Travel Trade Weekly Issue 101

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Middle East and North Africa Edition

October 15, Issue 101

ETA STAR: TWO NEW HOTELS IN DUBAI

Marriott International has opened the three-hotel Doha City Centre complex, marking three of its brands’ debuts in Qatar.

Eta Star Hospitality is to further expand its portfolio with the opening of two new properties in Dubai

5 MAHAN AIR PARTNERS WITH TRAVELPORT Iran-based carrier, Mahan Air, has signed a full content deal with Travelport.

6 In This Issue Market Update Weekly News Accommodation Air Travel News International Who’s Moved Travel Talk Agents’ Corner Travel Channels Rendezvous Events OCTOBER 15, 2011

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Marriott Debuts Three Brands in Qatar

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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel Journalists Rita Kasziba Marianna Keen Dominique Christou Design & Layout Elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly Ltd. P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website www.traveltradeweekly.travel Emails info@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

Abu Dhabi: Declined Guest Numbers, Increased Guest Nights The number of guests staying in Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments dropped ending the emirate’s run of double-digit growth which lasted 12 consecutive months.

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ccording to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s (ADTA) monthly report, 116,492 guests stayed in the emirate’s hotels in August, down five percent from the prevous year. Guest nights amounted to 407,766, representing an increase of 14 percent over August 2010. The modest dip in guest volume is attributed to the holy month of Ramadan, in which more families opted to stay home, noted Lawrence Franklin, strategy and policy director, ADTA. “The overall increase in guest nights is strongly influHilton, Abu Dhabi enced by the number of longer staying guests in hotel apartments and also impacted the average-length-of-stay, which was up by 20 percent. Some of the performance in this accommodation type can also be attributed to temporary relocations deriving from unrest in some Middle East countries.” Despite the decline in guest numbers, the report suggest that Abu Dhabi remains on track to received two million annual guests. Year-to-date, 1,347,782 guests have stayed in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, up 13 percent over the first eight months in 2010. The number of guest nights has reached over four million, representing an increase of 25 percent, while the average length-of-stay rose 12 percent to 2.98 nights. Year-to-date occupancy climbed nine percent to 67 percent, and the total revenue amounted to AED2.7 million (USD749 million), up five percent.

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 12/10/2011

MEA Hotels Post Mixed Results

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

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

1USD= 3.67 5.97 3.75 1,507.50 0.37 0.71 49.42 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.43 8.21 10,568.00 216.50 74.38 1.23

With Ramadan coinciding with summer mixed results were noted in the Middle East and Africa’s three key hotel performance metrics, according to data compiled by STR Global. In August, the region’s average occupancy dropped 9.5 percent to 48.3 percent, while average daily rate (ADR) increased by 12.9 percent to USD149.65. With a rise of 2.2 percent, revenue per available room (RevPAR) totalled USD72.31. Elizabeth Randall, managing director, STR Global, highlighted the significant impact Ramadan had on the region’s hospitality industry. “The holy month of Ramadan fell together with the month of August this year, reducing demand across the region. This, in addition to the consequences following the Arab Spring, impacted this month’s results. Average room rates grew across the regions with the only reported declines across Northern Africa.” OCTOBER 15, 2011



Hyatt Reveals New Innovative Concept: Hyatt House A distinctive new hotel concept, Hyatt House, is to join Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

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fter extensive research and consumer insight, Hyatt House has reached a concept inspired by warm living, where guests are to feel at home and can connect with others through enhanced social spaces. Mark Hoplamazian, CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, commented on the evolution of the extended stay hotel. “We have created what we believe will be a very successful concept. A concept that is social and sophisticated, yet casual and comfortable and really allows guests to feel like residents of a connected neighbourhood and community.” Hyatt Hotels Corporation is working in collaboration with architecture and interior design firm Stonehill & Taylor in order to make sure every Hyatt House holds certain signature elements. These elements will include engaging social spaces whereby each Hyatt House will have a Great Lounge with an entertainment system, a pool table, gadget resting spots and many more features where guests can gather. The H bar will also be present and will transform into a breakfast bar in the morning where colleagues, friends and families can mingle. Customised food and beverage is also one of Hyatt House’s signature elements. Guests can enjoy an Eggs Your Way complimentary breakfast prepared by the hotel’s chef every morning. “Hyatt House is designed to stand out from other hotels in the select-service and extended-stay category,” continued Hoplamazian. Hyatt House, Great Lounge

