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Middle East and North Africa Edition

SEAWINGS TRANSFER Dubai based seaplane tour operator Seawings has further broadened its product offering with a range of Maldivesinspired seaplane transfer options for visitors to the UAE and Oman.

FIFA World Cup is set to be held in the Middle East for the first time in 2022, thanks to a winning bid by Qatar. In accepting the award, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, chairman of the Qatar bid, thanked the FIFA committee for believing in change and the expansion of the game.

4 EMIRATES TO IRAQ Emirates has announced plans to fly to Iraq for the second time, after preemptively cancelling a route which was to begin servicing the country in July, 2010. The new service is planned for the port city of Basra on Iraq’s short coastline.

10 In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Rendezvous Who’s Moved Events DECEMBER 4, 2010

2 6 10 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 ISSUE 56

Qatar wins



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

Need Job, Will Travel: Tourism to Combat Global Jobless Recovery Tourism will be a crucial contributor to sustainable recovery, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

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

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 02/12/2010


he International Labour Organisation has warned of the possibility of a jobless recovery, with unemployment rising in many countries throughout 2010, despite improvements in economic output. The travel industry has the potential to combat stagnant job growth, said Juan Somavia, director-general of ILO. “Tourism has the potential to become a major generator of jobs after the crisis,” he said. However, he said work would be required to ensure the quality of both the employment and the workforce. “Social dialogue between governments, employers and workers can ensure that the jobs generated will be decent,” he said. “Such dialogue is particularly important for a service industry like tourism, where success depends so much on service quality, which, in turn, goes hand in hand with a skilled and motivated workforce.”

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)


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

1USD= 3.69 5.79 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 46.85 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.45 8.5 10,390 214.53 74.55 1.26

A recent ILO report found that despite sharp decreases in international tourism arrivals and revenue, employment in tourism actually rose by one percent worldwide between 2008 and 2009.

Tourism provides employment opportunities for the most vulnerable segments of the population Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), emphasised the role tourism could play in providing jobs. “At a time when we must all unite our efforts to face the major challenge of a jobless recovery, tourism can create jobs and distribute them across the economy and nations like few other sectors,” he said. “Given its labour-intensive nature, tourism caters for different degrees of skills, and often provides employment opportunities for the most vulnerable segments of the population such as rural communities, youth and women.” The UNWTO predicts a seven percent increase in tourism arrivals over the course of 2010, and estimates that tourism will provide 269 million jobs worldwide by 2019. The sector already accounts for approximately nine percent of gross world product (GWP) and 235 million jobs – approximately eight percent of global employment.

We must all unite our efforts to face the major challenge of a jobless recovery Taleb Rifai DECEMBER 4, 2010

The Vision Destination Management Eyes Expansion With its new online platform for tourism operators now up and running, The Vision Destination Managment is evaluating possible expansion plans.


otential new markets for the Dubai based group include Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain and Qatar; The Vision currently operates within the UAE and Oman. The company’s new online system features multi-language solutions and real time availability and fares for hotels in the UAE and Oman. The system also provides information from several international partners, allowing users to find oers in the wider global market. The Vision has also cemented partnership deals for the organisation and logistics of several major events for next year,

DECEMBER 4, 2010


including: GIBTM 2011; ATM 2011; The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism 2011; and The World Future Energy Summit 2011. The company was established one year ago

and focuses on three main segments: leisure destination management; MICE destination management; and consultancy. The Vision operates under the leadership of industry veteran Ali Abu Monassar.


Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Officially Opens to Public The world’s first Ferrari theme park was officially inaugurated in Abu Dhabi this week by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


l Nahyan emphasised Ferrari World’s place in overarching government plans for developing tourism. “[President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan] is keen on turning the UAE into a global magnet of sports and recreational tourism through a diverse portfolio of projects that will have significant impact on the national economy and social development,” said Al Nahyan. “The ambitious development projects in progress in Abu Dhabi will help position the emirate prominently on the global map as a sought after tourism destination. “Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a quality

addition to our tourism industry, which is one of the pillars of our national economy.” The official opening event attracted 2,000 VIP guests, including key Italian dignitaries and Ferrari Formula 1 team drivers.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a quality addition to our tourism industry Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, thanked Aldar Properties, who partnered on the project, as well as the leadership of Abu Dhabi.

