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Middle East and North Africa Edition

March 5, Issue 69

HILTON WORLDWIDE EXPANDS INTO RAK Hilton Worldwide acquired the management of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE and is scheduled to open at the end of the year.

Virgin Blue Group of Airlines became the first Australian carrier to operate in the Middle East in 20 years with its inaugural flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on February 24.

14 W BALI UNVEILED W Doha Hotel & Residences hosted an exotic party for the announcement of the latest property, W Retreat & Spa Bali Seminyak.

16 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

MARCH 5, 2011

2 4 8 11 16 20 17 18 23 22 24 ISSUE 69


Arrives in Abu Dhabi

12 13

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi Journalists Rita Kasziba Duncan MacRae 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

Royal Jordanian: Declining Net Profit, Increasing Market Share Royal Jordanian (RJ) has recorded an increase of 13 percent in 2010 in comparison to 2009 in its market share and number of carried passengers.


ccording to the recently issued audited financial statement, RJ made a net profit of JD9.6 million (USD13.54 million), compared to JD28.6 million (USD40.35 million) in 2009. The carrier explained the 66 percent decline with the rising operational expenses which showed an increase of 20 percent, growing from JD504 million (USD711 million) to JD603 million (USD851 million), while the fuel bill reached JD203 million from JD150 million (USD212 million) in 2009. Nasser Lozi, chairman of board of directors of RJ emphasised the airline’s remarkable growth in its overall financial and operational figures, despite the challenges the aviation industry face, including increasing oil prices and fierce competition among regional and

international carriers. Hussein Dabbas, CEO of the carrier, highlighted the fact that RJ increased its market share and the number of passengers by 13 percent over 2009. It resulted in a growth of 14 percent in its operational revenues which reached JD685 million (USD966 million) compared to JD598 million (USD843 million) recorded in 2009. The airline also witnessed an increase in its passenger numbers, which rose by 13 percent, carrying 3 million passengers in 2010, as a result of a 4 percent growth in seat factor. The number of departures grew by 9 percent (39,000), while the flying hours and the uplifted cargo rose by 7 percent and 31 percent respectively. According to Dabbas, the challenges will remain for this year; however, the airline will continue to operate along with its cost-control policy. Royal Jordanian

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 3/3/2011 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 5.90 3.75 1502.5 0.37 0.71 46.55 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.40 8.11 10,314 215.25 72.48 1.23

Wyndham Worldwide Discloses Cash Dividend Wyndham Wordwide Corporation has declared its cash dividend to shareholders. Wyndham Worldwide, the hospitality company oering products and services, has announced that its board of directors confirmed a cash dividend, which is USD0.15 per share on its common stock. It will be payable on March 25 to all shareholders of record as of March 10. MARCH 5, 2011

British Tourism Website Created in Arabic Al-Maktoum Airport VisitBritain has launched a dedicated website targeted at Arabic-speaking journalists aimed to complement the English version it created in October, 2010.


ll of the tourism agency’s press releases and images of UK attractions, sights, events and festivals are downloadable on the site . Carol Maddison, UAE manager, VisitBritain, elaborates on how useful the website is. “This new website has been developed specifically for the media to assist them in being able to quickly access all the information they need to create well informed and illustrated articles for print, online, television and radio features.” The site has been launched ahead of the royal wedding in April and the 2012 London Olympics.


“We are expecting growing interest from the world’s media in the run up to and during major international events such as the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in April and the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games,” Maddison added. Maddison also indicated that the website is intended to act as a first port of call for all journalists looking to cover these events. In addition to gaining access to the most up-to-date and archived press releases, story ideas, photographs, videos and media contacts across the world, registering on the website also provides access to VisitBritain’s social media pages.

Opens to Travellers Dubai Airports has opened AlMaktoum International Airport to passenger traffic for helicopter and aircraft flights with no more than 60 people onboard. The move comes eight months after the airport launched cargo operations. “The airport is an increasingly appealing option for general aviation companies in the region particularly as air traffic volumes increase at Dubai International,” states Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports. Dubai-based Al Futtaim Services Co has been selected to be the airport’s launch operator, having signed a joint venture deal in December 2010 with European business jet operator DC Aviation to provide services from the airport.

