Asia-Pacific travel conference looks past disasters and to the future

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is gearing up for its 60th Anniversary and Conference as the shadow of recent disasters hangs over the region.

The event - to be held in Beijing from April 9-12 - arrives as the tourism industry in Asia is still assessing the collateral damage caused by the devastating earthquakes over the past two months in Japan, China and New Zealand.

Just how much those events will hurt the industry here is still be determined but before they hit, the region was recording record numbers, according to PATA.

Overall, the region had in January recorded a seven percent year-on-year growth, with Sri Lanka (up 46 percent), Nepal (up 26 percent), the Maldives (up 18 percent) and India (up 10 percent) each setting new records for the month.

"The year 2011 started strongly for the travel and tourism industry in Asia and the Pacific, maintaining the arrivals growth momentum seen throughout 2010," Kris Lim, director of PATA's Strategic Intelligence Centre, said in a statement. "This early positive momentum however, is obviously expected to be negatively affected by the devastating earthquake and resultant tsunami that struck Japan on March 11."

Lim said PATA hoped that the Japanese tourism industry for one would show "some signs of a rebound or a return to some form of normalcy in the second half of the year."

PATA's conference will include seminars and workshops hoping to chart the future direction on tourism in the region and includes guest speakers such as space tourism entrepreneur Eric Anderson.

The four-day conference offers delegates "the opportunity to come to grips with some of the biggest issues shaping the travel and tourism industry,'' according to PATA.

The association boasts more than 8,000 members worldwide and was formed in 1951 to help promote and sustain tourism in the region.

For a preview of the conference, check out

PATA 60th Anniversary and Conference

April 9-12
China World Hotel