THE PATA VIEWPOINT

PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy talks about the future of his organisation, and that of tourism in the region

PATA CEO Dr Mario Hardy has been over four and a half years at the helm of the organisation now. We asked him what he sees as being the “journey” for PATA for the coming years, and what his “vision” is in this respect.

Four years ago, PATA started on a journey of becoming financially sustainable which we have now achieved. Moving forward, our focus is about increasing PATA’s influence and thought leadership, as well as taking a strong stance when we see threats or injustice in our sector. Most importantly, our mission has and will always be about increasing our members engagement with the tourism sector at large and between members in general.

DIVERSIFICATION AND A BALANCED PORTFOLIO ARE KEY TO A GOOD INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO, THE SAME THEORY APPLIES HERE

What are the key findings of your “Asia Pacific Visitor Forecasts 2019-2023”?

It would not be a surprise if I told you that we see “growth” across the Asia Pacific region over the next five years. However, it is fair to say that it is uneven growth, as some destinations are on the verge of having too much while others suffer from “undertourism”. The latter is especially true for the islands of the Pacific due to their remoteness and accessibility challenges.

Should APAC nations be trying to diversify more in their source markets?

At the recent ASEAN Tourism Forum in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, I had the opportunity to highlight to the ASEAN tourism ministers the pressing need for diversifying their source markets. I asked them to play a simple exercise by taking their number one source market and removing it from the equation, then see what impact it would have on their tourism economy. Why is this important, because we have seen in recent times how political and economic shifts can affect tourism arrivals into a destination. Like any good investment advisor would tell you, diversi cation and a balanced portfolio are key to a good investment portfolio, the same theory applies here.

One of your favourite topics is AI. Why so?

I am curious by nature and fascinated by the possibilities of AI in solving real-world human challenges, and equally concerned that humans may use AI for the wrong purpose. My fascination with the tech world is beyond my day job at PATA, however, AI is already starting to make an impact on the tourism sector. The tech to watch is voice assistance and how it will soon be an integral part of our daily life.