Middle East and North Africa Edition
LAX EYES GULF Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is courting business from Gulf carriers, in advance of opening its latest terminal.
Brunei investment firm BMB Group has launched an unsolicited cash bid of USD3.4 billion for Kerzner International Holdings, following speculation over the future of the company and its debt restructuring. Kerzner International’s hospitality assets include One&Only Resorts and Atlantis the Palm.
11 MARRIOTT AC ALLIANCE Marriott International and the Spanish hotel chain AC are considering a joint venture which would see all AC hotels rebranded to include the Marriott name.
12 In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events OCTOBER 16, 2010
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BMB Bids For Kerzner
BMB Group Launches USD 3.4b Bid for Kerzner International Holdings
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Deputy Editor Laura Warne Journalist Louis Dillon Savage
Investment and advisory firm BMB Group has launched an unsolicited cash bid of USD3.4 billion for Kerzner International Holdings, following speculation over the future of the company and its debt restructuring.
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erzner International has a strong presence in the Middle East; the company owns both One&Only Resorts and Atlantis the Palm. Kerzner International became a private company in 2006, after a group led by founder Sol Kerzner paid USD3.2 billion, plus debt; Dubai World’s Istithmar was also involved in the privatisation. While BMB Group has expressed strong interest and confidence in the hospitality and real estate assets of Kerzner International, a statement confirmed that BMB would be unlikely to retain long-term ownership of the casino assets of
Kerzner International. BMB was founded in 2004 by Rayo Salahadin Withanage and Prince Abdul Ali Yil-Kabier of Brunei, however the group has no link to the Sultan of Brunei or the Brunei government. The firm’s clientele features high net worth individuals, ruling families and sovereign investors across the Middle East and Asia. The bid for Kerzner International was put forward by BMB’s subsidiary, BMB Advisors Malaysia, but the company has confirmed that the oﬀer was made on behalf of the group’s global client base. No response had been made by Kerzner International at the time of publishing. Atlantis the Palm
Insights Management Company Hired to Boost Middle East Hotel Sales
MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 14/10/2010 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)
CURRENCY Dirham Pound Riyal Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar Riyal Rial Dinar Dirham Riyal Rial Dinar Dinar
1USD= 3.69 5.70 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 45.82 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.39 8.02 10,370 214.7 73.62 1.25
UK hotel brands Radisson Edwardian and May Fair Hotel have partnered with Insights Management Company in Abu Dhabi to increase sales from the lucrative Middle Eastern market. Anthony Lee, general manager of May Fair Hotel said the aim was to build a strong awareness of the luxury London hotel group in the region. “Success in the Middle East is key to us,” said Lee. “London is one of the most visited destinations for this region and their hospitality philosophy of expecting and demanding elegance, style, discretion and an exceptional level of service is something we know we can fulfill. “Insights Management has proven success in this field and we are delighted to be working with them.” According to Mona Faraj, managing partner at Insights, the consultancy group plans to develop a direct sales strategy in conjunction with a targeted marketing and communications campaign. OCTOBER 16, 2010
Responsible Tourism Conference Closes in Oman Oman’s tourism industry was on show to around 500 global tourism experts over the past week, as it hosted the International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations.
he conference, which took place between October 10 and 12, attracted government oﬃcials, senior representatives of global tourism companies and academic experts from around the world. Oman’s Ministry of Tourism set a range of objectives for the forum, including a contribution to establishing a general framework and policies for responsible tourism, a review of Oman’s responsible tourism strategy and enhancing the international status of Oman and its tourism sector.
OCTOBER 16, 2010
The ministry organised the event in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the International Centre for Responsible Tourism. Salem Al Mamari, director general of tourism promotions at the Oman Ministry of Tourism, celebrated the event as a success. “Oman’s hosting of this prestigious international tourism event reflects the country’s commitment to sustainable tourism development and its emphasis on the delivery of socio-economic benefits to local people, while preserving and enhancing cultural and natural
heritage,” he said. “It provided a great opportunity for stakeholders, including the government and private sectors as well as academic institutions and decision-makers, to share ideas, discuss new developments and set new directions for principles and practices related to the development of responsible tourism.” In addition to displaying the latest technologies and services for the responsible management of tourism, the conference also gave delegates the opportunity to explore Oman with pre-conference and post-conference tour options.
