Travel Trade Weekly Issue 112

Page 1

31 DECEMBER 2011


Millennium & Copthorne to Open Serviced Apartments Millennium & Copthorne is to mark its foray into the deluxe serviced apartments sector with the launch of a property in Dubai Marina.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company have opened Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi in the iconic Capital Gate building.

05 flydubai Further Expands in Iraq flydubai has added two new destinations to its network with flights to Baghdad and Najaf.


02 04 05 07 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi Now Open





Meliá Hotels International Earns USD53 million Meliá Hotels International increased its accumulated revenue per available room (RevPAR) by 9.3 percent in the first nine months of the year, in a scenario dominated by a recovery in prices and high occupancy rates.

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Marianna Keen Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant WEB & LAYOUT Elina Pericleous DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE EMAILS


28/12/2011 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)





n the third quarter, the company witnessed a sound 15.8 percent RevPAR growth in its Spanish resort hotels, resulting in an average rise of 10 percent. Globally, Meliá Hotels International bases its positive outlook on improvements in the corporate and business segment driven by the MICE season and major international conferences and events in European cities, where the company operates. Moreover, Meliá Hotels International extended its footprint in a number of new markets, including Zanzibar, Tanzania, Cabo Verde, Dubai, and Columbia, during the first

nine months of the year, calculating to the signing of a new hotel every three weeks on average, many of which are already in operation. The remaining 32 properties in the pipeline will provide a total of 8,918 rooms, representing approximately 10 percent of Meliá Hotels International’s portfolio. With regards to adapting to new customer needs, Meliá Hotels International continues to enhance the positioning and differentiation of its seven hotel brands through innovation in the design of new experiences and product diversification in a bid to live up to the needs of different potential market segments.

Jazeera Airways Tops Market Share Jazeera Airways has maintained the largest market share on most of the routes it operates, according to the airline’s monthly report for September this year. Based on the statistics, the carrier recaptured leading market share on routes operated between Kuwait and: Alexandria (34 percent); Assiut (48 percent); Damascus (42 percent); Luxor (80 percent); Sharm El Sheikh (70 percent); and Sohag (33 percent). The airline has also remained the leading Kuwaiti operator to such high-demand destinations as Amman (33 percent), Bahrain (17 percent), Beirut (36 percent), and Dubai (17 percent). Jazeera Airways has once again grabbed month-on-month leading position in market share, and achieved a high 98 percent on-time performance, securing its place among the most punctual airlines in the Middle East. Jazeera Airways

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Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi Now Open Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC) have opened Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi in the iconic Capital Gate building.


ocated at Abu Dhabi’s premium business address, the hotel occupies the top floors (18 – 33) of the capital city’s signature building, which leans at a record-breaking 18 degrees. “Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is unique in its forward-thinking design and well-crafted hospitality approach,” commented Peter Fulton, managing director, Hyatt International, South West Asia. “The hotel was designed to cater to the individual traveller seeking indigenous experiences and the property offers many thoughtful features that executive travellers value today.” Conventionally linked to the thriving Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, 15 minutes from the international airport, the five-star

hotel is set to become a landmark on Abu Dhabi skyline, and a leading business hotel in the region. “Hyatt Capital Gate is well on its way to becoming a ‘must-visit’ for tourists and Abu Dhabi residents alike,” added Sanjay Tanna, director, business development and investments, ADNEC. “The opening of the hotel further broadens the destination appeal of ADNEC for the business traveller.” The first Hyatt hotel in the UAE capital comprises 189 luxury rooms and suites as well as a sky lobby, suspended 80m above the ground and the hotel’s signature restaurant. Moreover, four state-of-the-art boardrooms are also available to host meetings and events.

KHC Inaugurates Four Seasons Resort Marrakech Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) has officially unveiled Four Seasons Resort Marrakech. The 141-room hotel, that was built at a cost of USD164 million, comprises a resort and spa along with a choice of dining options, and leisure and business amenities and services. “This is another important achievement for Kingdom Holding Company,” commented HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, chairman, KHC, during his visit to Morocco. The 40 villas adjacent to the property have already been sold earlier this year, while Alsaud’s investments in Morocco, through KHC, include a number of other hotel projects under construction that will be managed by companies in which KHC holds an interest. The hotel and resort acquisition and development company, headquartered in Dubai, currently has ownership interests in 24 properties in 17 countries, including 22 operating hotels and resorts, in addition to two hotels and resorts under construction.

