New Executive Board at PATA

… Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner …

Soon-Hwa Wong has been formally endorsed as the Chair of the e Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Executive Board and replaces Dr. Chris Bottrill who was elected Chair in May 2018 and remains a member of the Executive Board as Immediate Past Chair.

On his appointment, Soon-Hwa said, “It is indeed an honour to be given the privilege to serve PATA members, especially in a time like this. PATA will celebrate a significant milestone, our 70th Anniversary, next year. We are embarking on a comprehensive organisation redesign that will transform PATA into an association that will lead the tourism industry into the post-Covid future and beyond. Together with our industry partners from both the public and private sector, we will commit to sustainable tourism development to benefit the economic well-being of the community at large. Come join us in our journey to build a safer and better world.”

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Top Row: L/R: Soon-Hwa Wong, Chair – PATA and CEO – AsiaChina Pte Ltd., Singapore; Hai Ho, Vice Chair – PATA and CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, Secretary/Treasurer – PATA and President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Dr. Chris Bottrill, Immediate Past Chair – PATA and Director – International, Capilano University, Canada; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; and Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China. Bottom Row: L/R: Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada; Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore; Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China; and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand.

Soon Hwa has some 40 years of extensive experience in the Asia Pacific tourism and hospitality industry. After a long and successful corporate career, he founded Asia Tourism to provide advisory and consulting services to commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. He recently set up AsiaChina, primarily focusing on the two-way tourism flow between China and the APAC region. As part of paying it forward, he is also providing pro-bono services in mentoring start-ups and university students in his alma mater in addition to serving in several social committees.

He started the Hertz Asia Pacific office in Singapore in 1993. As Vice President – Asia, he built a comprehensive regional network, reinforcing Hertz ‘s position as global market leader. He spent 3 years in Shanghai from 2007 to 2010 and opened the first 100% foreign owned car rental company in China. After Hertz, as Regional Director – Asia Pacific, he helped Blacklane GmbH establish the APAC regional office in Singapore and built a service network covering some 80 cities. Blacklane is a new tech professional chauffeur drive service provider offering rides in some 300 cities and 60 countries globally. Prior to joining Hertz, he was Regional Manager – South East Asia for Air New Zealand.

A Bachelor of Business Administration graduate of the National University of Singapore, he is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK and attended the Stanford Executive Program. Soon Hwa’s long association with PATA dates back to 1996 and he has served in various capacities over the years. Presently serving as Chairman of the PATA Singapore Chapter, Soon Hwa is also the recipient of the PATA Life Member Award in 2018 and PATA Award of Merit in 2008.

During the PATA Board Meeting held virtually on Monday, October 12, 2020, PATA also elected six new members to its Executive Board including Hai Ho, CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada, and Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste.

Other Executive Board members include Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore, and Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK).

Hai Ho and Suman Pandey were elected as the new Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.

Hai Ho said, “Being one of the youngest elected Vice Chair at an important organisation with a deep history like PATA is the biggest honour I have ever received. I take on this role to contribute my part to both PATA and the global sustainable travel movement which is growing with strength and resilience around the world. I am mindful that we are still living in a COVID-19 world where our fellow tour guides, travel agents, hoteliers, etc. are fighting against all odds to keep travellers safe and sound.

I am mindful that the world we are living in now, will not be the world we will live in tomorrow. Therefore, I remind myself every day to waste no time and seize any moment to learn from other PATA members, so that I can utilise my energy and knowledge to help our industry in any way I can contribute.”

Hai Ho is a high-impact entrepreneur and head of Triip, an unrivalled travel-cum-tech company incorporated in Singapore. He has 12 years of experience in high-growth firms building a range of tech products like payment gateway products, social networks, wearable hardware, community apps, and eBook apps to name a few. Hai’s experience in start-up creation and understanding in the global travel industry led him to create Triip.me, a platform that at its core is a network of accommodation and personalized tours made available to a broad audience of millions. The network’s competitive advantage is its ability for anyone around the world to create, execute and be paid for a tour using Triip.me. Through Triip’s tech-centric positioning and expertise, Hai has launched a first-to-market blockchain network called the Triip Protocol. Hai and his team are crafting a cryptocurrency that will enable travel service providers to connect directly with travellers in a new, decentralized marketplace that will drive down costs of both client acquisition and travel itself. Through the firm, Hai has advanced a sustainability-driven business philosophy of at the core of its vision. In four years, it’s created jobs for locals in 100 countries, which have made it a darling of a financial coverage in publications including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes and The Next Web. Triip was also one of 512 members of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – a programme by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Suman Pandey is a well-known figure in Nepalese Tourism and President of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, a well-known name for diverse and innovative operations. He is also the CEO of Fishtail Air, a Nepalese helicopter company; Director of Summit Air, a fixed wing operator catering to tourists going to the Mt. Everest area; Director of the biggest business complex in Nepal, “Chhaya Centre”, a multi-faceted Mega Complex that includes a five star managed by Starwood under the “Aloft” brand; President of the Himalaya Academy of Travel and Tourism, an academy imparting tourism related vocational trainings, and President of Himalayan Pre- Fab Pvt. Ltd, a company specializing on making eco-friendly prefabricated homes. His remarkable contributions in the Nepalese Tourism Industry have made him eligible for various titles and decorations including “Suprasidha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu” from the King of Nepal in 2004; “Tourism Icon” by the Nepal Association of Tourism Journalists in 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by tourism publication Gantabya Nepal in 2017; “Tourism Man of the year” by Gantabya Nepal in 2010; and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for contributions in tourism by the “American Biographical Institute” (ABI) based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2008, to name a few.