“The park just four years ago was a project, an idea, maybe even a too ambitious idea, and now it is a fantastic reality,” said di Montezemolo. “Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is a symbol, built actively on the heritage that Italy represents for the world. “But I also like to think that this Ferrari theme park can be a small contribution to reinforcing the bridge between our two cultures.’ Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of Aldar Properties, pointed out that the park had already received excellent exposure, with more than 500 million people watching the final race in the 2010 Formula 1 season, held on Yas Island.

Seawings Takes Off with Jumeirah Dubai based seaplane tour operator Seawings has further broadened its product offering with a range of seaplane transfer options for visitors to the UAE and Oman. Taking its lead from the Maldives, Seawings will give travellers the option to fly from Dubai to hotels in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Abu Dhabi and Zighy Bay. The company has named its new concept Arrive by Seaplane. Seawings has also partnered with Jumeirah Group to offer exclusive services to hotel guests departing from Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. Company representatives say the first flight took off a couple of weeks ago and the tour is already a popular request. Jumeirah and Seawings will celebrate the official launch of this partnership in late January.

Seawings plane 4

DECEMBER 4, 2010

Emirates Sets Up Holiday World in South Africa The tour operating wing of Emirates Group, Emirates Holidays, has strengthened its international presence with a new Holiday World outlet in Johannesburg, South Africa.


ina Al Herais, vice Johannesburg president of commercial operations at Emirates Holidays, said the new store reflected Emirates’ belief in the potential of the South African market. “This is a culture where travel is an intrinsic part of life, and we hope to serve travellers not only to popular destinations in Europe the group’s services are also available and Australia, but also cater to the increasing through a network of more than 100 local interest for holidays to other regions such as the Middle East, the Far East, Indian Ocean and the US,” said Al Herais. Emirates Holidays already operates South African offices in Cape Town and Durban;

This is a culture where travel is an intrinsic part of life

DECEMBER 4, 2010

travel agents throughout the country. The new office will serve travellers and also provide support to travel agents in South Africa. In addition to tailor-made holidays and packages, Emirates Holidays will offer a range of cruise and car rental products.


- Accommodation

Updated Website Caters to Habits of Web Users: Rotana Rotana has launched a new website in a move to attract the growing market for online bookings.


he portal has been designed with accessibility and usability in mind, according to Rotana, and has also been set up to be navigable by colour blind users. Omer Kaddouri, chief operating officer of Rotana, explained why the new site was important. “We are delighted with the new website as it represents our specialist approach to hospitality and it reflects our long-term strategic plan to become an international leading hospitality group,” he said. “Since we are targeting all types of travellers and visitors, of which 38.5 percent book their rooms online, it is

important for us to communicate and showcase all of the existing and upcoming Rotana properties.” He said the decision to move now had

38.5 percent [of travellers] book their rooms online been made in order to presage Rotana’s planned expansion in the region. “This move also comes in hand with our expansion plan of increasing the Middle East and Africa inventory by 3,257 new rooms in 2011,” he said. Kaddouri pointed out that many modern

consumers use the internet as a research tool, even if they do not book online. This makes an easy to use website, providing good information, a must for modern brands, he said. “As well as aligning the design of the site with our fresh Rotana brand look, we wanted to update its content and functionality to serve our visitors with a comprehensive information source while using enhanced navigation tools,” he said. “As a technology adopter, it is vital that we use technology and the internet to its best advantage, and that Rotana is accurately showcased as a growing international brand representing the region’s hospitality at its best.”

Jumeirah Group in Azerbaijan Jumeirah Group has entered the growing market in Azerbaijan, signing a managing agreement with Azinco Holding Company for a new hotel in the country. The new Venu Bilgah Hotel, Baku is designed as a contemporary lifestyle hotel on the shores of the Caspian Sea; it is set to open in 2011. Reflecting the style of Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, the property has been designed as a wave-like structure by local architect Nazim Valiev. Venu Bilgah Hotel, Baku will feature 176 sea facing guestrooms and suites, plus traditional Turkish and Finnish bath areas. The complex will also include 14 villas and a conference centre. The new property is the second Venu branded hotel to be rolled out and brings Jumeirah’s global portfolio of properties under development or in operation to 49. Azerbaijan


DECEMBER 4, 2010

- Accommodation

Banyan Tree Al Wadi Adds Beachside Options Banyan Tree Al Wadi in Ras Al Khaimah has opened a major expansion, including a beach club and 32 beachside pool villas. Banyan Tree RAK


he extension has been built separate to the main resort, which is located in the desert outside Ras Al Khaimah city. Guests who book the new villas will be

DECEMBER 4, 2010

chaueured from the main property and then ferried to the beachfront accommodation on a traditional dhow boat. The beachside annex oers a private beach with water sports centre, spa and restaurant facilities and proximity to the

Al Hamra Golf Course, which can be reached by dhow. According to Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, the addition makes Al Wadi the first UAE property to incorporate desert, mountain and coastal terrain.


- Accommodation

Australian Hospitality Company to Continue Hotel Expansion in MENA Region Australian hospitality firm Staywell is planning continued expansion across the world, including the Middle East and North Africa.


he company recently opened its first property in the Middle East, with the Park Regis Kris Kin Dubai hotel. Staywell currently operates 24 hotels and has flagged an ambitious international expansion plan. Staywell already has a project underway in Morocco, with an example of its Leisure Inn brand planned for launch in Sidi Maarouf, near Casablanca, in mid 2011. The Leisure Inn Casablanca will cater to

the three to three and a half star market, according to Staywell. Park Regis Kris Kin Dubai oďŹƒcially launched opposite the Burjuman shopping centre in Bur Dubai in early November, as one of only two properties currently operated by Staywell outside its home country. The four star hotel features 392 rooms, three restaurants, two bars, conference facilities, a nightclub and rooftop pool. Staywell have emphasised the large size of the rooms as a key selling point for the hotel.


Malta – the gateway to your dream Mediterranean cruise. Set sail from an island with 7,000 years of history!

Truly Mediterranean 8

DECEMBER 4, 2010

- Air Travel

Emirates: Take Two on Iraq Flight Launch Emirates has announced plans to fly to Iraq for the second time, after pre-emptively cancelling a route which was to begin servicing the country in July, 2010.


he new service, to the port city of Basra on Iraq’s short coastline, remains subject to government approval. According to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed AlMaktoum, CEO of Emirates, Basra has begun to attract significant interest from investors. The city's recent growth has paved the way for numerous multinational companies and industries to invest in infrastructure and we have seen strong potential from a

number of our markets,” he said. In June, 2009, Iraq auctioned the rights to develop its oilfields, attracting attention from the world’s largest petrochemical companies. Al-Maktoum said the auction marked a turning point for Iraq. “Since the 2009 oil field bid, traffic from the US and Europe into Basra has increased significantly and we are ready to capitalise on this growth,” he said. As Iraq’s largest port, Basra is likely to benefit directly from an upswing in shipping driven

by the reconstruction effort. According to Emirates, inbound traffic will skew to the corporate sector, with local Iraqis claiming a larger share of outbound traffic.

Traffic from the US and Europe into Basra has increased significantly and we are ready to capitalise on this growth Emirates has also added flights to Geneva to its plan for 2011, expecting to begin flying to the Swiss city on June 1 of that year. According to Al-Maktoum, the airline has flown to Switzerland’s capital, Zurich, since 1992 and that market research had shown high demand for a link to the country’s second city.