Prince Alwaleed during the inauguration

Marriott Expands in Bahrain Marriott International has introduced its Residence Inn by Marriott lodging brand for extended stay travellers in Bahrain, under a long-term management agreement with International Trading and Investment, Bahrain.

Residence Inn is proud to introduce to the Middle East our expertise and distinct service culture that tailors to the unique needs of this group of traveller The Residence Inn Manama Juffair, which recently opened, is the first Residence Inn property in the Middle East, and hold 26 studios, 17 one-bedroom suites, 35 two-bedroom suites and two three-bedroom suites. Every suite features a kitchen, creating a convenient stay for business travellers and families alike. For the needs of business travellers, the new hotel also has a business centre that includes a 20m2 meeting room for business or social gatherings. A health club and swimming pool is also present at the hotel, including a sauna and whirlpool. Diane Mayer, vice president, Residence Inn by Marriott, commented on the new development. “As the leader in this segment in North America, Residence Inn is proud to introduce to the Middle East our expertise and distinct service culture that tailors to the unique needs of this group of traveller.”

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Second Jumeirah Property in the Maldives

Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives

Oman Hotels & Tourism Company Unveils New Look Following an extensive refurbishment, Oman Hotels & Tourism Company has introduced a fresh new look to its portfolio of hotels. The project, that has been carried out with the aim of better serving the needs of business and leisure travellers alike, while at the same time paying homage to the traditional Omani hospitality, welcomed Al Falaj Hotel, Sur Plaza Hotel, Al Wadi Hotel and Ruwi Hotel return with distinctive characters. “As we continue to grow, it is essential that we upgrade our original hotels in order to create a consistent lifestyle experience for our guests worldwide,” commented, Althaf Mohammed Ali, CEO, Oman Hotels & Tourism Company. A masterful fusion of the rich Omani culture and contemporary design gives Al Fajal Hotel a truly unique appearance, while Sur Plaza Hotel having also undergone a complete transformation, boasts a large outdoor banqueting venue, offering ideal settings to host both private and corporate events. Conveniently located off the Muscat – Dubai highway in the port city of Sohar, Al Wadi Hotel is also presenting a brand new look to its pool side rooms, restaurants and public areas, while state-of-the-art facilities have been added to Ruwi Hotel in the heart of Muscat. “We are confident that the new look and feel of our popular hotels will be of greater appeal to our guests and we will receive their support consistently to help serve them better,” concluded Ali.

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Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives, a luxury resort, has opened, marking the second Jumeirah property this year in the Maldives. The resort adds to Jumeirah Group’s world-class portfolio of hotels and resorts. It offers guests 91 villas and suites with a private pool, a choice of three restaurants, a bar, and a 1080m2 Talise Spa, in addition to facilities for young guests. The resort is located just 20 minutes from Malé International Airport by boat, and caters to families, couples, and small groups. Jumeirah Vittaveli also offers a teen club and a kids club, providing adult guests with relaxation and tranquility, as well as an additional dedicated family and children’s pool adjacent to the clubs.

Millennium & Copthorne to Open Serviced Apartments Millennium & Copthorne is to mark its foray into the deluxe serviced apartments sector with the launch of a modern and stylish property in Dubai Marina in the coming six months. Upon opening, the Marina Promenade property will boast 151 spacious and contemporary serviced apartments, comprising 91 one-bedroom, 36 two-bedroom and 13 three-bedroom units along with two penthouse apartments, and eight villas. With a spa, health club, and two swimming pools, the property is expected to appeal to both long-term residents as well as short-term leisure and business travellers. Currently under development by the owner, ARJ Properties, the project is due to enter its first soft opening phase in the second quarter of 2012. Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, CEO, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne, commented on the debut, “We are delighted to bring one of our brands to this desirable area of Dubai. The entire development is of the high quality standard our guests expect from a Millennium & Copthorne property and it is the perfect vehicle for our first foray into the serviced apartments arena in the region. Bringing together excellence in service, value and location, we foresee a good level of demand from the start.” Maa’n Nassereddine, executive director, ARJ Properties, added, “We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Millennium & Copthorne's dedicated team.”

