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17 DECEMBER 2011

ISSUE 110

Westin Debuts in Abu Dhabi The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa has opened its doors, marking the brand’s debut in the emirate.

With plans to become the new global hub for ideas and innovation, the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) has now officially opened.

06 Dubai WelcomesThird Hilton Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment opened in Dubai on November 28, marking Hilton Hotels & Resorts' third property in the city.

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

02 04 06 08 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Qatar National Convention Centre Opens

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MARKET UPDATE

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

Muscat: Passenger Traffic on the Rise Passenger traffic at Muscat International Airport continued its upswing, registering a year-on-year increase of 14 percent for the first 10 months of the year, based on statistics released by the airport.

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Marianna Keen Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING

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Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant WEB & LAYOUT Elina Pericleous 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

14/12/2011 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.03

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

54.15

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.50

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.53

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

10,890.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

213.31

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

74.8

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.30

1USD=

n the month of October, the airport handled a total of 551,234 passengers, up 12.8 percent over the corresponding month of 2010. The number of arriving passengers totalled 277,136, representing an increase of 13 percent over the same month of 2010, while the number of departing passengers climbed 14 percent to 261,942. During the first 10 months of the year the airport welcomed a total of 2,706,432 passengers, up 16 percent over 2010, while an increase of 14 percent has been recorded in the number of departing passengers, which totalled 2,576,403 for the 10 month period. Thus total passenger traffic for the first 10

Muscat International Airport

months of the year has exceeded the result for the corresponding period of 2010, with a sharp increase of 14 percent; from 4,699,413 to 5,354,386.

Dubai International Airport: Passenger Traffic Keeps Rising Despite global and regional challenges, Dubai International Airport continued to show positive gains, based on the latest statistics released by Dubai Airports. During the month of October, a total of 4,307,817 passengers passed through the airport’s terminals, representing an increase of 7.3 percent over the same month in 2010. Traffic volume for the first 10 months of the year surged 7.7 percent as passenger numbers hit 41,885,561. The largest increase was recorded in the AGCC region (+154,893), followed by the Indian subcontinent (+79,657) and Western Europe (+40,469), whereas aircraft movements for October totalled 28,463, up 7.2 percent over the corresponding month in 2010. Dubai International Airport

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WEEKLY NEWS

Qatar National Convention Centre Now Open Set to become the new global hub for ideas and innovation, the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) has officially opened its doors.

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mbodying state-of-the-art facilities, cutting edge technology, and iconic design, the venue advances the main objectives of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), which are built on the key pillars of education, science, research, and community developments. After five and a half year of construction and planning, the centre is ready to stage some of the world’s most significant events, according to Adam Mather-Brown, general manager, QNCC. “The QNCC is not just a meeting place; it is a vision that has materialised from years of hard work and dedication involving many multi-skilled teams.” With a 2,300 seat lyric theatre, three auditoria, a multipurpose conference hall for 4,000

guests, 40,000m2 of exhibition space and 52 meeting rooms, the centre boasts a total capacity of 27,000 people. By hosting high-scale events, such as the 20th World Petroleum Congress, which took place from December 4 – 8 this year, the centre is expected to further bolster Qatar’s transformation from a carbon-based economy to a knowledge-based economy, as Saad Al Muhannadi, vice president, capital projects and facilities management, QF, expressed. “The opening of the QNCC will undoubtedly advance Qatar in the field of infrastructure and build human capacity on a global scale. The centre’s guests, experiencing our unique atmosphere, will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and brainstorm together for the future of Qatar in the modern world.”

