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Middle East and North Africa Edition

February 26, Issue 68

BAHRAIN WITHDRAWS The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has withdrawn from hosting the opening round of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship due to the country’s current political situation.

In the centre of Toronto, Ritz-Carlton has opened its latest hotel. The company also announced a future property in Los Cabos, Mexico.

6 MEYDAN HOTELS Meydan Hotels & Hospitality has introduced its own brand, Meydan Hotels. The management will assume the operation of Bab Al Shams and Meydan Hotel which were formerly managed by the Jumeirah Group.

9 In This Issue

Market Update Weekly News Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Who’s Moved Travel Talk Rendezvous Travel Tips Events

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

2 4 8 10 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 ISSUE 68


Toronto Opens 13

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi Journalist Rita Kasziba Design & Layout Elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Dimitris Thomaidis Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website Emails

Air Arabia: Sustained Profitability Air Arabia has reported sustained profitability for its financial year results ending December 31, 2010. The low-cost carrier recorded a decline of 31.5 percent in net profit and a rise in total turnover by 5.5 percent.


ir Arabia recorded a total turnover of AED2.08 billion (USD566.37 million) in the 12 months ending December 31, 2010, which represents an increase of 5.5 percent over AED2 billion (USD544.59 million) reported in 2009. In contrast, Air Arabia’s net profit dropped 31.5 percent after announcing AED309.599 million (USD84.29 million) compared to AED452 million (USD123.07 million) in the previous year. The carrier, which currently operates services to 67 destinations from three regional hubs, registered 4.45 million passengers in 2010, a rise of 10 percent over 2009. The airline also witnessed an increase in its seat load factor, which reached 83 percent compared to 80

percent in 2009. Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman of Air Arabia, attributed the airline’s success to its expansion strategy. “Our ability to continue to report sustained profitability, as well as increasing revenues and passenger traffic, is a testament to the strength of our management and underlying business model,” remarked the chairman. “By providing our customers with a growing range of destinations and value-for-money fares, Air Arabia has demonstrated its ability to thrive in even the most challenging conditions.” In addition to a range of newly introduced destinations in 2010, the group has also launched Air Arabia Egypt, and plans to double the size of its current fleet by 2016.

Jazeera Airways: Registered Operating Profit

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 24/2/2011 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar COUNTRY UAE (AED) Egypt (EGP) Saudi Arabia (SAR) Lebanon (LBP) Bahrain (BHD) Jordan ( JOD) Syria (SYP) Kuwait (KWD) Qatar (QAR) Oman (OMR) Tunisia (TND) Morocco (MAD) Iran (IRR) Yemen (YER) Algeria (DZD) Libya (LYD)


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

1USD= 3.67 5.89 3.75 1502.5 0.37 0.71 46.75 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.41 8.15 10,317 215.25 72.69 1.24

Jazeera Airways Group has registered an operating profit for the full-year of 2010 after recording another profitable quarter in Q4 2010. The company closed the fourth quarter of 2010 with a net profit of KD2 million (USD7.18 million) due to the implementation of the group’s TurnAround Plan, introduced in May 2010. Jazeera Airways Group has also increased its FY2010 earnings by KD5.4 million (USD19.38 million) over FY2009 figures, after recording a net loss of KD2.8 million (USD10.05 million) compared to KD8.2 million (USD29.43 million) in 2009. The Kuwait Stock Exchange-listed company announced an operating profit of KD5.3 million (USD19.02 million) for FY2010, in comparison to KD5.4 million (USD19.38 million) operating loss in the previous year. The revenue reached KD42.6 million (USD152.88 million) in FY2010. Marwan Boodai, chairman of Jazeera Airways, highlighted the group’s

continued profitability. “We’ve had our best second half (H2) in our history,” claimed Boodai. “The H2 earnings, and the drastic shrinking of our losses compared to 2009’s results, are a direct result of the measures we implemented in mid-2010 as part of our business Turn-Around Plan. Jazeera Airways today versus Jazeera Airways Group last year is a much healthier business that has taken the turn to profitability. We are definitely on the right track.” The carrier recorded the largest market shares on most of its routes due to 1.3 million recorded passengers in FY2010. “In addition to closing a profitable Q3 and Q4, we are happy to report that we now enjoy a lead in market share on the routes we serve,” added the chairman. “Jazeera Airways Group today is the largest regional operator in Kuwait, market leader on the overwhelming majority of its routes. Looking forward we are optimistic about 2011 and working hard on sustaining profitability for the year.” FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Insignia Presents Media Buying Service Insignia Travel Media Group, the brand-marketing firm focusing on luxury, lifestyle and travel has introduced the region’s first media buying service specialising in the tourism and hospitality industry.


he new initiative from Insignia aims to provide comprehensive multichannel media and marketing campaigns to airlines, hotels, leisure facilities and tourism parties in the Middle East and across the world based on the client’s geotarget and particular requirements. Gaurav Sinha, founder and managing director of Insignia, highlighted the new challenges the travel industry needs to face due to the rapidly enhancing media channels and marketing tools. “The pace of change in the media landscape has reached an unprecedented high; media consumption and travel

dynamics continue to evolve rapidly and such factors presents many challenges to our clients looking to boost visibility and return on investment,” explained Sihna.

