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A DDP PUBLICATION

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ddppl.com

travtalkmiddleeast.com

Vol. IX No. 9; September 2013

Underwater hotel idea surfaces............................................................................03 Occupancy on the rise in MEA ............................................................................10  Lo and Behold! A star is born... ............................................................................12  

MICE market, huge prospect Come September, the MICE sector will rule the travel & hospitality sector with an increasing interest from Asian buyers in parking MICE business in the Gulf region. Coupled with its rich culture and attractions, the surprising growth of MICE infrastructure has established the region as a major hub for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. S U S M I TA G H O S H

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ubai emerged as a preferred destination for outbound business among 18 per cent of Asian buyer respondents. Egypt came in second at 16 per cent, followed closely by Abu Dhabi with 15 per cent and 7 per cent voting for Qatar. “If we discus about the contribution of MICE or business tourism, I can say it’s moving upward year-on-year. As it’s a very niche product and hence essential to be marketed well, aiming at the right target. It is important to have a right product, and for that we team up with airlines, hotels, restaurants, transportation, local excursions and attractions, cultural organisations attractions and so on,” informed Jamal Abdulnazar, General Manager, Cozmo Travel. “UAE inbound MICE market has huge potential and we have witnessed significant growth in 2013, especially from the Indian subcontinent and CIS countries,” he added. “Our partners from the travel trade prefer to sell products they are confident of.

Hence, we conduct regular FAM trips for our potential markets. Besides, providing detailed product knowledge to them, we also conduct workshops, roadshows, joint promotions and of course, place advertisements. We also work very closely with our tourism board and participate in most of the popular trade fairs showcasing our MICE product. To strengthen the product and our offerings further, we will be injecting more investment focussing on increasing our market share in the MICE sector,” he added. Cozmo Travel observed potential growth in business travel and of course, the inbound to UAE. Business so far in 2013 is robust in comparison to 2012. It has expanded the UAE network totaling to 15 branches. The latest is Dubai - Executive Towers at Business Bay, Khorfakhan and Dibba in Fujairah. Cozmo focusses on expansion in other GCC countries like in Kuwait and Bahrain. “Saudi Arabia is another key focus where we are keen to have a full visibility in all the major cities. So we are open-

Jamal Abdulnazar

Conrad Caeiro

General Manager Cozmo Travel

Operations Manager Omeir Holidays (A member of Omeir Bin Youssef Group)

UAE inbound MICE market has huge potential and we have witnessed significant growth in 2013 ing six outlets in Jeddah, Dammam, Medina, Yanbu, Gassim and Abha within the next two months. A fully revamped Cozmotravel.com has also been launched on July 15,” Abdulnazar concluded.

MICE travel is important for us and we strive to expand this segment. So far, the business looks good Business tourism is a fast growing, lucrative market segment. SATA (Sharjah Airport Travel Agency) is coming out with varied and readily accessible options designed with their needs in

Nasir Jamal Khan General Manager Al Naboodah Travel

Business grew 10 per cent in the first two quarters of 2013 on the back of a strong Asian market mind. The business travel market is slowly evolving in the UAE, and SATA aims to focus more on it to increase its revenue significantly. “We at SATA, so far have seen substantial growth

in our overall revenue and on track to achieve 40 per cent growth in 2013. Revenue from business travel and MICE accounts to 28 per cent in 2012. In 2013, we aim to increase the revenue from both these segments at least by 50 per cent over 2012. Though MICE is growing steadily, business travel is on a fast track growth and our aim is to enhance this revenue by diversifying it further,” informed Arshad Munir, General Manager, SATA. MICE tourism is an important segment of today’s international tourism markets. It’s a specific form of tourism that relates to the activities of business traveller groups. Attending such events is of great importance commercially, culturally, politically and socially. A lot of destinations now focus on developing exhibition and conference facilities, hotels and airport facilities, including human resources to market the destination. The various events held also attract investors from all over the world. Contd. on page 8 


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AVIATION

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

Joint network opens Down Under On August 14, 2013, Emirates and Qantas enhanced their joint network as bookings opened for their new schedule between New Zealand and Australia. The new schedule offers near 130 services per week to over 175 destinations across the world. T T B U R E AU

Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline informed, “The code-sharing, aligned fares and frequent flyer benefits as per the enhanced network, would add value for the customers of both Emirates and Qantas.”

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he enhancements in the joint network are aimed at providing added convenience and better connections for travellers to and from New Zealand, according to bigwigs of the two Airlines. Through the partnership, the Emirates network has now been opened up to include Queenstown and Wellington in New Zealand, in addition to the 55 destinations in Australia already on offer to Emirates’ customers. Another offshoot of the enhanced network is aimed at providing more convenience and better connections for New Zealand travellers. Its Qantas’ launch of a new Perth-Auckland service and re-timing of its existing Christchurch-Sydney service to a morning departure enabling more international connections from Sydney.

Tim Clark President Emirates Airline

Code-sharing, aligned fares and frequent flyer benefits as per the enhanced network, would benefit the customers

Alan Joyce Chief Executive Officer Qantas Group

Qantas’ new schedule would offer more connections to flights in Australia and across the world

Also, customers in New Zealand will now gain access to numerous benefits, such as lounges, frequent flyer benefits, a new luggage allowance of 30 kg for economy passengers and a vast range of international destinations, the first notable signs of the QantasEmirates partnership at work across the Tasman. This would ensure that the tourism industry in the region gets an added boost. Alan Joyce, Chief Executive Officer, Qantas Group said, “Qantas’ new Auckland-Perth service would cater for demand over the busy holiday season. Additionally, its new transTasman schedule would offer better flight times and more

connections to flights both in Australia and around the world.” The new Qantas and Emirates schedule offers services from Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown across the Tasman to a joint network covering destinations in Australia, Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the UK and Europe. Whereas Emirates’ trans-Tasman services are operated by Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, Qantas’ services are operated by next generation Boeing 737-800s.

New Horizon Through the partnership, the Emirates network has now been opened up to include Queenstown and Wellington in New Zealand, in addition to the 55 destinations in Australia already on offer

Air Arabia net profit soars by 17% in 2013  Air Arabia (PJSC), revealed its financial results for the period ending June 30, 2013. The company’s net profit for the first half 2013 stood at AED 134 million, an increase of 17 per cent compared to AED 115 million for the first six months of last year. During the first half of 2013, the company registered a turnover of AED 1.5 billion, up 19 per cent from AED 1.2 billion for the first half of 2012. Air Arabia’s net profit for the second quarter of this year exceeded analysts’ forecast and registered AED 76 million, an increase of 15 per cent compared to AED 66 million for the second quarter of 2012. Turnover for the second quarter of 2013 rose by 17 per cent to AED 797 million, compared to AED 681 million for the second quarter of last year.

Kenya Airways flies high QAIA traffic on steady track The capacity of Kenya Airways into the Middle East and Far East regions grew by 12.8 per cent, according to the Airline’s operating results for the first quarter that ended on June 30, 2013. T T B U R E AU

capacity seen in the West and Central African regions due to drop in demand.

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ased on the first quarter 2013 results, especially for this region, the Airline was optimistic about the second quarter results being boosted by summer travellers taking off from the region on holiday to other parts of the world. This performance was driven by the introduction of daily operations to Guangzhou via Bangkok and increased deployment of larger B777 equipment to Mumbai. “The recommencement of flights to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and direct flights from Dubai to Hong Kong added to the capacity,” said Abraham Joseph, Area Manager South Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Kenya Airways. There was no change in the capacity the Airline put into Europe compared to the same quarter in 2012. The company’s year-on-year growth is pegged at 3 per cent based on the total capacity of 3,464m seat km it put into the market place.

Abraham Joseph Area Manager - South Asia Middle East and North Africa Kenya Airways

The capacity offered in East Africa region grew by 12.9 per cent buoyed by more early morning departures to Entebbe and additional DarEs-Salaam frequencies and daily night stops. Similarly, capacity in Southern Africa region grew by 10.4 per cent largely because of the increased night time operations into Lusaka and Lilongwe, as well as the introduction of Livingstone. “However, there was 10.9 per cent decline in

Moreover, cutbacks made to Cairo following the volatile political situation in Egypt meant that the total capacity into the Northern African region was unchanged,” Joseph added. Capacity on the domestic front grew by 11.6 per cent compared to same quarter in 2012 due to the re-launch of Eldoret in October 2012 and a further two daily flights into Kisumu including a night stop. While passenger traffic measured in revenue passenger kilometres at 2,330m grew by 5.8 per cent ahead of the same quarter 2012, cargo capacity offered measured in cargo tonne km dropped by 4 per cent.

