Roger PicReporter’s Notebook: PATA 2007

UBUD, BALI—Travel Agent’s Mark Rogers sent this report from Bali, where he attended the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s (PATA) Travel Mart 2007.

In time spent exploring Bali before the conference, Travel Agent observed that although Denpasar is the capital of Bali, Ubud is its cultural and artistic capital. There are some truly upscale resort hotels in the countryside surrounding Ubud, including the Four Seasons Resort Bali and COMO Shambhala Estate.

After touring resorts and attractions, the main event of course was the bustling trade show. Floor space for PATA Travel Mart 2007 was sold out, with more than 360 organizations from 38 countries buying booth space; 138 of these were first-time seller delegates. PATA also registered 411 buyer delegates from 346 organizations in 51 countries.

Good news for Pacific/Asia destinations: The PATA Annual Statistical Report 2006, which was launched at the event, showed there were close to 356 million international trips to PATA member destinations in 2006, representing region-wide year-on-year growth of 5.3 percent over 2005. This has set a new year-to-date record for arrivals, which is set to be broken once again in 2007. So far this year, the region is showing an expansion of 7.1 percent increases over 2006.

News From the Trade Show Floor
During PATA Travel Mart 2007’s opening day at the Bali International Convention Centre in Nusa Dua, Travel Agent asked Emirsyah Satar, president and CEO, Garuda Indonesia, if the carrier had any plans to increase its presence in the U.S. market. “At present, we’re focusing more on the European market,” Satar said. “We are looking at future possibilities on the West Coast in the U.S.—most likely Los Angeles or San Francisco.” Thamrin B. Bachri, director general, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Republic of Indonesia, noted that Indonesia’s strongest markets in the U.S. are the dive and surfing markets.

During a Tourism Authority of Thailand press conference, Auggaphol Brickshawana, deputy governor for policy and planning for the organization, outlined Thailand’s new European marketing initiative, which will eventually trickle into the U.S. This includes a heavy Internet and e-marketing push, with the establishment of an online Thailand Fan Club, which encourages photo sharing and blogs, and a program of inviting select seasoned Thailand travelers to come to Thailand free of charge to experience new products and presumably spark viral marketing.

Travel Agent observed that Macao is a hot new gaming destination and will attract MICE business during the week, when hotel occupancies dip.

Hassan Kassim, of Western Indonesia-international operations, Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau, talked about the decision to allow hotels on Singapore’s golf courses. “Occupancy is tight, and there’s a real need for rooms,” says Kassim. “The hotels will all be low rise; there is currently a proposal on the table to build on the Orchid Country Club golf course.” Kassim notes that the shortage of hotel rooms is due to Singapore’s enormous popularity as a business destination. —Mark Rogers