The PATA Youth Symposium 2023, hosted in New Delhi, aimed to cultivate the next generation of tourism leaders by offering a platform for dialogue, mentorship, and education on emerging industry trends.
BANGKOK, THAILAND – The PATA Youth Symposium, hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, took place in line with the PATA Travel Mart 2023 at the International Exhibition Convention Centre (IECC), Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, India.
Organized by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) with the support from youth sponsors: Forte Hotel Group, iFREE Group, and the PATA Macau Chapter, the 2023 PATA Youth Symposium aimed to empower and cultivate future leaders of the tourism industry by providing a platform for tourism students and young tourism professionals to connect with industry leaders and peers, share their ideas and insights, and learn about the latest trends in the tourism industry.
This year’s highly successful youth symposium welcomed nearly 400 participants from eight educational institutions in India, as well as international students from Hawaii, Myanmar, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The symposium provided a unique opportunity to give a voice to the youths, where they could speak up and represent their generation by sharing their challenges and issues in the tourism industry, leading to the development of the industry.
During the opening keynote, PATA Chair Peter Semone introduced the concept of the “Five P’s – People, Planet, Prosperity, Partnership, and Peace”, noting that “with all the current issues taking place around the world, the travel and tourism industry has a unique opportunity to look at new ways of addressing the challenges in today’s world and the youth will play a crucial role in tackling these issues.”
Following Mr Semone, Manisha Saxena, Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, presented the various youth campaigns and initiatives driven by the Ministry of Tourism through the Yuva Tourism Club.
“The Yuva Tourism Club has the strategic objective of creating interest, awareness, and a sense of responsibility towards our country’s natural and cultural heritage/tourism amongst children and youth,” said Ms Saxena. “The vision is to nurture and develop young ambassadors of Indian tourism”.
Sangeetha Liyanapathirana, Manager – Health, Hygiene and Sustainability, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, and the 2023 PATA Face of the Future, shared her journey towards sustainability as a young professional in the industry. From “Meals that Heal”, a community food donation project, to zero plastic projects, her journey has been challenging yet impactful. “With every step forward, I aim to leave a positive impact and inspire others to explore the beauty of our world mindfully,” said Ms Liyanapathirana.
Representing the young professionals of India, Kumud Mishra, a Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow at Kabirdham District, discussed the community tourism development project of Saroda Dadar village in Chhattisgarh, the Best Tourism Village 2023 (Silver Category). She shared about the development strategies of the project including identification of resources, skill training, and ensuring livelihood opportunities. The project’s future plan is to develop rural homestays and build infrastructure to attract more tourists and preserve local culture and tradition.
Continuing on the topic of sustainability, Peter Richards, Project Manager, Tourlink SwitchAsia Programme, gave a keynote on the profitability of sustainability. He talked about the common perception of sustainability being costly and justified the price of progress with statistics on profits brought to organizations through sustainability. He emphasized that the industry should start thinking about what it is prepared to give rather than about what it can get.
The event led to a roundtable discussion that empowered the students to speak up about the reasons as to whether or not they would stay in the industry. The poll during the roundtable discussion garnered positive results with 87% of participants stating that they are staying in the tourism industry.
The event on the first day closed with a panel discussion on various hidden careers in the tourism industry, hearing from industry leaders from various sectors including aviation, hospitality, business events, and content creation, as well as on the opportunities that the industry has ready for the youths that they are not well aware of. The session enlightened youths with various opportunities and cleared any hesitations that some may have had about staying in the industry.
On the second day of the Youth Symposium, a mentorship session took place, providing the perfect opportunity for the PATA Youth to learn from today’s industry leaders and for the industry leaders to understand the next generation of tourism leaders.