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A DDP PUBLICATION

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travtalkmiddleeast.com

Vol. IX No. 12; December 2013

Al Maktoum International Airport opens ............................................................02 Record arrivals for Thailand Tourism ..................................................................04  Meet, network and negotiate@WTM 2013 ........................................................08  

Dubai wins bid to host Expo 2020 As Dubai wins the rights to host Expo 2020, Middle East looks at 2013 in hindsight. Standing at the verge of new year, the travel and tourism industry leaders shared their overall experience, summing up the trends of the year that has gone by and projecting future trends for the year 2014. S U S M I TA G H O S H

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oral Beach Resort, Sharjah appeals to both existing markets in Russia, CIS states, Western Europe and the GCC, and also emerging destinations because of its beach location and a wide range of services and activities, which help drive business. “New markets will come on-stream as Sharjah Tourism Authorities continue

Expo 2020 In Focus Dubai celebrated its success on November 27 as it won the rights to host World Expo 2020. It was chosen over the other contesting countries of Brazil, Russia and Turkey. The expo site chosen for the event is located between the international airports of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Every five years and for a period of six months, World Expos attract millions of visitors. The World Expo has never been held in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia

to widen the appeal of the Emirate, positioning it strongly on the world map as a family and cultural destination,” informed Jean-Pierre Simon, Regional General Manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts. “Business remained almost the same like 2012, rather has been better compared to. The new trend that was witnessed this year was the increased flow from GCC, especially from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as far as our hotel’s nationality mix indicates. The first and last quarter, we saw the same trend of business that is usually expected, which is a CIS market.” Coral Beach resort is keen to uplift its offerings by adding more services, like water sports, better relaxation and rejuvenation facilities and also better food and beverage options. “A key contributor is the consistent growth in airline capacity to the UAE. For instance, Air Arabia increased its passenger loads overall by 16 per cent in the first half of 2013, while upping the number of

Jean-Pierre Simon

David Brown

Russel G H Sharpe

Abraham Joseph

Regional General Manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts

General Manager Fraser Suites, Dubai

COO, Citymax Hotels Landmark Hospitality

Area Manager, Kenya Airways South Asia & Middle East

A key contributor is the consistent growth in airline capacity to the UAE

services from Ukraine to Sharjah from seven to 17 weekly services this month. flydubai too has doubled its network in Russia and introduced additional flights

Occupancies continue to climb, and trading during summer 2013 showed an improvement

from Ukraine this year,” added Simon. Every year at this time, Frasers Hospitality launches special offers which include

More bookings are coming from online channels rather than traditional booking channels

complimentary suite upgrades, breakfast, late check-out and special amenities. This year the hotel launched a mobile app enabling guests to book

Because of the Dubai-Hong Kong flights, we had a substantial growth in business

anytime, anywhere, and receive the latest updates about new property openings and promotions. Contd. on page 6 


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AVIATION

TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

Al Maktoum International Airport opens

Qatar Airways boosts capacity Dubai’s highly anticipated second airport, Al Maktoum International, opened to passenger to Colombo traffic following its official inauguration and the welcoming of the first commercial flight on October 27, 2013. This will develop Jebel Ali as an industrial and logistics hub. T T B U R E AU

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he future aviation super hub was originally slated to open in mid-2009 but got delayed. Despite its setbacks, cargo services were launched at Al Maktoum International, Dubai World Central (DWC) in June 2010 and since then, Dubai Airports signed several deals with cargo operators, including SkyCargo and Air France-KLM, to shift operations to the new airport. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-

President and Prime Minister, UAE and Ruler of Dubai, welcomed the inauguration of the passenger terminal at Al Maktoum International Airport. He deemed it a platform to develop Jebel Ali as an industrial and a logistics hub that contributes to Dubai’s development in all aspects and diversify the UAE’s economy.

following the unveiling of a commemorative display and welcomed the arrival of the first commercial flight, Wizz Air flight W6 2497 from Budapest, Hungary. Gulf Air and Jazeera Airlines will commence operations soon. “Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

A large delegation of local dignitaries and aviation officials toured the facility

President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports

Central will play a vital role in the future development of Dubai as a centre for trade, commerce, transport, logistics and tourism. I am impressed by the efficiency and convenience of this new terminal,” said Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai

Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central will play a vital role in the future development of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman of Dubai Airports.

The new passenger terminal offers full retail as well as food & beverage amenities. It is serviced by one A380 capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands and has a capacity for up to 7 million passengers per year. By 2020, the international airport is expected to have upto four passenger terminals with an annual passenger capacity of 160 million. Dubai Airports has thus far confirmed operations with three airlines. Wizz Air, which provides low-cost air transport across 30 countries with 16 bases across Europe, will provide non-stop services linking DWC to Central and Eastern Europe. Jazeera Airways has commenced operations with two weekly flights starting October end this year. Most recently, Gulf Air has announced its intention to start daily operations to Bahrain on December 8, 2013.

Airways  Qatar announced on November 26, a significant increase in capacity to Sri Lanka – with one of its triple-dailyflights to capital city Colombo. The Airline has expanded from a narrowbodied Airbus 320 to the airline’s flagship widebodied Boeing 777. The service will begin on January 1, 2014. Ajay Jacob, Country Manager Sri Lanka, Qatar Airways said that the increase in capacity to Colombo will help in strengthening the airline’s position in the Sri Lankan market. “Colombo remains a popular destination in the carrier’s rising Asia-Pacific network as we currently operate triple-dailyservices to this city. The added capacity means travellers to and from Colombo will have greater access and also an increasingly competitive product like the Boeing 777.”


AVIATION

Celebrating re-launch of flights Malaysian Consulate celebrated the 56th National Day on October 27 along with the recommencement of flights on the Dubai-Kuala Lumpur route. Following an 18-month suspension, the Malaysia Airlines service resumed on August 5, 2013. S U S M I TA G H O S H

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he Malaysian community in Dubai celebrated their 56th National Day on October 27, alongside the successful relaunch of the Dubai – Kuala

Malaysia Airlines resumed its daily direct Dubai-Kuala Lumpur flights on August 5, 2013 following an 18-month suspension in January 2012. A two-class configured Boeing 777-200 aircraft will be operated

Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand from Dubai. Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, the Malaysian Consul General and Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, UAE, led the ceremonial cake cutting, together with the members of the diplomatic corps at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Group CEO, Malaysia Airlines said, “Dubai is one of the most sought after destinations in the world today.

