WELCOME banquets of PATA conferences in the past were events to look forward to. Usually, they were held in venues that were only possible only if real strings were pulled. Why, I remember the first PATA conference in Beijing in 1997; as one of our night-outs, we were guests of the Mayor of Beijing and were treated to a formal banquet in the Great Hall of the People, followed by a visit to Chairman Mao’s offices above the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which looked down on Tiananmen Square.
But last night’s PATA 60th Anniversary & Conference Welcome Banquet showed how times had changed. Not only was it held just in a mere hotel ballroom, one of the main acts was by a group of elderly dancing ladies whose average age must be 60 years.
Don’t get me wrong – they were adorable, fun and entertaining – but as I watched them and looked around, I wondered if the entertainment was being pitched to the average age of the PATA attendee. Or may be a literal way of celebrating PATA’s 6oth anniversary? Or may be a way to acknowledge an important travel market, ie, seniors?
The elderly dancing ladies were followed by a choir by children. I thought, aha, surely the middle segment would follow next? Alas, the only adult entertainment that ensued were grave speeches.
That’s when I decided to hit the bar. Some things do not change.
By Adam Tan