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Meet the new PATA Executive Board

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The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is pleased to announce the ratification of the new PATA Executive Board. Peter Semone has been formally endorsed as the Chair of the Association’s Executive Board and replaces Soon-Hwa Wong who was elected Chair in October 2020.

During his appointment, Mr. Semone said, “Today, we are emerging from the most severe crisis to hit our community since PATA was founded in 1951. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought unprecedented devastation on tourism destinations and businesses across Asia and the Pacific. It is in these times of crisis that organizations like PATA play a critical role. Now is the time to rethink tourism in the Asia Pacific and ‘build forward better’ through an intelligent pathway that balances economic growth with socio-cultural and environmental considerations. PATA is central to this narrative. We can leverage the PATA brand and the power of our diverse membership that spans the earth’s premier tourism locales and engages stakeholders across the public and private sectors. Together, the PATA family can combine forces and energize our region and industry to get back on track.”

PATA Executive Board 2022

After completing his studies at US East Coast Ivy League Universities (UPENN and Cornell), Peter Semone arrived in Asia and never returned to his native California. Over the past 30 years, he has engaged in tourism development across the Pacific Asia region spanning industry, academia, and government.  Since 2006, Peter successfully implemented multiple projects and consultancies funded by international development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, UN World Tourism Organisation, The World Bank Group, Luxembourg Development Cooperation (LuxDev), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

He has been actively engaged with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) since the mid-1990s, serving as Chairman of the PATA Foundation Board of Trustees and the Education and Training Committee. Peter was also a member of the PATA Executive Board, Board of Directors, and several Task Forces. He is a founding member of the PATA Lao PDR Chapter and the Young Tourism Professionals program, and from 2002-to 2006 held the post of PATA Vice President at the Association’s Headquarters.

Early in his career, Peter founded a destination management company in Indonesia, where he also participated in several tourism start-ups. He is widely published in peer-reviewed journals on topics related to tourism marketing and destination human capital. Peter currently resides in Dili, Timor-Leste where he is Chief of Party of USAID’s Tourism For All Project aimed at developing tourism sector competitiveness and stimulating diversification of the country’s economy.

During the 71st PATA Annual General Meeting held virtually on Friday, May 13, 2022, PATA also elected six new members to its Executive Board including Benjamin Liao, Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; Suman Pandey, Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Tunku Iskandar, Mitra Malaysia Sdn. Bhd, Malaysia; SanJeet, DDP Publications Private Ltd., India; Luzi Matzig, Asian Trails Ltd., Thailand, and Dr. Fanny Vong, Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China.

They will be joining current Executive Board members Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Ministry of Tourism, Maldives, and Noredah Othman, Sabah Tourism Board, Malaysia.

Benjamin Liao and Suman Pandey were elected as the new Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.

Mr. Liao said, “I sincerely applaud the PATA association, the secretariat, the chapters, and the previous executive board for all their hard work enduring these tough years. I look forward to continuing the spirit of PATA and giving my best efforts.”

Benjamin Liao is an active tourism expert based in Taipei, Chinese Taipei. He serves currently as chair of Forte Hotel Group and as a board director of Howard Plaza Hotel Group. In Chinese Taipei, he also serves as a consultant to the Taiwan Visitors’ Association and as a director of the Taiwan Tourist Hotel Association. He organized the PATA x WCIT 2017 – Smart and Sustainable Tourism Symposium, to connect the tech and tourism community. From 2018 – to 2020, he served as hospitality chair in PATA. In 2019, he also joined the board of Metropolitan Premier Hotel Taipei, a project collaborating with Japan Rail East Hotels. Besides hotels, Benjamin also consults for Velodash, a bicycle community app, and started Imaten, a new food/media truck venture. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he converted and operated 500+ hotel rooms in Taipei for the quarantine market. In Chinese Taipei, Yamagata Kaku prepares to reopen to international travelers with the third Yamagata Matsuri this August 2022. Outside of work, he continues to learn about business management, destination marketing, skateboarding, and architecture design.

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 training, and President of Himalayan Pre- Fab Pvt. Ltd, a company specializing in making eco-friendly prefabricated homes. His remarkable contributions to 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, the USA in 2008, to name a few.

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Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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