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Fresh grounds sought for PATA's annual events
Mimi Hudoyo, reporting from PATA Travel Mart 2015, Bengaluru, September 7, 2015

PATA is opening up opportunities for destinations beyond the Asia-Pacific region to play host to its annual events.


Explaining the decision, CEO Mario Hardy, who took over the reins of the association on November 1 last year, said: “The whole purpose of us having a travel event is to promote the destination.


“We were questioned when we chose Bengaluru (for PATA Travel Mart 2015). (The city) may be known as the Silicon Valley of India but there are tourist attractions here waiting to be discovered. Having the mart here is our way of supporting the destination – to promote it to (buyers) who will in turn sell it to their customers.”


Hardy pointed out that many travel tradeshows are held in established destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Hong Kong, and these places “do not need our support”.


“However, there are secondary and tertiary destinations that do require support,” he remarked.


Pushing more destinations beyond this region to host PATA industry events is an effort aligned with the association’s goal to disperse tourist footfalls, not only to popular destinations in a country but also to emerging ones, as long as they have the capability to handle different events.


Hardy said: “We cannot keep going back to the same places. It is a challenge for a non-profit organisation like us (and) we need to provide support to our members while making sure that our events are commercially viable.”


Thok Sokhom, director of international cooperation and ASEAN at the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism, welcomed the initiative: “Having a travel event in a new destination will provide an opportunity for us to introduce it (and) exchange experiences with the host country.”


Oliver Martin, principal of Twenty31 Consulting Canada, said: “This is the only way to get new and diversified members. If PATA keeps (its events within) existing members, the only destinations that will play host are India and China.”


When asked if the new direction meant PATA would no longer be a Pacific Asia association, Martin replied: “PATA is not just about travel within Asia, it is (also about) Asian outbound travel. It is a global organisation.”


“If PATA wants to be relevant and have leadership and expertise on Asian travellers, it makes sense for it to have members beyond Asia-Pacific. (In fact), Australia and Canada are long time PATA members. If you want a perfect definition, they are not really in the region.”


Read more in TTG-PATA Travel Mart 2015 Show Daily

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