Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd
Walter L. Keats is the President and Founder of Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd. (APTL), a tour operator specializing in custom, upscale individual and small group travel to East Asia. APTL was one of the first U.S. tour operators to arrange commercial tours to China beginning in 1978 and was designated as the sole agent in the U.S. for the Korea International Travel Company (KITC) in North Korea. After making 29 trips to the DPRK between 1995 and 2012, Mr. Keats was banned by the North Koreans, apparently for having arranged for a Stanford professor to visit the DPRK in 2007 who later wrote a book that portrayed the DPRK in a negative light (and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2013).
From 1989-1996 Mr. Keats was the Midwest Representative for the Macau Tourist Information Bureau, and the U.S./Canadian Representative for the Macau Government Tourist Office through 1997. He also served as the North American representative of the AACVB (Asian Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus). He is a member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the American Society of Travel Agents, the China Roundtable of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and a director of the Harvard Club of Chicago. He has been a member of the U.S.-Japan Tourism Export Expansion Initiative, and the Association of Official Tourist Offices.
Mr. Keats has been involved in tourism promotion to Asia as a people to people activity since 1978, and has been a frequent visitor there since 1972, meeting with people in all walks of life. Although he began his international activities doing trade with China in the late 1970s, tourism proved to be a more enjoyable and satisfying career. Today tourism has become a major generator of foreign exchange, investment, jobs and infrastructure for developing countries.
Mr. Keats attended Harvard College, majoring in Social Anthropology, and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He earned his Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) designation and his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation.