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Middle East and North Africa Edition

GRAND MILLENIUM In the lead-up to the opening of Abu Dhabi’s biggest hotel on November 1, Travel Trade Weekly spoke to Costas Gavriel, executive assistant manager of Grand Millennium Al Wahda.

Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways has cemented a codeshare deal with Austrian Airlines which will open 19 new European destinations to the carrier starting on October 31. The codeshare represents a dramatic expansion of Wataniya’s network; the airline started flying in 2009 and currently operates just seven aircraft.

15 TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY Next week’s Business Travel Show will employ fast-paced Japanese forum concepts to showcase the latest gadgets and discuss technology issues that are facing the travel sector.

16 In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events OCTOBER 23, 2010

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Kuwait’s European Links

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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Deputy Editor Laura Warne Journalist Louis Dillon Savage Design & Layout Elina Pericleous

Aviation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is set for a USD1 billon improvement in revenue in 2010, according to IATA.

Sales & Marketing Marianna Tsiamas Evelina Hadjigeorgiou Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website www.traveltradeweekly.travel Emails info@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 21/10/2010 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar COUNTRY UAE (AED) Egypt (EGP) Saudi Arabia (SAR) Lebanon (LBP) Bahrain (BHD) Jordan ( JOD) Syria (SYP) Kuwait (KWD) Qatar (QAR) Oman (OMR) Tunisia (TND) Morocco (MAD) Iran (IRR) Yemen (YER) Algeria (DZD) Libya (LYD)

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MENA Aviation set for USD1 Billion Bounce-Back in 2011: IATA

CURRENCY Dirham Pound Riyal Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar Riyal Rial Dinar Dirham Riyal Rial Dinar Dinar

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he upswing represents an estimated USD 400 million in profit, compared to USD600 million losses experienced in 2009. Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of IATA, said a lighter touch adopted by regional airlines had helped the industry navigate clear of the economic maelstrom experienced worldwide last year. “A more cautious approach to capacity is helping to drive this improvement,” he said. “While demand is in line for a 21 percent increase over last year, the capacity increase has been limited to 15.9 percent.” MENA is also expected to remain profitable in 2011, despite a predicted 3.6 billion reduction profits worldwide. However, the regional bottom line is still expected to retract to USD300 million. Giovanni said that the regional industry would continue to grow. “Over the last decade, the carriers of the Middle East and North African region have grown from five percent of global traffic to 11 percent,” he said. 1USD= 3.69 5.76 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 46.34 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.39 8.05 10,450 215.06 73.46 1.26

The region's rapid growth must be accompanied with a strong safety record

“Planned aircraft purchases of USD200 billion over the next decade will support this growth into the foreseeable future.”

Carriers of the Middle East and North African region have grown from five percent of global traffic to 11 percent Challenges MENA’s increased importance to the global aviation industry would bring its own challenges, Bisignani warned. These challenges included government policy, safety, infrastructure and environmental responsibility. Bisignani said the Middle East’s safety record had slipped substantially from 2006; going from zero accidents in that year to 3.32 accidents per one million flights. “At 4.6 times the global average of 0.71, that is a concern,” he said. “The region's rapid growth must be accompanied with a strong safety record.” IATA also warned that despite USD100 billion in infrastructure developments across MENA, 60 percent of the region’s airspace is taken up by military zoning, leading to inefficient flight paths on many routes. Similarly, policy in many areas needs improvement, including the adoption of intraregional open skies agreements.

OCTOBER 23, 2010


Gitex Technology Week Highlights Online Services and New Technology for Travel Industry Gitex Technology Week, held over the past week in Dubai, reiterated the importance of online services for travel professionals, with a range of new services on display.

