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12 MAY 2012

ISSUE 131


12 MAY 2012

ISSUE 131

Fairmont Ajman to Open in 2013 Fairmont Ajman is to welcome its first guests early 2013.

Meliá Hotels International has embarked on the soft opening of Meliá Dubai, marking the Spanish hotel group’s foray into the region.

14 Etihad Airways Verifies Venture with Aer Lingus Etihad Airways purchases a stake of the Irish flag carrier, Aer Lingus.

16 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE

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WEEKLY NEWS

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ACCOMMODATION

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AIR NEWS

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WHO'S MOVED

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TRAVEL TALK

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AGENT'S CORNER

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TRAVEL CHANNELS

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RENDEZVOUS

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NEWS & EVENTS

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Meliá Dubai Opens its Doors

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS

Dubai: Impressive Q1 Hotel Performance Following stellar occupancy levels in 2011, Dubai’s hotel industry continued to post encouraging results in the first quarter of the year, based on data compiled by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Katerina Dalal DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

10/05/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.04

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

62.55

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.56

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.59

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,238.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

213.61

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

75.07

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.26

D

uring the three-month period, Dubai’s hotels and hotel apartments welcomed nearly 2.6 million guests, marking an increase of nine percent over the corresponding period in 2011. Guestnights swelled by 22 percent to reach 10.35 million, while revenues amounted to AED5.38 million (USD1.5 million), up 24 percent. Meanwhile, the number of hotels increased one percent to reach 577 bringing the total number of rooms and flats to 75,171. As a result of these, hotel room and apartment flat occupancy levels stood at 87 percent and 84

percent respectively, equivalent to a year-onyear increase of eight percent and five percent. Khalid bin Sulayem, director general, DTCM, attributed the improvement to the substantial expansion of Dubai’s tourist infrastructure, wider destination awareness, air connectivity, and an increasingly impressive portfolio of tourism products, as well as the emirate’s aggressive promotional and marketing drive, and its annual Dubai Shopping Festival. Saudi Arabia remained Dubai’ s top source market with 272,631 guests from the Kingdom visiting the emirate, followed by India, the UK, and the US.

DXB: Continued Double-Digit Growth Dubai International’s passenger volume has yet again exceeded the 4.5 million mark after recording a solid 15.4 percent growth in March. During the month under review, the airport handled a total of 4,848,320 passengers, marking the third consecutive month with passenger numbers surpassing 4.5 million, and propelling traffic in the first quarter to over 14.26 million, up 16.1 percent over the corresponding period in 2011. The GCC continued to top the list of regions with the largest increase in total passenger numbers, followed by Western Europe and Africa. New routes and additional frequencies are building on the magnetic attraction of Dubai’s hub as a premier leisure and business destination, and a convenient connecting point for global travellers, according to Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, who further explained that, as growth continues to pick up in almost all markets, both traditional and new, the outlook for the second quarter is similarly positive.

Dubai International Terminal

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WEEKLY NEWS Wadi Adventure Welcomes First Visitors Wadi Adventure, the Middle East’s first man-made facility to offer white water rafting, kayaking, and surfing, has officially opened its gates at Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain. In addition, the adventure park, developed by Tamouh, also features a surf pool, a summits event centre with a capacity of up to 1,000 people, a number of food and beverage outlets, and retails stores. Marking its foray into the entertainment sector, Tamouh has

Holidaysarabia. com Launched Designed specifically to help travellers plan, research, and book on a user-friendly platform, Holidaysarabia.com, part of World At Travel, has been launched. The new company, which aims to bring together Middle Eastern travellers and the hotel and tourism industry, promises to provide top quality alongside the best last-minute deals for hotel stays, holidays, car rentals, adventure tours, and in-destination activities and attractions. Commenting on the dedicated online service, Adnan Hamdani, managing director, Holidaysarabia.com, said, “As one of the fastest online travel markets in the world, the Middle East market is an important part of our growth strategy and the launch of our website is the first step in a programme of investments in this region over the next two years.” Hamdani further added that Holidaysarabia.com aims to guarantee customers with levels of personal comfort, reassurance, and service that meets their highest expectations at all times.

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created a new ‘must-visit’ destination to Al Ain’s tourist map, this according to Joe Ong, managing director, Tamouh, who added that it has been a privilege to closely collaborate with Abu Dhabi's government over the past three years to develop the park. “The region's first man-made water park, the destination contributes to Abu Dhabi's vision to position itself as a key tourist attraction,” Ong expressed.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Abu Dhabi to Host MECAS Aeropodium, in association with Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies, is set to present the first Middle East Corporate Aviation Summit (MECAS) at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi on June 7. MECAS will explore the latest developments in the corporate aviation sector of the Middle East as well as new business opportunities and future challenges likely to emerge in the region, providing a platform for all manufacturers, operators, and corporate

aviation-related organisations. Moreover, professionals will be provided with the opportunity to debate the future of business aviation, learn about the latest developments in light jets, explore the air taxi market, discuss different business models, enhance their knowledge about the regional market and infrastructure development, as well as network with leading experts and business aircraft operators.

Katara Hospitality Debuts with Iconic Projects Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) has revealed its new corporate identity, Katara Hospitality, heralding a new era of expansion for the hospitality giant. The hotel company is embarking on a new wave of strategic expansion with the twin goals of raising brand awareness in key targeted international markets and developing long-term business-to-business partnerships with leading global hospitality and tourism players, all in line with the country’s National Vision 2030 plan. According to Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality, the company is looking to increase the number of hotels and resorts to 60 by 2030. Meanwhile, future targets include a number of openings in Switzerland, Italy, France, Union of Comoros, and Qatar, over the next four years, including the Royal Savoy Lausanne, Gallia Hotel Milan, The Peninsula Hotel Paris, Bßrgenstock Resort Lake Lucerne, Comoros Beach Resort, and Merwebhotel City Centre Doha.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Anjum Hotels Launches in Saudi Arabia Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company (ALJREIC), one of the leading real estate and development companies in Saudi Arabia focused on developing hotel facilities for Hajj and Ummrah visitors, has announced the launch of its new full service hospitality brand, Anjum Hotels. The brand will primarily operate ALJREIC’s SAR10 billion (USD2 billion) Jabal Al Ka’aba project in Mecca, which will add up to 8,500

hotel rooms in a cluster of hotels over the next few years. The flagship of Anjum Hotels will be Anjum Makkah Hotel, which will mark the first phase of the Jabal Al Ka’aba project when it opens in 2013. Hajj and Ummrah travellers will be the key markets for the property which will offer guests an array of exclusive services such as a Manasek desk to assist them throughout their religious rituals.

Providing Efficient Platforms Sabre Travel Network has announced that as of June 1, the voyage inventory for Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises will be available to all Sabre-connected travel agencies. The addition of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, both units of Prestige Cruise Holdings, brings the number of cruise lines offered through Sabre's cruise shopping and booking tools to 14. Moreover, this will enable agents to increase their luxury and upperpremium cruise offerings to their customers with the use of Sabre’s cruise booking tools. Kunal Kamlani, president, Prestige Cruise Holdings, commented, “Providing access to Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ and Oceania Cruises’ inventory through the Sabre global distribution systems agency network, expands our reach into the agency community and gives our most important partners another efficient platform to secure memorable vacation experiences for their clients aboard our award-winning vessels.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Starwood and Al Habtoor to Open Three New Hotels in Dubai Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Al Habtoor Group to open three new properties in Dubai by 2017. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, the 92,300m2 development will feature the first St. Regis property in the emirate with 241 rooms and suites, a 384-key W Hotel with 88 suites, and a 1,050-room and 129-suite Westin branded hotel. Roeland Vos, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Europe, Africa and Middle East, said, “This landmark project underlines Starwood’s commitment to continued growth in the region and further strengthens our long-established position as one of the leading hotel operators in the Middle East.” Bringing three world-class brands together will turn the project into a true landmark, Mohamed Al Habtoor, CEO, Al Habtoor Group, similarly expressed.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts Debuts in Qatar Hilton Hotels & Resorts has opened its first property in Qatar, expanding the company's global portfolio to 80 countries. Located in the capital city’s prestigious corniche, Hilton Doha boasts 309 rooms and a plethora of corporate and leisure facilities, altogether paving the way for the property to become a prime example of high standards and quality, this according to Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts. “Our brand is recognised for entering new markets and successfully creating landmark products that appeal to both leisure and business travellers. Hilton Doha continues this legacy and this is an exciting milestone for us,” he said. Meanwhile, Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide, Middle East and Africa, shared similar sentiments, emphasising the ambition to bring the Hilton brand’s trademark hospitality and service to such an exciting and motivated city community.