(From left) Duncan Bureau, Senior Vice President – Sales & Distribution, Malaysia Airlines, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Group CEO, Malaysia Airlines, Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, Consul General of Malaysia, Dubai, Azizan Noordin, Deputy Director General (Planning), Tourism Malaysia and Azahar Hamid, Regional Senior Vice President- South Asia & Middle East, Malaysia Airlines

Lumpur air service of its national carrier, Malaysia Airlines. Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is the national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya.

on this route and it will offer a total capacity of 282 seats in each flight, equivalent to 3,948 seats weekly. The Airline offers direct non-stop service to Malaysia with connectivity to the

We are proud to have resumed the relation with the recommencement of the Dubai-Kuala Lumpur route and see this as the beginning of a long, healthy and beneficial relationship benefitting both countries in promoting tourism. Passenger traffic over the past two months has been very encouraging.”

The National Day celebrations got further impetus with Tourism Malaysia showcasing Malaysian culture and cuisine in Dubai by organising the Malaysia Food and Cultural week in Dubai from November 1 - 7, 2013. Prior to the Malaysia Food and Cultural Week, a gala evening was held on October 30 at Grand Hyatt, Dubai jointly organised by Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS). Malaysia is currently preparing to usher in Visit Malaysia Year, set to take place in 2014. The food and cultural week aims to boost arrivals and receipts to 28 million and RM 76 bn (USD 24.5 bn) respectively in 2014. In 2012, a total of 18, 233 tourists from the UAE visited Malaysia, while the first half of 2013 recorded 7,804 tourists from this market. Malaysia also welcomed 370,535 West Asian tourists to the country in 2012, an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the previous year.

Emirates and Corsair sign interline agreement  Emirates Airline and French carrier Corsair International have signed an interline agreement that will offer Senegalese travellers seamless connections to the capital of France, Paris. Under the new agreement, customers will be able to purchase joint Emirates-Corsair itineraries, providing them more convenience connecting between Paris and West Africa. By calling their local reservations office, travel agent or booking through the Emirates website, customers will be issued with a single combined ticket for flights operated by Emirates and Corsair International, enabling customers to enjoy one-stop check-in and baggage transfer between the airlines.


GUEST COLUMN EDITORIAL Investments boost ME tourism

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ccording to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) report in August 2013, the Middle East rebounded after two years of negative growth, with an estimated increase of 13 per cent in international arrivals - the highest growth in the region in recent years. During the first half of 2013, more than 5.5 million tourists arrived in Dubai, an 11.1 per cent year-on-year increase. However, 2013 has seen the number of tourists travelling to Egypt drop significantly with 1 million tourists visiting the country until the end of August 2013 - an 80 per cent year-onyear decline. However, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism’s collaboration with Egypt Air, Egypt Express and Smart Air to offer special discounts - will provide a stimulus to the country’s tourism sector. The introduction of a unified visa for the six GCC countries, a mid-2014 move on the anvil, would boost tourism, business and economic activities for the member countries. Meanwhile, the MICE industry, which is a key driver for the region’s tourism sector is set to expand. According to studies conducted by the Abu Dhabi TCA and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, the direct economic impact of MICE business events on Abu Dhabi is expected to grow at 7 per cent per annum to AED5.1 billion between 2013 and 2020. In recent years, while the GCC has collectively played host to millions of tourists, there is still a gap between the opportunity they have and their achievements. Only UAE and Qatar rank in the top three on the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. Therefore, a considerable amount of work remains to be done if the other countries in the region want to increase their share of tourism receipts.

Publisher Director Editor Assistant Editor (ME) Desk Editor Sub Editor Design Business Development Manager Manager Advertising Circulation Manager Manager Production

: SanJeet : Sumeera Bahl : Deepa Sethi : Susmita Ghosh : Archana Sharma : Ramya J.S. D’Rozario : Ruchi Sinha / NN Misra : Crisna De Guzman : Geetika Pathak : Ashok Rana : Anil Kharbanda

Record arrivals for Thailand Tourism Tourism Authority of Thailand has been proactively promoting its new tourism products and services in various international travel exhibitions and conventions – the result: 2013 H1 arrivals up by over 23 per cent. T T B U R E AU

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he Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has been constantly striving to provide updates and announcements of marketing strategies at global events to attract travellers year after year. Our participation in major travel events like ITB, WTM and ATM is testimony to that fact. Tourism Authority of Thailand along with Thai tourism industry annually hosts ‘Thailand Travel Mart Plus, Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion’ (TTM+), the largest B2B event in Thailand. The event, which takes place every year from June 5 -7, is attended by thousands of travel professionals, tour operators, hoteliers, airlines and amusement creators from across the globe. Apart from TTM+, we also organise the Andaman Travel Trade Exhibition, which was held from November 21-23 this year in Phuket. Several other cultural festivals were hosted by us, such as the Songkran festival, Chinese Vegetarian festival and Loi Kratong festival, which are celebrated within the country. Our visitor record sheet has been showcasing some remarkable performance, crossing the 22 million mark for the first time in 2012. From January to June 2013, Thailand visitor arrivals surged to a record total of a little over 13 million, up by 23.09 per cent over the same period in 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. We are confident that if the global, regional and local situation remains stable, Thailand will receive 26.26 million arrivals in 2013, which is over the target of 24.14 million.

bank on them to promote Thailand’s tourism products and services. We train them for the purpose and organise FAM and road trips to accustom to new destinations, products and services. Alongside, we are always coming up with innovative ways to keep our tourists happy and get repeat trav-

especially in the UAE by emphasising on brand awareness of our new trendy tourist products and services as well as new destinations.

Thailand visitor arrivals surged to a little over 13 million, up by 23.09 per cent over the same period in 2012

• To increase the share of middle and upper income tourists in growth markets like the UAE and GCC Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. Bahrain will be our strategic channel to reach the Saudi Arabia market. Roadshows in Oman and Bahrain will be held before ATM 2014.

This is aside from the fact that from January to June 2013, Thailand’s visitors from Middle East had decreased to 317,273, down by 3.38 per cent over the same period in 2012, according to figures published by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. This was mainly due to a decline of visitors from Iran.

Chalermsak Suranant Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai & Middle East Office Our USP of providing visitors with a luxury-travel experience, has been wellestablished for decades now. In recent years, we have seen a surge in the development of new boutique-style, pool-villa properties designed for discerning guests seeking a comfortable, delectable ambience, high-quality individualised service and most importantly, total privacy. These are now proving extremely popular with the wedding and honeymoon market.

ellers as well. The latest in our concept bag to engage travellers is ‘Experiential Holiday’, a concept which invites visitors to discover some of Thailand’s ancient crafts and traditions as well as enjoy the beauty of the country. In locations across Thailand including Bangkok, Chiang Mai and the island of Koh Samui, visitors get to team up with local Thai experts to learn a new art as well as embark upon an inner journey of discovery.

