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Middle East and North Africa Edition

THRIFTY OMAN December and January are expected to bring an influx of post-summer tourists to Oman, according to Mehdi Jaffer, deputy managing director of Thrifty Car Rental Oman. Thrifty is boosting its fleet size by 10 percent in response to strong demand; the company has also ramped up its road side assistance services and opened a new outlet in Ruwi.

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has signed a deal with Monte-Carlo SBM for a new beach club attraction on Saadiyat Island . Monte-Carlo SBM was established in Monaco nearly 150 years ago and has since been responsible for a range of well known hotels, clubs and restaurants.

4 OCEAN SKY Ocean Sky, an international private jet company based in the UK, has set up shop in the UAE, with a representative office in Dubai. The new office will serve as a base for the company’s expansion throughout the Middle East.

11 In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events NOVEMBER 20, 2010

2 6 10 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 ISSUE 54


Monte Carlo


Middle Eastern Airport Security Spending to Top USD57m

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

According to the recently released Middle East Airport Security Market Assessment Report, airport security spending is set to hit AED212 million (USD57.7 million) by 2015.

Sales & Marketing Marianna Tsiamas Dimitris Thomaidis Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website Emails


ithin the region, the UAE is a major spender, with consultants Frost and Sullivan indicating that UAE airport security cost AED31.6 million (USD8.6 million) in 2009; 23 percent of total Middle Eastern expenditure in the sector. The Middle Eastern market for video surveillance equipment is also expected to grow by 10 percent in 2010, according to IMS Research. IMS added that the region is forecasted to grow strongly in CCTV and video surveillance towards 2013. According to Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Epoc Messe Frankfurt GmbH, airport security will be a major focus area for the upcoming Intersec trade fair and conference,

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 18/11/2010


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

The increase in the levels of international terrorism has also necessitated a hard look into the current state of affairs in this sector

Chinese Manufacturer to Challenge Global Air Giants

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)

set to be held in Dubai from January 16 to 18. “Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International airport, currently underway at Jebel Ali and already open for cargo flights, will eventually be the world’s largest passenger terminal,” he said. “This will drive demand for the latest in foolproof security systems, perimeter security and surveillance gadgets. “The increase in the levels of international terrorism has also necessitated a hard look into the current state of affairs in this sector by governments and security agencies as well as the private sector.”

1USD= 3.69 5.75 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 46.35 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.42 8.23 10,400 214.75 73.85 1.21

The status quo of the global aerospace industry has been challenged, with Chinese plans to enter large aircraft manufacturing taking a major step forward. China’s homegrown C919 narrow body passenger liner has taken its first orders at the recent Zhuhai Airshow. The C919 is under development by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China (COMAC) as a direct challenge to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 mid range models. The project is still in the design stage, with only a replica of the cabin and fore section on display at Zhuhai, but contracts have recently been reached for the development and supply of major components, including pilot controls, power generation and cooling systems. COMAC has announced orders totalling 100 of the jets, from Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, CDB Leasing Company and GE Capital Aviation Services. First deliveries are scheduled for 2016. NOVEMBER 20, 2010

The UAE’s Monte-Carlo to hit Saadiyat Island in 2011 Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has made a deal with Monte-Carlo SBM for a new attraction on Saadiyat Island.


onte Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat Island is slated to open in March 2011, and will include a private beach, children’s area, fitness and recreation facilities and a restaurant. According to Lee Tabler, CEO of TDIC, Monte-Carlo SBM had been selected in recognition of its established reputation for luxury offerings. “TDIC is developing Saadiyat Island as an unrivalled destination for culture and a contemporary urban lifestyle, and the Monte-Carlo SBM brand complements these aspirations perfectly,” he said.

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

“Monte Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat Island will bring the history and style of glamorous Monte-Carlo, with its rich heritage of culture, sport and tourism, to Saadiyat as the island's unique reputation builds.” Monte-Carlo SBM was established in Monaco nearly 150 years ago and has since been responsible for a range of well received hotels, clubs and restaurants. Bernard Lambert, CEO of SBM (mother company to Monte-Carlo SBM), also emphasised an affinity between Abu Dhabi and SBM’s base in Monaco. “TDIC's focus and passion in developing a social, cultural and tourist infrastructure

here in Abu Dhabi echoes SBM's own development of Monte Carlo almost 150 years ago,” he said.

Monte-Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat Island will bring the history and style of glamorous MonteCarlo to Saadiyat Saadiyat Island is the focus of Abu Dhabi’s cultural developments, including an outpost of the famous Louvre Museum slated for development.


Oman Bracing for End of Year Boost to Road Travel December and January are expected to bring an influx of post-summer tourists to Oman, according to Mehdi Jaffer, deputy managing director of Thrifty Car Rental Oman.


hrifty is boosting its fleet size by 10 percent in response to strong demand; the company has also ramped up its road side assistance services and opened a new outlet in Ruwi. “We have experienced an excellent year in terms of business revenues and developments in Oman,” said Jaffer. “Tourism has significantly improved in 2010 and demand for car rental services will increase with the number of leisure and business travellers set to rise with the continued global economic recovery.” Jaffer said the end of the year would be a busy time for the company, following the

hot summer months. “We are expecting a surge in business during the next two months, due to the number of holidays and also the perfect weather conditions, which will encourage outdoor activity,” he said. The lion’s share of Thrifty’s new fleet investment has been directed at 4WDs, which Jaffer said had experienced high demand this year, in comparison to 2009. Satellite navigation technology is also a regular request; Thrifty offers Sat Nav for hire with its car rentals. Jaffer said the nature of travel in Oman made people more inclined to book navigation technology; he added that round-the-clock breakdown support was

also an important element. “Services such as these are imperative with the increased amount of road travel that takes place in the sultanate during the cooler period,” said Jaffer. In Oman, Thrifty currently has outlets in Salalah, Sohar, Muscat, Ruwi and Al Khuwair.

Mehdi Jaffer

British Hajj Group Calls For Greater Pilgrim Protection Hajj and Umrah pilgrims need better protection from extortion, according to a group representing British Muslims. The Association of British Hujjaj (Pilgrims) UK (ABH) describes itself as a national, Hajj specific organisation working for the welfare and wellbeing of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. According to ABH, pilgrims from around the world have been targeted by opportunistic con men, labelled as rogue Hajj tour guides by the group, who have taken travellers’ money and disappeared. ABH issued a statement condemning the actions and also alleging price gouging by businesses aimed at pilgrims. “It is a disgrace that these rogue tour operators are preying on vulnerable pilgrims, cheating and charging them at extortionate and unjustified prices for the Hajj and Umrah packages, which are a total rip-off compared to travel packages to other countries around the world, in view that many pilgrims are likely to have spent their life savings to fulfil their desires and wishes to perform the pilgrimage,” it read. ABH has called on the British and Saudi governments to address the problem. There has been no official response yet from either government. 4

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

- Accommodation

Citymax Brand Launches Second Dubai Hotel Landmark Group has opened the second property in Dubai to operate under its Citymax Hotels brand.


he hotel is the latest in a series of budget hotels that have come online in the Middle East in recent times, including the company’s first property, Citymax Al Barsha. Michael Weyland, general manager of Landmark Group’s hotels division, said the budget hotel market was looking promising, despite sharp declines in occupancy between 2008 and 2009. "We are very excited about Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai entering this rapidly growing market and have already received many online bookings prior to the opening; we are looking forward to

Citymax Hotel Bur, Dubai

welcoming these guests and all of our future visitors,” he said. According to Landmark, Citymax Al Barsha has experienced steadily increasing occupancy rates since it launched in March of this year.

We are very excited about Citymax Hotel Bur Dubai entering this rapidly growing market

ALAQ Breaks Ground on The Waterfront The Waterfront, a luxury resort and residential development near Tripoli, Libya, is officially underway. The project is part of a joint venture, Al-Libya Al-Qataria (ALAQ), between Qatari Diar Real Estate Company and Oyia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Libya’s Economic and Social Development Fund. The centrepiece of The Waterfront will be a five star resort hotel – according to Qatari Diar it will be the first in Tripoli to offer a waterfront location as well as first class amenities. The hotel will feature nearly 300 rooms and suites, accommodating both business and leisure tourists. The Waterfront’s serviced residences will offer luxury villas, maisonettes and apartments. Abdul Aziz Al Theyab, chairman of ALAQ’s board of directors, said the development would target the country’s increasing tourist market. “Libya is one of the fastest growing business and tourist markets in the region, and international travellers are just beginning to learn about its rich history and vibrant culture,” he said. “The Waterfront is a truly unique development in a remarkable Mediterranean setting; we are honoured to bring a new level of world-class accommodation to Libya in partnership with Qatari Diar and Oyia.” The first phase of The Waterfront is expected to reach completion by the end of 2012. 6