12 MAY 2012


Accommodation

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara to Open in June Introducing a new level of luxury hospitality in the UAE capital, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara is to open its doors on June 1. Nestled among Abu Dhabi’s mangrove reserves, the five-star resort, owned by Tourism Development and Investment Company, comprises 222 rooms, including a royal residence, signature food and beverage outlets, a spa, a 560m2 ballroom with a capacity of up to 460 guests, and a plethora of amenities. The hotel was designed to become the jewel of Abu Dhabi’s ‘tourism crown’, according to Michel Koopman, general manager, Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, who added, “Through its location and services, the hotel appeals to business executives looking to combine work and rest, as well as leisure guests.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

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Meliá Dubai Opens its Doors Meliá Hotels International has embarked on the soft opening of Meliá Dubai, marking the Spanish hotel group’s foray into the GCC region. Expressing delight to having launched the first Spanish five-star hotel in the Middle East, Gilles Longuet, general manager, Meliá Dubai, said, “Over time, the two ancient cultures of Arabic and Spanish have traded language, architecture, and heritage. As Meliá opens its doors in the heart of historic Dubai, Spanish hospitality comes to the Middle East. In a sense, Meliá Dubai is home.” Situated in the heart of Bur Dubai, the hotel is in close proximity to main shopping and commercial districts as well as Dubai International. Besides 164 rooms, the property boasts the highly anticipated Titanic by Marco Pierre White and Spanish-inspired all-day restaurants, while the second phase will see the addition of more facilities.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Enriching the Ritz-Carlton Experience The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has debuted the Ritz-Carlton Mobile App, which also includes ‘Presidential Tips’ whereby Herve Humler, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, shares his favourite opinions and advice about each hotel with consumers. “I want to enrich the Ritz-Carlton experience for our guests further with details about the things I have found to be quite memorable and marvellous in my travels. With The Ritz-Carlton App, I can

now do that very easily and in real-time,” Humler said. In addition, The Ritz-Carlton App will debut with 20 hotels providing Quick Response (QR) code experience tours on-property, includes GPS technology, and can also provide location specific advice, information, and exclusive offers. Guests can also keep up with a resort’s activity calendar, make reservations, check itineraries, and even manage Ritz-Carlton Rewards accounts in a simple format.

The Ajman Palace Gears Up for Opening The Ajman Palace, managed by Hospitality Management Holdings is to introduce a brand new concept in the regional hospitality industry when it opens this summer. The 254-unit property, located on its own private beach opposite the Ruler’s Palace, is to boast a 1,200m2 ballroom with a grand foyer, a conference hall, and three meeting rooms, which are expected to make it a ‘must-visit’ venue, according to Christian Huschka, director of business development, The Ajman Palace. The property is also focusing its efforts on becoming a pioneer in innovative green credentials explained Roland Overmeier, general manager, The Ajman Palace. “As a new hotel, it has been one of the priorities from the outset to look after our environment,” he revealed, further mentioning the use of e-cards rather than paper business cards and solar energy panels with the aim of setting an example for the community.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Fairmont Ajman to Open in 2013 Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is to further expand its network in the region as it gears up for the opening of Fairmont Ajman in early 2013. The property will be prominently situated on the corniche and will front 250m of beaches offering an ideal base for leisure and incentive travellers alike with the inclusion of watersport facilities. Comprising 252 rooms and suites and a selection of food and beverage options including a shisha terrace, the hotel is also set to provide event planners with 2,000m2 of indoor function space. Commenting on the new property, Jennifer Fox, president, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, said, “With its close proximity to the Sharjah and Dubai airports, the resort will attract travellers from Europe as well as serve as a popular destination for GCC residents.”

