Andrew Jones is the Chairperson of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). He grew up in the hotel business, as his parents managed Country Inns and Restaurants in the United Kingdom. Over the past 40 years, Andrew has worked in a number of senior management and corporate positions in prestigious hotels, resorts and management companies in London, Bermuda, Canada and several countries in Asia. He is also the Guardian of Sanctuary Resorts, a company that offers responsible and sustainable tourism experiences where people can balance their body, mind and spirit in an environmentally friendly space that he founded in 1996.
Andrew is a leading proponent of Corporate Social Responsibility and Wellness in Tourism, and a knowledgeable Key Speaker, Moderator and Panelist on matters of Responsible and Sustainable Tourism at many Hotel, Environment and Social Enterprise Forums and Conferences, as well as Universities and Vocational Schools.
In an interview with Tourism News Digest (TND), Andrew talks about tourism in the Asia Pacific Region and the post-quake tourism industry in Nepal, among others. Excerpts:
TND: Could you please brief us about the travel trend in the Asia Pacific region?
Jones: The Asia Pacific region is the fastest growing travel market with many countries within the region experiencing double digit growth. However, it is also true that it is becoming a very competitive environment. In order to stay competitive, destinations have to share their uniqueness, authenticity and be creative in the way they promote themselves.
TND: Do you think Nepal has done the needful for post-quake recovery? What should Nepal do to bring more tourists?
Jones: I believe that the stakeholders in the tourism industry in Nepal, and overseas supporters, have been working diligently to try to increase exposure to the many great attractions in the country and tourism in general to Nepal.
The working relationships between the public and private sector organizations continue to improve and in doing so new initiatives are being born, such as the Himalayan Travel Mart and Experience Nepal Tourism Campaign, as well as on other online platforms.
As was mentioned in the PATA Task Force Report, Nepal also has an abundance of opportunities to expand and promote the variety of different experiences to be enjoyed in the country, and it is timely to do so, which can help develop new segments and mix of tourists to the destinations.
Additional infrastructure maintenance and development would also help improve services and facilities for tourists.
TND: What should Nepal do to tap the growing millennial segment?
Jones: A research done by PATA two years ago entitled ‘The Rise of Young Asian Travelers’ had identified that millennials are in search of local, authentic experiences. They want to live like a local and embed themselves in local culture. Nepal is rich in culture, and the local industry needs to find ways to showcase its uniqueness and share it where millennials are, online and on social media!
TND: Does PATA have any plan to help Nepal for development of tourism during this tough time that Nepal is going through?
Jones: One example of how PATA has been working with the Nepal Tourism Board is that NTB representatives have recently joined the PATA Academy in Bangkok to learn about ‘The Art of Storytelling’. We hope that this is one step forward to help Nepali officials learn about the importance of telling its unique stories.
We believe that continuing such engagements with PATA, the PATA Nepal Chapter and bringing together both the public and private sector can further support the development of Nepali tourism industry. PATA has also offered to help Nepal with the development of marketing plans and training whenever needed.
TND: How do you think the Himalayan Travel Mart that PATA Nepal Chapter is organizing will fare?
Jones: I am sure that with the support of the government, NTB and all the other tourism organizations, the Himalayan Travel Mart 2017 initiative formulated by the PATA Nepal Chapter will be a successful event, and an opportunity to showcase the many attractions, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and unique cultures and cuisines to be experienced in Nepal.
TND: How will PATA headquarters support this program?
Jones: PATA headquarters has offered its assistance in sourcing speakers, and also will help in promoting the Himalayan Travel Mart to its members and global network.
TND: Do you have anything to share with potential Nepal visitors?
Jones: I have been to Nepal many times over the years and always enjoyed my visits to the country. The people have always been very generous in their hospitality. I am sure, any visitor coming to Nepal will also experience genuinely warm and friendly interactions with the local communities, and be equally stimulated by the variety of experiences to be gained, and captivated by the natural beauty of the country.