Millennium & Copthorne serviced apartments



City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel Gears Up for Re-Opening Following a six-month period of extensive renovations, City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel in Abu Dhabi is set to re-open its doors in early 2012. During the past few months, the hotel has undergone a major renovation that welcomed the addition of 142 rooms and suites, as well as the introduction of dedicated rooms adapted for guests with wheelchairs or mobility disabilities. A new health club with sauna, steam rooms, and massage facilities as well as a beauty salon, has also been added. Upon re-launch, guests will completely enjoy overhauled dining outlets, including the lobby lounge and the all-day dining restaurant, as well as fresh flavours at the new Thai restaurant. “We are now at the end of our refurbishment and are in a soft opening phase,” commented Mohamed Al Aamri, managing director, City Seasons Group of Hotels. “We will be taking bookings throughout January and wanted to offer a special rate to welcome back our guests ahead of our official opening, ready to unveil the new-look hotel to our local and international guests,” he continued. Set in the heart of Abu Dhabi, the hotel offers convenient access to the bustling capital’s business and government districts, 15 minutes away from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and only 30 minutes from the airport.

City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel


Amman to Welcome New Hotel Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is to welcome a new hotel to its growing portfolio in the Middle East with the expected 2014 opening of the Fairmont Amman. The hotel which is to be located next to the Fifth Circle in the heart of Amman, will be less than a 30-minute drive to the airport and situated opposite the embassy district. The 290-room luxury hotel will hold a number of restaurants and bars in addition to a spa and over 2000m2 of function space as well as an 800m2 ballroom catering to events and meetings.

Amman is a key gateway destination in the region, and this property will be an important addition to the growing Fairmont brand Jennifer Fox, president, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, commented on the upcoming development. “Amman is a key gateway destination in the region, and this property will be an important addition to the growing Fairmont brand. Jordan has seen increasing investment in a variety of business sectors and we believe the market will respond positively to the entry of a new luxury hotel in the capital.”

A New Relationship It has been announced that the Palais Namaskar, Marrakech, is to join The Leading Hotels of the World, representing the next milestone in the opening process of the hotel, scheduled for spring 2012. Frank Marrenbach, CEO, Oetker Collection, commented, “We are very proud to have Palais Namaskar, our latest masterpiece, joining the prestigious Leading portfolio, showing our commitment to quality and service.” Ted Teng, CEO, The Leading Hotels of the World, gave his comment on the partnership with the upcoming 41-room property. “We are pleased to welcome Palis Namaskar as a complement to our offer in Marrakech. This property also reinforces our partnership with Oetker Collection, as Le Bristol in Paris and Brenners Park-Hotel and Spa in Baden-Baden have been long time members of our network.”

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Air News


flydubai Further Expands in Iraq flydubai has added two new Iraqi destinations to its network with flights to Baghdad and Najaf due to start in 2012.


he new routes will bring flydubai’s network to 48 destinations across 27 countries in the GCC, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Asia, and the fringes of Europe. flydubai launched services to Iraq in 2010, serving Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, providing a huge impetus to travel, while also promoting trade ties between the two countries. The new routes now offer 14 flights a week to Iraq. The four-times weekly flights to Baghdad will begin on January 17, 2012, and the three times a week service to Najaf will commence on January 29, 2012. According to Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, the UAE is currently one of Iraq’s top trading partners with non-oil trade between the two countries growing 32.6 percent to AED 26.4 billion (USD7.2 billion), compared to 2008;


data from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. The main demand generator for the two routes is expected to be business traffic, reflecting Iraq’s social and economic resurgence. “Our flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah encouraged business travel and we aim to mirror that success by connecting two of Iraq’s main

