The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) hosted the PATA Hub City Forum, London, July 5, 2012 at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall. The objective was to engage on a variety of strategic matters including UK border issues, inward investment for the UK, Heathrow Airport, crisis response, the 2012 Olympic impact, and the UK’s controversial Air Passenger Duty.
The UK’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Green, said: “I am delighted that the Pacific Asia Travel Association selected London as a strategic location for PATA’s Hub City Forum on July 5. The Asia Pacific region is a vibrant and dynamic one with many burgeoning economies and a vital source of investment, business, and trade for the United Kingdom. The growth of travel, tourism, business, and investment in and from the Asia Pacific region is extremely welcome and something the British government supports fully. I welcome PATA’s encouragement of dialogue, increased cooperation, and closer links with London as an important and influential global center.”
High-profile attendees included the Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency, Rob Whiteman; and the CEO of BAA, Colin Matthews, responsible for Heathrow Airport; Carlos Vogeler, special envoy of UNWTO; Director of Turkish tourism, Tolga Tuyluoglu; and Helen Marano of WTTC.
Opening the event, PATA CEO Martin J. Craigs underlined PATA’s unique status as a highly-influential association of private and public sector members in more than 40 countries and its ability to engage simultaneously with world political leaders and captains of industry. “PATA is a catalyst for increasing cooperation and fostering trade with, and investment from, the dynamic Asia Pacific region, where growth is the greatest globally,” he said.
“PATA’s aligned advocacy program on key issues with organizations such as ATAG, IATA, UNWTO, WTTC, and AAPA means that travel and tourism can speak out on key issues with a united voice,” he added.
Rob Whiteman underlined the vast operations carried out by the UK Border Agency, the largest part of the UK government operating overseas and dealing with millions of visa applications. He spoke about China as a key area of focus with 14 offices and underlined increased cooperation with other countries, particularly the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to enable faster processing.
With a specialist presentation on crisis response and contingency planning, former UK Director Counter Terrorism and UK operations with responsibility for global contingencies, Paul Gibson, said: “Travel and tourism is on the frontline of global volatility. Effective contingency planning and crisis management is essential to ensure business continuity and protection of key aspects of the globalized economy in the event of a crisis.”
Colin Matthews provided unique insights into the operations of Heathrow, its focus on providing a sought-after experience for passengers, its role encouraging business travelers and investors in the UK and the current £100m a month being spent on, among other things, substantial upgrading of the facilities and services it offers.
With the 2012 Olympics only days away, Heathrow is rehearsing its procedures to cope with the upsurge in arrivals. Mr. Matthews was able to confirm that the first Olympic team had already arrived. He underlined the airport’s excellent transport links providing it with real competitive advantage.
“Heathrow is excellently served by the very reliable Heathrow Express taking passengers into Paddington. The Cross Rail facility, currently being built, will provide an enhanced service enabling passengers to journey rapidly across the capital to Canary Wharf in the East of London,” said Matthews.