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he 30th anniversary of the event attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Dubai World Trade Centre. Joining the Dubai Government stand, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), showcased its range of e-services, giving priority to its One Stop Information Centre (OSIC). DTCM’s online services include online training management solutions, online travel booking, e-brochures, visitor surveys,

OCTOBER 23, 2010

an interactive map of Dubai, e-complaints and a suggestion scheme. Representatives of DTCM said the department’s online portal has been designed to cater to the differing needs of tourists, business travellers and residents. Hoteliers were also drawn to the event to view the latest in-room gadgets, entertainment systems and mobile devices, which travellers are increasingly demanding as standard features. Helal Saeed Almarri, CEO of Dubai World Trade Centre, noted that Gitex was

the world’s third-largest information and communication technology (ICT) event, and emphasised the success of this latest edition. “The overwhelming response to the 30th anniversary edition of Gitex Technology Week is a testament to its ability to bring together leading ICT players from around the world for strong knowledge sharing and promoting business partnerships,” said Almarri. The next edition of Gitex Technology Week will be held in Dubai between October 9 and 13, 2011.

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- Accommodation

JAL Boosts Hotel Presence in the Emirates Japanese brand JAL is stepping up its presence in the UAE, with a newly renovated Fujairah property and soon to be opened Dubai hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.

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otel JAL Fujairah Resort and Spa has undergone several months of refurbishment, which included replacing carpeting and fittings in all guestrooms and suites, as well as adding a palmed pathway and greenery landscaping along the property’s private beach. Sister property Hotel JAL Tower Dubai is approaching the final phase of construction, with an opening expected by the end of the year. Laurent Rigaud, general manager of Hotel JAL Tower Dubai, said the management team was already active in the pre-

opening phase. “It is known that preparing an opening is a challenging and tense period, but at the same time, there is a lot of bonding and emotional relationships created between team members, being executives and junior colleagues,” said Rigaud. “Each one of us is so involved in the product preparation that we nurture the feeling of belonging to the brand and the project and cannot wait to see it up and running.” Hotel JAL Tower Dubai will be the brand’s second property in the UAE and will be located on Sheikh Zayed Road, targeting both business and leisure travellers.

Laurent Rigaud

First Phase of USD5.5 million Refurb Unveiled at Ritz-Carlton Doha The Ritz-Carlton Doha, in Qatar, has completed the first phase of a soft refurbishment valued at USD5.5 million. Pep Lozano, general manager of the hotel, said the first phase encompassed the lobby lounge, grand lobby, executive club lounge and the property’s 374 guest rooms and suites. “We are very excited about the new look and textures of the hotel,” said Lozano. “The redesign was reflective of the distinctive representation of Arabic history and culture and we are positive that it will have a positive impact on our guests’ experience.” Jan-Poul De Boer, CEO of Qatar National Hotels, was behind the injection of cash into the property and said the goal was not only to add value for hotel guests, but also to the city of Doha and Qatar’s tourism and hospitality industry as a whole. “Although Qatar National Hotels has continually invested in The Ritz-Carlton Doha for many years, we felt it was an opportune time to enhance the product with a sizeable investment,” said De Boer. “By dramatically improving the quality on a regular basis, we ensure that The Ritz-Carlton maintains its positioning as one of the best hotels in the nation.” 4

OCTOBER 23, 2010


- Accommodation QNH Announces Third Merweb Property, in Doha City Centre Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) will open the third property under its inhouse brand, Merweb, in 2011. The property is being developed by Faisal Holdings, who have already partnered with QNH on previous properties. It will be located within the City Centre Mall in Doha, 15 minutes from Doha’s international airport, and will operate as a four star hotel offering 256 rooms and suites

in addition to 97 one, two and three bedroom apartments. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman of Al Faisal Holding, said the property was designed to appeal to a range of guests. Sheikh Nawaf Bin Jassim Bin Jabor AlThani, chairman of QNH, added that though his company had plans to expand across the Middle East, the new management deal reflected a policy

focused on growth within Qatar. “The signing of this second management agreement with our close partners the Al Faisal Holdingrepresents a significant step in our expansion plans across Qatar,” he said. “We will be announcing further projects in the near future that further illustrate the contribution Qatar National Hotels Company is making to the expansion and development of the hospitality industry in Qatar.”