Royal Jordanian Touches Down in Nairobi Royal Jordanian (RJ) has inaugurated a new destination to its extensive network by launching scheduled flights to Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. The new service, which is operated four times a week, underscores the airline’s expansion strategy to connect the Kingdom with new, emerging destinations as tourism volume from the traditional markets of Europe and North America continue to decline, according to Hussein Dabbas, CEO, RJ. Besides tapping the vast tourism potential of Kenya and the West and East African countries, the route will also serve as a vital link that further fosters cooperative ties between the countries and opens up new economic horizons. In the first quarter of 2012, RJ will step up its African expansion with the launch of scheduled flights to Algiers, Algeria, and Lagos, Nigeria. The airline is also conducting studies to see whether it is feasible to commence services to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and Accra, the capital of Ghana, in the first half of 2012.

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commercial and business centres to the UAE. In addition to cultural authenticity, Iraq has a wealth of investment opportunities across sectors such as oil and gas, and agriculture, and we hope the routes will stimulate UAEbased and international business to explore these opportunities.”

Bahrain Air Partners with Marvida Travel and Tours Bahrain Air has appointed Marvida Travel and Tours to promote Bahrain Air Holidays. The locally renowned holiday wholesaler, which will operate a dedicated office in Gudabiya, Bahrain, will be responsible for marketing holiday packages to destinations on the airline’s extensive network. To better cater to customers’ needs, the company will offer a wide range of travel related services, including hotel accommodation, package tours, Umrah packages, car rentals, and travel insurance. By providing low rates during the off-peak seasons and vice versa, from the Indian subcontinent to the GCC, group inclusive tours will benefit residents in the GCC. According to Cecil Ratnayake, general manager, Marvida Travel and Tours, the travel agency aims to explore new revenue streams by promoting Bahrain Air as a MICE carrier.



Air News

Further Serving Venice


Etihad Airways Lands in Chengdu Etihad Airways has commenced scheduled flights to Chengdu in southwest China. The newly launched route, that will be operated four times a week, holds historical significance as the first and only direct flight link between Sichuan province and the UAE. Commenting on the latest addition to the airline's network, James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, said, “This is a day of celebration for the airline and the communities at both ends of the route. The new services will open convenient new gateways for travel to and from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa and stimulate growth of trade between the UAE and China, already the emirates’ third largest trading partner.” Considering the current strong demand from the passenger and cargo sectors, the route is expected to go daily, once commercially viable. “The commencement of Etihad Airways' services to Chengdu is an exciting event for the people of Chengdu and we are delighted to welcome them to join us in promoting the development of an air transport hub in Chengdu,” added Honglin Ge, mayor of Chengdu.

Emirates is to add an extra daily flight to its Venice route, on March 25, 2012. The airline, which began services to the Italian city in 2007, is the only airline which offers non-stop flights between Dubai and Venice. The upcoming additional flight is to leave Dubai at 15.45 and arrive in Venice at 20.00, with the return flight departing from Venice at 21.50 and landing in Dubai at 05.35 the next day. Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates, commented on the upcoming flight, “There is clearly a need for another daily service and we will help to satisfy that demand.” The new service also provides a convenient alternative for travellers in the neighbouring Slovenia.

Safi Airways Links Kabul and Abu Dhabi Afghan airline, Safi Airways, is to launch scheduled services between Kabul and Abu Dhabi. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compliant airline will commence operations on the new route on January 5, 2012, according to Hamid Safi, CEO, Safi Airways. “This new air link will contribute to the development of Safi Airways. We believe there is great potential to increase demand and we are pleased to have appointed dnata as our sales agent for Abu Dhabi.” As the general sales agent, dnata will provide Safi Airways with a dedicated ticketing service and give the airline access to its 24-hour call centre for flight booking and general travel support. “We are pleased to represent Safi Airways as a sales agent and we will tap into our extensive regional network of partner agencies to support and grow the airline’s business,” concluded Abdulla Tawakul, senior vice president, corporate and regional network, dnata.