RAK Airways Introduces Fujairah Sales Office RAK Airways has opened a dedicated sales office in Fujairah, supported by a new complimentary bus service that takes customers from the emirate to Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) International Airport. The new sales office will strengthen RAK Airways’ presence in the UAE and allow it to cater to a larger customer base. As an extension of this support, the shuttle service will ensure that RAK Airways’ passengers enjoy an easy and convenient travel experience from their home base, all the way through to their final destination. Complimentary shuttle services are already in operation from all other emirates in the UAE. Furthermore, RAK Airways provides free parking for those who wish to drive to the airport. With the expansion of its network to 10 destinations, covering the GCC, the Indian sub-continent, and Africa, RAK Airways has reported a growing demand for its flights from the emirate and beyond.

RAK Airways Aircraft

Construction of Yas Mall Assigned Six Construct has been awarded the building contract for Yas Mall; a major retail development on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, designed to provide a diverse range of outlets and a comfortable experience to users and guests alike whilst maintaining building efficiency. The appointment by Aldar Properties, one of Abu Dhabi's leading property development, investment, and management company, follows on from the completion of design work and the submission of technical proposals earlier this year.

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Six Construct to deliver the Yas Mall project Sami Asad, CEO, Aldar Properties, commented on the construction assignment. "We are delighted to announce the appointment of Six Construct to deliver the Yas Mall project, which was selected for their significant experience in delivering projects of this scale in Abu Dhabi as well as on an international basis." The Yas Mall project, which is scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2013, is anticipated to enhance the emirate's leading leisure and entertainment destination of Yas Island. It will feature 235,000m2 of retail trading space, over 40 percent of which has already been leased. Five of the UAE's leading retail groups, including Landmark Group and Dubai Holding have committed to the shopping and entertainment complex.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Hilton Hotels & Resorts Extends Dubai Offering Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment opened in Dubai on November 28, marking Hilton Hotels & Resorts' third property in the city. The hotel is located on Jumeirah Beach and The Walk and is linked via footbridge to Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, with both properties sharing a wide range of facilities and services. Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment features an all-day market-style restaurant, roof-top terrace, outdoor pool, gym, and business centre, as well as shares Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort’s large ballroom, executive lounge, and four meeting rooms. Guests can also make use of the shared gardens, water sports centre, kids club, playground, shaded kids pool, and babysitting services. Rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, remarked that the new hotel provides a well-equipped option to the short-to-long-term accommodation sector. “Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment is a welcome addition to our portfolio in the UAE. Complementing the two Hilton hotels we already have here in Dubai, the property is the perfect option for guests looking for apartment-style accommodation whilst benefiting from the use of resort facilities and an ideal beach location.”

Beach at Hilton Jumeirah Hotel Apartment

Westin Debuts in Abu Dhabi The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa has opened its doors, marking the brand’s debut in the emirate. Owned by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the resort comprises 172 premium guest rooms, a diverse selection of restaurants and lounges, a spa, and state-of-the-art meeting facilities, including three ballrooms, a conference centre, board rooms, and a business centre. The newly constructed hotel boasts a prime location along the fairways of the renowned Abu Dhabi Golf Course, close to downtown, and just 10 minutes from the exhibition centre. Roeland Vos, president, Europe, Africa, and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, commented, “We are excited to introduce the Westin brand in Abu Dhabi in association with TDIC, and with this opening, we hope to elevate the emirate’s position as a leading tourism destination in the region. We believe that the hotel will be a leading wellness retreat in Abu Dhabi’s emerging centre.” Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts, remarked on the brand’s expanding portfolio. “Westin is enjoying phenomenal international growth, fueled by the success of our distinctive positioning. We are proud to open this new hotel in Abu Dhabi, where we offer a respite from the rigors of travel.”

Great Hotels of the World Launches New Trade Directory Great Hotels of the World has launched a new trade directory combining their Meetings, Incentive and Corporate Travel collections for 2012. Officially launched at the Exhibition for the Incentive Business Travel and Meetings (EIBTM) in Barcelona, Spain, which took place on November 29 – December 1 this year, the new Meetings, Incentive and Corporate Travel collections for 2012 will include over 130 of the world’s best MICE and corporate properties. Meetings and incentive entries to the directory showcase what each property has to offer, including their location, room facilities, hotel facilities, unique selling points, and top incentive attractions, as well as details on the capacity of each meeting room. Corporate entries will also include specific corporate facilities and activities available for guests during business hours as well as leisure time.

