MACAU (eTN) – PATA Travel Mart 2010 in Macau confirmed that Asia tourism is booming again. The Mart welcomed over 300 buyers and 530 sellers, making it one of the largest international events for trade in Asia. But for Greg Duffell, PATA CEO, this Mart shows also that Asia is leading again in the world’s tourism. “According to our latest data, the Asia Pacific region registered an increase of 11 percent in total arrivals for the first half of 2010. Just in June, arrivals progressed by a stunning 17 percent. We see good growth all across the continent with arrivals up by 30 percent in Macau, by 44 percent in Hong Kong, by 48 percent in Sri Lanka, or by 16 percent in Nepal,” said Duffell. “Asia is not only leading world tourism recovery, but it is also leading countries out of the recession. Tourism demonstrates more than ever how vital it can be for countries’ economies,” he adds.
A booming tourism industry does not go without issues. And according to Duffell, the next challenges for Asia will be education and training in tourism with many destinations in the region already struggling to find enough staff to work. Another issue is to adapt tourism practices to environmental issues and reduce as much as possible the impact of tourism activities on the environment. “Concrete action must continue to ensure the future of our world. We challenge our members to do something,” he told.
Looking towards the future is high on PATA’s agenda, especially in 2011 as the association will turn 60. “PATA growth reflects the changes in tourism over the decades. We started in 1951 with the primary objective of bringing North Americans to the Pacific area. Throughout the sixties up to the eighties, we included the rest of Asia and looked also at new inbound markets such as Europe or Japan. Today, flows go in both directions with new economic powers like China or India increasing travel to the Pacific, North America, and Europe,” said PATA chairman Hiran Cooray. For him, a PATA Travel Mart could eventually take place in the future in Europe or in North America to better reflect global tourism movements.
For its anniversary, Hawaii – PATA’s birthplace – will welcome an Executive Board Meeting in February before big celebrations during its annual conference due to take place in Beijing between April 9 and 12.
In Macau, PATA launched a dedicated website for its 60th anniversary year. The site, www.pata60.org , is home to a variety of competitions, activities, and events built around the anniversary theme: Building Tourism: Past. Present. Progressive. New faces are the focus of the first portion of the competition pages. To coincide with the 60th anniversary celebrations, the annual “Face of the Future” competition has been brought to the forefront by putting the power of the vote in the hands of PATA members.
A further initiative is a “Tomorrow’s Tourism” competition inviting students from PATA member educational establishments to submit a five-minute video presentation with their ideas for a more sustainable model of tourism development. After the first round closing date of December 15, students’ videos will be uploaded to the “Tomorrow’s Tourism” section of the PATA60 site, where further details and competition guidelines can also be found. And finally, to celebrate today’s success stories, the “Zero Footprint Challenge” will seek to highlight examples of environmentally-responsible tourism. The competition will be launched in April 2011.