The PATA Youth Symposium, hosted by the Nepal Tourism Board, took place on the third day of the PATA Annual Summit and Adventure Mart 2023 on Thursday, June 1 at the Pokhara Grande Hotel in Pokhara, Nepal.
Organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) with the support of the Global Peace Foundation, the Guam Visitors Bureau, and the PATA Thailand Chapter, this year’s PATA Youth Symposium aimed to empower and cultivate future leaders of the tourism industry by providing a platform for the tourism students and young tourism professionals to engage 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 200 participants from 11 educational institutions in Nepal, as well as international students from Thailand and Korea (ROK) and focused on highlighting the challenges and issues faced by young people in the tourism industry. With an emphasis on giving voice to the youth, the symposium was a unique opportunity for them to speak up, represent their generation, and contribute to the development of the industry.
“Human capital development is one of the travel and tourism industry’s greatest challenges as it begins its road to recovery. The PATA Youth Symposium highlights our continued dedication to Human Capital Development to ensure the resiliency of our industry in the long term,” said PATA Chair Peter Semone. “This year’s event really showed the great enthusiasm of the young people of Nepal and elsewhere for the sustainable growth of tourism around the world and gives me hope for the future of the industry.”
Semone kicked off the event by talking about the generation gap and how the younger generation is correctly or incorrectly referred to as the strawberry generation, a term used to highlight the imaginative creativity of the younger generation while acknowledging their vulnerability. He stressed the need to look at new ways of addressing challenges and tackling them, as well as the importance of staying optimistic and being ready to turn every chance into an opportunity.
Later during the panel discussion, Smrittee Panta, Program Head-BHM/BHTM Little Angel’s College of Management-Kathmandu University, highlighted the importance of not shying away from being different and use it as an advantage to overcome opportunities. To highlight this point, she brought back the concept of the strawberry generation and stated that, “Though the younger generation is referred to as the strawberry generation, I myself have a strawberry farm and every strawberry is different.”
Tony Smyth, Senior Vice President of iFREE Group, also gave a keynote on trends in technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT, as it relates to the tourism industry. In regard to questions concerning the advancement and integration of technology taking away opportunities in the future, he noted that we are still the ones who control the technology being implemented. What we have to do is to learn and prepare to maximise the technology given to us, because the productivity or outcome will depend on how well we are aware and how well we are educated about them.
The event closed with a roundtable discussion that empowered the students to speak up about the the reasons as to whether or not to they would stay in the industry, as well as a mentorship session with industry professionals from around the world.