Budget Dubai Plans 20 Percent Growth by Year-End Budget Rent-a-Car has opened its fifteenth outlet in the UAE and plans to open a further two branches by the end of 2010, according to Salim Damji, senior general manager of the UAE for Budget.
he newest branch, located in the rapidly growing downtown precinct of Dubai, will predominantly cater to clients from downtown, Dubai International Financial Centre and Sheikh Zayed Road. “Budget is quite bullish on the UAE in general and Dubai in particular,” said Damji. “We are on target to achieve 20 percent growth in 2010, as economic recovery continues to gather pace. “We are delighted to open our newest
branch in the heart of an area that represents Dubai’s rising ambitions as a global tourism, financial and trading centre and houses Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.” Budget’s next two branches are set to open in Dubai Marina and Dubai Investments Park, bringing the company’s UAE network to 17 branches by the end of the year. Current oﬃces are located in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. According to Damji, Budget is expecting to see growth of at least 25 percent over the next two years.
Budget is quite bullish on the UAE in general and Dubai in particular
UNWTO Developing Action Plan for International Silk Road Brand A forthcoming action plan for nations along the ancient Silk Road will stimulate tourism, according to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The UNWTO has been operating the Silk Road project since 1994 in an attempt to create a recognised inter-destination brand for the chain of 26 countries, which stretch from Japan to Italy, along the path taken by the ancient silk trade. The project’s participants include several countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, including Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. However, after a recent meeting of the programme participants, UNWTO reported that most participants felt the branding drive had been a failure. In response, the organisation has taken steps towards implementing an action plan to encourage technical cooperation and brand development along the route. According to UNWTO, initiatives such as forming a taskforce of international tourism bodies; growth in infrastructure, oﬀerings and capacity building initiatives (such as tour guide training); and research into source markets and selling points for each of the destinations all need to be undertaken to realise the route’s potential. The action plan has yet to be finalised, but according to Talib Rifai, secretary general of UNWTO, strong support was received from programme members. 4
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Seawings Targets High-Flying Property Investors Seawings, a Dubai based company oﬀering amphibious aircraft tours, is attempting to broaden its client base by targeting the investment and property ownership segment.
ccording to Carine Duvignaud, marketing manager for Seawings, the product oﬀers an easy and eﬃcient way for clients to see their potential investments from the air. “This new package gives our product a
whole new availability in the corporate market,” said Duvignaud. Seawings recently pitched the concept at the Cityscape exhibition in Dubai, where the company received strong interest from high net worth individuals. The company has now launched Seawings
Property and Investment Flights, oﬀering bookings for groups, individual clients, corporate functions and aerial photography. Seawings currently has three aircraft and oﬀers landing and take-oﬀ options from various locations in the UAE.
Crescentrating Goes Mobile Halal certification service, Crescentrating, continues to expand the scope of its services, launching its first application for mobile phones. The program has been written to run on phones using Google’s Android operating system, but according to Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of Crescentrating, versions compatible with the iPhone, Blackberry and Symbian platforms are being developed. Crescentrating provides a rating for hotels, holiday packages and restaurants, based on how well their services meet the needs of halal compliant travellers. The new application will allow travellers to check scores of properties in countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Singapore, Australia, China, Thailand, UAE, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, Egypt, Guyana, Maldives, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago. Airport and destination guides from Crescentrating will also be available through the service. OCTOBER 16, 2010
Hilton Worldwide Consolidates UAE Sales Force Hilton has opened two new national sales oﬃces for its portfolio of nine hotels across the UAE.
he new oﬃces are situated in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, bringing together more than 40 sales professionals from the group’s UAE hotels. Victor Louis, regional director of sales for the Arabian Peninsula and Indian Ocean at Hilton, explained that the newly consolidated team will be better placed to build new relationships and manage customer accounts.
