Travel Trade Weekly Issue 65

Page 1

Middle East and North Africa Edition

ABU DHABI’S SUCCESS Abu Dhabi’s hotel industry has met and exceeded growth targets set for 2010. According to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, 1.81 million guests stayed in the emirate's 114 hotel and hotel apartments in 2010, beating the group’s aimed-for figure by eight percent.

Accor’s economy brand has spread across the Middle East in recent years. Now the company has signed an agreement for the brand’s first property in Saudi Arabia.

2 AFRICAN CRUISING Cruising in and around Africa is an important growth industry, with the potential to boost the Middle Eastern market, according to the organisers of a new event for the sector.

4 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 5, 2011

2 4 8 10 12 14 15 16 18 19 20 ISSUE 65

Saudi Ibis


Abu Dhabi Meets and Beats Targets

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi Editor Laura Warne

Abu Dhabi’s hotel industry has met and exceeded growth targets set for 2010.


ccording to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, 1.81 million guests stayed in the Journalist Rita Kasziba emirate's 114 hotel and hotel Design & Layout apartments in 2010, beating Elina Pericleous the group’s aimed-for figure by eight percent. Sales & Marketing In year-on-year terms the emirate increased the Dimitris Thomaidis number of guests by 18 percent and guest nights Directors by 19 percent, indicating longer stays as well as Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi a greater number of guests. Headquarters Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of ADTA, P.O. Box 25255 said new attractions and high profile events were Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 responsible for the strong showing. Fax: +35722318958 “The introduction of exciting leisure products, such Website as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, new golf courses, the Yas Island Show Weekends, the ongoing maturity Emails of the emirate's international events calendar and the launch of new MICE events, such as World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi, helped ensure a very successful final quarter and the destination's best hotel guest performance yet,” he said. Co-operation within Abu Dhabi’s tourism industry was also a factor, al Muhairi noted. “Much is also due to the solid, highly active and more uniformed approach to marketing on behalf of our growing stakeholder base,” MENA Exchange Rates he said. Accurate as of 3/2/2011 Deputy Editor Louis Dillon Savage

“The authority itself stepped up its destination marketing in 2010 with increased media engagement, the roll out of our international advertising campaign, participation in 20 international trade fairs and the opening of a dedicated promotional office in downtown Beijing.” However, while guest numbers grew, an increase in accommodation supply has led to lower rates in Abu Dhabi.

Being able to achieve double-digit growth in what remains a challenging international scenario is a significant feat Al Muhairi said this was a positive development, which ultimately made the emirate more competitive as a destination. "Of course performance has also been aided by more attractive rate structures, which have increased competitiveness and the market has responded accordingly,” he said. “By any measure, being able to achieve doubledigit growth in what remains a challenging international scenario is a significant feat.”

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 5.85 3.75 1509.94 0.37 0.71 47.04 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.41 8.20 10,410 214.73 72.93 1.24

Strong 2010 Performance from Middle East and Africa STR Global figures show an overall positive performance for the hospitality industry of the Middle East and Africa in 2010. All three major measures used by the market analysis group – revenue per average room (RevPAR), average daily rate (ADR), and occupancy – showed positive growth compared to 2009. Amman, Jordan experienced the largest occupancy bump, rising 6.5 percent to 60.6 percent, followed by Muscat, Oman, which increased average occupancy by 4.8 percent to 55.8 percent. Abu Dhabi sank in all three measures; a result which local officials attributed to a market adjustment brought on by a large number of new hotels. Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa posted the largest increases in daily rates, growing by as much as a 30.5 percent in the case of Johannesburg. FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Emirates Group Confirms Sponsorship of Desert Classic

Oceania Cruiseship

Emirates Group has extended its sponsorship of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament.