Our health and wellness products, which offer a broad range of both prevention and cure facilities, are also a big hit with the tourists who can avail traditional therapies, East-and-West spa treatments, medical check-ups, anti-aging, detoxification and holistic treatments. Thai hospitals have received international quality standard certification and offer a wide range of services at competitive prices to suit the tourists’ pockets.

Tapping the pulse of the younger generation is one of our priorities and we are utilising social media techniques to reach out to them. We are enhancing our digital marketing, including revamping the TAT Dubai & Middle East website and social media accounts, which are available in three languages - English, Farsi and Arabic.

Local travel agents do occupy a special place in our marketing strategies and we

With a fabulous 2012 and 2013, we are raring to go in the coming years. The target plan for 2014 is as follows: • To increase retention rate and explore new markets

• To focus more on high potential niche markets, i.e., students and corporate travellers in the UAE. Also, to motivate the GCC market for medical tourism in Thailand.

• To expand ‘First Visit’ market in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt by focussing on building brand awareness as well as honeymoon and wellness products and services. • To increase retention rate in the Iran market since the arrival rate have been improving since October 2013.

Chalermsak Suranant Director Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai & Middle East Office

Alila Hotels and Resorts enters ME market  Alila Hotels and Resorts, a leading Asian boutique hotelier, will add three new properties to its lifestyle collection in 2014. It will open

its first property in the Middle East with the opening of Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman, which will open in March. This will be followed

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TRAVTALK is a publication of Durga Das Publications Private Limited. All information in TRAVTALK is derived from sources, which we consider reliable and a sincere effort is made to report accurate information. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. The publisher regret that he cannot accept liability for errors and omissions contained in this publication, however caused. Similarly, opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract and/or in interviews are not necessarily shared by TRAVTALK. However, we wish to advice our readers that one or more recognised authorities may hold different views than those reported. Material used in this publication is intended for information purpose only. Readers are advised to seek specific

by Alila Seminyak, Bali and Alila Fort Bishangarh Jaipur, India in late 2014. Alila Jabal Akhdar will be the first luxury resort in Oman.

advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use, and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. Contents of this publication are copyright. No part of TRAVTALK or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publication in writing. The same rule applies when there is a copyright or the article is taken from another publication. An exemption is hereby granted for the extracts used for the purpose of fair review, provided two copies of the same publication are sent to us for our records. Publications reproducing material either in part or in whole, without permission could face legal action.

The design of the resort is inspired by the Omani culture, evident in its traditional craftsmanship and the use of locally sourced materials.

The publisher assumes no responsibility for returning any material solicited or unsolicited nor is he responsible for material lost or damaged. This publication is not meant to be an endorsement of any specific product or services offered. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw, amend or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian and International Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any damage or loss caused by delayed publication, error or failure of an advertisement to appear.


HOTELS

DECEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

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Brand makeover for growth Hotel hails success at WTM The Grand Excelsior Hotel and Resorts, which took over For wooing tourists, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort the Dhow Palace Hotel, has rebranded it to tackle and Al Maha, in Fujairah, UAE, showcased its renovation competition and boost international corporate arrivals. project at the recently-concluded WTM in London. T T B U R E AU

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fter being in the business for years and leaving footprints in more than one area in Dubai, Grand Excelsior Hotel and Resorts has now taken Dhow Palace Hotel under its wings. Originally opened in 2005, the hotel has officially been renamed as ’Grand Excelsior Hotel Bur Dubai’ since November 1, 2013. The hotel is located in the heart of the business district and its close proximity to Dubai International Airport and Dubai International Exhibition Centre, positions it as the ideal choice for corporate markets. The rebranding is aimed at tackling competition by providing exemplary services and consistent performance, that comes with being part of Bin Haider Hospitality hotels group, a subsidiary of Mohammed Omar Bin Haider Group.

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“The Grand Excelsior Hotel Al Barsha is predominantly operating in the DMC market, the local market and is a dominant player in the online space. Strategically located in the heart of Dubai’s new business district, minutes away from the Mall of Emirates,

we are trying to focus more on the international corporate market and MICE, and that’s what is our main focus for 2014,” informed John Watson, General Manager, Grand Excelsior Hotel, Al Barsha, Dubai. “We believe our location and unique amalgamation of modern and traditional Arabic design will work in our favour. We are looking forward to a buzzing winter market.”

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John Watson General Manager, Grand Excelsior Hotel, Al Barsha, Dubai

The hotel is currently repositioning itself as a luxury brand and will see exciting deals to increase occupancy in summer 2014. It has a strong presence in the local travel trade and aims at focussing on garnering the support of international travel agents. To further its presence in the international scenario, the group set to participate in the DTCM-organised GCC roadshow in December.

he refurbishment of the luxury property, which began in 2012 and cost near AED25 million (US$6.8 million), included a complete redesign of all rooms, encompassing the new Le Meridien brand design concepts and local touches. The remaining rooms will be undergoing renovation in 2014. Patrick Antaki, General Manager, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort and Al Maha, informed, “This is our second consecutive participation at the WTM. This year we have also participated in ITB and Arabian Travel Market, among others. Active participation in regional and international roadshows and travel exhibitions like WTM

Hotel Makeover The renovation included a complete redesign of all rooms, costing AED25mn

allows us to enhance our relationships with tour operators, airline companies and online marketing sites.

Connecting with our partners is always top priority followed by using these exhibitions as a platform to share updates and developments at our properties.”

Patrick Antaki General Manager, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort and Al Maha

In keeping with the huge influx of visitors from the UAE as well as other GCC countries, Le Meridien is fully committed to cater to the patrons.

ward to are the annual Al Aqah Fun Day, our 11th anniversary celebrations, numerous charity initiatives and participation in the 8th UAE Lifeguard Championships,” he added.

“With the recent room refurbishment certain to see a positive influx of tourists, the future looks rosy on the East Coast. In addition to this, seasonal promotions are always incredibly well-received . A number of activities and events that we are looking for-

The resort has been awarded with the Green Key certification. Le Meridien Al Aqah plays a lead role in environment protection with its various initiatives such as the Project Aware clean up and The Al Aqah Reef Ball project.


