AirAsia became the only airline to be represented at the World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015, themed ‘Driving Development Through Tourism’, which took place in Washington DC from the 8-9 December 2015.
The forum was a gathering of global thought leaders and proven achievers to identify new ways to channel growth while addressing the challenges and opportunities of developing the tourism sector in emerging economies.
AirAsia’s presence at the World Bank Group Tourism Forum 2015 solidified the airline as a thought leader in the airline industry, and enabled AirAsia to influence the travel and tourism industry across the globe.
Aireen Omar was part of the first plenary session moderated by Maggie Lake, CNN Anchor & Correspondent to discuss the topic of ‘Tourism for Development’. Other panelists during the plenary session were Sandra Howard, Vice-Minister for Tourism of Colombia; and Christopher J. Nasetta, President & Chief Executive Officer of Hilton Worldwide.
AirAsia’s regional connectivity was used as an example of how connecting a region can contribute to development including providing affordable travel to the people, growing small and medium enterprises as well as to spur economic growth.
Among the points highlighted by Aireen Omar include the importance of changing mindsets and embracing a regional approach to tourism development beyond national borders; as well as the need for governments to work together to create harmonization and create faster growth for tourism players throughout the region.
She also emphasized on the importance for the Asean region to have the ASEAN Open Skies, ASEAN Single Aviation Market and ASEAN Economic Community to improve the region’s travel and tourism industry.
Apart from that, she also urged the World Bank to create more awareness of the role of tourism in alleviating poverty and speeding up economic growth, promote regionalization and provide funds for programs that support tourism and aviation.
The inaugural World Bank Group Tourism Forum was attended by Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank Group President, as well as tourism ministers and other top ministry officials from across the globe, along with top private tourism industry players.