The pace of change in the media landscape has reached an unprecedented high “We have formed Insignia Travel Media Group to meet these challenges head on, creating targeted media strategies specifically crafted to deliver impact by optimising media channels that are unique and relevant to the travel industry. As the only agency in the Middle East

Ryanair Introduces New Routes from Doncaster Ryanair has added two new destinations, Tenerife and Faro to its route map from Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield. The low-fare carrier will also restart its service to Alicante. Ryanair is about to offer 90,000 seats from Sheffield airport, three times more than last years, with relaunching its popular flight to Alicante from March and with debuting two new destinations. The airline has already inaugurated its new flight to Tenerife, and is due to introduce the other one to Faro in March.


specialising in travel and luxury we offer a unique insight into the travel industry and extend a strong competitive advantage.” The media buying service offers complex promotion campaigns including a diverse range of on and offline media, such as inflight TV, airport billboards and social media in addition to the traditional printed publications and broadcast. “The travel marketing landscape is one of the most complex in the world, and deserves a specialist travel media buying service of this nature. Our ability to match the message, the media and the market, our experience and network of on-the-ground managers makes us best placed to bring this value to our clients,” added Sinha.

TUI Cruises Debuts in Dubai TUI Cruises, the joint venture of TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is set to offer cruise services in the Gulf for the first time from Dubai, starting in November 2012. Dubai Cruise Terminal will serve TUI Cruises new home for its Gulf operations and will offer cruises with its Mein Schiff 2 (My Ship 2) liner to Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Bahrain. Hamad Bin Majren, executive director for business tourism of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), as the operator of the port welcomed TUI Cruises to Dubai. “It will be the fourth cruise operator to use Dubai as a regional hub for cruise tourism in the Gulf which is becoming a popular destination for international cruise tourists,” said Bin Majren. Starting on November 4, 2012, TUI Cruises will operate a total of 20 one-week cruises until the spring of 2013. Richard J. Vogel, CEO of the company, believes that the new services will appeal for travellers. “With these cruises running out of Dubai, we are quite proud that we can for the first time offer our passengers such an attractive routing,” said Vogel. “Dubai is a fascinating city and as a cruise home port delivers the benefits of experience and top-notch service quality. Modern terminals in the port, many direct flights from Germany and a strategic, favourable location in the Persian Gulf add up to make Dubai the perfect hub for TUI Cruises,” he added. FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Bahrain’s Formula One Race Withdrawal The Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) has withdrawn from hosting the opening round of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship due to the country’s current political situation.


he Kingdom’s Crown Prince, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad AlKhalifa, informed Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone of the BIC’s decision to withdraw, as he has initiated a new national dialogue involving all sections of Bahraini society to resolve the current political situation in the Kingdom. “At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain,” stressed HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad AlKhalifa. “Although Bernie Ecclestone had graciously made clear that a decision on the race was entirely Bahrain’s to make and was not yet required, we felt it was

important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest and leave the hosting of Bahrain’s Formula One race to a later date. After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.” Bernie Ecclestone accepted the Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from Bahrain’s Grand Prix, which was due to take place between March 11 and 13, and expressed his empathy to the nation. “It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation

Bahrain International Circuit

well as they begin to heal their country. The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon,” commented Ecclestone.

Croatia partners with UNWTO The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Croatia have joined forces to uplift the country’s tourism industry through innovation and promotion. To mark the initiation, Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of UNWTO, and Damir Bajs, minister of Tourism in Croatia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen cooperation. The collaboration will be to improve major issues such as governance, sustainability, competitiveness, innovation and promotion. To favor the cooperation, UNWTO will organise its first international conference on tourism and media in Zagreb, focusing on the media`s role and responsibility for the country image, promotion and global positioning. The minister of tourism appraised the organisation’s efforts. “This is a new quality in the already existing partnership relation between Croatia and UNWTO,” said Bajs. “I am especially glad that Croatia will be hosting the first ever international conference on tourism and the media. This conference will deal with the influence of the media and tourism on various segments of the economy and the overall image of a tourism oriented country”. According to UNWTO, Croatia welcomed more than nine million international tourists in 2009, while the figures of 2010 show a further increase of five percent. “Croatia is a true tourism success story and we look forward to continuing in this spirit of collaboration,” added Rifai. 6