Kempinski Ajman Steps Up Family Leisure Offering Kempinski Hotel Ajman has launched a range of new leisure club benefits and poolside rooms to stimulate bookings for the upcoming Eid holiday and beyond. The hotel has recently transformed its 14 cabanas into poolside rooms, which feature direct access to the pool, along with newly renovated fittings and some interconnecting rooms. Kempinski has also revamped its signature Laguna Suite and is targeting local families with weekend packages that include movie nights, in-suite dining and free bowling. October has seen the launch of club benefits, which include perks such as complementary massages, internet and mini bar, as well as early check-in and late check-out options. Guests who upgrade to the hotel’s premier suites can expect even greater benefits, including complementary laundry and pressing services and a private beach hut. OCTOBER 23, 2010

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- Air Travel

Wataniya Adds 19 Destinations to Network Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways has cemented a codeshare deal with Austrian Airlines which will open 19 new European destinations to the carrier starting on October 31.

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ew destinations made available under the agreement include London, UK; Paris, France; Milan, Italy; Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland; Brussels, Belgium; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Prague, Czech Republic. Abdulsalam Al Bahar, managing director of Wataniya, said the codeshare arrangement had been prompted by the popularity of flights to Vienna and the attractiveness of Austria as a hub. “Since we launched regular direct flights to Vienna in 2010, the service has become one of our most popular routes,” he said.

“Vienna is at the very heart of Europe and, with less than two hours transit time at Vienna International Airport to other European destinations, it is an ideal gateway for our valued guests.” Wataniya started flying to Vienna from Kuwait earlier this year and has already planned the launch of another direct link, from Beirut to Vienna, also starting on October 31. Wataniya and Austrian have announced that seven new codeshare routes from Beirut will be rolled out in the future. The codeshare represents a dramatic expansion of Wataniya’s network; the airline started flying in 2009 and currently operates only seven aircraft.

AbdulsalamAl Bahal

Emirates Boosts Tripoli Route Emirates will add flights and increase capacity to Tripoli, capital city of Libya, from November 1 of this year. Flights will increase to 10 times weekly, with the addition of three flights to Emirates’ existing daily schedule. Additionally, the flights will be served by larger aircraft, boosting the existing three class format with 21 more economy seats.

We have received numerous requests from both business and leisure travellers within Libya Business and first class capacity will remain the same. According to Haitham Al Battawy, manager in Libya for Emirates, the increase has been prompted by steadily growing interest in the route since it launched. “The number of passengers travelling with Emirates has been growing steadily since the launch of the Tripoli service a decade ago,” he said. “We have received numerous requests from both business and leisure travellers within Libya to increase services and we are delighted to be able to respond with these additional flights.” 6

OCTOBER 23, 2010


- Air Travel

Dubai International Reports Impressive Recovery Traffic at Dubai International Airport reported dramatic recovery during September, with a year on year increase of 25 percent in passenger numbers.

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ubai Airport handled 3,988,804 passengers in September this year, compared to 3,190,408 in 2009; representing the second consecutive month in which traffic figures approached the four million mark. Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said increases had come from both major and emerging source markets, a shift that he attributed to the government’s approach to regulation. “We are seeing expansion across the board, not only from our usual top flight destinations such as India, the UK, Iran and Germany but we are also seeing significant increases in passenger traffic to and from the US, China and Australia,” he said. “Clearly Dubai’s aviation model is working: open skies, supportive government policies, Dubai’s attractiveness as a business and leisure destination as well as its ideal location as a convenient global transit point are behind this impressive growth.” The largest gross increases came from destinations in Western Europe (+149,510 passengers), the

Indian subcontinent (+148,329 passengers), GCC countries (+140,974) and Africa (+84,317 passengers). However, the largest percentage passenger traffic growth was seen on routes to and from Eastern Europe (247 percent), GCC

countries (36 percent), Asia and Asia Pacific (33 percent), Africa (25 percent) and Western Europe (23 percent). September’s large increases come in the context of a 15.8 percent growth average over the course of the year so far.