“This new organisation allows us to be as eﬃcient and eﬀective as possible, to deliver the best service possible to our customers and to explain why we oﬀer more than the competition,” said Louis. Hilton’s new Abu Dhabi sales oﬃce will cover all outbound business from Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to the rest of the UAE, while the Dubai oﬃce will focus on key markets in Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah. In addition to its nine existing properties
in the UAE, Hilton Worldwide has a further five hotels in the development pipeline across the emirates. The upcoming hotels will include the UAE’s first Conrad hotel (in Dubai) and Doubletree by Hilton hotel (in Ras Al Khaimah).
This new organisation allows us to be as eﬃcient and eﬀective as possible Hilton Worldwide’s UAE sales team
Langham Lands in Doha with Brand’s First Middle Eastern Property Langham Hotels International has chosen Qatar’s capital, Doha, as the site of its first Langham Place hotel in the Middle East. The hotel is set to open in late 2012, as part of the group’s developing expansion plans for the region. Ali Taimour, CEO of Real Estate Services Group, will partner with Langham in the development of the new property. “We’re delighted to be the first to bring the innovative and artistic lifestyle of Langham Place to the Middle East, creating a new dimension to hospitality in the region,” said Taimour. The new hotel will feature 250 guestrooms and 40 serviced residences, 6
along with a beach club and the region’s first Chuan Spa, oﬀering traditional Chinese treatments. According to Brett Butcher, CEO of Langham Hotels International, the location of the group’s first Middle Eastern hotel is a strategic move that will fuel further expansion. “Planting our first flag in the Middle East at this iconic location reinforces our position as a new and exciting regional force in modern luxury hospitality along the new silk route from the Middle East through India and into China,” said Butcher. The property will be located in central Doha, in close proximity to Hamad Medical City.
Our first flag in the Middle East at this iconic location reinforces our position as a new and exciting regional force Langham Place Doha
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Four Seasons Riyadh Tackles Competition with Renovation A year-long renovation project is coming to a close at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, with the hotel’s new facilities expected to be completely unveiled before the end of 2010.
he renovation, designed to help Four Seasons maintain its edge in the competitive city, included new design schemes in all guestrooms, as well as structural changes to the hotel entrance, reception, lobby lounge, corridors and restaurants. An additional enhancement is now being planned for the hotel’s Italian restaurant Quattro, which will close for two months at the beginning of 2011. According to general manager Rami Sayess, the changes reflect the hotel’s desire to remain at the forefront of Riyadh’s hospitality industry – no mean feat given the ongoing influx of new hotels into the market.
“The hotel’s decision to embark on extensive renovations throughout the property reflects the management’s focus on investing in guest experience and the owner’s commitment to maintaining Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh as the hotel of choice,” said Sayess. Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh
Radisson Blu Hits Dubai Downtown Rezidor Hotel Group is set to open its fourth Radisson Blu property in Dubai in early 2011. Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Downtown will be located in the upper floors of a mixed use building in the downtown shopping, leisure and entertainment district of Dubai, which features Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar. The 220 room hotel will also capitalise on its proximity to Business Bay, Dubai’s World Trade Centre and Dubai International Financial Centre. Kurt Ritter, CEO of Rezidor, is confident in the continued demand for hotels in Dubai. “Despite the slowdown, Dubai continues to have the highest RevPAR worldwide and is an interesting market for Rezidor – and one of our focus areas in the Middle East,” said Ritter. “We see a promising potential, especially for business travellers, and the new hotel benefits from an excellent location near the main commercial centres.” Rezidor plans to continue its expansion with additional Dubai properties on the horizon – the group’s focus is now set on creating more beachfront Radisson Blu resorts and finding partners for its lifestyle brand Hotel Missoni.