Grand Hotel Reykjavik

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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

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Rotana: Eight New ME Openings Rotana is to open eight new properties across the Middle East within the next 12 months.

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ocated in Deira, Dubai, just minutes away from Dubai International Airport, the five-star Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana is set to welcome its first guests in the third quarter of 2012 and will comprise 428 rooms and suites, while directly connected to the hotel and scheduled to open in the same quarter, is the upcoming 193-apartment Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana. Furthermore, Abu Dhabi plans on welcoming the Centro Capital Centre in the second quarter of 2012; a 414-room hotel which will form part of the Capital Centre. Situated within the same development, the 300-key Capital Centre Rotana is scheduled to open its doors in the third quarter of 2012. Moreover, Rotana is planning to welcome its second hotel in Doha, Qatar, which will form part of the City Centre Doha shopping complex. The five-star City Centre Rotana will comprise 400 rooms and suites including Club Rotana executive floors designed to meet the needs of the influx of travelling executives visiting the state. In addition, the modern Boulevard Arjaan

Centro Capital Centre, Abu Dhabi

by Rotana, the company’s first hotel in Jordan, is due to open in the heart of new downtown, Abdali, during the first quarter of 2012, and comprise 400 suites catering to both longterm guests and families alike.

Warwick Signs Third Middle East Deal Just weeks after announcing the company’s second hotel in the region, Warwick International Hotels Group (WIH) signed its third management agreement in the Middle East. Owned by Rafidain for Projects Development, Warwick Hotel Il Palazzo Amman, follows Winter Valley Warwick Resort & Spa, Dead Sea, Jordan, and Warwick Pangéa Beach Resort & Spa, Lebanon, set to open in May 2012, in the brand’s growing portfolio within the region. Scheduled to welcome its first guest on March 1, 2012, the hotel will boast a total of 78 rooms, consisting of 46 standard rooms, 30 suites, and two presidential suites, and will encompass six floors. Set in the heart of the Jordanian capital, 45 minutes from Queen Alia International Airport, the hotel will feature an all-day restaurant, a wine bar, and a shisha bar, as well as a health and sports centre and a business section with a meeting room.

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Rotana is also set to debut in Bahrain during the same period, with the opening of Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, while Oman will be welcoming its first Rotana resort in Salalah during the fourth quarter of 2012.

TASWEEK to Entice Region's Middle Eastern Investors TASWEEK Real Estate Development and Marketing will endorse Casabrina Vacation Villas in Malaysia, with an aim of attracting Middle Eastern investors. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two companies agrees that TASWEEK Real Estate Development and Marketing will introduce its clients to Casabrina Vacation Villas’ boutique properties in Malaysia, solicit business opportunities, and provide the project with development and financial support. Casabrina Vacation Villas is a six-star luxury resort complex, and comprises 11 three- and four- bedroom residences, each designed to blend with the natural surroundings of the foothills of Pahang. The villas are complemented by various amenities such as a golf course, a spa, and wellness facilities.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Qatar Airways Expands its Asia Route

We are extremely delighted to spread our award winning services to our fifth Chinese gateway with our latest route

The first non-stop scheduled flight from Doha to Chongqing, operated with an Airbus A330, landed at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport and was welcomed by a water salute. Qatar Airways has also launched three new flights to Beijing and four extra frequencies to Hong Kong, taking the airline’s services across China up from 25 to 35 weekly flights. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, commented on the importance of Chongqing being present on the airline's route map, with the new service reflecting the importance of China’s growing economy in the eyes of the world. “Qatar Airways has been closely monitoring the dynamic Chinese market and looking at viable opportunities. We are extremely delighted to spread our award winning services to our fifth Chinese gateway with our latest route.” With more than 25 percent of Qatar Airways’ routes being present in Asia, the new Chongqing service marks the airline’s 110th destination. “2011 has been remarkable for Qatar Airways with Chongqing becoming our last new route of the year, taking the number of new destinations since January to 15 routes in a period where we were also honoured as Airline of the Year 2011.”

