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PATA navigates the future of tourism workforce at the PATA Youth Symposium 2024 in Macao, China


The PATA Youth Symposium 2024 in Macao gathered nearly 200 youth and industry delegates from over 15 destinations. Hosted by the Macau University of Science and Technology, it featured expert speeches, panel discussions, and roundtables, focusing on developing future tourism leaders and bridging the gap between industry and academia.

BANGKOK – The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) welcomed nearly 200 international and local youth, and industry delegates from over 15 destinations at the PATA Youth Symposium 2024. The event was held on the morning of May 16, 2024, the second day of the PATA Annual Summit 2024 in Macao, China, hosted by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) and co-hosted by SJM Resorts, S.A.

The PATA Youth Symposium 2024, hosted by the Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST), emphasised the importance of developing the next generation of tourism professionals, bringing together international thought leaders, tourism educators, and future leaders of tourism. The programme consisted of expert keynote speeches, a panel discussion, and roundtable discussions, allowing the youths to engage with industry leaders and peers, share their ideas and insights, and learn about the latest trends in the tourism industry.

In his opening remarks, PATA CEO Noor Ahmad Hamid noted that, “One of the pressing challenges today is the gap between the industry and academia. While the industry is facing difficulties in recruiting and retaining talents, youths are struggling to find viable career opportunities.”

He added, “At PATA, Human Capital Development is a key priority. We are committed to creating a seamless transition for students and young professionals into the travel and tourism workforce. As one of our many initiatives aimed at achieving this goal, the PATA Youth Symposium fostered a dialogue between current and future tourism leaders while paving the way for a more integrated and dynamic workforce in the industry.”

During his opening remarks, Prof. Goh Kok Beng, Dean – Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Macau University of Science and Technology, said, “Thanks to PATA and MGTO, We are very happy to have the opportunity to host the 2024 PATA Youth Symposium. The youth of today will be the tourism leaders of tomorrow. This symposium is an invaluable opportunity to amplify their voices and harness their vision for the future of travel. We are grateful to PATA for providing this important platform for young people.”

Following the opening remarks from PATA and MUST, the Symposium welcomed Andrew Staples, Editorial Director, Impact Initiatives & Alliances and Head of Policy & Insights (Asia), Economist Impact onto the stage. His insightful presentation on the current and future states of economics revealed that the travel and tourism industry remains a thriving sector, continuing to recover towards pre-pandemic levels.

Aiming to keep the youths informed of the tourism industry’s most updated trends, the symposium delved into the topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Viola Chan, Manager, Solution, Vpon AI Big Data Group, shared with delegates the role that AI and technology play in supporting productivity and personal advancements while emphasising the importance of learning the mastery of these tools.

Alan Elliott Merschen, Founder, The SIGMUND Project and Partner, International Insights, MMGY Global, delivered a presentation on tourism entrepreneurship. Given the younger generation’s interest in starting their own businesses, Alan guided delegates through the course of starting a business, ranging from crafting effective business models to practical budget allocations, and towards the path to successful entrepreneurship.

Youth delegates later participated in roundtable discussions with fellow aspiring tourism professionals. They were given the opportunity to voice their opinions of the industry on the main stage, including what aspects of the industry would urge them to stay within the workforce and what improvements could be made by the industry to effectively recruit and retain tourism talent.

To widen the youths’ vision of prospective careers and prepare them for the future, the final session of the PATA Youth Symposium was focused on introducing professions in travel and tourism beyond those at the frontline. Industry leaders from various facets of the tourism industry came together to shed light on the lesser-known professions across different sectors and broadened the younger generation’s understanding of the career opportunities ahead of them.

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