KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – Representatives from national tourism organizations, airlines and airports around the world were among the 2,500 delegates at the 14th World Route Development Forum (Routes) gathered here in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. They witnessed the inaugural Tourism and Air Services Development Summit (TAASS), which was jointly launched by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Routes.

The first-ever conference dedicated specifically to the vital link between development of tourism, airlines and airports, TAASS will focus on the three-way relationship between national tourism organizations, airlines and airports and their involvement in air services development.

PATA chair Janice Antonso said launching of TAASS is not timely during the present “critical time,” but it is an opportunity for delegates to share ideas, and together find solutions to the issues everyone is facing. “When many tourism authorities tend to leave relations with airlines to their local airport, TAASS offers an ideal platform to address the most pressing issues faced by the industry during then present vital times.”

Industry delegates shared their thoughts and opinions on present “pressing” issues, including destinations and impact of high oil prices faced by tourism authorities, airlines and airport operators.

“The subjects for discussion are very timely for all concerned,” said John Grant, Airport Strategy & Marketing managing director. “Issues such as the impact of fuel prices will obviously be high on everyone’s agenda, but I am particularly interested in some of the other issues, such as stakeholder support in the development of sustainable, environmentally sound tourism.”

To be held annually, TAASS will also be on the agenda of the second summit at the Routes Regional Americas 2009, in Cancun, Mexico on February 15-17, 2009.

Routes is the world’s largest gathering of airport operators, airline destination planners, airlines and industry suppliers.