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Monte-Carlo Beach Club Opened Following a soft launch in September, Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat has now officially opened. Set in the heart of Saadiyat Beach, the beach club offers its members an unrivalled experience of luxury, relaxation and bespoke hospitality. From the vast swimming pool and private cabanas, a short stroll takes guests directly to the shimmering blue sea of Saadiyat Beach. The exclusive members-only club can be accessed for an annual fee, while non-members can enjoy the beach and pool area for a daily or weekend entrance charge. Patrick Nayrolles, general manager, Monte-Carlo Beach Club, commented on the concept. “We are proud to launch this concept on Saadiyat, in an area of outstanding natural beauty which is set to become one of the most vibrant and exciting places in the world.” Monte-Carlo Beach Monte-Carlo Beach Club Club, which also houses four restaurants and lounges, a luxury spa and a gym, turns into a bustling party venue in the evenings.

Ras Al Khaimah Aims to Entice 50,000 Visitors from Germany Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Investment and Development Authority (RAK TIDA) has signed an agreement with German tour operator, Reise Service Deutschland and Dubai destination management company, World of Travel, in order to introduce five weekly charter flights from Germany and one weekly flight from Austria, to Ras Al Khaimah. The agreement, which aims to bring 50,000 visitors to the emirate, commenced on September 27 and will end on June 3, 2012. The first flight catered to 235 travellers, which arrived from Hamburg. The agreement permits the arrival of six RAK Airways flights arriving from Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Munich and Vienna. Victor Louis, chief operating officer, RAK TIDA, commented on the agreement. “Germany is an important market for Ras Al Khaimah and this new direct charter flight service is a strategic step in achieving our goal of 1.2 million visitors by 2013.” OCTOBER 15, 2011


- Accommodation

Marriott Debuts Three Brands in Qatar Marriott International has opened the three-hotel Doha City Centre complex, marking three of its brands’ debuts in Qatar.

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ocated in the West Bay across from Qatar Financial Centre and 15 minutes from Doha International Airport, two modern 48storey towers house the 257-room Renaissance Doha City Centre Hotel, the 204-room Courtyard by Marriott Doha City Centre and the 123-unit Marriott Executive Apartments Doha City Centre. Although each hotel represents distinctive aesthetics, they all share floors one to seven of the complex, which complements Doha City Centre Mall’s existing offerings of more than 340 shops and attractions. The complex also houses three expansive lobbies, nine restaurants, a 1200m2

meeting space, a health club and Marriott’s signature Saray Spa, which offers a range of exclusive Middle Eastern treatments and products. The launch of the three hotels reinforces the great importance Marriott places on Qatar, noted Ed Fuller, managing director, Marriott International. “The opening of the three hotels is a major step forward in reinforcing Doha’s futuristic vision and surging tourism potential in Qatar. These three new hotels give us six properties in the country, which is fast becoming a key business and leisure destination in the Middle East.” The new addition to Doha’s accommodation offering, which offers three very distinct lodging experiences under one roof,

ETA Star: Two New Hotels in Dubai Eta Star Hospitality, which operates under the commercial name of StarHospitality Hotels & Resorts, is to further expand its portfolio with the opening of two new properties in Dubai. The company currently operates five properties. Binni Negi, assistant manager, sales and marketing, ETA Star, elaborated on the expansion. “ETA Star Hospitality has two properties in the pipeline, one coming up in Palm Jumeirah with 240 deluxe suites and the other hotel coming up on Salahuddin Road with 170 rooms. We are also planning on expanding to other countries.” Intensifying competition in the hospitality market has driven the company to continuously adapt. “Our company has successfully completed six years in operation with all our properties being recently constructed. All our properties are in good shape and we are trying our best to compete and do our best with our experienced management, staff, decor and services,” added Negi. All the hotels target a mix of corporate and leisure markets. In terms of leisure, the core markets are CIS, Iran, South East Asia, India, Pakistan and other GCC countries. OCTOBER 15, 2011

Lobby, reception

is expected to fast become popular, commened Oliver Kahf, general manager of the complex. “Taken together, the lodging, shopping and entertainment complex is quickly becoming a tourism hub in Doha.”