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

- Accommodation

GCC Hotels Must Lower Consumption When it comes to environmental impact, GCC hotels compare poorly with their European counterparts, according to Farnek Avireal – the group that holds the rights to Green Globe certification in the Middle East.


ccording to the company, average per guest water consumption for a five star hotel in Europe is around 490 litres, compared with a minimum of 650 litres in the Middle East. Similarly, Middle Eastern hotels use energy at a rate approximately 225 percent higher than similar hotels in Germany and emit more than twice the volume of carbon. However, Markus Oberlin, general manager of Farnek Avireal, said the Gulf was making progress and gave Mövenpick as an example of one of his clients who

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

was pursuing compliance with a recent environmental audit. He noted the importance of certifying environmental initiatives, citing consumer scepticism about independent green initiatives. “In the current climate, hotels must be environmentally friendly and need credible international certification,” he said. However, Oberlin also pointed to the bottom line benefits of becoming more environmentally friendly. “Our research has shown that the annual utility costs for a five star hotel in Dubai are around USD2 million,” he said.

In the current climate, hotels must be environmentally friendly and need credible international certification “Reduced energy consumption could save an average 250 bedroom hotel around USD5 per room night.” Oberlin also said that by pursuing green certification in the Middle East as a group, the brand’s portfolio would have an advantage over individual properties.


- Accommodation

Three New Middle East Properties For Anantara Anantara has included three new Middle Eastern properties in its projection for 2011 openings.


nantara will open Al Madina A’Zarqa Resort and Spa, on the coast an hour from Muscat, Oman. The 122 key property has been designed in the traditional Arabian style. Al Sahel by Anantara and Al Yamm by Anantara represent expansions of Anantara’s existing operations on Abu Dhabi’s Sir Bani Yas Island. The two Abu Dhabi properties have already been flagged by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), responsible for their construction, in a previous announcement. Both properties will offer private chalets,

with Al Sahel situated within the wildlife park on the island and Al Yamm set on the eastern coast. Peter Carmichael, senior vice president of Anantara said the brand had come a long way since its launch nearly 10 years ago. “As we move into our tenth anniversary year we will open seven stunning new resorts that will offer guests luxury and tranquillity in surroundings that are culturally and environmentally uplifting,” he said. “As we continue to expand, our initial goal of providing a unique and authentic destination experience for all our guests will always remain the same.” Other properties to launch in 2011

include: Anantara Kihavah Villas, Maldives; Anantara Uluwatu Resort and Spa, Bali; and two hotels in China.

We will open seven stunning new resorts that will offer guests luxury and tranquillity Anantara Sanya Resort and Spa will be located on Hainan Island and Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort and Spa will open in the Hengduan mountains of the Yunnan province. The seven new properties represent a 60 percent increase of Anantara’s overall portfolio.

Net Profits Drop for Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company Abu Dhabi National Hotels Company (ADNH) has announced a net profit of AED237 million (USD64.5 million) for the first nine months of 2010. The results represent a 56.9 percent drop in net profits compared to the same period last year. However, Richard Riley, CEO of ADNH, said the company had taken measures to ensure maximisation of the profits and expected performance to exceed market trends. Of the total net profits, ADNH’s hotel division accounted for AED130 million (USD35.4 million), while the catering division recorded AED70 million (USD19 million) and nonoperating profits contributed AED99 million (USD26.96 million). Riley said the company was focused on the expansion of its portfolio, with new products and brands in the pipeline that are expected to increase revenue streams in the future. Construction of ADNH’s upcoming The Grand Canal Hotel project is underway, with an opening scheduled for the second quarter of 2011. Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has signed on to operate the property. ADNH is also developing Park Hyatt Hotel and Villas on Saadiyat Island; this property is expected to open in mid-2011. 8

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

- Air Travel

Oman Air Sends Students on Diplomatic Mission Oman Air has selected 40 students from Oman to act as international ambassadors for the country.


