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24 DECEMBER 2011

airberlin’s Biggest Stakeholder

The team of Travel Trade Weekly and

Etihad Airways has agreed to increase its stake in airberlin to 29.21 percent, making the airline the European carrier’s largest single shareholder.

Travel Trade Monthly join in saying thank you and wishing you a happy holiday and a prosperous new year.

02 United Airlines Services to Qatar United Airlines is to further expand in serving the Middle East region with a new daily service.



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Season's Greetings




airberlin’s Biggest Stakeholder Etihad Airways has agreed to increase its stake in airberlin to 29.21 percent, making the airline the European carrier’s largest single shareholder.


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


he strategic move connects the airlines’ extensive networks and frequent flyer programmes, and brings the number of destinations Etihad Airways serves either directly or with partner airlines to 269; more than 80 destinations larger than any other Gulf carrier’s route map. “Today, more than ever, it is vital to think differently in this industry. The number of codeshare partners Etihad Airways has, and the number of destinations it is now able to serve, is a point of marked differentiation,” emphasised James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways. Under the partnership, airberlin will shift its Middle East operation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi and offer four A330-200 flights per week between Berlin and the UAE capital as of January 15, 2012. The extensive codeshare agreement will see Etihad Airways placing its code on 36 of airberlin’s 171 routes, and the European carrier expanding its market reach to 24 of Etihad Airways’ 82 destinations. Etihad Airways also indicated that it will sign codeshare agreements with the airber-

James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways and Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO, airberlin

lin group for all European activities including NIKI and Belair. Finally, under the agreement, Etihad Guest and topbonus, the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes, will be integrated, allowing passengers of both airlines to ‘earn and burn’ on each others flights. “This new partnership expands our network reach, gives us access to 33 million new passengers, and provides us with a real opportunity for global growth. Through airberlin, we gain immediate access to a broad and complementary European market, with outstanding connectivity options for customers of both airlines,” concluded Hogan.

Accurate as of

22/12/2011 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)




Capital Hill Closes on Sale of London Hotels Capital Hill Hotels, a Middle Eastern investor with other global hotel holdings, and Morgans Hotel Group, the operator and 50 percent owner of the London joint venture that owns Sanderson and St Martins Lane, have closed on the sale of the two London properties. The hotels were sold for a total price of nearly USD300 million, or a value of approximately USD847,000 per room. Morgans Hotel Group, however, continues to operate the 150-room Sanderson and 204-room St Martins Lane under long-term management agreements, which, including extension options, have been extended to 2041 from 2027. After the repayment of debt and closing costs, Morgans Hotel Group’s 50 percent portion of the net proceeds amounts to approximately USD73 million, which the company intends to use to fund the acquisition of The Light Group as well as renovations at existing hotels and further growth.

24 DECEMBER 2011



Leisure Tourism slump During Olympics European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) findings suggest that a major slump in leisure tourism bookings to London is underway.


London Olympic Stadium

significant downturn in travel to the capital city is expected in 2012, with a particularly severe drop in July and August, in which operators are forecasting a 60 percent shortfall. This slump is expected to be at its worst during the Olympic Games, when forecasted bookings are estimated at 95 percent below normal levels. Bookings for the remainder of 2012 are forecasted at 20 percent below those of the previous year, based on comparative year-on-year reported performance. The study, which took place at the end of October, was conducted among 38 ETOA members who organise travel for more than two million people annually to London. Tom Jenkins, executive director, ETOA, commented. “We always see a decline in demand for a destination during an Olympic year. Clients tend to think that a city has priorities other than being a place to visit for a normal holiday. “These figures represent only current trends in leisure tourism and they do not account for those people who are coming for the Olympics. However, they indicate that bookings for London will have to strengthen enormously to make up for this shortfall. Even if London does fill with Olympic enthusiasts, they do not behave as normal tourists. Their presence is determined by their interest in an atypical event; they do not generally shop or attend other attractions.”