June 2013 saw a 0.5 per cent increase in passenger traffic (PAX) registered by Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA). More notable though was the 4.73 per cent increase in year-to-date passenger figures. T T B U R E AU

breaching the 3 million mark this June to reach 3,166,610 as against 3,023,499 YTD PAX achieved over the corresponding period in 2012. It represented a healthier 4.73 per cent increase.

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irport International Group (AIG), the Jordanian company responsible for the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of QAIA, has come out with its year-to-date (YTD) growth across its passenger, aircraft and cargo traffic for June 2013. Passenger traffic (PAX) in June 2013 rose marginally to 622,629 as compared to 619,615 registered during the corresponding month in 2012, representing a 0.5 per cent increase.

Kjeld Binger CEO, AIG

Jordan's reputation as a secured haven was responsible for AIG bucking the trend

Commenting on QAIA's traffic performance, Kjeld Binger, CEO, AIG said, “AIG’s performance had to be viewed from the perspective of the region's geopolitical developments. Jordan's reputation as a secured haven was responsible for AIG bucking the trend and registering steady month-overmonth growth despite some noticeable fluctuation during 2013 Q1.”

ed increase in additional traffic in the upcoming few months.

Striking an optimistic note, he said that AIG expect-

Cause for greater optimism is AIG’s YTD PAX

However, aircraft movements (ACM) during June 2013 slid by 3.5 per cent, reaching 6,020 ACM as against 6,238. Notwithstanding the June slide, YTD ACM for 2013 has risen up 1.17 per cent, standing at 33,196 ACM, as compared to 32,812 recorded during the corresponding period last year. Maintaining the upward momentum in YTD cargo traffic, AIG recorded a 2.19 increase by June 2013 as against 2012 figures, reaching 46,475 tons in comparison to 45,480 tons clocked last year.

Rise In Numbers Cause for greater optimism is AIG’s YTD PAX breaching the 3 million mark this June to reach 3,166,610


HOTELS

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

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Underwater hotel idea surfaces The recent round of parleys between Dubai shipbuilder Drydocks World and Switzerland’s BIG InvestConsult, who represents partner Polandbased Deep Ocean Technology (DOT), focussed on the futuristic concept of Water Discus Underwater Hotels, becoming a reality in Dubai. T T B U R E AU

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rydocks World, as the sole construction contractor of the concept, is all set to build the first Water Discus Underwater Hotel in the Middle East, before being associated with more such ultra-modern masterpieces across the world. BIG InvestConsult is a key operator in the area of innovative technologies transfer as well as investment projects, brokerage and finance, whereas Deep Ocean Technology (DOT) owns the unique technology and concept of Water Discus Hotel. It envisages an ultimate leisure facility with a structure that is partly above water and the rest underneath. Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman, Drydocks World & Maritime World expressed, “I am so contended to get involved in this project to

construct this very unique Water Discus Hotel.” He added, “It is a matter of deep pride and honour for us that once again, we

The Water Discus Underwater Hotel comprises of a number of discs - one underwater, at a depth ranging from 10 - 30 mt, and the others above the surface.

It is a matter of deep pride and honour for us that once again, we have been recognised as a facility which is able to construct and fabricate a leading edge design Khamis Juma Buamim Chairman, Drydocks World & Maritime World

have been recognised as a facility which is able to construct and fabricate a leading edge design. We look forward to the launch of construction very shortly and as always we are confident of providing a high quality structure in a cost effective and timely basis.”

This revolutionary patent-protected DOT concept allows for each room to be integrated with the underwater world as closely as possible. “The unique location in the heart of a vibrant coral reef will allow guests to enjoy both the tropical weather and colourful underwater world

as well. Its unique construction design permits expansion and customisation of the Water Discus to suit the surroundings and client requirements,” Buamim stated. A single discus is an independent structure of approximately 1,000 sqm part of a bigger complex, size of which is suitable to both the client and location. Such Water Discus Complexes can be constructed anywhere in the world, to suit local conditions such as shape of the coast line and ocean depth around the reef. The major advantage is that modules can be moved to a different location in the event of changes in either environmental or economic conditions. This mobility also allows for easier changes in the interior design of the hotel as any disc can be detached and replaced at any time with a new one.

Tapping new markets in Scandinavia  By joining an official delegation from the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing on a roadshow around Scandinavia, management at the Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai are optimistic of increased business from the northern countries of Europe. According to Scott Butcher, General Manager, this is the first time the hotel has specifically targetted the business and leisure markets in the region, but he expects a good response, particularly following the boost in non-stop flight connections with Dubai.

Running from October 7 - 10, the roadshow will take place in Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen, ending up in Stockholm, the latter becoming the latest city to join the Emirates network with the launch of a daily service from Dubai on September 4. There were more than 140,000 visitors from the Nordic countries to Dubai in 2011, when Emirates started its direct service to Denmark, and this figure is expected to grow substantially as business and leisure travellers take advantage of the new routes.


GUEST COLUMN EDITORIAL Middle East set to flex its MICE muscle

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his year’s edition of CIBTM is finally upon us. Exhibitors from the Middle East are expected to be in full strength to woo Asian buyers at the annual event taking place from September 2-4 in Beijing. It’s here that the much-touted business potential of the Middle East is waiting to be unleashed. Research conducted at the last edition of CIBTM clearly alluded to the increasing interest from Asian buyers in parking MICE business in the Gulf region. Dubai emerged as a preferred destination for outbound business among 18 per cent of Asian buyer respondents. Egypt came in second at 16 per cent, followed closely by Abu Dhabi with 15 per cent and 7 per cent voting Qatar. These statistics come as no surprise and are buttressed even more so by the recent impressive economic growth figures posted by countries in the Middle East. Standard & Poor’s recent forecast says GDP growth within the Gulf economies will reach 4.6 per cent this year, valuing the GCC economy at US$1.5 trillion. The stupendous growth of MICE infrastructure has established the region as a major hub for meetings. With the strengthening of air links between Asia and the Middle East, the latter has become increasingly accessible to Asian buyers. Abu Dhabi’s debut entry into the top 100 International Congress and Convention Association’s (ICCA) 2012 global city rankings has also helped. Business events in the Emirate in 2010 have had an economic effect to the tune of AED2.4 billion and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority figures say it will grow by 7 per cent each year until 2020. All in all, come September, its MICE that will rule the roost in the travel & hospitality sector.

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

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

Pioneer of Civil Aviation in India Founded by JRD Tata, the father of civil aviation in India, the scheduled services of Air India began on October 15, 1932. Having come a long way since then, the carrier launched the next generation Dreamliner to various destinations, ensuring a dream flight for all who travel with them.

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ir India flies to 34 international destinations across the USA, Europe, Canada, Far-East and SouthEast Asia, Gulf and SAARC countries. The Airline’s vast domestic network covers 63 destinations, including farflung areas of the North East, Ladakh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Airline is currently flying Dreamliners to London, Paris and Frankfurt, as well as to Birmingham. We will be commencing our services to Sydney and Melbourne from Delhi on August 29, 2013. The services to and from Australia through our state-of-the-art Dreamliner aircraft will enable passengers to enjoy a convenient flight to Sydney and Melbourne through New Delhi. We are also offering attractive introductory fares on this route for both directions to celebrate the launch of our new connection. With more Dreamliners scheduled for delivery in the coming months, plans are on to expand our international network to new destinations such as Rome, Milan and Moscow. Air India’s fleet is a mix of the wide-body Boeing B777s, B747s, Airbus A330s, the narrow body Airbus A321s, A320s, A319s & Boeing B737s. Its latest acquisition is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, considered the game changer. The first next generation flying machine in India is equipped with unique features for ultimate passenger comfort like large dimmable windows, better viewing, spacious seats, lesser noise, soft LED lighting, easily accessible storage bins, cabin pressure at lower altitude, cleaner air, environmentally responsible fuel efficient aircraft, etc., ensuring a dream flight for every passenger travelling with Air India.

To help tourists enjoy the flavours of the rain soaked destinations in India and abroad, Air India offers popular packages across the country and beyond on it’s unmatched network. Air India has introduced a unique stop over package branded ‘Air India Stop Over

 Air India’s mix of both full service and low cost operations caters to largely the entire diaspora of expat Indian population in the UAE. The Air India reservation systems is accessible through SITA for Air India and Radixx for Air India Express.