Furthermore, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand have been appointed to the Executive Board as non-voting members.

The new Executive Board members were confirmed at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on October 14, 2020.

Adventure Travel Is Not Always Covered by Travel Insurance

Redpoint’s most relevant product for the adventure travel market is Ripcord Travel Insurance, which offers traditional coverage like medical and trip …


Test driving a new BMW motorcycle in the German Alps. Ziplining through the forest canopy of Costa Rica. Travelers are increasingly looking for experiences beyond the typical “holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa” Instagram photos.

But, as more travelers push the limits on their vacation travel adventures, agents need to revisit travel insurance coverage for their clients, and ensure that they have the right policies in place to protect them in the event of an accident.

“What we are seeing is the adventure travel market growing significantly,” said Thomas Bochnowski, vice president at Redpoint Resolutions LLC, in San Francisco. “We’re definitely seeing a shift from the more traditional leisurely cruise, sitting on a beach, to travelers venturing out to more risky activities.”

“In the Bay Area, where I live, there’s been a shift from ‘Check out my cool new Tesla, to let me tell you about my cool experience in Nepal.’ People value more of the unique experiences than physical toys, and that has ramifications for how they purchase travel insurance,” Bochnowski said.

The Adventure Travel Trade Association estimates that more than 40 percent of international travelers engage in some kind of adventurous activities, and that the market exceeds $680 billion in annual sales.

Traditional travel insurance likely excludes activities like riding a motorcycle, deep sea scuba diving, or participating in a competitive race, potentially leaving travelers at risk.

A Ripcord solution

Redpoint Resolutions was started by former special operations forces members, physicians, and insurance actuaries, so that travelers could enjoy more adventurous activities without the worry.

Redpoint’s most relevant product for the adventure travel market is Ripcord Travel Insurance, which offers traditional coverage like medical and trip cancellation for risky activities, and adds in medical evacuation and rescue coverage, as well as access to paramedic services and medical consultation during a crisis.

In July, an Israeli honeymooner on a cruise died while taking a ziplining shore excursion in Honduras. He did not realize that his wife was stuck halfway down the line, and crashed into her at a high speed.

The couple suffered multiple injuries, including broken ribs, and were taken to a local hospital, where the husband passed away. Some news reports said that the couple had a difficult time understanding their treatment given the differences in languages.

In this case, Bochnowski said, Ripcord insurance would have covered the cost of evacuating the man to another hospital immediately, up to $750,000, if that was the couple’s desire. (The wife was transported to a Florida hospital the next day, where she was stabilized.)

“People believe that a competing insurance product will come and get them and take them home. No one looks at the fine print and sees that they will be evacuated to the nearest appropriate facility. In a place like, say Patagonia, which would be Santiago [Chile]. Also, that evacuation needs to be authorized by an attending physician,” he said.

For Ripcord clients, the best facility is determined by the client, in consultation with Redpoint experts reached via telephone. “If a traveler has an urgent medical situation, they will determine together where they want their treatment done,” he said.

RipCord was started because more travelers were taking on adventures in remote locations, “like big game hiking, trekking in Mongolia,” said Bochnowski. “We saw people doing adventurous physical activities, but there wasn’t a product that fit their needs. The fine print of most insurance policies didn’t cover them.”

Jim Mallas was injured when he was riding a motorcycle in Tanzania during a May 2018 trip, and needed to be evacuated. He had booked the trip using miles and a credit card concierge for his flight, and made other arrangements himself. Lucky for Mallas, he also had purchased insurance from Boston-based Global Rescue, an insurance company that includes higher-end emergency and medical evacuation services, and which covers activities like motorcycling in international destinations.

“I travel overseas once or twice a year. I have always purchased travel insurance of some kind,” Mallas, who is from Colorado, told Travel Market Report. “A long time ago, I used a standard insurance plan for an adventure trip and wouldn’t again. I have used other plain insurance when traveling to Europe on sightseeing vacations. I am much more comfortable knowing that they specialize in that, as opposed to just helping sort out the inconvenience of lost luggage.”