Hamid Safi, CEO, Safi Airways

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Best Western Premier F1 Hotel Opens in Manila

Best Western Premier F1 Hotel

Set to bring a new level of comfort and convenience to the ever growing number of business and leisure travellers visiting the Philippines, Best Western Premier F1 Hotel has opened its doors in the capital city of Manila. Located in the highly urbanised Bonifacio Global City, the newly launched hotel features 240 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, a grand ballroom with spacious function rooms for meeting and banquet events, a business centre, various pools, a gym, a spa, and a premier lounge. “Being part of a global brand is an advantage but giving guests a great service and experience to go with that excellent reputation is certainly the pride of Best Western Premier F1 Hotel”, Chad Davis, general manager, Best Western Premier F1 Hotel, commented, on the opening. “Our hotel is perfectly situated at the east side of Bonifacio Global City and within close proximity to leading establishments such as the St. Luke’s Medical Centre, Market! Market!, Bonifacio High Street, financial institutions, banks, and corporate offices. Very soon our guests will enjoy a stroll at the park which is only a five-minute walk. We are positive that this hotel will do very well with both leisure visitors and business travellers,” he concluded. Glenn de Souza, vice president of international operations, Asia and the Middle East, Best Western International, added, “The diverse range of facilities, attractions, and businesses, including the headquarters of various corporations, makes for a very international landscape at Bonifacio Global City. The addition of a Best Western Premier hotel to this dynamic scene seems only natural, with the Best Western brand being such a globally-recognised name in accommodation. Best Western Premier F1 Hotel has all the makings of quickly establishing itself as the business and leisure hotel of choice in the area.”

Holiday Inn Express San Diego Sea World Launched Following a USD1.5 million conversion from a Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express San Diego – Sea World has been unveiled. The extensive renovation included an expanded breakfast area, enhancements to the lobby and fitness centre, and upgrades to the hotel’s 113 guest rooms. “Holiday Inn Express hotels are designed to be the smart choice for value-conscious business and leisure travellers," commeted Gina LaBarre, vice president, brand management, the Americas, InterContinental Hotels Group. “With more than 2,000 properties worldwide and hundreds more in the pipeline, the Holiday Inn Express portfolio continues to provide our guests with an enhanced-stay experience at a great value. We welcome this hotel into the Holiday Inn family.” Set in the suburban Mission Bay area, just 11km from the San Diego International Airport, and within close proximity to several tourist attractions and businesses, the hotel offers a comfortable, yet affordable, business or leisure stay. The hotel exemplifies the USD1 billion Holiday Inn relaunch, the largest ever project of its kind in the industry.

DoubleTree Debuts in the Netherlands Mint Hotel Amsterdam has officially converted to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels Amsterdam Centraal Station, marking the brand’s debut in the Netherlands. The 553-room property, which originally opened in June, is one of the eight Mint Hotels across the Netherlands and the UK that will join the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of hotels under the DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn brand names in the coming months. "The dynamic European growth of DoubleTree by Hilton, with more than 25 hotels opened since 2008 and 25 additional hotels under development across the region, indicates remarkable promise for the brand as we enter 2012,” commented Simon Vincent, area president, Europe, Hilton Worldwide. ”With more than 220 hotels open and 110 hotel development projects currently underway in Europe, the potential for travelling consumers and hotel developers alike to enjoy and explore the Hilton Worldwide portfolio has never been greater. We are delighted to welcome the first of these eight exciting hotels to our portfolio."

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Aline Barhouche Aline Barhouche has joined The Rezidor Hotel Group’s Middle East office in Dubai as regional human resources manager. Barhouche’s wide range of areas of expertise, which include recruitment and selection, policies, procedures, performance management, employee relations, staff accommodation, as well as compensation and benefits, makes her a valu-

able member of The Rezidor Hotel Group’s regional office. Barhouche started career her in the industry as a hospitality management trainee with Accor Hotels & Resorts back in 1999. She brings more than 12 years of experience in the hospitality industry to The Rezidor Hotel Group's Middle Eastern team.

Shadi Haddad Shadi Haddad has joined The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, as senior sales manager for leisure. With more than 12 years experience in the tourism and leisure industry, Haddad has a proven track record in growing revenue and developing key leisure accounts. In his new position, he will focus on driving the MICE and leisure markets for the hotel.

