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27 Sep, 2013

As support grows for internal overhaul, PATA comms manager exits

Bangkok – The communications manager of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Ms Halona Padiachy, has resigned after only four months in the job. Her departure, effective immediately, comes just weeks after PATA CEO Martin Craigs publicly declared at the UN World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Zambia that “the media must be confronted”.

Ms Padiachy declined comment on her abrupt departure. She said the CEO had been informed and that he would inform the Executive Board accordingly.

However, other sources within PATA said Ms Padiachy, like many other PATA staff, had been under pressure and decided to leave now before it becomes worse. Her appointment had been announced just this past May. She apparently plans to stay on in Bangkok and is pursuing other opportunities.

Ms Padiachy becomes the second PATA executive to depart this month. PATA’s regional director for China Ms Kate Chang also moved on after eight years with PATA. Her departure was announced following the PATA Travel Mart in Chengdu earlier this month.

The flip side of these resignations is that they will save PATA money, which will then be reflected on the bottom-line finances for this year, increasing the chances of PATA being able to report a small surplus after three years of red ink.

PATA’s communications gets consultancy support from ScottAsia Communications even though its managing director, Mr Ken Scott, has long relocated from Bangkok to Scotland for family reasons.

As has been the case through most of his tenure, Mr Craigs is not in the office. Today, he is understood to be in the Maldives to join the UNWTO in celebrating World Tourism Day.

Meanwhile, support is growing for the proposal publicly aired by the PATA Thailand Chapter Chairman Mr Bert van Walbeek for an overhaul of PATA’s administrative and operational structures to make them more decentralised and simplified. (Click here for full text of the interview).

Said PATA Chiang Rai (Thailand) chapter chairman Mr Don Ross, who is also editor of TTR Weekly, “The relationship between mother ship PATA and its chapters has always been a subject of heated discussion. Very few chapter members feel the need to upgrade membership to HQ level and interaction between chapters needs to be improved to ensure the smaller chapters can gain support from stronger chapters. There is definitely a need for structural change.”

He added, “Having said that I can see from the latest (financial) data that D Day is approaching for PATA, They cannot keep putting off the need for a total remake. What Bert says is spot on. However, if he puts it forward to the board, he will eventually feel the same heat that you have felt from those who do not welcome change.” The “you” in Mr Ross’s comment was a reference to Travel Impact Newswire executive editor Imtiaz Muqbil.

From London, PATA member Paul Hoskins commented: “Excellent report & Mr. Bert van Walbeek is to be congratulated for his recommendations for the long overdue overhaul of PATA’s HQ & global operations.”

From Phuket, Sea Canoe Thailand Managing Director John Gray wrote to Mr van Walbeek: “I agree with everything you say. I am happy to rejoin PATA (after a 16 year absence) if I can join your inner circle restructure team.” He said that “will truly be putting my own money where my mouth is.”

Even former PATA Chairman Hiran Cooray, in an informal response to this editor, wrote that he “likes what Bert said.”

Mr Craigs is due back in the office next week and has asked to meet Mr van Walbeek to discuss next steps. Ms Padiachy’s sudden departure will put further pressure on him to get PATA’s internal house in order. A Chief Operating Officer is due to be appointed next month. From the job description listed in the “situation-available” advert, one of his/her’s tasks will be to do exactly that.