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Middle East and North Africa Edition

LAWSUIT SETTLED Global hotel giants Hilton and Starwood have settled a major legal dispute, resulting in serious business restrictions for Hilton Worldwide.

Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) is set to bring the UAE’s award winning pavilion from the World Expo in Shanghai to Saadiyat Island.

2 RAMADA ENCORE Wyndham Hotel Group has continued its Middle Eastern expansion, taking on management of the region’s first Ramada Encore hotel.

7 In This Issue Market Update General News Air Travel News Accommodation News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events JANUARY 8, 2011

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UAE Pavilion




Hilton and Starwood Settle Lawsuit Global hotel giants Hilton and Starwood have settled a major legal dispute, resulting in serious business restrictions for Hilton Worldwide.

Deputy Editor Louis Dillon Savage Design & Layout Elina Pericleous 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


he lawsuit was brought by Starwood in April, 2009, following the announcement of Hilton’s planned lifestyle hotel brand, Denizen. Starwood alleged that two former employees had misappropriated trade secrets related to the company’s popular W hotel brand, before taking up new employment at Hilton. Starwood pointed to several key elements of the Denizen brand, alleging they had been developed by Starwood employees for the company’s lifestyle hotels division. As part of the settlement, Hilton must cancel all plans for the Denizen brand and is prohibited from launching any similar lifestyle brands for a period of two years. The two employees involved have been restricted from working for certain hotel companies for a period of two years, and hiring restrictions have been placed on Hilton’s luxury brand group.

According to Reuters, Hilton is prohibited from hiring any Starwood employees for its Hilton Luxury and Lifestyle Group, for a period of two years.

Hilton Worldwide regrets the circumstances surrounding the dispute with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide A hefty cash settlement by Hilton has also been reported, however the company responded by stating that certain terms of the settlement were confidential. Christopher J Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide, released a statement following the settlement. “Hilton Worldwide regrets the circumstances surrounding the dispute with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and is pleased to bring an end to this prolonged litigation,” he said. Nassetta added that Hilton was committed to fair, ethical and robust competition in the marketplace.

Stats Show Event Tourism Rising Throughout MENA MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 06/1/2011 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 47.2 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.45 8.49 10,460 213.97 74.97 1.26

Al Taameer Real Estate Investment’s MENA hospitality report for December, 2010, shows that event based tourism is gaining popularity throughout the region. The report states that, while the sector was once confined to the UAE, other countries are now entering the arena, with Saudi Arabia leading the charge. During 2010, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) organised a promotional campaign consisting of 18 summer tourist festivals; shopping, entertainment, sports, cultural and heritage events were held across the country. Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, is also promoting shopping and tourism, with 18 events and festivals anticipated over 2010 and 2011. Fishing, diving and camel competitions are all set to play a part in the events tourism offering of Egypt. In Lebanon, Beirut is focusing on promoting new filmmakers and attracting tourists with its annual international film festival. Finally, Oman’s Salalah tourism festival was also listed as a growing attraction. Featuring music, games, art, poetry, sports and awareness campaigns, the festival draws several million tourists each year. JANUARY 8, 2011

Jordan Breaks Records for Tourism Receipts, Arrivals Both tourism receipts and arrivals to Jordan increased in 2010, breaking previously set records for each. More than 4.3 million travellers visited Jordan in 2010, surpassing by half a million people the record of 3.8 million set in the previous year.


ayef al-Fayez, director of Jordan Tourism Board ( JTB), said the increase came from all inbound markets and benefitted all of Jordan’s touristic regions. “There was an across-the-board increase in tourist numbers covering the five continents, and was reflected by comprehensive increases in all main sites and destinations within Jordan,” he said. By far the fastest growing market was Asia, with 42.6 percent more visitors from that region visiting Jordan in 2010 than in 2009.

JANUARY 8, 2011

Europe posted the second largest increase (25.8 percent), followed by East Asia and the Pacific (24.7 percent), Arab nations (14.1 percent), Africa (13.1 percent) and the Americas (12.5 percent).