Skylogue Debuts in the Middle East Skylogue, the global co-operative union of airline passengers which seeks to bring its members the best possible bargains, has announced its Middle East launch. Drawing on sophisticated technology to gather individual ticket requirements, the platform then communicates with the CRS ticketing systems of various airlines, thus providing its members with the benefit of collective bargaining. Skylogue, which is supported by Silicon Valley startup investors who funded innovative Internet companies such as flickr, differ greatly from other independently run portals, as the savings of bulk-booking discounts are passed onto the members. Skylogue charges a one-time membership fee, however, as a special launch promotion and only for this limited period, the portal is currently waiving its one-time fee allowing passengers to sign up for free. Apart from Skylogue’s exclusive promotions, members will also be entitled for special privileges and packages from various airlines. The co-operative union has already reached agreements with a number of carriers for bulk discount arrangements and more airlines and segments are being added to the network. Commenting on the visions of the union, Rave Endran Kochummini, global director, Skylogue, said, “Skylogue seeks to bring about a paradigm shift in the airlines' relationship with the passengers, by reversing the equation: putting the passenger at the centre of the scheme, rather than the airline.”

Air Miles Teams up with Marhaba Air Miles Middle East has partnered with Marhaba to reward its members every time they book services. The 1.2 million members of the region’s leading loyalty programme now receive two Air Miles for every dirham spent on Marhaba’s meet and greet services at Dubai International Airport, and one Air Mile for every dirham spent on its City Stop service. “We are delighted to offer our members the chance to collect Air Miles every time they use dnata’s high quality airport services. The expatriate population living in Dubai constitutes a large percentage of our membership so there’s a lot of interest in travel and related products as a result,” highlighted Paul Lacey, commercial director, Air Miles, Middle East.

24 DECEMBER 2011



ACTE and GIBTM Collaborate to Strengthen Business Travel Industry The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), a leading non-profit organisation serving and advancing global business travel, along with the Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meeting (GIBTM) Exhibition, have collaborated in an aim to improve the business travel experience through industry education. At the upcoming GIBTM in Abu Dhabi, on March 26 to 28, 2012, ACTE will deliver educational sessions addressing how industry professionals

Adding internet access is going to be a vital and ubiquitous part of any in-flight experience

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are integrating the voice of the traveller and leveraging emerging technologies to enhance the management of business travel and corporate meetings. Ron DiLeo, executive director, ACTE, remarked that the agreement is significant in the developing industry. "This collaboration is extremely timely, as business travel and meetings continue to converge. Face-to-face meetings are vital to business success and a healthy economy. Through this partnership,

ACTE is pleased to bring its unique level of knowledge, insight, and expertise to GIBTM, increasing educational deliverables to the meetings industry.” Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), GIBTM 2012’s distinguished industry partners include ADTA, Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, Etihad Airways, and The Vision Destination Management.

Emirates A380 WiFi

Pet Passenger

Emirates has launched WiFi Internet connectivity on its A380 with leading industry service provider, OnAir. Travellers can access the Internet whilst onboard from their smartphones, tablets and laptops. “Emirates recognise that being connected in-flight is increasingly important especially on our longer flights. Adding Internet access is going to be a vital and ubiquitous part of any in-flight experience, just as it is in everyday life on the ground,” commented Patrick Brannelly, vice president, passenger communications and visual services, Emirates. The WiFi service will initially be launched on 11 of the 19 A380 airbuses already in service and by mid-2012, all new Emirates A380s will be delivered with a full range of WiFi, mobile phone and data services. Price plans have been implemented in order for passengers to take full advantage of the Internet whilst travelling, with prices differing for laptops and mobile devices. Adel Al Redha, executive vice president, engineering and operations, Emirates, commented on the new service. “Emirates is continuously introducing the latest advanced technology to its customers for use onboard our fleet. Making in-flight connectivity available is a value-added service that Emirates customers will highly enjoy.”

