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Travel Industry leaders applaud first PATA CEO Challenge

Travel and tourism industry leaders offered glowing reviews for the first PATA CEO Challenge, held in Bangkok last week, describing it as "inspirational" and an "ambitious, brave and visionary event". Almost 97 per cent of delegates surveyed at the event, which focused on sharing industry best practice on confronting climate change, rated the CEO Challenge as "good, very good or excellent". Cathay Pacific Airways Chief Executive Tony Tyler echoed the sentiments of many…

Travel and tourism industry leaders offered glowing reviews for the first PATA CEO Challenge, held in Bangkok last week, describing it as “inspirational” and an “ambitious, brave and visionary event”. Almost 97 per cent of delegates surveyed at the event, which focused on sharing industry best practice on confronting climate change, rated the CEO Challenge as “good, very good or excellent”.

Cathay Pacific Airways Chief Executive Tony Tyler echoed the sentiments of many delegates when he said the strength of the Challenge was in “bringing together so many different leaders from all parts of the industry”. “There’s going to have to be some cross-industry co-operation on these issues and unless we all get together in one place to talk about them, that’s simply not going to happen.”

TUI Travel’s Head of CSR, Jane Ashton, said she “admired everyone’s honesty in talking about what they’re doing” to address climate change and overcoming the usual communication barriers between industry competitors. “This was the first time I’ve seen people break out of their silos and share information. I’d like to see more of this in the future.”

Tourismo Asia CEO Nino Jotikasthira said he was “inspired” by the actions of his industry peers. “As a CEO, I would like to take some of these ideas back to my own company and do the same.”

More than half of the 236 pre-registered delegates completed the survey reviewing all aspects of the event. More than 8 in 10 delegates said the Challenge provided them with a solid overview of how travel organisations are tackling the issue of climate change and almost two-thirds agreed they had received practical ideas for use within their own organisation.

About three-quarters of the delegates described the day-and-a half event as good value for money and 81 per cent said they would personally consider attending a similar PATA CEO Challenge in the near future.

“These are outstanding results in anyone’s language,” said PATA President and CEO Peter de Jong. “We took a leap of faith in creating an opportunity for the industry to collaborate on this critical issue? and it’s fantastic to see how the industry has responded with such energy and commitment.”

A highlight of the event was the Rapid-Fire Introduction of the Boardroom Challenges, moderated by CNN International’s Kristie Lu Stout. Eleven industry leaders, representing brands such as Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Marriott, Six Senses and Expedia, shared specific climate change initiatives that could be adopted by delegates. Among these initiatives were a Green Audit shared by Banyan Tree, a Management Plan shared by Intrepid Travel and a World Heritage Alliance project shared by Expedia. 

Almost two-thirds of delegates rated the Rapid-Fire session as “effective or extremely effective”.

Other highlights included keynote presentations from futurist Rohit Talwar, of Fast Future, and strategist Anna Pollock, of DestiCorp, both of whom were interviewed by TIME International Editor Michael Elliott. 

Importantly, 85% of delegates felt the size of the event, which was attended by 236 delegates and more than 50 media, was “about right”.  Mr de Jong said this confirmed PATA’s thinking that the interactive format of the Challenge would best suit an audience of about 250 to 300 industry leaders.

Intrepid Travel CEO Darrell Wade said his key out-take from the event was “to get your operational model right and then market it as a competitive advantage”. “It’s been a really great event. You realize you’re not acting in isolation, that there’s actually a whole industry facing similar dilemmas, similar problems, similar questions. I think there’s a huge positive story here, and not just negatives, around climate change.”

Co-Founder & Managing Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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