There was an across-the-board increase in tourist numbers covering the five continents

on year: Petra received 26.2 percent more; Jerash, 25.1 percent; Kerak, 20.6 percent; Ajloun, 25.6 percent; Um Qais, 5.1 percent; the Baptism Site, 20.8 percent; Madaba's Map, 46.4 percent; and Mount Nebo, 33.7 percent. Tourism revenue increased by nearly 20 percent for Jordan compared with 2009. Jerash

All of the kingdom’s main attractions received significantly more visitors year


TDIC to Bring World Expo Pavilion to Saadiyat Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) is set to bring the UAE’s award winning pavilion from the World Expo in Shanghai to Saadiyat Island.


he dune-shaped structure was on display at World Expo 2010 for six months, showcasing exhibitions on the UAE and its history. It will now be gradually dismantled in Shanghai, before being transported and rebuilt on Saadiyat Island; it is currently the only pavilion from the event to be relocated and reconstructed for future use. Once reconstructed, the pavilion will open to the public in 2011, housing new art exhibitions. Mubarak Al Muhairi, managing director of TDIC, said the structure would add to the planned art and culture offerings on Saadiyat Island. “With a host of cultural institutions opening on Saadiyat Island over the coming years, including Zayed National Museum, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi, the arrival of the UAE Pavilion exhibition space marks the next step in the island’s journey to become a hub for cultural, architecture and educational excellence,” he said. “The UAE Pavilion has already won a number of awards and was voted the most popular pavilion at the World Expo, so we are very much looking forward to bringing this strikingly

Saadiyat Island

beautiful building to Abu Dhabi.” Design firm Foster and Partners was responsible for the 3,500m² structure. Gerard Evenden, senior partner at the firm, said the project complemented Foster and Partners’ work on Zayed National Museum.

The arrival of the UAE Pavilion exhibition space marks the next step in the island’s journey “Inspired by the way the cities of the UAE rise from the desert, the pavilion will emerge to form a natural counterpoint to Abu Dhabi’s urban landscape and a landmark for Saadiyat Island,” said Evenden. “The sand dune is a timeless symbol of the

emirates, yet the state-of-the-art technology that makes this form possible can be seen to represent the UAE’s more recent past and exciting future developments that lie ahead for the country. “And as the only pavilion to be relocated currently from the [World] Expo, it will also highlight the UAE’s progressive stance on sustainability.” The pavilion attracted almost two million visitors during World Expo 2010 and was awarded Best Midsize Building 2010 by the Illinois Society of Structural Engineers; it also took out second place in the National Council of Structural Engineers Associates’ international awards. In a survey by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University, the pavilion was voted most popular international pavilion.

Saudi Boat Show Confirms Strength of Maritime Market in the GCC The recently held Saudi International Boat Show has reported a strong response, with more than 70 percent of vessels on display at the exhibition sold. The 2010 event was the second time the show has been held. The strong interest comes on the back of market research that identified maritime tourism as a strong potential growth market for the Middle East and North 4

Africa (MENA). Consultancy firm Booz and Company recently predicted that demand for marina berths will double in the MENA region by 2015 and that up to USD300 billion in development would be required. Prince Abdullah bin Saud bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, chairman of Al Ahlam Marine Tourism Group, manager of the event, confirmed

the strength of the local maritime market. “The Saudi leisure marine market has always been eager for the best international industry products and services,” he said. “In only its second year, the Saudi International Boat Show has proved itself to be the perfect arena for local companies to work with leading global leisure marine businesses and brands.” JANUARY 8, 2011

- Air Travel

Flydubai Connects to Bangladesh from March


lydubai has added Bangladesh to the list of countries it services, with a new route to the commercial port of Chittagong. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of Flydubai, outlined the reasons Chittagong was chosen as his airline’s latest destination. “Adding a new dimension to the Flydubai

network, flights to Chittagong will not only cater to the Bangladeshi workforce in the UAE, but also be instrumental in increasing trade and business between our two nations,” he said. Despite an emphasis on business, Al Ghaith noted the city’s potential as a leisure destination. “The picturesque city of Chittagong

boasts a busy international seaport and is an important economic and commercial hub of the country,” he said. “Located in the midst of green forests, the city is a popular tourist attraction which offers both hilly terrains and sandy beaches.” Flights will commence on March 27, operating four times per week between Dubai and Chittagong.

