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PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy: The Middle East is part of the Pacific Asia tourism region

Juergen T Steinmetz, eTN  Jun 16, 2016

Under the leadership of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) CEO, Dr. Mario Hardy, PATA as a travel and tourism organization has gained importance, leadership, and reach. PATA is spreading its reach on a global scale. It appears the organization is now a world player in the global travel and tourism industry.

eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz asked the PATA CEO if including Gulf destinations would compete with PATA’s traditional market in the Pacific Asia region

Mr. Hardy told eTN: "All destinations worldwide are welcomed to join PATA to gain insights from the fastest-growing travel region in the world. We are very much open to the idea of hosting a PATA event outside of our main region and sharing the knowledge and expertise of our Asian-based members."

In the eyes of PATA The Middle East is now Asia Pacific. Mario Hardy explained: "Arguably every destination is competing with its neighbor, close or distant. You have to remember that PATA is about the promotion of tourism to/from and within the Pacific Asia region. The ‘from’ part had been less of a focus in the past, but is taking a greater importance due to fast growth of outbound tourism from Asia. Also PATA’s region starts in Istanbul all the way to South America [inclusive]. The Middle East is part of our region."

Just last week, the United Arab Emirates(UAE), Ras Al Khaimah, joined PATA as a destination member.

At the recently successfully concluded PATA Summit in Guam,USA the minister of Culture and Tourism from the Seychelles, and island nation in the Indian Ocean, was the keynote speaker at the event.

eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz asked Mario In taking on countries and regions with a lot of money, but questionable human rights records and discrimination, including destinations that criminalize LGBT behavior, and taking this in content with the recent attack in Orlando - wouldn’t this somehow generate a conflict?

Mario: Our partnership with IGLTA is founded on the basis that we want to spread a better understanding of the LGBT traveling community. It is about sharing knowledge about the regions that we cover with the IGLTA members and for IGLTA to share knowledge about their community with our members."

Mario Hardy went on to say: "Every day there are terrible situations happening in the world that touches known destinations or lesser ones. There is too much horror in the world to necessarily communicate about them every single time. We may not necessarily issue blanket statements all the time, but it doesn’t mean that in private we don’t communicate our thoughts and prayers with the people touched. We have been in touch with our friends at IGLTA and personally shared our thoughts and regrets on social media where appropriate.

eTN: What type of sponsorship and additional member gain is expected for PATA to accept Emirates in the UAE and other Gulf destinations within your organization?

Mario Hardy: Membership fees for Ras Al Khama are they the same level as other Asian destination members, as the Middle East is part of the PATA region. As mentioned previously, our focus is the promotion of to/from and within the Pacific Asia region. Gaining new members from other regions helps increase our network and opportunities for our members to get better insights into the region and develop additional business opportunities.

PATA CEO Dr. Mario Hardy: The Middle East is part of the Pacific Asia tourism region
Mario Hardy (center) recently watching the opening of FESTPAC in Guam (eTN publisher on the right)

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