he 40 Young Ambassadors Programme has been designed in cooperation with the Omani department of education, and will see the chosen students present messages of solidarity at educational institutions around the world. The number 40 was chosen to reflect both the number of destinations in the Oman Air network and the number of years since Oman became a country. Participants have been dubbed Sindbads, after the legendary sailor, claimed by many Omanis to have originated in their country. Philippe Georgiou, chief officer of corporate affairs at Oman Air, said the

scheme would help spread awareness of both Oman and Oman Air. “These Sindbads are part and parcel of our mission,” he said. “We have always prided ourselves on being the flagship of the nation and its ambassador, representing the core values and essence of the country and symbolising its aspirations whether in the skies or on tarmacs of international airports across the world.”

We have always prided ourselves on being the flagship of the nation and its ambassador

Entrants, who range from 14 to 17 years of age were selected based on an essay writing competition and assessed on proficiency in language, conceptualisation, quality and fluency of expression, ingenuity and originality.

Philippe Georgiou

Qatar Airways Hits 100 Destinations After 13 years of business, Qatar Airways’ network has reached 100 destinations. The latest route will service Aleppo in Syria, with flights beginning in April, 2011. Other new flights set to launch in 2011 include Budapest, Bucharest, Brussels and Stuttgart. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said the airline was the first Gulf based international carrier to commence operations to Aleppo. “Qatar Airways is delighted to commemorate our hundredth destination by announcing our latest route to a city in our home region,” said Al Baker. Al Baker added that Qatar Airways was well placed to take advantage of growth in the travel market in the Middle East, with new aircraft on order and increases flagged for capacity and frequency on regional routes. “IATA pegged growth in the Middle East region at over 23 percent in 2010, compared to last year,” he said. “Our award-winning service and young and modern fleet will only propel our position as a leading global carrier.” Qatar’s global network currently spans six continents, with key destinations including Delhi, London, New York, Washington, Houston, Melbourne, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. 10

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- Air Travel

Ocean Sky Enters Middle East with Dubai Office Ocean Sky, an international private jet company based in the UK, has set up shop in the UAE, with a representative office in Dubai.


he new office will serve as a base for the company’s expansion throughout the Middle East. Steve Grimes, CEO of Ocean Sky, said the region was a natural fit for the company. “There is significant and growing demand for private aviation services and our breadth of activities makes us excellently placed to meet a customer’s entire needs,” he said. “We start in Dubai with a strong offering in aircraft charter and management, but see exciting opportunities to introduce other elements of our fully-integrated business model.”

Aircraft acquisition, sales and fixed base operations have all been flagged as future possibilities for the company in its new base. Industry veteran Neil Backhouse will lead

We start in Dubai with a strong offering in aircraft charter and management Ocean Sky’s Dubai office. He joins the company from ExecuJet Middle East, where he held the position of charter sales manager for the company’s managed

aircraft fleet. Backhouse originally moved to Dubai in 2001 to introduce Bombardier’s Skyjet brand to the region. “[Backhouse] brings almost a decade of experience of the Middle East, coupled with insights developed both as a broker and an operator,” said Grimes. “He is ideally qualified to spearhead our growth in the region.” In addition to the new office, Ocean Sky plans to forge ties with the local market by exhibiting at the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show, running as part of Dubai’s Airport Expo between December 7 and 9.

UAE Opens Skies with Panama The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE has signed an open skies agreement with the Republic of Panama. The open Air Services Agreement (ASA) and memorandum of understanding allows any number of designated airlines of both parties the right to perform scheduled air services. From the UAE, the delegation designated Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, RAK Airways, Air Arabia and FlyDubai. Panama’s selected airlines include Compania Panamena de Aviacion SA (Copa Airlines), Parsa SA (Air Panama), Aerolineas Pacifico Atlantico SA (Aeroperlas) and DHL Aeroexpreso SA. The above airlines will be allowed unrestricted frequencies, capacity and types of aircraft on the route between the Republic of Panama and the UAE. Unrestricted non-scheduled operations between the two countries have also been agreed to.