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

- Accommodation

Accor Expands in Saudi Arabia Accor is preparing to expand in Saudi Arabia with the opening of its second ibis hotel in Yanbu planned for completion in 2012.


ccor is rapidly expanding in the region and currently operates nine ibis hotels in the Middle East, including one in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. After signing a management contract with Al Ahlam Marine Tourism Group, Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East, described the new development as a major step in the group’s expansion. “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism market is currently maturing and we see the time is right to bring a second ibis hotel in the Kingdom, ibis Yanbu. Our fast-paced development platform for ibis

in Saudi Arabia shows our seriousness in expanding Accor’s internationally branded economy hotel,” he said. Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud, owner of Al Ahlam Marine, claims to develop a market leader property. “We are happy to partner with Accor, the world's leading hotel operator and market leader in Europe,” he said. “In them we find a trusted and globallyrecognised partner. With their presence in 90 countries with 4,100 hotels representing more than 500,000 rooms, we are confident that they have the expertise and capability to expand their services in this market. Together we can make ibis number one in the Kingdom’s

economy lodging segment,” he added. Yanbu is situated three hours north from Jeddah, and due to its location it is a key gateway for both European and African markets. The new property is expected to welcome its first guests in 2012, and will feature 196 rooms, three meeting rooms, a restaurant, a lounge, a pool, a diving centre and several shops.

Christophe Landais (left) and Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud

Coral Hotels & Resorts Opens in Abu Dhabi Located in the centre of Abu Dhabi, Coral Hotels & Resorts soft-opened its eighth property in the UAE. Liwa Executive Suites welcomed its first guest on February 19, marking its entry in the capital. The hotel is situated in the downtown of Abu Dhabi, next to the city terminal and in the neighbourhood of numerous offices, government departments, shopping malls and tourist attractions. It features 18 Coral Club and 36 Deluxe suites, a fitness centre, saunas, a rooftop pool and a business centre with meeting rooms. The property’s Liwa Executive Suites welcome their guests with additional offers such as convenient dining options, exclusive restaurant and café and 24-hour room service menu. Amr Hamed, hotel manager, said that the hotel aims to fill the need of competitively priced boutique accommodations as Abu Dhabi becomes a world-class destination. “Our key advantage is the superb location in the heart of the city, appealing to both business visitors and leisure guests who wish to discover the cultural, shopping and sightseeing appeal of Abu Dhabi,” said Hamed. “With the government’s commitment to a two million visitor target this year, and renewed efforts to tap in to emerging markets such as India and China, as well as our biggest single source market, Saudi Arabia, the future for the hotel sector in the capital is looking bright.” 8

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

- Accommodation

Meydan to Manage Hotels Meydan Hotels & Hospitality, a division of Meydan City Corporation has introduced its own brand, Meydan Hotels. The new management will assume the operation of two of its already owned properties, Bab Al Shams and Meydan Hotel, which were formerly managed by the Jumeirah Group.


bdin Nasralla, vice president of Meydan Hotels & Hospitality, described the progression as a milestone for the division. “We are very pleased to welcome Bab Al Shams and The Meydan Hotel to the group,” he said. “With this important transition we have officially established our hotel brand, and we look forward to continue serving our guests from around the world who have come to know our hotels over the years.” Meydan Hotel is located in the heart of Dubai, in the neighbourhood of the city’s financial and business hub

and the world’s largest shopping mall. In addition to the property’s luxurious design and services, it offers an unparalleled experience for horse and race fans and hosts the pronounced event, the Dubai World Cup.

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa represents an exceptional landscape and the heritage of the Arabic culture. The property is situated in the centre of the desert, about 40 minutes away from Dubai’s downtown.

Aphrodite Hills Kids Club Aphrodite Hills has commenced the works for its new Pirates Village Kids Club to enhance its family-friend services and is due to welcome its youngest guests from April. The fully integrated Pirates Village will be situated in the centre of the resort and will feature various areas for different ages, such as an outdoor playground, a multipurpose ground court and a swimming pool with active water slide. Andreas Christodoulides, general manager of the resort, highlighted. “Here at Aphrodite Hills, children have always been looked after with tender love and care and with the introduction of this new children’s paradise they will feel even more special,” he said. FEBRUARY 26, 2011


- Air Travel

Qatar Airways Boosts European and Iranian Services Qatar Airways is increasing its presence in Europe by introducing two new destinations, Stuttgart and Venice, and growing its capacity to Germany and the UK. The airline is also set to introduce its third destination in Iran.


he Doha-based airline is preparing to enhance its German operation from 24 to 33 flights a week with two additional services to Frankfurt, four new flights to Munich and with the introduction of its new destination, Stuttgart. The southern German city will represent Qatar Airways’ fourth route in the country, as the carrier offers daily flights also to the capital city Berlin. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, highlighted that the airline gears up its German capacity in a three-week period. “This is by far our largest frequency increase being introduced in the German market within a short time frame,” he said.