Qatar Airways to Offer Five Daily Flights to Heathrow Qatar Airways is to introduce its fifth daily flight between Doha and London Heathrow as of March 25, 2012. The additional service will bring the number of services from 28 to 35 each week. Flight times have been scheduled to offer convenient connections over its Doha hub to and from the carrier’s route network across Asia Pacific. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, commented, “London has been one of our best performing routes and it was only a matter of time before we could look at increasing frequency to meet the high demand, enabling our loyal customers and those travelling with us for the first time to take full advantage of the high levels of service we provide.” Flight QR075 departs Doha at 0635 hours every day, arriving into London Heathrow at 1200 hours local time. The return flight QR076 leaves London Heathrow at 1600 hours, arriving into Doha at 0500 hours local time the following day.

Qatar Airways

Gulf Air Flies to Rome Gulf Air launched services to Rome on November 30, marking the airline’s 10th European destination and the second Italian city in its network. Italian operations have been expanded, after the Milan route, which was launched in March, proved to be very successful, commented Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air. “Expanding into Europe is part of the strategy we rolled out last year. Launching Rome will offer our customers the best network of destinations through the fastest hub in the region and the most competitive fares in the market today.”

St. Angelo’s Bridge, Rome

In addition to improving links between Italy and Bahrain, the direct Rome flights, which are operated with an A320 aircraft, are set to provide two-way connectivity to destinations in the GCC, the Indian sub-continent, and the Far East via its Bahrain hub. Elia Pistola, director of aviation, Aeroporti di Roma, the fixed-base operator of Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Gulf Air’s inaugural flight to Rome. We see this as an opportunity for the people of Bahrain and Italy to explore the two countries, invest in potential businesses, and strengthen cultural and social ties linking the two nations. We take pride in being the only European country with two Gulf Air destinations, and we hope this leads to opening more Italian routes for the carrier in the future.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

International

Mark of the Second Kerry Hotel in the World Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has re-branded its Shangri-La Kerry Centre Hotel, Beijing, to Kerry Hotel, Beijing. The multi-million dollar renovation introduced a reconfigured lobby and grand ballroom along with two new dining outlets. Following the February launch of its sister hotel, Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai, the newly refurbished second Kerry Hotel worldwide boasts new facilities, amenities, and services including contemporary club rooms and suites, a club lounge, and a renovated ballroom, accommodating up to 1,500 guests.

Petrozavodsk to House Park Inn Hotel Scheduled to open in 2013, The Rezidor Hotel Group has announced its plans to launch the 180room Park Inn by Radisson Petrozavodsk, in the fast growing city of Northern Russia. The hotel will mark the first internationally branded property in Petrozavodsk, the capital of the Republic of Karelia, and will provide meeting rooms, a carpark, and a Paulaner restaurant. Kurt Ritter, CEO, The Rezidor Hotel Group, commented on the upcoming development. “Russia is a focus region for the future development of our young and dynamic brand, Park Inn by Radisson. The country offers big potential for successful midmarket concepts.

Luxury Conrad Brand Settles in Koh Samui

Club Room, Kerry Hotel, Beijing

Johnson Wong, general manager, Kerry Hotel, Beijing, noted that the rebranding creates another milestone along with a number of firsts for the group. “Our hotel will be the first to offer a paperless check-in and check-out process and guests are encouraged to receive their invoices electronically. Another new brand standard is the complimentary mini-bar service upon arrival in all guestrooms.” Situated in the capital’s business district, the hotel holds more than 6,000m2 of function space boasting some of Beijing’s largest and most advanced conference facilities. Greg Dogan, CEO, Shangri-La International Hotel Management, commented on the newly refurbished hotel. “Kerry Hotels is the next generation of luxury hotels; vibrant, unpretentious, and flexible. We believe that today’s traveller wants to engage all senses, whether at work or at play. Kerry Hotels has a fresh and energetic vibe and offers some unexpected touches that fuel creativity yet allow time to recharge and relax.”

