Good News on AirAsia

Imtiaz Mugbil, editor of 

Travel Impact Newswire, 

is a perceptive and articulate commentator on the tourism industry with a deep knowledge the Asia-Pacific region. This article from the Bangkok Post highlights a recent meeting which exposes the depth of impact from the region's long term commitment to inclusive tourism:

The meeting [an  Aug 19-20 meeting on South-to-South Cooperation on Disability] was organised by UN Escap in cooperation with the Asia-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

The objective was to assess progress made by countries in implementing the projects and programmes under the second Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012 and to look into the prospects of initiating a Third Decade.

Tanin Kraivixien, the APCD president, said that for the first time, the focus of this year's meeting was the Asean sub-region in order to help create a sub-regional mechanism to cooperate in developing legislation and policies related to equal opportunities and inclusive development for PwDs.

He added: "The Asean sub-region can be a model sub-region to promote disability and development policies and legislation."

Noting that the APCD has more than 1,000 ex-trainees and approximately 200 associate organisations in Asia Pacific, Mr Tanin said that this year's meeting was "epoch-making since the social business sector has been invited to join."

AirAsia was represented by Kenneth Chan, chief for guest services, along with representatives from the Mall of Asia in Manila, Standard Chartered Bank, amongst others.

Mr Chan acknowledged that AirAsia's policies when it first began operations were not all inclusive. Guests with reduced mobility were not appropriately catered for. However, after representatives from organisations of people with reduced mobility met with AirAsia to challenge its "everyone can fly" slogan, the airline admitted it had been wrong and decided to fix it.

The result was an "inclusive" policy that seeks to boost the human capital development of staff as well as enhance the services and facilities offered to passengers. The airline also decided to "champion the cause of guests with reduced mobility with government authorities, airport management, ministries, etc."

Stressing that a lot more can be done by the region's airports to install better facilities and services for PwDs, Mr Chan said AirAsia "engages in constant dialogues with organisations representing people with reduced mobility to gauge travel needs and requirements - these may change with the course of time, and we have to be very up to date to render the best services."

Nanda Krairiksh, director for social development of Escap, hailed the contribution of key innovators from the private sector who had been invited to offer their expertise and share their experiences.

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