With more Dreamliners scheduled for delivery in the coming months, plans are on to expand our international network to new destinations Seema Srivastava

Regional Manager, Air India, Gulf, Middle East & Africa Packages’ to facilitate transfer connection at Terminal 3, Delhi Airport. Competitively priced and convenient to book, Stop Over Packages offer the facility of web-based portal booking including a hotel located inside the T3 terminal. Hotel transfers and sightseeing options are also available in and around New Delhi. Packages can be booked from Air India website. The Airline operates more than 300 flights every week from Gulf and Middle East Region offering the largest network coverage of the Indian sub-continent through our operations of Air India and Air India Express. Air India Express, being the low cost subsidiary of Air India, has wide acceptance in expatriates’ community in the Gulf. Air India offers a plethora of benefits for passengers flying from the Gulf –  Air India offers the widest reach for all passengers travelling from the UAE to destinations within India through its vast network.

 Business class passengers from UAE have a choice of attractive fares to most destinations within India, with a variety of Indian meals served onboard, accompanied with a choice of beverages and a very wide and comfortable seating experience.  Economy class passengers also have a wide choice of attractive fares to all destinations within India also covering destinations in both north and south India. Air India’s Economy Class attractive fares are also available to destinations like Kolkata, Nagpur, Srinagar, etc.  Air India has recently achieved the milestone of adding the one millionth member to its popular frequent flyer programme, Flying Returns. Air India offers a separate and rewarding Gulf Program for its Frequent Fliers.  Air India and Air India Express through their

drive and resolve have currently achieved better on-time performance of more than 80 per cent throughout the network.  Air India offers a plethora of excellent facilities to passengers travelling or transiting through its state-of-the-art hub at Terminal 3 New Delhi Airport.  Air India’s reach within the UAE consists of more than 500 travel partners. Passengers from the UAE can also conveniently avail all offers of Air India through its website www.airindia.in  Air India Express offers inflight announcements in regional language (Malayalam) onboard its flights and also serves regional meals. These services have been widely appreciated by the expat communities in the Gulf, especially from UAE. On the whole, Air India still has its own special place in the aviation sector and continues to hold influence over passengers epitomising the symbol of safety and trust throughout the Gulf and rest of the world.

Seema Srivastava Regional Manager Air India Gulf, Middle East & Africa

Qatar Airways launches flights to Iraq  Qatar Airways launched on August 21, 2013, flights to its fifth destination in the Republic of Iraq,

Sulaymaniyah. This increases the Airline’s frequency across Iraq from 16 to 20 flights each week. The new services,

Offices: TRAVTALK is published by SanJeet on behalf of

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DELHI: 72, Todarmal Road, New Delhi - 110 001 Ph.: +91-11-23710793, 23716318 Fax: +91-11-23351503 E-mail: travtalk@ddppl.com MUMBAI: 504, Marine Chambers, 43, New Marine Lines, Opp. SNDT College, Mumbai - 400 020, India Ph.: +91-22-22070129; 22070130, Fax: +91-22-22070131, E-mail: mumbai@ddppl.com UAE : Z1-02, P.O. Box 9348, Saif Zone, Sharjah, UAE Ph.: +971 6 5528954 Fax: +971 6 5528956 E-mail: uae@ddppl.com

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

which will operate four-timesa-week non-stop from the Airline’s Doha hub, brings the carrier’s global network to

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.

129 destinations worldwide. The Doha – Sulaymaniyah route is being operated by a state-of-the-art Airbus A320.

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

New luxury offerings a big draw Al Ghurair Rayhaan & Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana, opened in December 2012, is in occupancy cruise control with an achievable target of 65 per cent set for 2013. Located in Deira, Dubai’s bustling tourism & commercial district, the two new hotels answer the needs of the luxury hospitality market. even more promising than the present year.

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esides unmatched luxury, Rotana’s Al Ghurair project’s USP is its excellent connectivity with its hotels being just minutes away from Dubai Airport and one of Dubai Metro’s largest stations, Union, which offers access to the city’s two Metro lines.

During the first 3 months of 2013, Rotana’s two new hotels, with 620 rooms saw 100 per cent occupancy. “Business in the following three months, from April to June 2013, did see a drop, with the European summer drawing tourists, especially the Saudis and Chinese to that part of the world. However, 65 per cent occupancy is very much on the cards,” informed Mark McCarthy, General Manager, Al Ghurair Rayhaan & Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana, who adds that 2014 would be

Mark McCarthy General Manager, Al Ghurair Rayhaan & Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana

The Rayhaan by Rotana brand's popularity has been confirmed by more than 1,800 rooms already in operation

McCarthy reveals that business comprises 70 per cent from the leisure segment and 30 per cent from corporate business. Approximately, 40 to 45 per cent business comes from the tour operators besides traditional and online travel agents, for whom FAM trips are organised and vouchers offered to. The two new hotels are uniquely positioned to provide guests with a convenient and enhanced leisure experience as they form part of the ongoing expansion of the adjoining Al Ghurair Shopping Centre. The hotels are highly popular with guests from the CIS, GCC, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and China, answer the needs of the luxury hospitality market in Deira with two highly soughtafter product offerings.

“The popularity of the Rayhaan by Rotana brand has been confirmed by more than 1,800 rooms already in operation. With the opening of the Al Ghurair property, Rotana now operates four Rayhaan hotels – three in the UAE and one in Saudi Arabia in Makkah,” he further informed. “Among Rotana’s future plans, is the opening of Salalah Rotana Resort in Oman and in Saudi Arabia and in India at a later phase.” Arjaan by Rotana, a first-class residential hospitality product, comprises hotel apartments designed to close the gap between hotel and home. The Al Ghurair Arjaan Hotel takes Rotana’s portfolio of Arjaan Hotel Apartments to 11 in total – eight in the UAE, with three more Arjaan properties in the wider Middle East.

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

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SpiceJet to launch direct Pune-Sharjah flights

recently  SpiceJet announced the launch of direct flights between Pune and Sharjah. The booking for this sector is now open. Commercial flights on Pune-Sharjah route will start from September 21, 2013. The Airline will be deploying its New Generation Boeing 737-800 (189 seater aircraft) on this route. Pune is the third Indian destination to connect with Sharjah on the SpiceJet network. The Airline already operates on the VaranasiSharjah and LucknowSharjah routes. The launch of the new direct flight aims to improve connectivity between two thriving business centres.

Sharjah is the second destination for SpiceJet in UAE. SpiceJet has been rapidly expanding its global footprint in the recent past with the addition of several foreign cities in the Middle Eastern and Asian regions on to its network. The Airline is also launching the AhmedabadMuscat flight from August 29, 2013. Flight SG051 with depart Pune at 2230hrs and arrive in Sharjah at 0025hrs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On the return leg, flight SG052 will depart Sharjah at 0125hrs and arrive in Pune at 0600hrs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.


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NTO

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

India focusses on winter sports Home to the mighty Himalayas, India is not widely known as a skiing destination. Offering an immense range of products, the country hosts some of the best ski resorts. T T B U R E AU

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kiing season in India is generally from January to March. In Gulmarg, the season is a bit longer than other destinations. There are some higher reaches near these ski

resorts where skiing starts 1520 days earlier and goes up to the first week of April,” mentioned Vikas Rustagi, Regional Director - West Asia & Africa, India Tourism, Dubai. Gulmarg and Pahlgam are the two skiing destina-

tions of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Being one among the best ski resorts of India and South Asia, Gulmarg is known for the beaten slopes and back country slopes. It has the most developed skiing infrastructure in India and possesses the highest cable car in the world which starts at 2700 mt above sea level and goes up to 4300 mt. Pahalgam also offers long back country ski runs where Heli-skiing is being conducted regularly. Uttarakhand is the second state in Himalayas which has good skiing facilities at Auli. This resort was developed recently to conduct South Asian Winter

“The best aspect is that the Gulf & the Middle East have easy access to these resorts. School children from these countries can benefit by learning basic ski skills. Vikas Rustagi Regional Director - West Asia & Africa India Tourism, Dubai

Games with a 4 km long cable car, two long ski lifts and one chair car. Himachal Pradesh as well also provides good skiing destinations at Manali and Narkanda. Manali has one cable car of 1.2 km and one chair lift.

