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14 APRIL 2012

ISSUE 127

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14 APRIL 2012

ISSUE 127

Saudi Airlines Cargo Expands into Africa Saudi Airlines Cargo has launched weekly freighter flights to Accra, Ghana.

Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) is to reveal its strategic expansion programme at the Arabian Travel Market.

12 MEETINGS & EVENTS BY RADISSON BLU CLICK HERE TO VIEW

IN THIS ISSUE RENDEZVOUS MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR NEWS INTERNATIONAL WHO'S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT'S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

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QNH to Divulge Future Plans

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RENDEZVOUS

Q & A with Raymond Hall Following a period of challenges and prominent changes, North Africa’s tourism industry is pushing ahead with ambitious plans. Here, Raymond Hall, managing director, marketing and communication, Constellation Hospitality Group, talks about the competitiveness and prospects of the Moroccan tourism industry.

Travel Trade Weekly: How did the company’s Moroccon properties perform over the past 12 months? Raymond Hall: L’Amphitrite Palace was in the low 40s, mainly due to the fact that it had been languishing for the three years, prior to being managed by Constellation Hospitality, who are revitalising and repositioning the property, which will include a re-launch into international markets. L’Amphitrite Mohammedia is still in its soft opening phase, but has performed above forecasts during the months that it operated in 2011. Occupancy was in the high 60s by the end of 2011 and is now running in the 70s. The property will be rebranded with the new four-star brand of Constellation - AVANTI L’Amphitrite Mohammedia - when it is officially opened in the middle of the year. The convention and exhibition centre in Rabat is also being re-branded as CORUM – the new conferencing and events brand of Constellation Hospitality. Travel Trade Weekly: What kind of events have you hosted at the convention centre over the past few months and what are the highlights of the venue? Raymond Hall: From the Royal Salle to large interconnecting areas and a permanent auditorium, the convention and exhibition centre is a very flexible facility. It has expansive inside and external areas which are ideal for trade shows. Currently, the majority of business is domestic however a drive will be mounted to attract international and regional shows and conferences. Over the past few months, the centre has

hosted an event for 900 attendees staged by CISCO, 600 attendees at the Moroccan Business Confederation event, and two party events of 400 and 500 attendees apiece.

Raymond Hall Managing director, marketing and communication, Constellation Hospitality Group

For the international leisure market, L’Amphitrite Palace is being positioned as the ideal location to use as the base from which the attractions of Morocco can be experienced. On the other hand, AVANTI L’Amphitrite Mohammedia is located in the greater Casablanca, so it is ideal for business. It also fronts on to the Atlantic Ocean and has wonderful gardens, so during down-time, business travellers have some quality leisure. Travel Trade Weekly: The MICE segment is increasingly seen as an important division for hospitality companies. How do you think the MICE market is developing in Morocco? Raymond Hall: The MICE market is an area that we are currently addressing. As the market expands, we will be looking for our fair share, as the location is a quality alternative, albeit with under-promoted attractions.

Equipped with simultaneous translation facilities, inbuilt lighting and audio plus its own TV studio for internal and external broadcast, the centre also has private facilities for heads of state using the prestigious Royal Salle. Travel Trade Weekly: How does your clientele differ between L‘Amphitrite Palace Resort & Spa and AVANTI L’Amphitrite Mohammedia? Raymond Hall: Essentially, L’Amphitrite Palace is a leisure destination while L’Amphitrite Mohammedia is a business hotel with leisure facilities.

Travel Trade Weekly: What expansion and development plans do you have in place for the current year? Raymond Hall: A third property – L’Amphitrite Marina Smir is about to be announced. This is in the north of Morocco, at Tetouan, and less than one hour from Tangier. It is our first property with a Mediterranean Sea beachfront. It has a Thalasso Spa and superb expansive gardens. Constellation Hospitality Group is expanding in the region with the African Union Grand Hotel under construction in Addis Ababa. They also have several other projects on the drawing board, which will be announced in the coming months.

