After 55 years of holding annual
conferences of up to five days, the Pacific Asia Travel Association
has canceled its 2007 conference and is scaling back its annual
meeting beginning in 2008, offering a shorter program and a more
Taiwan and Sri
Lanka, which had been designated as sites for the 2007 and 2008
PATA conferences, respectively, have been advised to cease
operations, according to a statement from PATA.
To be styled as
summits, the revised meetings will be shortened to about
PATAs regional director for North America, said the summits will be
more focused and more condensed, but no destination has been
selected for 2008 because PATA is not completely set on the model.
We have to get it set before we put it up for bid.
for a bigger draw
Also, more time
will be required to book the kind of high-level speakers who are
often booked a year or two in advance, he said.
The summit is
going to be more of an attraction, with iconic speakers, not just
from the travel industry, Ferguson said. We want to attract
outsiders, not just the PATA family.
He cited the
example of a Larry King interview of Bono, the lead singer of the
rock band U2, and noted that Larry King works for CNN, which is a
member [of PATA], and Bono is all about sustainable tourism and the
elimination of poverty, so who knows? You have to think big in
order to get there.
The change was
spurred by waning conference attendance. PATA wants to pump up the
volume, Ferguson said. We want to make it a shouldnt-miss kind of
Although the 2004
conference on Jeju island, Korea, set an attendance record with
2,100 attendees, conferences have been averaging about 1,200,
Ferguson said, down from previous averages of 1,500 to
shorter conferences will be easier for time-challenged members to
attend and less expensive to produce.
The summits will
allow other countries without large budgets to put in bids to host
it, said Ferguson. It was getting cost-prohibitive.
The events will
be more outward-looking, with more high-level discussion on global
issues, Ferguson said, in hopes of appealing to a broader base. It
may not just be Pacific Asia. We may also incorporate African
countries, because PATA has a working relationship with the African
PATAs board of
directors decided at Aprils annual conference in Pattaya, Thailand,
to drop the conference in favor of a new style of event that PATA
CEO Peter de Jong said would demonstrate PATAs growing role as the
convener of high-level discussions on the major global issues and
opportunities that shape the travel industry.
The decision was
ratified by the membership at the PATA Annual General Meeting on
April 24. The idea had been under consideration for several years,
international membership, which is made up of corporate members,
has grown back to a record high after a post-9/11 setback, Ferguson
said. But membership on the regional level has not recovered as
In other changes,
PATA revised its mission statement as the economies of Asia have
grown and now support more outbound travel, Ferguson said. Weve
changed from the promotion of travel to and within Asia to
promotion of travel to, within and from Asia.
regional meetings will continue as before. In 2007, PATA will hold
two board meetings and a new style of annual general meeting. It
will also consider holding other smaller events in different parts
of the Asia-Pacific region.
PATA will hold
its Travel Mart in Hong Kong from Sept. 12 to 15. The Travel Mart
is a separate entity, said Ferguson. Its been building on its
success since we moved it out of Singapore a couple of years ago.
We rotate it around the regions. It was slipping some. Now there is
some new interest. We want it to be like the World Travel Mart of
the Asia Pacific, a cant-miss event with business as the
Division will hold its Chapters Meeting in Boston on Sept. 29 and
reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].