London November 5: PATA CEO’s Reflections & Next Steps

On November 6, following the advocacy event in London, PATA CEO Martin Craigs, wrote the following:

“Last night’s PATA organised dinner in the House of Commons, was, what UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai called, a ‘triumph for next generation PATA activism’ and a ‘major step on the road to aligned and effective advocacy for travel and tourism’. Taleb called it an ‘exquisitely timed, located and delivered declaration of inter dependency’.

On behalf of 50 industry leaders, engaged politicians and key opinion formers, I would like to give a gracious vote of thanks to the primary participants and speakers: Gloria Guevara, Tourism Minister, Mexico, Priti Patel MP, and Andrew Rosindell MP.

All three spoke with passion and commitment on travel industry related issues, particularly the increasingly reviled Air Passenger Duty (APD). During the dinner, Priti Patel MP -- who led the motion in the House of Commons on November 1 to demand a macro economic impact report on APD (a £2.9 billion tax bill to travel and tourism predicted in 2012) -- went as far as to say APD was an exercise in "self harm."

There were numerous other impromptu and eloquent interventions in the post-dinner dialogue, including from Mr David Scowsill, President & CEO, WTTC, Christopher Rodrigues Chairman, Visit Britain, Jeff Poole, Director Government & Industry Affairs, IATA, Vijay Poonoosamy, Vice President International & Public Affairs, Etihad Airways and Anita Mendiratta, Managing Director, CACHET Consulting

PATA' s diversity in public and private sectors was well represented around the elegant dining room which fronts the River Thames. There were delegations from nations far and wide including New Zealand, Chile, China, India, and smaller nations highly dependent on tourism, such as Maldives.

The Minister of Tourism Arts & Culture of the Maldives, Mr Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, commented in interviews with Travel News Channel at the pre-dinner reception that the dinner and debate focusing primarily on UK APD was "critical” to his nation’s economic future. Over 40% of the Maldives economy is dependent on tourism.

Media thought leaders from The Economist , CNN and Flight Global/Airline Business also attended the event which will evolve next year at WTM into an even more interactive and live streamed event debating the opportunities and obstacles for the global travel and tourism sector.

After one year or so as PATA CEO I have a multitude of PATA family and friends to thank for delivering on the promise of PATA Next Gen, via our Hub City Forum events that led to the House Of Commons. It was a special pleasure to host industry friends in an iconic location in such a politically charged week.

My thanks to all those internally and externally who have helped me revitalize PATA' s advocacy and activism in the past 12 months. The best is yet to come, as we cajole and, where necessary, coerce political non believers and short termers into realizing that travel and tourism is the fastest job creating industry in the world.”

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