Panama City NOVEMBER 20, 2010


- International

MICE Industry Event Set to Bring USD54m to Spain Organisers of EIBTM, a global meetings and events industry trade show, say the event’s host city of Barcelona is set to see a significant economic boom over the next two months.


eld from November 30 to December 2, EIBTM is expected to draw more than 14,000 people, with EUR40 million (USD54 million) in expenditure before and during the show. Additional bookings for new MICE business placed in Barcelona as a result of the show was cited as an immediate and ongoing economic driver by the event’s organisers. More than 3,300 exhibiting companies, representing 90 countries, have signed up for the show, with more than 20 new exhibitors coming onboard for the 2010 event.

Graeme Barnett, exhibition director for EIBTM, said the event was well established in the industry. “For the last 21 years, EIBTM has been seen as a must-attend event for the meetings industry,” said Barnett.

[EIBTM acts] as a business barometer for 2011 “Acting as a business barometer for 2011, it brings suppliers and buyers together at an ideal time of the year to develop and grow their businesses for the year ahead.”

The 2010 event will include a new format for the EIBTM CEO Summit, featuring high profile guests from around the world. Key speakers will include: Dominic Swords, a regular financial commentator on CNBC and BBC, who will discuss post-recession growth; Marc Wright, who will present The Power of Live Events; and Felix Haas, who will discuss the impact of social media on the meetings industry. “We are delighted with this new format to the EIBTM CEO Summit, which is part of our longer-term vision to provide members with valuable thought leadership that is unique to EIBTM,” said Barnett.

New York’s JetBlue Connects to Emirates JetBlue Airways, based in New York, US, has announced an interline agreement with Dubai’s Emirates, offering global connections via New York’s John F Kennedy ( JFK) International Airport. JetBlue is a premium low fare carrier, serving dozens of cities throughout the Americas. Emirates currently offers two daily nonstop flights to Dubai from JFK in New York. Under the agreement, JetBlue customers will be able to take advantage of Emirates’ network of 108 cities around the world. Scott Resnick, director of airline partnerships at JetBlue, said Emirates was part of JetBlue’s growing portfolio of international partners. “We are pleased to partner with Emirates as we continue to expand JetBlue’s global reach,” he said.

We continue to expand JetBlue’s global reach He added that JetBlue operates one of the country’s youngest airline fleets, servicing customers with 157 Airbus and Embraer aircraft. The airline operates from its new 26 gate Terminal 5 at JFK, while Emirates operates from the adjacent Terminal 4. 12

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- International

Australia Targets Doubled Overnight Expenditure A new joint strategy between Tourism Australia and the Australian Government has been unveiled; the strategy is aimed at doubling overnight expenditure for the tourism industry by 2020.


ndrew McEvoy, managing director of Tourism Australia, said the strategy, labelled 2020 Tourism Industry Potential, is designed to improve the industry’s performance and competitiveness. He pointed out that global tourism had become much more competitive over the past decade, affecting Australia’s share of the worldwide tourism market. “The 2020 Tourism Industry Potential is a rallying call to the Australian tourism industry and all levels of government to focus on increasing the returns generated by tourism,” said McEvoy.

“Through a shared common goal for Australian tourism we aim to grow overnight expenditure to as much as AUD140 billion (USD137 billion) by 2020, and with domestic day trips included to as much as AUD160 billion (USD156 billion).” Tourism Australia will focus on building demand by targeting high spending global customers who are predisposed to Australian travel, as well as working with industry to insure investment and quality products. According to the tourism board, there is the potential requirement for between 40,000 and 70,000 rooms (at

75 percent occupancy rates) if the new scheme is successful.

The 2020 Tourism Industry Potential is a rallying call to the Australian tourism industry It is also expected to boost tax revenue from tourism, increase aviation capacity between 40 and 50 percent for international travel and contribute between 56,000 and 152,000 additional jobs.

JacTravel Merges Global Outlets International travel company JacTravel has rebranded its group of travel agencies and has begun the process of merging all of its individual businesses. The group formerly comprised JAC Travel Ltd, Jacob Online Ltd, JAC Travel Scotland and JAC Travel Canada. These businesses will now be rolled into a single operating unit, JacTravel, with all other corporate names to be dropped. JacTravel has been operating in the UK and Ireland for more than 35 years and now operates a number of international offices. It was originally founded as an inbound tour operator, but expanded to outbound services in 1980; JacTravel specialises in both group and frequent independent traveller (FIT) sales. In anticipation of the merger, JacTravel has invested heavily in upgraded IT infrastructure and has been undergoing internal reorganisation. The company has flagged further IT investment and an expanded product portfolio, following the merger. JacTravel has forecast positive results for 2010; the company expects to serve 1.2 million passengers this year, with annual turnover of GBP100 million (USD158.9 million).