As of January 1, 2012, Air Malta is to introduce a pet travel policy, whereby passengers who wish to travel with their small cat or dog in the passenger cabin will now be able to do so subject to certain conditions and procedures. The facility will be available on all Air Malta’s network, with the exception of flights to and from the UK. The maximum weight for each pet allowed will be 10kg including the pet carrier, and all pets must be registered before travelling.

Air Malta

Travelling pets must be at least eight weeks old and must be weaned at least five days prior to the day of departure. A valid pet passport and all other necessary documents are required in order for the pet to be allowed to travel. Each travelling pet should be examined by a licensed vet less than three days before the intended travel date.




Salalah Beach to Launch Juweira Boutique Hotel Salalah Beach, one of Muriya Tourism Development Company’s main projects in Oman, is to open Juweira Boutique Hotel. The hotel is set to play a major role in providing visitors with the true tropical Salalah experience, and will boast 65 rooms, including 21 suites. Poised along the Salalah Beach Marina promenade, it will offer scenic views over the majestic Indian Ocean. Dining options will range from all-day dining to the seafood restaurant, and other facilities and services include two swimming pools with pool bars, a children’s pool, an outdoor Jacuzzi, gym, sauna, treatment rooms, beach access, table-tennis, snorkelling, and other water sports. Salalah Beach, spreads over 15.6 million m2 and is located a mere 20 minutes from the airport. It is also home to freehold villas and apartments, and will soon boast five five-star hotels, two Marina Boutique Hotels, an inland marina, two 18hole golf courses, retail venues, restaurants, and cafés. Juweira Hotel, Salalah Beach

New Quick Room Service

15-Minute Room Service provides quick and delicious meals for those who want it right away

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has found an innovative way to further satisfy its customers with the introduction of its 15-Minute Room Service, set to be available at its worldwide hotels by the end of the year. Christopher Hunsberger, executive vice president, global product and innovation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, commented, “Whether needing to quickly replenish after a workout or wanting to toast the perfect sunset, 15-Minute Room Service provides quick and delicious meals for those who want it right away.” Each Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has created its own gourmet menu based on local tastes and ingredients. Menu choices are designed for top speed delivery to the guests’ room. Some hotels suggest full meal options, and others offer à la carte choices to mix and match. Many choices are available to go and are airline security-friendly, with an option of being delivered to the front drive as guests jump in a car on the way to catch a flight.

Shurooq Confirms Deal for The Khorfakkan Hotel & Resort Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has signed a contract with General Hotel Management (GHM) to bring the company’s latest series of The Chedi hotels to Khorfakkan, Sharjah. More than AED350 million (USD95.3 million) will be invested in The Chedi’s Khorfakkan Hotel & Resort project, which will comprise of three components; the Fort, the hilltown, and the town square, and also set to boast a wide range of activities including a fully equipped dive centre, jet skis, yachts and sailing boats. The Fort, which will be located on Al Suwifa mountain, will serve as the primary access point to the resort, offering restaurants, business facilities, a spa, and a gym, while the hilltown is set to consist of 170 suites boasting seaside views. The town square, which will be located in the centre of the hilltown, will further offer a variety of cafés. H. E. Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmad Al Qassimi commented, “Prestige projects like The Chedi Khorfakkan Resort continue Sharjah’s growth as a cultural, scenic, and tourist destination. It has been carefully considered and thoughtfully planned to minimise the environmental impact, while maximising the social and financial sustainability of the project, and its accessibility to the other emirates will make it a prime destination.” The resort, which is scheduled for completion in 2015, will join the chain of The Chedi hotels that GHM has launched across the world, including The Chedi Chiang Mai in Thailand, The Chedi Muscat in Oman, as well as The Chedi Andermatt and The Chedi Club in Bali, Indonesia.

24 DECEMBER 2011


Air News


United Airlines Services to Qatar United Airlines is to further expand in serving the Middle East region with a new daily service.