“By adding these extra flights, we are responding to strong demand for additional capacity on the Munich and Frankfurt routes. The strengthened services will foster new business and tourism links with the largest economy in the European Union.” Qatar Airways is due to debut in Stuttgart on March 6, and will serve the route three times a week. The airline’s Doha-Berlin service remains daily, while its Munich frequency will rise from daily to 11 services a week from March 9, and the Frankfurt route up from 10 flights a week from March 27. Qatar Airways continues its European expansion with Venice, its third gateway in Italy following Milan and Rome.

By adding these extra flights, we are responding to strong demand

With the daily services to the famous city built on water, the airline’s Italian frequency will rise to 21 flights a week from June 15. The carrier is also preparing to increase its capacity in the UK with the introduction of a second daily flight to Manchester from June 1. The additional service will allow the large ethnic community from South Asia living in Manchester’s metropolitan areas to choose from wider travel options. The airline enhances its operations also in Iran with the launch of its third route to the country, to one of the biggest cities, Shiraz. The famous tourist destination will join Tehran and Mashed in Qatar Airways Iranian routmap, effective June 5. Akbar Al Baker explained the expansion with the growing demand. “The potential is significant and we are looking forward to developing our market prospects with the launch of these new flights,” he said. “Iranian expatriates number between four and five million people, with many living in Europe and North America. We have good connections from these continents to Shiraz through our Doha hub, so facilitating travel for this expatriate community would soon be much easier.”

Wataniya Airways Praises Istanbul Route Wataniya Airways has joined this year’s East Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Exhibition (EMITT) in Turkey and represented its services and accomplishment. The Kuwaiti airline operates three scheduled flights a week to Istanbul and also offers short holiday packages for competitive prices to the city. John Morgan, chief commercial officer of Wataniya Airways has stressed to the great importance of the carrier’s Istanbul route. “Last May, we added Istanbul to our schedule, with three weekly flights. Since then it has become one of Wataniya Airways’ most popular destinations, attracting large numbers of travellers for both business and leisure,” he said. 10

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

- Air Travel

IATA: Flying is Safer Than Ever The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released the aviation safety performance for 2010. According to the report the global accident rate reached its lowest ratio in aviation history.


easured in hull losses per million flights of westernbuilt jet aircraft, IATA recorded a global accident rate of 0.61 percent, which means one accident for every 1.6 million flights. The ratio reflects a notable improvement compared to the 0.71 rate announced in 2009, and represents the best result ever recorded in aviation history. Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the association, attributed the development to the recent efforts of the industry. “Safety is the number one priority,” stressed Bisignani. “Achieving the lowest accident rate in the history of aviation shows that this commitment is bearing results. Flying is safe. But every fatality is a human tragedy that reminds us of the ultimate goal of zero accidents and zero fatalities. We must remain focused and determined to move closer to this goal year by year.” According to the report 2.4 billion passengers flew on 36.8 million flights, 17

hull loss accidents involving western-built jet aircraft, 94 accidents, 23 fatal accidents and 786 fatalities were recorded. IATA member carriers exceeded the overall rate with a ratio of 0.25 (one accident for every 4 million flights). The CEO explains the improvement with the additional criteria of the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) for members.

Achieving the lowest accident rate in the history of aviation shows that this commitment is bearing results “The numbers tell the story. In the first full year after the IOSA became a condition of IATA membership, the accident rate for IATA carriers has never been so low. The data confirms that IOSA is helping to drive safety improvements around the world. It is an important part of a comprehensive safety strategy involving governments and industry working

together to further reduce the number of accidents and fatalities,” added Bisignani. The rates show significant differences among the regions: North America, Europe, North Asia and the Commonwealth of Independent States outperformed the global overall average. Asia-Pacific recorded a 0.86, Latin America and the Caribbean a 1.87 and Africa a 7.41 rate, while the ration of the Middle East and North Africa declined from 3.32 in 2009 to 0.72. As part of IATA`s efforts to improve the safety in the African continent, the association launched the IATA Program for Safe Operations in Africa (IPSOA). “Flying must be equally safe in all parts of the world,” stressed Bisignani. “An accident rate in Africa that is over 12 times the global average is not acceptable. Improvements can happen. IATA’s African carriers performed significantly better than non-IATA airlines in the region. I encourage all governments in the region to make use of the IOSA tool to boost the region’s performance.”

