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PATA Travel Mart 2003


Travel Trade Shows - Calendar of Events


One of the oldest and most successful travel trade shows and exhibitions in Asia, the PATA Travel Mart faced some heavy criticism when the show closed in April 2002. The quality of buyers was down, exhibitor confidence was down, in fact overall support for the 2003 show was seriously dwindling.

Some said it was the fact that the exhibition, which traditionally rotated from country to country, was now based in Singapore for 10 straight years, others that the timing of the show was wrong, and there were those that said a combination of both factors were an influence.

Whatever the reason, the 2003 PATA Travel Mart was perhaps one of, if not the, most important marts in the shows history. PATA had to prove that the mart could attract quality buyers, the right number, and right quality of exhibitors, and deliver good value for money for everyone attending.

Soon after the end of the 2002 PATA Travel Mart, PATA announced that the next exhibition would be in October 2003, a radical change from previous  years when the show was normally held in April. This gave PATA a much needed year and a half to create a winning formula and rally support. PATA also announced that it would be managing the mart by itself, after Reed managed the event for five years from 1998 to 2002.

Announcements were being made fast and furious, with perhaps the most welcome announcement of all being that the mart would once again start rotating, with the 2004 mart being held in Bangkok, and on from there.

This was indeed welcome news. Rotating the PATA Travel Mart enables buyers, sellers and media to experience new destinations first hand, to meet local smaller sellers and buyers that would perhaps not travel to overseas events and injects a certain amount of fun into the whole process.

We should not interpret this as Singapore failing as a destination. Far from it, Singapore is possibly one of the most well organised and enjoyable countries in the world to hold an exhibition or mart, and each year it came out trumps, never failing to impress on all fronts.

As a travel mart aimed primarily at the leisure travel trade, movement can only be a good thing, it allows those in the industry to see and experience different destinations on an annual basis, ensuring we are all kept in touch with the latest developments of each country.

So how was the PATA Travel Mart 2003 - did PATA manage to revitalise the show, build confidence in its future? There is one simple answer to this question and that is, yes, they surpassed it.

Granted the 2003 PATA Travel Mart was not the busiest travel mart you will attend, but that did not matter as the quality of buyers attending the show was simply excellent.

The 2003 PATA Travel Mart attracted some 190 buyers, 213 exhibitors and 92 media from all over the world. For this show though, numbers mean nothing, and quality means everything. If an exhibition or mart can attract such quality buyers, then it is sure to succeed, as that is what the exhibitors or sellers are looking for, someone they can do some serious business with.

Not all however was positive, PATA needs to do some work with its partners, mainly the airlines who offered special rates but were unwilling to change itineraries or upgrade even though some buyers offered cash to do so. With such quality buyers it must be understood that business class or even first in some cases is generally a way of life, and being forced by the airline into economy is a not a wise business decision.

These however are small matters that we are sure PATA will work out. It has already proved that it has overcome much greater problems and has been able to revitalise one of Asia's oldest and much needed travel exhibitions, and next years mart held in Bangkok is expected to be even better.


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