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PATA? No Thanks!

BLTF believes that PATA / The Pacific Asia Travel Association is not a true travel association in that it chiefly even solely represents the interests of the travel industry "professional", rather than the interests of the traveling public, etc. This has been denied by PATA through its lawyers, Cooper, White & Cooper LLP of San Francisco in spite of the fact it seems perfectly clear PATA's own web site content, media reports, PATA's own Trademark registration details and PATA's attitude show them to be a subscription based industry marketing intelligence company and nothing substantially more.

BLTF believes PATA promoting itself as a true travel association is detrimental to the interests of the traveling public in that evidence indicates PATA membership equates to marketing over compassion and revenue over ethics. BLTF's owner, Mark Austin, after having an existing grievance with PATA over their removing and rescinding their membership code of conduct following his complaint against one of PATA's favored members (PT Bali Discovery Tours) was horrified when he read the official announcement emails sent out by PATA after the Bali October 1st 2005 bombings; these were completely devoid of any condolences or sympathy for the victims of those attacks. The emails instead clearly were focused on business level damage appraisals. Mark feels these emails are nothing if not callous and made him want to look further at the truth behind the name "PATA".

Mark Austin believed, as probably most people would / do too, that the Pacific Asia Travel Association by token of its name is exactly that, an association equally for all people connected or concerned with tourism in that region; but the facts show this to be false. It seems that PATA not only misrepresents itself but actually provides less concern and / or protection than other travel industry associations who are totally accurate about describing what they are. For example ABTA (The Association of British Travel Agents), as well as clearly being an accurately described industry association for travel agents, has stringent criteria for and requires significant investment from its members to protect the interests of their customers; PATA does not. It seems the only criteria for membership to PATA is to have some connection to the travel industry within the Pacific Rim and / or Asia and to pay PATA's membership fees. Further, PATA's membership fees appear less like a membership fee and more like a marketing data subscription fee.

Although BLTF's owner has no issue over PATA's existence as a travel industry marketing intelligence company with an association or rather subscription based aspect to their business, he believes the trading style / name "Pacific Asia Travel Association" to be at best misleading, at worst fraudulent. BLTF's owner believes he has legal cause for complaint against PATA (actually Pacific Asia Travel Association Incorporated of Oakland, California, USA) on the basis they are feigning something they are not and with it giving unfair credibility to their business associates detrimental to his own personal and commercial interests. BLTF believes that this Californian corporation should not be allowed to trade as it does and should be either renamed to, at the very least, The Pacific Asia Travel Industry Association or better still the Pacific Asia Travel Industry Marketing Association, or should conduct itself as a true travel association.

BLTF' s owner believes PATA members enjoy an unfair and unjustified knee jerk beneficial reaction from the general traveling public because they assume, as he used to, that PATA members belong to a true, wider interest, higher level travel association. However, after studying PATA's own web site and the apparently very clear, possibly outdated (too aggressive) marketing messages it seemingly promotes, BLTF believes that PATA members should be treated with more caution by travelers than travel companies who are not PATA members. After all, BLTF's owner could find absolutely nothing that shows PATA do anything credible for travelers except likely cost them more money on the basis PATA members may likely sell harder as a result of the marketing intelligence they receive and actually charge their customers more to cover their membership / subscription charges. Also, even as an industry marketing corporation PATA's intelligence and advice to its members may in fact be counter productive to its members. BLTF believes what both the travel industry and the traveling public needs is the same thing in these increasingly educated times; standards and information before marketing. BLTF believes SE Asia needs and a true travel association should have high minimum customer protection and information standards for for membership, not PATA's apparent style of marketing and little or nothing else more.

BLTF's owner has written to PATA disputing their legal right to use the name they do and has produced a web site, PATA? No Thanks?, now under threat of legal action by PATA's lawyers, Cooper, White & Cooper LLP. BLTF's owner is also having PATA's trading investigated / analyzed to determine whether they are in fact a true non-profit organization as they claim but as certain even all available facts cast doubt upon. Mark plans to take legal action against PATA once this investigation is complete (it was delayed because Cooper, White & Cooper LLP refused requests to provide their client's full registration details) primarily / at least to try and have them change their name and trading style so it does not mislead the public as he believes it very much does now.