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Guam and the Pacific Islands on centre stage at the PATA Annual Summit 2016

May 27, 2016 Conferences No Comments Email Email

The PATA Annual Summit 2016 (PAS 2016) in Guam, USA officially ended on May 21 with many delegates remaining on the island to join the artists and cultural practitioners from 27 nations around the Pacific at the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts (FestPac).

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The PATA Annual Summit 2016, under the theme ‘Exploring the Secrets of the Blue Continent’, welcomed 640 delegates from 206 organisations representing 33 countries to the four day event that opened on May 18. PAS2016, hosted generously by the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), included the Association’s executive and advisory board meetings, annual general meeting (AGM), PATA Youth Symposium, PATA Marketplace and one-day conference that addressed some of the key issues affecting the Pacific region.

During the official press conference on May 17, PATA CEO Mario Hardy stated, “We understand that the Pacific Islands are at a critical junction in its future development economically, socially and environmentally, especially with the growing effects of climate change.

“We hope that bringing together high level speakers such as the Honorable Minister Alain St. Ange, the Minister of Tourism and Culture from the Seychelles, and Tony de Brum, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Climate Change from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, we can highlight these issues as well as analyse and share ideas on how to create a more sustainable and responsible travel and tourism industry,” he added.

The summit began with over 150 students, alumni, lecturers and industry professionals from Guam, overseas and neighbouring Pacific Islands participating at the PATA Youth Symposium 2016, held at theUniversity of Guam Calvo Field House. Under the theme ‘Weaving Our Islands’ Tourism Future Together: Protecting culture, enhancing quality of life and generating an environmentally friendly island experience’, the Symposium was generously hosted by the University of Guam with support from the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB).

The conference on May 19, with the banner Code B.L.U.E, explored the key challenges affecting the region: B = Back to Basics (marketing); L = Leveraging our knowledge and expertise (trends and insights); U = Unravelling the mysteries of Human Capital Development (human resources); and E = Energising our eco efforts (sustainability).

Opening remarks from Mark Baldyga, Chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau, took delegates behind the scenes of Guam’s Tourism 2020 strategic plan. This was followed up by the keynote address from the Honorable Minister Alain St. Ange, Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, titled ‘The Big BLUE: In Danger – Yet Awe Inspiring’.

Delegates also heard from high level speakers and thought leaders including Andrew Dixon, Owner – Nikoi and Cempedak Islands; Daniel Levine, Director – The Avant-Guide Institute; Danny Ho, Executive Pastry Chef – Hotel ICON and PATA Face of the Future 2016; David Topolewski, CEO – Qooco; Derek Toh, Founder and CEO – WOBB; Eric Ricaurte, Founder and CEO – Greenview; Jason Lin, Chief of Talent – TalentBasket; Mark Schwab, CEO – Star Alliance; Michael Lujan Bevacqua, author and lecturer at the University of Guam; Morris Sim, CEO & co-founder – Circos Brand Karma; Ronan Carey, COO – Red Robot Limited; Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing Asia Pacific at TripAdvisor, and Zoltán Somogyi, Executive Director for Programme and Coordination at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

PATA welcomed Tony de Brum, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Climate Change from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, to make the closing address on ‘Less Space, More Popularity – Finding the Balance’.

Other topics discussed during the conference were: ‘Shaping the Intangibles through Hyper Connections’; ‘Driving Solo or Following the Pack’, ‘Mastering the Skill of Future Trend Forecast’; ‘Defy the Norms to Create ‘Same Same But Different’; ‘The New Edge – Foreseeing New Travel Patterns’; ‘Reversing the Brain Drain by Mixing the Borders’; ‘Techie HCD Solutions for Higher Profitability’, and ‘Creating One of the Best Workspaces’.

On the evening of May 19 during the Welcome Fiesta, PATA’s 65th anniversary was recognised during the Welcome Fiesta on May 19 with the presentation of a commemorative plaque by the Guam Visitors Bureau, the Guam International Airport Authority and the PATA Micronesia Chapter.

Diageo, in partnership with Island Wines & Spirits, used the Welcome Fiesta to launch the first edition of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Guam Legend Series to capture the essence of the historic city of Guam.

Delegates gained additional insights about the latest travel and tourism industry trends during PATA Marketplace with presentations from Akiko Yoshida, Executive Vice President – Japan National Tourism Organization; Sarah Mathews, TripAdvisor, and Ronan Carey, COO – Red Robot Limited. Oliver Martin and Greg Klassen, Partners at Twenty31 Consulting, discussed their initial findings of the PATA Task Force report on mapping the potential of sustainable-small ship cruising in Micronesia.

PATA, in partnership with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), held a half-day PATA/UNWTO Ministerial Debate on Pacific Island Tourism on May 20 when representatives from the public and private sectors discussed how to better align their actions towards a common set of goals and indicated what an ideal island destination would be. The debate was moderated by BBC World News Presenter Sharanjit Leyl. Speakers included Honorable Minister Alain St. Ange, Derek Toh, Akiko Yoshida, Tony de Brum, Mark Schwab and Andrew Dixon, as well as Faustina Rehuher-Marugg, President – Palau Resource Institute; Gerald Lawless, Chairman – World Travel & Tourism Council, and Tuifa’asisina Misa Lisati Aiolupotea, Associate Minister for Public Enterprises, Commerce Industry and Labour at the Samoa Tourism Authority.

One of the highlights of the debate was a poetry reading from world-renowned Marshall Islands poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, who received a standing ovation after her touching and inspiring presentation.

Other highlights of the four-day event included the PATA Awards Presentation, the election of the new PATA Executive Board and the presentation of the Silver-level Sustainability Certification by EarthCheck.

Presentations from the speakers are now available at

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