Accommodation

Jebel Ali to Manage Four-Star Beach Hotel

Ocean View Hotel

Jebel Ali International Hotels is to open Ocean View Hotel, the only four-star beach property on Dubai’s coastline, at the end of the year. Standing along The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, overlooking the Arabian Gulf and The Palm Jumeirah, the property will feature 341 rooms and suites, five restaurants and bars, swimming pool, health club, and a conference centre with six meeting rooms. “Positioning is crucial for any new entrant into Dubai’s maturing hospitality scene and Ocean View Hotel will fill a very important gap in the market,” stressed David Thomson, regional general manager, Jebel Ali International Hotels. “The four-star classification, prime beachfront location and relaxed family friendly environment will appeal to a vast cross section of travellers, though still being very specific about what it stands for,” he concluded.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Etihad Airways Verifies Venture with Aer Lingus Etihad Airways has confirmed that it has acquired a 2.99 percent stake of the Irish flag carrier, Aer Lingus. The UAE based airline said the purchase reflected its desire to forge a commercial partnership with the Irish company as the team at Etihad Airways believes a possible alliance could produce significant benefits for both airlines. Furthermore, the UAE’s national carrier operates 10 flights a week from its hub in Abu Dhabi to the Irish capital, Dublin, and has carried more than 750,000 passengers between the two cities since it launched the route in July 2007. Etihad Airways also has a premium lounge at Dublin Airport, an engineering maintenance facility, and has conducted recruitment drives across the country. It also recently renewed its sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association, signing a five-year deal.

Royal Jet Introduces New Division International luxury flights services company Royal Jet has launched a new division in a bid to provide its customers with exotic and prestigious travel holidays. The luxury vacations section is a result of a new partnership between the Abu Dhabi-based private aviation company and one of the UK’s largest independent luxury travel providers, Eden Luxury Group. It is expected to create distinguished travel solutions for those seeking vacations outside of the present charter business, as Shane O'Hare, CEO, Royal Jet, explained. “Today’s luxury traveller is demanding comfort, personal and intuitive service, and exclusive experiences, and our new venture will focus on delivering those needs in a growing market. Royal Jet has been a market leader in the private jet sector, and the luxury vacations division will protect and grow Royal Jet’s position.”

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Air News

Ryanair to Offer Services from Liverpool to Warsaw Ryanair has announced the operation of three weekly flights from Liverpool to Poland’s newest airport, WarsawModlin, which is set to open this summer. With the additional services slated for take-off on October 28, the number of Ryanair destinations served from Liverpool will total 36. Robin Tudor, head of public relations, Peel Airports, commented, “Warsaw is an important European capital city popular for both leisure and business markets and we expect this three-times-weekly service to be popular with passengers across the region. This further demonstrates Ryanair’s commitment to flights from Liverpool and we will continue to work closely with Ryanair to look at other future opportunities.” Ryanair

flydubai Drives UAE Tourism New figures have further verified flydubai’s performance over the past 12 months and confirmed the airline’s pivotal role in the UAE’s tourism industry. Statistics covering the period between February 2011 and March this year, highlight a 284 percent annual growth in passenger numbers from the CIS and Eastern Europe markets and an 89 percent annual increase from the GCC. In just three years, the low-cost airline has launched services to more than 45 destinations across 29 countries and is now the second largest airline operating out of Dubai International. The carrier, which offers 78 regular flights per week to 13 different destinations in the CIS countries, Eastern, and Central Europe, and 424 services per week on its GCC network, has proven to be a pioneering force on a number of levels, according to Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, who expressed particular excitement for what he described as a journey which has only just begun. flydubai