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MARKET UPDATE

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

Jazeera Airways: Securing Market Shares Jazeera Airways started the year on a high note after capturing leading market shares on a number of routes, based on the Kuwait Directorate General for Civil Aviation, January passenger movement report.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess 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

T

he Kuwaiti airline, which operated at an on-time performance of 91 percent during the month, was the leading carrier on the Alexandria, Luxor, Aleppo, Assiut, Sohag, Deir Ezzor, and Damascus routes. In addition, Jazeera Airways grabbed the largest market share on services operated between Kuwait and five Egyptian cities, including Alexandria (36 percent), Assiut (45 percent), Luxor (70 percent), and Sohaj (35 percent). On the Kuwait – Sharm El Sheikh and Kuwait – Cairo routes the carrier secured a 23 percent and a 25 percent market share respectively. The airline also seized the largest market share to Syrian destinations, such as Damascus (41 percent), Aleppo (72 percent), and Deir Ezzor (86 percent), and proved to be the

Jazeera Airways

leading Kuwaiti carrier on flights operated between its hub and Beirut, Amman, Mashhad, Bahrain, and Dubai, totalled a market share of 32 percent for the former two routes, 30 percent on its Mashhad service, while Bahrain represented 10 percent, and Dubai 16 percent.

Accurate as of

12/04/2012 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

57.45

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.52

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.48

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,283.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

215.66

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

74.96

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.25

Etihad Airways Setting Records Etihad Airways has closed the first quarter (Q1) of the year with record breaking results, and unveiled plans for a significant expansion over the next 18 months. During the three-month period, Etihad Airways carried 2.4 million passengers, marking a sharp increase of 500,000 over the corresponding quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, seat factor jumped 3.8 percentage points to 76.5 percent, said to be the highest Q1 level in the airline’s history. With a 28 percent surge, the carrier’s revenue reached USD989 million, marking another record breaking result. Building on the encouraging results, Etihad Airways has unveiled plans to further extend its global reach over the next 18 months which will soon see the airline introduce new services to Vietnam, as well as its first flight to South America slated for mid-2013, marking the sixth continent on its destination network.

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WEEKLY NEWS Hertz UAE Expands Hertz UAE is gearing up to open its 16th branch in Dubai before the end of June, with at least five more locations to be added to its UAE network this year. The new MotorCity branch in Dubai will be the first neighbourhood car rental service available to residents UPTOWN MotorCity, Dubai in that particular area of the emirate according to Nigel Johnson, managing director, Hertz UAE. “Our new MotorCity location will service the residential community there, as well as those in Arabian Ranches, Victory Heights and the Green Community,” he explained, guarantee-

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ing customers greater convenience. “It is part of our strategic network expansion which is designed to make the rental experience as easy as possible by extending our reach into every corner of the community in the UAE.” Five more locations are in the pipeline for later this year while existing locations are currently being refurbished in a bid to provide the best quality services and products in the market, Johnson further indicated. Moreover, Hertz UAE posted a 12 percent growth in inventory in 2010, while online daily and weekly car rental bookings rose by 35 percent. “We are responding to demand by taking our car rental offering into these communities. The biggest chunk of our monthly car rental business comes from UAE residents, as opposed to tourists, and 80 percent of this business comes from expat professionals working and living in the UAE,” Johnson concluded.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Crescentrating Launches Prayer Time Calculator Crescentrating has launched the world’s first air travel prayer time calculator, providing Muslim travellers with the ability to calculate prayer times throughout the flight path of their journey. Based on the departure airport and time, as well as the destination and expected arrival time, the innovative application estimates the prayer times while on board, and also gives infor-

mation on the availability of prayer facilities at the two airports. The company has just released the beta version of the calculator, according to Fazal Bahardeen, CEO, Crescentrating, who explained, “Once we have tested with as many travellers as possible, we will launch the mobile applications. We also plan to add other features in the future such as direction for prayers.”

Russia Calls All Sport Lovers Russia is set to see a 20 percent increase in visitor arrivals peaking more than 28.3 million tourists over the next four years, fuelled by the hosting of major sporting events, according to a research unveiled at World Travel Market’s (WTM) Vision Conference - Moscow, which took place on April 4. Over the next six years, the country will be home to an array of sporting events, climaxing with the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The sporting schedule starts with Moscow’s hosting of the World Athletic Championships and the Rugby Sevens World Cup, as well as the Universiade (University games) in Kazan, in 2013. Moreover, Sochi will be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014. A Euromonitor International report reveals that this influx in inbound tourism will be predominantly driven by European destinations, mainly from Poland, followed by visitors from the US and China.