Al Habtoor Resumes Palm Jumeirah Project Al Habtoor Group has re-launched its multimillion-dollar hotel development on Palm Jumeirah Island, in Dubai. The group, which was one of the first companies to reserve land on the man-made island in 2001, will now restart work on the Habtoor Island Resort and Spa, announced Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman, Al Habtoor Group. “We wanted to add something very special in this beautiful place and took our time to create this vision. The situation is stable and we are witnessing constant growth in Dubai and in the UAE’s economy, which makes it perfect time to relaunch this hotel project.” The hotel will incorporate contemporary elegance with sophisticated, old decor to create unique aesthetics. It will feature approximately 330 rooms, including 60 suites, six themed restaurants, a five-star spa, a health club with gym, luxury swimming pools, tennis and squash courts, a private beach and an elegant garden. With negotiations undergoing to tie the property with one of the most luxurious international brands in the world, the hotel is expected to welcome its first guest before the end of 2013. 5


- Air News

Mahan Air Partners with Travelport Iran-based carrier, Mahan Air, has signed a full content deal with Travelport, the business services provider to the global travel industry.

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nder the agreement, the private airline’s published fares and inventory will be accessible to the extensive network of Travelport-connected agents and available for e-ticketing on both its Galileo and Worldspan systems. The airline, which operates both domestic flights and international services, now offers Travelport agency subscribers the same rates as the carrier’s web fares. To better serve agents and provide them with real-time access to its fares and inventory, the airline has upgraded its GDS connectivity on both Galileo and Worldspan. The agreement will be of great benefit for both entities, noted Will Owen Hughes,

senior director supplier services, Middle East and Africa, Travelport. “We are pleased to ensure that with these system upgrades and Mahan Air’s full content commitment to Travelport, connected agents will enjoy access to their full range of fares and inventory, which in turn will maximise Mahan Air’s access to our global travel agency network and help

them achieve continued growth. This enhanced partnership underscores the relevance of Travelport’s GDS as the preferred booking channel for travel agents and airlines in all corners of the Middle East, including Iran.” Mahan Air currently handles 13 percent of all international flights from Iran and eight percent of all domestic services.

Mahan Air

Arik Air to Link Abu Dhabi and Lagos Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest international carrier, is to commence flights from Abu Dhabi International Airport, starting November 29. The airline will operate three non-stop weekly services between Abu Dhabi and the Nigerian capital, Lagos. James Bennett, CEO,Abu Dhabi Airport Company, commented on the new route. “Abu Dhabi Airports Company is delighted to welcome Arik Air as the first West African carrier to operate to Abu Dhabi International. We look to more growth on the route between West Africa and Abu Dhabi travellers and business.” Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, group chief executive, Arik Air, remarked on the initiative. “Arik Air is pleased to provide its customers with a faster connection between Abu Dhabi and the West African region, as Abu Dhabi continues to become an increasingly important hub for business and tourism. We look forward to working with Abu Dhabi Airports Company on further developing our services to travellers from Abu Dhabi International Airport.” Arik Air, from Lagos and Abuja, currently operates to 25 destinations across Nigeria, Africa and the rest of the world. 6

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- Air News

flydubai Steps Up Russian Expansion flydubai has doubled its network in Russia after launching flights to Kazan and Ufa.

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he addition of Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan and the second largest city of the Volga economic region, and Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, brings the number of destinations in the low-cost carrier’s Russian network to four. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, remarked on Russia’s great importance. “Russia is a very important market for us, both in terms of business and tourist travel. With Dubai being home to more than 18,000 Russian expats, there is a growing need for quality, low cost and direct flights to these destinations.”

With the Kazan Kremlin declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and several 2018 FIFA World Cup matches planned to be played in Kazan, the city’s profile is on the rise. Ufa, on the other hand, with an economy based on fuel, energy and engineering complexes, represents a scientific and transport hub. “The UAE is increasingly viewed as an ideal platform for Russian businesses to extend their reach to new markets. Russia is a growing economy, having grown by four percent in 2010 and a further 3.8 percent in the first five months of this year. Through our expanding flight routes we look forward to contributing to this continuing growth,” added Al Ghaith.

