Soon-Hwa Wong has been formally endorsed as the Chair of the e Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Executive Board and replaces Dr. Chris Bottrill who was elected Chair in May 2018 and remains a member of the Executive Board as Immediate Past Chair.
On his appointment, Soon-Hwa said, “It is indeed an honour to be given the privilege to serve PATA members, especially in a time like this. PATA will celebrate a significant milestone, our 70th Anniversary, next year. We are embarking on a comprehensive organisation redesign that will transform PATA into an association that will lead the tourism industry into the post-Covid future and beyond. Together with our industry partners from both the public and private sector, we will commit to sustainable tourism development to benefit the economic well-being of the community at large. Come join us in our journey to build a safer and better world.”
Soon Hwa has some 40 years of extensive experience in the Asia Pacific tourism and hospitality industry. After a long and successful corporate career, he founded Asia Tourism to provide advisory and consulting services to commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. He recently set up AsiaChina, primarily focusing on the two-way tourism flow between China and the APAC region. As part of paying it forward, he is also providing pro-bono services in mentoring start-ups and university students in his alma mater in addition to serving in several social committees.
He started the Hertz Asia Pacific office in Singapore in 1993. As Vice President – Asia, he built a comprehensive regional network, reinforcing Hertz ‘s position as global market leader. He spent 3 years in Shanghai from 2007 to 2010 and opened the first 100% foreign owned car rental company in China. After Hertz, as Regional Director – Asia Pacific, he helped Blacklane GmbH establish the APAC regional office in Singapore and built a service network covering some 80 cities. Blacklane is a new tech professional chauffeur drive service provider offering rides in some 300 cities and 60 countries globally. Prior to joining Hertz, he was Regional Manager – South East Asia for Air New Zealand.
A Bachelor of Business Administration graduate of the National University of Singapore, he is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK and attended the Stanford Executive Program. Soon Hwa’s long association with PATA dates back to 1996 and he has served in various capacities over the years. Presently serving as Chairman of the PATA Singapore Chapter, Soon Hwa is also the recipient of the PATA Life Member Award in 2018 and PATA Award of Merit in 2008.
During the PATA Board Meeting held virtually on Monday, October 12, 2020, PATA also elected six new members to its Executive Board including Hai Ho, CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada, and Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste.
Other Executive Board members include Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore, and Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK).
Hai Ho and Suman Pandey were elected as the new Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.
Hai Ho said, “Being one of the youngest elected Vice Chair at an important organisation with a deep history like PATA is the biggest honour I have ever received. I take on this role to contribute my part to both PATA and the global sustainable travel movement which is growing with strength and resilience around the world. I am mindful that we are still living in a COVID-19 world where our fellow tour guides, travel agents, hoteliers, etc. are fighting against all odds to keep travellers safe and sound.
I am mindful that the world we are living in now, will not be the world we will live in tomorrow. Therefore, I remind myself every day to waste no time and seize any moment to learn from other PATA members, so that I can utilise my energy and knowledge to help our industry in any way I can contribute.”
Hai Ho is a high-impact entrepreneur and head of Triip, an unrivalled travel-cum-tech company incorporated in Singapore. He has 12 years of experience in high-growth firms building a range of tech products like payment gateway products, social networks, wearable hardware, community apps, and eBook apps to name a few. Hai’s experience in start-up creation and understanding in the global travel industry led him to create Triip.me, a platform that at its core is a network of accommodation and personalized tours made available to a broad audience of millions. The network’s competitive advantage is its ability for anyone around the world to create, execute and be paid for a tour using Triip.me. Through Triip’s tech-centric positioning and expertise, Hai has launched a first-to-market blockchain network called the Triip Protocol. Hai and his team are crafting a cryptocurrency that will enable travel service providers to connect directly with travellers in a new, decentralized marketplace that will drive down costs of both client acquisition and travel itself. Through the firm, Hai has advanced a sustainability-driven business philosophy of at the core of its vision. In four years, it’s created jobs for locals in 100 countries, which have made it a darling of a financial coverage in publications including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes and The Next Web. Triip was also one of 512 members of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – a programme by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Suman Pandey is a well-known figure in Nepalese Tourism and President of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, a well-known name for diverse and innovative operations. He is also the CEO of Fishtail Air, a Nepalese helicopter company; Director of Summit Air, a fixed wing operator catering to tourists going to the Mt. Everest area; Director of the biggest business complex in Nepal, “Chhaya Centre”, a multi-faceted Mega Complex that includes a five star managed by Starwood under the “Aloft” brand; President of the Himalaya Academy of Travel and Tourism, an academy imparting tourism related vocational trainings, and President of Himalayan Pre- Fab Pvt. Ltd, a company specializing on making eco-friendly prefabricated homes. His remarkable contributions in the Nepalese Tourism Industry have made him eligible for various titles and decorations including “Suprasidha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu” from the King of Nepal in 2004; “Tourism Icon” by the Nepal Association of Tourism Journalists in 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by tourism publication Gantabya Nepal in 2017; “Tourism Man of the year” by Gantabya Nepal in 2010; and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for contributions in tourism by the “American Biographical Institute” (ABI) based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2008, to name a few.
Furthermore, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand have been appointed to the Executive Board as non-voting members.
The new Executive Board members were confirmed at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on October 14, 2020.