In the past three years, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has focused on building a financially strong organisation, increasing the number of members globally and improving engagement with its members and partners. Dr. Mario Hardy, PATA’s Chief Executive, tells us what the future holds for the organisation.
In the years to come, the Association will look to be thought leaders, by focusing on further engagement with its members by monitoring current trends and issues. However, PATA will always remain a strong advocate for the development of a responsible and sustainable travel and tourism industry.
What are the key trends you’re seeing in Asian travel and tourism (inbound and outbound)?
After having just met with ASEAN Tourism Ministers, I can safely say that an area of focus for most destinations is the issue of tourism dispersal. Many countries suffer from overcrowded tourist destinations and often times the infrastructure in place does not support these high number of tourists. Dispersing tourists to secondary and tertiary destinations will also help local communities alleviate poverty by generating new sources of income and creating new job opportunities. This is something that PATA has been advocating for the past three years and we are extremely pleased to see countries embracing this new philosophy.
PATA WILL ALWAYS REMAIN A STRONG ADVOCATE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL AND TOURISM INDUSTRY
After the UNWTO’s Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, you are launching a new initiative. Please tell us more…
We recently launched the Building an Understanding for Food Excess in Tourism (BUFFET) ini t iat ive, a campaign aimed at reducing food waste in our industry. This is an issue that everybody in the travel and tourism industry witnesses. When you go to any tradeshow, conference or hotel breakfast buffet, we can see the amount of food waste that usually goes to landfill which adversely affects our environment. On that same day you could walk out of your hotel and see people in desperate need of food.
At PATA, we want to play our part and continue to work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. With this campaign, PATA along with our partners will be working with hotels in Bangkok in reducing their food waste to landfill. The overall outcome of the campaign is to produce a research paper with case studies and best practices on eliminating food waste. The final report will be shared globally and hopefully be the start of a global movement.
DISPERSING TOURISTS TO SECONDARY AND TERTIARY DESTINATIONS WILL HELP LOCAL COMMUNITIES ALLEVIATE POVERTY
For more information about the BUFFET Initiative and how to get involved, visit http://www.PATA.org/foodwaste.
What interesting new members have you landed of late?
We value every member that joins the PATA family, however some of the more well-known brands that have recently joined include PayPal, Airbnb and Royal Brunei Airlines. In 2017, we welcomed more than 125 members from the public and private sectors to the Association.
Much feared in its early days, how does Airbnb fit into the equation today?
We can no longer ignore players such as Airbnb, which has had a tremendous impact on several destinations already. I n some destinations it has helped boost the local economy, revived certain districts and added much needed inventory, while in others it has created challenges which is expected when new innovative services emerge. However, I believe overall it has had a positive effect on our sector.
Photo : Mario Hardy Chief Executive, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)