IndiGo Connects Dubai to Mumbai Following its successful debut in the Middle East, IndiGo continued its global expansion by commencing flights between Mumbai and Dubai and Mumbai and Bangkok. In the early hours of October 2, the airline welcomed onboard the first passengers on its new Mumbai-Dubai-Mumbai service. Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo, commented on the new routes. “We are indeed very excited about our new journey as a part of our expansion program. Dubai and Bangkok are key markets for us and hold a lot of promise. We hope to provide the much needed avenue for countless Indians Aditya Ghosh to explore wider horizons and at the same time open up the doors to more and more overseas travellers to experience India. We have received a great response from our customers on our recently launched international flights and we feel quite encouraged. We hope to receive a similar response for our international flights to and from Mumbai. It is our consistent endeavour to make the journey hassle free for our customers and provide them high quality experience at the best yet affordable prices.” 8

Emirates to Expand Services to Dallas and Seattle Emirates has spread its wings with for the launch of daily services to Seattle and Dallas. Commencing on the March 1, 2012, Emirates will offer non-stop flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and as of February 2, 2012 direct flights to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

These new services emphasise Emirate’s confidence in, and long-term commitment to, the US Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chief executive, Emirates Airline & Group, commented on the plans. “These new services emphasise Emirate’s confidence in, and long-term commitment to, the US. With six gateways offering convenient connectivity from points across the country, customers travelling to and from the US will find it easier than ever to access our vast global network.” Bill Bryant, commission president, Port of Seattle, gave his insight on the new service. “Emirates serves as a gateway from the US to an important part of the world. This direct service connects Seattle to a new region, creating jobs and tourism opportunities for our state.” Emirates Airlines

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- International

San Francisco Airport Hotel Converts to Aloft Starwood Hotels and Resorts is converting San Francisco Airport Hotel to its chic, modern brand, Aloft. The 253-room innovative Aloft San Francisco Airport Hotel will endure a major renovation in preparation for its re-opening in mid-2012.

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loft hotels representing a style-at-a-steal brand concept, focus on giving guests the opportunity to customise their travels in order to fit their personal style. With a unique non-traditional interior, guests may mingle in Aloft’s vibrant re:mix lounge or w xyz Bar. Simon Turner, president, global development, Starwood, commented on the hotel conversion project. “We have developed a conversion-friendly strategy for existing hotels to meet owner and guest demand for the brand while helping our partners

Aloft Hotels

reposition existing assets in a cost-effective manner. These assets will benefit from Aloft’s ever growing guest loyalty.”

The three year old Aloft brand conversion proves a strong sense of commitment on the behalf of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, being awarded among TripAdvisor’s 2011 top trendiest hotels in the world. Aloft’s ideal location opposite San Francisco International Airport, will serve as an ultimately convenient stay for business and leisure travellers.

Best Western Embarks on Brand Enhancement Best Western, Great Britain’s largest group of independent hotels, is to undertake a nationwide brand enhancement strategy with three new hotel tiers. Richard Lewis, CEO, Best Western, announced the change to the hotel group’s 276 hotels. The introduction of the three hotel tiers, Best Western, Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier, aims to give customers more choices and clarity. “We are at an exciting time and have many plans to make Best Western the number one mid-market choice in Great Britain. Creating more clarity for our guests and gaining even greater customer satisfaction, is essential and key to our success.” The six key factors that define the tier classification include their welcome, food and drink, customer service, their bathroom, facilities for sleep and work, and entertainment. The Best Western tier, the backbone of the group, sets the standard for these areas, while Best Western Plus and Best Western Premier offer additional amenities and personality driven offerings. Best Western Plus has been launched globally with 121 hotels, while Best Western Premier, the finest of the group’s hotels. 10

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Alex Kyriakidis

Hugo Gerritsen

Alex Kyriakidis has been named president and managing director of Marriott International’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) division, effective from January 1, 2012. Kyriakidis, who currently holds the position of global managing director for tourism, hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, will lead Marriott’s team in the MEA, one of the company’s four continental operating divisions. Based in Dubai, he will oversee all aspects of the division’s business activities, including operations, sales and marketing, finance and hotel development. With 33 operating hotels and a further 40 properties in the development pipeline, the MEA division is poised for major growth. With a career spanning 38 years and 25 countries, Kyriakidis brings deep expertise in lodging and broad experience in strategic and financial planning, mergers and acquisitions and asset management to his role.