Dubai continues to have the highest RevPAR worldwide and is an interesting market for Rezidor 8
OCTOBER 16, 2010
- Air Travel
Etihad to Open All Female Call Centre in Al Ain In early 2011 Etihad will open a new call centre in Al Ain, staﬀed entirely by Emirati women.
ames Hogan, CEO of the airline, said the new facility was part of a wider scheme of Emiratisation by Etihad. “As the national airline of the UAE we are fully committed to growing our workforce of Emiratis, whilst respecting the culture and ambitions of the country,” he said in a statement. “The new contact centre is particularly special because it will be exclusively staﬀed by women in the city of Al Ain.” A representative of Etihad told Travel Trade Weekly the gender specific work force was intended to better serve the needs of female workers, while remaining sensitive to local cultural considerations. He said the workers would be allowed flexibility in their shifts, which would
Hareb Al Muhairy, vice president of UAE sales for Etihad with James Hogan, CEO of Etihad, and Al Ain contact centre operatives.
enable them to balance their work and family obligations. An all female staﬀ also permitted a greater sensitivity to Emirati attire for the workers, he noted. The call centre will open in January 2011, with a staﬀ of 80 women. It will initially serve as the first point of contact for
incoming sales calls from the UAE, in both English and Arabic. According to Etihad, there is the potential for the call centre to expand its scope to global sales once it is better established. All staﬀ will be required to complete a six month training programme at Abu Dhabi University.
LAX Seeks More Business from Gulf Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is courting business from Gulf carriers, in advance of opening its latest terminal. LAX, one of the busiest hubs in the world, is undergoing a USD6.4 billion expansion, including a new terminal which is set to go online in 2012. Speaking at a media briefing, Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of LAX operator, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), said flights by Emirates had already proven the attractiveness of the destination to Gulf airlines. “The success of Emirates' flights so far shows the strength of this market and we look forward to welcoming more carriers from this region in the future,” she said. LAWA emphasised the strength of California as an economy and an inbound tourism market, while Lindsey said improvements at LAX would provide further incentives for Middle Eastern airlines. “Our investment in the new Bradley West Terminal, which opens in 2012, adds to those attractions,” she said. “Sixteen new gates, nine of which are 'new generation' able to handle the new Airbus A380, will boost our capacity, with fantastic facilities for arriving and departing passengers.” LAX has already begun a rapid programme of growth, adding 150 international weekly flights to its schedule over the past three years. 10
OCTOBER 16, 2010
- Air Travel
Flydubai Launches New Routes to Iraq and Armenia Flydubai has locked in two new routes for November, with flights planned to both Sulaimaniyah in Iraq and Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.
wice weekly flights will commence to Yerevan on November 21 and to Sulaimaniyah on November 24. Flights to Yerevan will increase to thrice weekly on December 3. Sulaimaniyah is the former capital of the historic kingdom of Kurdistan and, with a population of 800,000, is one of the largest cities in modern day Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdistan is located in the northern mountains of Iraq and has remained relatively detached from the country’s instability in recent years.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of Flydubai, said flights to the city reflected a wider interest in the country as a whole. “The service to Sulaimaniyah underlines Flydubai’s commitment and confidence in the country of Iraq, which has attracted a lot of investment from the UAE, helping grow trade links and cement ties between the two nations,” he said. According to Flydubai, Yerevan in Armenia, which neighbours Kurdistan, has also seen rapid development in recent times and boasts a booming construction industry. “The service to the Armenian capital Yerevan is a totally new market for us, but
similarly, a very important one,” Ghaith said of the city. “As a city Yerevan has a long history, being inhabited from the 8th century BC, meaning there is thousands of years of history to be explored and discovered, while the modern city has much to offer too.”
The service to Sulaimaniyah underlines Flydubai’s commitment and confidence in the country of Iraq
Nasair Oﬀers Executive Lounge Access to Low Cost Travellers Breaking from low cost orthodoxy, Saudi Arabian no frills carrier Nasair has signed a deal giving its passengers access to executive lounges at a number of regional airports. According to Turki Al Jawini, sales director for Nasair, the deal allows passengers to pre-book access to the lounges, along with their tickets, via the carrier’s website. Booking through the airline furnishes 25 to 30 percent discounts on the usual rate for accessing the facilities, Al Jawini said. The 10 airports covered by the initial agreement include: Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in the UAE; Kuwait; Amman, Jordan; Damascus, Syria; Beirut, Lebanon; Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt; Khartoum, Sudan; Sanaa, Yemen; and Mumbai, India. Al Jamini said the service would appeal to the large numbers of business people who fly on Nasair. “The service obtains the desire of businessmen and executives segment, which represent 37 percent of Nasair passengers,” he said. Nasair is seeking to expand the agreement to encompass further airports covered by its network.
