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 April 11, 2011
PATA Launches Its 60th Anniversary Celebrations and Annual Conference

 The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) commenced its much-anticipated 60th anniversary and Annual Conference event at the China World hotel in Beijing (April 11).

Under the theme 'Building Tourism: Past. Present. Progressive', the conference programme addressed a number of the biggest issues facing travel and tourism executives. The event was graced by the presence of the honourable Wang Qi Shan, vice premier of China; the honourable Bi Jingquan, deputy secretary-general of the State Council of China; the honourable Guo Jinlong, mayor of Beijing municipality; the honourable Shao Qiwei, chairman, China National Tourism Administration; the honourable Cheng Guoping, assistant minister for Foreign Affairs of China; the honourable Ding Xiang-Yang, vice mayor, Beijing; the honourable Nick Sherry, minister assisting on Deregulation, minister for Small Business and minister assisting the minister of Tourism, Australia; the Honourable Jero Wacik, minister for Culture and Tourism, Indonesia; the Honourable Alberto Lim, secretary of Tourism, Philippines; the Honourable Isileli Pulu, minister of Tourism, Tonga; the honourable Ghulam Muhammad Quade, minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Bangladesh; the Honourable Gil da Costa Alves, minister for Tourism, Trade and Industry, Timor Leste; Kim To Jun, director general, National Tourism Administration, DPR Korea; Hiroshi Mizohata, commissioner, Japan Tourism Agency; Marcio Favilla, executive director, UNWTO and David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC, among many other notable dignitaries, speakers and PATA well wishers.

During the opening session, His Excellency Wang Qi Shan, vice premier of China, said: "China's tourism has achieved remarkable progress and become one of the largest tourism markets in the world. The tourism industry has entered a golden age and, in the five years to come, the Chinese government will take multiple measures to bolster tourism in the country. The sustained and rapid development of China's tourism benefits not only the Chinese people but brings more development to the Asia Pacific region as a whole."

Said Bill Calderwood, interim CEO, PATA: "Taking the theme, 'Building Tourism: Past. Present. Progressive', we aim to do three things in these few days; firstly, recall and celebrate PATA's many achievements and accomplishments over the past 60-years, secondly, highlight PATA's current work and finally and most importantly, we would like to use this opportunity to consider PATA's role in the future -- how, as a membership association, it will position itself and continue to be a relevant, trusted authority on travel and tourism for the Asia Pacific region.

"Over the course of six decades, PATA helped transform this far-flung region into what is today, the fastest growing tourism destination in the world with a staggering transformation. From just 100,000 visitor arrivals in the early 1950s, PATA is expecting 566-million arrivals into Asia and the Pacific in 2011, with a further seven per cent year-on-year growth until 2013. China, of course, is a key engine for this growth. In the space of just 14-years, international visitor arrivals to China have increased 132%, while tourism's contribution to the country's GDP has tripled. However China, along with the rest of the Asia Pacific region, must be prepared for the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

A must-attend event for the travel and tourism industry, the PATA 60th anniversary and Annual Conference attracted a total number of 1,000 delegates including ministers, PATA members and tourism professionals from across all sectors. Of the 1,000 registered to attend, there are 460 international delegates, 540 local delegates, seven ministers, 35-diplomats and 180 media persons. Together they represent 66-countries and regions, along with more than 400-organisations.

Said Shao Qiwei, chairman, China national Tourism Administration: "PATA has shown great importance to China and Chinese tourism by holding its event here. The Chinese government attaches great importance to tourism and wishes to build it into a strategic pillar. As a major country of tourism, China is ready to work with various tourism industries across the globe and with other countries, to encourage a two-way traffic in tourism."

Said Guo Jinlong, mayor of Beijing Municipality: "Over the past 60-years, PATA has been dedicated to tourism in the Asia Pacific region and we congratulate them on this anniversary.

"Tourism has a prominent role to play for the city of Beijing. After the successful Beijing Olympics, the city has embarked on a new journey, with a focus on scientific development as well as being environment-friendly. For a long time, we have paid attention to the development of tourism; Beijing has a profound culture and a wealth of tourist resources. In 2010, the city received over 4.9-million foreign tourists with a value-add of tourism that was seven per cent of Beijing's GDP."

Said Hiran Cooray, chairman, PATA, on the conclusion of the heart warming video that was especially prepared for the event, where senior PATA members expressed their thoughts : "In celebrating our 60th anniversary together today we can surely say that PATA has indeed come a long way. I express my heartfelt appreciation to the visionaries who first tapped into the potential of the Asia Pacific region, that knew no bounds. Thanks to the hard work and commitment of these outstanding men and women, PATA is where it is today. These prominent individuals have made a great impact on the travel and tourism industry and inspired many of us to follow suit."

Said Ding Xiang-Yang, vice mayor, Beijing: "I believe our discussions during this conference will bring greater benefits and cooperation. Beijing is now at a new stage of building a global metropolitan city. In the process, we will prioritise tourism and make it a strong pillar. The city is the host of many national and international events and conferences. To meet the fast-growing demand, Beijing has taken great steps to improve innovation in tourism. We have launched new projects such as leisure, and camp sites for motorists.

"Beijing will learn from the best practices of other developing cities, and initiate better interaction with other global cities such as New York, Paris and Hong Kong by establising promotional agencies there."

During the keynote session Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures and Yu Dengyun, deputy chief director Council for Science and Technology of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, were interviewed on stage by CNN's Richard Quest. Anderson, whose company sent the first tourist into space in 2001, believed that space travel would revolutionise commercial airline travel.

Said Anderson: "We envision that through the development of advanced spacecraft, the price of space travel will decrease and will enable the introduction of point-to-point travel."

The PATA 60th anniversary and Annual Conference is hosted by the China National Tourism Administration and People's Government of Beijing Municipality. The event patron is Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.