Hugo Gerritsen has been appointed chief operating officer at Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH). Having worked with a number of reputable international hotel chains, the seasoned hotelier brings invaluable experience in operations, finance, administration and food and beverage to the position. Prior to joining QNH, Gerritsen worked as corporate director of operations for the Middle East and North Africa at GoldenLeaves Hotels and Resorts. He holds a diploma in operations from the Hotel School of Arnhem, Netherlands, as well as a certification in advanced operational analysis from Cornell University. At QNH, he has been tasked with the implementation of the company’s ambitious plans to reposition it as a reputable global player in the hospitality industry while at the same time escalating local success Hugo Gerritsen stories at an international level.

Alex Kyriakidis

Madhusudhan Rao Madhusudhan Rao has been appointed operations manager of Dalma Mall. Having previously worked at various leading shopping centres in India and the Middle East, he brings more than 25 years of operational and facilities management experience to the role. During his 10 year tenure with Majid Al Futtaim Group he worked as general manager of operations at Mall of the Emirates and operations manager at Deira City Centre.

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Philippe Georgiou

Geoffrey Lipman

Chief officer corporate affairs, Oman Air.

Advisor to the secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation and the World Economic Forum (Aviation and Tourism).

“Oman Air is delighted to have won this prestigious award [the Airline of the Year award at France’s Laurier d’Or du Voyage d’Affaire]. It is indeed an honour to receive this recognition for our service between France and Oman, as we celebrate the second anniversary of the launch of our Muscat-Paris route. The extraordinarily high quality of our business class service has attracted many accolades and this award follows a number of other quality awards we are delighted to have received over the last couple of years, including Skytrax’s recent Best Business Class Seat in the World award. We pride ourselves on offering the very best in choice and luxury for our customers and this recognition further enhances Oman Air’s reputation as one of the world’s leading luxury airlines.” Philippe Georgiou

“At a local, regional, and national Geoffrey Lipman level, green growth has to become the key development strategy and travel and tourism has to be factored in as a major positive change agent. Travel and tourism is a sector of the Middle East economy that does an enormous amount of good for society, socio-economically and in bringing happiness, jobs trade and development. The travel industry in the Middle East is increasingly conscious of the importance of sustainability strategies, citing strong commitment of the region’s airlines to reductions in carbon outputs. Our sector can and will be a leader, with the backing of governments in the implementation of new green growth strategies – we are all in this together.”

Akbar Al Baker CEO, Qatar Airways, (who has been recently elected to the executive committee of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation [AACO]).

“With the formidable rise of air passenger traffic and new regional players to this ever-exciting industry, a regional framework where partners gather, collaborate and raise the profile of the many exceptional airlines in the Middle East, only brings benefits to all concerned within the AACO Akbar Al Baker membership. When I was appointed CEO of Qatar Airways 14 years ago, my goal was for the company to become the best airline in the world. We achieved that this year, but I also had a goal for Arab aviation as a whole, for it to reach the pinnacle of the world’s aviation industry. It is my aim to continue the good work of AACO and help raise the bar for member airlines in this highly competitive industry.” Travel Talk is your space – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel 12

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Agent’s Insight Name: Mohamed Takhchi Position: Owner Company: Ksour Voyages Location: Morocco

Who are you? My name is Mohamed Takhchi. I am the owner and tour operator of Ksour Voyages, Morocco and Imilchil Travel, Denver , US. Our companies have been in the travel industry for the last 15 years. We provide all travel services to tour operators and individual travellers all over the world. Our idea is to show our clients the best places in Morocco, including the imperial cities, the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara desert and the best of the south of Morocco. We also work with the locals in order to help them deal with their economic situations and be able to keep living in their villages the way they lived for many years.