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WEEKLY NEWS

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QNH to Divulge Future Plans Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) is to mark another major milestone at this year’s Arabian Travel Market, as the Doha-headquartered hospitality giant reveals details of its strategic expasion programme to the global tourism industry.

“Q

Doha, Qatar

NH plays a vital role in positioning Qatar as a global hospitality player, as part of the government’s far-reaching National Vision 2030 economic development and diversification programme,” commented H.E. Sheikh Nawaf bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman, QNH, who added that as a hotel group at the forefront of the country’s development it is responsible for growing Qatar's hospitality product. “In addition to introducing the world’s best known luxury hotel brands to this market, we are also targeting business travellers through our own Merweb group of hotels,” Al Thani

Dubai Airports’ Environmental Initiatives Pay Off Dubai Airports’ conservation efforts have paid both environmental and financial dividends in 2011, based on the organisation’s annual report. The various energy and fuel saving initiatives reduced CO2 emissions by 72,793 tonnes, saved 131.9 million gallons of water, and delivered a fuel saving of AED15.9 million (USD4.33 million). According to Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, the ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of a clean, sustainable future in which airports, aircraft, and all ancillary services are carbon-neutral. “Aviation’s sustainability is of vital importance to Dubai,” he said. The organisation’s proactive campaign to conserve water and reduce power consumption across the airport company’s properties has also been crucial to these achievements. Such actions included the installation of new energy-saving lamps and equipments across the property, alongside the implementation of innovative systems to deliver significant savings. The company also set a new standard in the region with the introduction of the largest solar panel array for any airport in the Middle East.

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continued, whose hotel group recently added two iconic Raffles Hotels & Resorts properties to its portfolio with the acquisition of Raffles Hotel Singapore and Le Royal Monceau, Raffles, Paris. Overall, Qatar witnessed an increase in hotel occupancy rates in the third quarter of 2011, despite a surge of new openings, which included 6,000 hotel rooms across 25 hotels and 10 hotel apartments for the full year. A further 77 new hotels and 42 hotel apartments are in the pipeline ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, which is forecasted to attract some 3.7 million tourists to the country over the next 10 years.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Eastin Residences Muscat Prepares to Open

Pool bar at Eastin Residences Muscat

Eastin Residences Muscat has announced its official opening date of May 1, which will welcome guests with special rates, set to stretch through until October 31. The property is well located on the road connecting Al-Seeb and Al Athaiba in the north of the capital, and is within walking distance to the beach, 10 minutes drive to Muscat International Airport, and five minutes from WAVE Tourism project and the future internationally-designed 18-hole golf course. All 50 residences consist of 24 standard rooms, 16 studios, and 10 two-bedroom apartments, with sizes ranging from 20 to 84m2, boasting all-inclusive services designed for modern living. Eastin Residences Muscat also features a variety of international, Asian, and local dining options, a pool bar adjacent to the swimming pool, and a gym overlooking the Arabian Sea. For various formal events, business guests can benefit from two meeting rooms with a large party hall, catering to mediumsized group gatherings for up to 150 guests.

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Air News

RJ Partners with City-Discovery Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has entered into a partnership with City-Discovery to offer its passengers a range of activities and services. The online travel company now provides RJ passengers with access to more than 6,000 tours and activities in over 110 countries via the airline’s website. In addition to airport, hotel, and city-centre transfers through CityDiscovery.com and its sister site, World-Airport-Transfer. com, travellers can choose from various packages and activities in Amman, Dubai, Abu Dhbai, Cairo, and Doha, just to name a few. According to Hussein Dabbas, CEO, RJ, passengers will be saving time by directly booking tours and transfers with their flights and securing their reservations in advance, especially for in-demand attractions, at very convenient prices. Moreover, the airline’s frequent traveller will earn miles for each Jordanian Dinar spent on the services, which are accessible both in English and Arabic.