MARCH 5, 2011

Air France Boosts Flight Frequency in MEA Air France KLM Group has revealed it will increase its summer schedule for Africa and the Middle East and incorporate new destinations including Xiamen, Miami and Aalborg for KLM and Orlando, Lima, Phnom Penh, Freetown, Monravia, Bata and Billund will be added for Air France.


he number of global flights scheduled this summer indicates an increase of 5.7 percent, with long-haul activity increasing by 6.5 percent and medium-haul flights up by 2.9 percent. In Africa, Air France posts a four percent increase in capacity. Services to Nouakchott, Mauritania, have been adapted with the airline’s previous five weekly frequencies with A319, dedicated to be replaced by three A330 flights. Flight frequency to Conakry will increase to seven weekly flights, including three via Nouakchott. Air France points out that it will focus its development on western Africa, notably with the launch of two weekly Freetown flights with A330 and two weekly Monrovia, via Conakry flights. The company also hopes to add Bata as a new destination, subject to obtaining traffic rights. In the Middle East, the company’s growth in capacity is 6.8 percent. It will maintain its services to Riyadh and Jeddah, which were launched in cooperation with Saudi Arabian Airlines in winter, 2010. Air France continues to operate seven weekly flights to these destinations, including three operated by its own aircraft and four on a code-share basis with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Air France strives to remain flexible in the coming year despite global economic uncertainty.


Plans For the First Asian Andaz Hotel Unveiled Hyatt Hotels Corporation has announced that the first Andaz Hotel in Asia will open its doors this summer to customers in Shanghai, China. The 24-storey Andaz Shanghai hotel, which is being constructed by Metro Corp, will boast 307 guest rooms and will be located in Xintiandi in the heart of the city. Steve Haggerty, global head of real estate and development for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, indicates that Shanghai has become increasingly influential as a financial and commercial centre. “It is a critically important city for international and in-country travellers and we are excited to introduce the Andaz brand there.” Haggerty also points out that the addition of the Andaz brand in Shanghai marks an important milestone for Andaz and it is expected that Andaz Shanghai will become the brand’s flagship in the region. The new hotel will feature 262 standard rooms measuring 40m2, as well as 45 suites, ranging in size from 82-193m2, a restaurant, brasserie, bar, lounge, a spa and pool and 1,300m2 of function space.

MARCH 5, 2011

- Accommodation

Qatar National Hotels to Operate Merwebhotel City Centre Doha Qatar National Hotels Company (QNH) has signed a management contract with Al Faisal Holding to operate Merwebhotel City Centre Doha. The third Merwebhotel property is scheduled to open during the last quarter of 2011.


he new hotel, followed by the brand’s already existing properties, Merwebhotel Al Sadd Doha and Merwebhotel Central Doha is expected to welcome both leisure and business travellers. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman of Al Faisal Holding, emphasised on the positive development and choice in management company.


“We are delighted to have Qatar National Hotels Company manage the Merwebhotel City Centre Doha, which is the perfect choice for business or leisure travellers requiring either a hotel or serviced apartment style accommodation.” The new hotel, currently under construction, is located in West Bay, one of the most prominent districts of the capital city of Qatar, 15 minutes away from the international airport.

Morgans Hotel Group to Manage Mondrian Doha Morgans Hotel Group has reached a management agreement for a Mondrian Hotel in Doha, which is due open in early 2013. The hotel, situated in the West Bay Lagoon, is currently under construction. Marc Gordon, president of Morgans Hotel Group, emphasised the growing importance of Doha after entering into the agreement. "Doha is a vibrant place with an impressive array of commercial and leisure attractions along with incredible growth opportunities. The developer is creating a spectacular hotel that we will be delighted to include in our collection. We are pleased to have been selected to manage the property over multiple other contenders.” Morgans, one of the leading groups in the industry’s boutique sector, has already managed numerous properties around the globe and plans further expansions. The 30-year management contract includes extension options, but does not comprise any equity or investment from Morgans.

MARCH 5, 2011

- Accommodation

Fairmont Business Gate to Open in Riyadh Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Business Gate have signed an agreement with Fairmont to manage a new luxury hotel and convention centre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which is scheduled to open late 2012.


he development, located in the north part of Riyadh, will be part of an ongoing project including a hotel, a convention centre and a commercial real estate space, dedicated to multinational corporations and regional companies. Riyadh aims to pose as an uprising commercial hub of the region, Chris Cahill, president, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts emphasises on the importance. “Riyadh is currently undergoing tremendous development, becoming a key financial and business destination for not only Saudi Arabia, but the Middle East. The influx of both public and private investment is creating a great opportunity for business and leisure travel, and Fairmont Riyadh, Business Gate will be an exciting addition to our own brand’s growth in the region.”

Ramada Encore Officially Opens in Doha The first Ramada Encore hotel in the Middle East has officially opened in Doha, Qatar. The property, owned by Regency Holding Group and managed by Wyndham Hotel Group, is located in the AlAsmakh area, the heart of the capital city, less than five km from Doha International Airport. The hotel represents the second Wyndham Hotel Group property in Doha and the first Ramada Encore in the region. Michael Poynter, Wyndham Hotel Group senior vice president and managing director EMEA, highlighted the capital city’s increasing importance with the introduction of the new property. “As the economic centre of Qatar, Doha continues to be a rapidly developing city that serves as home to a growing number of companies as well as a rising number of international travellers,” stressed Poynter. “The addition of this newest hotel not only helps solidify our presence in this important market but will serve as a shining example of the quality found within the Ramada Encore name.” Ramada Encore Doha had a soft-opening in January and has already welcomed guest since then. 10

MARCH 5, 2011

- Air Travel

Qatar Airways to Enter Canada Qatar Airways is set to debut in Canada with its first scheduled flights to Montreal effective June 29. The airline will become the first Gulf carrier to operate to the second largest city of the North American country.


he airline will offer three flights a week, using a Boeing 777-200 long range aircraft from Doha to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport of Montreal, marking Qatar Airways entry to Canada. The carrier currently operates three services to North America, flying daily to New York, Washington and Houston. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, announced the airline`s expansion by claiming a strong demand on routes between the carrier’s primary hub in Doha and Canada. “The introduction of our Montreal service will provide a strong transportation link between Canada and Qatar and further

MARCH 5, 2011

facilitate the already strong economic ties between our countries,” said Al Baker. The service will increase the options of more than 3,000 Canadian citizens living in Qatar. “According to the government agency Export Development Canada, there are more than 1,500 Canadian companies doing business in the Gulf and Qatar, in particular, is one of Canada’s largest trading partners in the Middle East. With the oil and gas industry being a key connection that naturally aligns us, we hope that as soon as our thrice-weekly service is well-established and boosts the Qatari and Canadian economy to receive additional traffic rights for a daily operation to Montreal,” added Al Baker.

Air Arabia: Doha Route Goes Double Daily Air Arabia is building its presence in Qatar with the addition of a second daily flight to Doha from the carrier’s primary hub in Sharjah, UAE. Introducing double daily flights will increase the airline’s services to the capital city of Qatar to 14 a week, as it currently offers 10 flights a week. AK Nizar, head of commercial department, Air Arabia, stressed that the increase will give passengers a greater choice to travel, as a large number of students and families fly regularly between the UAE and Qatar. “We are extremely pleased to announce the expansion of service between Sharjah and the Qatari capital, Doha, which will further enhance the air travel options for the residents of both Gulf States,” said Nizar.


- Air Travel Australia Launches Flights to Middle East Lebanese Airline Partners Virgin Blue Group of Airlines became the first Australian carrier to operate in the Middle East in 20 years with its inaugural flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi on February 24.


he new service is an integral aspect of the partnership between Virgin Blue Group of Airlines and Etihad Airways, with the group offering 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia. These will include doubledaily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane. John Borghetti, CEO, Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, commented on how Australians are excited about the new service. “Since its launch in 2009, the award-winning V Australia service has


provided a high-quality, competitive travel option for travellers on transpacific routes and we are very pleased to bring our service to Abu Dhabi. Etihad Airways has been doing a great job of promoting Abu Dhabi as a budding destination for Australian tourists and a stepping stone to Europe and beyond.” James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, commented on the launch by emphasising how this can benefit increased business. “Partnering with Virgin Blue, Etihad is supporting the Government of Abu Dhabi’s vision for the emirate by generating stronger inbound business and leisure traffic flows.”

