay. Collectively, the facility generates clean power for both countries. The cooperation between nations in South America made an impact on its visitors.
“It’s so important to understand how two countries work together and all the benefits that both can have,” said Lara Teixeira with Wyndham Hotels & Resorts LATAMC in Brazil.
While Itaipu Binacional is open to the public as a visitor attraction, attendees of IAAPA Summit: Latin America, Caribbean were treated to special behind-the-scenes tour of traditionally off-limits areas.
Participants went inside the dam to see turbines, the multinational control room, and massive plumbing systems at work.
“Sustainability and preservation of the environment are critical factors in attraction operators’ decisions in Latin America,” said Leisure Labs’ Patrick.