Travel Trade Weekly Issue 105

Page 1

12 NOVEMBER 2011

Hyatt Debuts in Abu Dhabi Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas opens on the island of Saadiyat.


Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has debuted, marking the first Jumeirah property in Abu Dhabi.

09 Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa Now Open Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa opens in time for the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.



02 04 08 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Abu Dhabi Welcomes Jumeirah Luxury Hotel




TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi JOURNALISTS Rita Kasziba Marianna Keen Dominique Christou

Abu Dhabi International Airport Traffic on the Rise Abu Dhabi International Airport continued to experience solid passenger traffic growth in the third quarter of the year.

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant Dimitris Thomaidis WEB & LAYOUT Elina Pericleous DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 2282 0888, Fax: +357 2231 8958 WEBSITE EMAILS PRINTED IN CYPRUS Cyprint Plc P.O. Box 58300, CY-3732, Limassol, Cyprus Tel: +357 2572 0035, Fax: +357 25720123 Email:


10/11/2011 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar






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)





ased on data released by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) during the three-month period between July and September, 3.3 million passengers passed through the airport’s terminals, up 15 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2010. In September alone, the airport welcomed a total of 1,086,348 travellers (up 17.1 percent over the same month in 2010), and surpassing (for the first time) the one million milestone for three consecutive months. The celebrations of Eid, the summer holiday peak season, the inauguration of new airlines, frequency increases and the introduction of new destinations all contributed to the healthy surge. The quarter’s top five routes include London, Bangkok, Doha, Jeddah and Manila. Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC, commented on the results. “The passenger activity increase at Abu Dhabi international Airport is certainly a positive economic indicator for the UAE and the

Abu Dhabi International Airport

region. It is especially encouraging that we are seeing sustained growth throughout the year. We are thrilled with the positive passenger activity results of the third quarter of this year and it is clear that both business and leisure travellers are choosing Abu Dhabi International more and more as their portal to the world.” During the first nine months of the year, more than nine million passengers passed through the airport, representing an increase of 13 percent .

DXB Passenger Traffic Surges in September Dubai International Airport (DXB) has recorded a 6.2 percent year-on-year increase in passenger volume for the month of September. Based on the monthly report, in September 4,236,587 travellers passed through the airport, against 3,988,804 passengers recorded in the corresponding month in 2010. The healthy increase further boosted the year to date traffic, which in the first nine months of the year reached 37,547,744, up 7.8 percent over the same period in 2010. The surge was mainly driven by a solid increase in the number of AGCC travellers (+169,445), followed by Western Europe (+39,916), the Indian subcontinent (+29,261), Russia and the CIS countries (+24,431). Going against the global trend, the contraction in traffic on Middle Eastern routes continued (-53,368), and African routes also took a slight dip (-2,048). The strongest market in terms of percentage passenger growth was Russia, followed by the GCC, and Eastern Europe.

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Singapore Lures Gulf Visitors Singapore continues to impress Gulf visitors as the city-state’s transformation gathers pace.

Resorts World Sentosa


rawn by the country's burgeoning range of premier attractions, hotels and amenities, traffic volume from the Middle East climbed five percent in the first half of the year. Singapore’s increasing popularity with Arab

Singapore continues to evolve

travellers comes as the island’s integrated resorts, including Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, move toward fully opening their lavish facilities. Due to the growing demand, airlines have gradually increased their services to the city-state. Also, Singapore Airlines has completed the refurbishment of its planes operating on the Abu Dhabi and Dubai routes. With the opening of a number of new projects, Singapore is expected to lure even more Middle Eastern visitors, noted Jason Ong, area director, Middle East and Africa, Singapore Tourism Board. “Singapore continues to evolve to meet the increased needs of the discerning traveller, and the increase in air and sea services will allow Middle East travellers to access ‘Asia’s Green Dynamo’ with even greater ease and convenience.”

