PATA adds members, aims for new markets

David Peterkofsky, senior editor at Travel Weekly sister publication TravelAge West, filed this report from the PATA conference:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) opened its 50th annual conference, held here April 8 to 12, with good news on the membership front.

PATA chief executive officer Joe McInerney said the trade association has received 150 new applications for membership since last July, and plans to recruit more members from new markets such as airports and cruise lines.

McInerney also praised PATA's new chapter rewards initiative, which provides a financial incentive for chapters that do some recruiting.

For each chapter that recruits a new PATA member, 50% of that member's dues stay with the chapter. Seven chapters have taken up PATA on its offer so far, McInerney said, including U.S. chapters in New York and Orange County, Calif.

In other news from the conference:

  • In a speech to delegates, the Malaysian prime minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, called for governments and the media to present fair and accurate traveler-safety information to the public.
  • He said that while countries should be entitled to issue advisories to their citizens, these notices should be prepared "so as to give consumers of tourism service accurate and reliable information."

  • PATA rehired its former director of marketing, Gerald Picolla, to boost members' participation in the PATA Travel Mart, reported Travel Weekly East, Travel Weekly's Asian affiliate.
  • "After four years of hosting the PATA Mart, we decided that PATA needs to provide more support to the event," said McInerney.

    Picolla was PATA's former director of chapter services and vice president of marketing. It was in the latter capacity that he started the Travel Mart in 1978 and was responsible for it until 1995. He started his own company, Picolla International, after leaving PATA.

    "I still haven't sat down and worked out the strategies yet," said Picolla. "After being away for five years, I need to sit down and review the [Travel] Mart and the buyers and sellers."

    "Basically, I see an opportunity to build and expand the Mart and bring it back as a quality event," he added.

  • PATA's task force program, which advises destinations on marketing, heritage preservation and other issues, will send representatives to Fiji and North Korea within the next few months.
  • PATA chronicles task force results in reports that members use as case studies. Previous task forces have visited North Sulawesi, Indonesia; Guam, and southern Thailand.

  • Gloria Keller, an agent with HNL Travel Associates in Honolulu, received a PATA Award of Merit for her service to the association.
  • Keller served as chairman of the 2001 conference program committee and has served multiple terms on both the PATA Industry Council and the group's board of directors.

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