United Airlines


nited Continental Holdings has announced that as of May 1, 2012, United Airlines will launch a daily service between its Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) hub and Doha, via Dubai.

Doha will be the fourth city in the Gulf region that United Airlines serves from IAD, in addition to Dubai, Kuwait City, and Bahrain. The airline operates to more destinations in the Gulf region and Middle East than any other US carrier. Andrew Buchanan, director, international

Oman Air Launches Muscat to Zurich Service Oman Air initiated its new service between Muscat and Zurich, Switzerland, on December 2, providing four flights per week between the destinations. The new service will offer Swiss travellers the opportunity to experience Oman Air’s luxurious new fleet of Airbus A330 widebody aircraft, which features the world’s first complete onboard connectivity service, allowing passengers to make phone calls, send SMSs, check emails, and surf the Internet. Peter Hill, CEO, Oman Air, commented. “We are delighted to launch our new service between Oman’s capital of Muscat and Zurich. We anticipate that the route will prove extremely popular for visitors from Oman and other Gulf nations, as well as from further afield.” Zurich marks Oman Air’s 41st destination worldwide and its sixth in Europe. “The new service will offer the people of Switzerland the opportunity to visit Oman and to experience the unparalleled hospitality, rich culture, and dramatic landscapes that are unique to the Sultanate,” concluded Hill.

Zurich, Switzerland

24 DECEMBER 2011

planning, United Airlines, commented on the route. "This new service will improve travel options for our customers at both ends of the route. The Doha flights are timed to provide convenient connections to and from destinations across North America."

Air France Takes on Dubai

Air France

Air France now serves Dubai with a flight departing daily from Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport with services that commenced December 5 and that will continue through- out the winter season ending March 24, 2012. The new A380 destination is made possible by the aircraft’s redeployment to Dubai from Tokyo for the winter season as a result of lower seasonal demand in Tokyo. For the 2011/12 winter season, Air France will operate six Airbus A380 aircraft from Paris –Charles de Gaulle Airport, serving five destinations; New York, Johannesburg, Montreal, Washington, and Dubai.



Egyptair Increases Flights Egyptair increased its flight frequency between Juba and Cairo. The airline, which previously operated four weekly services on the route nows offers five weekly flights to the capital city of South Sudan on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. As of January 1, 2012, the carrier will offer daily services. The decision underscores Egyptair’s commitment to connect the continent with vast destinations through the airline’s expanding network, according to Hussein Massoud, CEO, Egyptair Holding Company. “Expanding network in Africa through inaugurating new routes and increasing frequencies to the current routes comes within Egyptair’s strategy that aims at increasing the investments, economic development, providing more services in training, maintenance, in-flight services, and ground services in Africa. Egyptair

Emirates Further Serving Paris Emirates is to add an additional five weekly flights to Paris by the end of 2012, as a result of strong passenger demand on the route. As of March 25, 2012, the current double-daily Charles de Gaulle service will be supplemented by an additional four frequencies, increasing to five extra weekly flights. The four extra flights will operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. Effective as of October 30, 2012 services will also operate on Tuesdays. Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates, commented. “Demand to and from France, particularly from business travellers, is such that a third frequency has always been an objective for Emirates. With these additional services, we will help to satisfy that demand, while providing more opportunities for travel between Paris, Dubai, and beyond to our network of more than 100 destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australasia.”