UK NOVEMBER 20, 2010


Travel Agents Bidding for Business A US-based travel planning service has launched a new global website for travel agents to find travel leads and offer their services through a bidding process. invites travellers to provide details of their proposed trip, including destinations, itineraries, dates and desired accommodation on its website; registered travel agents can then customise packages to offer the client. Kevin Thompson, chief technology officer at, said the service was free for both travellers and travel agents – the company charges a fee of USD50 to the winning travel agent. “People have this general idea that the business of being a travel agent is largely dead,” said Thompson. “While that notion is definitely untrue, there are travel agents out there who need a helping hand in finding new travel leads. He added that while the internet has changed the way people make travel arrangements, independent bookings are not always successful. “We are trying to level the playing field, making it easier for the traveller to shop around for expert travel agents and for travel agents to develop more business,” he said.

Agent’s Insight Name: James Hamlyn Position: Senior Travel Consultant Company: Silk Road and Beyond Location: London, UK What are the challenges of working with the Middle East as a destination? The different time scales are one. Iran for instance will close down on a Thursday afternoon and so the weekends don’t match up, but mainly it has been a pleasure. Often you have to double check things, because there is perhaps not the same focus on getting everything nailed down that we have in the west, if that doesn’t sound too patronising. One thing we haven’t found to be a problem though is language. So what you might think would be a problem really isn’t.

Who visits the Middle East from the UK? Well, the market that we deal with as a cultural tour operator is people interested in cultural tours. It can really be people of all ages, but it tends to be older couples around 40 plus.

Where do they go within the region? Our number one selling destination, that is worldwide including all the destinations that we cover, has been Syria. Jordan has also always been a strong market. Iran has suffered a bit from recent events but it was always traditionally quite strong too. The one that we are really seeing a lot of new interest in is Lebanon. Lebanon has just grown hugely this year.

When is the peak time? There are two peak times: Spring and Autumn. Winter gets surprisingly cold and summer is very hot, so the main periods are April, May and June, then September and October.

Why do travellers choose the Middle East for their holiday? Obviously for the cultural aspect and the sights in Syria, Jordan and Egypt are just unsurpassed, things you can’t see anywhere else in the world. Also, perceptions have changed and people are no longer believing the Bushisms about terrorism and such. They are now coming to see the Middle East as very safe destinations with very friendly, hospitable people. 14

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Stumbling Block for Mobile Businesses As consumers are using their mobile phones to access more sophisticated web content than ever before, applications, or apps, for smart phones have been growing in popularity within the travel industry.


ncreasingly, businesses are coming to see these programs as the route to tapping the hottopic trend of mobile booking. However, according to a user experience expert, the application model is a short-term solution that will soon be replaced by more flexible alternatives. Giles Colbourne is the managing director of CX Partners, a UK company engaged in usability testing; matching the functionality of products and services to the way consumers use them in the real world. Speaking at the recent World Travel Market exhibition in London, he argued that despite their popularity, businessspecific mobile applications will have a limited lifespan. Part of the reason is the great expense of developing an application – a booking app for a hotel, for instance. “Applications cost between GBP20,000 (USD31,777) and GBP100,000 (USD158,855) to develop and a good one is at the top end of that range,” he said. “I think apps are something that are going to grow but then be replaced by something else.” Colburne said the new HTML 5 internet

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coding language is one contender; providing many of the benefits of applications (such as offline access) without requiring development separate from a business’ main website. HTML 5 is still emerging, however, leaving companies in the difficult position of deciding between costly investment in a potentially short-lived app, or waiting indefinitely for the next big thing. Marko Balabanovic, head of innovation for, pointed out that mobile bookings were a trend too important to ignore. According to Balabanovic, Accor recently doubled its rate of mobile bookings in a

two month period, while TripAdvisor reported a tripling of mobile usage. He said the importance of mobile was growing alongside a trend towards more impulsive behaviour; like customers booking hotels on their mobiles while standing in the lobby. “One of the more extreme cases we have started to see is people looking extremely local and extremely soon and the interesting thing for us to think about is our relationship with suppliers,” he said. “The way the travel industry works is that we won't necessarily have a lot of products for this but people with mobile devices are creating expectations around it."