Mark Schwab Mark Schwab has been appointed CEO of Star Alliance. Schwab joins the organisation from Star Alliance member United Airlines, where he was in charge of the company’s alliances as senior vice president alliances. In this capacity he also served as a member of Star Alliance’s management board. Schwab, who brings vast industry know-how and international experience, held

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numerous executive positions in the airline industry at United Airlines, US Airways and American Airlines. He began his aviation career in 1975 with Pan American World Airways in Rio de Janeiro, and headed a number of organisations in Latin America, Europe and Asia. Schwab holds a BSc degree in Latin American affairs from the University of Virginia.


Business travellers staying in The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, can benefit from the extensive services and amenities provided by the hotel which include a fully equipped business centre and lounge, free highspeed wireless Internet, and a range of state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including video conference setup.

Leslie Garcia-Moica Leslie Garcia-Moica has been named director of public relations at the soonto-open The St. Regis Doha. Garcia-Moica moves to Qatar from Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa in the Maldives, where she worked as director of communications. She played a key role in positioning the resort as an exclusive luxury retreat for well-travelled holidaymakers. Prior to

that, she gained experience at various top luxury properties in Paris, France; and Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. Garcia-Moica’s extensive knowledge of high-end luxury hospitality in different markets and preopening experience will be instrumental in The St. Regis Doha’s successful launch. The hotel is slated to open in February 28, 2012, and will comprise 336 guest rooms.


travel talk is your space


Mohammed Al Bulooki

Glenn de Souza

Chief commercial officer, Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

Vice president, international operations, Asia and the Middle East, Best Western International.

“Abu Dhabi continues to develop into a leading global destination with a major increase in the number of high profile events with international reach taking place in the emirate. Events such as Formula 1 Etihad Airways Grand Prix, the Volvo Ocean race, the European PGA Golf Tour, The Mubadala World Tennis Championships, and the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival have brought with them an increase in the number of high net worth visitors to the emirate year on year.”

“Like any business ideology, in times of crisis there are always opportunities to build. As an international hotel company, we are no different. People always need to have a place to stay no matter how good or bad the situation is. Challenges are meant to be overcome and I believe that we can maintain a strong business platform even in the worst political arena.”

James Hogan

Ghaith Al Ghaith

CEO, Etihad Airways.

CEO, flydubai.

“The Gulf is increasingly the centre of the world in terms of aviation, and we are happy that with one booking we are able, either directly or with codeshare partners, to allow our guests to take full advantage of this geography. We will continue to look to strike codeshare agreements with carriers around the world where we feel it is to the advantage of our guests.”

“We are proud to be the recipient of the 7000th Boeing 737, officially the most commercially successful model ever designed. It is an aircraft that has been the focus of years of design and refinement to increase efficiency and range, and reduce operating costs, which is why it is an ideal aircraft for flydubai. We promise our customers we will make every effort to reduce costs and offer them the lowest fares possible, and the 737-800 helps us to achieve that while maintaining the highest levels of safety and comfort.”

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, and observations to

31 DECEMBER 2011


AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Parissa Eivazi POSITION: Inbound tour manager COMPANY: Gardeshgaran-e Shahr-e Raz LOCATION: Iran

Who are you? I have been working as a tour guide, travel advisor, and inbound tour manager for more than nine years. We are one of the largest, most innovative, and most successful supplier of travel services and tour organisers in Iran. We are also one of the top tour operators which specialises in providing tailor-made tours for groups and individual travellers, offering a wide range of specially designed products. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Iran's high potentials and our duty, in terms of national ideology, towards our country is a reason that we enjoy the tourism field. In fact we work in tourism because our thought is that we, as ambassadors of Iran, have this duty to introduce the real Iran to the world and do our best in this field. When is the best time to visit Iran? All seasons have their own attractions. Thanks to such a diverse geography, you can have all kinds of climates during any season in Iran. In general, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Iran even if the weather may be a little uncertain with short lapses into either the cold of winter or the heat of summer. More accurate is mid-April to early June, and late September to early November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to travel to Dubai, Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand or China. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because we know our country, our clients and of course our work. We offer a variety of packages including cultural, eco, pilgrim and special tours that each one, too, has unique packages in itself.

