The Colombian Amusement and Attraction Parks Association (ACOLAP) was founded on June 24, 2005, in order to represent and advise its members from the amusement parks and entertainment industry.

To help meet this goal it has the support of IAAPA (the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions), of which it is a part.

The association is led by the president, Mauricio Bernal Beetar, and the executive director, Angela Diaz, and it has grown by 70 per cent in the last three years. In 2014, ACOLAP had 63 member companies that represent approximately 180 establishments related to the industry of amusement and attractions in Colombia. About 12 million people visit ACOLAP affiliated parks each year, which between them have around 8,000 employees.

ACOLAP members represent all categories of amusement parks and entertainment, such as waterparks, FECs, theme parks, science and technology centres, amusement parks, zoos and aquariums.

“Each of our members moves annually between $2m and $6m in sales, according to their size,” said Angela Diaz, adding that the national government recognises the amusement park industry as a fundamental actor for the development of tourism in the country.

Since 2015, ACOLAP is one of the guilds that form part of the Tourism Advisory Council of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

Colombia is the third country in Latin America in number of park visitors and in the past year the sector reported investments of more than $20m, supported by a growth of eight per cent in sales and three per cent in visitors to the parks.

ACOLAP president Mauricio Bernal Beetar, also president of Mundo Aventura Park, said: “We are aware of this growth and we should move forward steadily. We have set very important goals in the new Strategic Management Plan 2015-2020. It should lead us to be identified as the professional institution leading the sustainable development of the industry and the market for amusement parks, seeking to be recognised as the most important guild of the industry, reaching a coverage of 75 per cent of the national parks offer.”

The first decade of ACOLAP’s history was oriented to work on strengthening the guild. In that sense, most the work was related to the adherence of the most important operators and companies nationally that were related to the industry – a task that between 2010 and 2014 reached important levels.

One of the main challenges for ACOLAP has been the issue of security and this has seen Colombia become the first country in Latin America to have a specific law for park operation, serving as a model for other nations in the region.

Other important goals that have been achieved are related to the implementation of major projects such as the realisation of academic meetings, which soon became the most important annual event for the industry, as well as the design of an ambitious programme of continuous training, which has resulted in the creation of seminars and workshops, the acceptance of which has been very high.