FATA names new president

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 April 2024: The Federation of ASEAN Travel Associations (FATA) announced Tuesday that Tan Kok Liang has been appointed president.

Tan assumes the presidency for a two-year term ending in 2026. He succeeds Pauline Suharno of the Indonesian Travel Agents Association, who successfully guided FATA through the post-pandemic recovery landscape.

Tan expressed gratitude for her stewardship: “Pauline has consolidated FATA through the post-pandemic stage, and we thank her for her unwavering dedication.”

FATA, established in 1983, is the umbrella organisation representing over 7,700 travel agents and advisors across Southeast Asia. With Tan’s extensive experience and global networking, including three full terms as the president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) from 2017 to 2023 and his current positions as president of the Malaysian Tourism Federation and Deputy Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board, FATA is poised to play a crucial role in tourism promotions in all the 10 ASEAN nations.

Tan, a recipient of the prestigious Tourism Promotion Organisation (TPO) Best Tourism Industry Leader Award for his invaluable contributions to the tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region, is committed to elevating FATA’s stature. Having steered FATA during the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic, Tan is determined to reinvigorate ASEAN tourism, positioning the ASEAN brand as an attractive choice for international travellers from the long haul markets. Initiating this new thrust through international travel trade shows in the coming months will be a priority. Promoting multiple destinations within ASEAN, each offering a unique and diverse range of recreational activities will undoubtedly appeal to tourists exploring this vibrant region.

Game-changing visa  

The FATA President champions a transformative agenda for intra-ASEAN travel. He applauds Thailand’s innovative Schengen-style visa proposal as a game-changer for selected ASEAN nations, setting the stage for a revolution in regional mobility.

“Let’s seize the moment,” Tan urges. “The pre-pandemic era saw 48 million intra-ASEAN tourists—just 7% of our robust 691 million population. Imagine the possibilities in a market ripe with affordability and a smorgasbord of experiences—from adrenaline-pumping adventures to cultural escapades, all within a stone’s throw of three to four hours.”

Tan’s vision transcends the conventional, spotlighting the untold stories beyond capital cities. “Every ASEAN country has multiple hidden gems and intriguing products in their offerings. We’re crafting an interconnected ASEAN tapestry in partnership with trailblazers like Air Asia. Our goal is to make ASEAN travel affordable and exciting to boost intra-ASEAN travel.”

ASEAN tourism strategies

Tan said he envisions FATA to be a “pivotal force in creating business-to-business opportunities for all ASEAN stakeholders.” He also wants to benchmark policy frameworks and tourism strategies, enabling member countries to assess and exchange best practices effectively. The FATA president’s strategic agenda includes expanding FATA’s influence by extending membership to other Asian countries through a reciprocal affiliation membership scheme, thereby strengthening ASEAN’s position in the global tourism arena.

Joining Tan in steering FATA towards this new era are Pauline Suharno of The Indonesian Travel Agents Association (ASTINDO) as the Deputy President, Evangeline Manotok of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) as the Honorary Treasurer, and Charles Tan of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) as the Honorary Secretary General.

As FATA embarks on this transformation journey, it reaffirms its unwavering commitment to nurturing the interests of ASEAN’s dynamic travel and tourism sector. This new chapter is not just about growth. It’s about fostering cooperation and camaraderie among industry stakeholders, propelling ASEAN to the forefront of global tourism.


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