Air News

RJ and Meridiana Sign Codeshare Agreement Royal Jordanian (RJ) has signed a codeshare agreement with Italian airline, Meridiana fly. Under the agreement, RJ passengers will be able to seamlessly travel through Rome to Verona on Meridiana fly services featuring RJ flight numbers. In return, the Italian carrier’s passengers can buy tickets for RJ’s routes operated between Milan and Amman, and Rome and Amman, featuring Meridiana fly flight numbers. According to Hussein Dabbas, CEO, RJ, the partnership will significantly expand the Jordanian airline’s presence in Italy and the additional routes cater to both business and leisure travellers. Alessandro Notari, commercial director, Meridiana fly, Air Italy Group, added, "This is a very important deal for Meridiana Group, adding to our sales portfolio another destination in the Middle East region which offers many chances for development of both tourist and business passengers’ traffic. More specifically, our northern Italy customers will be able to reach Jordan with Royal Jordanian departing directly from Milan or Rome." RJ which started operating to Rome in 1965 and to Milan in 1996, now offers six weekly flights to the capital and three weekly services to Milan.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

24 DECEMBER 2011



Dusit International to Make its Mark in the Maldives

Sea Grill Restaurant

Marking another landmark for Dusit International, this month is set to see the opening of Dusit Thani Maldives, located on Mudhdhoo Island. With its Thai-inspired environment, the resort will consist of 122m2 beach villas, 128m2 lagoon villas, and 178m2 ocean villas. Guests can opt from a large range of food and beverage experiences including the resort’s all-day dining restaurant, Benjarong. Chanin Donavanik, CEO, Dusit International, commented on the coming of the resort. “Our first foray into the Maldives is a very exciting addition to our growing portfolio and represents a milestone for the Dusit brand. The resort will combine the rich flavour of Thai hospitality with the stunning tropical beauty of the Maldives.” A 750m2 infinty pool will also be present in the resort alongside the Devaran Spa, which will be set in six tree-top treatment pods, providing signature treatments. Guests can also benefit from the resort’s fitness centre with a personal trainer and yoga instructor, as well as a children’s play area and club facility, internet workshops, and a range of boutiques.


Best Western Expands in Japan Best Western International (BWI) has added two new hotels to its portfolio in Nagoya and Yonezawa, further consolidating its presence in Japan. The 99-room Best Western The Japonais Yonezawa, offers an ideal base for both leisure and business travellers with easy access to shops and transportation networks. The 140-room Best Western Hotel Nagoya boasts a prime location, situated within close proximity to the Nagoya Terminal station, and the Sakae shopping, dining, and entertainment centre. The company’s first hotel in what is being hailed as the largest city in central Japan, features a restaurant, a coffee shop, and meeting and banquet facilities. “Best Western is always thrilled to add to its growing network in Japan, especially when the newest hotels are in new destinations,” commented Glenn de Souza, vice president international operations, Asia and the Middle East, BWl. “The opening of Best Western The Japonais, Yonezawa, Best Western Hotel Nagoya, and other new properties in the near future, is evidence of our commitment to what is one of Asia’s most fascinating destinations. Best Western is extremely proud to be taking part in promoting Japan’s tourism to more and more of the world’s travellers.”

Sheraton Launches Hotel in Kansas City’s Crown Center Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center opened its doors on December 1, providing luxury accommodation as well as an extensive space for conventions and social functions to the area.

Sheraton Kansas City Hotel

The new hotel joins The Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, as the second Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property in the popular shopping and dining complex of Crown Center. The property marks one of more than 60 new hotels that are expected to be added to the Sheraton Hotels & Resorts’ portfolio over the next three years as part of a multi-year strategic expansion plan. Ideal for business meetings and social functions of all sizes, Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center offers more than 9,300m2 of flexible meeting space with all the latest in meetings technology. Located on the southern edge of the city’s downtown area, the hotel is also less than a mile from Kansas City Convention and Entertainment Facilities, and adjacent to Crown Center Exhibit Hall. Highlighting the hotel’s unique offering, Hoyt Harper, global brand leader, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, commented. ”The fully refurbished hotel will serve as a fine representation of the brand’s new look and feel, and will showcase all our signature brand offerings.”