Qatar Airways Boost Qatar Airways will increase capacity on its Copenhagen and Barcelona routes in March, following the launch of four new European routes over the next three months. New services will include flights from Doha to Bucharest, Romania; Budapest, Hungary; Brussels, Belgium; and Stuttgart, Germany. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said the company would focus its international expansion on Europe during the first quarter of 2011. “We build capacity based on market conditions and the availability of aircraft, and [this] announcement shows we are positive about Copenhagen and Barcelona allowing us to deploy additional aircraft on these routes,” he said. Expansion continues for Qatar Airways within its home region also; the airline will launch flights to Aleppo in Syria on April 6, 2011. The Aleppo flight will mark 100 destinations for Qatar Airways; the company is targeting 120 destinations by 2013. JANUARY 8, 2011


- Accommodation

Coral Hotel Dhahran on Track for March Opening The latest offering from Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH), Coral Hotel Dhahran, is expected to open for business by mid-March, 2011.


ichel Noblet, president of HMH, said the Saudi Arabian property was a sign of Coral’s continued success in the kingdom. “We are a firm believer of Saudi Arabia, which is a very strong market for us and is emerging as a serious global contender in the travel and tourism industry,” he said. “Coral Hotel Dhahran is a great addition to the city and will provide guests with refreshing hospitality coupled with upscale facilities, luxurious rooms and premier location.” The new hotel will offer 153 rooms, with


25 rooms exclusively reserved for women on a female-only floor. According to Rushdi Al Ashkar, general manager of the property, this feature makes the hotel the first of its kind in the city – additional female-only amenities will include a private lounge, separate check-in and check-out desk, dedicated gym and spa area, as well as female service staff. The hotel will also cater for the business market, with Noblet expecting a largely local demographic. “With a population of nearly 28 million people, Saudi Arabia has massive domestic demand for hotels, as well as religious tourists, which gives us the

Coral Hotel Dhahran

perfect opportunity to expand our presence in the kingdom,” he said. “In fact, it is a unique destination combining pilgrims, businessmen and soon leisure tourists too, with beautiful sites such as world heritage site Mada’in Saleh (similar to Petra) and Taif Mountain among many others.”

JANUARY 8, 2011

- Accommodation

Wyndham Opens First Ramada Encore in Middle East


yndham Hotel Group has continued its Middle Eastern expansion, taking on management of the region’s first Ramada Encore hotel. Michael Poynter, Wyndham’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and

Africa, said Ramada Encore Doha, in Qatar, was the second Wyndham property to open in Doha. “As the economic centre of Qatar, Doha continues to be a rapidly developing city that serves as home to a growing number of companies as well as a rising number of international travellers,” he said. “The addition of this newest hotel not

only helps solidify our presence in this important market, but will serve as a shining example of the quality found within the Ramada Encore name.” Ramada Encore Doha is owned by the regency group and will be the first Ramada Encore property in the world to be managed by Wyndham. The hotel features 111 guestrooms.

Jumeirah Expands Chinese Portfolio Dubai-based hotel company Jumeirah Group, a member of Dubai Holding, has signed a management agreement with Liuhe Group to operate the Jumeirah Thousand Islands Lake Resort in Qiandaohu, China. The property will feature 89 guestrooms and 50 rooms in villas, as well as several food and beverage outlets. A banquet and conference centre will be located adjacent to the hotel. The resort is currently under development and is expected to open in 2014. Jumeirah Group currently has five management agreements in China, including hotels and resorts in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Sanya, Macau and Shanghai. Thousand Island Lake

JANUARY 8, 2011


- International

Virgin Galactic Enters Orbital Flights Space Race Virgin Galactic has partnered with two other commercial space flight companies, Orbital Sciences Corporation (OSC) and Sierra Nevada Space Systems in a joint effort to develop commercial orbital space flight.


he company has already had successes in developing what it claims is the first commercial sub-orbital space flight system (a craft capable of reaching space, but not of completing a full circuit around the earth). However, true orbital space flight remains the purview of government agencies, such as the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), with which the companies will be working. Their designs are to be submitted to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Programme (CCDev), which is a scheme designed to stimulate private research and development through the allocation of NASA’s government funds. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, said demand for the company’s as yet un-launched flights showed that the market for orbital expeditions is real. “We are now very close to making the dream of sub-orbital space a reality for thousands of people at a cost and level of safety unimaginable even in the recent past,” he said. “We know that many of those same people, including myself, would also love to take an orbital space trip in the future.”

He also pointed out the research and economic benefits of NASA’s cooperation with the private sector.

Private sector investment and innovation can lead to a rapid transformation of stagnant technologies “Virgin Galactic has shown in the past few years how private sector investment and innovation can lead to a rapid transformation

of stagnant technologies,” he said. “We are putting our weight behind new technologies that could deliver that safely whilst driving down the enormous current costs of manned orbital flight by millions of dollars.” Virgin Galactic has already received 400 bookings for its upcoming sub-orbital flights, with deposits totalling approximately USD54 million. According to the company, its vehicle will continue to undertake test flights throughout 2011.