British Airways Appreciates UAE Client’s Loyalty Prestige British Airways Barclaycard holders in the UAE benefit more now by collecting more BA miles for their purchases and bookings. The special offer, to collect more BA miles for specific amounts used on everyday spending, is valid for both new and existing cardholders in the UAE. In addition, new applications for the card will be presented with 40,000 bonus BA miles. Paolo DeRenzis, regional commercial manager Middle East highlighted the great opportunity for UAE customers. “With this promotion the Prestige British FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Airways Barclaycard has new and better collection rates for BA miles giving our customers in the UAE an even faster route to a reward flight to London,” he said. Mike Elliott, director of sales, Barclays UAE pointed out that the promotion aims to reward the loyal passengers and attract new cardholders. “The Prestige British Airways Barclaycard was successfully launched in November 2008 and this latest promotion is designed to reward our loyal customers with double rewards and encourage new applicants to sign up for the card with the additional benefit of bonus BA Miles,”

remarked Elliott. Cardholders also automatically become members of the British Airways Executive Club.


- International

Marriott Jumps Ahead of Wyndham and Plans a Split Marriott International, the second largest hotel company based on the number of rooms, plans to separate its lodging (franchise business) and the timeshare company into two publicly traded bodies.


he company is preparing to enlarge its timeshare operations and development business through a new, independent body. Upon completion, the new company will focus on the timeshare business as the exclusive developer and operator of timeshare, fractional and related products (under the Marriott brand) and the exclusive developer of fractional and related products under the Ritz-Carlton brand. Marriott International will focus on the management and franchise business. J.W. Marriott, Jr., CEO of Marriott International, explained the separation.

"Marriott took a bold step when we introduced our Marriott brand to the timeshare industry in 1984. In this transaction, we take another innovative step forward as we combine the power of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton brands with the flexibility and focus of a new independent timeshare company,� said Marriott. "The transaction will permit both companies to tailor their business strategies to best address market opportunities in their respective industries. With two public companies, shareholders will be able to pursue investment goals in either or both companies rather than one combined organisation,� added the CEO. Marriott International has also announced

its fourth quarter result for 2010. The company registered an increase of 14 percent in its total fee revenue over the same period of 2009, while the total incentive management fees rose 27 percent. One striking feature in the figures is the worldwide RevPAR, which showed a growth of 8.1 percent, while the average daily rate climbed 2.3 percent using constant dollars. Furthermore, the company added over 8,500 new rooms to its portfolio during Q4 2010 and became the second largest hotel company in the world based on the number of rooms. The list remains topped by InterContinental Hotel Group, while Marriott threw Wyndham Worldwide to the third position.

Great Hotels of the World Welcomes New Members Eight new members have joined the UK-based alliance Great Hotels of the World. The alliance, which gathers the most luxurious properties in the world, delightedly welcomes Dom Pedro Laguna, Beach Villas & Golf Resort, the unique leisure complex of Northern Brazil, which - in addition to its exclusive services - provides its room services to the villas by boat. Hotel Savoy, Moscow became a member of the collection as well. The property, located in the heart of the Russian capital, welcomes its guests with an unusual design, a blend of elegance and traditional art. The Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection, accumulating upscale superior hotels oering a unique experience was joined by two Spanish properties: Hotel 1898, from the heart of Barcelona beside several famous sights and NH Eurobuilding, the popular destination hosting various events in Madrid. Blue Water Wadduwa in Sri Lanka, situated on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, has also become a member, and in addition three hotels from the UK: Olde Bell Inn Berkshire, and Crown Inn and Stoke Place from Hotel 1898 Buckinghamshire. 12

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

- International

Ritz-Carlton: Opening Announcements In the downtown centre and beside the commercial and performing art hub, Ritz-Carlton Toronto has opened its doors, marking the luxury brand’s entry to Canada. The company also announces a future property in Los Cabos, Mexico.


he new Ritz-Carlton Toronto comprises 267 guestrooms, including 56 corner suites, two deluxe suites and the RitzCarlton suite offering an uncoupling view. Herve Humler, president and COO of RitzCarlton explained the brand’s expansion with the city’s great importance. “Toronto is a cosmopolitan city with true international appeal, attracting visitors from all over the world, whether they are visiting for business or pleasure. The opening of The Ritz-Carlton Toronto helps to put this vibrant destination on the map for discerning luxury travelers,” explained Humler.

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Ritz-Carlton will continue its global expansion in Mexico after signing an agreement with the joint venture of Grupo Questro and Trinity Investments to develop and operate a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Los Cabos. The Ritz-Carlton’s first Mexican property situated at the oceanfront along Baja Penensula, will include 124 private, single-storey villas and is scheduled to open in 2014. Herve Humler revealed some details about the upcoming property. “The concept of the resort is simple and yet exudes style and luxurious levels of comfort,” said the president. “It will provide a complete escape to the

unexpected; a private, exclusive leisure experience that blends unique elements of the local culture, history, and heritage with intuitive individual service, exquisite indigenous design, casual ambiance, and respect for the surrounding environment.” For the above mentioned service RitzCarlton has been just awarded at the J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Roundtable in Las Vegas, where the company was recognised as a J.D. 2011 Customer Service Champion. Ritz-Carlton was chosen as one of the 40 honoured brands based on five customer “touch points”, such as people, presentation, process, product and price.