Paul Griffiths

OCTOBER 23, 2010

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- International

Russia’s Hotel Investment Challenges

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s one of the key emerging world markets, Russia and the CIS states present tempting opportunities for hotel investors looking

to get in early. HVS has highlighted some of the major risks involved in this market, from land acquisition and zoning through to design and construction. Vacant plots of land in prime Russian city locations are rare, and thus valued highly, even though other land prices have plummeted. A less expensive option is to purchase land with existing buildings, either to demolish or restore – HVS noted that the St Petersburg administration is currently releasing plots of land with heritage buildings for restoration.

Permit acquisition is listed as a complex issue and potential investors will have to deal with a number of different agencies to obtain appropriate permits. HVS advised that investors retain a professional advisor or broker to assist during this process. Brand standards for international brands may need to be slightly adjusted to suit the local market – local law dictates certain elements in hotels, such as smoke alarms, and does not allow currency exchange at reception desks. According to HVS, while the majority of investors are interested in high profile luxury hotels, these properties carry additionally high risks and complex development and operational issues. Lower positioned hotels carry lower levels of risk, but HVS’s sources in Moscow

suggest that due to high value of land in prime locations, the development of limited service hotels may not be profitable. Therefore, high risk investment may be the best option. One piece of good news is that, due to modern equipment and materials, Russia’s harsh weather conditions and cold winters are no longer seen as major obstacles to construction. However, the absence of necessary permits or delayed raw materials could still cause delays. HVS concluded that although there are several challenges to be faced, these should not deter potential investors. With proper due diligence and consulting, HVS indicated that investors would be able to find profitable opportunities in hotel markets in Russia.

ITB Asia Proves Regional Growth ITB Asia, held in Singapore over the past week, proved that global interest in the Asian market was well founded, with strong growth in leisure, meetings and corporate travel. Exhibitor numbers rose six percent compared to last year; organisers said growth in the travel industry reflected a generally improving economy and increased demand in the region. According to Raimund Hosch, CEO of Messe Berlin, the 2010 event was characterised by five themes – exhibitor growth; better quality buyers; a greater MICE industry profile, the importance of Egypt as a partner country; and the fact that ITB Asia was now attracting sideline events. ITB Asia 2010 featured 720 exhibitor organisations, with representation from 60 countries. New interest came from Japan, Bhutan, Morocco, Moscow and Korea, among others. The percentage of MICE buyers was one key indicator of growth, with MICE travel buyers increasing from 32 percent to 43 percent. The event is set to remain in its current venue, Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre for at least three more years, following a commitment deal between the venue and Messe Berlin (Singapore). 8

OCTOBER 23, 2010


Participants at ADTA’s recent Al Ain workshops

Agent’s Insight Name: Geoff Hann Position: Owner and Operator Company: Hinterland Travel Location: UK (serving Iraq and Afghanistan) Who are your main clients ? Our clients are really from across the board. At least half of them are retired, but we get everyone from young professionals right up to university professors.

What are the most popular holiday activities for your clients?

Customer Service Training in Al Ain Following demand from partners in the tourism industry, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has rolled out a customer service training scheme in Al Ain. Paul Ram Prakash, industry professional development manager at ADTA, said the three-day Enhancing the Guest Experience (EGE)programme was part of ADTA’s aim to develop world class standards throughout the entire emirate. “This series of workshops is designed to hone hospitality and tourism employees’ skills and help them deliver excellent service to visitors, while enriching their knowledge in this great city’s culture and heritage,” he said. Workshops include sessions on customer service, tourism information services and Abu Dhabi culture and heritage. The programme has been well received by travel professionals from a range of industries, including hoteliers, tour guides, visitor information centre staff and ADTA’s Al Ain based employees.

