After months of planning, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Annual Conference has finally kicked off to a spectacularly successful start. The inauguration of the much awaited event was attended by senior Chinese leaders led by Wang Qi Shan the vice premier of China, ministers of tourism and dignitaries from various countries, heads of leading organisations and associations from the travel and tourism industry and, of course, PATA well wishers from around the world.
On the eve of the event held at the China World hotel, Beijing, China, on April 11 and 12, Hiran Cooray, chairman, PATA and Bill Calderwood, interim CEO, PATA, addressed a joint media conference. The well attended press briefing comprised of international as well as Chinese journalists.
The Annual Conference event has been resurrected after a hiatus of five years, on popular demand by PATA members. Said Cooray: “This event has been brought back solely on the demand of the members, and has really been welcomed by them, as you can judge by the turn-out. Definitely we will hold the Conference next year as well, and will be inviting bids from countries shortly, who are prepared to host the event. We are looking at the format of a conference alongside other meetings conducted concurrently, so as to satisfy the requirements of all our members.”
A series of internal meetings and discussions on the strategic plan among members formed part of the PATA 60th anniversary celebrations immediately preceding the Conference. Said Calderwood: “Among the most important items on the discussion agenda was to acknowledge the integral role the Chapters play in the Association, and at the grassroots level. Sadly, this vital network had been overlooked in the last few years, but our strategic plan and the way forward for PATA includes a two-way communication with Chapters, what the Association can do for them, and how this grassroots level can continue to grow. By the end of this year we hope to establish five more chapters – including the PATA Beijing Chapter - and perhaps welcome some back; by 2012, we hope to have grown to 50-chapters.