he company has been a sponsor of the event since 1989, making the Desert Classic one of Emirates’ earliest sponsorship partnerships. The airline has since invested heavily in sport sponsorship, with its logo decorating sporting teams and stadiums around the world. According to Sir Maurice Flanagan, executive vice chairman of Emirates Airline and Group, the tournament is still held in special regard. “Although we are proud of our involvement in golf around the world, with prestigious properties such as the Ryder Cup, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is particularly special to us, having been part of it since the inaugural event in 1989 when we were making our first forays into sports sponsorship,” he said. Flanagan said the ongoing


partnership would continue improving Dubai’s position as a golfing destination. “We have witnessed the tournament develop into one of the biggest events on the European Tour International Schedule, helping establish Dubai as world-class golfing destination in the process and Emirates is committed to helping it continue to grow from strength to strength,” he said. Mohamed Juma Buamaim, CEO of Golf in Dubai, organiser of the competition, said high profile participants would ensure a strong attendance. “With the great support of prestigious sponsors like Emirates airline and the presence of top ranked golfers, like Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, boosting the field, we again can expect a huge number of people turning up at our next events,” he said.

African Cruise Growth to Boost Middle Eastern Sector Cruising in and around Africa is an important growth industry, with the potential to boost the Middle Eastern market, according to the organisers of a new event for the sector. Seatrade Global manages a number of large scale events for the cruising and maritime industries and recently launched the Seatrade Africa Cruise Forum. In the lead up to the event the company has reported increased cruise ship deployments in the region; a phenomenon that a Seatrade representative said could have an important flow-on effect for the burgeoning Middle Eastern cruise market. Mary Bond, editor of Seatrade Cruise Review, said the growth of cruising in the Middle East had the potential for synergies with the growing interest in Africa’s east coast. “The emergence of cruise tourism in Dubai and the wider Middle East and the international appeal of the Seychelles as well as Mauritius and Reunion, allied to the South Africa domestic cruise season which takes place during their summer months (Europe’s winter), are all plus factors which will support the cruise lines’ rising demand for new destinations as well as new passenger source markets,” she said. MSC Cruise has increased its presence in Africa to two ships for the cruising season and is developing facilities in Durban, South Africa and Portuguese Island, Mozambique. According to Seatrade, Costa, Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea, Travel Dynamics, Oceania and Fred Olsen are all active on the African continent and more lines are expected to enter the market in the near future. FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Online Payment Service for Jordan Tourism Industry In an effort to stimulate Jordan’s tourism industry, a number of entities within the country have come together to launch an online payment and reservation system for local tourism operators.


he system, dubbed Paynet, will allow local businesses to finalise bookings online; an important factor as web bookings continue to increase in core markets. According to USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project, one of the developers of Paynet, online travel bookings are set to exceed USD170 billion in 2011. According to Ibrahim Osta, Chief of Party of the USAID project, an online payment system has been hitherto absent from the country.

“This is the first local e-payment service to be offered in Jordan and for the tourism sector it is a major step towards reaching online tourism markets; this will help Jordan gain competitiveness as a tourism destination.”

By facilitating online booking and payment, we can reach these markets and meet their requirements Zaid Goussous, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities for Jordan, said the payment system was in line with a wider project for

developing the country’s integration with the online world. “These efforts correspond with the ministry's plans to develop the sector in response to the latest developments and global tourism trends in order to attract more visitors to Jordan," he said. “Many potential visitors are online and by facilitating online booking and payment, we can reach these markets and meet their requirements.” Paynet was developed by Visa Jordan Card Services and Special Technical Services, then customised by the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project for use by the tourism industry.

Heritage Tourism Growing in Dubai Heritage sites are becoming an increasing focus for the emirate of Dubai in the UAE. According to Anwar Al Hanai, director of the heritage and diving village run by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, interest in heritage attractions has been trending upwards. “In the past few years, we have witnessed a major increase in the number of tourists to the heritage sites, especially during the winter months, and accordingly the Department is focused on pursuing its aggressive promotional activities," he said. “The DTCM is committed to promoting the culture and presenting a real picture of the ethnicity and also hospitality which is so widely admired.” He said DTCM has launched a range of events this winter season, with the intention of encouraging further interest in the emirate’s history and culture. The Heritage and Diving Village is a living museum in Dubai, where tourists can experience the production of traditional handicrafts and other historic local activities. Dubai Heritage Village 6

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- Accommodation

Kingdom Hotel Investments Makes USD61 Million Sale Kingdom Hotel Investments (KHI) has sold a property in China –Swissôtel Kanshan.