Qatar and Uzbekistan Sign Agreement Qatar and Uzbekistan have signed a bilateral air services agreement (ASA) allowing unlimited flights from their respective national carriers between the capitals of the two countries. The agreement covers both passenger and cargo flights by Qatar Airways and Uzbekistan Airways on routes between Doha and Tashkent. Ibrahim Abdul Qadir, deputy chairman of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority and Oleg Lim, vice chairman of certification, licensing and flight safety oversight management in Uzbekistan, headed their respective delegations. The agreement was signed in Doha at the QCAA headquarters. 10

Nasair Launches Fourth Indian Route Nasair has commenced flights between New Delhi, the capital of India, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, completing its plan to launch four new routes to India in 2010. Simon Stewart, CEO of Nasair, said India was a priority for the airline because of high demand for travel between India and Saudi Arabia. Nasair currently operates to 24 destinations and has reported approximately four million passengers so far in 2010. Steward said the carrier would focus on the development of its freight network in 2011, as well as expanding its focus on the pilgrimage market. Nasair is operated by the Saudi Arabian Government’s National Air Service.

DECEMBER 4, 2010

- Air Travel

Oman Air Links Italy’s Milan with Oman Oman Air has unveiled its latest destination, with a link to Milan in Italy.


lights commenced on December 3, 2010; the new route brings Oman Air’s network to 41 destinations worldwide. According to Peter Hill, CEO of Oman Air, the route will create both inbound and outbound opportunities, as it represents the only direct connection between Italy and Oman.

“Our new service offers the people of Oman the chance to visit this remarkable city and to make the most of the cultural and business opportunities it offers,” he said. “Equally, as the only airline to offer a direct service from Italy to Oman, we are inviting the Italian people to visit Oman and to experience the sultanate's legendary hospitality, dramatic landscapes

and unspoiled coastline. “With world-class hotels, an incredible range of leisure activities and year-round sunshine, Oman looks forward to offering visitors the warmest of welcomes.” Milan is home to a number of internationally renowned sights including Duomo di Milano, the fourth largest cathedral in the world and Leonard Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting.

Royal Jordanian Returns to Berlin Royal Jordanian will return to the skies over German capital, Berlin, after a 10 year absence. The route complements two existing German connections to Frankfurt and Munich. Royal Jordanian operated flights to Berlin

between 1992 and 2000, when studies showed the route to be financially unfeasible. Counter to the rapid expansion of fellow Middle Eastern carriers, Royal Jordanian has taken a more measured approach with a policy of pursuing a handful of

routes per year. Hussein Dabbas, president of the airline, said Royal Jordanian was expecting to join the OneWorld airline alliance in 2012, at which point the route would allow passengers to use Berlin as a hub for further European travel.

RAK Airways Rolls on with Fifth Destination Announcement Cairo will become the fifth destination for the recently relaunched RAK Airways. The route will start on December 15, along with the carrier’s previously announced flights to Chittagong and Dhaka in Sri Lanka. Sheikh Omar Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, chairman of RAK Airways, said the flyer’s strong initial performance was a positive sign for the new connections. “We are pleased to have delivered on our mandate of adding three additional routes for our passengers within two months of launching our operation,” he said. “Load factors on our inaugural routes have been extremely positive and we are optimistic that we will be able to replicate this success with our Egypt and Bangladesh routes.”

