Tsunami Disaster Recovery on Agenda for Major Aviation and Tourism Summit in Singapore

Travel News Asia 21 January 2005

Airlines, airports, tourism organisations and government agencies should capitalise on their experience in dealing with Constant Shocks by working together on a recovery strategy following the tsunami disaster, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation says.

Peter Harbison, the Centres Managing Director, urged the key stakeholders in the aviation and tourism industries to act collectively to expedite the recovery process in south-western Asia.

The need for a coordinated response to the tsunami disaster and other crises that directly impact on tourism will be addressed by a cross-industry panel, including representatives from the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Starwood Hotels and Resorts and the Abacus group at the Asia Pacific & Middle East Aviation and Tourism Outlook 2005 Conference in Singapore next week.

This type of external and, for the aviation and tourism industries, uncontrollable setback is difficult to prepare for and can be almost equally difficult to recover from, Mr Harbison said.

Air travel is a fragile commodity that depends on perceptions of safety the so-called fear factor and, increasingly, value for money. Exposure to global or regional upheavals, as experienced in recent years, often has an immediate, damaging impact. However, as the Constant Shock Syndrome has afflicted the region over recent years, both industries have accumulated experience in coordinating effective recovery programs.

The regions recovery from SARS, for example, was much more rapid than most would have predicted, materialising in a substantial way within months of the pandemic being brought under control. Mr Harbison says that this was a product of multilateral and cross-industry efforts to address the perception issue and limit the direct effects on the most vulnerable markets.

Harbison said that, given the recurrence of setbacks, be it fuel prices, general economic downturns, terrorist attacks, or even tsunamis, and the fact that the impact flows through to aviation and tourism ahead of any other sectors, there can be no excuse for any segment of the industry failing to institute:

* preventive, or at least protective, procedures across a range of likely eventualities; and
* recovery procedures when the unpredictable and unpreventable occurs.

An event such as the December 2004 tsunami or even on its first appearance SARS, is extremely difficult to prepare for. However, insofar as Constant Shocks should now be built into planning by the regions airlines, airports and the tourism industry alike, we argue that there should be a much higher priority placed on recovery planning, at each of the following levels:

* corporate/organisation;
* government; and
* multilateral industry groups.

And, more importantly, this planning and subsequent implementation should be coordinated. For example, in recovering from the effects of the Bali bombings, there was relatively good coordination across each of these entities and the results were positive.

With subsequent shocks, such as the massively damaging SARS phenomenon, the action and coordination processes once again improved. Post-tsunami action appears to be under way, which will further improve the collective ability to respond to shocks. But there is still much to be done.

The two-day conference begins on Monday, January 24, at the Suntec centre in Singapore with a keynote address by the Singapore Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Yeo Cheow Tong, followed by a presentation by Mr Harbison of the Centres Outlook 2005 report on the prospects for airlines, airports and tourism in the year ahead.

More than 200 delegates from all segments of the aviation and tourism industries, and government, are expected to attend the conference which will examine the outlook and expectations for airlines, airports and aviation and tourism in general for 2005.

The speakers on Day 1 include Andrew Herdman, Director-General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, Abdul Wahab Teffaha, the Secretary-General of the Arab Air Carriers Association, and Andrew Ma, the Regional Director Pacific Region of Airports Council International. Regional discussion panels will also be held with a range of industry chiefs, including the head of Qantas Geoff Dixon and Chief Executive of AirAsia Tony Fernandes.

Ajay Prasad, the Secretary for Civil Aviation in India, Chew Choon Seng, the Chief Executive of Singapore Airlines, and Professor Liu Weimin, the Director Centre for Aviation Law, CAAC Management Institute in China, will provide keynote addresses on Day 2.

The Centre will also hold its 2nd Annual Asia Pacific Low Cost Airline Symposium at the Suntec complex in Singapore on January 26 and 27 following the Outlook conference. This will feature the heads of most of the low-cost airline operations across the region, discussing their strategies and other developments.

See other recent news regarding: Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation

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