Corporates can organise team building and personality development activities in these resorts throughout the year,” he further informed. There are several unique factors regarding skiing in India. The country offers a variety of ski options to the ski enthusiasts. The quality of

snow is very good. The cost of skiing is almost 1/10th of what a skier has to pay in Europe. Heli-skiing provides challenging unexplored long runs high above sea level. Ski equipment and world-class instructors are also available to learn skiing in India.

Benefits There are several uniqueness on skiing in India: The country offers a variety of ski options to the ski enthusiasts The cost of skiing is almost 1/10th of what a skier has to pay in Europe

Sharjah tourism on upward trajectory The first half of 2013 has seen an increase in worldwide tourist arrivals to Sharjah, and visitors from Europe lead the charge. The statistics for the period puts the hotel occupancy at over 71 per cent, as compared to 66 per cent during the corresponding period in 2012. T T B U R E AU

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harjah’s 103 hotel establishments (48 hotels and 55 hotel apartments) have seen guest arrivals shoot up by 9 per cent, from 874,977 (511,620 in hotels and 363,357 in hotel apartments)

Visitor Patterns Europeans at 37 per cent have led with 347,480 arrivals from the continent Russian tourists figure prominently among Sharjah’s European guests with 23 per cent GCC tourists follow closely at 34 per cent

growth and resilience of Sharjah’s tourism sector.

to 951,592 (536,047 in hotels and 415,545 in hotel apartments). Similarly, a major milestone was breached in room nights. Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority’s (SCTDA) figures show a 7 per cent jump in the number of room nights from 999,599 last 2012 H1 (621,359 hotel room nights and 378,249 hotel apartment room nights) to 1,071,829 (611,445 hotel room nights and 460,387 hotel apartment room nights) during 2013 H1. With the Emirate’s hospitality industry being able to attract healthy investments in recent years, its capacity is all set to soar to 12,000

Mohamed Ali Al Noman Chairman SCTDA

rooms over the next two years, according to the SCTDA report. Commenting on the half-yearly statistics, Mohamed Ali Al Noman, Chairman, SCTDA said they were a testament to the

As was the Emirate’s visitor pattern in recent years, Europeans at 37 per cent have led the tourist charge, with 347,480 arrivals from the continent. Russian tourists figure prominently among Sharjah’s European guests with 23 per cent. Closely following the Europeans were tourists from the GCC at 34 per cent, with 324,239 from the region visiting the Emirate. Asian visitors formed 14 per cent, followed by Arab visitors from other countries across the Middle East, constituting 10 per cent of guest arrivals. The Americans, the

Africans and Scandinavians formed 5 per cent of the rear as regards the Emirate’s tourist population in the 2013 H1. Al Noman referred to efforts being stepped up by STDCA in 2013 to target local, regional and international tourism markets. Prominent among them were The Sharjah Light Festival, held in February 2013, which celebrated the Emirate's magnificent monuments and landmarks. Also other flagship tourism events like the 'Sharjah Biennial' for two months alongside the 'Sharjah Heritage Days', 'Sharjah Festival Days' and 'Sharjah Spring Promotions', attracted tourists in great numbers.

Al Noman further informed, “Now was the time to consolidate on these gains. The half-yearly statistics put a greater responsibility on the SCTDA to work both public and private sectors. It is to expand tourism activities and boost Sharjah’s economy through enhanced coordination between the Emirate’s various tourism sector players.”


NTO

Qatar tourism in pink of health The tourism industry in Qatar is on an upward surge, as Qatar Tourism Authority’s (QTA’s) recently announced 2013 second quarter results show. The revenue from 5-star hotels alone has seen a 20 per cent rise. T T B U R E AU

A

ccording to the data released in QTA's second quarter (April-June) 2013, all the key indicators of Qatar’s tourism sector have shown improvement and growth as compared to the corresponding period in 2012. Despite a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of available rooms, the average hotel occupancy rate during 2013 Q2 is at a higher 67 per cent, up from 58 per cent during the same period in 2012. Similarly, a stupendous 20 per cent increase in revenue from five-star hotels alone, has propelled the total revenue from four and five-star hotels to grow by QAR 155.9 million. Also, the total number of hotels under construction has gone up to 121 properties in 2013 Q2, with 20,955

rooms ready for delivery, up from 110 at the end of 2012.

the ‘Hotels Quality Rating Program.’

Commenting on the results, Issa Mohammed AlMohannadi, Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority, asserted,

Improved visitor figures were driven by an impressive 15 per cent increase in arrivals from within the GCC countries, with 144,491 travellers from Saudi Arabia representing the largest single source of visitors. Overall, visitors from other continents rose by 6.6 per cent, with a surge of 12 per cent growth in arrivals from Asia.

“The significant results showed Qatar tourism was on track for a record showing this year. The results were being viewed as a positive development and that the sector was increasingly important to diversifying Qatar’s economy.” He further added, “Among reasons for the optimistic outlook is QTA’s June launch of its upgraded website, providing visitors easy access to information. Also, recently, QTA inked an

Issa Mohammed Al-Mohannadi Chairman Qatar Tourism Authority

agreement with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to co-operate on the development of a consistent and locally relevant monitoring and quality control system across a wide range of tourism activities.” In addition, by way of improving the quality of services in the hospitality & tourism industry and creating a national benchmark of high standards, QTA recently recognised six hotels with the first-ever awards as part of

A whole host of events and activities in Qatar during 2013 Q2 saw the State’s leisure tourism sector buoyed by a 10 per cent increase from international markets.

Growing Numbers The total number of hotels under construction has gone up to 121 in 2013 Q2, with 20,955 rooms ready for delivery, up from 110 at the end of 2012

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

7

Minor Hotel Group expands presence in Africa  Minor Hotel Group (MHG), a hotel owner, operator and investor, has announced the formation of a long term strategic partnership agreement with Rani Investment LLC, the owner of high end resorts across Africa. The two organisations have formed a joint venture company for ownership of Indigo Bay Resort & Spa in Mozambique, with plans for further expansion in Africa. Located on Bazaruto Island, 30km off the east coast of the country, Indigo Bay is a five star 44-villa resort, and will be re-branded to Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa later this year and managed by Minor Hotel Group. The new strategic partnership will explore more opportunities in Mozambique, including in the capital Maputo, and in the vibrant East Africa market to further strengthen MHG’s presence in the continent. These properties will be a mix of new-build and

re-brand and will be flagged with MHG’s international hotel brands, including Anantara, the recently launched contemporary upscale brand AVANI and the serviced apartment Oaks brand which is currently expanding into Asia and the Middle East. Dubai-based Rani Investment is the investment arm of Aujan Group Holding with more than US$300 million of dedicated investments in the Middle East and Africa. Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotel Group, said, "We are excited to be partnering with Rani Investment and are looking forward to working closely with them to grow our portfolio in Africa, specifically in Mozambique to begin with. We are already present in Tanzania and Kenya through our partnership with Elewana Collection, and we are keen to expand further into other parts of this vast continent where there is so much untapped opportunity."


8

COVER STORY

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013 COVER STORY

MICE: A key segment in global market Contd. from page 1 

In today’s corporate world, companies do realise the benefit of their business if they organise regional conferences, incentive trips and meetings in good exotic locations which provide an opportunity to include sightseeing, shopping, team building and recreational activities. As such, most MICE travellers can be worth leisure travellers as well who spend money on shopping and other activities. “Hence, MICE travel is very important for us and we always strive to expand this segment. At Omeir Holidays, we pride ourselves selling MICE packages to our valued corporate clients. We are a group of professionals capable of handling all aspects of MICE travel assuring clients our high level of services. We create, prepare and execute all sorts of events for both small and large groups, and also contain the resources to organise any sort of MICE event worldwide,” expressed Conrad Caeiro, Operations Manager, Omeir Holidays (A

member of Omeir Youssef Group).

which include team building activities, theme dinners, sightseeing and recreation,” asserted Nasir Jamal Khan, General Manager, Al Naboodah Travel.

Bin

“While 2012 has been a good year, based on our aim to increase the MICE business in 2013, so far it looks very promising. We have been handling many groups inbound and outbound with a recent incentive group of 140 passengers to France in the second week of August 2013, besides a meeting group in May and March 2013 to Malaysia and India respectively,” he added. MICE is an advanced branch of tourism involving vigorous economic activities and hence, play a significant role in the tourism economy of a destination. The global tourism industry can be divided into leisure and business tourism. However, they require the same infrastructure in terms of accommodation, transport and communication, entertainment, information services and so on. MICE tourism usually includes a well-planned agenda centered on a theme or topic, like professional trade organisation, a special

Arshad Munir

Hossam Andraous

General Manager SATA

Chairman Total Holidays

We aim to increase the revenue from luxury & business segments at least by 50 per cent over 2012 interest group or on education. Such tourism often has a specialised area with its own exhibition like EIBTM, ATM, IMEX and practices.