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Mövenpick Expands Thailand Property Portfolio Mövenpick is planning three new properties in Thailand over the next three years; in Bangkok, Chang Mai and Koh Samui.
ccording to the company, the expansion has been prompted by the success of its first property in the country, Mövenpick Resort and Spa Karon Beach Phuket, which opened in 2006. New properties include Mövenpick Suriwongse Hotel Chiang Mai, Mövenpick Resort and Spa Mae Nam Beach Koh Samui and the Mövenpick Hotel and Residences Bangkok, all of which will be operated under management agreements. Jean Gabriel Pérès, CEO of Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, said the developments reflected the same strategy the company had pursued in other regions, including the Middle East. “Our expansion in Thailand supports our development strategy by clusters, which has proven to be successful in many countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Germany and Switzerland,” he said. Mövenpick Suriwongse Hotel Chiang Mai will be the first to open, oﬀering 286 rooms from mid 2011.
Mövenpick Koh Samui
Our expansion in Thailand supports our development strategy by clusters The Mövenpick Resort and Spa Mae Nam Beach Koh Samui is based on a private pool villa concept, and will incorporate 81 such facilities.
It is planned for launch before the end of 2011. The 266 room Mövenpick Hotel and Residences Bangkok will open by the beginning of 2014. Mövenpick is also developing a hotel in Jomtien, which is due for completion in 2013. A residential expansion of the company’s Karon Beach property in Phuket is also underway.
Marriott to Form Joint Venture with Spanish Brand, AC AC Monte Real Hotel, Spain
Marriott International and the Spanish hotel chain AC are considering a joint venture which would see all AC hotels rebranded to include the Marriott name. The two companies have reached a preliminary agreement, which if finalised will change the names of all AC hotels to AC by Marriott. AC currently has 90 hotels, spread between Spain, Italy and Portugal, variously leased, managed, or wholly owned. According to Marriott, the agreement is still subject to final negotiations and stakeholder consent, but a final
arrangement is expected to be arrived at before the end of this year. AC hotels would then be rebranded in early 2011 and be operated under a joint venture management comprised of AC’s current leadership. The new AC by Marriott brand would then function and develop according to the current model of four star, urban business hotels. The brand will be integrated into Marriott’s global sales infrastructure and gain access to the Marriott loyalty programme, redeemable at that company’s 3,500 existing properties. OCTOBER 16, 2010
Ryanair to Close Marseille Base Over Labour Dispute A dispute over labour laws has prompted Ryanair to pull out of its base in Marseille, France and cancel 13 routes.
he airline has been charged with illegally hiring personnel under Irish contracts to work at Marseille airport. However, Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, said the contracts were in line with European regulations regarding mobile workers. “We are very disappointed at this decision by the French authorities to initiate proceedings against Ryanair’s base in Marseille, which complies fully with EU regulations for mobile transport workers,” he said. “These are not French jobs, but rather Irish jobs on Irish aircraft, which are defined by EU regulations as Irish territory. “All of these people pay their tax and social insurance, in accordance with EU regulations, in Ireland and they remain fully tax compliant.” The workers are Irish nationals, paid from Ryanair’s headquarters in Ireland, where their income tax is also registered. The carrier will remove the four aircraft it has stationed at the airport to rival airports in Italy, Spain and Lithuania. From January 11, 2011, 13 routes will be cancelled, including many flights to North Africa. Routes to be cancelled are Marseille to: Agidir, Brest, Eindhoven, Lille, Marrakesh, Nador, Nantes, Palermo, Paris, Tangier, Tenerife, Tours and Venice. Ryanair will continue to operate 10 routes into and out of Marseille. According to Loïc Chovelon, head of communications for Marseille OCTOBER 16, 2010
airport, French regulations have required aviation workers to submit to French labour laws since 2006, long before Ryanair opened its base at Marseille. However, it was only when French pilots and civil aviation unions filed a complaint that charges were brought against the airline.