With Airline Alliance Middle East Airlines – Air Liban (MEA), has signed an agreement to join SkyTeam in 2012 and will be the second member to join the alliance from the Middle East. SkyTeams revealed that the addition of MEA to its network will enable it to compete more efficiently, not only within the Middle East, but also to and from Western Africa. Mohamad El-Hout, chairman - director general, MEA, indicated that by joining SkyTeam, MEA will be able to provide its customers an extensive global network covering Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. “MEA customers will benefit from SkyTeam members’ loyalty programs as well as SkyTeam lounges at all airports worldwide,” El-Hout pointed out.

MARCH 5, 2011

Hilton Worldwide To Manage Luxury Ras Al Khaimah Hotel Hilton Worldwide acquired the management of Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, UAE and is scheduled to open at the end of the year.


he agreement was signed with Al Hamra Group and the property is set to be the second Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Resort in the middle east following the Qasr Al Sharj in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The new 349-room hotel, in the design of an Arabian palace, will be located in Al Hamra, west of Ras Al Khaimah and 40 minutes from Dubai International Airport. It will comprise of a mixed-use development that includes an 18-hole championship golf course, a 600m private beach and convention centre with a capacity for 3,000 people.


The hotel will also feature a 450m2 ballroom, a health spa and 10 restaurants and bars, of which four will offer fine dining. John Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands, Hilton Worldwide, commented that the Waldorf Astoria brand is synonymous with timeless luxury and sophistication. “We’re delighted to announce the addition of the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah to our portfolio. Guests at the hotel can expect a truly luxurious experience, with the highest level of service and comfort, in spectacular and tranquil surroundings.”

Qatar Airways Ceases London Gatwick Flights Qatar Airways will suspend its operations to London Gatwick due to commercial reasons and scheduled flights will cease on May 31. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, confirmed the withdrawal from Gatwick. “We are extremely sad to be losing London Gatwick from our network. It’s been an incredible seven years since we launched the non-stop Gatwick services. But following a thorough review and analysis over the past 12 months, we concluded that we could no longer sustain the route for commercial reasons.” The Doha-based carrier will provide passengers booked on flights after May 31 with alternative travel options, including the airline’s four daily London Heathrow services or double daily Manchester flights.

MARCH 5, 2011

- International

Kempinski Named Best Brand Kempinski hotel group was honoured as the brand of the year in the best service provider category in Germany.


he Best Brands awards go out annually based on the consumer’s opinion. After this year’s win, Kempinski joined the high profile group of the previous winners like Gucci, Google or Canon. The luxury hotel group won the first place over the largest German bank, Direktbank ING DiBa and Lufthansa due to its incomparable services. Sigfried Hoegl, managing director of Gf K, a part of the award’s organisers commented. “During the survey, Kempinski stood out in all areas relating to service. The unique and decentralised nature of Kempinski’s strategy was recognised by those surveyed, and that makes all the difference.” The survey questioned 850 decision-makers and leaders about the brands’ certain attributes such as performance, reliability, availability and reputation. According to Reto Wittner, president and CEO of Kempinski, the hotel group was honoured due to its tailor-made services. “The recognition of our service quality by best brands makes us very proud. Our greatest standard for honest hospitality is service with a heart-felt smile – and this doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Wittner.


W Bali Unveiled W Doha Hotel & Residences hosted an exotic party for the announcement of the latest property, W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak. W Retreat & Spa Bali, Seminyak, the fourth W retreat in the world, is located along the Petitenget beach of Seminyak, nestled between restaurants, bars and galleries. The property features 237 retreats, including 48 garden and 104 ocean locations in addition to numerous suites. It offers a range of dining facilities with several restaurants, a bar and a lounge. Guests can also relax in the spa, pools or in the fitness centre, and the property also features a 24-hour business centre and a library. Edgar Vaudeville, W Happenings and PR manager, W Doha, introduced the new property to the W group. "We’re very happy to see the unparalleled W lifestyle spanning the four corners of the globe. We’ve recently celebrated the opening of W London with the hottest group of chic jet-sets and we're now gearing up to welcome another astonishing addition to the W global family," claimed Vaudeville.

