Billep Recipient of 2004 Award of Merit

Congratulations to Klaus Billep , President of Universal Travel System and our longtime Executive Director, who was awarded at PATA's 53rd Annual Conference in Jeju, Korea with the 2004 Award of Merit. Klaus has upheld the highest standards of professionalism in his career with and for PATA. He was a longtime PATA International Board Member.


Peter Semone (right) presents award to Klaus Billep
L to R: Linda Matthies (SoCal PATA Board Member), Monica Poling (KNTC), Jim Ferguson (PATA Director, the Americas), Lorelli Embry (Travel writer) and Peter Semone.

L to R: Peter Semone, Ms. Dhiraj Bhalla (Assist Dir., India Tourist Office Los Angeles), Klaus Billep, Veena Sadana (Travel Syndicate) and Jim Ferguson.

PATA Vice President/Development, Peter Semone, Bangkok, presented an overview of the organization’s plans for chapter integration at the SoCal Chapter’s Annual General Meeting on June 15, 2004, at the elegant new banquet facilities of the Luxe Summit Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles.

He also made the formal presentation of the 2004 PATA Award of Merit to SoCal PATA Executive Director Klaus Billep, President of Universal Travel System, who was unable to attend the 53rd PATA Annual Conference in April on Jeju Island, Korea, to accept the Award.

The Award was presented to Billep for his dedicated services and contributions to PATA for over 40 years. He was the organizer of the SoCal PATA Chapter in 1965.

A three-year Chapters Integration Plan was approved by the PATA Board of Directors at the Jeju Conference. Semone explained how PATA is returning to its roots – its basic premise – to strengthen the organization, in keeping with the changes in tourism and travel patterns within the member countries.

Semone emphasized how the chapter network has connected the organization with local markets, travel distribution channels, the media and consumers. Chapters will continue to play a critical role in the development of travel and tourism in Asia Pacific, he said.

“As the world of travel changes, we need to ensure that all our chapters are helping to achieve our new strategic objectives and directions,” Semone explained. The Plan seeks to grow the number of Chapter members signing on as PATA members by 2007. PATA is introducing a new membership category specifically catering to retail (outbound) travel agents.

Semone's presentation was followed by a lively question-and-answer period by SoCal PATA members. Semone is making a similar presentation before other Chapters in the Western U.S. Full details about the Chapters Integration Plan will be forthcoming.