The current suit is not the first time Ryanair has been in trouble with its operations at Marseille. In March 2010, competitor Air France accused Ryanair of demanding subsidies from 25 regional airports in France, including Marseille, in order to continue serving them.
Travelport’s Middle Eastern Fam Trip
Agent’s Insight Name: Nazim Mohamed Position: Holiday Manager Company: Irena Travel Location: Abu Dhabi Who are your highest spending clients ?
Above: Nearly 50 senior representatives from travel agencies across the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia recently joined a familiarisation trip to Istanbul, hosted by global distribution system provider Travelport. The trip included networking events and a chance to explore the city.
We have all kinds, whether it is local people or Europeans or from the Asian countries like India or Sri Lanka. Europeans like to visit the maximum number of places and see everything when they come, but locals prefer to spend more on luxury. They both spend a lot of money in their own ways.
Representatives of DTCM and TAFI
What are the most popular holiday activities for your clients? Most of our holiday packages will include sightseeing, a beach stay and a visit to the mountains. Also, shopping trips.
DTCM to Host Indian Travel Agents Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will host the annual convention of the Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) in November, 2010. Khalid A Bin Sulayem, director general of DTCM, said the move underlined the importance of tourism relations between India and the UAE.
He added that India was a major tourism market for the UAE, particularly Dubai. TAFI’s annual convention will be held at Al Murooj Rotana Hotel between November 25 and 30, 2010. The organisation has 1,400 members and represents a 70 percent market share of India’s outbound tourism.
When did you get involved in the travel industry and how has it changed since then? I have been in the industry for 13 years. Before four or five years ago, people would only come here for the [air] ticket, or for business or to visit their friends and relatives. In the last four or five years people are travelling so much, and are ready to spend. Now, 80 to 90 percent of people who fly into the Middle East will stop and visit several countries and stay for 10 to 15 days.
Where are you most interested in visiting next and why? I prefer to travel to Vietnam. I have heard a lot about this country, its history and its lifestyle and I need to see it.
Why are internet bookings increasing in popularity? Sure some people prefer to book through the internet, but most people still come to travel agents. Many feel like they can’t trust online businesses, so they come to us, even if they might spend an extra hundred dirhams.
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Easy Visas Can Be Your Passport to a Sale Visas are one of the greatest barriers for travellers choosing a destination, a new study has revealed, so it pays to ease the process for your customers however you can.
he European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) has released a detailed study showing just how harsh an impact protracted visa applications can have on a destination. The UK alone saw 58,000 potential visitors cancel their holidays to the country because the application process was too drawn out. ETOA estimated that more than 310,000 chose not to apply at all. While many destinations within the Middle East have relatively liberal entrance schemes for many nationalities,
OCTOBER 16, 2010
ETOA found that the most aﬀected markets were often those with the most potential. China and India are widely identified as two of the most important growth markets for inbound tourism, but are also two of the countries least likely to benefit from on-arrival visa schemes. According to Tom Jenkins, executive director of ETOA, the way that governments handle visas should take on a more sales-based philosophy. “Applications clearly have to be made available in the applicants' mother tongue," he said. “Not doing so breaks a basic rule of sales
and certainly acts as a disincentive to travel: it is inconceivable that China would force Europeans to fill out visa applications in Chinese.” Already, Middle Eastern businesses are taking steps to address the problem, applying a commercial mentality to dealing with government services. For example, Air Arabia has integrated visa processing into the sales flow for its Indian customers. Given ETOA’s demonstration of the importance of easy processing, helping your clients with their visas however you can could be the diﬀerence between success and failure.
Tamani Hotel Marina
Scott Butcher General Manager, Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai “We are confident that our occupancy rates will steadily grow, as a matter of fact we are already showing a positive and consistent increase in bookings. A number of factors have contributed to this current trend; one of which is our ongoing eﬀorts to introduce and market our brand within the UAE and the MENA region as well as actively listen to the real customer needs.”