MARCH 5, 2011

Mark Hehir

Massimiliano Musto

Mark Hehir has been appointed as general manager of One&Only Reethi Rah. He will lead the operations team from the Maldives. Previously, Hehir worked in the same position for Anantara, first at Seminyak Mark Hehir Resort and Spa in Bali, then at Si Kao Resort and Spa, followed by Anantara Phuket Villas in Thailand. Prior to that he held the area general manager position for Huvafen Fushi by Per Aquum in the Maldives, and he was also a member of the opening team of Maldives Hilton Rangali (now Conrad Maldives). Hehir received his certification in culinary and worked for several years in his move.

Massimiliano Musto was promoted from hotel manager to general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano. Prior to joining Four Seasons, he worked for several properties in Europe, including Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and Langham Hotel Massimiliano in London, Amatola Hotel and Musto Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh, as well as The Dean Park Hotel in Glasgow. Musto joined Four Seasons in 1998 as restaurant manager of Biscotti restaurant at Regent Bangkok. One year later he took on the position of director of restaurants, before moving to Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, followed by Regent Beverly Wilshire, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi and Four Seasons Resort Aviara in San Diego. In 2008 he was promoted to resort manager of Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita before moving to the current property.

Vik Naidu Vik Naidu has been promoted to general manager of Al Rostamani Travel & Holidays. Naidu has joined Al Rostamani Group three years ago as group chief marketing officer. He will continue working at this position along with his new role, where he has been tasked to build and maintain the relationships with existing and new partners of the industry as well as with customers. He will also be in charge to grow the travel business and turn the company into a leading body of the travel industry in the UAE. Vik Naidu

Juliana Kfouri

Juliana Kfouri

Juliana Kfouri has been appointed as senior vice president, corporate strategy and special projects at Etihad Airways. Prior to joining Etihad she held senior positions in finance, technology strategic planning, information technology, e-commerce and operations in several companies. Most recently she worked as chief information officer thereafter director of information technology, process and projects at TAM Linhas Aéreas S.A. In her new role, Kfouri will spearhead Etihad’s corporate strategy team and coordinate the airline’s strategy with its business scheme and management process by working closely with Etihad’s senior management. MARCH 5, 2011


Didier Morel Area Manager, Accor Hotels Yemen “My favourite thing about Yemen is the huge diversity of the population and the country itself. The Yemen people, in general, are nice people, friendly, respectable, simple, and natural. They respect foreigners, and if you respect them they make you feel at home. They are smart people, hard workers, and all this is rare in Arabic peninsula. Traditions, religion, culture, all are always presented in a positive way. The country is amazing; you can find an important diversity between the south, north, east and west. Each town in Yemen has its own specifications in terms of tradition, landscape, amazing mountains, sea, desert, forests, rivers…etc all in the same country. In addition, the climate is much better compared to some other Middle East areas, it varies from region to region making it easy to visit any time of year.”

My favourite thing about Yemen is the huge diversity of the population and the country itself

Jeff Strachan Vice President Sales & Marketing, Middle East & Africa Continent Marriott International, Inc. “Naturally along with the industry, our business has been affected in Egypt and most recently in Libya. There have been some short term shifts in business and some tour operators traditionally servicing the red sea have relocated customers, however these are short term issues. Along with the market we have seen good demand in Dubai recently. There are still patches of seasonality and of course a continuous flow of new supply into the city, so we all still need to keep working hard.”