Hilton Worldwide and Hillcrest Resorts have jointly celebrated the grand opening of a new Conrad Hotels & Resorts property in Koh Samui, Thailand. The luxury development, Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa, which holds 98 one- and two-bedroom freestanding villas with a private pool, located just 28km from the airport, is the only west-facing luxury resort in Koh Samui boasting amazing sunset views from each villa. Alongside the 98 villas, Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa offers guests the choice of a luxury stay at its Royal Villa, set within tropical flora and fauna and cliff-side landscapes. The grand opening welcomed former deputy prime ministers, Thailand, Suwat Liptapanlop and Suthep Thaugsuban to celebrate the full operation of the iconic resort. Martin Rinck, president, Asia-Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, commented on the launch of the resort. “We are delighted to have partnered with Hillcrest Resorts (Samui) in what we believe will become the jewel in the crown of Thailand's resorts.” Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa offers a variety of innovative restaurant concepts, including The Cellar, Jahn, Zest, and Azure pool bar, providing guests with a choice of cuisines.

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WHO'S MOVED

Richard Nuttall Richard Nuttall has been appointed CEO of Bahrain Air. Nuttall, who carries a wealth of experience in airline commercial operations, aims to turn the carrier into Bahrain’s preferred airline of choice within the region. For the last one and a half years, he has held the position of director of commercial operations. Prior to joining Bahrain Air,

he worked in senior positions with Cathay Pacific Airways, Philippine Airlines, Atlas Air, Worldwide Holdings and Kenya Airways. As CEO, he will play an important role in improving revenue and load factor as well as strengthening the company’s commercial aspects and its positive existence in the travel and aviation markets.

Stephanie Aboujaoude Stephanie Aboujaoude has been named regional marketing manager for The Rezidor Hotel Group’s Middle East regional office. Aboujaoude, who has more than 10 years experience in the industry, first joined The Rezidor Hotel Group in 2006, during the group’s takeover of the former InterContinental Hotel Dubai, now known as Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. She played

Michael Kuhn Michael Kuhn has been appointed director of sales and marketing at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa, Bahrain. Since starting his career 12 years ago, Kuhn has gained vast experience in the hospitality industry and has a proven track record of delivering results. He joined The Rezidor Hotel Group in 1999 as sales manager at Radisson

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SAS Hotels & Resorts in Erfurt, Germany. Since then, he has worked in various locations, including Switzerland, Amsterdam, and Dubai. Most recently he held the director of sales and marketing position at Radisson Blu Hotel, Muscat, Oman. Kuhn, who studied business and economics in Germany, will focus on growing market share for the hotel.

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an instrumental role in the rebranding and has established herself as a valuable member of the team. She soon worked her way up from public relations coordinator to director of marketing and communications, her most recent position. During her tenure with the hotel, she was also involved in initiating and coordinating various cluster marketing activities and programmes.

Jiri Kobos Jiri Kobos has been appointed vice president of operations of Dusit International. The 30-year industry veteran also held various senior managerial positions across Africa, Europe, and Asia. He spent 10 years with Hyatt Corporation Worldwide before joining Dusit International in 2010 as managing director and general manager of the 440-room Dusit Thani

LakeView Cairo, where he proved to be an outstanding leader. In his new role, he has accountability for the performance of all properties in the company’s global portfolio as well as for the development of those in the pipeline. The hotelier will play a vital role in Dusit International's continuous growth and global expansion strategy.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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James Hogan

Peter Mansourian

CEO, Etihad Airways.

