MACAO SAR – AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes inspires the next generation of tourism professionals at the PATA Youth Symposium in Macao SAR, hosted by the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT). The Symposium welcomed more than 250 local and overseas students and academia, as well as industry professionals. Organised by the Association's Human Capital Development Committee, the Symposium took place on Wednesday, September 13 with the theme 'Enabling Travel and Managing a Complex Future'.
In the opening address Dr. Fanny Vong, President of IFT, said, "On behalf of IFT, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to MGTO, PATA, AirAsia, ITB and all the partner organisations who joined hands with us to make this event happen today. IFT has been committed to nurturing local tourism and hospitality talent since its establishment. In 2017, IFT became the world's first higher education institution to pass International Quality Review (IQR) from the UK's Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). We were also ranked by the "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017" as the second best higher education institution in Asia in the field of hospitality and leisure management and the 18th best higher education institution in this field in the world. Besides, the Institute has twice been recognised with the Gold Award in Education and Training by PATA. Rest assured that IFT will continue to work closely with PATA to provide an international platform for academics, industry professionals and students to exchange ideas and transfer knowledge, so that together we contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism industry for the benefit of the destinations' communities."
During the plenary talk on 'Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the Tourism Industry: Is C3PO taking our jobs?', PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy challenged the participants by asking, "Every month do one thing you have never done before. It can be extreme or simple, like reading a book you have never read before or learning a new skill. I would like you to think how will you positively impact a billion people?"
Ms. Rika Jean-Francois, Commissioner ITB Corporate Social Responsibility, Competence Centre Travel & Logistics, ITB Berlin presented on 'Where Does Responsible Travel Fit in our Future?' and said, "Endless growth on a finite planet is impossible. There have been revolutionary developments before and this could happen to sustainability. Technology has made it so much more possible to feel like 'we' in this world. Everything is closer, we know more about what is happening in the world so we might also feel a greater responsibility towards each other and our world."
PATA Young Tourism Professional Ambassador, Ms JC Wong, who informed the audience about PATA's Young Tourism Professional programme and activities, noted that, "21st century companies are looking for those who are innovative, adaptable, flexible and are problem solvers."
Mr. Fernandes presented on the topic of "Enabling Air Travel for All: How Air Asia has Become the World Leading Low Cost Carrier". The event also featured an informal chat with him as well as as interactive roundtable discussions on 'What opportunities and challenges do you see in enabling greater volume of travel?' and 'What role do human's play in managing a responsible industry in the future?' moderated by Dr. Fanny Vong and Dr. Chris Bottrill, Chairman of the PATA Human Capital Development (HCD) Committee and Dean, Faculty of Global and Community Studies at Capilano University.
During his inspirational presentation, Mr Fernandes said, "Live your life like it is the last day of your life. It is in your heart, whether you want to be the best or want to live a mediocre life. I have failed so many times but you need to fail before you get where you are."
Dr Bottrill, who help guided the development of the programme, said "We had a terrific day at the IFT hosted Youth Symposium where students from over 15 countries participated. As is usual in the symposiums we held break out groups to engage students in the topics presented and provide their insights. With regards to the issue of enabling greater travel in the future, students saw opportunities high speed transportation, virtual reality, and visa-free travel, they also noted the challenges of overtourism and the need to distribute travel and benefits more effectively, plus emphasized the need to retain the sensory elements of travel that VR and other technologies may limit. They also shared their insights on the roles that humans will play in the industry of the future and noted the need to retain and celebrate the creativity of the human mind, communicate challenges and act responsibly in future development and CSR activities, protect cultures for the enrichment of tourism and protection of our human treasures, plus focus on the wellbeing of humans through tourism as a means to cultivate understanding and respect. Yet again, students provided clarity for our industry on the issues that really matter."
The events also provided opportunities for students to discuss and exchange their ideas during the roundtable discussion on "What opportunities and challenges do you see in enabling greater volume of travel? And What role do human's play in managing a responsible industry in the future?
The PATA Human Capital Development Committee has organised successful educational events at various institutions including UCSI University Sarawak Campus (April 2010), Institute for Tourism Studies (September 2010), Beijing International Studies University (April 2011), Taylor's University, Kuala Lumpur (April 2012), Lyceum of the Philippines University, Manila (September 2012), Thammasat University, Bangkok (April 2013), Chengdu Polytechnic, Huayuan Campus, China (September 2013), Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai Campus, China, (May 2014), Royal University of Phnom Penh (September 2014), Sichuan Tourism School, Chengdu, (April 2015), Christ University, Bangalore (September 2015), University of Guam, USA (May 2016), President University (September 2016) and Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management (May 2017).