Along with the market we have seen good demand in Dubai recently

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


MARCH 5, 2011

Online Travel Agencies Gain Ground Online travel agencies (OTA’s) are gaining a competitive edge against the individual websites of hotel chains and airlines according to the recently issued report of the travel industry authority, PhoCusWright. In reference to the PhoCusWright survey, conducted in partnership with Compete Inc., it is indicated that the first half of 2010 the supplier share of unique monthly hotel and airline bookers declined, as online travel agencies gained from the priceconscious comparison consumers. Prior to the conversion, hotel websites conducted 67-72 percent of monthly online hotel bookings in 2008 and 2009, while in 2010 the share of these individual portals dropped to 57-69 percent. A less vivid yet notable shift was also remarked by the airline bookers. The report underlines that in 2010 fewer travellers visited supplier websites compared to 2009, and instead visited OTA’s; however, the number of the supplier conversations have declined dramatically from OTA shoppers. Carroll Rheem, director of research, PhoCusWright, explained the latest traffic and conversation trends reflected in the figures. "The drop in conversion rates among airline and hotel websites was likely the result of supplier-driven price increases," said Rheem. "The return of corporate travel prompted suppliers to raise rates, but it appears that leisure consumers were not so ready to pay those higher prices, and online travel agencies reaped the benefits of their sensitivity." After a year of increased revenues across hotel and airline products, there was a distinct decline in traffic to most transactional categories. The report prognosticates an increase in 2011 as leisure travel returns, and suppliers will have to play a careful balancing act to regain lost share while raising prices.


Agent’s Insight Name: Qusai Helwani Position: Owner and General Manager Company: Planet4Travel Location: Syria Who are you? My name is Qusai Helwani and I am the owner and the general manager of Planet4Travel which operates three branches being in Damascus, Vienna and in Sydney. Our company is dedicated to luxury travel services for groups, FITs, MICE events and incentive schemes. I have been working in the tourism industry for about 18 years.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? When you work in tourism you always see new faces and experience something new every single day. You keep learning about other cultures, new business prospects and new world economy trends; you are simply connected to the world.

When is the best time to visit Syria? I always recommend visiting Syria in periods when the number of tourists is minimal. At the end of May, June and November, tourists enjoy better services, cheaper prices and may take nicer photos.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? The best place for a tour operator for relaxation and energy recharging is a nice resort on a beach. Therefore, my potential holiday destinations are the Maldives Islands, Turkey and Lattakia in Syria.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? We have a good level of credibility among our clients as we describe the services we provide in detail and we highlight any problems such as the location of a hotel, safety procedures and plenty of additional points.

MARCH 5, 2011

Social Networking Sites Promote Holiday Bookings Following a poll with Skyscanner, which included criteria based on flight comparison, it has been revealed that social networking websites can help to encourage users to book holidays.


kyscanner indicates that the power of pictures has a very strong influence on specific social network’s travel plans as 52 percent state that seeing friends’ holiday pictures had inspired them to book a holiday to the same place. Sharing holiday snapshots through selected social networks with some more than 500 million users worldwide, is not only helping people stay connected in the virtual world, but also influencing people’s travels in the real world, suggested Sam Baldwin, travel editor, Skyscanner. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words and here is the proof,” Baldwin said.


“Facebook is the perfect platform for two very powerful influencers of travel; a personal recommendation combined with alluring images. From Orlando to Australia seeing our friends’ adventures can certainly plant a seed that later leads to a trip to somewhere you never previously thought about visiting.” A total of 45 percent of poll respondents indicated that specific social networking websites encourages them to visit their friends abroad more. Despite some recent reports that have claimed specific sites reduces real life contact, five percent of people said that using social networks actually meant they

were less likely to see their friends in person.

Facebook is the perfect platform for two very powerful influencers of travel; a personal recommendation combined with alluring images The Skyscanner survey also revealed that the website is playing an increasing role in the organisation of group travel with 46 percent of people having either organised or been invited on trip selected sites.

MARCH 5, 2011

Q&A with Nayef Al Fayez Nayef Al Fayez, managing director of Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), addresses how Jordan has been affected by the recent events in the region and emphasises on how Jordan continues to be a safe destination for tourists. Travel Trade Weekly: Recent developments in the region have played a significant role in most MENA countries, with regards to  the travel and tourism industry. How has Jordan been effected by the recent events? Nayef Al Fayez: Unfortunately, Jordan which is strategically located in the Middle East continues to suffer from the misconception portrayed in the news media about turmoil in the region. The portrayal in ongoing news coverage is that the entire Middle East region is in turmoil, which leads to the perceived image of danger in every inch of the region. However, the truth of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. Jordan continues to be a safe destination for tourists, and their experiences have not been affected in the slightest by current events.