General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

“In 1983 [when Abu Dhabi last played host to the Arab Air Carriers Organization’s annual general meeting], no-one in Europe lost any sleep over the threat of competition posed by Middle East carriers. European, American, and Asian carriers were the kings of the sky. Where stagnation characterises so much of the industry today, Middle East carriers offer energy and ‘can do’ in abundance. If we act as one, the future is ours.”

“We know, even as visitor numbers to Dubai increase, there is more pressure to gain business as the hotel sector expands and new hotels continue to open. To stay on top of our game, we have to provide a quality product at a competitive price, but more than that, we have to enlist and retain the loyalty of the local market that drives business into the Grand Millennium Dubai – and this is our way of demonstrating our gratitude.”

Aamir Pervez

Faisal Al Raisi

General manager, Corp Executive Hotel Apartments, Al Barsha, Dubai.

Managing partner, Ideal Idea Events, Dubai.

“The 40th anniversary is a big milestone for the UAE and we feel truly proud to be part of this historic celebration. We wanted to do something unique on the occasion that could bring people together as they reminisce about the years gone by. We have seen enormous progress over the period where each one of us has grown and developed along with this great country and I am sure each one of us has photographs to depict that process which is the idea behind the exhibition.”

“The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance has been highly supportive of the Made in Korea exhibition, which reaffirms the Korean government’s commitment to cultivate strong trade relations with the UAE. The meeting gave us new insights that will help us establish Made in Korea as the definitive trade event for Korean products and industries. It is very important to create a dedicated networking platform that will allow Korean and Arab business leaders to interact.”

TRAVEL TALK IS YOUR SPACE – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

17 DECEMBER 2011


AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Joyce Robert Younes POSITION: General manager

Sharaf Travel Opens at Emirates Towers Located in the heart of Dubai, Emirates Towers is now home to the new office of one of the UAE’s leading travel management companies, Sharaf Travel.

COMPANY: Younes Travel Agency LOCATION: Lebanon

Who are you? My name is Joyce Robert Younes. I am the general manager of Younes Travel Agency and I hold a Masters in Tourism from Université Saint-Joseph (USJ), Beirut. Younes Travel Agency was established in 1946 by Edmond Younes Sr. in downtown Beirut. As a premier service, we used to work on US, Canadian, and South American immigration procedures and then in the 70's, on top of normal ticketing services, we became an office specialising primarily on formalising the necessary papers to send to pilgrims in Mecca and the Arab countries. During the 80’s and early 90’s, we maintained our normal operations and diversified our business into a ‘national travel consultant’ offering our services in the Lebanese corporate sector for both multinationals and local corporations alike. Today, we are a 60 year old agent, expanding internationally to reach new markets and diversifying and improving our services to cater to the growing number of satisfied customers. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is a very dynamic sector. The tourism industry is a science and an art at the same time. Science in terms of managing the business side of it and art in term of the places we sell and the richness of cultures. When is the best time to visit Lebanon? Lebanon is well-known for having four seasons, so there is a season for each tourist; sky lovers, beach and night life, or walking in our beautiful nature. Why should people come to you for travel advice? For many reasons - our agency has been in the market since 1946, so our experience is wide in this field. Also, we provide personalised assistance, not to forget that our agency covers all services from air and train tickets, to packages and hotels bookings.

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This branch is manned by experienced and highly trained professionals With its recent opening on December 4, the new branch comprises of a team of dedicated

individuals who will attend to the travel requirements of business and leisure travellers alike, in and around the area. Salah Sharaf, chairman, Sharaf Travel, gave his insight on the opening of the iconic branch. “This branch is manned by experienced and highly trained professionals who will endeavour to provide seamless service to all our esteemed clients visiting this location.” Sharaf Travel was recently awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification by Det Norske Veritas, the International Standard for Quality Management Systems adopted by more than 160 countries worldwide.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Air Freight Continues Decline as Travel Rises The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released global traffic results for October, which indicate that passenger traffic has risen by 3.6 percent over 2010 levels.