Agent’s Insight Dedicated Self-Booking Tool from Amadeus Amadeus, the travel technology partner and transaction processor has launched the latest version of its e-Travel Management solution, the self-booking tool for corporations. Version 14.0, which is available globally, offers a wide-range of new, more enhanced features. Amongst the numerous improved functions, the updated version includes a Travel Arranger Workplace, which displays all the booking, profile management, trip modifying and review related options. In addition, the dedicated screen comprises more advanced search facilities; a shopping basket, a perspicuous calendar and frequent trip templates. The updated Single View option eases the fare-driven availability search and allows for functions to determine certain rules to accelerate the process. In addition, besides Windows-enabled and BlackBerry devices, trip management and confirmation functions are now also available for iPhones. Antoine Medawar, vice president, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus, introduced the new version as a more dedicated tool. “The new version maintains Amadeus’ vision of supporting corporations anywhere in the world, while locally customising solutions according to customer needs in specific markets,” he said.

The new version maintains Amadeus’ vision of supporting corporations anywhere in the world “Amadeus’ online booking tool – currently used by over 4,500 corporations worldwide - provides travel arrangers with unparalleled choice, content and control over their trips while complying with their company’s travel policies.”

Name: Hashim Al Burdimi Position: Owner Company: Aqaba Sky Travel Agency Location: Jordan Who are you? I am Hashim Al Burdimi, the owner of Aqaba Sky Travel agency in Jordan. The company was established in 2005 and during the last five years we have mainly focused on the incoming tourism by welcoming tourists from very different points of the world and showing them the fascinating beauty of the country and the coastal town, Aqaba.

What is your favorite thing about working in the travel industry? Six years ago, when I decided to establish my own agency, my main intention was to promote the country I love. Jordan is blessed with outstanding natural beauty, along with historical and archaeological sites, which well represents the Middle Eastern culture. I truly believe that it’s a country which must be seen by everyone and I feel fortunate that as a travel agent I have the opportunity to give these experiences to people from all around the world.

When is the best time to visit Jordan? The unparalleled historical sites, like the Roman Site at Jerash or the fascinating rose red city of Petra are terrific destinations to see during the whole year. However we already welcome a lot of tourists also in Aqaba as the mild winter allows them to enjoy the beach and various activities already at this time of the year.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? With all its advantages, working in the tourism industry also means that you must surrender your holidays. Sometimes I wish I could go somewhere and just walk down on the streets like any other tourist, but finally whenever I decide to travel I end up participating in meeting and conferences. So as for this year I just would like to spend some days in my own area, in Aqaba and relax.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? Instead of advertising my own company I prefer to stress the importance of choosing a trusted operator. In my opinion when it comes to travelling and committing to an agency the key word is reliability. We always pay full attention to each client, to their needs and wishes and provide them with all the information, as we believe the honest way is the shortest way. 14

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Mohamed Fekry Ashour Mohamed Fekry Ashour has been promoted to hotel manager at City Seasons Suites Dubai with the responsibility to maintain high occupancy rates and increase the hotel`s revenue. Fekry is also keen on the development of hotel employees and preparing personnel plans for department heads. In his new role he has already introduced

the new La Veranda Café and renovated the New Seasons Restaurant. Fekry joined the group in 2009 as director of food and beverage. Prior to that he held the executive assistant manager of food and beverage title at Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai, and also spent several years at Rotana Group’s Abu Dhabi Grand Hotel.

Mohamed Fekry Ashour

Marwa Mustafa

Tim Van Veen

Marwa Mustafa has joined Taj Palace Hotel Dubai as director of sales. Mustafa will be in charge for handling key accounts in the hotel`s major contributing market segments Marwa as well as developing Mustafa relationships to strengthen market share. She will also be responsible for establishing a comprehensive client base of various organisations, social and corporate businesses to achieve sales targets. Prior to joining Taj Palace, she worked at Cairo Nile Hilton in Egypt as group coordinator, before moving to Dubai where she held the assistant production manager`s position at Capacity World, and thereafter as the reservation supervisor at Radisson SAS Dubai Creek.

