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.

Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) 2019 Winners Announced

… CEO of Exo Travel, Chairman of Khiri Travel, VP of Minor Group, as well as executives from Dusit International, Amadeus, 500 Startups, Techsauce, …

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office today announced the winners among the 10 innovative startups from across the Mekong Region, which competed in the Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST) competition on 9 October 2019.

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This year, MIST was held in Bangkok together with the new Travel Startups Asia Forum, featuring startup stories from successful travel ventures and MIST Alumni. The opening keynote was given by Senator and former Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand HE Mr Weerasak Kowsurat who linked the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to tourism development in Thailand and the Mekong Region. The closing keynote was given by founder of Nok Airways Mr Patee Sarasin, who gave valuable insights from his experiences in starting an airline in Southeast Asia.

The two winners of MIST 2019 are Golf Digg from Thailand in the Travel Technology category and Noir from Viet Nam in the Social Impact category.

Golf Digg is an online platform for booking golf courses, and Noir is a spa and massage facility staffed by visually impaired people.

The Laotian ride-hailing service Loca won the special runner-up prize in the Travel Technology category. Both winners of the Travel Technology category received the honor to present at ITB-Asia on Friday 18 October in Singapore. Laos Buffalo Dairy won the special runner-up prize in the Social Impact category and the honor of presenting at the 2020 Mekong Tourism Forum in Bagan next May.

The judging panel included senior executives from the Travel and Tourism as well as Travel Technology industry including the CEO of PATA, CEO of Exo Travel, Chairman of Khiri Travel, VP of Minor Group, as well as executives from Dusit International, Amadeus, 500 Startups, Techsauce, the Mekong Business Council, Sasin School of Business, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Xpedite Capital Partners, the Thailand Digital Startup Institute, Lykke Studios, Go Real Asia, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). All MIST 2019 finalists and judges can be seen at: https://mist.asia/2019-mist-finalists/

MIST

Now in its third year with hundreds of alumni, MIST was jointly managed by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and Mekong Business Initiative (MBI). MBI and MIST were supported by the Australian Government and Asian Development Bank.

This year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Pacific Asia Travel Association were also partnering to support the program. MIST 2019 and the Travel Startups Asia Forum was organized by UNWTO Affiliate Member Chameleon Strategies.

MIST was set up to help integrate Greater Mekong Subregion travel startups into the global travel and tourism ecosystem, promote innovation, and help local firms thrive in the globally competitive tourism industry. Dominic Mellor, head of MBI and ADB Ventures said: “As one of the first travel startup programs created by a tourism board, MIST has attracted nearly 500 applications and generated millions of social shares in the first three years. It has elevated the status and prestige of tourism entrepreneurship across the region.”

Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office added: “Recognizing both travel tech ventures and social impact enterprises, MIST is well-positioned to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, encourage inclusive and responsible tourism development, and promote gender equity in the Mekong Region.”

MIST was the first travel startup program to recognize and create a separate category for social impact enterprises, connecting it to the globally unique Experience Mekong Collection which already has curated nearly 350 small responsible travel businesses in the Mekong Region.

On 8 October MIST finalists were invited to the Pacific Asia Travel Association headquarters to network with tourism industry leaders, potential investors, and mentors. On 9 October, the MIST 2019 final pitch competition was held at the creative space Quaint Brasserie Bangkok as part of the Travel Startups Asia Forum.

For more information and to read more about MIST 2019, please visitwww.mist.asia.