IAAPA announces its move to the theme park capital, Orlando

September 21, 2016, 10:28 AM · Orlando is the biggest market in the theme park industry, as home to five of the world's most-attended theme parks. So it makes sense that the city also would be the home for the industry's largest trade association.

Starting next year, that will be the case. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions [IAAPA] announced today that it will move its headquarters next year from Alexandria, Virginia to Orlando. In addition, IAAPA will commit to holding its annual IAAPA Attractions Expo at the Orange County Convention Center through 2030. That's a five-year extension for the Expo, which has played in Orlando each November since 2010.

While an address in suburban Washington DC might be good for federal government lobbying, IAAPA does much more than that. In addition to holding the annual convention in Orlando and other industry gatherings around the world, IAAPA provides training and networking opportunities for amusement industry professionals — of which there are a heckuva lot more in Central Florida than northern Virginia. IAAPA will continue to maintain a government affairs [i.e. lobbying] office in Alexandria, so it's not as if the organization is stepping away from that role. But the bulk of its HQ operations will move to Orlando over the course of 2017.

Local and state government and agencies are "supporting" the move to Orlando, which usually means some sort of incentive to moveand extend the convention — such as tax breaks, credits, deals on moving, rent, and/or capital purchases associated with the move, for example. In their press releases, no one associated with the deal detailed the specifics, but almost no one ever does that in a press release. Even without a deal, though, Central Florida's a much less expensive place to live and find a home than northern Virginia, making it easier for IAAPA to attract and retain employees without having to break its budget. Housing prices in the DC area are nearly double that in Orlando, according to one estimate.

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Replies (2)

September 21, 2016 at 2:52 PM · What kind of Lobbying do they do? IAAPA isn't the NRA.
September 22, 2016 at 3:16 PM · The amusement industry is a HUGE employer of part-time and young labor, so there's labor and wage laws, plus industrial safety and reporting, travel promotion and visa and immigration issues, and on and on and on. It's a multi-billion dollar industry, so there are countless ways that federal (and state) legislation affects the business. The industry wants to influence the process to help ensure that it gets what its members want. Thus, the lobbying.

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