Increase of Gulf Visitors to Britain According to VisitBritain, the UK’s national tourist authority, Gulf visitors to Britain are staying more nights and spending more money in comparison with previous years. Visitor growth from the UAE in the first half (H1) of the year, increased by 30 percent over the same period in 2010, reaching 100,000 visitors. Up 15 percent over the corresponding period in 2010, were hotel room nights at 925,000. UAE spend was up 13 percent at GBP110 million (USD175,268 million).

The Gulf is a very important feeder market for British tourism. Carol Maddison, manager, Middle East, VisitBritain, commented on the striking figures. “The Gulf is a very important feeder market for British tourism. The size of the market has been shown to be growing significantly, particularly with affluent visitors with the capability to spend heavily while on the ground in Britain.” Saudi Arabian visitor growth was even more impressive this year with a 67 percent increase in H1 compared with 2010, reaching 40,000. Hotel room nights were up 154 percent over the same period of 2010. Saudi visitors to Britain spent 136 percent more compared with 2010, at GBP97 million (USD154, 853 million). This is an encouraging sign for tourism across Britain, and shows that the UK is very much open for business and making the most of the opportunity presented by hosting next year’s Olympics, accordingly to Maddison.

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Abu Dhabi Accommodation Sector Boosted by Strong September

Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi

The number of guests staying in Abu Dhabi’s hotels in the first nine months of this year increased by 14 percent compared with the same period in 2010, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) has revealed. The Authority’s latest study estimates that 1,514,587 guests stayed in the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments this year, boosted by a particularly strong performance in September, when numbers reached 166,805, a 29 percent increase on 2010. Revenue thereby rose by 11 percent on the same comparative month while guest nights jumped 23 percent and hotel occupancy increased by eight percent. Lawrence Franklin, strategy and policy director, ADTA elaborated on

influencing factors. “These increases can primarily be attributed to Eid Al Fitr falling in the first week of September and Ramadan falling entirely in August this year.” The rising number of hotel guests this year has led to a 25 percent year-on-year increase in guest nights to almost 4.5 million, a 10 percent increase in length of stay to 2.97 days and a nine percent increase in occupancy rates to 67 percent. Total hotel revenue has gone up six percent to just over AED3 billion (USD838 million). Throughout the year, the strongest guest growth came from the GCC, which is up 29 percent; Asia, which has climbed 24 percent and other Arab nations and Europe both accounting for 19 percent increases. Year-on-year the number of rooms available in the emirate has risen 11 percent.

UEFA Euro 2012: 28 hotels under development Ahead of the anticipated influx of sport fans in Poland and Ukraine, the joint host countries of the European Football Championship have been intensively developing and enhancing their hotel offering. Based on data released by tophotelprojects. com, a total of 28 new upscale hotels are under construction in the two countries in order to meet high demand during the tournament. In Poland, 21 firstclass and luxury hotels with nearly 4,000 rooms are being developed in the coming years, while its cohost, Ukraine, will see the opening of 32 new upscale properties with more than 7,400 rooms. In Poland, eight of the 21 scheduled hotel projects are expected to open by the official start of the championship. Meanwhile, Ukraine is expected to see the opening of 20 projects by the beginning of the matches. The UEFA Euro 2012, being held in eight cities across Poland and Ukraine from June 8 until July 1, 2012, is expected to attract no fewer than 1.4 million fans to the stadiums.

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ADNEC to Open IndependentlyBranded Hyatt Hotel Hyatt Capital Gate hotel, owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), is set to become the first ‘independently-branded’ Hyatt hotel outside the US. The property scheduled to open in the coming months, occupies levels 18-33 at Abu Dhabi’s iconic leaning tower and caters to upscale business travellers. As a standalone brand under the Hyatt umbrella, Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel boasts a very distinctive logo and its very own brand identity, emphasised Sanjay Tanna, business development and investments director, ADNEC. “The standalone identity conferred on Hyatt Capital Gate is an apt reflection of the distinctiveness and splendour of the property.” Guests at Hyatt Capital Gate will be offered ADNEC’s ample meeting facilities, including three stateof-the-art banqueting halls with a 750-guest capacity and 20 smaller meeting rooms.