Travel Trade Weekly: Have these events (like for some other destinations) benefited Jordan to receive traffic from travellers as an alternative and safe destination? Nayef Al Fayez: In some respects, yes. While some tourists have chosen to cancel their combined trips to Jordan and Egypt, some chose to just cancel the Egypt part of their trip and stay for a prolonged period in Jordan. It’s too early to estimate the effect of the crisis now whether it is negative or positive.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has 2011 been so far in tourism numbers and what are the predictions for the rest of the year?   Nayef Al Fayez: Currently, we only have figures for January, which shows an increase in total overnight visitors equaling 4.8 percent, an increase of 11.8 percent in MARCH 5, 2011

overnight visitors from Europe, and 12.9 percent in overnight visitors from the US. As for predictions for the rest of the year, we do not have any figures of our own; however, the WTO predicts that the total number of visitors to the Middle East will show an increase of around 14 percent.

Jordan continues to be a safe destination for tourists, and their experiences have not been affected in the slightest by current events Travel Trade Weekly: Have you seen any significant changes in tourism in the past two years in terms of business versus leisure mix and new market changes? Nayef Al Fayez: Business travellers are increasing in Jordan as there are more companies. This is attributed to Jordan’s strategic location, well developed infrastructure, having professional DMCs, world class facilities and most importantly wonderful historical sites that make the visit to Jordan a experience to remember. We continue to maintain source markets and yet opening up to new markets. We have started by opening an office in India which is considered our entry point to the east, and launched other marketing activities in high potential markets such as South America, Scandanavian countries and Southeast Asia.

Travel Trade Weekly: Any news and developments or future plans that JTB would like to share with us?   Nayef Al Fayez: JTB is currently focusing on launching the Dead Sea as a Natural Wonder destination. The voting for the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World is taking place this year, and we are

Nayef Al Fayez

hopeful and confident that the Dead Sea will get the recognition it deserves from all people who visited it and experience the magical wonders it offers to its visitors. We are also launching Jordan as a family destination where kids of all ages can enjoy various activities, as well as a bonding experience for the family as a whole. In 2012, we will be celebrating 200 years since the rediscovery of our lost ancient red rose city of Petra, where many events and activities will take place in the city of Petra. As for marketing initiatives, JTB is emphasising its presence on social networking sites and the internet. We have different websites launching, as well as iPhone and iPad applications, and increased activity on all our social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. For instance, we shot testimonials of tourists while they were visiting various sites in Jordan, and asked them what they thought of the experience so far. Their opinions can all be found on our pages, reaffirming the positive experiences to be found in Jordan, along with the unified feeling of safety while in the country. 23

New US Exhibition Nears Maximum Capacity More than 90 percent of exhibition space has been sold for the new Americas Meetings and Events Exhibition (AIBTM). In excess of 3,000 industry professionals are expected to attend the Baltimore event that will take place June 20-23, and an outstanding number of 2,000 will be individually qualified corporate, agency, incentive and association hosted-buyers. Steve Knight, project director, AIBTM, feels that the opportunities to drive business during the AIBTM and America Meetings Week, are endless. “There are a whole host of valuable networking functions to choose from. A

welcome reception exclusively for AIBTM hosted buyers, the CIC Hall of leaders gala and the Visit Baltimore welcome party are just a few of the networking events happening this week.” In recent weeks, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Germany, China and Moscow have all committed to attend the exhibition, while Argentina has increased its space due to high demand. From within the US, Sonoma Tourism Board, Freeman, Experient, Visit Newport Beach and Wyoming Travel and Tourism add to the broad array of destinations and technology companies set to exhibit.

AIBTM 2011 opens with the AIBTM Education Day, dedicated solely to professional education, on June 21. Education sessions will also take place on the mornings of June 22 and 23, allowing exhibitors, hosted buyers and trade buyers’ access to education without impacting their ability to conduct business on the show floor later in the day.

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

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

IMEX Frankfurt, Germany, May 24-26, 2011 ( Worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings & events.


MARCH 5, 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 69  

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