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COVER STORY

TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

2013: Setting the stage for next year Contd. from page 1 

“Business in 2013 has picked up where 2012 left off. We saw improved trading conditions throughout 2012 and were encouraged by the level of confidence that has returned to the market. Dubai is indeed the jewel in the crown and as it is the favoured destination in the Middle East, visitor numbers continue to increase and drive demand. Occupancies continue to climb, and trading during the summer months in 2013 showed an aimprovement over last year. We foresee this trend continuing. With Dubai winning the bid for Expo 2020, there will be an upsurge in economic activity and the focus will be well and truly upon us,” mentioned David Brown, General Manager, Fraser Suites Dubai. Frasers Hospitality will continue its expansion programme throughout the region, with five new openings planned in the coming 18 months with more to follow. This year has been a great one for Citymax Hotels and it looks to continue this trend through 2014. Winter is the high season in Dubai, so room-based promotions are rarely necessary. Citymax Hotels is, however, targetting longer-stays plus business travellers, so each property offers a promotion for stays of 10 nights or more. “We have, however, noticed that reservation lead times are getting shorter and more bookings are coming through our various online channels rather than traditional booking channels. Our guests are digitally savvy and this shows. We have also managed to increase our restaurant revenues from inhouse guests through targetted promotions and regular theme nights. Keeping guests ‘in-house’ is generally a challenge for any hotel, but we have enjoyed significant success in this,” asserted Russel G H Sharpe, COO, Citymax Hotels, Landmark Hospitality. During 2014, there will be further innovative restau-

Mohamed Hafez Marican

Sumathi Ramanathan

Ganesh Ullal

Area Director, Middle East & Africa, Singapore Tourism Board

Regional Manager, Asia Pacific & Middle East, VisitBritain

Director of Marketing, Omeir Travel Agency

We are trying to build awareness in the Middle East about the new attractions in Singapore

rant promotions and theme nights, development of branded in-house restaurants across new locations and development of new hotels in strategic locations around Dubai and the UAE, with 15 new hotels in the next five years. Kenya Airways’ financial year runs from April to March. “Hence for the first 7 months we did very well as compared to the same period in 2012. Because of the introduction of the Dubai to Hong Kong flights, we were able to show a substantial growth in business. Though the business to Africa shows growth, it could be better,” expressed Abraham Joseph, Area Manager, Kenya Airways South Asia & Middle East.

The Middle East enjoys high airline connectivity; a blessing, but also a challenge

Boeing 787 - Dreamliner aircraft from March 2014 and in all will receive 11 new wide body aircraft which will boost our international long distance expansion and product enhancement,” he further said. Singapore’s winter season tourism experience started from November 2013 and continues till January 2014. During this period there are many events that will to cater to various groups of visitors. From November 23 to the end of 2013, Orchard Road transforms into a winter wonderland.

The positive aspects of Kenya Airways included the launch of Abu Dhabi, Livingstone and Blantyre in 2013 as part of its network expansion plan and the delivery of Boeing 777-300ER with all the latest amenities.

Mohamed Hafez Marican, Area Director, Middle East & Africa, Singapore Tourism Board revealed, “In the first quarter of 2013, we had received 14,856 visitors from the UAE and 4,657 visitors from KSA. This represents an increase of 4 per cent and 17.6 per cent respectively over the same period in 2012.”

“Fleet development, increasing frequencies to existing destinations and adding new destinations are part of the new year strategy starting April 2014. We will start receiving much awaited

He added, “We are trying to build awareness of Singapore in the Middle East especially on the new attractions like our Integrated Resorts which have been developed over the last 5

The end objective is for our customers to be able to reach 24x7 through any channel

years. The Middle East market, however, is geographically large and it will take time for this awareness to trickle down to the masses. We will step up our efforts to engage the trade and consumers and make them aware of the exciting new developments in Singapore. 2014 will see us working closer with partners like airlines and hotel groups,” he added. “The Middle East enjoys high airline connectivity, a blessing yes, but also a challenge,” stated Sumathi Ramanathan, Regional Manager, Asia Pacific & Middle East, VisitBritain. “We are competing with so many other destinations in this region. As much as it warms our heart to see the impressive visitor figures from the GCC to London, we remain adamant to push the ‘London Plus’ message wherever we can. Our goal is to persuade Gulf visitors to use it as a gateway to other regions and cities in Britain. There’s so much to see and do in London all year round and it is a second home to many visitors from the Gulf.” Through numerous visits to the GCC markets and

interactions with the travel trade in the key cities, VisitBritain found lack of product knowledge. They are working closely with key players in the travel industry to broaden the offering and simplify the product through familiarisation trips, the BritAgent specialist programme, annual sales mission and bi-monthly in-market workshops. Omeir Travel had a double digit growth year-onyear. According to them, the travel industry is growing steadily, which is clearly visible with the increase in the number of aircraft orders by the Middle East carriers. The travel industry is fuelled by the approvals of most of the major projects which were on hold. “The main challenges were from online travel portals. We have introduced our own booking engine www.omeir.com. Drop in yield, due to lower fares, has been offset by introducing ancillary services,” said Ganesh Ullal, Director of Marketing, Omeir Travel Agency. “We want to focus on our current strategy of penetrating different channels of distribution. Our end objective is for our customers to be able to reach us 24x7 through any channel. We always introduce exclusive price competitive unique fares in all classes and holiday packages to our customers for winter either to their hometown or other destinations,” he added. The expansion of Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) terminal and added facilities, introduction of new routes, sustained economic growth resulting in revival of major projects and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s aggressive marketing has contributed substantially in promoting the capital in 2013. For Omeir, especially it has been very rewarding as Qantas Airways doubled their daily A380 operations out of Dubai International Airport (DXB), Jet Airways benefited by their EY partnership, Air Seychelles expanded their operations from AUH and Alitalia increased their frequencies.

Festive plans by Gloria Hotels  With the holiday season around the corner, Gloria Hotels and Resorts unveiled its plans for Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Freddy Farid Area General Manager Gloria Hotels and Resorts

Freddy Farid, Area General Manager, Gloria Hotels and Resorts said,

“As family oriented hotels, we wanted to recreate the warmth of the family gathering and pair it with the festive feeling.” Holiday celebrations start on December 8 at Café Royal in Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments, where the Christmas tree will be lit accompanied by melodies. The Christmas Eve dinner located at The Avenue Restaurant will offer dishes freshly prepared at the live cooking stations for a festive atmosphere. There will be a Christmas brunch on December 25 with a dedicated kids corner. New Year’s Eve at The Avenue Restaurant will mark the welcoming of 2014 with fireworks from the 40th floor at midnight. At Gloria Hotel, a live piano will be played all night on Christmas Eve at La Terrasse Restaurant for the guests. The New Year’s Eve celebration at Gloria Hotel offers gala dinner at various dining rooms with a live music band playing at La Terrasse and a DJ at the ballroom.