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WEEKLY NEWS

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Gulf Air Boosts Kuwait Services Gulf Air has increased its services to Kuwait from 35 to 42 times a week to meet growing passenger demand, thus providing greater flight options with short transit times at Bahrain International Airport. Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, commented, “With 42 weekly flights between Bahrain and Kuwait, travellers across the Gulf Air network can take advantage of our fast and easy connections via Bahrain as we continue to strengthen our GCC and MENA network. We expect to see continuing strong demand on our Kuwait route and will continue to cater to our customer base there.” Moreover, he emphasised the airline’s aim to offer its business travellers greater flexibility and connectivity who have been of key importance to the company for many years, while simultaneously enhancing and strengthening the carrier's regional network.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

GCAA to open office at Emirates Etihad Airways GulfSets Air Increases Nairobi Service in and GerThe General Civil Aviation AuthorityUp (GCAA) Gulf Air is to increase flights beEmirates have signed a memorandum of understanding tween Nairobi and Bahrain from many (MoU) to open a new office at the headquarters of Emirfive to seven times a week, as of ates Group, which is set to provide more efficient license issuing to employees of the airline. The MoU, which was signed by Khalid Humaid Al Ali, director of licensing, GCAA, and Alan Stealey, divisional senior vice president, flight operations, Emirates, in the presence of members from both companies, is set to ease licensing procedures for pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft engineers, and cabin crew, more efficiently. Adel Redha, executive vice president, engineering and operations, Emirates, expressed great confidence in this new venture, and thanked the efforts provided by GCAA in establishing this office.

June 1. The additional frequency will connect Nairobi to more new markets via Bahrain, such as Copenhagen, Rome, Chennai, Kochi, Lahore, Jeddah, Amman, Gulf Air Beirut, Istanbul, and Larnaca, allowing passengers easy connections. According to Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, the airline has seen tremendous responses from its customers from Kenya heading largely to London, Saudi Arabia, Doha, UAE, Mumbai, Karachi, and Bangkok. “We have also been enjoying very good support from customers in Bahrain, GCC, Indian subcontinent, and Far East, who find our flights more convenient to reach Kenya, all of which has encouraged us to increase our frequency to daily service,” he added, indicating that travellers across the airline’s network can now take advantage of the new services via Bahrain in less than three hours.

Emirates

In addition, Al Ali commented, “Our licensing administration at the GCAA had always been actively planning and incorporating new programmes to benefit our strategic partners and the aviation industry in the long run, which includes the inauguration of our new office at Emirates, the launch of our electronic service that issues medical certificates online, and the trial services of pilot and cabin crew licensing.”

Saudi Airlines Cargo Expands into Africa Saudi Airlines Cargo has launched a weekly B747 freighter flight to Accra, heralding the company's further expansion into Africa. “Ghana is an emerging market with enormous business potential for air cargo. The addition of this new destination will help us to increase our activities in Africa, where we already operate scheduled B747 freighters from Saudi Arabia to Nairobi, Lagos, Addis Ababa, N'djamena, Khartoum, and Johannesburg,” commented Peter Scholten, vice president, commercial, Saudi Airlines Cargo. “The commencement of the new Saudi operation coincides with the opening of a new Perishable Cargo Centre, maintaining the high quality of the fruit and vegetable supply chain. Together with the forthcoming construction of a major new Cargo Terminal and Hub operation, opening up 11 West and Central African destinations with scheduled cargo feeder services, we see exciting new opportunities for this new service to Accra,” he concluded.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

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RAK Airways and SITA Sign Deal RAK Airways has selected Horizon, the passenger service solution from SITA, the IT provider for the air transport industry, to offer consumers a range of online booking options to meet traveller management needs.

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he six-year multi-million dollar deal with SITA will provide RAK Airways’ reservations personnel and travel agents with fare pricing, ticketing, reservations, revenue integrity, passenger revenue accounting, online booking, and shopping services. In addition, offerings will include full departure control services for the airline at its main hub, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. Omar Jahameh, CEO, RAK Airways, commented, “The SITA solution is very comprehensive and is backed by an investment programme at RAK Airways. SITA has the state-of-the-art technology, depth of industry

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RAK Airways

expertise, and local presence to work in partnership with us on this very significant implementation. The solution will give us the ability to operate interline partnerships and we are now ready to sign our first interline agreement with a partner carrier.” Further commenting on the deal, Hani El Assaad, regional vice president, Middle East

and North Africa, SITA, said, “SITA Horizon will provide a complete passenger service solution for all areas of RAK Airways’ operations. It will allow the airline to develop its strategy of being unique among the region’s airlines as a hybrid carrier that offers full service to passengers with interlines partnerships with other carriers.”