HI bought the hotel for approximately USD60 million in 2007, according to China Hospitality News. The company has passed 100 percent of its stake in the property to TA Global, a Malaysian real estate developer, for return of USD61 million. Sarmad Zok, CEO of KHI, said further sales were likely, as the company seeks to rebuild its capital. “I am very pleased with this transaction which is executed in line with our stated strategy of value realization,” he said. “This divesture unlocks significant capital and we will continue to consider the sale of other assets as part of our capital

allocation strategy.” KHI is a subsidiary of Kingdom Holdings Company, a diversified investment group chaired by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud

I am very pleased with this transaction which is executed in line with our stated strategy of value realization The company has ownership interests in 23 properties in 17 countries, including 19 operating hotels and resorts and four hotels and resorts currently under construction.

SCTA AccommodationCrack Down The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has closed down 36 accommodation facilities in Makkah and Jeddah, after the properties failed to meet new standards imposed by the commission. According to SCTA, the facilities failed to comply with new regulations, even after a grace period was granted. SCTA has demanded all operators obtain permits, including operation licenses, civil defense licenses and municipal licenses. The closed properties failed to obtain the last two documents, SCTA revealed in a statement. The shutdowns come as part of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to modernise and standardise tourism accommodation in the country. Mohammad Al Amri, Executive Director of Makkah Provincial Tourism Office said the closures were intended to raise the bar for lodging providers in the country. “Closure decisions fall within the supervising efforts of SCTA on tourism accommodation facilities across the kingdom, which aim to improve the performance and quality of services that are provided by the accommodation sector to the guest,” he said. SCTA has been progressively implementing a new rating system for hotels and other accommodations and has previously shut down properties in several other Saudi cities. 8

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- Accommodation

Accor to Launch Ibis in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2012 Accor has finalised a management agreement which will see the Ibis hotel brand launched in Saudi Arabia.


he 176 room property will be located in Riyadh and developed by Al Mohammadia Almotahda for Real Estate Investment Company. It is due to open in 2012. According to a statement from Accor, the property is part of a drive to strengthen the Ibis’ brand’s position with the Middle East. Christophe Landais, managing director of Accor Middle East, said the brand was already leading the segment in the region. “Our Ibis brand leads in the economy hotel market with a foothold since its introduction to the Dubai market in 2003,” he said. “Highly resilient, Ibis remains one of the best performing brands in our portfolio and we aim to replicate its success in the Saudi market." Khalid Turik, executive manager of Al Mohammadia Almotahda, cited brand recognition as the reason for the choice of the Ibis name.

“Ibis is one of the most recognised and respected brands in the economy lodging segment in the hotel industry,” he said. “With Accor rapidly expanding in the Middle East, we are delighted to have signed this project with Accor and look forward to further developing our

partnership in the future.” Accor currently operates nine Ibis properties around the region: five in the UAE; two in Kuwait; one in Jordan; and one in Oman. Worldwide, the brand boasts 879 hotels and more than 100,000 rooms.

Ibis remains one of the best performing brands in our portfolio

Christophe Landais FEBRUARY 5, 2011


- Air Travel

Qatar Airways Launches Flights to Brussels Qatar Airways has continued its European expansion, launching flights to Brussels, capital of Belgium.


he first flight was welcomed by Belgium`s Prime Minister and his entourage at the capital’s International Airport. The newly launched flights are expected to appeal to business and leisure travellers, explained Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company explained. “This new service will be much welcomed by business and leisure passengers travelling to a broad choice of Qatar Airways’ onward destinations in the Middle East and Asia Pacific,” he said. Brussels is among the most internationalised cities in the world, with approximately one quarter of its population made up of foreign residents. The Belgian capital represents the airline’s

third new European destination within a month, following the launch of flights to the Hungarian and Romanian capitals: Budapest and Bucharest. Qatar Airways has announced one further


This new service will be much welcomed by business and leisure passengers European route to be launched early this year, which will bring its total number of destinations on the continent to 25. The airline will add Stuttgart, Germany to its network with flights starting on March 6. Qatar Airways is one of the largest airlines

in the Gulf; its total number of routes is set to reach 100 in April when the carrier launches its connection to Aleppo, Syria.