The growth comes from the domestic market as 70 per cent of our agents come from within the region “We are also realising the benefits of the business and conferences, incentives trips and focussed business meetings in exotic locations,

“We have managed to do well. The business grew 10 per cent in the first two quarters of 2013 on the back of a strong Asian market and the return of business to European destinations,” he further stated. Hossam Andraous, Chairman, Total Holidays expounded, “We have added a number of great hotels to our portfolio to meet the MICE requirements in the Middle East and in the Gulf overall. We continue to play a key role, the growth coming from the domestic market as 70 per cent of our agents come from within the region. The biggest percentage of international guests comes from the GCC and Middle East and a satisfactory number from China as well.” Over the next decade, Total Holidays will continue to see tremendous growth in

MICE business from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon due to the presence of their regional offices to promote inbound and outbound MICE business. “In 2012, we saw the number of Chinese guests across the Middle East and Africa region grow by more than 15 per cent. We have exhibited in most of the important MICE exhibitions in Europe and the Middle East, and are looking ahead to increase our market share in MICE, reaching 30 per cent growth over 2012,” Andraous concluded.

A Key Segment The business travel market is slowly evolving in the UAE, and SATA aims to focus more on it to increase its revenue significantly MICE tourism usually includes a well-planned agenda centered on a theme or topic, like professional trade organisation, a special interest group, etc.

RCI gets 50mn guests Royal Caribbean International marked a major milestone in its 45-year history on August 12, 2013, when it welcomed its 50 millionth guest onboard one of its fleet of 21 ships. T T B U R E AU

Hotel occupancy soars during Ramadan  Ramada Downtown Dubai recorded an increase in hotel occupancy during the holy month of Ramadan compared to last year, achieving an average rate of 71 per cent, one of the highest rates in the Emirate. With Ramadan this year falling during the summer period which is considered a slow season in the UAE and with additional room

inventory in the Downtown area, the property has recorded up to 96 per cent occupancy during the third and last weeks of Ramadan compared to the same period in year 2011 and 2012. During the period, the property sold 3,744 room nights, surpassing the 2012 figure by 9 per cent. Majority of the hotel guests are from the GCC region, with KSA

topping the list with 1,722 room nights, followed by UAE and Kuwait. The hotel also launched its new and improved website at www.ramadadowntowndubai.com in August. The new website is neat and stylish with new features, stunning imagery and improved information, making the site userfriendly.

In-flight app for prayer at 35,000 ft above sea level An iPhone app has been developed by a Singapore-based company that alerts its Muslim users when to pray and in which direction they should face, even if they are 35,000 feet in the air. Users need to key in their flight details and accordingly they will be provided with the prayer times during their journey.

T

he momentous occasion kicks off a year-long celebration honouring the cruise line’s guests, business partners, employees and crew.

Lakshmi Durai Executive Director Royal Caribbean Cruises - Middle East

be celebrated with shipboard festivities on each of Royal Caribbean’s ships. Commenting on Royal Caribbean International’s innumerable WOW-inspiring moments, Lakshmi Durai, Executive Director, Royal Caribbean Cruises - Middle East, paid tribute to their efficient and talented trade partners across the Middle East.

“Each one of them had played an important role in Royal Caribbean’s success, which couldn’t have been achieved without their support,”

Royal Caribbean’s guiding principle, ever since the first cruise was launched, has been to deliver the ‘WOW’ factor to its guests and provide them with experiences, services and amenities that can only be found on Royal Caribbean.

she asserted. According to Durai, the cruise holiday concept is getting more and more popular amongst guests from the Middle East, with consistent double digit growth year-on-year reflecting the trend.

Spreading across the globe like a New Year’s Evestyle party, the milestone will

Royal Caribbean International’s plans for 2014 include vacations geared to

families on three to 14 night itineraries to Alaska, Australia, Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada, Caribbean, Far East, Mediterranean, Northern Europe and more. Royal Caribbean International recently celebrated the keel laying and steel cutting ceremonies for its new Quantum class of ships, the ‘Quantum of the Seas’ and ‘Anthem of the Seas’. Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to be delivered in the autumn of 2014, received its first block as the keel was officially lowered and put into place. Likewise, Quantum’s sister-ship, Anthem of the Seas, had its first piece of steel cut, signaling the first step in the ship’s construction.

Plans For 2014 The plans include vacations geared to families on 3 - 14 night itineraries to Alaska, Australia, Bermuda, Bahamas, Caribbean, Far East, and more.


NEWS

Now travel in style

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

9

UAE eyes Ukrainian visitors

Abu Dhabi Airports Company is all set to open Abu Dhabi Arabian Adventures, a Destination Management International Airport’s VIP terminal which will provide Company, has signed an agreement with a Ukrainian tour a world-class travel experience to those interested. operator, Kiev-based Travel Professional Group (TPG). T T B U R E AU

of Terminals 1 and 3, which include a dedicated drop off area, with a new road being built specially to accommodate it and will also provide separate immigration, police and baggage handling services to its passengers.

T

his new VIP terminal, part of ADAC’s Capacity Enhancement Program (CEP), will be operated by National Aviation Services (NAS), an internationally recognised aviation services provider, which also provides Golden Class services in Terminals 1 and 3. It is scheduled to open its doors in the 4th quarter of 2013. Mohammed Al Bulooki, Chief Commercial Officer, Abu Dhabi International Airport informed, “Passengers will experience a unique personalised service through the proposed VIP terminal, which includes an assurance of all travel procedures being completed in the fastest manner possible.” The VIP Terminal will be available to all passengers flying to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport at a pre-set fee and will offer passengers added privacy,

Mohammed Al Bulooki Chief Commercial Officer Abu Dhabi International Airport

Besides the new 924 sqm facility, it will add to the handling capacity of Abu Dhabi International Airport convenience and luxury. The terminal will have its own facilities, separate from those

“Besides the new 924 sqm facility all set to provide passengers with unique personalised services, it will add to the handling capacity of Abu Dhabi International Airport,” added Al Bulooki. The guests using the new terminal will be welcomed and escorted by a special services NAS agent to facilitate check-in, baggage and immigration procedures, more so accompany guests to and from the aircraft directly utilising a limousine service. According to NAS, the VIP Terminal would enhance the level of service at the existing Abu Dhabi International Airport, making it at par with the best airports in the world.

T T B U R E AU

A

s part of the agreement, Arabian Adventures, (part of the Emirates Group) as TPG’s partner in the UAE, will provide DMC services to TPG’s clients, including hotel reservations, transfers, in-resort assistance as well as tours and excursions in Russian.

travellers, is the overriding objective of the newly-inked agreement.” He added, “It is with a view to meet the increased demand and requirements from the Ukrainian leisure travel market, that Arabian Adventures are enhancing

It is with a view to meet the increased demand from the Ukrainian market, that Arabian Adventures are enhancing their offerings in Russian Peter Payet

Senior Vice-President, Arabian Adventures Peter Payet, Senior Vice-President, Arabian Adventures mentioned, “We have observed much promise in Ukraine’s leisure travel market. Working closely with TPG therefore, to promote Dubai and the UAE, as a destination of choice among Ukrainian

their offerings in Russian. It will accomplish by adding tours and increasing frequencies.” TPG looked forward to work with Arabian Adventures. The team was ecstatic in learning Emirates’

daily flights to Kiev and was optimistic about the tremendous benefit this development would be to both the countries. The Travel Professional Group assured full support to make the Kiev-Dubai route a great success by promoting travel between the two cities. Emirates had recently announced its services to Kiev which will commence on January 16, 2014. This air service will provide convenient global connections via Dubai to Ukraine’s population of 45 million and support the country’s key exports as well. Statistics from Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing show that in 2012, 70,471 visitors from Ukraine were welcomed in Dubai. There has been a 24.6 per cent increase in visitor numbers from Ukraine to Dubai during the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the figures posted during the corresponding period in 2012.


10

STATISTICS

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

Occupancy on the rise in MEA The Middle East and Africa region reported positive performance results during June 2013, according to the data compiled by STR Global. With a 5.9 per cent increase in occupancy, there was a 10.1 per cent rise in RevPAR. T T B U R E AU

W

ith the region reporting an increase in occupancy to 61.8 per cent, there was

a 4 per cent increase in average daily rate to US$141.21 and a 10.1 per cent increase in revenue per available room to US$87.21.

