The PATA Youth Symposium held on Thursday, May 18, 2017 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, welcomed 130 students, alumni and lecturers from various institutions from Sri Lanka, Australia and Macao SAR to discuss the next generation’s role in the future of travel and tourism.
The event, hosted generously by the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) and supported by the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau on the first day of the PATA Annual Summit, was organised under the theme ‘No Barriers: Millennials and the Future of Tourism’.
In his opening address PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy stated, “The travel and tourism industry is a fun and exciting industry. Once you’ve joined you may never want to leave. It is about getting to know the unique cultures of various destinations, and I appreciate all the students who have joined us here to share their insights and thoughts on the future of the travel and tourism industry.”
Mr Hiran Cooray, Chairman of Jetwing Hotels, shared his experience of when he attended his first PATA event in Bali in 1991, noting, “By listening to many experience speakers, I started to think and absorb different ideas. For the younger generation, I encourage you to listen to experienced travel professionals. Some ideas might not make any sense to you now but it will make a lot of sense when you start working in the industry. We have the responsibility to look after our environment and our nature. If you don’t do that, nature will fight back. Remember the key messages shared with you and apply them every day as you take on more responsibilities for our industry and our environment.”
Mr Sunil Dissanayake, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) said, “Millennials are looking for interesting and challenging work experience. The tourism and hospitality sector offers great opportunity for millennials in different roles”.
The programme was moderated and developed with guidance from Dr. Chris Bottrill, Chairman of the PATA Human Capital Development (HCD) Committee and Dean, Faculty of Global and Community Studies at Capilano University. Dr. Bottrill thanked the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (SLITHM) and the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau for hosting and supporting the event. He also encouraged every student to actively participate in the discussions.
“We had a wonderful time with students from Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management and six other universities and colleges at the PATA Youth Symposium discussing millennials and the future of tourism. In our discussions, students noted the value of caring for the environment and their communities, embracing technology, providing healthy and organic foods, achieving gender equality, and the importance of embracing multiculturalism in our industry. We were very impressed with the insight that students showed toward the future of tourism and what their role in it will be.”
Mr Andrew Chan, Founder and CEO, ACI HR Solutions, Singapore, delivered the opening plenary talk on ‘Talent and Recruitment in the Tourism Industry – The future for Gen Y and Millennials’. He said, “A shortage of specialist skills in every Asian country is currently the greatest single challenge facing human resource departments. By 2020, millennials will form 50 percent of the global workforce. Up to 80 percent of the current workforce in some travel companies in Asia are millennials. Forty nine percent of millennials chose current travel industry job for the good opportunities in their career progression, making it the most important job selection factor. For millennials, development and work/life balance are more important than financial rewards.”
Ms Aleandre Kwan, Philanthropies Asia Programme Manager, Microsoft, Singapore talked about the ‘Corporate Commitment to Future Generations’. “More than 50 percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills, and experts say that this will increase to 77 percent in less than a decade. Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.”
Mr Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO of Tripfez and the PATA Face of the Future 2017, talked about ‘Youth Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century’. He said that millennials were the first digitally native generation and tend to be active on social media. “Authenticity, values engagement, social validation, social acknowledgement are important to them.”
All participants shared their views in round-table discussions on the following topics:
Key responses from students to the question: What is important to the future Generation of Tourism Professionals?
- Value of caring for the environment and their communities
- Provide healthy and organic foods
- Achieving gender equality, and the importance of embracing multiculturalism in our industry
Key responses from students to the question: How will Millennials and the next Generation Change the Future of Tourism?
- Awareness of current situations and trends
- Embrace the technology which can help you market products and services
- Protect the environment
PATA Young Tourism Professional Ambassador, Ms JC Wong, informed the audience about PATA’s Young Tourism Professional programme and activities and the Association’s YTP student category membership.
The participants enjoyed fascinating cultural performances as part of the programme.