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WEEKLY NEWS

International

Digital Marketing Fund for Great Hotels of the World Great Hotels of the World is to launch Great Hotels Digital Plus, a tailor-made digital marketing fund for its member properties designed to assist in digital marketing and serve as a platform which will, in turn, leverage greater dividends. Peter Gould, CEO, Great Hotels of the World, commented, “In recent years, there has been a significant shift within the marketplace from traditional channels to digital. Old media placed substantial value on demographic profiling based on a person’s wealth, income, and age. New media demands a new form of demographic profiling based on what people search for and who they follow online. This means that our approach to marketing our members in this space needs to shift to a micro-strategy for each property. Great Hotels Digital Plus will enable us to deliver this to our members.”

Raffles Hotels & Resorts Expands Raffles Hotels & Resorts has announced that the company will expand its portfolio over the next 18 months, with openings in the Maldives and Manila later this year. Raffles Konotta, Maldives, which is gearing up to welcome its first guests this autumn, will feature 49 villas, including a presidential suite, while Raffles Makati, also set to open this year, will boast 32 suites along with 237 Raffles residences for private ownership, situated in the heart of the Manila. These newly-opened properties will be followed by additional hotels slated to inaugurate in 2013 in Hainan, China; Istanbul, Turkey; and Jakarta, Indonesia.

Fairmont Baku Prepares to Unveil Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is to soon inaugurate Fairmont Baku, Azerbaijan. Located within one of the three iconic Flame Towers; a unique mix-use complex whose design depicts giant flames that symbolise Azerbaijan, interpreting it as ‘the land of fire’, the 36-storey hotel will offer 356 guestrooms and 19 apartments. Amenities will include swimming pools, a tennis court, spa and fitness facilities, and retail spaces, alongside 2,500m2 of function space, including two ballrooms. Food and beverage options will boast a French brasserie, steak house restaurant, and a jazz bar.

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WHO'S MOVED

Ross McAuley Ross McAuley has been named vice president of brand marketing for Jumeirah Group. McAuley joined the company in 2007 and was initially responsible for marketing and innovations at Madinat Jumeirah Resort, before being promoted to director of marketing to lead the central

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marketing function for the group’s hotels and resorts in Dubai. In his new role, he will be in charge of brand management, customer experience, brand marketing and advertising, guest recognition and loyalty, as well as the brand digital platform of Jumeirah Group.

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Tatiana Sergeeva Tatiana Sergeeva has been appointed managing director at Planet Travel & Tours. Based in Moscow, Sergeeva will oversee the destination management company’s operations in the CIS countries. Having spent more than 20 years in the tourism industry, she brings vast experience and substantial connections

to her new position. Sergeeva previously headed one of the leading tour operators in Moscow. Planet Group boasts an international network, including branches in the UAE and Lebanon, and aims to attract even more visitors from Russia and the CIS countries to the region.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Ghaith Al Ghaith

Jean Pierre Simon

CEO, flydubai.

Regional general manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts.

“We will continue to focus on doing things as well as we can by providing a low-cost, highquality service on popular routes such as Beirut, as well as those previously under-served destinations such as Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic. We also target destinations that did not previously have international flights such as those in Saudi Arabia or Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.”

“The award [presented to Al Denta, Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah’s Italian restaurant at the Al Qasba Food Festival] recognises the services we rendered as hospitality sponsor, and the culinary excellence of our chefs. It is a huge honour and we are proud we have been able to contribute to the cause of tourism in Sharjah. We see our hotel as an integral part of the cultural, leisure, entertainment, and sports scene in the emirate.”

