PATA Taps Bangkok for Main Office

MANILA, Philippines -- The Pacific Asia Travel Association will relocate its headquarters from San Francisco to Bangkok, Thailand, officials said at the group's 47th annual conference here.

PATA's executive committee made the selection and its board of directors approved funding for the move.

Bangkok's selection was made after a review of presentations made by member destinations deemed to be "centrally" located within the PATA region, which stretches from South Asia to North America. Also under consideration were Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.

"The final decision was quite difficult," Joseph McInerney, PATA chief executive office, said. "In the final analysis, the consensus of the executive committee was that Bangkok was the best option at this time."

According to McInerney, Thailand's advantages included its central location in relation to the PATA membership; an international airport served by 75 airlines, and easily obtainable visa and work permits.

Late last year, Singapore had emerged as the likely choice.

The selection of Bangkok drew criticism from PATA chairman Michael Paulin, who also is chief executive officer of Honolulu-based Marc Hotels & Resorts.

"The difference with not being in an established business center like Hong Kong or Tokyo is that PATA always will have the perception of being an Asian development board rather than a strategic association," he said.

Douglas Gautier, deputy executive director of the Hong Kong Tourist Association, said the HKTA was disappointed. "We thought a PATA headquarters in Hong Kong would be a tremendous introduction into China," he said.

According to McInerney, with the approval of the new site and the funding for the move, PATA will begin searching for office space with the expectation of relocating late this year. "The operational headquarters will include the office of the chief executive, communications, marketing, human resources and the strategic information center," McInerney said.

PATA will remain a U.S.-based, nonprofit association, with the accounting and membership services remaining in San Francisco, along with the Americas Division office. Founded in 1952 in Hawaii, PATA has been based in San Francisco for more than 40 years. It has more than 17,000 members representing 79 chapters worldwide.

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