Load factors on our inaugural routes have been extremely positive DECEMBER 4, 2010


- International

Blossom Buyers Seek Unique Japanese Experiences The inaugural Blossom Japan luxury travel event, to be held in January 2011, has signed a host of new exhibitors from within the country and beyond.


he invitation-only event will bring buyers and suppliers together to both promote tourism operators within Japan and target the country’s lucrative outbound traveller market. As a result, exhibitors so far represent a global mix of luxury operators. The latest companies to join the event include: Michi Travel Japan Corporation; L’Hotel du Lac; COMO Hotels and Resorts; Starwood Hotels and Resorts Japan; Niki Resort Inc; Sun International; Hotel Le Bristol; Halekulani; The Capitol Hotel Tokyu; Conrad Bangkok and Conrad Koh Samui; Inkaterra Peru; and

GHM Luxury Hotels. Hans Vanmaele, director of Belgium’s HVM Consulting, is a key buyer for Blossom Japan. He pointed out that, while HVM Consulting has worked in more than 85 countries worldwide, the Japanese market had remained elusive. “Japan is still a very unknown destination for us and is one of the only countries in Asia where we have not worked yet,” said Vanmaele. “However, our clientele is very interested in Japan for various reasons and we look forward to send our clients to Japan.” Vanmaele said that the country’s deluxe hotels, unique restaurants and

extraordinary excursions were of particular interest to his clients. “Our individual clients are distinguished, discreet, stylish, experienced and sophisticated travellers seeking personalised service, luxury, privacy and unique travel experiences in the best, most exclusive hotels, resorts and exotic destinations,” he said. Blossom Japan will take place in Tokyo between January 18 and 21, 2011. Japan

InterContinental Enters Malaysia The InterContinental brand is set to enter Malaysia for the first time from February 1, 2011. The new InterContinental Kuala Lumpur will replace the current Nikko Hotel, featuring 473 rooms in the city’s business, shopping and entertainment district. Jan Smits, managing director of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for Asia Australasia, said the InterContinental brand was currently present in more than 60 countries worldwide. “Kuala Lumpur is a key regional destination and Malaysia was one of the few Southeast Asian countries that saw an increase in visitor arrivals in 2009, a trend that has continued to date this year,” said Smits. “This is a hotel market that has potential for long-term growth, especially in view of Malaysia’s target of reaching 36 million tourist arrivals by 2020.” The current Nikko Hotel’s owning company, MTJ Development Sdn Bhd, will partner with IHG during the rebranding process. The hotel will undergo a 30 month refurbishment, set to take place in three phases. IHG already operates several Malaysian properties under its Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands; Holiday Inn Express is also set to debut in the country soon, with the recent signing of Holiday Inn Express Kota Kinabalu. 12

DECEMBER 4, 2010

- International

The Time is Now: Qatar to Host 2022 World Cup Qatar’s bid slogan, The Time is Now, has proven prescient with the country chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.


ussia was selected as host of the 2018 event, creating a theme of spreading the Cup to new territories. Qatar surged into front position after a strong final bid presentation focused on the unifying role football could play in the Middle East. Winners were revealed at a ceremony featuring such luminaries as former US president, Bill Clinton, and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. The announcement of Qatar’s success elicited an emotional response, with the country’s delegation sharing tearful hugs before Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad AlThani, chairman of the Qatar bid, took the stage to accept the award. Joseph S Blatter, president of FIFA, said the choice of both Russia and Qatar represented an expansion of the game. “I would like to congratulate Qatar and to also thank the other candidates for their efforts," he said. “The World Cup is going to new lands and I am a happy president as we speak of the development of football.” Al-Thani thanked Blatter, the members of the executive committee and FIFA as a whole. “Thank you for believing in change,” he said. “Thank you for believing in expanding the game.

DECEMBER 4, 2010

“Thank you for giving Qatar a chance. “You will be proud of us – you will be proud of the Middle East, and I promise you this.” Qatar was initially seen as a wildcard in the competition for the World Cup, with concerns raised over the country’s climate and conservative culture, as well as the low marks for technical preparedness it received in FIFA’s official assessments. The small Gulf state has promised carbon neutral, air conditioned stadiums and allowances for western culture, with alcohol to be served in designated zones during the Cup. One of the Middle East’s most enduring

geopolitical crises has also been addressed, with messages of friendship to Israel included in Qatar’s final bid and assurances made that Israeli athletes would be welcome if they qualified.

