PATA Summit Celebrates 'Secondary Destinations'
PHOTO: There’s nothing secondary about Leshan except its market profile. Above the Leshan Giant Buddha. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has been busy in the last few weeks, beginning with its Annual Summit (April 24 to 26), this year held in Leshan, China and then the announcement this week of its newly elected board. Founded 64 years ago in Honolulu, PATA has been an important voice in managed tourism in the Asia Pacific region since its founding. Today it offers advocacy and research to its members, private and public, in the region as well as to its 43 local PATA chapters worldwide. About 350 delegates attended this year’s PATA Annual Summit 2015.
The summit included a one-day conference, the executive board and committee meetings and the Annual General Meeting. Though PATA has hosted three of its major events in China, this was the first time a site in Western China was chosen. Located in Sichuan, Leshan is a destination that embodies an important PATA theme; encouraging the development of secondary destinations in order to nurture a wider distribution of travelers, a kind of land traffic control.
The dispersal of tourists is an important objective in the management of destinations, especially in a region like Asia where tens of millions of Chinese, for example, will take to the road on a four-day holiday weekend. If they go to the same places, the experience will hurt the destinations, concentrate the economic gain and provide a less than satisfactory holiday for the travelers, creating a lose/lose situation.
Leshan is an example of a “secondary destination” whose status is more a result of profile than substance, as it is home to such world heritage sites as Emei Mountain and the Leshan Giant Buddha. As outgoing PATA Chairman Scott Supernaw noted in his welcome address, “Most travelers may not realize that China has 47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ranking second in the world. These are sites and destinations ready to be discovered and recognized for their authenticity and beauty.”
A one-day conference addressed “New Dimensions of Heritage and Culture Tourism,” with an emphasis on the challenges inherent in increasing tourism numbers and the appropriate management of heritage and cultural sites. The UNWTO’s Xu Jing pointed out in his speech that culture and heritage motivated 40 percent of global tourism movement. Other topics included “Successful Management of Heritage Sites,” with case studies of Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China and Sigiriya and “Balancing the need for Visitation and the Appropriate Management of the Authentic and Natural Heritage and Cultural sites.”
These issues present real challenges for PATA at a time when its membership is so successful, thanks in no small part to PATA’s past efforts, that the organization finds itself speaking on behalf of applying restraint in the managing of success. Roaring fonts of money have a way of drowning out the choir of restraint.
That’s why the recent election of Kevin Murphy as Chairman, replacing Scott Supernaw, is such good news. Murphy’s election puts one of the industry’s most respected voices in the driver’s seat. Supernaw, who is also Tauck Tours managing director international, will remain on the executive board as PATA immediate past chairman.
“I take up this responsibility at a time of continuing change, and at a time of continuing challenges. PATA is clearly alive but we need to ensure that PATA keeps its place as ‘the authority on travel and tourism in Asia Pacific’ and, more importantly, continues to support its members both in the public and private sectors,” said Murphy, who is also the president & CEO Asiawide Hospitality Solutions (AHS). AHS provides guidance and asset management to hoteliers and hospitality investors worldwide.
Murphy has been active in both travel industry and community affairs throughout his long and global career, which has put him in high levels of responsibility in several hotel companies on five different continents. As past board member of the original Green Globe Asia Pacific, he understands tourism’s responsibilities as well as its rewards.
PATA used the Annual Summit’s Welcome Dinner to present its highest award, PATA Life Membership, to Bill Calderwood, managing director, The Ayre Group Consulting, Australia. In 2011 Calderwood stepped in as an interim PATA CEO at a time of organizational crisis and helped right the ship.
Chuck Gee, who was dean of Hawaii’s School of Travel Industry Management from 1976 until 1999, and a major contributor to PATA, had a plaque installed at the PATA Gallery of Legends at Honolulu Airport. Gee joins such other plaque recipients as Pan Am’s Juan Trippe, Conrad Hilton, James Michener and Walt Disney. PATA honored him for his lifetime achievement “in establishing an important human legacy for the worldwide travel industry through education, training and research.”
PATA also elected four new members to its executive board that display both geographical and industry diversity, coming from different countries and sectors. They include Andrew Jones, guardian, Sanctuary Resorts; Dato Haji Azizan Noordin, deputy director general, Tourism Malaysia; John Schubert, managing director - marketing Asia Pacific and India, The Boeing Company; and Philip Schaetz, senior vice president of sales & marketing, Dorsett Hospitality International. Jones was elected as the new vice chairman; while Basant Mishra, executive chairman, of Nepal’s Temple Tiger Group remains secretary/treasurer.
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