PATA triumphs in Korea

With SARS behind, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) triumphantly gathers in Jeju Island, Korea this week from April 18- 22 for its 53rd Annual Conference. Recognizing the various challenges that the industry has had to deal with in recent months, PATA’s theme for this year’s conference aptly states, “Tourism is everybody’s business.” In explaining the significance of the conference’s theme, PATA president, Peter de Jong, said: “Tourism is everybody’s business because the travel experience has evolved form privilege for few to a human right for all – the right to experience new cultures and customs and thereby enhance one’s own life – all by simply leaving home and traveling to a new location with an open mind.”

This year’s PATA conference breaks the record as the organization’s most attended, with 2145 total registered delegates. “An all-time record,” said an obviously jubilant De Jong.

Evident from their efforts, the provisional government of Jeju Island and Korea National Tourism Authority, the event’s hosts, are pulling all the stops to make this year’s conference “the most memorable PATA conference” in history.

On Sunday, PATA delegates were treated to a food and entertainment extravaganza at Jeju World Cup Stadium, with many of the country’s biggest entertainers.

The host committee has also set-up various tours that they endeavor will help the delegates appreciate the beauty and culture of Jeju Island.

At the Opening Ceremony this morning, Acting President Goh Kun predicted that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country will rise to 10 million annually by 2008, generating annual income of US$10 billion.

Goh said, “We will actively pursue increases in domestic and foreign investment in the tourism industry.”

The interim leader, who took over the constitutional powers of impeached President Roh Moo-hyun on March 12, said his government is negotiating with North Korea on tours of the North’s border town of Kaesong by South Koreans in the near future.

He also stated that the ongoing inter-Korean rail project will soon connect South Korea to Europe via China and Russia. Among the topics the delegates will be discussing pertaining to world aviation in its second century, tourism investments, sustainable tourism challenges, and from crisis to reputation management, in the next three days.

PATA is an international organization of travel professionals with over 1,100 members from 77 countries. It promotes the region’s tourism by organizing trade shows and conferences and analyzing travel trends.

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