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Springtime cleaning at PATA French Chapter

The Pacific Asia Travel Association PATA is looking at revitalizing its chapters after years of neglect. This is the message of Martin Craigs, PATA CEO in Paris where he came to present the association and announced the rebirth of the French Chapter.

PARIS – “This is the spring time in Europe and we are doing a kind of spring cleaning”, told Martin Craigs, PATA CEO, after three days in Paris. It was a sort of important event as it was over a decade that a PATA CEO had been to Paris. Accompanied by Daniela Wagner, Coordinator PATA Europe, Martin Craigs highlighted during three days to travel professionals such as Tour Operators, NTOs, French authorities as well as media the role of PATA. “We did our job internationally to rejuvenate our association. We have been around for over 60 years and we needed to reinvent ourselves. This is the message behind our tagline “next Gen” and our aim to be more than ever innovative and take an advocacy role to promote what we all at PATA call the ‘visitor’s economy’. The term embraces fully the important role played by tourism and travel to create jobs and promote economic growth”, said Craigs.
But the presence of the PATA CEO was also to put the house in order in France. There has been a chapter for a long time but it seems that PATA lost touch with it. “We at the headquarters must take the blame about the way the PATA Chapter France developed over the last few years. It has turned increasingly into a social circle. Social circle is important but it is not all about a chapter. But we need also a commercial cluster to the chapter. We must group together people with a common interest of promoting Asia under PATA arms in a complete transparent way”, added Martin Craigs. 
A new chapter will then be formed “with probably 30 to 40 potential members“, highlighted Daniela Wagner who sees a “high demand from France”. The new structure will be transparent in its functioning, opened to all sharing an interest for PATA and follows rules set up by the headquarters as a frame to work to achieve a collective target. “Each chapter is different but can learn from each other. We do not want to reinvent the wheel. We just think that the most important is to fulfill members’ expectations”, she added. 
PATA French Chapter is likely to come out with its new board and the list of members by September, just before French travel show IFTM- Top Resa in Paris. PATA has now passed its “mid-life crisis” to rejuvenate itself as described nicely Daniela Wagner. Chapters are now gaining back their role as promoting the association at a grassroot level. “This is extremely important to make the link between the headquarters and regional/local levels. Local chapters bring of course a lot of knowledge about market specificities. And the more we hear at local level about PATA, the more we strengthen our influence worldwide”, told Martin Craigs. 
PATA has some 40 chapters and probably only a third of them are really active today. France is not the only one and the wind of changes are reached other chapters. The New York PATA Chapter just elected a 35-year old chairman Josh Khan. Last week in Bangkok, PATA Thailand Chapter elected a young Thai woman in her thirties, Ben Montgomery. Spring time cleaning for PATA? Probably the effect of the “Next Gen” syndrome!
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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.