Best Western The Japonais Yonezawa

24 DECEMBER 2011


Mahmoud El Keiy Mahmoud El Keiy has been promoted to hotel manager at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano, Egypt. El Keiy, a hotel veteran, began his career with Hilton Hotels & Resorts in Egypt, where he worked his way up from the front office to the sales department. He joined Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in 2002, and first gained experience as

sales manager and part of the pre-opening team at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh. He then spent seven years at the renowned Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza as director of sales, where he developed extensive leadership skills and managerial insight. El Keiy is a graduate of the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels, Egypt.

Ahmed Adam Ahmed Adam has been named director of sales for Saudi Arabia by The Rezidor Hotel Group. Adam, who has more than a decade experience in the hospitality industry, first joined The Rezidor Hotel Group in 2009, as senior sales manager for Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City. Adam brings a wealth of experience and extensive knowledge of the Saudi

Stuart Allum Stuart Allum has joined The Rezidor Hotel Group as purchasing manager for the UAE. He moves from Marketboomer International, a hospitality procurement solution provider, where he held the regional operations manager position for the UK and the EMEA region. During his tenure with the company, he worked closely with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in Dubai,

24 DECEMBER 2011

Abu Dhabi, and Jeddah. Allum, a highly experienced ecommerce and procurement professional, has a successful track record in strategic operational management and large scale e-commerce project implementation. During his career, he has successfully delivered more than 10 international projects in the Middle East, Thailand, and Singapore.


Arabian market to his new position, where he will work closely with the Middle East regional sales and marketing teams to develop initiatives to drive and establish brand awareness, maximise opportunities, and increase profit in this crucial market. The Rezidor Hotel Group is one of the first hotel chains to have a dedicated director of sales in the Kingdom.

Cédric Gobilliard Cédric Gobilliard has been appointed senior vice president of global sales at Accor. As of January 1, 2012, Gobilliard will take over the position from Patrick Mendes, who is joining the Latin America team. Gobilliard has been tasked to define the group’s sales strategy and policy for each of its market segments, in collaboration with the brands and countries. He will

also be in charge of creating business-to-business offers and of supervising the priority accounts. Prior to his current position at Accor, Gobilliard was CEO of Club Méditerranée’s North American operation as well as Look Voyages, and also held the position of marketing manager at Disneyland Paris before becoming senior vice president, direct sales and loyalty at Accor.


travel talk is your space


Richard Nuttall

Peter Mansourian

CEO, Bahrain Air.

General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

“I am both honored and excited to be given this opportunity [being appointed CEO of Bahrain Air]. Whilst 2011 has been an extremely challenging year for airlines operating within the Middle East, Bahrain Air has come a long way in its three years of operation. We have a great team and our goal now is to become Bahrain’s airline of choice within the region.”

“We know, even as visitor numbers to Dubai increase, there is more pressure to gain business as the hotel sector expands and new hotels continue to open. To stay on top of our game, we have to provide a quality product at a competitive price, but more than that, we have to enlist and retain the loyalty of the local market that drives business in to the Grand Millennium Dubai – and this is our way of demonstrating our gratitude.”

John Leahy

Maurice Phohleli

Chief operating officer, customers, Airbus.

Country manager , South Africa, Etihad Airways.

“With almost 200 Airbus corporate jet sales to date, we now serve a growing and increasingly important community, and combining all the various aspects of this business [by bringing together commercial, programme and support activities in a single in-house unit] will help us to serve our customers better while paving the way for further expansion.”

“We are honoured to have received the [Best International Airline prize at the Airports Company South Africa Feather Awards], particularly because this feedback has come directly from our guests. To see that our guests recognise and appreciate the high-quality product and attentive service of Etihad Airways is a very gratifying moment. We wish to extend our thanks to all of our loyal guests for their kind support.”