Royal Jordanian Signs Five Year Maintenance Contract Royal Jordanian Airline has signed a supply contract with Goodrich Corporation for nacelle services. The five year agreement will see Goodrich provide maintenance on nacelles (engine mounts) for the airline’s fleet of Airbus A320, Embraer 195 and Airbus A340 aircraft. Hussein Dabbas, CEO of Royal Jordanian, said the maintenance would be undertaken in Dubai, under Goodrich’s Prime Solutions package. “We are pleased to put this Prime Solutions agreement into place and that the work will be performed at the Goodrich Dubai campus, which is close to the Royal Jordanian base in Amman, Jordan," he said. "The A320s, A340s and Embraer 195s represent a significant portion of the airline's fleet and we look forward to the maintenance work being performed by a well-known, renowned nacelle MRO.” Goodrich Corporation is a major defense and aerospace company based in the US.

Royal Jordanian 10

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- Air Travel

ADAC Ramps Up Emiratisation Initiative Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has set a 30 percent Emiratisation target for 2011.


miratisation, the process of bolstering the number of nationals in UAE companies, has been a long term project for the country’s government. Mohammed Al Marri, vice president of human resources at ADAC said the high target followed from the company’s responsibilities as a nationalised entity. “As a national company we are proud to have set a 30 percent Emiratisation target for this year, which we are very confident in achieving,“ he said. “We strive to have the best talent and in turn, be the employer of choice in the Emirate.” According to ADAC, potential recruits were targeted at the recent Tawdheef

Abu Dhabi Airport

We strive to have the best talent and in turn, be the employer of choice in the Emirate career fair and via a redesigned online career portal. Al Marri said participation in Tawdheef was a major source of his confidence. “Participating in Tawdheef, which occurs

at the beginning of the year, provides us with an ample amount of time to process, evaluate and offer potential hires attractive packages for the roles we have on offer,” he said.

UAE Signs Air Services Agreement with France The UAE has finalised the terms of a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering air traffic to and from France. Both sides agreed to an increase of 22 weekly flights, bringing the total number of connections between the two countries to 57. The flights will be made available to carriers designated by each body. The UAE has selected Air Arabia, Emirates and Etihad as its designated national airlines for the purposes of the MoU. According to the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, the new flights will represent a 60 percent increase in frequency and reflect the strong relationship between the UAE and France. The agreement also included Bordeaux as a permitted point of entry for UAE carriers, who have previously been able to access only Paris, Lyons, Nice, Marseille and Toulouse.

Bordeaux, France FEBRUARY 5, 2011


- International

AUD10 Million Flood Fund for Queensland, Australia The tourism industry in the Australian state of Queensland is to receive a funding injection of AUD10 million (USD10.13 million) to address the damage caused by recent natural disasters.


he state has been badly hit by both widespread flooding and a major tropical cyclone, dubbed Cyclone Yasi. Anna Bligh, premier of Queensland, said the funding would be directed to promotional efforts. “This is about getting the message out to as many people as possible that most of our state's tourism regions have been largely unaffected by floods and now is the time to take a Queensland holiday," she said. Peter Lawlor, tourism minister for the state, said the amount would help the industry, which is a major contributor to the Queensland economy.

"Tourism contributes a massive AUD9.2 billion (USD9.32 billion) per annum to the state, directly employing 122,000 people and indirectly employing 100,000 more,” he said. Bligh said the widely publicised flooding of Brisbane, the state capital, is having an ongoing effect on the destination. “It's no secret the tourism industry, like many industries in Queensland, has taken a hit by the floods and is still haemorrhaging because of the negative publicity that spread world-wide,” she said. Funding has been supplied by the state government of Queensland and Australia’s federal government. The Queensland Treasury has estimated

Brisbane Flood

that the flooding alone has attenuated economic growth in the state by nearly two percent.

Snowstorm Shuts Down Mid West Aviation Blizzards have caused widespread disruption in the US, causing the cancellation of thousands of flights. According to the Flightaware traffic tracking service, a total of 14,428 flights have been cancelled in the past week. Tuesday, February 1 experienced the highest number of cancellations, accounting for 6,994 of the groundings. According to local news reports, the storm has affected nearly half of the mainland US but is concentrated on the Mid West region. Chicago O’Hare Airport, one of the largest in the world, managed only eight departures on Wednesday. The eastern city of Boston has managed to operate only 20 percent of its usual traffic.