London Now Home to aloft Hotel ExCeL Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the opening of its second in UK's capital, new hotel brand, aloft London ExCeL.


he hotel, owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), is located in the heart of London’s Docklands. Positioned alongside the ExCeL International Exhibition and Convention Centre, the hotel boasts 252 loft-like rooms, the re:mix lounge and wxyz bar, where guests can socialise. Each guest room features ceilings that almost reach 3m in height, oversized windows and a platform bed along with walk-in showers with complimentary Bliss Spa products. Sanjay Tanna, director of business development and investments, ADNEC, commented on the brand's new London hotel. “The launch of Aloft London ExCeL is an exciting new development as both London and ExCeL prepare to host the 2012 Olympic Games. This new property enhances ADNEC’s investment in ExCeL, expanding our ties with the city as well as building on our already strong partnership with Starwood.”

The launch of aloft London ExCeL is an exciting new development as both London and ExCeL prepare to host the 2012 Olympic Games

aloft London

aloft currently operates hotels in seven countries under the modern and vibrant signature with a social guest experience at an affordable price. Roeland Vos, president, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, commented on the property. “We are proud of our long-standing partnership with ADNEC, first with Aloft Abu Dhabi, and we are delighted to be working with them once again to introduce the Aloft brand to the UK. The launch of two new hotel brands in London this year underlines Starwood’s long-term commitment to the UK market.” 12 NOVEMBER 2011




Hyatt Debuts in Abu Dhabi with Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas opened its doors on November 1, on the island of Saadiyat, marking the hotel operator’s first property in the emirate.

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas


he hotel, owned by Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH) and operated by Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, offers a sanctuary of contemporary luxury located on a 9km stretch of white sand beach. Catering to both business and luxury guests, the resort is adjacent to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and minutes from the city’s prime business district and the corniche.

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers

Peter Fulton, managing director, South West Asia, Hyatt International, remarked on the unique attributes that the hotel offers to the emirate’s visitors. “Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas is Hyatt’s first hotel to open in Abu Dhabi. It will embody our global Park Hyatt philosophy of offering our guests personalised, understated luxury and discreet, attentive service in a stylish and elegant ambience.

We will also be the first five-star luxury hotel to open on Saadiyat Island, and are proud of the part we are playing in the exciting Saadiyat story. We look forward to welcoming guests from Abu Dhabi, the UAE and across the world in the coming weeks.” Reservations can be made immediately for the hotel’s 306 luxuriously appointed rooms, including 39 suites and four private luxury villas.

Abu Dhabi Welcomes Jumeirah Luxury Hotel Jumeirah at Etihad Towers opened on November 1. Located on the Arabian Gulf in the Ras Al Akhdar area of Abu Dhabi, the luxury hotel boasts close vicinity to the central business district and is the first Jumeirah property to open in the UAE’s capital. The 382-room hotel, along with 199 fully-serviced residences, caters to business and leisure travellers alike, with one of Abu Dhabi’s largest conference rooms with a capacity for up to 1,400 guests for a conference or 1,000 guests for a seated banquet dinner. A private beach, 12 restaurants, bars and lounges along with the Talise Spa offering Turkish hammam and Rasoul treatments are also available. Two signature restaurants, Li Beirut and Quest are also present in the property, forming a new social focal point for Abu Dhabi’s culinary scene. For business travellers, the conference centre on Podium 4 Level is a major feature of the hotel, boasting its Mezzoon ballroom, 13 meeting rooms, VIP suites, bridal suite, business centre and events showroom. Jumeirah at Etihad Towers is 280m tall and sports an interior of modern contemporary design with photographic art work capturing Abu Dhabi’s 1960s lifestyle.