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

24 DECEMBER 2011


AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Premjit Bangara POSITION: General manager COMPANY: Sharaf Travel Services LOCATION: UAE

Who are you? My name is Premjit Bangara and I am the general manager of Sharaf Travel. I have approximately 26 years of experience in the airline and agency sectors, both in the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My most favourite thing is the connections I have established both with my internal and external clients over the course of two decades, which have greatly contributed to the development of my personality. When is the best time to visit the UAE? The best time to visit the UAE is from October to February where the weather is salubrious and one can venture outdoors and experience the diverse natural beauty and the modern wonders of the UAE. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to visit Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo and experience the sights and sounds of the festive carnival season in February. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Sharaf Travel provides a high quality of travel services in the corporate, leisure, and retail segments through a team of well-trained and motivated travel professionals working under the strict quality guidelines governed by their ISO 9001/2008 certification. Dubai

24 DECEMBER 2011


bmi Guarantees Full Content for Travelport-Connected Customers Travelport will continue its global content agreement with British Midland and International (bmi) as part of its strategy of securing full content programmes with airlines across the globe. Through the agreement, Travelport has ensured that its Galileo and Worldspan travel agency customers worldwide have continued access to bmi’s full published fares. Remarking on the importance of continued cooperation, Robin Ranken, head of airline relationships, Europe, Travelport, said.“ This agreement will certainly sharpen our competitive edge and further illustrate our ability to work with our airline partners to reach a situation that is mutually beneficial.”

bmi A320

Barbara Hunter, general manager, distribution and customer services, bmi, commented, ”Travelport offers an important distribution channel for the sale of bmi fares through their Galileo and Worldspan platforms and we are pleased to be continuing our partnership with them.”



Weighing up Golf Travel Costs


Research commissioned by Reed Travel Exhibitions for International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), has shown that 52 percent of UK golf travellers have noted that their decisions to go abroad or take a golf break at home have been highly affected due to the increased cost of flying with their clubs.

he report published at IGTM, gives details on the main influences on UK golfers when making a decision on their choice of destination for golf holidays. Peter Grimster, exhibition manager, IGTM, commented on the findings, which were indicative of pricesensitivity in the golf travel market. “While a destination’s variety of golf courses, the price of the break, and whether golf is part of the package, [all] remain the key influence factors, clearly UK golfers are weighing up the

Cerbat Cliffs golf course, Kingman, Arizona

additional cost of transporting their clubs in deciding whether or not to fly abroad for their golf break.” There are 3.9 million UK golfers, making

the region the largest golf market in Europe, with a quarter of these regular golfers taking annual golf breaks, both domestic and overseas. The cost of additional airline fees for travellers’ equipment also plays a significant role on international golf tourism. Overall, the research provides interesting insights into how UK golfers go about selecting their golf breaks, where they look for recommendations and advice, as well as the important factors that determine their holiday choices, according to Grimster.

24 DECEMBER 2011



Q & A with Victor Louis Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) has demonstrated itself as a rising star of the emirates due to its safe image and unique offering. Victor Louis, chief operating officer, RAK Tourism Investment and Development Authority (RAK TIDA) shares the industry’s altered strategy.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has the overall tourism strategy for RAK changed in the past year and what are the current focuses? Victor Louis: Tourism strategy for RAK over the last year has taken significant strides across the board. Firstly, in May, RAK TIDA was established as a entity of the government of RAK. Previously, tourism promotion activities were conducted under the auspices of the Department of Economic Development, however, following the vision of H. H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, supreme council member and ruler of RAK, RAK TIDA was established to both develop and promote the rising emirate’s tourism potential domestically, regionally, and internationally. In the months since its establishment, separate tourism and hospitality divisions have been created to oversee the various activities of business and investment development, commercial and research activities, licencing, and public relations and marketing. RAK TIDA is responsible for establishing the emirate of RAK as a premier quality-value destination for leisure, adventure, and business travel. In order to achieve its goals, the authority has a government mandate to license, regulate, and monitor the emirate’s hospitality industry. It conducts research and analysis of future tourism projects and current trends, creates and implements the branding, marketing, and promotion of RAK’s tourism products and services, and develops, implements and supports strategies designed to encourage tourism investment into the emirate. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the accommodation targets in RAK and how will this be achieved?

