It’s billed as Asia-Pacific’s premier trade show and it’s only the third time in 38 years that India is hosting the event. (Hyderabad debuted as the venue in 2008; Delhi took over in 2011; and 2015 belonged entirely to Bangalore.) The Pacific Asia Travel Association, a not-for-profit set up in 1951 for stakeholders in the tourism sector, organises the annual PATA Travel Mart as a value-add, members-only B2B event with restricted media access. The size and scale of the travel mart is a healthy indicator of the potential for tourism worldwide. PATA has long outgrown its Pacific Asia boundaries to connect buyers and sellers of travel products around the world to the Asia-Pacific region.
While the stated intentions for PATA’s conclaves include the responsible development of travel and tourism, along with research and advocacy, they also lead to the signing of greenfield deals, build business for industry members, and result in policy commitments and new collaborations that could potentially alter the way we travel in the years to come. As PATA chairman Kevin B. Murphy said during a media briefing, “This year, PATA Travel Mart stands tall as Asia-Pacific’s most value-adding and cost-effective networking and contracting event.”
In great part, this appears to be achieved by close linkages with government bodies—Karnataka Tourism co-hosted the three-day convention with significant ministerial and bureaucratic participation, and a dazzling display of the state’s many attractions at the sprawling, well-equipped Bangalore International Exhibition Centre. Karnataka’s Tourism and Industries Minister, R.V. Deshpande, who recently unveiled an ambitious new tourism policy calling for public-private partnership, spoke for the state’s many advantages with aplomb. As part of the new policy, Karnataka Tourism Infrastructure Ltd, a fully government-owned company, is expected to raise funds from the open market to create tourism assets across the state. Eighteen products, including wellness, rural and weekend tourism, have been rolled out, and six MoUs signed with corporates.
PTM 2015 also featured a Technology Forum in partnership with Phocuswright and Connecting Travel, an Investment Forum in partnership with Horwarth HTL, and an enthusiastic Youth Symposium hosted by the city-based Christ University. Their PTM Talks featured presentations by international businesses such as Twenty31, Open Destinations, Asian Oasis, Wild Asia and Kinyei/Soksabike. For a sense of what it was like, here are the stats: 456 sellers from 226 organisations and 28 destinations met 242 buyers from 233 organisations and 50 source markets, adding up to nearly 1,000 delegates from 61 destinations who talked shop in more than 10,000 pre-matched appointments over two days.