The Royal Coast Review recently spent time with PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy, a major influencer, commentator and spokesperson in the world travel industry. Founded in 1951, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is a not-for-profit membership-based association that acts as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.
The Association provides advocacy, research and events for more than 800 member organisations, including 95 government, state and city tourism bodies, 20 global airlines and airports, 102 hospitality organisations and 70 educational institutions, as well as over 4,000 youth members across the world.
Thousands of travel professionals, private and public sector members and organisations belong to 31 PATA Chapters worldwide. PATA facilitates meaningful partnerships to enhance the value, quality and sustainable growth of travel and tourism to, from and within the Asia Pacific region.
Dr Hardy has been involved with PATA since 2009 and based in Bangkok as CEO since 2014. He will be retiring from this position in in May next year and is then likely to be calling Hua Hin his new home.
According to a recent PATA report, future travellers are likely to gravitate towards destinations that are seen to be clean, healthy, and safe, and to have managed the pandemic relatively well.
How these future travellers could become more aware of what our region has to offer was the focus of our discussion with Dr Hardy.
He understands that Hua Hin has not enjoyed the attention of the travel industry in recent times with proposals for MICE promotions or projects such as airport developments and major events often bypassing the region and reducing competitiveness. There’s also been uncoordinated local marketing approaches with an inability to project a recognised regional destination image or profile, just a plethora of one-line slogans.
Amongst the portfolio of PATA services is what’s known as a research based ‘Task Force’ to assist destinations plan to improve the quality and variety of tourism products. The first PATA Task Force goes back to the 1970’s, then focusing attention on Chiang Mai, but the Association has since produced strategic planning reports throughout Asia and the Pacific. So is that what our region needs?
Accordingly the Royal Coast Review posed a question to Dr Hardy:
If an approach was made by significant tourism/hospitality leaders in the Hua Hin/Cha-Am region, would PATA favorably consider undertaking a research-based project aimed at providing a strategic plan for the region to enhance the destination profile and marketing?’
Dr Hardy’s response:
“There are two ways to go about it. The first would be a paid consultancy project which would need someone to scope out the required project outcome. The second is an official request from the local government (Mayor office, governor of the province or alternatively TAT) for a Task Force, addressed to me in a formal letter.”
Editor’s Note: In an era of travel destinations worldwide assessing how to be more competitive; could a strategic planning project, carried out under the auspices of PATA, provide a timely blueprint to ‘kick-start’ our sustainable regional tourism future?