Lufthansa charts further growth in GCC  This year, Lufthansa expects more than 1,000,000 passengers from the region to travel to Germany and beyond. With larger aircraft operating from Dubai since summer and an expansion of flights from Saudi Arabia, there are more seats avail-

able for local passengers but also Europeans to travel to the GCC. The latest figures reflect an increase of more than 10 per cent compared to 2012 and a trust bestowed on the Airline specifically for its attractive fares on the premium services and easy connec-

tions. “The potential of European travellers coming to Dubai and the UAE is larger than ever not only from the business sector but also for leisure travellers. With Lufthansa Holidays which we started in Germany, brings more leisure travellers to the

UAE,” said Carsten Schaeffer, Vice President Sales and Services, Southeast Europe, Middle East and Africa at the Dubai Air Show. “Over 300,000 tourists from Germany will come in 2013 to Dubai – with our new initiative we will have a sub-

stantial share in this business,” he added. “We are looking back on more than 50 years of flying to the Middle East and right after the start of Lufthansa in 1955, this region became very important for being connected to Europe and America - build-

ing on this heritage is an important pillar of our services here. We saw another important milestone this year while celebrating 50 years of flying to Kuwait, which is one of our best performing routes, especially in premium class travel,” he added.


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TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

FAMILY ALBUM

Meet, network and negotiate@WTM 2013 The first three days of World Travel Market 2013, organised from November 4-7, 2013 in London, experienced an impressive overall delegate increase of 5 per cent covering increase in all major delegate categories. The first day (4 November) of WTM 2013 was a resounding success with invite-only visitor attendance up 12 per cent on last year's event to almost 9,000 (8,916). World Travel Market 2013 will facilitate more than ÂŁ2 billion in industry deals.


TECHNOLOGY

DECEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

9

Amadeus & dnata sign deal Web sales to top $1.9bn Airport ground handler dnata will implement Amadeus’ According to Travelport’s co-sponsored research carried Altéa Departure Control’s Flight Management solution out by PhoCusWright, web sales in Saudi Arabia are in their centralised load control offices (CLC) in Dubai. forecast to nearly double since 2011. T T B U R E AU

enables greater precision in the forecast and analysis of passenger and cargo load. The system automatically defines optimal load distribution, thereby optimising fuel requirements for airlines and increasing uplift capacity of aircraft,” he added.

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n agreement to the effect was signed with dnata, which spans all Emirates and flydubai domestic and international flights and over 100 other dnata customer airlines using the system. John Jarrell, Head of Airport IT, Amadeus, expressed, “We are pleased to sign a deal with the world’s fourth largest ground handler and are proud to be part of dnata’s successful growth strategy.

The agreement has enabled us to strengthen our foothold globally, alongside its 50 ground handlers currently using its solutions.” dnata, part of the Emirates group, is now present in 75 airports in 38

countries. The agreement entails Amadeus providing dnata with a fully automated solution for managing the weight and balance of all flights it handles from its CLC in Dubai.

Amadeus’ in-depth experience, vast reach and high level of development will help gain greater efficiencies through the full automation of dnata’s weight and balance system. Furthermore, Altéa Departure Control’s Flight Management would enable it to provide its airline customers with significant fuel savings.

“This new generation load control platform is designed to enable ground handlers to ensure efficient flight departures and optimise the weight and balance process of all handled flights. It improves the productivity of load controllers and

Francois Weissert, SVP & Chief Technology Advisor, Middle East and Asia, Amadeus, said that Amadeus believe in the potential of the region, which had established itself as a global air travel hub over the last few years.

John Jarrell Head of Airport IT Amadeus

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he online travel market in Saudi Arabia is growing at a rapid rate and internet bookings are expected to exceed US$1.9bn in 2014, according to a study.

Rabih Saab President and Managing Director Middle East and Africa, Travelport

The Kingdom's travel industry as a whole will be worth US$11.4 billion in 2014, compared to US$9.8 billion in 2011, the study carried out by global travel market research company PhoCusWright said.

The research was carried out across 10 Middle East countries and looks at online travel trends in the region between 2010 and 2014.

“The online travel industry across the whole of the Middle East is growing at an unprecedented rate and the significant growth we are witnessing in Saudi Arabia is further testament to this. At Travelport, we work closely with travel agents and airlines to help them meet these demands by offering broader content through faster distribution and sharing our expertise,” said Rabih Saab, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Travelport. To support the continuous development of Saudi

Arabia’s online and traditional travel sectors, Travelport has unveiled its key business priorities for 2014. All of which emphasise the company’s focus on Saudi Arabia as a strategic commercial region. It will introduce a range of new technological solutions including the launch of its Smartpoint 3.0 – its next generation desktop solution for travel agents. In addition, the company will continue the roll-out of Travelport Merchandising Platform,which gives travel agents access to a world of content and functionality through a single API connection. Travelport will launch in 2014 the next generation Travelport View Trip Mobile, its itinerary management tool. To further strengthen its team in Saudi Arabia in 2014, Travelport will continue to grow its dedicated team with a specific focus on remote regions.


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HOTELS

TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

Oberoi makes royal debut in Dubai

World Travel Awards arrives India-based Oberoi group stretches its legs in the UAE. After inaugurating its first UAE property, in Doha next on the luxury hotel brand’s radar is managing Al Zorah Resorts, which is billed to become an exclusive tourism destination on Ajman’s northern coast. S U S M I TA G H O S H

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he Oberoi, Dubai, the new five-star luxury hotel in Business Bay, was inaugurated on November 4, 2013 by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Department of Civil Aviation, CEO and Chairman, The Emirates Group and Chairman, Dubai World. The ribbon cutting ceremony was officiated by guests of honour, Sheikh Adel Al Aujan, Chairman,

Services Overlooking the Burj Khalifa, all the hotel’s rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows that offer great views of the city’s skyline Every guest has access to a personal butler and Les Clefs d'Or concierge services in keeping with The Oberoi Group’s ethos

Aujan Group Holding, the owners and developers of the hotel and PRS Oberoi, Executive Chairman, The Oberoi Group. Aujan said, “The Oberoi Group's commitment to excellence, attention to detail and personalised service made us one of the leading hospitality providers worldwide and an ideal partner for Aujan.

