PATA makes do with a virtual summit

DUBAI, 13 January 12, 2021:The Pacific Asia Travel Association confirmed this week its annual summit would once more convene virtually 27 to 29 April.

The association was hoping it could give its 1,000 plus members the planned in-person event hosted by the United Emirates’ Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Ras Al Khaimah,  a popular tourist destination 112 km north of Dubai, was set to host the 2020 annual summit at the end of last March when the initial outbreak of Covid-19 forced PATA to opt for a virtual event instead. PATA promised to reconvene the annual summit in Ras Al Khaimah in April 2021, but as the global Covid-19 count surpasses 90 million one year after the virus was first identified, the association concedes an in-person annual summit will have to wait until 2022.

The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority confirmed it is ready to host the 2022 event, but for PATA the loss of revenue from two annual summits and one PATA Travel Mart will show up in a depleted balance sheet that members will scrutinise during the annual general meeting held on the sidelines of the April virtual summit.

Given most of travel industry forecasts suggest recovery may not materialise in 2021, PATA faces the prospect that it may have to balance the books without the revenue from two summits and two marts (2020 and 2021).

In addition, the financial statement for the calendar year 2020 will presented to members at the virtual summit is likely to show a significant decline in membership dues, particularly from hotels, travel companies and airlines. Even government members that have their membership dues assessed in relation to their annual tourist arrivals may raise their hands to signal a reduced evaluation would be appreciated. Nothing is set in stone as far as the travel industry’s ability to balance books in 2021. Ultimately in 2021 and 2022, major associations like PATA will face considerable pressure to lower dues or lose core corporate and government members.

Virtual events have yet to discover a business model that promises breakeven let alone turn a profit. That challenge certainly weighs heavily on PATA as it heads for a second virtual annual summit Registration for the Virtual PAS 2021 is complimentary for all PATA members, Chapter members and non-members.