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Travelport Partners with Saudi Travel Agencies Travelport has recently hosted four travel agency partners from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at a signing ceremony in Dubai that marked the company’s commitment to the global distribution system (GDS) provider and its Galileo platform. Travelport, with fully-equipped sales, training, and helpdesk teams in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, is able to provide its new partners in Saudi Arabia with the highest levels of customer service 24-hours a day. In addition to Travelport’s extensive airline, hotel, and car content, the agencies will gain access to the GDS provider’s comprehensive training resources and day-to-day technology support.

Majdi Rais, genereal manager, Global Destination Solutions, commented, “We feel that Travelport understands our requirements better than any other GDS provider and offers a suite of products that can help us improve productivity and ease the travel booking process. With an exciting offering in the pipeline, we believe in their long-term vision and see them as a partner that can help fuel our growth.” Moreover, at Travelport’s Middle East headquarters, Asfar Travels and Global Destination Solutions signed new contracts that will see the majority of their travel bookings made through the Galileo system.



Accor’s Geo-Localised Website Boosts Bookings Since its launch in July, Accor Middle East’s geo-localised website proved to be highly popular with travellers from the region.


y tracing the IP address of the computers, pinpoints the visitor’s location and automatically re-directs them to the localised Middle East version of the portal, which provides them with comprehensive information specially tailored to the regional market. The advanced portal has fast proved popular, noted Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East. “With the launch of the latest version of, we have observed a significant increase in our online bookings with approximately 30 percent. More than 800,000 users are currently going online, surfing our new improved website. By end of this year, we will nearly reach one million users in the Middle East.” The geo-localised website allows webusers to attain information easily on Accor’s extensive portfolio of hotels ranging from budget to luxury, as well as on the on-going promotions, thus making the booking pro-

cess more convenient than ever. “Our Middle Eastern website users will have faster, more direct access to the deals and promotions which are most relevant for their region. The specially customised for the Middle East region is a great opportunity for us to serve our online guests better with efficient hotel bookings. We want to make it just ‘a simple click away’ to access Accor’s wide range of exciting offers, in our regional portfolio and worldwide network,” concluded Landais.

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Q & A with Ashwini Kumar With the number of conferences, shows, and events being held in Abu Dhabi rapidly increasing along with an accumulation of accommodation options, the emirate’s tourism industry is enduring many changes. Ashwini Kumar, general manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, explains how the new property aims to stay competitive.

Travel Trade Weekly: What makes Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi an ideal base for the increasing number of business travellers visiting the emirate?

Ashwini Kumar General Manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

Ashwini Kumar: Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi, represents itself as a premium luxury business hotel with a boutique feel. This award winning leaning tower has generated widespread interest globally, and is a symbol of the capital's architectural feats. The hotel’s strategic location at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, and its proximity to certain key business, government and leisure districts, ensures it meets the needs of all guests. Travel Trade Weekly: The hotel boasts an exceptional structure. Could you tell us about it? Ashwini Kumar: Abu Dhabi’s most avantgarde building, Capital Gate, is a world renowned architectural feat that symbolises the progressive vision of the emirate’s rulers. Designed by internationally acclaimed architectural firm RMJM and owned and developed by ADNEC, the Capital Gate building leans 18 degrees westwards – more than four times that of the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa – and has been certified as the ‘world’s furthest leaning manmade tower’ by the Guinness Book of World Records. Nothing is standard about Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. Due to the structure’s unique curving shape, each luxurious room is a different shape and size, providing a sense of flotation where the convex curve of the structure seems to make the building disappear below on the North West elevation. Sus-

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pended 80m above the ground is Rayana spa, Abu Dhabi’s first ‘sky spa’, a cantilevered outdoor swimming pool, and lounge, which serves afternoon tea. Not only unique in design but in sustainability as well, the double glazed façade achieves greater energy efficiency, and two silver coatings within the glass minimises the intense summer glare. The ‘splash’ – the metal mesh structure – encapsulates fluid wind and water rhythms of nature through its design, while simultaneously twisting around the building. Travel Trade Weekly: Despite regional uncertainty, occupancy levels in Abu Dhabi have been soaring in the last months. Considering the large number of hotel developments in the pipeline and the economic circumstances, how long do you think this momentum could last?