During the first half of 2013, the region's occupancy rose 4.9 per cent to 63.7 per cent; its ADR was up 2.9 per cent to $166.64; and its

RevPAR increased 8 per cent to $106.19. During the first half of 2013, the region reported increases in all three key performance metrics. Its

occupancy rose 4.9 per cent to 63.7 per cent, its ADR was up 2.9 per cent to US$166.64 and its RevPAR increased 8.0 per cent to US$106.19.

Hotels in the region achieved an 8 per cent RevPAR increase in the first part of 2013, growing both in occupancy and ADR terms.

Country and Market Performance For the Month of: June 2013

Year to Date - June 2013 vs June 2012 Occ %

ADR

2013 2012 Middle East/Africa COUNTRIES Bahrain Egypt Jordan Kuwait Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates MARKETS Abu Dhabi Amman Beirut Cairo Doha Dubai Jeddah Muscat Riyadh

RevPAR

Participation

Per cent Change from YTD2012

2013

2012

2013

2012

Occ.

ADR

RevPAR

Properties Census Sample

Rooms Census

Sample

63.7

60.7

166.64

161.90

106.19

98.34

4.9

2.9

8.0

5,186

1,093

707,458

235,396

49.6 52.9 55.4 57.8 63.7 65.8 67.2 79.0

43.8 47.6 65.5 55.8 56.6 58.7 67.3 75.0

215.24 66.90 149.46 239.36 219.55 210.18 189.49 220.00

216.03 67.11 138.44 225.76 211.93 224.01 174.57 209.07

106.83 35.42 82.81 138.24 139.84 138.23 127.30 173.90

94.66 31.92 90.72 126.08 119.94 131.55 117.47 156.88

13.3 11.3 -15.4 3.4 12.5 12.0 -0.2 5.3

-0.4 -0.3 8.0 6.0 3.6 -6.2 8.5 5.2

12.9 10.9 -8.7 9.6 16.6 5.1 8.4 10.8

59 608 205 47 61 69 242 505

16 102 27 20 22 34 94 227

7,758 157,280 17,684 6,587 7,551 15,762 55,464 97,069

3,228 37,860 7,026 4,348 4,147 8,903 28,996 61,710

67.6 62.6 53.0 45.2 65.9 84.4 80.1 72.3 61.3

60.2 72.9 59.1 44.9 58.7 80.9 80.9 62.7 62.2

154.09 162.24 155.85 103.24 208.17 252.73 241.34 226.53 266.03

156.93 151.30 197.44 101.00 222.32 237.04 213.48 222.38 262.61

104.18 101.54 82.58 46.65 137.21 213.20 193.35 163.80 163.06

94.51 110.28 116.78 45.30 130.58 191.70 172.67 139.44 163.37

12.3 -14.1 -10.4 0.7 12.2 4.3 -0.9 15.3 -1.5

-1.8 7.2 -21.1 2.2 -6.4 6.6 13.1 1.9 1.3

10.2 -7.9 -29.3 3.0 5.1 11.2 12.0 17.5 -0.2

90 140 68 97 67 331 39 34 49

59 12 24 33 33 141 18 14 20

20,274 10,783 7,441 23,726 15,469 63,730 6,050 4,820 8,403

16,012 3,426 3,913 13,167 8,826 39,681 3,613 2,765 4,971

Global Performance For the Month of: June 2013

Year to Date - June 2013 vs June 2012 Occ %

ADR

2013 2012 Middle East/Africa Middle East Northern Africa Southern Africa

63.7 70.4 52.3 59.7

60.7 67.7 48.0 58.0

RevPAR

Participation

Per cent Change from YTD2012

Properties

Rooms

2013

2012

2013

2012

Occ.

ADR

RevPAR

Census

Sample

Census

Sample

166.64 207.69 84.04 130.01

161.90 197.74 85.42 135.86

106.19 146.28 43.97 77.56

98.34 133.84 41.00 78.82

4.9 4.1 9.0 2.8

2.9 5.0 -1.6 -4.3

8.0 9.3 7.2 -1.6

5,186 1,363 1,445 2,378

1,093 472 137 484

707,458 230,386 299,163 177,909

235,396 123,985 46,497 64,914

Manama

Jeddah

Middle East/Africa Market Performance Graphs For the Month of: June 2013 Lagos

9.9

Doha

Abu Dhabi

12.2 12.3

Manama

12.5

Top 5 Markets: Occupancy Per cent Change

YTD June 2013 vs YTD June 2012

Source: 2013 STR Global Limited (Data in US Dollars)

Muscat

15.3 Abu Dhabi

10.2

Dubai

11.2 11.7

12.0

Top 5 Markets: RevPAR Per cent Change YTD June 2013 vs YTD June 2012

Muscat

17.5


HOTELS

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

11

Mega suite enthrals all New getaway for ME tourists The UAE's largest hotel suite, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort’s flagship Royal Suite in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, has been unveiled. Spanning 2,100 sq mt, the suite is across two floors, priced at AED130,000 a night. S U S M I TA G H O S H

treatment, adding to its custom-made nature."

T

he launch of the Royal Suite completes The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, an address that has fast evolved to become one of the city's popular leisure destinations. Saadiyat positions itself as a unique landmark, and this suite cements that promise. St. Regis is committed to deliver exceptional experiences at 30 luxury hotels and resorts in the best addresses across the world. Plans for the brand to expand include the much-anticipated St. Regis Hotels & Resorts in the Riviera Maya and in Asia, where St. Regis has announced to open hotels in Changsha, Chengdu, Kuala Lumpur, Lijiang, Nanjing, New Delhi and Zhuhai. In addition, in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, St. Regis will continue to expand in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo and Dubai.

There is a 12-seater dining room, a private study, mini-cinema and a games room on the upper floor. On the lower floor, the entire space is taken up by the master bedroom which has a private balcony, double shower, walk-in closet, spa and sauna. Max Wiegerinck Hotel Manager St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort

"The Royal Suite is a masterpiece that perfectly suits a visionary destination like Saadiyat," expressed Max Wiegerinck, Hotel Manager, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort. "This is a luxurious home away from home with personal butler service and private spa

Designed by UAEbased, Enigma Design, the interior features shades of sea mist, teal and blue. The spiral staircase with a reflective water feature at its base, together with the custom design lighting artwork, adds to the splendour. Upon arrival, the guests enter a palatial living room with a Steinway grand piano before stepping into the 12seater dining room. They may enjoy uninterrupted ocean views while lounging in the spacious terrace.

Awards galore for Gloria Gloria Hotel recently received the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) award for ‘Your Can for a Tree’ initiative. It also presented the largest supporting panel for Dubai’s initiative in hosting Expo 2020. T T B U R E AU

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he Hotel was bestowed with the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence 2013. To qualify for the same, businesses must maintain an overall rating of 4 or higher, out of 5, as reviewed by travellers on Trip Advisor's website. Additional criteria

from our visitors," said Freddy Farid, Area General Manager, Gloria Hotel and Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments. He further expressed, “We are especially proud with our staff that has taken huge responsibility in their work, and always tried to go an extra mile to please a guest.

With social media as a fundamental tool of communication for guests and the travel industry, people listen more to other people.

Freddy Farid Area General Manager Gloria Hotel and Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments

included the volume of reviews received within the previous 12 months. "It's a very special award because it is based on guests' experiences and we are very contended to have such an excellent rating

Hence, it's great pleasure to receive the Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor." The Hotel has just presented the largest supporting panel for Dubai’s initiative in hosting Expo 2020. The height of the panel is approximately 17 mt and it’s fixed all over the six floors of the hotel situated on Sheikh Zayed Road. This is one of the largest panels made in UAE

for the needs of Expo 2020 that can be seen from a very long distance. Another panel installation is being made on the facade of Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments’ building towards Abu Dhabi. Gloria Hotel is known to be one of the largest all-suite hotels in the Middle East. It offers comfortable luxury in an atmosphere to suit everyday life style with exceptional services and amenities. The hotel is a perfect combination of style and taste with contemporary, elegant and warm ambiance - the perfect location for families, executives and holidaymakers.