It depends on the destination. We really have two main ones, which are Iraq and Afghanistan. For Iraq it is mostly about the ancient sites, the history and archeology, but the younger ones are often interested in recent events as well. People want to go to Afghanistan because of all the media attention, to see the country as it is, but it is also a country that many have wanted to go to for years, but very few people have been able to in the last three decades.

When did you get involved in the travel industry and how has it changed since then? I’ve always been most interested in the adventure by land kind of travel. There’s not a destination on earth today that you can’t fly to, really, but when we started in the 70s, you had to drive to the places I was interested in going.

Where are you most interested in visiting next and why? Central Asia, really. I like the Middle East because of the people and the history, but I like Afghanistan especially. It’s at the edge; it’s a boundary, but it’s opening up and it will be fantastic when it does.

Why are internet booking increasing in popularity? Well, obviously this is something we would all like to understand. It’s having such a profound implications for the travel industry across the board, and it’s difficult to know exactly how. Older people are discovering that it is a new source of information, but I think (and I place myself in this category) they still prefer to trust the written word; brochures and such. 10

OCTOBER 23, 2010


UK and German Source Markets Resurgent in 2011 With Europe one of the global regions most affected by economic hardship, a large volume of talk has been generated urging travel professionals to look beyond bread and butter source markets.

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owever, if the latest round of studies is any indication, Germany and the UK, the top two travelling nations in the world, are ready to get back on the horse; or plane; or cruise ship. A study commissioned by ADAC, a German road travel association, showed that more than 70 percent of Germans plan to take a long holiday in 2011, even those who claimed to be in a bad, or very bad, economic situation. Dr Martin Buck, director of Competence Centre Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin, said that though Germans were

OCTOBER 23, 2010

still travelling, the downturn had split travellers into two groups.

Cruising is again likely to out-perform all other areas of the holiday market “The worst of the recession is now over and German citizens are again living up to their reputation as the world's most travelled nation,” he said. “In this context two categories are emerging: in the first category the principal focus is on the choice of

destination and in the other it is the travel budget that mainly decides where holidays will take place.” The UK outbound market is also expecting a revival in 2011, especially in the cruising sector. William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association, said the market was set to increase by eight percent, outstripping growth in any other travel sector. “Year after year the cruise sector reports impressive growth with 2011 being no exception,” he said. “Cruising is again likely to out-perform all other areas of the holiday market.”

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Hany Ahmed Director of Business Development, Hilton Abu Dhabi “There has been an increase of demand in Abu Dhabi year after year; some hotels however did experience a decrease in occupancy due to increases in Abu Dhabi’s supply. Hilton Abu Dhabi has remained a strong and popular destination with our regular clientele keeping us busy the whole year round.”

There has been an increase of demand in Abu Dhabi year after year

Toru Koizumi Middle East Branch Director, Taisei “Doha Aviation Summit plays a significant role as it is a channel and opportunity to bring and meet key people from different aviation sectors and discuss issues, create opportunities, and benchmark from other's point of views. To have the current economic climate discussed during the summit would indeed be the best idea that could be given an emphasis.”

To have the current economic climate discussed during the summit would indeed be the best idea that could be given an emphasis Moussa El Hayek

Hany Ahmed

Moussa El Hayek Chief Operating Officer, Al Bustan Centre and Residence “Due to the international crisis, tourism has been affected in the emirate of Dubai just like other regions. However, we are witnessing signs of recovery and we are positive that improvement will be expected shortly; this is due to the support of Dubai Government and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Our new strategy is to focus on GCC countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where we have a major share of the business – mainly in family leisure travel and corporate. At the same time, we will continue to penetrate new markets such as the Far East, namely China and its neighbouring countries.”

Our new strategy is to focus on GCC countries 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 12

OCTOBER 23, 2010


Elizabeth George One to One Hotel – the Village has appointed Elizabeth George as director of human resources. George has 21 years of hospitality experience; she began her career in the UK with Marriott and Edwardian, before moving to the Middle East, where she worked with the human resource departments at Hilton Abu Dhabi and InterContinental Dubai. Most recently, George held the position of director of human resources at Hill International, John Buck International and Bond Communication.

