My vision for the PATA of Tomorrow

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Since 1951, PATA has served as a catalyst for responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific Region.

Importantly, PATA serves as a platform for bringing together Governments and Industry leading to meaningful partnerships that make a difference globally, regionally, nationally and within communities. PATA also helps build businesses through its events, intelligence, communications and network. PATA membership spans across the earth’s most culturally and ecologically unique region, ranging from national to municipal governments; and micro to multi-national business ventures. By bringing these entities together under one umbrella, PATA truly exemplifies the term ‘unity in diversity’.

Notably, PATA has provided inspirational leadership in times of crisis, such as the Bali Bomb in 2002; SARS in 2003; and Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.  Serving as the Vice President of PATA from 2002-2006, I vividly recall how PATA responded by these crises by establishing the Bali Recovery Task Force; launching the Project Phoenix collaborative regional recovery campaign; and rebuilding devastated destinations across the Indian Ocean.

Today, we are emerging from the most severe crisis to hit our community since PATA was founded. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought unprecedented devastation on tourism in Asia and the Pacific. Tourism arrivals fell by 84% in 2020 compared to 2019, making it the worst affected region in the world. Countries heavily dependent on tourism also experienced the largest fall in economic output. This abrupt drop demonstrated the importance of tourism for the region, but also placed a spotlight on its negative impacts. Decreased economic activity—including tourism—resulted in the largest annual reduction in CO2 emissions in more than 70 years, for example. Furthermore, natural sites suffering from over-tourism prior to the pandemic started to recover.

As a result of this historic shock, host communities, national governments, and tourism operators have started to engage in discussions on how to rebuild the sector to make it more resilient to shocks and with greater respect for ecological boundaries. At the same time, tourists themselves have developed a new appreciation for the importance of ensuring that tourism is sustainable and beneficial for all stakeholders. Consequently, there is now a unique window of opportunity to reflect on the lessons learned in the last two years and put in place reforms that enable tourism to contribute to more green, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable development pathways.

In the past, PATA has been able to convert “Crisis into an Opportunity”.

The question now is should PATA advocate to “build back better” or “build forward better”? In my opinion, it is the latter – with PATA’s leadership we can re-invent tourism in Asia-Pacific, make it environmentally sustainable and socially impactful. In the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, there is a unique opportunity to rethink tourism. To make it more resilient to external events.  To address the issues of climate change and sustainability by creating an enabling environment that focuses on quality rather than quantity. To shift the narrative from destination marketing to destination management. To build genuine partnerships between government, industry and host communities.  To promote tourism investments that are adaptable to change and profitable to many. To improve resilience by diversifying tourism markets and rethinking the business model.

My crystal ball sees PATA taking a leading role in redefining tourism in Asia Pacific and setting a pathway that will have lasting and meaningful impact across the globe.  We will do this through intelligent partnerships in which strengths of our rich and diverse membership are leveraged for the common good. And at the same time, PATA will deliver on its promise to help members grow their respective businesses.

What can I do for PATA?

As the PATA Chairman, I will collaborate with our very capable CEO, staff, and board members to navigate these uncertain times and ensure PATA maintains its rightful position as a thought leader and advocate for sustainable tourism development in Asia Pacific. I will insist that membership value cascades across all categories of PATA membership, including: PATA Chapters, micro and small enterprises, multinationals, governments, airlines and universities.

Why should you elect me?

PATA is in my DNA. My father who contributed to the association throughout the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s as a member and executive always reminded me that ‘you get out of PATA what you put into it’. In that spirit, I have contributed to and led many PATA committees; and from 2002 to 2006 served as the association’s vice president. I was elected to the Executive Board three terms and Chaired the PATA Foundation Board of Trustees for five years. I believe in good governance and transparency; collaboration and partnership; and an inclusive approach that allows for all voices to be heard.

Thank you for your vote of confidence to serve as your Chairman.

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