The hotel now looks forward in contributing to Dubai’s vision for the Expo 2020, while providing visitors with a unique hospitality experience.” The Oberoi, Dubai opened its doors on June 15, 2013 and is one of the first hotels in Dubai to be awarded an ‘A’ grade by the Dubai Municipality within six months of opening. Overlooking the Burj Khalifa, all the hotel’s rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling

The Oberoi, Dubai opened its doors on June 15, 2013 and is one of the first hotels in Dubai to be awarded an ‘A’ grade by the Dubai Municipality within six months of opening

windows that offer great views of the city’s skyline. Every guest has access to a personal butler and Les Clefs d'Or concierge services in keeping with The Oberoi Group’s ethos of ‘service without compromise’. Speaking on the occasion, PRS Oberoi termed the inauguration of the hotel a significant milestone. The hotel’s June opening was promised to have heralded a

new era of luxury in the UAE, a promise which he believed has been delivered. Meanwhile, to further its footprint in the UAE, The Oberoi Hotels & Resorts will be managing Al Zorah Resorts, which is billed to become an exclusive tourism destination on Ajman’s northern coast, within an AED4bn mixed-use development in Ajman.

The planned worldclass luxury resort will feature 113 guestrooms and suites, some of which will have their own private pools and will span 100,000 sq m with 290m of beachfront. Construction of the Al Zorah Resorts project, located on a land area of 5.4 million sqm, has begun and is scheduled to be completed by summer 2015.

 The glittering Grand Final Gala Ceremony of World Travel Awards (WTA) will be held at the La Cigale Hotel on November 30, 2013. WTA celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. WTA was established in 1993, to recognise, acknowledge and reward the leading travel, tourism and hospitality organisations in the world. This Grand Finale will see well over 1200 nominees in 148 categories competing for an Award. Kevin Taylor, Group Senior Vice President, World Travel Awards said, “We are thrilled to take World Travel Awards to Doha, Qatar for the second time, and to have La Cigale Hotel as host is an extra delight for us. Over the years, the World Travel Awards winners shield has become trusted by the travel industry and leisure and business travellers as signifying excellence in quality of product and service, and we are looking forward to the next 20 years.”

Festive joy at Al Raha

Aiming at leisure & MICE

halls for the season’s guests.

Gambang Resort City (BGRC) is an integrated resort city with the concept of ‘Multiple Attractions, One Location’.

Ayla Hotel sends aid for Haiyan victims In preparation for X’mas and New Sprawled across 727 acres of secondary jungle, Bukit Years, Al Raha Beach Hotel decks its  After typhoon Haiyan wrecked havoc in the Philippines, Ayla team and management put together 20 boxes of blankets, sheets, towels, clothes and various necessities, and handed them over to Nelson Monte Nico, Executive Chairman of Filipino Community in Al Ain. “The Philippines have been stuck by a true human disaster and it is natural that we look at all possibilities about how we can contribute in facilitating relief in this tragic situation,” said Mohamed Soussan, General Manager, Ayla Hotel. “On behalf of the Filipino Community, leaders from various organisations and especially all Filipinos affected by Yolanda typhoon, I am expressing our gratitude for support, help and donations provided by Ayla Hotel. All contributions will be forwarded directly to Red Crescent in the Philippines for further distribution to the most vulnerable areas,” Monte Nico stated.

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anaged by Danat Hotels & Resorts, the hotel enjoys a prime location on the Al Raha Corniche. Al Raha Beach Hotel now offers 278 luxurious rooms, suites and villas. Diana Ancuta, Director of Sales & Marketing, Al Raha Beach Hotel informed,

“The hotel’s holiday festivities are ideal for both residents and visitors to the region. We’ve planned an exciting agenda of gala dinners and parties for the yuletide season that caters to our in-house guests along with the residents of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.” For those who prefer to entertain at home but aren’t looking to work, the Al Raha chefs have prepared golden roast turkeys with all the trimmings. “What better way to enjoy the holidays than to have a five-star chef take the

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Diana Ancuta Director of Sales & Marketing Al Raha Beach Hotel

work off your hands? With turkey, vegetables and gravy ready to go, a hostess has more time for her guests,” she added. Al Raha splurges on New Year’s Eve with lots of parties to choose from, inclusive of food and entertainment. The New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner in the Abu Dhabi Grand Ballroom with a theme of ‘Hall of Mirrors’ special new years eve buffet dinner in Sevilla restaurant, fivecourse set menu in Azur restaurant, special festive offerings at La Piscine Poolbar and the canapés and drinks in the Black Pearl Bar.

trategically located about 35 km from Kuantan, it is easily accessible by road via the East Coast Expressway with approximately 218 km from Kuala Lumpur. For those who chose to come by flight can embark from Penang International Airport or Singapore Changi Airport for direct flights to Kuantan airport. The resort city is 30 minutes drive from the airport. The resort city offers 1,866 various accommoda-

tion rooms, with two main categories - Studio Suite (open concept one-bedroom) and Family Suite (2-bedroom suite). Guests can stay in the newly completed 4-star Arabian Bay Resort or the 3-star Caribbean Bay Resort. Each resort has its own infinity swimming pool, restaurants, bistro and karaoke lounge, gymnasium, gift shops and entertainment centres. Outdoor recreational activities are also available, such as horse-riding, paint ball, ATV fun ride and

off-road ride (night ATV fun ride is available too) and obstacle course challenge (ground or aerial). Bukit Gambang Water Park, which covers a total area of 45.8 acres, was awarded the Best Water Park in the country by Malaysia Association of Amusements, Themeparks and Family Attractions (MAATFA). Those looking for relaxation can choose to float along Glacier River or just laze around under the wooden cabana or on Coco Beach. At Coco Beach, another must-try is the 25,000 sqft wave pool. This unique pool has the most wave patterns in the country. The Bukit Gambang Safari Park, a 138-acre, offers a day safari and a nocturnal safari, Petting Kingdom, Foreign Village with a animals from across the world, Bear Mountain, Bird Valley, Land of the Primates and Predators as well as a Wild Savannah.


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NEWS

TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

ME cruise sector in focus Offering local experiences Costa Cruises will be a part of lengthy discussions with Azamara Journey, part of the Azamara Club Cruises nine other cruiselines on the developments and visited Dubai on November 8, 2013 during her challenges of the region’s cruise industry. repositioning sailing before leaving for Singapore. T T B U R E AU

He added, “We would be deploying two ships in the region for the 2013-14 season – the 3,470-passenger capacity Costa Fortuna and the Costa NeoRiviera which has a capacity for 1,727 passengers. The ports of call would be Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Khasab.”

