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Interactive discussion on technology and social media at PATA Youth Symposium 

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Youth Symposium commenced on the morning of April 23, 2015 at Sichuan Tourism School, Huanglongxi campus in Chengdu, China. Under the theme “Technology and Social Media for Tourism”, the Symposium commenced prior to the PATA Annual Summit 2015.

Over 200 students, lecturers and industry professionals from China and overseas including delegations from PATA China Zhejiang Gongshang Student Chapter, China; Institute For Tourism Studies, (IFT) Macau SAR; and PATA Bangladesh Dhaka University Student Chapter, Bangladesh participated in the dynamic Symposium.

The programme was developed with guidance from Dr Chris Bottrill, Chairman of the PATA Human Capital Development Committee and Dean, Faculty of Global and Community Studies, Capilano University. Dr Bottrill noted that the PATA Youth Symposium was a great success. He stated that, "We were able to share knowledge of experts and generate conversation from teachers and students on the way that technology and social media is rapidly changing our tourism industry. A key goal was to learn how tourists from around the globe have the capacity to impact the success of businesses and destinations through social media, and specifically, how this is affecting China. We discussed how students will influence the development of tourism through technology and social media in the future. A key goal of all youth symposiums is to engage the next generation of tourism professionals in dialogue with PATA on compelling tourism issues and have fun in the process. We were enlightened by the thoughtful, insightful and positive energy of all participants at this successful event.”

The Symposium opened with welcome statements by Ms Zhao Bo, Vice Director of the Tourism Administration of Sichuan Province, and Mr Zhao Xiao-hong, Professor and Schoolmaster, Sichuan Tourism School, who both welcomed international industry professionals to the Symposium and thanked PATA in organising the PATA Youth Symposium 2015 at the Sichuan Tourism School.

Mr Mario Hardy, Chief Executive Officer, PATA, said, “On behalf of PATA, I would like to express our sincere thanks to Sichuan Tourism School and the PATA Annual Summit Host Committee for their strong support and hospitality in hosting this successful PATA Youth Symposium. The Symposium was a great platform for students to exchange ideas and network with experienced industry professionals who provided valuable insights for the next generation of our industry.”

“Technology and social media can help us share experiences and tell the stories and legends of destinations to entice people to go and explore them.  Europeans coming to Leshan want to know who built the giant Buddha, why was it built, when was it built, and what are the legends that have been passed on from generations to generations. We all need to become better story tellers and digital ambassadors of our destinations," Mario added.

Ms Han Yuling, Secretary of China Tourism Vocational Education and Teaching Guiding Committee, Professor of Beijing International Studies University, China, told the audience on the improvement of quality practitioners to enhance Chinese vocational education to reach international standards.

Ms Sarah Mathews, Destination Marketing Senior Sales Manager APAC, TripAdvisor, Hong Kong SAR, delivered an interactive plenary talk to demonstrate how on-line consumer reviews have tremendously affected the travel and tourism sectors as well as destinations. TripAdvisor as the world’s largest travel site has over 6,000 unique users looking at reviews every second of everyday. Student participants dynamically shared their ideas on the uniqueness of their destinations that can be highlighted to attract travellers.

Mr George Cao, Co-founder and CEO, Dragon Trail Interactive, talked about “Digital Marketing and Travel Distribution Emerging Trends for Chinese market.” George noted that, “Travel technology and social media has changed the way we work. To maintain competitiveness, it is vital for travel and tourism professionals to keep themselves abreast of technology changes, keep leaning and be curious.”

Ms Ivy Chee, Regional Director – East Asia, PATA, presented on “PATAmPOWER and other on-line data sources to enhance business success.” Ivy shared some tips for young travellers when travelling to destinations including respecting and protecting the heritage and culture of a destination, saving the environment, and supporting sustainable tourism of destination. 

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