Thank you for believing in change

You will be proud of us – you will be proud of the Middle East, and I promise you this


Dadabhai and Citibank’s Travel Plan Bahrain based Dadabhai Travel has partnered with Citibank to offer a new zero percent interest travel installments plan. Under the agreement, customers can use a Citibank credit card to access a zero percent interest installments plan for up to six months on holiday packages and three months on tickets purchased by Dadabhai Travel. Dedicated counters for the new plan have been set up at Dadabhai Travel’s head office in Manama, as well as its six branch offices throughout Bahrain. Navneet Kampani, head of consumer banking at Citibank, said the partnership was in line with the bank’s goal of seeking innovative and creative new offers. “This exclusive partnership between Citibank and Dadabhai Travel will enable both parties to provide affordable and convenient mode of payments to our customers,” said Kampani.

This exclusive partnership ... will enable both parties to provide affordable and convenient mode of payments to our customers

Agent’s Insight Name: Jane Bayley Position: Product Manager Company: Naturally Morocco Location: UK What are the challenges of working with Morocco as a destination? We actually don’t have many challenges from the Moroccan end – I suppose that people not familiar with Morocco and the Moroccan people could find it challenging, but we work directly with our operators and they know us well. Ramadan is usually a bit challenging and next year it will take in the whole of August. So the next couple of years, with Ramadan falling in July and August, will be a bit of a challenge.

Who visits Morocco from the UK? We have a vast range of clients, of all ages and all interests. We do adventure based holidays for families, honeymoons for couples, school group tours, packages for retired travellers who may be interested in history and crafts - even trekking. We are a specialist company, so we meet all needs and all price ranges.

Where do people go within Morocco? Traditionally, we specialise in the south and Marrakech is often the starting point. From there, people often go along the coast and they get mountains and the desert as well this way. Again, our clients vary, so some are interested in city breaks, which will mostly focus on Marrakech.

When is the peak travel period? September to June is generally the peak period, but it depends on the region – we often send people on their summer holidays to Morocco, but they will go to the cooler areas. The real peaks are Easter (April), October and Christmas (December).

Why do people choose Morocco for their holiday? For the same reason I set up Naturally Morocco – I went there with no intention at all of setting up a travel company… and I fell in love with the variety of the environment, the fantastic food, the genuine welcoming culture and the accessibility. Compared to other North African destinations, it has a far better climate, longer coastline, it is more open to westerners and I believe it is promoting the right sort of tourism. 14

DECEMBER 4, 2010

Social Media can Change Minds, or Waste Time More signs emerge every day supporting the significance of social media in today’s market. However, it is important to gauge how much your clients are using the services before allocating significant resources.


ne recent finding shows that users of social travel sites are likely to change their choice of destination at least once, according to travel review monolith, Tripadvisor. After analysing data from users, Tripadvisor found that nearly 50 percent of people using the site ended up travelling to a destination dierent to the one originally searched. The numbers were backed up by World Travel Market’s Travel Trends Report, which also found that social media users are more mercurial when it comes to

DECEMBER 4, 2010

deciding on a holiday. Although these findings show the importance of a positive social media presence, the format can prove to be a drain on time and resources for companies whose customers might not be engaged with the networks. Tim Gunstone, managing director of the EyeforTravel analysis firm, advised businesses against wasting time on social media if their customers were not using the sites. In a developing region like the Middle East, where internet usage in general remains relatively slow on the uptake, it is therefore prudent to take stock of your

client base before focusing on social media.


Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qassimi

Gama Aviation Legacy aircraft

Chairman, SCTDA “This year, the Sharjah Water Festival coincides with the UAE’s celebration of its 39th National Day. It is fitting, for this iconic event reflects the emirate's love for the sea, which bears the memories of forefathers and ancestors and depicts the success of the country's immortal experience to generations throughout history.”

Marwan Abdel Khalek Group CEO, Gama Aviation FZC “We are in the Middle East for the long term and are pleased with the growth opportunities we have realised to date. This is a market where supply exceeds demand, but we see tremendous potential for expansion and we have a great team here leading that drive.”

