Last year, the Pacific Asia Travel Association came under fire, resulting to the early departure of its then chief executive, Peter de Jong. Now, the travel organization has a new chief executive, Gregory Duffell, and he is keen on making a very important step: bring PATA back to its roots.

Asked what he did during his first 10 days on the job, Duffell said: “It is a too short time to have a complete vision of all PATA activities. I firstly concentrated on PATA’s internal issues with the desire to provide a new impulsion to our way of working. I feel that we have to come back to some of our basics.”

And by bringing back to basics, the new PATA chief said: “PATA must be a platform where people can exchange their ideas and meet each others. And I believe that we must put back our members at the center of our activity. How can we in fact engage more our members into our activities? Where can we provide more information and more partnerships with our members? I’ve got new ideas on these issues. But I really want PATA to be the center of a network.”

It is the new PATA chief’s view that PATA “must give more transparency” to its internal procedures by sharing information with our members. “By engaging ourselves in a more opened management, PATA image can only go up again,” he said.

According to Duffell, PATA will, as it has been in the past, will be present at many international external events such as ITB or WTM. “We also run our own events like our Annual Meeting or the PATA Travel Mart. Is it however enough? Do we really leverage the PATA brand to the level that our members and friends expect?” he asked. “Historically, PATA was the voice of the travel industry in this part of the world. Can we now speak louder? We must maximize our presence to strengthen our relations with our members and the external world.”

He added that last year’s PATA CEO Challenge will not have an edition this year. “We decided to postpone the event by a year. I believe that it is a wise decision, especially in times of financial difficulties,” the PATA chief said. “We must also look about the follow-up of such a high-profile event.”

Duffell also said he is keen on reversing the role of PATA chapters, which in the past have been neglected. He said: “Our PATA chapters are very important links as they basically understand better than anyone else their local markets. I consider the chapters as great opportunities to recruit new members for the association. Chapter membership is indeed a first step to full membership. We already have decided to organize a Chapters Day at our annual meeting next April in Macau. It will give us the opportunity to finally close the gap with our chapters.”

When asked as to what changes do he wishes to advocate, Duffel said: “I would like to communicate better. We should reshape our web site and we start to work on it. Our website must be a portal where our members can communicate with our team. We could also provide at shorter intervals trends and analysis of our industry, maybe every week or every ten days. In turbulent times, PATA must indeed show that they are still opportunities. All tourism organizations agree that tourism in the Asia-Pacific region will continue to grow, even at slower pace. But this is already positive information. Let’s help the travel industry maximizing that information and taking all benefits from our experience. We must say that our industry is not all gloom and doom.”