The PATA Youth Symposium, hosted by the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) and the Alumni Association of UiTM Students’ Representative Council (PIMPIN) in collaboration with the PATA Malaysia Chapter, Tourism Malaysia and Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark, took place on September 12, 2018 on the first day of PATA Travel Mart 2018 with the theme ‘Inspiring Tourism Leaders of Tomorrow’.
Organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Human Capital Development Committee, the highly successful event welcomed 210 local and international students from 17 universities with participants coming from Bangladesh, Canada, Nepal, Philippines and Singapore.
In his opening remarks, Haji Azizan Noordin, CEO, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), said, “Thank you for all the support from PIMPIN, the PATA Malaysia Chapter, Tourism Malaysia and Langkawi UNESCO Global Geopark to be able to welcome 210 students from 17 universities from Malaysia and worldwide. On behalf of LADA, I humbly welcome everyone to the PATA Youth Symposium on the first day of PTM, which is one the of most important and long-lasting travel trade events. Thank you also to PATA for the opportunity to Langkawi to host of this significant event.”
PATA CEO Mario Hardy said, “One of the biggest achievements of PATA is the activities we have organised for students in the region. Through these activities, they can learn from us and we can learn from them about the future of our industry. I take inspiration from them and see great hope for the future potential to make the world the better place. The youth of today are great source of inspiration for us all.”
During the opening ceremony the YB Tuan Mohamaddin bin Ketapi, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia, also thanked the hosts and added, “Student should be well prepared to lead the tourism industry. A great way for overseas students to gain further experience in the industry is to try a Malaysian homestay programme and immerse themselves in the Malaysian culture. I wish everybody great success for today’s event.”
The programme was developed with guidance from Markus Schuckert, Chairman of the PATA Human Capital Development Committee and Assistant Professor at the School of Hotel & Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
In his address to the students and delegates, Schuckert said, “The PATA Youth Symposium aims to provide students participants that opportunity to be inspired and to create networks within the industry.”
The keynote address on ‘Inspiring Stories: Bringing Concepts to Reality’ was delivered by Kartini Ariffin, Co-Founder of Dbilique, Malaysia, who told the participants, “Set goals that are meaningful and purposeful. Practice this. Dream hard, wish big, and chase your dream. It can’t be done by anyone else. Nobody will do it for you.”
Professor Martin Barth, President and CEO of the World Tourism Forum Lucerne, provided a second keynote address on “Inspiring Connections: Linking Interests for success in the tourism industry” where he stated, “What you learn today might not be important tomorrow to sustain and be relevant in the industry. Try to do internship, to connect, to sell yourself, to build up network, to write interesting academic papers relevant to the industry and learn as many languages as possible.”
The third keynoted address was delivered by Neethiahnanthan Ari Ragavan, Executive Dean, Faculty of Hospitality, Food and Leisure Management, Taylor’s University and President, ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA).
“We are in the fourth industrial revolution focusing on automation, AI, and machine learning. Many jobs will be replaced by machines. As the next generation of tourism professionals, you need to be prepared to learn skills that cannot replaced by robots, being employable rather than just being employed,” added Ragavan.
During the ‘Inspiring Leadership: Groom and Grow into an Industry Leadership Role?’ panel discussion, the participants heard from Rika Jean-François, Commissioner, ITB Corporate Social Responsibility, Competence Centre, Travel & Logistics, ITB Berlin, and Dmitri Cooray, Manager Operations, Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka. The speakers noted that the travel and tourism industry is in the business of people, networking and peer to peer work. They also noted that a good leader needed to have confidence, learn from their mistakes, gather tasks and responsibilities with both hands, and be able to adjust to the rapid growth of the industry. Most importantly, they told the student delegates that in order to change the perception of the industry towards young graduates, they need to be persistent but respectful.
During the event, Imtiaz Muqbil, Executive Editor of Travel Impact Newswire, Thailand spoke about the ‘First Global Essay competition on How Travel and Tourism can Contribute to the UN SDGs’. The symposium also featured an interactive roundtable discussion on ‘What inspires you to contribute toward a successful tourism industry?’.
In addition, PATA Young Tourism Professional Ambassador, JC Wong, provided participants information on ‘The PATA D.N.A. – Empowering you for your future’. Wong emphasised that 64.5million new jobs could be created by year 2028 in the Asia Pacific region. The leaders of tomorrow should get themselves exposed, connected and involved with industry leaders in their early age to empower them for their future career development. More importantly, striking their dream career. She shared a list of PATA Youth Activation initiatives for student delegates to kickstart their journey, including internships, sponsorships and workshops.