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he upcoming Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum in Abu Dhabi, to be held from December 9-11, 2013, will launch with a summit to be attended by regional ministers, tourism leaders, port and immigration officials. The Forum will be taking place at Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island and is organised by Seatrade - with the support of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and its Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau. The Forum will see delegates listening in to cruise line executives from Costa Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises Inc., Carnival UK, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Silversea Cruises, TUI Cruises GmbH and The World.

Dario Rustico Director of Sales & Marketing, Central Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, Costa Cruises

Dario Rustico, Director of Sales & Marketing, Central Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, Costa Cruises informed,

“The UAE and the region was a firm fixture in the company’s winter deployment. We were planning to invest more to develop the local source market.”

A workshop will be part of the Forum which will facilitate one-on-one discussions between each of the hosted cruise line executives and officials from participating destinations. Networking opportunities include a welcome reception and gala dinner which will be attended by all delegates and summit participants. The two ships would be making a total of 27 cruises in the region. 2014 would also see the company deploying a larger ship, the Costa Serena, which has a capacity for 3,780 passengers for another 17 cruises.

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fascinating destinations in 66 countries throughout Europe, the Far East, Central and South America, the Caribbean and the Western US coast,” he added.

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ffering more late-night and overnight stays in port, Azamara Club Cruises announced the 2014 deployment of its twin boutique ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. “Azamara’s staff and crew stand ready to deliver personable service along with immersive experiences to upmarket travellers,” said Larry Pimentel, President and CEO, Azamara Club Cruises. “One hundred per cent of

Azamara's 2014 voyages feature late night and overnight stays in port offering guests the enjoyment of nightlife of some of the world's most vibrant places. There is no better way for travellers to immerse themselves in a destination than with Azamara."

Larry Pimentel President and CEO Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises offers distinct destinationimmersive experiences. The cruise line features voyages with longer stays and more overnights at ports to provide guests the opportunity to experience night touring at destinations of Europe, Asia, South America, West Indies and Central and North America. “Up-market travellers can choose among 72 new voyages, ranging from four to 17 nights and visiting 240

Most of Azamara’s voyages are designed to combine two or more consecutive voyages for an extended travel experience and not repeat a port call. Azamara Journey will sail 12 to 17-night voyages throughout the East and South China seas from January-April 2014, alternating departures from Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai and Chennai. Azamara Journey will sail for four to 14-night voyages, ranging throughout the Mediterranean, North and Baltic seas.

Cruise In Style The cruise line has longer stays and more overnights at ports for night touring

Expanding into Middle East The Philippines’ airline, Cebu Pacific Air, partners with Al Rais Travel as its official General Sales Agent in a bid to expand further in the Middle East. to visit the Philippines for business or leisure.”

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ebu Pacific Air (CEB), a low-cost airline in the Philippines, held a gala dinner on November 12, 2013 at Hotel Intercontinental in partnership with Al Rais Travel and Shipping Agencies, to launch it as the official general sales agent (GSA) in Dubai and Northern Emirates. Lance Gokongwei, President and CEO, Cebu Pacific Air, Edris Mohamed Taher, Deputy Managing Director, AI Rais Travel and Shipping Agencies and Grace Relucio-Princesa, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, were

Airline Fleet Cebu Pacific’s fleet comprises 10 Airbus A319, 27 Airbus A320, 2 Airbus A330 and 8 ATR72 500 aircraft It is one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world. Between 2013 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 15 more brandnew Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo and 4 Airbus A330 aircraft

He added, “The event allowed both Cebu Pacific Air and Al Rais Travel to cement partnership and extend awareness of our services to a variety of key stakeholders.”

Edris Mohamed Taher Deputy Managing Director, AI Rais Travel and Shipping Agencies

We are tapping the low-cost travel market for travellers who visit the Philippines for business or leisure at hand to welcome over 200 invitees from the Dubai travel & trade industry. Taher said, “With the partnership of Cebu Pacific Air, one of our key clients, we are tapping the low-cost travel market for travellers who plan

On its 17th year of operations, Cebu Pacific Air operates the most extensive route network in the Philippines. It also links Philippines to 21 other international destinations in Asia. With over half a million Filipino expats in the UAE alone, the Airline continues to explore the possibility to expand further in the Middle East. CEB's new Dubai to Manila route, serviced using a 436-seat aircraft, will make the Philippines even more accessible as a tourist destination. CEB’s fleet comprises 10 Airbus A319, 27 Airbus A320, 2 Airbus A330 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft. It is one of the youngest aircraft fleets in the world. Between 2013 and 2021, Cebu Pacific will take delivery of 15 more brand-new Airbus A320, 30 Airbus A321neo and 4 Airbus A330 aircraft.

Tour operators visit Abu Dhabi Twenty of the world’s top tour operators were in Abu Dhabi as part of an intensive campaign to woo them over to the Emirate. The operators from Italy, the USA, France, UK, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India and Australia – were being hosted in the Emirate by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, which is looking to build next year’s hotel guest arrivals to over the 2.8 million mark.

Supporting Autism Center The Cove Rotana Resort - Ras Al Khaimah in collaboration with the Red Crescent organised a charity event to raise fund for Autism Center in Ras Al Khaimah. The event hosted more than 300 attendees from the country lead by Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of Department of Civil Aviation, Ras Al Khaimah and Vice Chairman of RAK Airways at the opening ceremony.


FAMILY ALBUM

DECEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

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A platform to converge and converse ITB Asia welcomed delegates to its show floor with over 20 conference sessions from October 23 to 25, 2013. The show attracted over 9,000 visitors, a 7 per cent increase from the 2012 edition. ITB Asia also featured Greece and Russia as first-time exhibitors and increased investment from companies like Brand USA in booth space. The show was held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands.


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MOVEMENTS

TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

Hospitality Management Holdings Dubai

Ramada Downtown Dubai

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai

Laurent A Voivenelas is now the CEO of the Hospitality Management Holdings. He brings with him 28 years of experience in the industry. Previously, Laurent has been associated with Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Hilton Hotels & Resorts and spanning several cities across Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. During the course of his postings, Voivenelas handled strategic planning, business development, operations, financial and analytical processes, and brand communication.

Samir Arora has been appointed as the new General Manager of Ramada Downtown Dubai. He will be responsible for the overall hotel operations and supervision of all departments. Arora has more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Previously, he was the Resident Manager of VIDA Downtown and Al Manzil Downtown Dubai, where he served as Executive Assistant Manager and Front Office Manager before his promotion.