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- International

Ryanair Has a Lot to Marseille with 11 New Routes Ryanair will increase its operations from Marseille during the summer season, despite having recently shut down its base in the city.


he low cost carrier closed its base in Marseille in January, in protest against a French court ruling that would require Ryanair staff to pay tax and social insurance in France rather than the airline’s home country of Ireland. Nevertheless, the airline has announced 11 new summer season routes from the airport, many of which represent the return of connections which were cancelled when the base was closed. The period from April 14 to September 11, Ryanair will station two aircraft at Marseille to service the busier schedule. New routes include five in Morocco:

FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Agadir, Fez, Marrakech, Tangier and Nador. Other connections include Brest, Lille and Nantes, France; Eindhoven in the Netherlands; Gothenburg, Sweden; and Palermo, Italy.

Ryanair remains committed to Marseille Airport Michael O`Leary, CEO of Ryanair, commented on the flights. “Ryanair is pleased to announce this expanded Marseille summer season operation which will deliver 24 routes (including 11 new routes) and 500,000

Michael O’Leary

passengers to the Provence region this summer, “ he said. “Ryanair remains committed to Marseille Airport and we look forward to continuing to work with Marseille Airport and the Chamber of Commerce to deliver new routes and new visitors to Marseille Airport from mid-April to early September 2011.”


Agent’s Insight Name: Amin Gassim Position: Owner

Company: Yemen Holiday Tour Location: Yemen

Who are you? My name is Amin Gassim and I’ve been working in the industry for more than two decades. I started at the age of 19 in a hotel, later on I continued as a tour guide for a travel agency and I also served the tourist police for a while. In 2005 I decided to establish my own agency, Yemen Holiday Tour. I run the company as a family business from our office in the capital of Yemen, Sana’a.

What is your favorite thing about working in the travel industry? The biggest privilege is the opportunity to get to know different cultures and people. It might sound gross, but despite working in the tourism sector for more than 20 years, I’ve never been outside of Yemen. I truly believe that my country has so much to offer, that even I find always more and more to discover about our natural assets, history and people.

Arabian Adventures Expands Representatives Network Arabian Adventures has appointed representatives in both Australia and Brazil. PillowMINT in Australia, and Brazil Experts Bureau in Brazil will serve to promote the UAE in their respective markets, while offering a range of services. The appointments bring Arabian Adventures’ number of international representatives to 11, with the company maintaining relationships in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US. PillowMINT specialises in the Australian MICE market, while Brazil Experts Bureau is a dedicated marketing and promotion firm for destination management companies. Arabian Adventures

When is the best time to visit Yemen? Our favorable climate makes the country a year-round destination. Our green nature appeals to visitors seeking outdoor adventures from all around the world. Yemen is considered as a 3,000 year old culture which is well presented by the friendly people all around the country.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? As I mentioned before I`ve never been outside my country, and although I`m willing to get to know different cultures, I`m planning my next trips in Yemen.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? My agency specialises on personal services, on individual tourists and smaller groups. Our aim is to give our clients a lifetime experience by tailoring their holiday to their wishes.


New Ticketing Tool Introduced for Middle East Agents Travelport has added a new refund capability to its Galileo travel distribution platform in the Middle East. Called Ticketing Manager, the add-on has been designed to address the growing complexity of electronic ticket management, according to Travelport. Hari Kumar, director of regional product support in Middle East and Africa (MEA) for the company, said the solution had been tailored to the MEA market. “The availability of Travelport's new Ticketing Manager tool reinforces our commitment to provide our customers in the Middle East and Africa with value-added solutions that increase the efficiency of their day-to-day operations," he said. “This enhancement has been specifically developed with our MEA customers in mind, and we are confident that it will meet their evolving ticketing needs.” FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Safi Airways

Safi Airways’ management team

Afghan Airline Safi Airways has made two high level appointments. New executives include: Michael McTighe from the UK as chief operating officer, John Roijen from the Netherlands as chief financial officer and Jordanian Mohammad Al Hayek as deputy chief operating officer. McTighe comes from a background in establishing new airlines and undertaking