Expo 2020 The height of the supporting panel is approximately 17 mt and it’s fixed all over the six floors of the hotel situated on Sheikh Zayed Road Another panel installation is being made on the facade of Yassat Gloria Hotel Apartments’ building towards Abu Dhabi

The Middle East, a source of vacationers for Seychelles Islands, has another reason to celebrate the destination with the announcement of the Fregate Island Private hotel, a new addition to the Oetker Collection. T T B U R E AU

perfect harmony with the requirements of Oetker Collection - exceptional environmental settings, overall wellbeing, exquisite décor and incomparable service. It is certainly one of the most inspiring private islands worldwide.”

D

epending on more than 60 per cent of their annual GDP, the UAE is the fifth-largest provider of tourists to the islands. Over 12,800 visitors travelled to the Seychelles in 2012 from the UAE according to the Seychelles National Statistics Bureau, validating the Gulf as a gateway to the island for locals and for visitors from across Europe. Anticipating the clientele of the UAE likes privacy and greenery, Fregate Island Private lives up to the right expectations. The entire island is capable of being privatised, making it the ultimate destination for a luxury getaway that succeeds to combine limited ecological footprint as well. In addition to the brilliant coastline, its lush forest and wild protected fauna, the resort is a true masterpiece.

Frank Marrenbach CEO Oetker Collection

Fregate Island Private is in perfect harmony with the requirements of Oetker Collection Frank Marrenbach, CEO, Oetker Collection, stated, “Fregate Island Private is in

Each property of Oetker Collection is one-of-a-kind, reflecting the unique European heritage with exceptional and historic architecture and interiors with great attention to detail. Moreover, it enhances the portfolio of resorts recently joining the Collection: Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France in the French West Indies and Palais Namaskar, Marrakech.

Ultimate Luxury The Island is capable of being privatised, making it the ultimate luxury destination that succeeds to combine limited ecological footprint as well


12

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

FAMILY ALBUM

Lo and Behold! A star is born•••

With the guest count spiralling upwards of 450, the launch of TRAVTALK TV was most definitely a first in the history of travel trade journalism. Along with travel agents, there were dignitaries, path-breakers, chairmen and CEOs from travel, aviation, hospitality, tour operators, and government heavyweights to share the excitement of an event of this magnitude. A veritable list of who’s who, everybody who was anybody in the travel trade industry was seen at the launch of TRAVTALK TV.


FAMILY ALBUM

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

13

Creating a new horizon for the industry


14

TECHNOLOGY

TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

Amadeus bets high in Qatar Strengthening Saudi base Amadeus, a transaction processor and technology partner to the travel & tourism industry, has bagged a renewal of its long-term contract with Regency Travel & Tours, a prominent Travel Management Company in Qatar. T T B U R E AU

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he new partnership entails Amadeus committing to continue providing solutions to Regency Travel & Tours. The adoption of

Wafiq Al-Wahidi General Manager Amadeus Qatar

these solutions, clubbed with decades of travel domain expertise, will ensure Regency Travel & Tours continue on their impressive growth trajectory. It will keep strengthening their client base.

A special memento was presented on the occasion by Wafiq Al-Wahidi, General Manager, Amadeus Qatar to Tareq Abdullatif Taha, CEO, Regency Travel & Tours to commemorate the longstanding partnership and on being the leading and exclusive producer of segments for Amadeus in Qatar. He added,

“We are now in full engagement to implement the latest tools, technologies and processes to enhance and power Regency Travel & Tours into the next generation of innovation and outstanding customer service.” Among Regency Travel & Tours’ prestigious list of

clientele are prominent local and regional corporations like government and semi-government agencies, universities, banks, multinational companies and a multitude of SME’s. This position of being the leading Travel Management Company in the country brings with it the responsibility of cultivating a culture of innovation. Regency Travel & Tours’ partnership with Amadeus not only introduces the latest tools and solutions but also includes Consulting and Custom IT solutions. It will boost the travel management company’s productivity and offer unrivalled customer service, efficiently catering to the complex travel management requirements of large governmental, multinational and SME organisations in Qatar and the region.

Bahrain-headquartered travel technology company, Sabre Travel Network Middle East (Sabre or STNME) has renewed its mutual agreement with Mosaid Travel and Tourism, a travel agency in Saudi Arabia and the region. T T B U R E AU

help the latter rapidly scale and expand their business.”

T

he renewal of their pact will enable Mosaid to continue using the travel technology company’s wide ranging Sabre Red portfolio, which provides agents with the latest technical capabilities to shop, book and manage travel. While the signing of the accord signals strengthening of Sabre’s relationship with Mosaid, it also marks a consolidation of its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Commenting on the agreement, Ramzi Al-Qassab, Regional Commercial Director, Sabre Travel Network Middle East said, “Mosaid Travel and Tourism’s growth has been on a strong trajectory. The current partnership with Sabre would equip Mosaid with the very latest technology products and services, which would

He noted, “In a dynamic marketplace, Sabre strives to provide technological advantage to their customers to accelerate their business growth.”

Ramzi Al-Qassab Regional Commercial Director Sabre Travel Network Middle East

The current partnership with Sabre would equip Mosaid with the very latest technology products & services

According to Mosaid Travel and Tourism, Sabre is a trusted partner capable of continuously developing innovative products & services across corporate and leisure segments. Sabre’s consistent commitment to Mosaid’s business and customers and their hands-on support and counsel has helped shape the company’s success. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key market for Sabre and the company has made significant investments to enhance its presence in this region.

Cementing ties across MEA Domestic tourism in focus Travelport, a distribution services and e-commerce provider for the travel industry, has renewed its partnership with Uniglobe - Let’s Go Travel, one of East Africa's longest established tour operators. T T B U R E AU

right technology and support to meet all their requirements, and help reach the next level in their journey.

U

niglobe Let’s Go Travel will as a result of the new deal continue to benefit from Travelport’s leadingedge products, including Smartpoint search and booking tool. Besides, the Kenyan firm would have access to Travelport’s latest technology solutions. These include Agentivity – Travelport’s business intelligence suite for travel agents – and Travelport Mobile Agent. “The new three-year contract was a measure of the confidence that the local industry continues to repose in Travelport’s innovative product offering and unrivalled customer service,” informed Mark Meehan, Managing Director, Travelport Africa. The last-named solution is a unique mobile Global Distribution Systems (GDS) application that enables agents complete access to Travelport content from an iPad or iPhone device while on the go.

Mark Meehan Managing Director Travelport Africa

Travelport Africa is fully committed to meet the current and future travel technology needs As a result of the longterm working ties of Uniglobe Let’s Go Travel with Travelport, the latter understood their business needs. Moreover, Travelport had the

Meehan asserted, “Travelport Africa is fully committed to meet the current and future travel technology needs of Uniglobe Let’s Go Travel even as Travelport continued to grow its presence across the East Africa region.” Meehan added that Kenya and the wider East Africa region remained an important focus for Travelport. The new agreement with Uniglobe Let’s Go Travel was the latest milestone in Travelport’s continued growth in East Africa, following the recent launch of a direct Travelport operation for travel agents in Nairobi. Notably, customer signings, is a renewed deal with Uniglobe Skylink Travel & Tours in Tanzania. Travelport was currently operating in 47 countries across Africa with more in the pipeline.

Salalah Tourism Festival, which started on August 10, will continue till September 6, 2013 this year, celebrating the unique history, culture and climate of Oman’s southern Governorate of Dhofar. T T B U R E AU

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alalah is considered as one of the most attractive tourist attractions, particularly, in autumn. Travellers from across the GCC and beyond will be given an opportunity to experience the Khareef. It’s the only area in the GCC where people can escape the desert heat and enjoy rain.

through various forums and events held in Oman.

flights from August 20 till September 15.

Oman Air has announced its participation as the official carrier and major sponsor in promoting Dhofar governorate in general, and Salalah Tourism Festival in particular. The Airline has sponsored this event since inception, boosting domestic tourism

To meet the demand due to the increasing volume of passengers flying to Salalah, Oman Air has added extra flights between Salalah-Muscat-Salalah. The Airline operated up to 9 to 11 daily flights in this sector, since June 1 till August 19 and up to 11 to 13 daily

Increased flights between the two cities were from 210 to 291 in June, 217 to 274 in July, 216 to 328 flights in August and 105 to 161 flights in September, resulting in a total of 88, 536 additional seats being offered during these months.

Arrivals to ME up by 13%  Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of 2013, according to the Advance Edition of the

UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released on the occasion of the UNWTO 20th General Assembly. This represents an increase of 5 per cent or an additional 25 mil-

lion international tourists compared to the same period of 2012. Growth was stronger in emerging economy destinations than in advanced economies.


