The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), founded in 1951, is the biggest tourism organization in the world. It is internationally acclaimed as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism around the globe.
It counts within its ranks 95 government, state, and city tourism bodies; 25 international airlines and airports; 108 hospitality organizations; 72 educational institutions; and hundreds of travel industry companies from all over the world.
Thousands of travel industry professionals belong to the 36 local PATA Chapters worldwide, which is why the Annual Summit is always a well-attended event. When the Philippines won the bid to host this year’s summit, our Department of Tourism chose Cebu City as the venue. As a true-blue Cebuano, I couldn’t be happier and more proud!
It was a sold-out summit, with some participants arriving Cebu several days before the event to give themselves more time to see and experience my city’s offerings, its environs, and the neighboring attractions.
Officers from PATA Headquarters who attended the event were all praise for the preparations that our Department of Tourism made for this all-important gathering of the travel industry’s dynamic professionals from all over the world. Kudos to our Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and her team who left no stone unturned to make every participant agree that, indeed, “It’s More Fun In The Philippines.”
It also helped that the event venue was the Radisson Blu, the only hotel in the city which has all the conference facilities needed by such a high-profile international tourism industry gathering. The service was seamless and the food earned a lot of positive feedback from such an extensive mixture of VIPs with varying culinary preferences. The technical facilities of the hotel is definitely world-class and to have something like this in my home city is certainly a source of pride and joy!
The conference featured opinion leaders from both public and private sectors. Obviously, the “star of the show” was the co-founder of Airbnb, Nathan Blecharczyk, who was mobbed by conference delegates who wanted to invite him to give a talk also in their respective countries, and by those who just wanted to take a selfie with him, as I did. Also in the event were leaders of five Tourism Boards and other influencers in the tourism industry of the Asia Pacific region.
Although the main topic of the conference was Sustainable Tourism, there were many other interesting topics tackled by several industry leaders: State of the World Economy, The Current and Future State of Travel and Tourism in the Asia Pacific Region, Navigating the Numbers, Travelling the Unknown to Find Yourself, Accessible Tourism for All, Destination Management in Times of Uncertainty, The Power of Data and Insights for Responsible Development, and The Future of Sustainable Destination Branding.
Personally, what I learned from the two-day event were these solid facts: The world economy has been slowing down since 2018 and will continue on to 2020. Global growth and the center of economic supremacy is moving back to Asia. Airbnb and the like are here to stay, and the accommodations industry will continue to experience changes. One should never trust data without understanding their source or the context they were presented.
I also learned that, to engage the community in preserving its culture, we must involve the locals and offer them value. Public and private partnerships are very important for responsible tourism. Accessible travel should consider all groups of disabilities. Urbanization will continue to drive emerging markets. Protectionism trend is attributed to those who feel they have not benefitted from globalization. Marketing the destination should be refocused to managing the destination.
It was indeed a well-spent weekend in my home city. Not only did I get to visit my family, I also had the chance to show off to my colleagues from around the world why it is “The Queen City of the South.” As a homegrown Cebuano and chairman of the PATA Philippines Chapter, I am glad, and very proud to have been given the task of delivering the farewell speech on the summit’s closing gala dinner.
Your weekend chuckle
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