History of the Southern California Chapter of PATA

The seeds of Southern California PATA were planted in 1965 by a steering committee of local travel executives who wanted to encourage interest in the Pacific area. With the cooperation of Marvin Plake, then Executive Vice President of PATA International in San Francisco, the Los Angeles Chapter became the third promotional chapter to form in North America — following New York in 1962 and the Midwest Chapter in 1964.

Don McCurdy, then with Matson Lines, was appointed chairman of the new Chapter. Other members of the original board were Vice Chairman Shigeo Yamada, Japan Air Lines; Secretary George Howling, Malaysia-Singapore Airlines; and Treasurer George Tibbets, Hilton International. The first general membership meeting was held at General Lee's in Chinatown on November 19th 1965, drawing 150 local agents and suppliers who paid $3.60 each for dinner.

As interest in the chapter grew to include outlying areas; the name was changed from Los Angeles Chapter to Southern California Chapter of PATA. Initial membership was sixty. Today it totals over 1,000 including individual members representing approximately 800 organizations. It is the largest of the association's seventy-seven world-wide chapters. Since its beginning, Southern California PATA has set a standard of excellence and professionalism earning recognition as a pacesetter among other chapters. Each meeting is organized around two precepts: to provide an educational platform and to stimulate interest in the Pacific region as a vacationland.

The first destination to present a program at a chapter meeting was Fiji in 1969-flying in a native dance group to perform for the membership. Since then almost every other PATA country has participated. Many firsts are recorded in chapter files, including the first Out-of-Country workshop to be held in the Pacific. Almost seventy-five members traveled to Tahiti and Moorea in August 1972. In 1974, Tom Cermola, then with Singapore Airlines, and Klaus Billep, Universal Travel System, headed an Out-of-Country workshop planning committee resulting in a string of successful educational seminars held in Seoul 1974; Manila, 1975, Taipei, 1976; Singapore, 1976; Fiji, 1977; Malaysia, 1978; Hong Kong/Macau, 1979; Taipei, 1980; Papua New Guinea, 1980; Korea, 1980 and Thailand, also in 1980. Numerous destinations have been added since then.

The highlight of the Manila workshop was a private audience with President Ferdinand Marcos at Malacanang Palace. Following the first workshop in Seoul, Korea invited nearly every other PATA chapter for a program patterned after the Southern California Chapter's successful format. Now as a result of the workshop held in Singapore, industry members formed their own PATA chapter.

To provide each of these host countries with feedback on the workshops and recommendations for future programs, Suzanne Hamilton, with Harris Kerr, Forster Company at the time, and the research committee chairman for the chapter, devised a questionnaire/survey to be completed by workshop participants following each workshop. Southern California PATA began distributing the results of each survey to the tourist offices, hotels and suppliers involved in each workshop in 1978. This policy continues.

In November of 1976, the Southern California chapter became incorporated as a non-profit organization and the by-laws were rewritten based on the Hallmark of Excellence of PATA International. At the PATA Conference in India, the Southern California Chapter and the United States Tourist Service extended an invitation to the PATA Board of Directors to hold their 1981 Conference in the United States with Los Angeles as the convention venue and San Francisco as the workshop site. The 30th Annual PATA Conference convened of February 17 with Chapter day 81 kicking off the festivities.