The way the travel industry works is that we won't necessarily have a lot of products for this but people with mobile devices are creating expectations around it 15

Thierry Bertin VP Sales and Marketing, Hyatt International, South West Asia ‘‘[World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi] is a great opportunity for key leaders in hospitality and tourism to meet and discuss the challenges facing the industry and how green initiatives can be integrated into our future business. Any opportunity that provides a platform for industry executives to get together and debate, discuss how we can form, implement and promote a greener society in line with the vision of the Abu Dhabi Government on sustainable practices is always a good thing as it will help shape the future of the hospitality and tourism industries.”

It will help shape the future of the hospitality and tourism industries Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi

Soha Moussa Head of Promotions, Qatar Tourism Authority “As we meet with UK travel professionals to tell them what Qatar has to offer, we find that many know Qatar as a nation prosperous in oil and gas, but they are learning about Qatar as a travel destination for the first time. The rapid expansion in Qatar's tourism industry – the increase in the number of hotel rooms, the addition of cultural attractions – positions Qatar as a new and exciting destination to offer their clients. They are very interested in considering Qatar as a stopover option.”


Michael Weyland General Manager, Landmark Group - Hotels Division “A decade ago the UAE may have been considered a stopover option; today it has firmly established itself as a holiday destination in its own right. Once focused on the five star properties, recently there has been a sharp increase in the number of mid-market hotels coming online, making the UAE a more affordable option. This is supported by the introduction of new low cost carriers and new routes, thereby making the UAE easily accessible to all market segments. Since the opening of our first property we have experienced a high volume of visitors with both international tourists and GCC residents staying at the hotel. This figure has increased on a monthly basis, clearly showing the need for a greater mid-market offering in the region and as such highlighting a trend in occupancy levels that we see continuing in the future”

There has been a sharp increase in the number of mid-market hotels coming online Dubai

Many know Qatar as a nation prosperous in oil and gas, but are learning about Qatar as a travel destination for the first time

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 16

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

Alaa Mohsen

Frédéric Bardin

Car rental group Hertz Egypt has appointed Alaa Mohsen as sales and marketing executive, based at the company’s head office in Cairo. Mohsen will focus on targeting the growing investor market in Egypt, by providing transportation solutions to new arrivals in the country. Mohsen has recently completed his MBA at EF Britain College University in London, UK.

Peter Payet Emirates has appointed Peter Payet as senior vice president of Arabian Adventures. Payet has worked at Arabian Adventures since the brand’s launch in 1992 and has strong business and management experience within the destination management company. In addition to his new role with Arabian Adventures, he will also take on the position of senior vice president of Congress Solutions International (CSI), Emirates’ full service professional congress organiser.

Will Owen Hughes

Peter Payet

Frédéric Bardin Emirates Holidays has appointed Frédéric Bardin as senior vice president, taking over from John Felix as the new head of the group. Bardin has more than 30 years of experience in the international and domestic tourism sector. His most recent position was senior vice president of Arabian Adventures.

Will Owen Hughes

Travelport has appointed Will Owen Hughes as senior director of airline services for the Middle East and Africa. Owen Hughes will take overall responsibility for managing existing airline relationships and identifying new commercial partnerships that support Travelport’s global distribution systems business. He will also continue to oversee Travelport’s global low cost carrier strategy. Owen Hughes has worked with Travelport for the past 11 years; prior to joining the company, he worked in various sales and marketing roles with British Mediterranean Airways. 18

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

Q &A with Christos Papamiltiadous Cyprus has always been a crossroads for the cultures of Europe and the Middle East. In recent years, the island has gained a reputation as a party destination, but according to the resident manager of its youngest luxury resort, Elysium Hotel, Cyprus has much more to offer. Travel Trade Weekly spoke to Christos Papamiltiadous about Cyprus’ appeal to Arabic travellers, high-spending clients and luxury-seeking celebrities. Travel Trade Weekly: Our publication is aimed primarily at the Arabic market. Is your destination an attractive one to this demographic? Christos Papamiltiadous: I would say yes. They come to Paphos because it is a quality destination, it is safe, it is very near to the archeological sites and it is a town that offers many options: walking, nice hotels, spas, etc. There are also lots of cultural interests like ancient monuments, especially for people who love culture and history. The Elysium Hotel is right next to the Tombs of the Kings and within half an hour’s walk you can go down to the harbour and see the mosaics and the oldest antiquities there, which are going back thousands of years. Of course you can understand that with the new marina – that is, now in Paphos they are establishing a new marina – there is new potential to attract people who seek luxury.