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Youssef Stiti POSITION: Tour consultant COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau LOCATION: Abu Dhabi, UAE WEB: www.abudhabitravelbureau.com Who are you? My name is Youssef Stiti and I am a tour consultant for Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau. I studied tourism and have been working in travel agencies since I was in my home country, Tunisia. I enjoy working in this field, as tourism and travel are my favourite hobbies. I am also a very positive person and I like to challenge myself to constantly improve in my field. Here at Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau we work as a group and our help for one another is very important, alongside our general manager, Mohamed Salehi's extensive experience, guidance, and leadership to assist us achieve our missions. We are one of the most prominent and competitive travel agencies in UAE, and we offer special services as our first mission is to get customers’ satisfaction and faith. Abu Dhabi Travel Bureau won the Worlds Travel Awards 2011 for UAE's Leading Travel Agency & Abu Dhabi's Leading Travel Agency. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My favourite thing is that I have a passion for travel and a commitment to helping other travellers make the most of their holiday. When is the best time to visit the Abu Dhabi? I would say from November to February because of the weather, and also because of some shopping festivals and promotions for those who like shopping. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to visit Italy and specifically Venice. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our customers are very faithful and they prefer our travel advice. They know that they are dealing with the best travel agency.

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Travelport and Travel Agencies Sign Deal Furthering its UAE footprint, Travelport has announced the signing of a multi-year global distribution system’s (GDS) deal with three major travel agencies in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, namely Irena Travel, Skyline Travels, and Al Jaraf Travel and Tourism. The new contracts will see Al Ain-based Skyline Travel and Abu Dhabi-based Al Jaraf Travel and Tourism establish Galileo as thier exclusive GDS, while Irena Travel will integrate the GDS for the first time into the agency’s Abu Dhabi operations. Ghulam Al Balooshi, director, lower Gulf region, Travelport, commented, “Thanks to our exceptional technology and dedicated local resources, Travelport has been able to build great momentum in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain and ultimately gain the trust of such high-calibre travel agencies. We are proud to be affiliated with such reputable, fast-growing travel agencies and look forward to working closely with them supporting their dynamic businesses with the best GDS offering in the UAE.” A comprehensive training programme has already been launched to bring each agency’s employees up to speed on the latest Galileo products and functionalities.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Technology Growing Rapidly within the Travel Industry As the importance of technology continues to rocket across the travel industry, professionals are coming together to discuss relevant topics which fall under the technology banner. A dozen technology buyers and World Travel Market (WTM) representatives attended the ‘Chatham House’ rules event, to review a cross-section of technology interest such as social media, rate parity, return-on-investment, and resources. Cloud computing within the travel sector was also discussed, as was alternative payment mechanisms which will not only help save money but will also make products more widely available. Jo Marshall, regional account manager, Travel Technology, WTM, commented, “It is clear that while some businesses are forging ahead with demands for cutting-edge products, others still need to understand how they can make the most of what is currently available.”

SCTA to Rehabilitate Heritage Sites The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) is to soon finalise the rehabilitation of a number of heritage and tourist sites in Al Kharj, this according to H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president, SCTA. “Within this year, we plan to finalise the restoration and rehabilitation of a number of local projects,” he said. “Besides, Al Kharj municipality is a home for a number of significant monuments, which stand as tangible evidence to our blessed unity and these monuments concern the Kingdom's entire people, not Al Kharj people alone,” he added, further stressing that these projects also call for job creation. In the upcoming months, Al Kharj will see a number of projects to be held by SCTA in collaboration with public departments, businessmen, and the local community, with plans for further tourism-related developments, especially in agro and cultural tourism also underway.

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Spyros Spyrou The Limassol Branding Project is steadily progressing and, upon completion, is set to foster the Cypriot coastal city into a business and leisure hotspot. Spyros Spyrou, managing director, Andy Spyrou Group (A.S.G.), talks about Limassol and this colossal assignment which will safely pin the destination on the tourism map.

Travel Trade Weekly: What aspects of the city are you mainly trying to promote with the Limassol Branding Project?

Spyros Spyrou Managing director, Andy Spyrou Group (A.S.G.)

Spyros Spyrou: The Limassol Branding Project aims at presenting the real Limassol in a clear and effective way out to the world. Limassol is several things; it is a great, lively, dynamic, and ever-changing city. It is a beautiful holiday destination but at the same time, an attractive business centre. Therefore, we are searching to bring out these characteristics and promote the city in the areas of tourism, investment, business, and a second residence place.

Travel Trade Weekly: Which institutions around the city are closely collaborating to make this project possible?