Ashwini Kumar: The Abu Dhabi market is witnessing a transition and is moving on to be a more matured and competitive market. The last few months have witnessed growth in occupancies, attributed to the efforts from the government and destination promoters. With the opening of Yas and Saadiyat islands, Abu Dhabi has started attracting leisure and MICE. This has a positive impact on overall occupancy growth and length of stay. Visitor arrivals have surged and the goal of two million arrivals seems a reality for this year. This November alone, the city witnessed 1,392 new keys, and by the end of the year this will increase to 2,458 rooms. With new supply entering the market, the scenario is definitely going to be more competitive than ever. The market is bound to witness increased pressure on rates in order for hotels to maintain occupancy. Travel Trade Weekly: The capital city has seen its average room rate continue to drop. What do you think is the reason behind these results and what does the future hold regarding this? Ashwini Kumar: The market has seen the demand and supply gap narrowing, compared with 2010, in terms of occupancies. However, the rates have been on a constant decline throughout the year. The fall in average rates signifies a cautious sentiment from the post recession scenario. The increased supply across hotels will compete for limited demand and a price war is evident. The cost conscious customer will have more choice in the future as more attractive deals appear in the market.



MICE Industry Flourishing in the Middle East Updates and new developments both in the region and globally, will be presented at the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) 2012, set to be held on March 26 – 28, 2012 in Abu Dhabi. The Reed Travel Exhibitions event will provide an ideal networking platform for the international meetings and events industry that experienced a notable surge in the region, noted Lois Hall, exhibition manager, GIBTM. “The UAE and wider Middle East region has received a huge amount of investment in the meetings and events industry over recent years and we are now seeing the results. The Middle East has witnessed a 38 percent growth in indoor exhibition hall space over the past five years. The region has succeeded in attracting high profile local and international meetings and events and now needs to focus on encouraging repeat bookings.” Abu Dhabi and Dubai were, earlier this year, named

the top MICE destinations in the MENA region. Dubai was also ranked among the top 10 most popular business destinations of the year, followed by Abu Dhabi, which is currently attracting 27 percent of events staged in the region. In 2012, the UAE capital is expected to further consolidate its position and attract 48 percent of events being hosted in the MENA. “GIBTM attracts support from a wide range of local, regional, and international organisations, indicating its importance as the only proven platform in the Middle East to access the growing Meetings industry. Destinations like India have begun to market MICE products to specialised agencies and the corporate world at large. The MICE industry holds enormous potential for any country. It is estimated that a person travelling to a country for a conference or convention, spends four to eight times more than a normal leisure traveller,” concluded Hall.

EVENTS Ferien-Messe Wien Vienna, Austria, January 12 – 15, 2012 ( The leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria, which is attended each year by more than 100,000 consumers. FITUR Tourism Trade Fair Feirade Madrid, Spain, January 18 – 22, 2012 ( A meeting point for tourism professionals, in which they can establish lines of action, strategies, and business alliances. Horeca Kuwait Kuwait City, Kuwait, January 22 – 24, 2012 ( Operating under Leaders Group for Consulting & Development, this trade exhibition is a comprehensive event covering hospitality, catering, and food sectors in Kuwait and the GCC.

Austrian and Central European Travel Business Vienna, Austria, January 22 – 24, 2012 ( A tourist market place, industry meeting point and platform for generating new networks, initiating business deals and reinforcing existing customer relations. Central Asia & Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) Istanbul, February 6 – 8, 2012 ( An event with an interactive programme that allows attendees to identify hotspots for growth, exchange ideas, and develop their business. Travel Technology Europe London, UK, February 7 – 8, 2012 ( Europe’s leading annual travel technology event that connects the travel industry with market-leading technology solution providers.

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