Yasser Bahaa

Waleed Ahmed

Accor Middle East has appointed Yasser Bahaa as general manager of Ibis Amman, Jordan. Bahaa has been with the Accor group for 14 years in a variety of international postings. In the Middle East, he previously held the position of general manager of Mercure Umm Al Qura in Saudi Arabia.

Rail Europe has appointed Waleed Ahmed as regional manager of Rail Europe Middle East. Ahmed will be based in the company’s new Dubai office. He has 11 years of experience in the hospitality, travel and tourism sectors. Previous employers have included Marriott International and Starwood Hotels; most recently, Ahmed has been based in the Middle East as a sales and marketing executive within the hotel industry.

Amo Nicolussi Moretto Anantara Hotels has appointed Amo Nicolussi Moretto as area general manager of Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi. Moretto will also take on area manager responsibilities for Qasr Al Sarab’s sister property, Desert Islands Resort and Spa by Anantara, on Sir Bani Yas Island. Moretto has worked across the globe with companies such as InterContinental Hotels Group, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, The Ritz and Swissotel.

Waleed Ahmed

Christopher Newberry

Christopher Newberry Corinthia Hotels has appointed Christopher Newberry as general manager of The Corinthia Hotel Khartoum in Sudan. Newberry began his career with Hilton International in London, before moving to Madagascar Hilton as general manager, followed by a similar position at Yaoundé Hilton in Cameroon. Later, Newberry became one of the first general managers at Disney, achieving success at the brand’s theme park in Paris, France. He has also worked with Kempinski, Crowne Plaza and Aga Khan Development Network. Newberry’s most recent position was general manager of The Leela Kempinski in Mumbai, India.

Alejandro Bernabé

Amo Nicolussi Moretto 14

Kempinski Hotels has appointed Alejandro Bernabé as general manager of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. Bernabé has more than 17 years of experience in the hotel industry, including 10 years with Kempinski. His various postings have spanned Spain, the US, Switzerland, South Africa, France, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Russia, Turkey, Malta, Kuwait and Jordan. He has a hotel management degree, an MBA and multiple bachelor degrees. Bernabé replaces Holger Schroth, who has taken on the role of general manager at the new Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok in Thailand. OCTOBER 23, 2010


Q&A with Costas Gavriel Costas Gavriel is the executive assistant manager of Grand Millennium Al Wahda – soon to be the largest property in Abu Dhabi. He spoke to Travel Trade Weekly ahead of the property’s opening on November 1 to discuss his strategy for the mammoth newcomer. Travel Trade Weekly: Please give us superb restaurants we offer. From Asian a brief outline of your career so far. to American, Italian to all-day dining, What brought you to this property? there is something for everyone. Costas Gavriel: My route to Abu Dhabi has been varied and interesting, but with a definite focus on five star luxury hotels. I actually started as a business development executive at The Kensington Hilton in London and have been fortunate to have worked with such prestigious properties as Radisson Edwardian Hotels, Rosewood Hotels and Le Méridien Hotels and Resorts both at property and also at regional level. The Middle East has always held a certain attraction, and I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to join the opening team of such a landmark hotel with a prestigious international company as Millennium Hotels and Resorts. Abu Dhabi’s international reputation is also growing, and I look forward to being part of that process.

Travel Trade Weekly: In your own words, can you please explain the highlights of Grand Millennium Al Wahda? Costas Gavriel: Grand Millennium Al Wahda is the largest hotel in Abu Dhabi with a total of 850 rooms comprising 585 contemporarily furnished luxury guest rooms and 265 stylish residences. That gives us the capacity to accommodate large groups of up to 350 rooms – something not possible in Abu Dhabi before. We also have the largest spa and health club facility with some unique spa treatments planned, and a fitness centre fully equipped by Technogym. A favorite of mine, being particularly interested in food, is the range of six OCTOBER 23, 2010