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Abu DhabiHotels Accommodation SectorWestin Boosted Strong Starwood & Resorts Debuts Abuby Dhabi GolfSeptember Resort & Spa Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, unveiled Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa on November 1, in time for the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The hotel, owned by the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), marks the launch of the Westin brand in the emirate. It is located on the fairways of the championship Abu Dhabi Golf Course, which was extensively upgraded in January and is managed by Troon Golf. Situated close to the downtown area, the hotel is around 10 minute car journey away from the exhibition centre. The property is hoped to elevate the emirate’s position as a leading tourism destination in the region, appealing to diverse sectors, commented Klaus Niefer, general manager, Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa. “The hotel is positioned to provide a city escape for urbanites, a tranquil retreat for golf enthusiasts, as well as a meeting point for travellers seeking wellness and relaxation.”

Western Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will provide a mix of 172 premium guest rooms, executive suites, and a presidential suite, as well as a number of diverse dining options, including Fairways, a Moroccan restaurant, and Agadir, an English-style bar. Also featured will be the signature Westin Heavenly Spa, consisting of six treatment rooms and an outdoor relaxation area in a tranquil garden setting.

Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa

QNH Invests in Morocco Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) is to embark on its first venture in Morocco after signing an investment agreement with the government of the North African country for the rehabilitation of Tazi Palace in Tangier. Under the terms of the agreement, QNH will invest USD55 million into converting the former palace into a high-end five-star hotel. Besides 120 rooms, it will feature two VIP villas, a royal villa, a spa, a fitness centre and a business centre in addition to state-ofthe-art conference and banqueting facilities. The project, covering a total of 36,000 m2, including a built up area of 9,500 m2 will also boast lush gardens, an outdoor pool and a golf course. The development is expected to be of benefit to the local community by creating more than 200 jobs. Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla, CEO, QNH, commented on the project. “Our investment in rehabilitating the Tazi Palace in Tangier aligns with QNH’s strategic plans for international expansion, being our second venture in North Africa. Located in an area with rich cultural heritage and tourist attractions, Tazi Palace will become one of the gems in our portfolio of luxury hotels.”

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Air Arabia Lands in Moscow

Air Arabia

Air Arabia has launched direct services to Moscow, the capital city of Russia. The introduction of direct services to the city operating on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, marks Air Arabia’s foray into Russia and its fifth destination in CIS. The airline’s entry into the country signals a major step in its expansion strategy, commented Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. “We are extremely pleased to announce the launch of service to Moscow, which represents a significant milestone in the history of Air Arabia.” Ali remarked on the strong business ties between Russia and the UAE. “Based on the high level of business and tourism traffic between the two countries, we are confident that our new service to Moscow will further offer our customers a great value for money option to benefit from.” In a move to facilitate the booking process for Russian passengers, Air Arabia’s website is now also available in Russian.

Air News

Etihad and American Airlines Collaborate for Frequent Flyers Etihad Airways and American Airlines have announced they will offer travellers the opportunity to redeem frequent flyer miles on flights booked on eac hother’s networks. The agreement which recently commenced, will apply to members of Etihad Airways’ Etihad Guest frequent flyer programme and American Airlines' AAdvantage programme.

Codeshare and frequent flyer partnerships, such as the one we have with American, are vital to Etihad’s success as a young growing airline Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, commented on the agreement. “Codeshare and frequent flyer partnerships, such as the one we have with American, are vital to Etihad’s success as a young growing airline. Through this agreement, we are able to expand our reach for our loyal guests far beyond the destinations we serve directly, as well as offer expanded services for our partner’s guests.” The codeshare agreement, which started in 2009, between Etihad and American Airlines, offers a combined codeshare network of more than 50 destinations worldwide. Maya Leibman, president, AAdvantage Loyalty Programme, commented on the collaboration. “Etihad has been a valued partner, and this expanded relationship with them gives our customers even more options when redeeming frequent flier miles as well as more travel choices to cities in the Middle East.”

