PATA lines up priorities

PATA’s immediate priorities were the focus of debate at yesterday’s Industry Council meeting, with several members expressing concern over the re-activation of the grassroots Chapter programme, as well as hopes of the association expanding its role in advocacy, information sharing and networking.

With PATA now trying to revive its Chapter programme, Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality chief technical advisor Peter Semone said it felt like the association was “going forward to the past”, while Singapore-based World Express Group chairman Tan Chee Chye was skeptical about the cost of trying to bring it back.

The restructuring of PATA in recent times had seen a three-year Chapter Integration Plan that aimed to have all Chapter-only members upgraded to full PATA membership by 2007. With many unwilling to increase their level of commitment, this led to an exodus, causing the number of Chapters to dwindle by about half to its current 38-strong network.

Semone worried that Chapter membership would end up “dissolving” full PATA membership, with large numbers “hiding in the Chapters and being distantly involved” with PATA due to their reluctance to participate internationally.

Earlier in the meeting, other council members such as Marriott International chief operations officer, Asia Pacific, Craig Smith, had already pointed out that PATA needed to work on building a stronger membership base, with the lack of major industry players currently limiting networking opportunities.

PATA was also urged by members to step up in its lobbying of governments, removing barriers to destinations such as visas.

Industry Council chairman and Thailand-based Asian Trails Group CEO, Luzi Matzig, reiterated that PATA would take all the aforementioned into account, with key priorities being membership growth and renewal; restarting the chapter network while still encouraging some to become full members; getting relevant information to members; and lobbying.

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