Magdi Labib Magdi Labib has been appointed as country manager for Egypt by Etihad Airways. Labib will be responsiblefor the airline’s commercial operations throughout the country. He joined Etihad in February 2005 and previously held the position of country manager in Kuwait. Prior to that, he

strategic reviews of existing operators. In the past he has worked with Ryanair, Britannia Airways, Air Atlanta Europe, and Arik Air Nigeria. John Roijen comes from an airline and manufacturing background. Before joining Safi he was a senior financial executive for the past 15 years in various airline related industries including CFO at Virgin Nigeria and Arik Air. Magdi Labib

worked for British Airways as regional business executive for Africa and the Middle East. He was later made responsible for commercial activities in Central Province, Saudi Arabia, where he served for two years. Alltogether Labib has more than 21 years experience in the aviation industry in the UK and in the Middle East.

Tarek Elsherif Tarek Elsherif has been named as managing director of hotel management company Five Continents Hospitality. Elsherif will oversee the company’s development plans while formulating and implementing management policies. Elsherif has 23 years of senior management experience in the hospitality industry. Prior to joining Five Continents, he served as regional director of sales and marketing at Millennium Hotels in the MENA region. He was educated in Egypt and Tarek Elsherif the US.

Abbas Mohammad Modak Abbas Mohammad Modak has been appointed as Emirates’ new sales manager in Basra, Iraq. He has more than 30 years of airline experience, 18 years of which have been with Emirates. He was previously based in Kuwait. In his new role, Modak will be in charge of establishing strategic partnerships, maintaining contacts with key corporate accounts and driving revenue in Emirates new operations in Iraq. FEBRUARY 5, 2011


Anne Tullis

Shane O’Hare

Head of Corporate Responsibility, Etihad Etihad’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program has expanded considerably in recent years along with our commitment to a CSR policy and plan that is wholly embedded in our business, and in line with our role as a major company in Abu Dhabi. We will launch a new program this quarter which integrates the many existing initiatives and activities already in place, and believe that access to the resources and expertise available through Business in the Community and the more established companies and markets will help us fill in the gaps and make sure we’re implementing best practice on our sustainability journey.”

CEO, Royal Jet There is no magic formula in business aviation. Companies which invest in their business – and their customers’ needs – will continue to outlive those that have aimed to 'revolutionise’ the industry simply by offering a cheap price. Operators seeking quick gains soon realized that paying for market share with low prices is a short-term and short-sighted strategy.

Paying for market share with low prices is a short-term and short-sighted strategy

Etihad’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program has expanded considerably in recent years

Shane O’Hare

Samer Majali CEO Gulf Air “The global aviation industry today is at a crossroads, having just emerged from the effects of the economic recession, yet still facing multiple macro and micro economic challenges, both expected and unexpected. During my tenure, I hope to engage and steer community members towards developing strategies and solutions for the benefit of the global aviation industry. I look forward to encouraging discussions throughout 2011 with my colleagues from the industry.”

The global aviation industry today is at a crossroads Samer Majali

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 16

FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Q and A with Tarek Elsherif Travel Trade Weekly quizzed Tarek Elsherif, managing director of Five Continents Hospitality Group, on his plans for the future and the challenges of running alcohol free hotels. Travel Trade Weekly: Please tell me about your business. Tarek Elsherif: The company is

will be in line with the launch of the first phase of the hotel in Libya.

Five Continents, and was founded three years ago in 2007 as part of the mother company EABG, which is the Emirates Associated Business Group. We are part of this group and are, basically, a hospitality management company. The core value of the company is that we only manage dry hotels, which is very much in line with the culture in this part of the world. We operate our hotels under the Five Continents brand, but we have recently added a new brand called Palazzo. Five continents operates three to four star hotels and apartments, so we added Palazzo as a five star brand to give more options to the owners and operators that we work with. Palazzo has not yet been officially launched, but we already have two signed properties. We plan to launch officially at this year’s Arabian Travel Market, which

Travel Trade Weekly: Is running dry hotels a business or moral decision? Tarek Elsherif: There is a very


clear restriction on alcohol in Muslim belief. It is forbidden. But people are different. You have some people who know it is not right, and some people who know they are doing wrong but do it anyway. Then you have people who might say I don’t drink it, but its ok if you want to, it is my belief. Then there are some who try to enforce their beliefs on others. A few months ago, there was a round table debate on dry hotels, which I was watching. It was very interesting to me, as all the CEOs and managing directors were not Muslims. This says that people are taking this as a business plan and are looking to satisfy niche markets. Some people worry about revenues; they say you will lose 30 percent of

Tarek Elsherif

beverage revenues if you do not sell alcohol, but I do not see this as a loss. I have set out from the beginning to run a dry hotel, so that is not money I ever had.