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Air News



Qatar Airways Lands in Benghazi Qatar Airways is to launch flights to the Libyan port city of Benghazi on November 1.


perating four times a week with an Airbus A320 aircraft, the new route facilitates the increasing demand for services between the countries. Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city is a major economic centre and a key destination for trade and exports. With many industries, including oil refining, food processing, cement production and tuna fishing, residing in the surrounding region, the launch of flights to the north eastern city demonstrates the airline’s expansion strategy to connect the Middle East with diverse and underserved markets. The service takes the number of the airline’s new routes this year to 15, noted Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

World Economic Forum Sponsored by Royal Jordanian Royal Jordanian (RJ) was selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as its official carrier. The forum which was held at the Dead Sea on October 21 and October 23 was an important international meeting of which RJ was the official carrier for the sixth time, demonstrating the appreciation the forum organisers have for the airline's reputation. The partnership grants facilities to WEF participants and employees from all over the world as well as services offered at Queen Alia International Airport. The forum also involved RJ staff providing assistance during the meetings, manning sales and reservation offices at the forum, and linking RJ’s website to the WEF’Ss internet page. RJ operates a route network which covers 59 direct destinations and more than 750 cities in four continents, served by the oneworld alliance. The membership allows RJ passengers to have access to all cities served by the alliance with only one stop, in Amman. RJ benefited from the meeting, which created the opportunity for Middle Eastern tourism, aviation and air transport industry to exchange opinions.

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“Qatar Airways continues to strive to provide a network to cater for all travel segments, conveniently connecting through our Doha hub. Almost a year ago in Nice, I spoke about the possibility of expanding our Libyan operations, and I am delighted that we are now, within this sort of a period, set to start flights to Benghazi, another key city in the country. We identified Benghazi as an underserved, primarily business destination, and now have the opportunity to bring this city into our fold.” Benghazi marks Qatar Airways’ second destination in the North African country after the capital city of Tripoli, where the airline earlier due to the political situation, (suspended its operation) but is expected to soon return.




Best Western Kuta Seaview Hotel Opens The popular tourist destination of Kuta, Bali is now home to a new Best Western hotel, Best Western Kuta Seaview.


he hotel which is located in the heart of Kuta, holds 144-rooms with a choice of standard, superior, deluxe and junior suites. Situated in a popular island resort the property is near to Kuta Beach and Legian nightlife with close proximity to shops and restaurants. Ngurah Rai International Airport is only a 15 minute drive from the hotel. Glenn de Souza, vice president of international operations, Asia and the Middle East, Best Western International, commented on the opening of the hotel. “With beach, shops, dining and entertainment all close by and Bali’s other attractions easily accessible, Best Western Kuta Seaview will offer something for

everyone. Add to this legendary Balinese hospitality and Best Western’s world class standards, and the result is a beautiful new property destined to quickly become a favourite choice among Bali’s hotels and resorts.” Best Western Kuta Seaview offers facilities including Asian and Western cuisine, a 24-hour

coffee shop, a rooftop lounge and bar along with two meeting rooms catering for 20 to 50 people. Many of Bali’s attractions such as its unique local culture consisting of Uluwatu and Tanah Lot temples are within a short radius of the hotel.

Kuta beach, Bali

Mantra Samui Resort and Spa Opens In Thailand Great Hotels of the World has announced the opening of Mantra Samui Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand. The resort which was revealed on October 10 is a USD20 million investment located within the beautiful surroundings of Koh Samui island. The resort has 74 room concepts, which include The WOW, The LOVE, The COSY and The GRAND. All rooms boast views of Koh Samui’s northern coast, with The LOVE room being perfect for honeymooners. Robert Mayer, general manager, Mantra Samui Resort and Spa, Thailand, commented on the opening of the property. “We are delighted that after three and a half years of hard work, Mantra Samui is open for business. We have built a unique team to create a unique hotel where we can share our passion for hospitality with friends. Our goal is to make every guest feel better than they do in their own home.” Guests can take advantage of Mantra Samui Resort and Spa's facilities, fitness centre, movie theatre, Salt Yoga Studio and an outdoor infinity pool. The resort features two restaurants, Ubuntu and Damma Dining where a limit of twelve guests can dine per night.