24 DECEMBER 2011

Victor Louis Chief operating officer (RAK TIDA)

Victor Louis: Clear strategic goals and targets have been set by RAK TIDA, which include doubling the total number of annual visitors to RAK to 1.2 million by 2013 and increasing the emirate’s total hotel and resort room inventory to 10,000 keys by 2016. These targets will be achieved through a myriad of activities including the representation of RAK’s tourism industry at overseas travel shows, conferences and exhibitions, together with the education of travel professionals regarding RAK’s tourism products and unique attractions. New tourism experiences are also planned, with the Pearl Farm and Pearl Museum scheduled to launch early in 2012. This new attraction will be the first of its kind in the Gulf region and will offer visitors unique opportunities to both learn and experience first-hand the processes of natural pearl production.

Travel Trade Weekly: The authority highlighted discussions regarding promotion plans for increasing desert tourism awareness in RAK. Could you tell us about the plans that have arisen? Victor Louis: A meeting with the Arabian Incentive Company was held by the administration of support and promotion tourism in the Department of Economic Development (DED) with the objective of introducing and promoting desert tourism in the emirate. However, this assignment was taken over by the RAK TIDA. One of its first achievements was announcing the signing of an agreement between the government and Rakeen development to take over the first exclusive desert resort in the UAE, Banyan Tree Al Wadi. This is a luxury resort located in the heart of a 90-hectare private natural reserve in the desert, featuring various types of local plants and wildlife and is considered to be the first of its kind in the Gulf region and Middle East. We are currently overlooking the master plan for the resort's expansion and upgrade. Travel Trade Weekly: How popular are heritage sites and cultural attractions in RAK? Victor Louis: RAK’s heritage and cultural attractions prove very popular not only with regional and international visitors but also with Emiratis and expatriates living in the UAE. While RAK TIDA will continue to develop and promote our heritage and cultural attractions, RAK has its own unique identity with a diversity of landscapes that makes it the perfect getaway for leisure, adventure, and value for money experiences.



Middle Eastern and North African Tourism Expected to Spring back Participants at the UNWTO & Arabian Travel Market’s (ATM) event on the Future of Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa which was held at the World Travel Market this November, were unanimous in agreeing that tourism in the region, which has, for long, lived with uncertainty and a number of external shocks, will return from current challenges stronger than before. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, opened the event by suggesting the industry should be optimistic regarding uncertainty and external shocks. “The on-going changes in the Middle East and North Africa bring enormous opportunities. Rule of law and democracy will empower local communities, opening the door for these to be better engaged in the process of tourism development. There will surely be a more transparent business environment, increased support for smaller businesses, as well as stronger regional integration and cooperation.” Nayef Al Fayez, minister of tourism and antiquities, Jordan, highlighted that the benefits of tourism have an impact on the country’s entire population. ”Communities are the first to be

affected when tourism demand falls and this is why we need to support them.” Along the same lines, Mehdi Houas, minister of tourism, Tunisia, emphasised that the country is looking to position its culture, history, and people at the centre of tourism development and promotion. Moreover, close cooperation between the public and private sectors was pointed out as one of the keys for success in the UAE and one of the ways with which to reinforce the growth of tourism in the region, whereas misperception was highlighted as one of the most pressing challenges, with participants stressing that the Middle East should not be seen as one block but rather as different countries with different realities and challenges. “The Middle East is rich in culture and people; the sector has been expanding in terms of infrastructure and air capacity. If we work together there is an incredible future for the region,” Guy Crawford, CEO, Jumeirah Group, Dubai, expressed.

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. 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. SATTE New Delhi, India, February 10 – 12, 2012 ( India’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event, which will host more than 6,000 travel agents and tour operators from all over India and its neighbouring markets.

24 DECEMBER 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 111  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 111  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...