Costas Gavriel

With a hotel of this size, we have the potential to attract a wide range of market segments Travel Trade Weekly: As executive assistant manager of the largest hotel in Abu Dhabi, what is your strategy to attract guests to the property? Are there particular sectors or source markets that you will be targeting? Costas Gavriel: Our strategy will focus on corporate and large groups, particularly sporting groups and events coming to Abu Dhabi. Of course, with a hotel of this size, we have the potential to attract a wide range of market segments – we also look forward to offering some great promotions to local residents. We want to become part of the community, where we support community activities and they support us. Our objective is not to undercut existing hotels but to support Abu Dhabi in attracting business that has previously eluded the city due to lack of available accommodation or an inability to accommodate groups in one hotel.

Travel Trade Weekly: Do you plan to partner with any specific events, attractions or other members of the tourism and hospitality industry? Are there any plans in place for these partnerships yet? Costas Gavriel: It is early days yet to highlight specific partnerships as we are talking to a wide range of people and

organisations from government to private sector, destination management companies and international travel trade. Our sales and marketing team is actively researching opportunities and we look forward to some close associations developing in the coming months.

Travel Trade Weekly: In your opinion, what are the strengths of Abu Dhabi as a tourism destination? Costas Gavriel: Abu Dhabi is developing a strong cultural and heritage product, and with world class attractions such as Ferrari World, it will also increase interest from leisure markets. The city has been extremely active in attracting events, concerts and exhibitions, and sporting events are also becoming a major attraction; the Grand Millennium Al Wahda enjoys an ideal location adjacent to the Al Wahda Sports Club to become involved in a number of these. 15


Business Travel Show Turning Japanese with Technology Pecha Kucha The upcoming Business Travel Show, to be held in Dubai from October 25 to 26, will adopt the Japanese forum concept Pecha Kucha to discuss technology in the travel sector. The format is designed to allow professionals to meet, showcase their work and exchange ideas in a concise, fastpaced and entertaining way. Pecha Kucha sessions feature 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds, in the space of six minutes and 40 seconds. The hour-long conference is titled “Technology Pecha Kucha – Online

Systems and Technological Advancements – What Generation are You?” and will feature insights into the way technology is changing the delivery of travel across the Middle East. Ahmed Youssef, regional director of operations and marketing for Amadeus MENA, will conduct a presentation during the session on behalf of Amadeus. Other speakers will include Abulla Tawakul of HRG Dnata; Dirk Mertens of Travelport; Bicky Calra of TraVision; and Tricia Escucha of EmQuest. Business Travel Show will take place at

Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre in Dubai; the technology Pecha Kucha session is scheduled for October 26.

Events Business Travel Show – Dubai Dubai, UAE, October 25-26 (www.businesstravelshowdubai.com) Dedicated event for buyers and bookers of corporate travel in the Middle East, focusing on small and medium sized organisations that book business travel.

EIBTM Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2 (www.eibtm.com) Global event for the meetings and events industry, including networking opportunities, professional education seminars and a trade show platform for exhibitors, hosted buyers and trade visitors.

World Travel Market London, UK, November 8-11 (www.wtmlondon.com) Global event for the travel industry – four day business to business event promoting a range of destinations and industry sectors to international travel professionals.

International Luxury Travel Market Cannes, France, December 6-9 (www.iltm.net) Annual business to business event for the global luxury travel industry. Showcases destinations and travel experiences, with a programme of networking events and pre-scheduled meetings.

World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 22-24 (www.worldgreentourism.ae) Inaugural eco-tourism exhibition, featuring tourism authorities, urban city planners, hotels and resorts, property developers, airlines, tour operators, green product suppliers, universities, museums and heritage site organisations.

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Moroccan Travel Market Marrakech, Morocco, January 12-15 (en.mtm.ma) Exhibition for international travel professionals. Blossom Japan Tokyo, Japan, January 18-21,2011 (www.blossomjapan.com) A new invitation-only luxury travel exhibition focusing on the Japanese market.

OCTOBER 23, 2010


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 50