The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) today presented the PATA Award of
Merit to three travel industry leaders, during the 53rd PATA Annual Conference on
Jeju. The award is reserved for individuals who have consistently contributed to
PATA and the PATA chapter network over an extended period.
The first 2004 Award of Merit went to Universal Travel Systems President, Mr
Klaus Billep. For 40 years, Mr. Billep upheld the highest standards of professionalism in his career with and for PATA. He organised the first chapters’
out-of-country workshops, including bringing 300 agents to Korea (ROK) in 1965.
In addition, he conceived the Southern California PATA Pacific Showcase, which
was a successful event for 22 years.
The second 2004 Award of Merit went to Mr. Hiran Cooray of Jetwing Travel in Sri
Lanka. Mr. Cooray, as PATA Sri Lanka Chapter Chairman since the year 2000, led
the Chapter to a 2003 PATA Award of Excellence. PATA has also benefited from
Mr. Cooray’s spirit of volunteerism – he currently sits on the Sustainable Tourism
Committee, Industry Council and PATA Travel Mart Advisory Committee.
The third 2003 PATA Award of Merit went to Mr. Tony Thirlwell, who was
previously Chief Executive of Tourism New South Wales and Managing Director of
the Australian Tourist Commission. Mr. Thirlwell has contributed at the highest
levels to Australia’s travel and tourism industry. He has also worked tirelessly for
PATA in the capacities of Board Member and Government Committee Chairman.