12 MAY 2012

WEEKLY NEWS

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Qatar Airways Unveils Expansion Plans Qatar Airways has unveiled its expansion plans which will see the airline cover a large range of markets across its global network. Starting May 23 and June 7, the carrier will launch four weekly services to two Iraqi cities, namely Erbil and Baghdad, respectively, while Perth, Australia, will be served thrice-weekly commencing on July 3. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, will follow with daily services set to launch on July 25, while Mombasa, Kenya, is expected to join the airline’s network on August 15, with a daily service connected to Doha. Effective October 3, Qatar Airways will resume operations to Myanmar, offering three weekly flights to the capital, Yangon. The airline is also stepping up capacity to selected destinations in phases including the Doha – Milan, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Cairo, Kuala Lumpur, and Paris routes.


WHO'S MOVED

Chantel Moore Chantel Moore has been appointed general manger of BurJuman Arjaan by Rotana, Dubai. Moore, who has been working in the hospitality sector for more than 19 years, boasts extensive experience from across the globe including Australia, the UK, and the Middle East. Dur-

ing her seven-year tenure in Dubai, she served Accor and the Habtoor Group, most recently as general manager of the Metropolitan Hotel. Moore brings a solid background in business development, international sales and marketing, reservations, and hotel operations to her new position.

Axel Jarosch Axel Jarosch has been appointed general manager of Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman. He has been mandated with overseeing the resort’s daily operations and ensuring superior guest experience. Most recently, he worked as operations director in charge of hotel openings for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, based in Abu Dhabi, with responsibilities for a soon-to-open hotel. Prior to that, he served as general manager at Anantara Al Ma-

12 MAY 2012

dina A’Zarga Oman Resort & Spa during its pre-opening stage. Jarosch has also held the position of general manager at Desert Palm Retreat & Spa in Dubai and the same role at The Fortress Sri Lanka Resort & Spa. His professional experience also derives from senior positions at Constance Hotels in the Seychelles, Namibia, and Mauritius. According to Jarosch, his main passion is upper-market, boutique resorts.

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Neman Abdallah Neman Abdallah has rejoined Golden Tulip as general manager of the 176-room Golden Tulip Galleria Hotel, Beirut, located in Jnah, one of the luxurious residential districts of the Lebanese capital city. Having previously worked with a number of internationally renowned hotel

chains at various locations across the Middle East and Europe, Abdallah brings a wealth of experience in hotel management to his new position. His solid background and professional approach to manage hotels and lead his team will be major assets to the property’s success.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Ghaith Al Ghaith

David Jamieson

CEO, flydubai.

General manager, Centro Sharjah.

“flydubai’s formula has proved a great success since we launched operations in June 2009, with our growing passenger numbers making us the second largest carrier operating out of Dubai International Airport. As we continue to expand our route network, more people are able to take advantage of our everyday low fares. The airline industry is sensitive to many developments but the overall picture is certainly optimistic for the year.”

“The emirate’s tourism sector continues its pace of development with a strong growth in the number of tourists from Russia and the former Soviet Bloc countries, Central Europe, along with stable demand from the regional GCC and South Asian markets. Being the Islamic cultural capital of the UAE, Sharjah is focusing on cultural and family tourism, eco tourism, as well as conference tourism.”

12 MAY 2012


AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT'S INSIGHT

An Event of Appreciation

NAME: Joseph Kanakry POSITION: CEO COMPANY: Vent Nouveau Travel & Tourism LOCATION: Lebanon WEB: www.ventnouveau.com.lb Who are you? My name is Joseph Kanakry and I am the CEO and founder of Vent Nouveau Travel & Tourism. The company was established in 1970 with the mission of serving the Lebanese tourism and business industry to its fullest. The agency serves both the incoming and the outgoing travel industries and is a professional Destination Management Consultant. What is your favourite thing about working in this industry? My favourite thing is pursuing my passion for the travel industry. When is the best time to visit Lebanon? All year round, nevertheless, during the long spring from February until June. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I prefer to discover the beauty of Lebanon. Why should people come to you for travel advice? They should come to us due to our professional and subjective one to one attention.