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Grant Ruddiman Grant Ruddiman has been appointed general manager of Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Ruddiman joined the group in early 2010, and has since been responsible for the preopening activities of hotels and resorts in Kuwait and Jordan. Over the past 27 years, he has gained comprehensive experience in the luxury hospitality sector in South Africa,

Malawi, Germany, Australia, Kuwait and Jordan. Ruddiman is currently finalising his research towards a Doctorate in Business Administration.

Over the past 27 years, he has gained comprehensive experience in the luxury hospitality sector

Magdi Samman Magdi Samman has been named regional director of operations and development for the Middle East at SwissBelhotel International. Samman, who will be based in the company’s regional office in Dubai, brings with him a wealth of experience in hospitality asset management and development as well as operational property and regional office based sales and marketing. Prior to joining Swiss-Belhotel, he worked as projects

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advisor and manager of the hospitality, retail and business development division of an Abu Dhabi based international investments company for five years. Between 2003 and 2005, he held the general manager position of a mixeduse project development in Egypt. Samman had also spent nearly 16 years in various senior positions, including area director of marketing, Middle East and Africa, at an international hotel group.


Manuel Garcia Manuel Garcia has been promoted to executive assistant manager of Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Dubai. Garcia, who recently worked as director of sales and marketing of Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road and Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Dubai, rejoined Starwood in 2009. Prior to that, he worked with a number of internation-

ally renowned companies, including Travel Click, Accor and Rotana. Garcia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of Wales.

He worked with a number of internationally renowned companies including Travel Click, Accor and Rotana


travel talk is your space


Samer Majali

Akbar Al Baker

CEO, Gulf Air.

CEO, Qatar Airways.

“The introduction of electronic ticketing, the purchase of new fuel-efficient aircraft and the significant reduction of weight on board flights are just some of the measures taken to reduce carbon emissions and waste and, thereby, the airline’s carbon footprint. Beyond e-ticketing, which saves airlines close to USD3 billion annually, we execute many of our customer interfaces electronically and all of the airline’s administrative functions are enabled with minimal paper usage.”

"[Qatar Airways’ onboard duty free being named in-flight retailer of the year at the Frontier Awards] is a great achievement demonstrating years of hard work to ensure our in-flight offering and the back-up infrastructure is today named best in the skies. The business has grown from strength to strength. We are selling many of the world’s leading brands across all sectors to provide passengers with an excellent shopping experience onboard, at highly competitive prices.”

Peter Baumgartner Chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways.

“This [Best Business Class award at the 2011 Biz Travel Forum] is yet another wonderful recognition of how well our product strategy and service philosophy work for our guests, and to win this award reinforces our ongoing commitment to excellence. It is great to see investments paying back and leading us to success in attracting more and more of the premium travel market in Italy.”

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 NOVEMBER 2011



Who are you? We are a boutique tour operator, founded to serve the needs of highly discerning travellers. Our intimate knowledge of the territory, our love for the country and local cultures, and our care for details is put at the disposal of the travellers to create the perfect tailor made trip to Syria. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? We passionately believe in the importance and power of travel as a way to learn about the world, strengthen international understanding and economies and preserve local traditions. When is the best time to visit Syria? The best times to visit the country are spring and autumn. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? For my next holiday I would like to visit New York. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Attributes we offer visitors include attention to detail and a true sense of caring for our guests, because we believe that our travellers will always look to a supplier to provide insider connections and experiences. Syria

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Travelports and Hilton Sign Agreement Travelport, the business services provider to the global travel industry, has inked a long-term full content and technology services agreement with Hilton Worldwide. Under the agreement, Travelport-connected agents will enjoy access to Hilton Worldwide’s comprehensive data, including full availability, rates, rules and property information and for its global brands’ 3,750 properties and 615,000 rooms, in 85 countries. The hospitality company and its renowned brands will also continue to deploy advanced interfaces to Travelport’s Worldspan, Galileo and Apollo global distribution systems (GDS) while enhancing property, pricing and policy information.