MOVEMENTS Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat Abu Dhabi

Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Hajar Tower Makkah Saudi Arabia

SEPTEMBER, 2013

TRAVTALK

15

Etihad Airways Yemen

Manager of Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat. With more than 25 years of experience in premium hospitality management, Loveday most recently worked at The Capital Clubs in Dubai and Bahrain. He has also managed a number of other clubs across the US, including the prestigious Houston Club. He is passionate about fine dining & drinks and has even trained as a sommelier.

Adel Erfan is the new General Manager of Mövenpick Hotel and Residences Hajar Tower Makkah. In his new role, Erfan has been tasked with managing all hotel departmental operations as well as enhancing the presence and profile of one of Makkah's landmark hotels. An Egyptian national, he has over 32 years of experience in the GCC region.

Yahya Ahmed Hussein Al-Robaydi is the new General Manager of Etihad Airways in Yemen. He will be based in Sana’a. He will be responsible for driving commercial results and developing strong relationships with the travel trade and the corporate customer segment in the country. AlRobaydi’s experience and expertise, coupled with his proven track record within the industry will enable him to develop and manage the Airline’s commercial activities in the market.

Royal Tulip Luxury hotels, Alexandria Egypt

Royal Rose Hotel UAE

Jumeirah Group Singapore

Nickolas Chatzipetros is the new Deputy General Manager of Royal Rose Hotel, the first 5-star property owned by the Bin Ham Group and managed by the City Seasons Group of Hotels. In his new role, Chatzipetros will assist and deputise the hotel’s GM and will ensure that the brand standards are efficiently implemented. An all rounded hotelier with vast experience in Hotel PreOpenings and high class Food & Beverage operations, Chatzipetros has worked in various properties in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

James Mabbey is the new Senior Vice President Development for the Asia Pacific region for the Jumeirah Group. A US national, Mabbey has 15 years’ experience in the Asia Pacific Region. For the past two and a half years he has been working for Marco Polo Hotels. In his new role, Mabey shall be responsible for securing new management contracts for hotels and serviced apartments that meet Jumeirah’s luxury standards throughout Asia Pacific.

Royal Tulip Alexandria Egypt

British Airways UK

Ahmed Hisham is the new Director of Sales & Marketing for Royal Tulip Alexandria. Hisham was formerly DOS for many hotels like Intercontinental Hotels Group, Conrad, and Director of Sales & Marketing for Grand Nile Tower, Dusit&Ibrotel. He has a vast experience in the hospitality sector for both the international and local tourism market.

Mike Rock has been appointed as the new Sales Manager for Central Asia and the Levant. In his new role, Rock will be responsible for managing the British Airways sales teams across Lebanon, Jordan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. As the sales manager for the region, he will develop tailored solutions for corporate travellers, special sales offers for the region, along with building a relationship of the Airline with the local travel agents.

Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Dubai

Bill Loveday has been appointed as the new General

Khader Qasem has been appointed by Golden Tulip MENA as the General Manager for the new Royal Tulip Luxury hotels, Alexandria. With experience of over 12 years in hospitality, he has been working for Golden Tulip for the last nine years. He was previously working as the GM in Golden Tulip Airpor t Amman and Director of Finance in Golden Tulip Khasab Dibba in Oman.

Nasser Fawzi has been appointed as the Area Director of Sales for the Arabian Gulf (UAE, Qatar and Bahrain) in 2013. A long-standing member of the Kempinski family, he joined Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates in 2009 as Director of Sales and Marketing. Originally from Syria, Fawzi spent most of his working life abroad. He started his career in the hospitality industry in his home country Syria, and moved to the UAE in the mid 1990’s.

Emirates to launch services to Taipei Emirates announced the launch of non-stop passenger services to Taipei, its 16th destination in the Far East. The service will commence from February 10, 2014, initially with six flights per week to Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport. The route will be operated by a three class Boeing 777-300ER equipped with eight luxurious private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class, and generous space for 304 passengers in Economy Class, along with gourmet cuisine in all classes - served by Emirates’ multinational cabin crew. Taipei, home to nearly seven million people, is an economic and cultural centre with renowned sights, attractions

and a myriad of shopping options. “Emirates SkyCargo has operated a dedicated freighter service to Taipei since 2003. Given its status as a global trading hub and the demand, it is a natural progression for Emirates to launch passenger services to Taipei,” said Barry Brown,

Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations East, Emirates. Emirates’ home, Dubai is another world-class trading centre and this launch is a strong example of not only linking two great commercial destinations, but also promoting international travel and trade. Through Dubai,

Emirates offers its international passengers a one-stop connection from Taipei to 70 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. “We are confident that this new route will open up new trade opportunities across the Emirates network as well as support business and tourism travel to Taipei,” concluded Brown. Emirates now operates services to 134 destinations in 76 countries from Dubai. Earlier this year Emirates launched services to Warsaw and Algiers, followed by Haneda, Japan in June. Emirates has announced plans to launch services to Stockholm starting 4th September, to Clark International Airport in the Philippines among others.

World’s highest suspended hotel suite St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc., announced the debut of The St. Regis Abu Dhabi. The property features 283 sumptuously-appointed guest rooms, including 55 elegant suites, all offering panoramic waterfront views of the Arabian Gulf. It also features one of the world's highest suspended hotel suite - loftily positioned 200 mt above ground between the two towers.


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TRAVTALK SEPTEMBER, 2013

HIGHLIGHTS

UAE carriers look East Waldorf Astoria enters UAE An agreement was signed on August 15,2013, between the UAE represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Government of the People’s Republic of China in Yinchuan, Ningxia. T T B U R E AU

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ccording to the latest figures of UAE National Bureau of Statistics, tourists and investors are increasingly taking in UAE-bound flights, estimated 361,000 visitors from China to UAE during Q1 2012.

Delegation Han Jun, Director General of the International Affairs Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Representatives from Abu Dhabi Department of Transport, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Sharjah

With this new agreement, the designated carriers will have an access to and from new markets in China Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi

Director General, GCAA

As there is a huge potential in the UAE-China air move, the new agreement was signed by the Head of the UAE delegation Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi, Director General, GCAA and the Head of the Chinese

Department of Civil Aviation, Etihad Airways, Emirates Airlines, Air Arabia and flydubai attended the signing ceremony. Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi stressed, “With this new agreement, the desig-

nated carriers will have access to and from new markets in China. Not only will it improve the cultural ties, but will contribute in further boosting the trade, investment and tourism between UAE and China.”

Hilton Worldwide's luxury brand of landmark hotels, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts announced on August 1, 2013, the opening of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. It is the brand's first hotel in the UAE. S U S M I TA G H O S H

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he highly anticipated 346-room Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is expected to delight experts of luxury with many distinctive

Adding that UAE and China enjoy prospering trade and investment ties, UAE exports to China exceed AED1 billion and imports have reached AED54 billion in 2012. The two delegations agreed to increase passenger and combination service frequencies for operations to Urumqi, Xining, Kashgar, Yinchuan and Zhengzhou. The Chinese agreed unlimited frequencies with third, fourth and fifth freedom traffic rights at Haikou, Sanya and Yinchuan for passenger and combination and all-cargo services for the designated airlines.

its first hotel opened over 80 years ago.

two temperatures controlled outdoor pools.

"Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts are known for elegance and amazing experiences across the world provided to their guests," said John T.A. Vanderslice, Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands, Hilton Worldwide.

It will also offer one of the Emirate's largest spa's featuring 1650 sq mt of surroundings with 12 luxurious bespoke treatment rooms. An array of treatments incorporating indigenous herbs and rituals will also be offered.

Global Head of Luxury and Lifestyle Brands, Hilton Worldwide

"Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah will portray these values to become a destination of choice for travellers seeking style, service and comfort."

features. The property is designed to bring true luxury and sophistication to RAK for the first time. The hotel brand has attracted some of the most well-known figures from history to its doors since

Including beautifully designed over-sized rooms and suites, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah will boast of first-class 18-hole championship golf course, a 350-metre private beach and

John T.A. Vanderslice

Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah will also offer facilities for meetings, business and social gatherings. There has never been a launch of such world class luxury brand in the UAE. Now the same quality of service and amenities in the Middle East reminiscent of those superior brand values of luxury experience is offered. Seeking an authentic Emirati experience, Ras Al Khaimah is rapidly becoming a popular choice among the travellers, be it leisure, adventure or cultural.

TTME September 13  

TTME September 13

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