Travel Trade Weekly: Can you tell me about managing dry hotels? Tarek Elsherif: Actually dry hotels are not a new trend. There are a lot of hotel operators, regional or local, that have decided to operate dry hotels, in line with Muslim beliefs. People tend to be afraid to manage dry hotels, but there is a lot of demand for it. Especially from owners who want to get into the hospitality game, but do not want to accept any money that has come from alcohol. Dry hotels are not just limited to Muslims; one of the biggest sections is corporate clients from Europe. Alcohol becomes secondary when you are travelling on business and for families and when travelling to shop. There are food and beverage questions with dry hotels as well; for instance you might not be able to have an Italian restaurant, as Italian cooking is associated with using wine. But why cry over not having an Italian restaurant, when there are so many choices. We can have Indian, or even Iranian – it is not a problem. FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Top Tips for Capturing the Emerging Chinese Market China has been widely billed as one of the most important emerging travel markets. With its massive population and booming economy, Chinese tourists are set to become a core demographic for destinations the world over. Chinese hotel company, New World Hotels, has compiled a hit list of trends that the operator says are key to capturing the interest of travellers from China. Out With the Old According to New World, hotel staples such as the business centre, front desk safe deposit boxes and formulaic restaurants will need to be rethought. An increasingly tech savvy market, Chinese travellers are kitted out with personal devices and prefer hotel-wide access to the old-fashioned business centre. Similarly, in room safes are making front desk deposits obsolete.

FEBRUARY 5, 2011

Coming Together Communal spaces are another site for a major rethink, with New World indicating that the chinese market is trending away from the standard ball room and towards more idiosyncratic public spaces. Open kitchen bars for meetings and outdoor dining are two ideas that are picking up steam. From Concierge to Connoisseur Online research is breeding a generation of travellers who demand more from their hotel services. According to New World, it is no longer enough for a concierge to oer basic information on their locality. Keeping ahead of online information and providing in-depth local knowledge is the way of the future. Similarly, the online world is encouraging engagement with a wider range of hotel sta and hotels are becoming social hubs for China’s middle class; take advantage by letting your guests ask chefs for recipes on Twitter, or event managers for party advice on Facebook.


STTIM Organisers Expect Continued Tourism Growth for KSA Tourism is expected to increase its share of the Saudi economy in 2010 and 2011, according to the organisers of Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM), to be held in March. The event is entering its fourth year, and has seen a steady increase in interest from both regional and international operators. The event has tripled in size since it was first held in 2008, growing from around 40 exhibitors in that year to more than 120 in 2010. The show is operated by Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and held annually at the Riyadh International Exhibition Centre (RIEC). STTIM will incorporate segments covering a range of tourism niches, including medical tourism, adventure travel, business travel, eco tourism, heritage tourism and the resort and leisure market.


According to SCTA, tourism in Saudi Arabia increased by 230 percent between the years of 1995 and 2009, coming to represent nearly 10 percent of the country’s non-oil economy. The domestic market dominates the Saudi industry, accounting for approximately 75 percent of all trips.

STTIM was developed by SCTA to stimulate both business to business and business to consumer interactions, in a bid to further increase the role of tourism. Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East, but draws most of its income from rich oil reserves.

Events Food and Hospitality Expo Manama, Bahrain, February 8-10, 2011 ( Hospitality technology, systems and equipment, along with exhibitors from international food companies.

Eventopedia Amman, Jordan February 22-23, 2011 ( Conference covering the A to Z of events management, aimed at encouraging Jordan’s MICE market.

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

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

Middle East Exclusive 2011 Dubai, UAE, February 20-22, 2011 ( Luxury brand and travel retail 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.

FEBRUARY 5, 2011

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