Travel Trade Weekly: Cyprus has more of a reputation for attracting the mass market, rather than luxury tourism. What attracts high spending customers to the area? Christos Papamiltiadous: Ok, but maybe it has things that other destinations don’t have, which is luxury. It’s a safe place, it is easy to walk and has lots of sunshine throughout the year. Today we had people sunbathing. In Cyprus it is the whole package.

Elysium Hotel

From year to year we make more golf courses, for example. There is a new one that opened last month and other new things are built up on this idea.

Travel Trade Weekly: I understand you have been chosen by several celebrities for their accommodation in Cyprus. Christos Papamiltiadous: We do get many celebrities. The ones who give us the right to publicise it, we will, but with those who don’t, we prefer not to do it. There are those who let us know before they arrive, there are many who just come and we learn about it from guests. We have presidents coming over from different states, and last week we had Jean Claude Trichet, who is president of the European Central Bank. I mean grand VIP. And we hosted one of their annual conferences with all of the bank governors of the central European banks.

Travel Trade Weekly: Is the idea of luxury travel in Cyprus growing? Christos Papamiltiadous: Yes. It’s

Travel Trade Weekly: Why do you think these high profile visitors come to Cyprus? Christos Papamiltiadous: For change.

growing because of all the things that come with it.

When you have the money you can go wherever you like.

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

They like it. Cyprus is a nice place for summer holiday, for winter. They are just holiday people like all the rest. Usually, they take rooms with the private swimming pools to keep away from all the people. Those rooms are called garden villas. They have their own swimming pool there, so you don’t have to come out, it is very secluded, you can enjoy your breakfast on the patio, there is also a large pool just for their exclusive use, the sunken Roman pool. People come at different times for different reasons. In summer you get the pure holidays, people come who, to put it simply, just want beer and sunbathing. Also, for families it is a very safe destination, kids can play around and they can walk safely. Because, you know, safety for the family is very important, people feel that if something happened there is medical care, etc. Later on through the year and according to the season, the type of tourism changes. Now for instance in October or November, you have conferences. Also now is a good period for golfers, because the summer is maybe a little too hot for that. 19

Dubai Gets Boost for Medical Tourism with Allergy Conference Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), will support the upcoming World Allergy Organisation’s (WAO) upcoming conference, as part of its long-term strategy to build Dubai as a global medical tourism hub. The inaugural scientific conference will run from December 5 to 8 at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, bringing together 60 internationally renowned experts to discuss the diagnosis and management of asthma. Around 1,500 delegates from more than 50 countries are expected to attend, with 24 post graduate courses to be conducted during the event.

In addition to DTCM, the conference will be supported by Dubai Convention Bureau, Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority and Sheikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences. Organisers say Dubai was selected as the venue for this inaugural conference due to its strategic location and world class infrastructure. Local medical professionals and health authorities expect to benefit from ties to global organisations such as WAO. Dubai Health Authority has listed international accreditation and partnerships as a major focus of its strategy to put the emirate on the global healthcare map.

The World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress, held in Los Angeles, US, earlier this year, listed the Middle East as an untapped market for medical tourism – a fact that Dubai is keen to take advantage of.

Events World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 22-24 ( 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. EIBTM Barcelona, Spain, November 30 – December 2 ( 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. International Luxury Travel Market Cannes, France, December 6-9 ( 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.


Moroccan Travel Market Marrakech, Morocco, January 12-15, 2011 ( Exhibition for international travel professionals. Blossom Japan Tokyo, Japan, January 18-21, 2011 ( A new invitation-only luxury travel exhibition focusing on the Japanese market. Fitur International Tourism Trade Fair Madrid, Spain, January 19-23, 2011 ( Fitur is a meeting point for tourism professionals to establish lines of action, strategies and business alliances. Hobex Tripoli, Libya, January 25-27, 2011 ( International hotel business exhibition.

NOVEMBER 20, 2010

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 54  

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 54  

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