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Grand Millennium Dubai

Delegates from Grand Millennium Dubai visited Kuwait during the month of April and held a distinctive event in appreciation of the support extended from top travel agents, tour operators, and corporate clients. Peter Mansourian, general manager, Grand Millennium Dubai, commented, “We are delighted to visit Kuwait to solidify and celebrate our successful relationship. The GCC market has always been one of our main feeder markets and we are consistently keen to maintain and expand our services and offerings to meet and exceed their requirements and expectations.�


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Tourism to Drive Socio-Economic Development Tourism plays a crucial role in contributing to GDP and employment in developed and developing countries alike, as participants at the United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XIII), Qatar, underscored. Under the theme Development-Centered Globalization: Towards Inclusive and Sustainable Growth and Development, the event highlighted the global economy’s ability to spread its benefits more inclusively and sustainably. The different stages of tourism development in various countries and the need for better policies and support measures to be called to spur internationally competitive tourism strategies were also discussed. According to Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general, UNCTAD, and Mårcio Favilla, executive director for competitiveness, external relations and partnerships, UNWTO, the tourism industry has emerged as one of the global economy's most beneficial contributors to development, poverty reduction, and economic growth.

Reducing the Maximum Levels of Sulphur in Marine Fuels Limits set out by the Marine Environment Protection Committee are to reduce the maximum levels of sulphur in marine fuels to 0.1 percent, as these new policies are to come into force in 2015. This regulation may be a positive step towards improving the environmental reputation of the maritime industry, however, it presents a significant challenge to the cruise sector which has been enjoying an exceptional rate of growth in recent years. As the costs of low-sulphur fuels are set to rise, it remains to be seen which market-based mechanisms and incentives will be put into place to encourage emission reductions and soften the economic impact on operators. Cruise lines companies therefore have three years to come up with a technological solution to avoid having to purchase more lightweight fuels thus resulting in hugely elevated expenditure.

12 MAY 2012


RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Jean-Philippe Bittencourt With the recent surge in hotel supply across the UAE, hoteliers are eyeballing their focuses on setting themselves apart from their peers. Jean-Philippe Bittencourt, general manager, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, talks about the brand’s debut amid Abu Dhabi’s ever-changing face.

Travel Trade Weekly: Opened in March, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche marks the hotel company’s debut in the capital and its second property in the UAE. What makes the brand an ideal addition to the UAE capital’s hospitality scene? Jean-Philippe Bittencourt: Introducing the Sofitel brand in Abu Dhabi implies a great added value as it is the first French luxury brand to enter the UAE capital’s market. The hotel will differentiate itself with its refined contemporary design and with its French ‘art de reçevoir’ blended with the Arabic warm hospitality.

Jean-Philippe Bittencourt: A lot of corporate events are already planned for the coming year and we are also targeting social events as we have a ballroom that can host up to 1,000 people.

Jean-Philippe Bittencourt General manager, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

Travel Trade Weekly: Besides a selection of bars and restaurants, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche also features an extensive business centre with a number of meeting rooms. How do you think the MICE sector will contribute to the hotel’s performance levels?

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Travel Trade Weekly: Besides the traditional promotional channels, e-marketing has also become a prominent tool in reaching out to today’s tech-savvy traveller. How do you incorporate this platform into your promotional initiatives? Jean-Philippe Bittencourt: All our offline promotions are backed up with an online promotion as we want to reach the maximum of audience on the web. We are present on the main social media platforms and they will be used mainly to promote our ‘So Spa/So Fit’ and all our outlets. We definitely are looking into being present on all the new channels as we want to be ahead of the e-marketing trends.