Tim Van Veen has been appointed as executive assistant manager in charge of food and beverage at City Seasons Hotel Muscat. Shortly after graduating from Maastricht School for Hotel Management, Van Veen was appointed as assistant and acting food and beverage manager in Rezidor Hotel Group`s Dariush Grand Hotel in Iran. Thereafter, he joined Radisson Blu Resort in Sharjah, UAE, before moving to Radisson Blu Hotel in Muscat, Oman. Following further experiences in Egypt and Jordan, Van Veen was promoted to executive assistant manager in charge of food and beverage at Radisson Blu Hotels and Resorts in Abu Dhabi, UAE, before heading back to Muscat to take over his new position.

Mohamed Hussein Mohamed Hussein has been appointed as director of sales and marketing at Taj Palace Hotel Dubai. In his new role Hussein will be directing and coordinating all the activities of the sales, catering, meeting services, reservations and communication departments to increase revenues and market share. He has been tasked with supervising the hotel’s marketing strategy and organising trade events. Hussein began his carreer as reservations agent at Ritz Carlton in Dubai and continued in the same role at InterContinental Hotel Group’s Middle East and Africa central reservations office before being promoted to sales manager at InterContinental Resort Al Ain. He then joined Holiday Inn Al Barsha, where he was in charge for the implementation of the marketing policies and spearheaded 15 sales, marketing and reservations teams. Mohamed Hussein FEBRUARY 26, 2011


Brian Nair

Tim Clark

General Manager, ETA StarHospitality "The Chinese are taking Dubai by storm! They have always been a key source market waiting for the right time to enter and with rates presently being very competitive, the Chinese are overtaking the Iranian and CIS Markets".

The Chinese are taking Dubai by storm!

Brian Nair

Tim Clark President of Emirates Emirates awarded Airline of the Year by Air Transport World. “The last few years have been among the most demanding in our industry’s history but despite the challenges, we have kept our focus on delivering the very highest standards of product, passenger comfort and operational efficiency”. “This recognition is testament to our commitment to innovation and service excellence as we continue to grow our global network and offer customers more opportunities to discover the world from Dubai.”

We have kept our focus on delivering the very highest standards of product

Ken Kosak Troon Golf name Ken Kosak of Abu Dhabi Golf Club “General Manager of the Year” “It is an honour to receive this award, ahead of a number of other esteemed colleagues at Troon Golf.” “To be associated with Abu Dhabi Golf Club, which represents one of the Middle-East’s most luxurious and dynamic leisure facilities is an absolute pleasure. Blessed with some of the finest staff in golf, I accept this award with gratitude to all of those who have aided my work here over the years.”

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FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Q&A with Michael McTighe As the new chief operating officer, Safi Airways, Michael McTighe needs to face large challenges due to the European Union’s ban on Afghanistani airlines flying to Europe. The experienced professional speaks about the impact of the prohibition and about his plans to return the airline to profitability. Travel Trade Weekly: Has your appointment got anything to do with the recent addition of all Afghan airlines to the EU no fly list? M. McTighe: Not directly. There was a senior management team that was here before who have since left. I came in and we sat down and looked at how to take the airline forward in light of the EU ban. We were obviously hit hard by it, as we have been operating the Kabul to Frankfurt route and had recently acquired an aircraft just for that route. So now we have an aircraft and nowhere to fly it.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are your plans for Safi? M. McTighe: One thing I am looking at is improving the consistency of operations; when I came in we had four different aircraft types and three different liveries. What I want is to improve the consistency and to base our fleet going forward on the Airbus A320. We currently have two old Boeing 737s which I want to get rid of and a 767 which is in very good condition, which I would like to lease out. So 2011 is going to be a year of consolidation for us and then in 2012 we are going to look at going back to long haul, in Europe. With one fleet we get the economy of costs by having commonality between pilots and maintenance etc. Hopefully by the end of the year we will be back in profit. At the moment we need to tidy up and really focus on what we want to do. We’re a regional airline and we’re the best carrier on the Kabul-Dubai route. But just because we are the best doesn’t mean I am happy to sit back. We have a major drive on baggage and punctuality; getting the customer there on 18

time, and their bags as well. We want to improve our onboard service, look at the inflight menus and improve our business class. We’re going to introduce new cabin crew uniforms and include all the cabin crew in enhanced customer care training. If we don’t look after our customer, someone else will. We’re on a very competitive route, with three other Afghan airlines and flydubai now; and from Sharjah there is Air Arabia. Most of the traffic is expatriates; we have agreements with all the NGO’s in Afghanistan and interline agreements with United and even Emirates.

This year we are really trying to get in shape Travel Trade Weekly: How did your customer base react to the EU ban? They were pretty disappointed. Now they fly into Dubai and we meet them there to fly them on to Kabul. We want to start expanding at the end of this year, as there is obviously a very strong market in Europe.

