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Sun 24 Feb 2008 01:45 PM

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PATA and ATN launch agent training day

Qatar Airways will fly in agents from across the GCC to attend the event at InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City on March 16.

ATN has joined forces with The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Qatar Airways to run a mega training day for GCC travel agents.

The partners have sent out invitations to 300 travel agents across the region inviting them to the event, which will be staged at the brand new InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City on March 16.

The key aim of the initiative, which is being organised in conjunction with PATA's GCC representation company, Fusion Marketing, is to educate the trade on how to sell Asia Pacific destinations to both business and leisure travellers.

With this in mind, the event will feature informal presentations from five tourism boards - Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand and Malaysia.

Fusion marketing executive director and PATA;s regional director Nicki Page, said the PATA event was being staged in response to positive agent and tourism board feedback from a similar smaller-scale session staged for UAE agents in April last year.

"PATA's objectives in the region are the faciliation of business to from and within Asia Pacific and this event gives a great platform to talk with the industry to better support their understanding of what's new in Asia Pacific, as relevant to the outbound Gulf traveller We aim with our partners to make this a yearly event," she added.

Rather than showing the agents promotional videos and giving power point presentations, the training day will be interactive and involve question and answer sessions involving the tourism board and the trade, explained Gemma Greenwood, the senior group editor of ITP Business, which publishes Arabian Travel News.

"There will also be quizzes to ensure agents are making the most of the training opportunity and prizes from the tourism boards, Qatar Airways and IHG will be up for grabs," she said.

"This is a prime opportunity for agents to brush up on their Asia Pacific knowledge and learn how to better sell the many destinations this vibrant region has to offer their clients."

Event organisers are currently lining up a dynamic keynote speaker to kick off the event, while both Qatar Airways and IHG will give presentations aimed at helping agents sell their products and services.

In addition, an afternoon panel session involving key industry professionals from the region will debate several relevant topics, ranging from zero commission to medical tourism opportunities.

The training day is also supported by the Business Travel Show Dubai, which aims to "help facilitate further discussion about the importance of business travel to and from the Middle East into Asia Pacific," according to event director at UK-based Centaur Exhibitions, Sally Maltby.

Travel agents from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman have been invited to the event, which is by invitation only.

However, expressions of interest in attending the event should be e-mailed to cc@fusion-mgt.com.

Agents attending from outside the UAE will be flown to Dubai on March 15 by Qatar Airways and hosted for one night at the InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City, which is located 2km from Dubai airport and boasts 498 rooms, including 121 suites, three Presidential Suites and one Royal Suite.

The agent training day partners and ATN's sister publication Meetings Industry Middle East are also joining forces to stage a similar seminar for corporate clients on June 14-15 with the aim of showcasing meetings and incentives facilities and services in Asia Pacific.

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