Korea Launches Largest National Shopping Festival Korea has launched a nationwide shopping festival intended to stimulate tourism. Billed as the biggest national shopping tourism festival in the world, Korea Grand Sale will take in the cities of Seoul, Busan, Jeju and others for 50 days from January 10 to February 28 in 2011. According to the Korean Tourism Board’s (KTB) Dubai office, the festival aims to enhance the image of Korea as a shopping destination. Visitors are being wooed with discounts at more than 13,000 stores and offers of free additional nights at a group of 30 participating hotels. Discount coupons and membership cards are required to take advantage of the festival, which are being made available through KTB offices. 8

JANUARY 8, 2011

Arabian Adventures desert safari

Agent’s Insight Name: Fadi Saflo Position: Owner and Manager Company: Shamra for Travel and Tourism Location: Syria Who are you? Shamra for Travel and Tourism has been working since 1991, as both an inbound and outbound tour operator. We specialise in tours for cruise passengers, hotel reservations and ticketing.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry?

CEMARS Certification for Arabian Adventures Arabian Adventures, a division of Emirates Group, has become the first destination management company in the world to achieve Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) certification. Peter Payet, senior vice president of Arabian Adventures, said consumers were looking to make confident environmental purchasing decisions. “The CEMARS certification holds great value for us, as customers now have the option of dealing with a company that takes responsibility for its impact on the global climate,” said Payet. “It is important to us to reduce pollution at source rather than carbon offsetting as a way of merely clearing the corporate conscience.” Professor Ann Smith, general manager technical at Landcare Research NZ (managing company of CEMARS), said the certification had proven successful for many companies around the world. “It provides tangible and credible recognition for their actions to reduce the impacts of their organisation on climate change,” said Smith. “CEMARS certification means Arabian Adventures can now confidently include carbon measurement and reduction claims to support their company values.”

What I like is that, working in this industry, you get to know all about the world and its many cultures and mentalities. Working in travel, you learn to know many ways to live and many ways to think.

When is the best time to visit Syria? The best time to visit Syria is from March to October [spring, summer and autumn].

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to travel to South Africa.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? They should come because we have a very good reputation. They know we have a great deal of experience and we do business honestly.

Working in travel, you learn to know many ways to live and many ways to think Syria

It is important to us to reduce pollution at source In addition to regular building inspections and hybrid vehicle trials, Arabian Adventures will investigate the use of solar photovoltaic panels at several desert camps used by the company, in order to maximise renewable energy use and reduce emissions from traditional sources. 10

JANUARY 8, 2011

Limber Up for the Future: Flexibility is Key Customisation and technology are the two long term trends to watch according to Messe Berlin, organisers of ITB.


rawing on market analysis by the Fraunhofer Institute, Messe Berlin made such predictions as robots replacing service personnel and the advent of automated smart rooms tailored to the preferences of an individual guest. Although a robot concierge may seem fanciful, the concept has already been proven; the world’s first restaurant with wholly robotic wait staff opened in Bangkok, Thailand, last year. Smart rooms represent the application of technology to the growing demand from travellers for a personalised experience. Their futuristic potential to save and replicate a return customer’s preferences –

JANUARY 8, 2011

whether for shower temperature, air-con settings, or coloured mood lighting – speak to a trend that is observable right now.

In the future the different requirements of specific types of guests will determine what is on offer Jumeirah Living’s customised residences are an example at the extreme end of the spectrum, with the company offering to fully redecorate suites for long term guests. According to Dr Martin Buck, director of

the Competence Centre Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin, keeping up with changes in the guest profile is crucial for the tourism industry. He said the ability to adjust to specialised demands would be a key factor in the future. “Growing environmental awareness, global trends such as demographic changes, increased mobility and multicultural developments will all help to alter the profile of guests,” he said. “In the future the different requirements of specific types of guests will determine what is on offer: this presents some serious challenges to the hotel industry, but also provides an opportunity to attract new types of guests.”


Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek

Alexandre Maurisseau Director of Food and Beverage, One to One Hotel - The Village “Abu Dhabi is steadily getting into corporate focus today and One to One is all set to serve this significant niche with a choice of fine restaurants offering business lunches that will satisfy multiethnic taste buds. It is yet another reiteration of the One To One philosophy of delivering distinctive hospitality and catering to individuality.”

