New head in town

‌PATA’s new CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid plans to bring stability to the organisation and enhance the travel experience through technology adoption

What are your immediate plans in this new role?
My immediate plan is to bring greater stability to the organisation, as 2020-2022 has been a transitional period after Covid-19. In this regard, I look forward to working with the PATA Executive Board on the critical areas for the association to achieve this in the short and medium term. Meanwhile, my 100-days goal will be around the five topics from the Expert Task Forces’ (ETFs) recommended by the PATA Executive Board covering Digitalisation & Technology Adoption, Events & PATA Travel Mart, Organisational Design, Voice & Brand Image and Membership Engagement.

How do you intend to amplify the voices of Asia-Pacific members and the broader travel community?
Over the first week of my appointment, I was able to meet the membership and industry leaders from around the region. The engagement with the Executive Board, Board Members, Life Members, members from all sectors and regions, as well as partners and media members, are crucial for me to understand the key issues for the travel and tourism industry. In the coming months, I look forward to meeting more people, especially the broader travel and tourism industry fraternity. I need to understand the challenges that they are facing and what their primary focus areas are – only then will we be able to serve them better. Our PATA team in the head office in Bangkok can play a huge role in advocacy through our events and through all media channels available. It is my aim to give back the voice to the Asia-Pacific region and PATA will be the champion to do just this.

What are the primary challenges confronting the Asia-Pacific travel community, and how can PATA offer support and assistance?
In terms of recovery, the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism industry is a bit lagging behind its counterparts in the west, namely Europe and the Americas. This is due to various factors including a softening global economic outlook with rising inflation and the increased costs of international travel, as well as human capital development and the shortage of labour and talent in the region.

Therefore, PATA is committed to helping our members addresses these various issues by providing research and insights from our network of experts, partners and members, as well as providing opportunities for knowledge sharing through case studies and dialogue.

This region is known for its diversity in terms of cultures, economies, and tourism offerings. How will you work to ensure that PATA’s initiatives and strategies are inclusive and adaptable to the varying needs and market conditions across different countries in the region?
PATA is unique in that our membership spans the entire spectrum of the travel and tourism industry, including governments (national, state/province, and city), hotels, airlines and airports, tour agencies and advisors, tour operators and DMCs, educational institutions and students. In addition, the PATA network also embraces the grassroots activism of the PATA Chapters and Student Chapters across the world.

By working closely and regularly engaging with all of our members, partners, chapter members and student chapters, we can ensure that our initiatives are inclusive and adaptable across all regions.

What strategies is PATA implementing to promote sustainable and responsible tourism in the Asia-Pacific region, and what impact do you foresee these efforts having on the future of travel and tourism in the region?
In 2021, PATA launched the Tourism Destination Resilience (TDR) Programme to provide a pathway for tourism destinations to build resilience and increase their adaptive capacity.

At PATA we believe that resilience is essential for moving towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Without resilience, a destination would never be able to maintain its sustainability efforts. Years of progress on regenerating an ecosystem or eliminating poverty, for example, could be lost in one disaster or financial crisis. This is why we advocate that for a tourism destination to be sustainable, it must first be resilient.

This year, with the support of our key partner, Visa, we have expanded the Tourism Destination Resilience (TDR) Programme to continue to help build a more resilient and sustainable tourism industry. The partnership with Visa focuses specifically on building the capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In addition to the online modules, PATA and Visa also conducted in-person trainings for SMEs, which took place in Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

So far, the programme has been well received, and PATA will continue to expand this programme in both scope, region and outreach.

With the ongoing digital transformation in the travel industry, what role does PATA envision technology playing in enhancing the overall travel experience for both travellers and businesses in the Asia-Pacific region?
At PATA, we continually highlight the importance of a seamless travel experience and believe that technology can play a huge role towards this goal, from digital passports to cashless payments. Not only do they help provide a more user-friendly experience, but it also creates greater efficiency for businesses in the Asia-Pacific region. For this, the expertise of PATA members is abundant and we believe they will be able to transform the travel and tourism industry with the leadership of PATA.

In light of the recent pandemic, what measures has PATA taken to ensure the resilience and recovery of the Asia-Pacific travel and tourism sector, and what lessons have been learned from this challenging period for the future of the industry?
Our TDR Programme is an important part of our sustainability activities. Even before the pandemic, we saw that many businesses and organisations were more reactive when it came to crises and disasters as opposed to being proactive to these unforeseen incidents.

The pandemic only highlighted the need for more education and work towards a more resilient industry, particularly as we face more severe and frequent natural disasters due to climate change.

Therefore, the PATA TDR programme will continue with new modules in keeping up with the post-lockdown situation. We believe such a programme can help our members and especially destination to move into the growth zone faster.

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