Travel Trade Weekly: How long before the EU lets you back in? M. McTighe: About five years probably. The problem is, the EU has said is the Civil Aviation Authority in Afghanistan is not regulating as it is supposed to. So they need to bring people in, and look at employing Afghanis and training them up. Then there will need to be a trial period where they can be seen to be regulating properly and the EU would have to see records of ongoing regulation as well. We regulate ourselves to a degree, but the EU needs to see that the regulator can assess whether we are doing that properly.

Michael McTighe

What we are doing is looking at getting a new airline operators certificate (AOC) here in the Gulf which will allow us to go back in to Europe. We have just started that process in Dubai and we know the regulator here is a first class regulator, so we are looking at between six and eight months.

Travel Trade Weekly: What challenges do you anticipate in your new role? M. McTighe: The main challenges I see is firstly protecting ourselves as a business by setting up the new AOC, then looking at new routes from Kabul. We are looking at flights maybe to India, Turkey and Pakistan. Maybe even to China as there is large demand for both passengers and cargo there. Then I want to go through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) safety audit to demonstrate that we are fully compliant and equal to any airline in the world. We are also going onto Amadeus, which should be a big boost. We are currently in the testing phase and on March 18 we will be live on Amadeus. FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Online Booking to Conquer by 2012 PhoCusWright, the travel industry research on how travellers, suppliers and intermediaries connect, forecast a significant, double-digit increase in online travel activity bookings by 2012.


ccording to the latest figures, travellers in the US already spend more for their leisure time than for cruises

or car rental. Based on a recent research, the US travel activities market aggregated USD27 billion in 2009, almost twice as much as the car rental segment. The report revealed that only the one third of these leisure activities were booked online. However, the researcher foresees a compelling growth, and envisage double-digit increase in online bookings by 2012.

FEBRUARY 26, 2011

Douglas Quinby, senior director, research for ProCusWright, explained the optimistic forecasts, with the advanced technology and its global spread. “The challenge of connecting to myriad small providers with limited technical capability and a low average transaction value have inhibited online distribution of travel-related activities,” he said. “But while the market remains highly fragmented, key activity aggregators and a flood of innovation related to local search, social media and mobile devices are creating unprecedented opportunities.”

Local search, social media and mobile devices are creating unprecedented opportunities


EIBTM Aims Further Growth Based on the success of the last event and the already confirmed participations for this year, Global Meetings and Events Exhibition (EIBTM) 2011, taking place between November 29 and December 1 in Barcelona, is predicted to attract more exhibitors and hosted buyers than ever. EIBTM 2010 received positive responses from both exhibitors and hosted buyers, who praised the event’s dynamic business atmosphere. Many of them have already confirmed their participations for this year in addition to numerous newcomers. The list of the pre-bookings includes among others NH Hotels, Kingdom of Bahrain, Hong Kong Tourism Board,

Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau and Visit Scotland. Amanda Henderson, marketing manager Europe, business tourism unit for Visit Scotland, is a returning guest at the event. “EIBTM continues to go from strength to strength,” she said. “At last year’s show, in spite of the weather, the value of enquiry levels for Visit Scotland was up 50 percent. It’s a key show for us and we fully intend to return in 2011 with a strong party of Scottish suppliers.” Graeme Barnett, exhibition director, EIBTM, confirmed an increased interest in the event. “EIBTM 2010 was a great success with a

2.5 percent increase in total visitor attendance from the previous year,” stated Barnett. “We’re thrilled with the response we’ve had so far from the industry – it’s a clear reflection of how positively the industry views EIBTM and further endorsement of the importance of face-to-face communication.” “We really value the strong industry relationships we have built as they play a fundamental role in the success of our IBTM portfolio. Our primary aim is to ensure high levels of return on investment for all attendees as it is a vital factor in the development of our shows,” added Barnett.

Events Gulfood Exhibition 2011 Dubai, UAE, February 27-March 2, 2011 ( International exhibition for the food, drink and hospitality markets.

Arabian Travel Market Dubai, UAE, May 2-5, 2011 ( The Middle East’s largest travel and tourism exhibition.

ITB Berlin, Germany, March 9-13, 2011 ( One of the world’s major travel and tourism exhibitions for all aspects of the travel industry.

Bahrain International Travel Expo Manama, Bahrain, May 12-14, 2011 ( Travel expo for travel professionals in Bahrain and the Middle East.

GIBTM Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 28-30, 2011 ( International event for the business travel and meetings industry in the Gulf and Middle East region.

Indaba Durban, South Africa, May 7-10, 2011 ( Showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa's best tourism products.

China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market Beijing, China, April 13-15, 2011 ( Dedicated business to business event targeting the growing market for outbound travel from China.

International Pow Wow 2011 San Francisco, California, May 21-25, 2011 ( U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow is an international marketplace and the largest generator of Visit USA


FEBRUARY 26, 2011

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