Travel Trade Weekly: What inspires you about Limassol? Spyros Spyrou: Limassol has been, for decades, the steam engine of the development of Cyprus. It has always been ahead. I think this is because of its people, their DNA, their special relationship with the sea perhaps, and the fact that they know how to work hard but play as well; additionally, their openness to the outside world and their welcoming and friendly approach to foreign visitors. Limassol can go ahead much further, and we truly believe that branding Limassol in a successful way will be catalytic. Limassol is a quality tourism destination. The best hotels and restaurants of Cyprus are in the city which stretches along 21km of coast with beautiful beaches and is centrally located on the south coast, giving easy access to other parts of Cyprus. These are strong advantages that need to be known to the potential visitor to Cyprus, so that Limassol differen-

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other destination or resort on the island done so. Therefore, I think a successful branding project for this city will show the path that the island and other areas may follow as well. This is to the benefit of Cyprus, because the country as a whole is nothing more than a portfolio of different resorts and different possibilities. Therefore, promoting distinctively the various different resorts on the island will add to its richness as a whole.

tiates itself to other Cyprus resorts, such as Paphos and Agia Napa, in a true way. Travel Trade Weekly: How did the idea of the project come about? Spyros Spyrou: I was presenting my vision for Limassol’s future in tourism at a Bank of Cyprus forum almost two years ago. On the same panel, it was the mayor and Peter Economides of Felix BNI, presenting the strengths of branding. It all started from there. Travel Trade Weekly: How do you think this project will help boost tourism in Limassol? Spyros Spyrou: The project itself will be beneficial as Cyprus has not yet engaged in a branding project for itself, nor has any

Spyros Spyrou: All the authorities of Limassol are supporting the project which itself started as a private initiative. We knew that if it was not shared with the authorities of Limassol, it would end up as a theoretical exercise. Therefore, we invited all the municipalities of Limassol; the Chamber of Commerce, the Limassol Tourism Company, the hotel associations, and the Shipping Chamber, who all came along and participated in the exercise and in the funding of the project. The Limassol authorities are all aligned into this goal.

We truly believe that branding Limassol in a successful way will be catalytic


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NEWS & EVENTS

The Significance of Oman's MICE Sector Highlighted at GIBTM

A number of strategic measures are currently being undertaken to build Oman’s MICE sector offerings, including the construction of world-class exhibition and conference venues

Oman’s Ministry of Tourism showcased its growing number of world-class MICE facilities as it took part in the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition in March, which brought together over 2,000 professionals from the conference, events, and meetings industry. Particular emphasis was placed on the country’s upcoming Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre project, which is slated for 2015. Valued at USD1.8 billion, the facility will include a 3,200-seat auditorium, four hotels with a total of 1,000 rooms, a shopping mall, 200 serviced apartments, furthermore 85,000m2 of office and 25,000m2 of exhibition space, among other amenities. Haitham Mohammed Ghasani, director, tourism promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, commented, “We are keen to capitalise on the potential benefits of a thriving MICE segment to further foster the growth of Oman’s tourism industry. “A number of strategic measures are currently being undertaken to build Oman’s MICE sector offerings, including the construction of worldclass exhibition and conference venues. The added value that Oman offers the MICE segment when compared to other destinations is our unique culture and heritage.” In 2011, the sultanate attracted 1.6 million tourists, driven by the GCC market, which grew some 26 percent over 2010, and the UAE which increased by 30 percent. This year, the country is aiming to attract around two million international visitors.

EVENTS China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market (COTTM) Beijing, China, April 18 – 20, 2012 (www.cottm.com) A business-to-business exhibition which provides a platform for international tourism boards and travel 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.

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Dubai, UAE, April 28 – 30, 2012 (www.arabianconference.com) Bringing together regional leaders, this event includes discussions of key topics and challenges of the coming months.

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.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, April 30 – May 2, 2012 (www.arabiantravelmarket.com) An event which unlocks business potential for tourism professionals, where worlwide destinations showcase their range of tourism products.

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.

GTM Germany Travel Mart (GTM) Leipzig, Germany, May 13 – 15, 2012 (www.germany.travel) The largest incoming workshop in Germany where German 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 mega tourism event that showcases destinations, tourism attractions, travel packages, products, and services

14 APRIL 2012

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 127  

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 127  

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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