Amadeus Upgrades Low-Cost and Hybrid Airline Content Amadeus, the travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, has established nine distribution agreements with low-cost and hybrid carriers. Travel agents using the Amadeus system are now able to book Air Arabia (Maroc), Air Méditerranée, flydubai, Porter Airlines and Vision Airlines flights. Toronto-based regional carrier, Porter Airlines has also entered into a full content agreement along with Frontier Airlines, another North American carrier. In addition, airberlin, Germany’s second-largest airline, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, a Scandinavian low-cost carrier, have extended and renewed their existing agreements with Amadeus. David Doctor, director, airline and travel agency distribution, Amadeus, commented on the upgraded content. “We are committed to bringing and guaranteeing Amadeus’ travel agents worldwide access to the most comprehensive range of fares, schedules and inventory. Furthermore, airlines on the Amadeus system can improve margins by targeting higher yield business passengers and extending their reach into new segments. Many low-cost carriers start distributing to travel agencies to pursue revenue growth.”

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My favourite thing about the travel industry is being able to enjoy great moments with the locals and explore beautiful places, as well as to take part in the daily life of the local people. When is the best time to visit Morocco? The best times to visit Morocco are March, April, May, September, October and November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? For my next holiday I will be travelling to Switzerland. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our company offers the best way to explore the most beautiful places in the country. Our team is Moroccan so we all love to celebrate the beauty of Morocco with our customers.

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Business Travel Booming Global business travel hotel bookings continued to rise according to figures released by Pegasus Solutions’ The Pegasus View for August.

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usiness associated hotel bookings in August climbed a remarkable 10.2 percent over the corresponding month in 2010. Corporate travel markets also maintained high growth levels with a 4.7 percent increase. Global leisure travel volume rose 4.2 percent, outstripping the 3.1 percent gain recorded in July. Hoteliers reported high profitability levels with an average daily rate increase of 3.7 percent for leisure bookings, outpacing the 3.4 percent year-to-date growth. Mike Kistner, CEO, Pegasus Solutions, commented on the findings. “While the hotel industry is strongly influenced by the economy, leisure and business travellers do not take their marching orders from it. We saw financial markets experience wild swings last month, but in our sector, we saw corporate and leisure travel

markets not just continue to grow, but actually gain momentum, powering through the bad news of the US and European debt and credit crises.” Forward-looking bookings data suggests that corporate travel is to continue to recovering. Consumers, however, remain mindful of their budgets, making compromises on distance, destination and length of stay, according to the report.

Monaco Targets Saudi Arabian Tourists Saudi Arabian travellers made up for nearly 40 percent of Monaco’s tourism for the current year, making the Kingdom one of the top producers in the GCC for the destination. Tourism and related industries accounted for nearly a fifth of Monaco’s gross domestic product. Michel Bouquier, president, Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority, commented on the figures. “The number of outbound travellers from Saudi Arabia to Monaco has steadily risen year-on-year. Arrivals from Saudi were up 19.7 percent in the first half of this year when compared to the same period last year.” There is a 10 percent year on year growth rate on outbound tourism in Saudi Arabia. 2012 is forecasted to see eight million people travelling abroad. Global tourism is greatly affected by Saudi Arabian travellers due to their vast spending, with 4.5 million Saudis having spent USD3 billion on overseas travels in 2010.

Musee Oceano, Monaco

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Q & A with Michael Miller Travel industry players across MENA are striving to portray an image of regional safety following recent unrest, which has taken the focus away from virtual threats. Michael Miller, chief technology oďŹƒcer, EZYield, emphasises why it is important to not only focus on physical precautions, but also on customer data security. Travel Trade Weekly: Can you tell us a little about what payment card industry (PCI) compliance is and what makes it such an important issue for the hospitality industry? Michael Miller: PCI compliance is a hot issue in the world of reservation processing world-wide, especially as the online travel industry moves away from manual data entry to automated reservation delivery. It refers to the information security standard for organisations that handle credit/debit cardholder information for financial transactions, in particular e-commerce transactions. Many hotels and software or service vendors will find themselves under the scrutiny of data protection standards that rival those of governments and international banks. More importantly, ignoring the issue could lead to hospitality businesses in MENA having to face the reality that data security, if taken lightly, can lead to theft and identity fraud, resulting in disaster in terms of lost revenue, incremental costs, and a damaged hotel reputation.