Wael El Behi joins as the General Manager of Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, of the Wyndham Hotel Group. He will be responsible for directing the overall management and operation of the new city resort and will oversee the smooth grand opening of the property by end of 2013. Prior to this, El Behi was General Manager of Ramada Downtown Dubai, for more than two years. A Tunisian national, El Behi has more than 20 years of experience in hospitality management, sales and marketing.

Grand Millennium Dubai Dubai

Copthorne Hotel Sharjah

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Shadi Karameh joins the Grand Millennium Dubai as the new Director of Sales. Prior to this appointment, he was the Assistant Director of Sales at Raffles Praslin – Seychelles, Dubai for two years. Prior to that, Karameh was Director of Business Development at Bon Tours and also worked at the JA Resorts and Hotels where he spent two years overseeing international sales. Karameh attained a Baccalaureate before graduating with a BS in marketing and hotel management.

Asem Bader has been appointed the Director of Sales &

Ibrahim Korkut joins Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi as Director

Marketing of Copthorne Hotel Sharjah. Prior to that he was the General Director of Sales and Marketing in Sharjah National Hotel in early 2001 until 2012. His career in the hospitality industry began from his home origin in Amman, Jordan with a family business called Bader Hotels. He then worked with different chains such as Sharjah Continental, Holiday resorts Sharjah under MH Group 19962001.

of Sales and Marketing. Korkut will add more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience to the Yas Viceroy management team having previously worked in Turkey, Bahrain and the UAE. He joins the hotel from his role of Director of Sales & Marketing with the Kempinski Grand and Ixir Hotel in Bahrain. Prior to this, the Turkish native has had a number of managerial roles in Istanbul’s Hillside Beach Club and Ciragan Palace Hotel Kempinski.

The Cove Rotana Resort Ras Al Khaimah Yuna Jung is the new Director of Food & Beverages at The Cove Rotana Resort. She has 10 years of experience in the hospitality industry and started her career with Rotana in 2010, at Amwaj Rotana Dubai. Prior to this, Jung worked with hotel chains located in Switzerland, Ireland, USA, Lebanon thereafter in UAE. In her new role, Jung will be responsible for the daily operations of all the F&B outlets making sure that quality standards are met and service distinctiveness are practiced.

Viktoria Molnar is the new Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at The Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah. Born in Hungary, Molnar graduated from Cornell University with a degree of Master Certificate in Hospitality Management. Prior to this, she held the position of Marketing Manager in Waiss LLC. She will be responsible for the hotels' marketing and communications strategies and strengthening brand awareness.

Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments Dubai Maren Kuehl is joining the Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments, Dubai, as the Hotel Manager. She has 18 years of experience with a background in Rooms Division. Prior to this, she was the Acting General Manager of Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto in Rome. Previously, Kuehl worked at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab in Dubai. Kuehl will be responsible for the operational management of the 1019 suites property.


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TRAVTALK DECEMBER, 2013

NTO

Heritage hotels in focus Growth in tourist arrivals Once the residences of erstwhile royal families - the grand Sharjah Tourism’s recent statistics revealed that 37 per havelis, forts, hunting lodges, bungalows and palaces in cent of tourist arrivals came from GCC countries and 33 India, have now been transformed to Heritage Hotels. per cent came from Europe. T T B U R E AU

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hese hotels are wellequipped with every modern-day facility, coupled with flawless hospitality of the staff members. Throughout India many of

a desert, it is difficult to ignore the fact that it has a varied topography, including semi-arid, desert like conditions amongst the oldest mountains in the world and water-filled valleys. Its wildlife is also rich in variety.

“The concept of being able to enjoy the luxuries and majesty of an era gone by holds great allure for international tourists. Vikas Rustagi Regional Director (West Asia & Africa), India Tourism, Dubai

the palaces and mansions of the royal families are now turned into luxury and boutique hotels. A number of heritage properties are located in Rajasthan. Even if it’s a common belief that Rajasthan is

The entire experience of a festival, fair, folk dance and music; the adventure of a camel or horse safari; a jeep ride into the countryside be it a forest or desert, give immense pleasure and novelty to an international tourist,” asserted Vikas Rustagi, Regional Director (West Asia & Africa), India Tourism, Dubai.

A visit to a Heritage Hotel ensures an experience into the rural life of India, its diverse cuisine, festivals, sports and cultural packages. Most of the Arab nationals choose India as a tourism destination because of a number of factors, such as,its natural beauty, shopping opportunities, geographical and cultural proximity, cheaper medical and cosmetic surgery fees and direct flights to final destinations. Surveys from the travel & tourism industry report that the Arab tourists spend 4-5 times more money than other foreigners who visit India. “India Tourism is hopeful that the Arab tourists will visit the country and make up for a dip in visitor numbers from other parts of the world. It anticipates the potential of the Middle East as its top priority source market,” informed Rustagi.

The number of arrivals from the Continent has consistently grown in recent years,” said Al Noman.

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harjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) made an impressive pitch for the Emirate’s tourism sector which has been witnessing a steady growth at the World Tourism Market (WTM) 2013. The Authority released the statistics of Sharjah’s hotel industry performance during the first nine months of 2013. A total number of 1,391,632 international tourists visited the Emirate till September 2013, whereas the number of visitors in the same period in 2012 stood at 1,263,908. The number of hotel properties in the Emirate stands at 103 (48 hotels and 55 hotel apartments). The total number of rooms has reached 9,573. With a number of new hotels and luxury resorts coming up in Sharjah and

He noted that this year’s participation at WTM comes on the eve of international celebrations of Sharjah as the Capital of Islamic Culture for in 2014. Mohamed Ali Al Noman Chairman SCTDA

investments pouring into the hospitality sector, the number of hotel rooms is expected to reach 12,000 by 2015 keeping pace with the growth of tourist numbers. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, SCTDA, hailed the steady growth of Sharjah’s hospitality industry.

“Europe has emerged as a key tourism feed market for the Emirate.

“In view of the celebrations, the Authority expects the number of international arrivals to significantly go up as interest in Sharjah, its authentic Arab and Islamic cultural heritage and a wide range of world-class events and entertainment grows,” he added. While the Emirate received a total of 455,489 European tourists forming 33 per cent of its total international arrivals, the tourists from the GCC countries stood at 509,481 - 37 per cent of Sharjah’s tourist numbers. The Asian tourists arrivals to the Emirate stood at 192,715 - a share of 14 per cent.


Middle East TravTalk December 2013