The agreement further facilitates the hotel company's global reach, noted Eduardo Schutte, vice president, distribution and channel management, Hilton Worldwide. “Travelport is a vital distribution and technology partner, particularly at a time when Hilton Worldwide and its brands are expanding their global reach, including many new markets. Travelportconnected travel agents are also invaluable partners and we are committed to enhancing our relationship with them through innovative technologies. This agreement ensures Hilton Worldwide and Travelport will achieve mutual objectives that deliver value to both companies.”



Least Developed Countries Push Tourism


At a work shop held by the United Nations Steering Committee on Tourism for Development (SCTD), eight of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) reviewed their tourism development needs and pinpointed relevant funding sources.

he workshop, which was organised with the support of the secretariat of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), gave LDCs an insight into the EIF and how to best develop their tourism strategies and action plans, along with leveraging human and financial resources. The workshop was held at the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva where representatives from the tourism, finance and trade ministries of Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Lesotho, the Maldives, Sao

Tome and Principe, and Uganda joined with the nine UN Agencies to discuss exploitation of tourism development. In the world's 48 LDCs, international tourist arrival increased from six million in 2000 to over 17 million in 2010. During the same period, international tourism receipts rose from USD3 billion to over USD10 billion. Márcio Favilla, executive director, World Tourism Organisation, commented on tourism development in the LDCs. “The multiplier effect of tourism is also particularly effective in

the LDCs, where tourism expenditure generates additional flows of revenue and consumption for other branches of the economy such as agriculture and construction industries.” LDCs, with the support of SCTD agencies and the EIF secretariat, is to prepare a tourism development proposal by the end of the year, to be implemented by 2012. “Tourism is one of the few economic sectors through which LDC’s have managed to increase their participation in the global economy,” added Favilla.

Germany, a Top European Destination Choice For GCC Travellers Recent data, which has been released by the World Travel Monitor/IPK International, established that 2010 was a great year for Germany’s inbound tourism with increased visitors coming from the Arabian Gulf. Germany positioned itself as the number one destination in Europe for Gulf travellers with a total of 307,000 visitors from the region. German National Tourism Board (GNTB) 2010 figures showed an average length stay of 12 nights with an increase of 26.4 percent, and a total of 968,336 of overnight stays from Gulf guests in comparison to 2009. Antje Roeding-Boudier, director of marketing and sales, German National Tourist Office (GNTO), Dubai, commented on the country's attraction to Arab travellers. “The GNTO, the local affiliate of the GNTB in Dubai always aims at further strengthening throughout the GCC region the international reputation of Germany as a much diversified country, offering plenty of attractions to its Arab guests.”

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Q & A with Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi Millennium & Copthorne, one of the world’s largest hotel companies, has recently announced a corporate restructure which will see the Middle East and North Africa division expand to incorporate all of Africa. Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, CEO, Millennium & Copthorne MEA, talks about the organisation’s growth plans.

Travel Trade Weekly: Why was the expansion to the African continent elected now?

Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi CEO, Millennium & Copthorne MEA

Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi: While it is a big and diverse continent, on the whole, we can see many markets across Africa completely underserved by trusted hotel groups offering international quality standards. Moving into Africa has been part of our long-term strategy for a while, and now with a strong development team in the head office in Abu Dhabi, we were ready to make the move. Travel Trade Weekly: Which are the key markets you will focus on? Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi: We are currently in discussions with owners in East and North Africa. Talks are also at an advanced stage with an agreement on the table for hotels in South Africa, so we are hopeful we will soon have our first property in Africa to announce. Travel Trade Weekly: North Africa and the rest of Africa differ greatly in political ecology, religion, ethnic composition and economic structures. What challenges do you face in these countries? Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi: Africa is a large continent with diverse markets, people, and cultures. North Africa is commonly perceived as being culturally much closer to the Middle East, but there are also historic trade relations between many of the eastern countries and the Middle East. Arabic is still widely spoken in several countries and there are even traces of Arabic in the Swahili language. The point