Supply exceeds demand, but we see tremendous potential for expansion

The Sharjah Water Festival coincides with the UAE’s celebration of its 39th National Day

Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmed Al Qassimi

Husain Alharthi Managing Director, National Exhibitions Company “Real estate investors and developers need to strategically position themselves as early as possible to maximise the opportunities offered by the ambitious New Riyadh masterplan. The Riyadh International Urban Development and Real Estate Investment event will be instrumental in outlining the huge potential of Saudi’s thriving real estate sector and Riyadh has the opportunity to take advantage of growing regional and global interest in Riyadh’s property development plans”.

Cityscape Riyadh

Investors and developers need to strategically position themselves as early as possible

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

DECEMBER 4, 2010

Q&A with Rupert Gutteridge Rupert Gutteridge, regional director of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Ideas Revenue Optimisation, spoke to Travel Trade Weekly about hotel trends in the Middle East and the best strategies for revenue management. Travel Trade Weekly: What trends the least attractive business that books first. have you noticed among your clients Forecasting has always been essential to over the past six months? How does the everything we do. Middle East compare to other regions? Rupert Gutteridge: The continued Travel Trade Weekly: What are your economic crisis is still affecting hotels top suggestions for revenue globally, with the Middle East still management in MENA hotels? suffering like many of the emerging Rupert Gutteridge: Build a culture of markets. Locations across the world where there has been a good deal of property development and increased supply of room stock have seen a much slower rebound and have tended to suffer more, as seen in the Middle East. The region has come from a very strong position - with very high occupancy and average daily rate (ADR) level. This should provide a good place to bounce back from compared to the rest of the world. However, we have seen places like London, who have a strong adoption of revenue management tools, bounce back quickly and are now on a 17 year high so far as revenue per available room (RevPAR) is concerned. This may be why we have seen over the last six months that there has been a greater adoption of tools and services from Ideas in the Middle East region.

Demand forecasting is the essence of revenue management Travel Trade Weekly: How effective is demand forecasting as a revenue management tool? Rupert Gutteridge: Demand forecasting is the essence of revenue management. Without knowing how busy we are going to be, how can we start deciding the balance of business we should take? It is generally 18

revenue management in your hotel. Ensure that all departments come together to discuss revenue management. Consider all departments when aiming to achieve your revenue management goals. Make sure that you maximise on all the benefits offered by your revenue management tools. Integrate all channels through the revenue management system. Ensure that you are constantly challenging the forecast accuracy. Keep up to speed with the latest developments in revenue management technology. Maintain and advance your knowledge by all means possible. Collective knowledge - become a member of and take advantage of associations.

Travel Trade Weekly: Does good revenue management require a dedicated staff member? Rupert Gutteridge: Successful revenue management is all about breeding a culture within the hotel where individuals from all departments share ideas and focus on all aspects of revenue to ensure that a complete picture of the hotel is drawn up in order to make good and effective strategic decisions. When a team gets together like this, they are always more effective when a leader takes control; this person is usually a revenue manager.

Travel Trade Weekly: Should revenue managers calibrate their strategies to time periods of days, months, or hours? Rupert Gutteridge: There is no definitive time period in which it is essential that revenue managers calibrate their strategies, every hotel operates differently and the types and patterns of business vary. What can be said is that the more the environment, patterns and trends of business change the more calibration needs to occur. In today’s world and in the case of the majority of hotels we tend to see the following pattern: Twenty mins in the morning every day; Once a week a forecast accuracy check; Once a month an in-depth look at the forecast over a longer time period. One of the key controls on the system is the best available rate - this allows for dynamic pricing. The term dynamic implies constant change and as a result this should be something that the hotel would keep an eye on throughout the day. DECEMBER 4, 2010

