The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) hosted its annual Youth Symposium on June 1, 2023, at the illustrious Pokhara Grande Hotel in Pokhara, Nepal. In collaboration with the Nepal Tourism Board, Global Peace Foundation, the Guam Visitors Bureau, and the PATA Thailand Chapter, the symposium brought together some of the brightest young minds in tourism for an immersive, illuminating exploration of the sector’s future.
Under the umbrella of human capital development, the symposium touched on key industry challenges. It attracted nearly 200 eager participants from 11 Nepalese educational institutions and international students from Thailand and Korea (ROK). The convergence of young professionals and students enabled dynamic discussions, revealing fresh insights into the issues the next generation faces in the tourism industry.
PATA Chair Peter Semone marked the event’s opening by underlining the significance of human capital development as the tourism industry journeys towards a robust recovery. “The PATA Youth Symposium underscores our commitment to nurturing talent for a resilient tourism sector,” said Semone. Referencing the strong turnout, he added, “The immense passion of these young individuals for sustainable global tourism gives me great hope for the industry’s future.”
In his address, Semone grappled with the notion of the “strawberry generation,” a label often ascribed to the youth denoting their creativity and vulnerability. He underlined the importance of confronting challenges, turning opportunities into results, and embracing optimism.
Joining the conversation, Smrittee Panta from the Little Angel’s College of Management-Kathmandu University reinforced the importance of individuality. She reflected on the strawberry analogy: “Just as every strawberry in my farm is unique, the younger generation should embrace their uniqueness.”
The Symposium also tackled the crucial role of technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), in shaping tourism’s future. Tony Smyth, senior vice president of iFREE Group, underscored the potential of AI, specifically ChatGPT, in transforming the tourism industry. Responding to concerns about technology’s role in job displacement, he highlighted the importance of education and awareness in leveraging technology effectively.
“The outcomes of any technology rest on our understanding and application. We are the masters of these tools, not the other way around,” said Smyth.
The day’s events concluded with a roundtable discussion, giving the young participants a chance to voice their thoughts on the future of the industry and their place in it. A mentorship session with global industry professionals enriched the experience, providing attendees with valuable insights and networking opportunities.
The PATA Youth Symposium left a resonating impact, fortifying the future leaders of the tourism industry with knowledge, connection, and inspiration. As the industry navigates uncharted waters, the symposium’s emphasis on resilience, innovation, and human capital development is a beacon of hope for a prosperous future.
Written by: Supaporn Pholrach (Joom)