Are there any potential pitfalls to future growth on the horizon?We do not forecast any slowdown in tourism growth for 2008. In fact, we think it’ll be a bullish year for the industry, provided the year stays relatively ‘calm’ in the socio-political sense.
Are Asia-Pacific’s airlines and airports equipped to cope with long-term growth?
The phenomenal growth in air traffic means the capacity crunch is a global issue shared by all airports. There is no doubt that airports in many destinations will be greatly challenged with the projected growth in tourism – mainly driven by Asia-Pacific – during the remainder of this decade. The situation is a little healthier when it comes to airlines, with new, large, long-haul aircraft coming on line. The growth of low-fare airlines connecting new city pairs is also helping the industry cope with the passenger surplus on these routes.
Are airlines – and the travel industry in general – doing enough to protect the environment?
Airlines, if anything, are doing more than their share. Great advances have been made to create lower emission engines and biofuel is being tested. Destinations, airports, tour operators and hotel groups have begun to step up to the plate with innovative technologies and new initiatives and have adapted products to reduce our industry’s carbon footprint. When comparing the travel and tourism industry with other global industries, it is fair to say that we are probably ahead of other sectors in addressing the ‘climate change’ challenge. On April 29-30 this year, we will convene the ‘PATA CEO challenge: confronting climate change’ in Bangkok. This is an industry-led, solutions-driven event for all stakeholders to share best practices and co-operate on carbon emissions reduction initiatives, projects and technologies. Your readers are warmly invited to join us!
How can the ‘hassle factor’ be taken out of flying?
It’s not so much the flying that’s a hassle, it’s the hassle before and after. Firstly, we must adopt, as quickly as possible, the latest biometric technologies to screen passengers. The sooner our governments and industry invest in these, the sooner we will reduce the queues and, importantly, eliminate the randomness of passenger screening.
What impact has the explosion of LCCs had on air travel across the region?
If you bear in mind that Asia’s rapidly developing middle class is still a segment with
limited disposable income and discretionary funds for leisure activities, the LCCs have made domestic and regional travel possible to these many millions of first time air travellers on limited budgets. As a result, they have helped develop new destinations and connected new city pairs, adding regional access, connectivity, employment and empowerment. Increasingly, traditional carriers are matching the ‘LCC type’ offers, so the future looks bright for the tens of millions of new travellers coming out of Asia.
What impact do you envisage the Olympics will have on traffic/tourism growth to Beijing and China?
In the lead up to, during and after the Beijing Olympics, China is expected to experience unprecedented tourism. Fortunately for our region, many travellers will use the occasion to stop off on their way to and from China – yet another reason to be bullish about Asia-Pacific travel and tourism in 2008.
This article features in Routes News 2008 Issue 1