Ahmed Mourad Safir Hotels and Resorts, a division of Safir International Hotel Management, has appointed Ahmed Mourad as corporate director of human resources. Mourad has more than 25 years of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in hotel management and has held various senior positions at Accor Hotels, Abercrombie and Kent, The Hyatt Regency and Robinson Club. Mourad has worked throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Helmut Meckelburg, CEO of Safir International Hotel

Management, said Mourad’s depth of experience and knowledge of the market would assist the strategic development and growth of Safir Hotels and Resorts. “Our employees are at the core of our success, and the role of corporate director of HR is vital to our organisation,” said Meckelburg. “As we expand we will continue to invest in our most precious asset: our team. I’m confident Ahmed Mourad will build on the accomplishments already made here as we grow and develop our business in the years to come.” Iftikhar Hamdani

Stefan Eiche SAS Scandinavian Airlines has appointed Stefan Eiche as its new UAE general manager. In addition to overseeing the SAS flights that service Dubai, Eiche will also handle the greater Middle Eastern, African, Indian and South American markets. Eiche has spent 11 years with SAS, including the past eight years as country sales manager for Germany. Before joining the group, he held a series of management positions in the travel industry. “The significance of the UAE as well as the entire Middle East to the global economy has become increasingly important,” said Eiche. “To be appointed to lead SAS Scandinavian Airlines business in this market, along with other markets such as Africa, India and Middle and South America, is an honour and a privilege, as well as a challenge.” Stefan Eiche

Iftikhar Hamdani Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman has promoted Iftikhar Hamdani to the position of executive assistant manager. Hamdani will also continue to lead the sales and marketing department in his role as director of sales and marketing. Prior to joining Ramada Hotels and Suites Ajman, Hamdani worked with Pakistan’s Pearl Continental Hotels, Verona Hospitality and Coral International Hotels and Resorts. In his new role, Hamdani plans to focus on the hotel’s operations, while maintaining the momentum of sales and marketing to ensure high occupancy rates.

Sébastien Valentin

Sébastien Valentin

Accor has appointed Sébastien Valentin as senior vice president of financial communications and investor relations. Valentin holds degrees in both law and journalism and has strong experience as an analyst, journalist and researcher. He previously held a range of positions at IXIS Securities, including financial analyst for the hotel and leisure industry, marketing director and head of socially responsible investment research. Valentin later joined Société Générale’s equity research team as senior analyst in charge of hotels and leisure. DECEMBER 4, 2010


WTM Vision Conference Comes to Middle East in 2011 World Travel Market will expand its WTM Vision Conference into Europe and the Middle East in 2011; the event is set to run alongside sister exhibition Arabian Travel Market in Dubai on May 4, 2011. In addition to the new Dubai based Middle Eastern event, WTM Vision Conference will also run in Milan, Italy on April 14, 2011. WTM Vision Conference is a mid-year half day conference featuring high calibre speakers, content and analysis to the travel and tourism industry’s senior leaders. The event has run for the past two years in London, UK.

Fiona Jeffery, chairperson of WTM, said the conference had proven a success in the UK, adding that the event would continue its partnership with Euromonitor in the new locations. “2011 is the right time to expand this successful concept out around the globe,” said Jeffery. “We have decided to start this roll out with Italy and the Middle East. Both markets have different challenges which the conferences will address while continuing to have a global overview of the industry and the wider economic considerations.”


2011 is the right time to expand this successful concept out around the globe

Events 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. Middle East Business Aviation Dubai, UAE, December 7-9 ( Premier business aviation show for the Middle East; providing a platform to build relationships in the region. In addition to the main exhibition, the event features a static aircraft display showcasing the latest business jets on the market, from very light jets to super mid-sized jets. 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. India Travel Market - Mumbai, Mumbai, India, February 4-6, 2011 ( Travel trade show for inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. Emitt Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey, February 10-13, 2011 ( Istanbul’s only international trade fair: focused on tourism in the Eastern Mediterranean.

DECEMBER 4, 2010

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 56  

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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