We are confident that our occupancy rates will steadily grow
Roddy Gordon Vice President, Tamani Hotels and Resorts “During tough times it is easy to focus on managing cash flow and protecting loyal guests, but it is also crucial to have strong and clear strategy for handling the primary channels of distribution.”
During tough times it is easy to focus on managing cash flow
Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai
Ahmed Al Nuaimi Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority “As a complement to our participation at international travel exhibitions, Qatar Tourism Authority has organised a road show throughout Asia to deepen our ties and to build new relationships with the tourism and travel professionals in Seoul and the other major cities on the tour. Through this road show we aim to build networks facilitating future business between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Korea. Our countries are strong trade partners in energy, industry and construction and there is a promising future for bilateral trade in other industries such as power, water and electronics. Not only do we share business partnerships, we share some similarities: both of our countries are rich in cultural heritage and tradition yet embrace innovation and modernity; and we also share the same passion for sports. It is based on these similarities and partnerships that we hope to increase our co-operation in tourism”
Ahmed Al Nuaimi
It is based on these similarities and partnerships that we hope to increase our co-operation in tourism
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 email@example.com 16
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Rami Hamati Afamia Rotana Resort Latakia in Syria has appointed Rami Hamati as director of its materials department. Hamati has experience in food and beverage as well as the materials department and has pursued a range of certificates for management and staff development. In 2005 he was appointed purchasing manager at Queen Center Arjaan by Rotana in Damascus and later moved to Al Salam Rotana Hotel in Sudan as director of materials department, before taking up his new role at Afamia Rotana Resort Latakia.
Accor has appointed Thierry Szewc as general manager of Grand Hotel Mercure Doha in Qatar. Szewc was most recently employed as general manager of Ibis Amman in Jordan and has been with the Accor group for 35 years.
Christian Hamoui Rachid Chemmaa
Rachid Chemmaa has been appointed as general manager of Sofitel Al Hamra in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Chemmaa has been with Accor for eight years, working in several managerial positions. In his new role, he will promote the group’s luxury Sofitel brand across the Saudi Arabian market.
Christian Hamoui has been appointed general manager of Mercure Umm Al Qura in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Hamoui previously managed the grand opening of Mercure Al Khobar and was posted as general manager of Mercure Value, Riyadh. He has 11 years of experience with Pullman International Hotels in the Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Congo, Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Ashraf Haggag Dusit Thani Lake View Cairo has appointed Ashraf Haggag as executive assistant manager of sales and marketing. Haggag has more than 10 years of experience in the hotel industry, with a strong sales and marketing background. He has previously worked across the Middle East in properties by Radisson, Le Méridien, Mövenpick, Sonesta and Conrad. Most recently, Haggag worked as regional director of sales and marketing for Retaj Hotels and Residences Doha. 18
Jiri Kobos, managing director of Dusit Thani Lake View Cairo with Ashraf Haggag OCTOBER 16, 2010
Q&A with Elie Younes Elie Younes is the vice president for Rezidor’s business development across the Middle East and Africa. He spoke to Travel Trade Weekly about the group’s latest Radisson Blu hotel in Dubai, as well as key focus areas for expansion over the next 18 months. Travel Trade Weekly: Please tell me a little more about the new property when did Rezidor decide to develop this latest Radisson Blu hotel? Elie Younes: This hotel has 220 rooms, a state of the art gym and around 40 business class rooms, with a dedicated business lounge area. There will be views of Burj Khalifa and the downtown area. For the business market, we will have one floor dedicated to boardrooms, meeting rooms and conference facilities. The opportunity for this hotel presented itself to us last year – after looking into it, we liked the location and the owners, so it was in 2009 that we decided to go ahead with the plan.
known and established in Dubai, particularly with corporate clients. We have already had lots of interest in this new property. The neighbourhood is full of corporate activity, with DIFC, Sheikh Zayed Road and downtown Dubai all dense with business. The location is also excellent for Dubai’s exhibition centre.
