The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) officially launched its Rapid Recovery Task Force (PRRT) at the association's Engagement Hub at its head office in Bangkok on January 31.
The PRRT is a standing task force of the PATA CEO and seven volunteers who will collectively try to help PATA member destinations during and after times of crisis, such as SARS, floods, tsunamis, disease outbreaks and terrorist incidents, all of which have had a massive impact on Asia Pacific destinations in the last 10 years or so. The objective is to help destinations return to ‘normal' as quickly as possible.
Led by Mr Bert van Walbeek, Managing Director of Thailand-based consultancy The Winning Edge, and Chairman of PATA Thailand Chapter, the fledgling PRRT has already been instrumental in relaying important travel advisories, contending biased media reports, and helping rebuild consumer confidence. The Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 and the Thailand flood crisis in 2011 are two examples.
Members of the taskforce include, in alphabetical order:
• David Beirman, Senior Lecturer, University of Technology, Sydney
• Emma Cashmore, Managing Director, Axis Travel Marketing, London
• Martin J Craigs, PATA CEO, Bangkok
• Walt Judas, Vice President Marketing Communications, Tourism Vancouver
• Alexander Kesper, Security and Safety Executive, Bali Hotels Association, Denpasar
• Ken Scott, Managing Director, ScottAsia Communications, Bangkok
• Rick Vogel, President, Include Ltd, Tokyo
The PRRT will receive direct updates from the afflicted destination(s) and PATA's Strategic Intelligence Centre during a major crisis.
The PRRT Chairman, Mr van Walbeek told media at the launch: “The complete visitor economy is so vital to jobs and people's well being that having tourists stay away for a prolonged period can cause untold additional damage – over and above the negative impact of the original crisis. The skilled crisis professionals on the PRRT will work closely with the impacted destination to restore normalcy as soon as possible.”
Mr Martin Craigs, PATA CEO said: “Countering misleading information in media and social media is a key element of the PRRT brief. Perception is reality. The visitor economies in the PATA region have been made painfully aware of this on numerous occasions.”The launch event was concluded with a webinar in which Mr van Walbeek and Dr. David Beirman outlined the history, preparation and set-up of the new volunteer task force.