Puneet Chhatwal Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Rezidor “Throughout the global downturn we have kept our growth pace and momentum. Moreover, we have grown in a balanced and profitable way and fully aligned with our asset-light business model. We are well positioned for the upturn and continuing our ongoing success story. Our pipeline is ever-expanding, and the Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson European pipelines are the largest in their respective market segments. Our strategy of further profitable growth through such non-committed contracts includes a strong focus on the emerging markets of Russia/CIS and Africa, which offer great potential due to considerable natural resources, high GDP growth, and a lack or undersupply of internationally-branded hotel rooms.”

Abu Dhabi is steadily getting into corporate focus Business lunches at One to One Hotel

We are well positioned for the upturn Peter Hill

Peter Hill CEO, Oman Air

With the advent of in-flight connectivity, airlines are now engaged with the issue of how best to charge, and at what levels

“Having been the first airline to introduce in-flight mobile phone and Wi-Fi connectivity, Oman Air has proved that the technology works. Over the next year or two, many other carriers will offer connectivity to their customers and the speed of technological development will see enormous possibilities open up. The convenience of staying connected inflight is clear. Making mobile phone calls, sending text messages, checking email and surfing the internet are all taken for granted on the ground and now they are available in the air, the next step will be for airlines to make the most of the technology. Inflight broadband already gives us the

opportunity to shop whilst we fly, but carriers and their technology partners will be working together to develop a greater range of options, tailored to the needs of customers and offering opportunities to deliver new revenue streams. Those who say that airlines should offer ‘free’ connectivity and point to the Wi-Fi hotspots provided by coffee shops as a precedent, miss the point that the cost of that service is included in the price of the coffee - it is not, in fact, provided free. With the advent of in-flight connectivity, airlines are now engaged with the issue of how best to charge, and at what levels, and a range of pricing models will emerge.”

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 12

JANUARY 8, 2011

Bernold O Schroeder

Bernold O Schroeder

Banyan Tree has appointed Bernold O Schroeder as managing director of hotel operations and senior vice president of business development for the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In his new role, Schroeder will be responsible for all operational aspects of properties in those regions, as well as seeking out new business opportunities for expansion. The appointment comes as part of a general reshuffle of staff at Banyan Tree, with new executives also appointed for China and Asia Pacific.

Soumana Ammar Hotel JAL Tower Dubai has appointed Soumana Ammar as director of rooms. Ammar holds a degree in science from Beirut Arab University and is currently pursuing an MBA in management consultancy at the University of Wales. She has worked in five star hotels across Kuwait, Qatar and Lebanon, and will now be based in Dubai.

Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Resort A number of changes have been made to the team at Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Resort in Hurghada, Egypt. Mervat Saad has been promoted to resort training manager for the entire resort, which includes the five star Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Hotel as well as the four star Steigenberger Al Dau Club. Saad has 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry. She joined the resort in 2006 as part of the opening team, in the role of executive secretary to the general manager. Saad had previously held food and beverage and administration positions at Savoy Hotel Sharm El Sheikh. Further movements include Amir N Chafik, who has been promoted to assistant director of food and beverage; Mohamed Darwish, promoted to acting assistant front office manager; Remon Mounir, promoted to purchasing manager; Ashraf Kheiry, promoted to inventory controller; and Emad Shaker, promoted to night manager.

Soumana Ammar

Joseph Karam

The team at Steigenberger Al Dau Beach Resort

Joseph Karam Joseph Karam has been appointed as hotel manager of Hotel JAL Tower Dubai. Karam has 14 years of hospitality experience, specialised in the hotel industry. He has been promoted from within JAL, after displaying dedication and leadership in his previous roles. 14

JANUARY 8, 2011

Q&A with Richard Riley Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) is one of the emirate’s powerhouse companies, responsible for some of the biggest hotel projects on the horizon. Richard Riley, CEO of ADNH, spoke to Travel Trade Weekly about the company’s upcoming developments, as well as its lesser-known activities in catering, tours and transport. Travel Trade Weekly: ADNH's four divisions (hotels, catering, tours, transport) have clear synergies - has diversifying into these areas been a successful strategy for the company? Richard Riley: ADNH is a 30 year old company and the synergy came about to serve a purpose, simply because we needed them. Probably the least synergic of our businesses is catering - it’s an entity that works around oil and large catering, but we also have the upmarket side of that, with quite a number of things that people don’t know we’re behind - for example, the F1. We have licenses in about 13 regions; we’re only physically strong in about three, but we’re looking at the others. The UAE is our bread and butter, but we’re very sensitive to developing areas; Libya is a great destination and we want to really jump start it. This is a business that we will clearly want to stay engaged with.

