Over 150 students, alumni, lecturers and industry professionals from Guam, overseas and the neighboring Pacific Islands participated at the PATA Youth Symposium 2016, held at the University of Guam Calvo Field House on May 18, 2016. Under the theme “Weaving Our Islands Tourism Future Together: Protecting culture, enhancing quality of life and generating an environmentally friendly island experience,” the symposium commenced prior to the PATA Annual Summit 2016 and was generously hosted by the University of Guam with support from the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB).
The formal programme commenced with an address by Dr Annette Taijeron Santos, Dean, School of Business and Public Administration, University of Guam. Dr Santos stated, “The theme of the Youth Symposium speaks to the importance of working together to address issues that are threatening the natural environments of our Pacific Island Nations. Symposium like this reminds us of our responsibility to be engaged citizens who must heed the call to protect our waters, our lands and our air.”
Dr Robert A Underwood, President, University of Guam, congratulated the organisers in creating the platform for industry leaders and students to share ideas and discuss on relevant issues. “Of all the words used in the theme for today’s symposium, ‘managing change’ are the most important, and the most difficult to interpret and carry out,” said Dr Underwood. “Managing change are empty words if we don’t work towards managing the business of tourism. There is no perfect formula for this, but there must be some goals and benchmarks that we establish and work towards in order to build a sustainable island economy based on tourism and that simultaneously protect our natural resources and our way of life.”
Ms Pilar Laguaña, Director of Global Marketing, Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), said, “We all know that tourism is Guam’s number one industry, which generates over US$1.4 billion for our economy and provides over 18,000 jobs. This industry represents 60 percent of our island’s business revenue and over 30 percent of all non-federal jobs on the island. The success of tourism is everyone’s business and I am proud to see so many future leaders and young professional’s taking the steps to develop their understanding of the status of our industry as well as the world around us.”
PATA Chief Executive Officer Mario Hardy noted that the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) plays an important role in supporting the younger generation to be future leaders of the industry through many activities such as the PATA Intern and Associate Programme where the Association welcomes international student to undertake a 3-month internship at PATA. “We provide a platform for youth to share their ideas with tourism leaders at many of our events such as the PATA Youth Symposium, PATA International Youth Forum and the PATA Annual Summit. As a growing industry, we need more people like you for the tourism industry. We have great potential for career advancement so please join the travel and tourism industry for a better future for the island,” said Mr Hardy.
The programme was developed with guidance from Dr Chris Bottrill, Chairman of the PATA Human Capital Development (HCD) Committee and Dean, Faculty of Global and Community Studies, Capilano University. Dr Bottrill noted that global warming is, and has been for some time, the most significant challenge facing our planet and one of the greatest threats to the well-being of the tourism industry. The Youth Symposium was an opportunity for students and industry leaders to discuss the challenges and some options for the years ahead for Guam and the other Pacific nations. He added, “Our goal was to identify the voice that locals could share on these important issues and help identify ways of weaving island culture and knowledge into solutions for the future. Students showed great insight and explained a wide array of approaches that ranged from recognising personal responsibility to reduce impacts and share knowledge, participating and leading projects to reduce carbon emissions, utilising local supply chains for tourism products and experiences, and identifying and building community champions around responsible tourism practices. The event was an enormous success and we look forward to continuing the dialogue and taking further action together on the climate change challenge.”
Mr Eric Ricaurte, Founder and CEO, Greenview, delivered a presentation on ‘The climate change challenge for tourism in Guam and other Pacific Island Nations’. He stressed that, “Pacific Islands are one of the region’s most affected by climate change. We need to be resilient and become an example for the world on how to live within the planet’s balance. Every tourist should leave more aware of climate change and learn how the Pacific Islands are addressing it.”
Mr Stewart Moore, Chairman, PATA Sustainability Committee and CEO, EarthCheck, Australia presented on the topic ‘Climate change technologies: Adapting to change and reducing impacts’. He stated that sustainable management tools and standards are being increasingly implemented for the design, construction and operation of tourism infrastructure. Building and infrastructure efficiency will deliver social, economic and environmental returns for host communities.
Mr Oliver Martin, Partner, Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada updated the audience on the topic ‘Access and experience: enabling travel, managing growth’. He noted that destination marketing is important in creating a sense of urgency to come to visit the destination today. The key market shifts for the industry and for Guam are that millennial travellers will dominate by 2031; local, authentic and community tourism will rule; technology will drive consumer behaviour, and tourism marketing and massive growth will need to be managed strategically.
All participants shared their views in round-table discussions on the following topics:
1. How can Guam and other Pacific Island Nations influence global warming?
2. Is more tourism possible? How can we protect the place we love?
The participants enjoyed a fascinating cultural performance including a poetry presentation and Palau cultural performance.