Travel Trade Weekly: Located at the eastern tip of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, the hotel offers easy access to a number of tourist attractions, including the Saadiyat Island, the future home of the highly anticipated Louvre and Guggenheim. How do you think these venues and events will contribute to the hotel’s long-term success? Jean-Philippe Bittencourt: These venues will represent an amazing selling point in the long run for Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. It is a great stepping-stone for the hotel as we really want to attract art lovers and want to organise art exhibitions in collaboration with the upcoming museums.

The MICE sector will have an enormous contribution to the hotel performance levels as our main target is the MICE market and the corporate segment due to our ideal location and the 2,600m2 meeting rooms area that we can offer.

The competition between both emirates is fierce. However, Abu Dhabi seems, at the moment, to focus on the corporate market

Travel Trade Weekly: Abu Dhabi and Dubai have long been the preferred destinations of travellers to the UAE. How do you think the intensity of the competition between the two emirates will highten? Jean-Philippe Bittencourt: Obviously, the competition between both emirates is fierce. However, Abu Dhabi seems, at the moment, to focus on the corporate market. As far as the leisure market is concerned, Dubai is way ahead of Abu Dhabi. The city of Abu Dhabi is starting to organise a lot of events that could attract the leisure market. Somehow, the facilities provided to the leisure market are still limited in the city.


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NEWS & EVENTS

ATM 2012: Leading the Way This year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has once again proven to be the leading trade exhibition for the region’s travel industry, having recorded 54 national pavilions representing 87 countries. According to Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of the annual ATM, 2011’s event attracted over 16,000 trade visitors and indicators for this year show an increase of between seven to 10 percent. He further indicated a notable rise in the number of decision makers and influencers, up by 35 percent, underscoring not only the event’s continued relevance, but also the rebound in both confidence and business levels across the region’s major industry sectors. “Looking ahead to 2013, rebookings are already extremely positive and we will continue to develop the show’s offering to reflect regional opportunities as well as global industry trends,” Walsh concluded. ATM 2012

DXB Sets Up Information Zones In line with Dubai Airports’ aggressive service innovation programme, Dubai International’s (DXB) traditional information desks are being replaced with state-of-the-art information zones. Conventionally located across all three terminals, the one-stop shops instantly provide information on all the airport’s services and facilities, offering passengers real-time and easyto-understand directions to boarding gates, restaurants, and assisting them with boarding and security procedures. Besides sleek new maps and 40-inch LCD touchscreens, printed maps will also be available at the kiosks. Services and innovation have long been the hallmark of Dubai, stressed H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Dubai Airports. “These new way-finding technologies are just another example of how Dubai and Dubai Airports are maintaining that proud tradition and leading the way when it comes to service,” he concluded.

EVENTS GTM Germany Travel Mart (GTM) Leipzig, Germany, May 13 – 15, 2012 (www.germany.travel) The largest incoming workshop in Germany where local providers can meet key buyers from the international travel industry.

Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) Beijing, China, June 15 – 17, 2012 (www.bitechina.com.cn) A tourism event that showcases destinations, tourism attractions, travel packages, products, and services.

The Hotel Show Dubai, UAE, May 15 – 17, 2012 (www.thehotelshow.com) An exhibition providing a unique networking and sourcing platform within the region with over 14,800 professionals.

The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibitions (AIBTM) Baltimore, US, June 19 – 21, 2012 (www.aibtm.com) A leading exhibition for the meetings and events industry, bringing together professionals from all around the world.

IMEX Frankfurt, Germany, May 22 – 24, 2012 (www.imex-frankfurt.com) The show where the global meetings industry continues to do business while maximising connections and networking opportunities.

China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) Beijing, China, September 12 – 14, 2012 (www.cibtm.com) China’s leading meetings, incentives, and business travel show providing the ultimate platform for the world’s top suppliers to the MICE industry.

International Travel Expo (ITE) Hong Kong, June 14 – 17, 2012 (www.itehk.com) A travel fair with impressive profiles of international exhibitors, buyers, and regional trade visitors.

PATA Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 (www.pata.org/events/pata-travel-mart-2012) Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers.

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Profile for T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 131  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 131  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

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