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he trend for passenger air travel remains on an upward trajectory, but with very strong regional differences. Despite the deepening euro-zone crisis, IATA reports that European carriers have experienced a growth in demand of 6.4 percent. “With Europe accounting for 29.2 percent of global air travel, this suggests that the current overall strength in air travel is based on fragile foundations,� Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA, expressed. Middle East airlines reported the strong-

est growth in demand at 7.7 percent, against a capacity increase of 9.5 percent while load factors stood at 74.8 percent. Meanwhile, North American carriers saw international passenger traffic decline by 1.9 percent, while Asia-Pacific carriers reported a 3.8 percent increase in demand against a 7.5 percent capacity expansion, resulting in a load factor of 75.2 percent. Furthermore, Latin American airlines showed the strongest capacity growth at 10.4 percent, with a rise in demand of 6.7

percent, while African carriers reported a 4.2 percent increase in demand, below the 5.9 percent growth in capacity. Overall, international air travel showed a 4.6 percent increase over the same month in 2010, whereas international passenger load factors stood at 77.6 percent, down from October 2010 which was recorded at 79.5 percent.

International air travel showed a 4.6 percent growth over the same month in 2010

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Glenn de Souza After establishing a strong presence and solid reputation in more than 90 countries, Best Western International (BWI) is now to consolidate its presence in the Middle East. Glenn de Souza, vice president of international operations, Asia and the Middle East, BWI, talks about the prospects and challenges of the region.

Travel Trade Weekly: How does the Middle East's hospitality industry differ to that in other parts of the Asian continent? Glenn de Souza: Geographically, the Middle East is considered part of Asia; however, the two regions hold their own distinct cultural values, beliefs, ways of life, and resources. If you are considering starting a business in Asia or the Middle East, the first thing I would recommend is to learn to understand the local cultures as they are very much linked with the business environment. In the hospitality industry, the potential that started bubbling more than a decade ago in Asia is just beginning in the Middle East; a region somewhat considered a ‘well-kept secret’. Increased business travel from western and Asian countries to the region, especially over the past five years, is driving demand, as are those travellers from the world over who are seeking new experiences. Middle Eastern countries offer truly unique travelling experiences. With support from local authorities, development in public infrastructure, and growing investment opportunities, the Middle East has just started the race for tourism and hospitality development. Massive developments are happening in this part of the world. Additionally, the region has recognised the potential of tourism and has included the industry as part of their national agenda. Its strategic location in the centre of the world also makes it a transit hub, thus making travel to anywhere in the world convenient. Travel Trade Weekly: BWI has recently outlined plans to expand its Middle East port-

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folio to 50 hotels and resorts by 2015. Which countries are you focusing on?

Glenn de Souza Vice president of international operations, Asia and the Middle East, BWI

to be added in our portfolio. Among the locations that we are currently looking at are Jumeirah Beach, Bur Dubai, Al Barsha, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Health Care City, and some others. In the near future, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait will be the countries we will be focusing on. Travel Trade Weekly: 'Value for money' accommodation options has long been one of BWI’s core values. With a lot more luxury hotels cropping up across the Middle East, how do you intend to win over guests?