We are identifying opportunities for our Hotel Missoni brand in Dubai Travel Trade Weekly: How does this hotel fit into Rezidor's portfolio of Radisson Blu properties in Dubai does it fill a gap in this group? eight months is definitely on finding a Elie Younes: This hotel is a perfect fit partner to develop a resort property. We
Travel Trade Weekly: Could you elaborate on the mixed-use building the hotel will be housed in? Why have you chosen this route, rather than a from a geographical perspective. We have have lots of experience running resorts two Radisson Blu properties in the Dubai around the world and a hotel by the beach stand-alone hotel? Elie Younes: The mixed use property is a Marina and Media City area, which target would complete our Dubai oﬀering. unique feature of this hotel. I’d say about 50 percent will be the hotel and the other 50 percent will be mostly commercial with some retail. Obviously, each component will have its own entrance, parking facilities and back of house support. This set up will add value to both components – the hotel will drive business to the corporate and retail outlets and vice versa. The mixed use facilities will be open and active around the same time as the hotel.
the business market in that location. Then there is our Deira property, by the creek, which is our most prominent hotel in Dubai. It is well established in the city and mainly attracts business travellers to the Deira and Bur Dubai area of the city; it also has a good leisure appeal, with a wide range of excellent dining options. What was missing for us was something in the new hub of the city, around Sheikh Zayed Road and downtown. Now we can cover all of the submarkets in Dubai.
Travel Trade Weekly: Business travellers are singled out as a key market - how do you plan to target this sector and what are the benefits of this property for business travellers? Elie Younes: One strength of the group
Travel Trade Weekly: You've mentioned a desire to pursue more beachfront Radisson resorts in Dubai - could you elaborate on this please? Elie Younes: Now that our city properties
is that the Radisson Blu group is well
are well established, the focus for the next
OCTOBER 16, 2010
Travel Trade Weekly: Finally, please give us a brief rundown of Rezidor's expansion plans throughout the Middle East - what's coming up for the group over the next couple of years? Elie Younes: In Dubai, as I’ve mentioned the focus is on beach and city resorts for the Radisson Blu brand. At the same time, we are identifying opportunities for our Hotel Missoni brand in Dubai, either on the beach or in the city. This is our cutting edge lifestyle brand. Geographically, over the next 18 months our focus is on the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and also Qatar to some extent. We will focus our expansion on these markets, ranging from city business hotels to seaside beach resorts. 19
Experts Hope Green Tourism Conference will be Platform for Change The upcoming World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi conference could be a key opportunity to advance a sustainable agenda, according to Professor Harold Goodwin, director of the UK’s International Centre for Responsible Tourism. “For too long the major stakeholders have failed to take responsibility for their impacts and for making their businesses more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable,” said Goodwin.
“Sustainable development, sustainable tourism, sustainability have all too often been dismissed as someone else’s responsibility – there has been a failure to act.” Goodwin will be joined by several local and international tourism industry figures on a session titled Taking Responsibility for Making Tourism Sustainable. Rick Theobald, event director of Streamline Marketing Group, added that while the industry would be called to take stronger action, there would also be case
studies proving that sustainable initiatives can be translated into economic success. World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi is the first event of its kind in the Arabian Gulf. The conference has been developed as part of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s Advantage Abu Dhabi incentive programme, which provides seed funding and assistance for business and MICE tourism concepts. The event will take place between November 22 and 24 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Events Arab Tourism Bourse Travel and Tourism Fair Damascus, Syria, October 19-22 (www.abtfair.com) Aimed at promoting the Syrian tourism industry, attracting new visitors and developing tourism in the region. Hotex Fair Syria Damascus, Syria, October 19-22 (www.hotexfair.com) Fair for Arabic and foreign companies in tourism and travel, including hotels, restaurants and equipment suppliers. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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. Blossom Japan Tokyo, Japan, January 18-21,2011 (www.blossomjapan.com) A new invitation-only luxury travel exhibition focusing on the Japanese market.
OCTOBER 16, 2010
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