IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, confirms Jakob Wahl has been selected as the association’s new president and CEO.

The appointment will take effect from 1 January 2023. Wahl succeeds the association’s current president and CEO, Hal McEvoy, who will retire on 1 April 2023.

As president and CEO, Wahl will lead the association’s 94-member team in Orlando, Brussels, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Shanghai.

He will be responsible for the executive management and day-to-day operations of the association and will be the primary strategic advisor to the IAAPA Board of Directors on all matters related to the association’s mission, events, products, and services.

“Jakob is the right person to lead the IAAPA team into the future,” said Curt Caffey, chair of the CEO Search Committee, IAAPA treasurer, and president of ProParks Attractions Group.

“Jakob’s vision for IAAPA is focused on adapting the association for today’s fast-paced, change-driven world, and enhancing the value of IAAPA membership through our regional offices around the globe. 

“He has a keen sense of balance between taking risks and driving the organization’s success and he plans to accelerate the association’s delivery of digital products and services for IAAPA members. 

“He has an international perspective, strong connections with IAAPA members around the world, and he is respected by the IAAPA team. Those attributes, combined with his extraordinary passion for the attractions industry, make him the ideal leader for the association.”

Wahl’s career in leadership roles at IAAPA spans 10 years. 

He joined IAAPA as program manager for IAAPA Europe in 2009. In 2013, he worked for Europa-Park in Rust, Germany as director of communications and manager of special projects. 

Wahl returned to IAAPA in 2017 to lead the association’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) team as vice president and executive director of IAAPA EMEA. 

He was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of the association in November 2021 and moved with his family to Orlando.

The selection of Wahl was made following a seven-month process led by the IAAPA CEO Search Committee and supported by the executive search firm, Korn Ferry International.

“We greatly appreciate the 12-month notice Hal gave us for his retirement as that has allowed us to plan for a smooth and orderly transition,” said IAAPA Board Chairman, Ken Whiting, president of Whiting’s Foods at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. 

“Hal has done an amazing job leading the association for the past five years … some of the most challenging years in the association’s 104-year history. 

“We greatly appreciate all Hal has done to lead the association and support the IAAPA team. I’m confident Jakob is the right leader to build on Hal’s legacy of success.”

Images: IAAPA