Glenn de Souza: Currently, we are aggressive in Saudi Arabia; the vibrant religious tourism aspect of this country from all over the Gulf region and beyond allows us to expand rapidly. I believe that there is an extreme shortage of hotel rooms in this country to cater for these booming markets. We have just set up two properties in Riyadh, with a few more in the pipeline for Mecca, Al Khobar, and Jeddah within the next 12 – 18 months. We have one property in Bahrain and two being built in Kurdistan, Iraq. Dubai today remains BWI’s secondary priority as we do not see Dubai rebounding back to its 2008/2009 peak in the next few years. However, with its strategic location as a gateway destination in the region, we are on the lookout for grade A projects in Dubai

Glenn de Souza: Today’s market is fast changing, and it is important for both the hotels and the brand to keep up with the trend in order to stay competitive within the travel and tourism industry. Best Western is the leading ‘value-for-money’ accommodation provider in the industry. Now that the demands for economical hotels are increasing, we have launched three distinctive products to cater for different needs of our guests while maintaining the core value of the chain: Best Western, Best Western Plus, and Best Western Premier. Travel Trade Weekly: Which of the company’s brands is the most popular with the region’s traveller? Glenn de Souza: The Middle East in particular conforms to our midscale Best Western product. Due to the financially savvy transient market, there are more and more two to fourstar properties bustling in this region. Luxury brands are prominent but it will not sustain in economic downturns.


16

NEWS & EVENTS

OAG: Middle East Aviation to Grow 10 Percent Annually The Middle Eastern commercial aviation sector is expected to achieve annual growth of 10 percent for years to come, based on results released by Official Airline Guide (OAG); a UK-based aviation research firm providing global aviation intelligence data under UBM Aviation. According to OAG’s India and the Middle East Aviation Market Analysis, the consistently growing demand for air travel, a notable surge in aircraft orders, along with steadily increasing inbound tourism, and spectacular airport development plans, all set the stage for further growth for the region’s aviation industry. Supported by the developments, the Middle East is set to experience an annual growth of 10 percent over the next few years, while another fast-growing travel market, India, is expected to achieve nine percent growth. Moreover, the results show that these two markets will account for 11 percent of the world’s total aircraft deliveries over the next decade. Over the coming years in the Middle East, airlines, airport, and air traffic control will need to successfully serve more than four

times the 120 million passengers handled this year, according to the report. The report, however, points out that the existing aviation systems do not fulfill current demand, and in several countries, aviation system’s quality and efficiency levels are below international markets. Heavy regulations have also impacted performance levels by resulting in limited service in terms of route frequency and destinations, as well as high consumer prices, as reported in the analysis. “In the Middle East, markets such as Dubai have set the stage for reforming their aviation systems, and the region has demonstrated its ability to develop world-class aviation players, such as Qatar Airways and Etihad,” explained Mario Hardy, vice president, Asia Pacific, UBM Aviation. To achieve further growth, cut costs, boost efficiencies, and spur competition, mergers of more than 30 competing airlines in the Middle East and India are necessary. In the Middle East, however, mergers are unlikely in the short term, as many of the carriers are government-owned and more likely to form alliances due to the geographical proximity.

EVENTS Ferien-Messe Wien Vienna, Austria, January 12 – 15, 2012 (www.ferien-messe.at) The leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria, which is attended each year by more than 100,000 consumers. FITUR Tourism Trade Fair Feirade Madrid, Spain, January 18 – 22, 2012 (www.ifema.es) A meeting point for tourism professionals, in which they can establish lines of action, strategies and business alliances. Horeca Kuwait Kuwait City, Kuwait, January 22 – 24, 2012 (www.horeca-kuwait.com) Operating under Leaders Group for Consulting & Development, this trade exhibition is a comprehensive event covering hospitality, catering, and food sectors in Kuwait and the GCC.

Austrian and Central European Travel Business Vienna, Austria, January 22-24, 2012 (www.actb.eu) A tourist market place, industry meeting point and platform for generating new networks, initiating business deals and reinforcing existing customer relations. Travel Technology Europe London, UK, February 7 – 8, 2012 (www.traveltechnologyshow.com) Europe’s leading annual travel technology event that connects the travel industry with market-leading technology solution providers. SATTE New Delhi, India, February 10 – 12, 2012 (www.satte.in) India’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event, which will host more than 6,000 travel agents and tour operators from all over India and its neighbouring markets.

17 DECEMBER 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 110  

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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