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I am making is that rather than look at the differences, we are looking at what we have in common. Warm hospitality is one of the things that unite the Middle East and Africa. As with any brand entering a new market, the first challenge is to gain awareness of your brand and what it stands for. Once we have done that, I am confident our brands will resonate with the African markets. Travel Trade Weekly: Along with its recently announced expansion to the African continent, Millennium & Copthorne also remains committed to the Middle East. The group showcased its impressive hotel portfolio during a GCC roadshow. What results has this initiative brought, and what are the group’s future plans for the MENA region? Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi: The GCC

roadshow was a great opportunity to bring our hotels to buyers and travel agents around the region. Travel trade is very important in this region, and we wanted to show them what Millennium & Copthorne is all about. We have 40 new hotel agreements signed, so we wanted to both introduce the GCC travel market to our existing hotels as well as the ones coming online in the coming five years. The agents and bookers were all very positive about the roadshow, and it has helped us raise our profile as a group, even in markets where we do not have operating hotels yet. Travel Trade Weekly: Millennium & Copthorne MENA has a long and rich history of supporting worthy causes. Will the group keep up its commitment to such causes? Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi: Absolutely. Millennium & Copthorne is a socially responsible company committed to having a positive impact on the communities in which it operates. It is also good for us, as a company, to take a day out from our normal duties to do something good, together. It boosts morale, pride, and makes us work better as a team. We are also looking at ways to address the concerns of our guests across the group. In July we launched a new menu specially designed for guests with diabetes or concerned about healthy living. Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues affecting the population of the GCC and it affects people from all walks of life. These new menu options offer guests an easy choice. and we are proud of the initiative and look forward to extending it further across all our restaurants.



Dubai Tourism Showcased at IMEX America The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) participated in IMEX America, a new exhibition for the worldwide MICE industry, and gained exposure amid an attendance of over 1,500 exhibitors. Held in Las Vegas, at Venue Sands Expo and Convention Center, The Venetian and The Palazzo, from October 11-13, the event received a record number of 2,000 qualified buyers, making it the largest hostedbuyer programme ever-held in North America. As part of its continuing efforts to promote Dubai’s ever-expanding tourism industry in specialised travel

exhibitions and tap new markets for its strengthening MICE segment, DTCM held a 143m2 stand, which it shared with 16 co-participants from various segments of Dubai’s tourism industry. The US is considered an important market for Dubai, with its hotels and hotel apartments having hosted 437,723 American guests in 2010, up 11 percent over 2009. IMEX America hosted exhibitors from across the world, including convention and visitor bureaus, national and regional tourist offices, major hotel groups, airlines, destination management companies, service providers and trade associations.

The Venetian, Las Vegas

EVENTS Dubai Airshow Dubai, UAE, November 13-17, 2011 ( The foremost aerospace event in the Middle East, which consistently delivers key buyers and decision makers.

EIBTM Barcelona, Spain, November 29 – December 1, 2011 ( A leading global event for the meetings and events industry, which gathers more than 14,200 professionals for three days.

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

World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 5-7, 2011 ( A three-day event that is supported by ADTA and EAD, and the only one in the region dedicated to the promotion of sustainable tourism.

Philoxenia Thessaloniki, Greece, November 18-21, 2011 ( 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 engaged in different sectors of the tourism industry.

ILTM Cannes, France, December 5-8, 2011 ( A unique event that is ideal for buyers and suppliers working within the international luxury travel sector who strive to provide the ultimate customised luxury experience.

12 NOVEMBER 2011

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