Travel Trade Weekly: Why has PCI compliance become increasingly critical? Michael Miller: The continued growth of online bookings contributes to the need for a high level of data security for transactions. Hoteliers need to ensure that consumer data is secure at all points during the booking and the data movement process. For the travel industry, the jump to automating data delivery from booking channels to property-level systems means sharing critical data across multiple vendors. It also means higher OCTOBER 15, 2011

scrutiny from consumers and the emergence of industry standards like PCI data security standards (DSS). This leap, however, does not have to mean greater risk for hotels and their customers. If we are diligent about building an industry culture of security, we can move into the world of automated distribution and reservation delivery with solutions that not only bear a seal of compliance, but also oer a truly secure data processing and transmission environment. Michael Miller

Travel Trade Weekly: So what are the important things to know about PCI DSS compliance? Michael Miller: The first thing to note is that there is not simply one standard or level of compliance. There are in fact four levels of compliance, each requiring increasingly rigid scrutiny, with level one being the highest. Until a vendor is processing several million credit card transactions per year, the level of compliance the vendor should meet is rather subjective and usually chosen by the vendor. Only level one certification requires an onsite audit by an independent authorised PCI auditor. What hotels should require of their partners is level one certification

Michael Miller: We have achieved third-party PCI-DSS level one certification for our entire end-to-end hotel reservations processing system. Travel Trade Weekly: What else can hoteliers do to ensure customer data security? Michael Miller: Data security should be a mission embraced by your hotel, that includes training employees at all level of the organisation, documenting processes and checking to ensure that best practices in security are being followed.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has EZYield, as a provider of hotel distribution and integrated connectivity solutions, secured their data processing? 15


Saudi Tourism to Drive Economy Saudi Arabia is to further leverage the tourism industry, which is seen as a key vehicle for driving the Kingdom’s socio and economic development. Addressing the first session of the Second Economic Conference, entitled ‘Tourist Industry and its Impact on Reducing Poverty and Unemployment’, Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), indentified tourism as one of the most important and leading industries in the field of economics, playing a significant role in creating jobs and fighting poverty. Tourism is seen as a humanitarian aid which provides people with decent living so they no longer have to migrate to urban cities. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is passing through a unique experience in the field of tourism based on partnership with local communities and focuses on rising awareness among local communities in the importance of tourism’s economic impact.” Tourism is one of the most important economic sectors in the world in regards to creating jobs and boosting the national economy.

Sharjah Tourism Board Discusses Strategies for 2012 The successful promotion of Sharjah’s tourism industry, regionally and internationally, has been praised by the board of directors of Sharjah Commence and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). The board has discussed how the authority can work best on their ideas according to 2012’s budget and promotional strategies. The developments will aid the overall economic growth of the emirate through inbound tourism. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qassimi, chairman, SCTDA, noted that the authority is working according to a clear strategy and clearly defined goals to maintain high growth in tourism in line with the directives of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, member or the Supreme Council and ruler of Sharjah. Significant progress has already been made on behalf of authority.

Events ITB Asia Singapore, October 19-21, 2011 (www.itb-asia.com) An event where international exhibitors, Asia Pacific’s leading companies and emerging enterprises meet top buyers.

International Golf Travel Market Antalya, Turkey, November 14-17, 2011 (www.igtm.co.uk) The premier event for the golf travel industry with pre-scheduled appointments, networking opportunities and industry updates.

World Travel Market London, UK, November 7-10, 2011 (www.wtmlondon.com) Leading global event for the travel industry, presenting a diverse range of destination and industry sectors, providing an opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business.

Philoxenia Thessaloniki, Greece, November 18-21, 2011 (www.philoxenia.travel) The expo, now in its 27th year, aims at promoting tourism in Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. It acts as an international meeting point for professionals activated in different sectors of the tourism industry.

Dubai Airshow EIBTM Dubai, UAE, November 13-17, 2011 Barcelona, Spain, November 29 – December 1, 2011 (www.dubaiairshow.aero) (www.eibtm.com) The foremost aerospace event in the Middle East, which Leading global event for the meetings and events industry, which consistently delivers key buyers and decision makers. gathers more than 14,200 professionals for three days.

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