Travel Trade Weekly: Park Hyatt Saadiyat Island is slated to open in mid2011. Can you tell us about this project? Richard Riley: Saadiyat is absolutely beautiful. I’ve pretty much done the whole UAE coastline and from the standpoint of a purely beautiful beach, Saadiyat’s got it. It’s clear that the government is smart and ADTA is looking at the development; TDIC as well is involved in the master plan. The Park Hyatt is topped off, we’re dropping in the swimming pool and the whole first floor of rooms is done. The general manager, Stuart Deeson, is on board and it’s the world’s largest Park Hyatt, with 306 rooms. We’ve already opened our reservations system and the F1 is already looking good. JANUARY 8, 2011

Being first and being a food and beverage powerhouse means that everybody’s going to want to go there. We’re early, but it doesn’t matter because there is an advantage to being first. There’s a challenge, but we have great marketing people on board already.

Travel Trade Weekly: Also opening in mid-2011 is your Grand Canal project, which is set to feature a 532-room Ritz Carlton hotel and a Venetian-styled retail and dining village... Richard Riley: It’s going to be a summer opening; our plan is to launch in July and ramp it up slowly over the summer months, get things moving then really ramp up to October. We want to bring newness to the UAE, not just Abu Dhabi. We’re trying not to replicate what’s going on in Dubai and instead bring some new names and new things. We would like a good portion of [Grand Canal] to be restaurants; Ritz-Carlton has six restaurants and in addition to that we have the ability to put possibly another six or even more into the retail, restaurant and entertainment area. There’s a lot to bring people day and night from this area.

Travel Trade Weekly: Can you give us your thoughts on Abu Dhabi’s hotel market, and ADNH’s plans for the future? Richard Riley: I remember when everything was go-go-go before it all slowed down and got a dose of reality. I think at that point we had said 2015 would be a very challenging time because of the inventory that was coming, but a lot of that has slowed down.

Richard Riley

I think the main issues have been addressed – we’re growing the leisure side of the business. There’s a good strong core and we’re experiencing great business right now – we’re having a great year, everybody is full. ADTA has the vision to ensure that standards will improve; it’s time to take the next step. We have some great iconic old hotels and in order for those to remain competitive, our next push will be to reinvent, regenerate and re-differentiate these hotels. They are icons – the Hilton Abu Dhabi has a history beyond reproach and we’re deciding what to do with the little Sheraton Abu Dhabi. We don’t really want to take these things down, but there are 50-storey buildings surrounding them now and they start to get lost. We have now engaged third parties to look at the best uses for these sites. We’re blessed with all of these opportunities. Once we deliver our announced projects, we’re solidly working on our existing hotels. 15

GIBTM Education Scheme Unveiled for 2011 GIBTM has released its planned themes for the education programme at the upcoming event, to be held in March. According to a statement from the event’s organisers, Reed Exhibitions, the curriculum is based on the success of a similar programme at the recently held EIBTM in Barcelona, Spain. The educational programme is comprised of seminars and talks which are free to attend for all trade visitors, exhibitors, and individuals that are taking part in the GIBTM Hosted Buyer Programme. Key topic areas include: trends and personal development; incentive travel; event management; technology and finance; marketing and sales; and social media. Erica Keogan, association and education manager for GIBTM, said wide ranging topics had been chosen to reflect an

GIBTM 2010

expansion in the regional meetings industry. “The business tourism, meetings and incentive industry has expanded significantly over the past year and as a result we are creating an education programme that embraces every kind of subject that will not only provide industry knowledge for individuals to use for their own personal development, but the topics will also provide trends and updates for

anyone who is actively engaged in the profession,” she said. Reed is currently calling for papers by speakers interested in the programme.

We are creating an education programme that embraces every kind of subject

Events Moroccan Travel Market Marrakech, Morocco, January 12-15, 2011 ( Exhibition for international travel professionals.

Hobex Tripoli, Libya, January 25-27, 2011 ( International hotel business exhibition.

Blossom Japan Tokyo, Japan, January 18-21, 2011 ( A new invitation-only luxury travel exhibition focusing on the Japanese market.

India Travel Market - Mumbai Mumbai, India, February 4-6, 2011 ( Travel trade show for inbound, outbound and domestic tourism.

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.


Emitt Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey, February 10-13, 2011 ( Istanbul’s only international trade fair: focused on tourism in the Eastern Mediterranean.

JANUARY 8, 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 61  

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