Travel Trade Weekly Issue 79

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Middle East and North Africa Edition

May 14, Issue 79

Hilton WorldWide oPenS FiVe HotelS in Middle eaSt and aFrica

The Rezidor Hotel Group announced the opening of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Downtown. The opening marks the hotel chain’s seventh property in the UAE.

Hilton Worldwide has opened five hotels across the Uae, egypt, Jordan, the indian ocean and South africa since the start of this year, adhering to the company’s plan to expand across the Middle east and africa.

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In This Issue Market Update Weekly News Accommodation News International News Air Travel News Agents’ Corner Travel Talk Who’s Moved Travel Channels Rendezvous Events MaY 14, 2011

4 6 14 18 22 26 28 29 30 31 32 iSSUe 79

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Downtown Opens

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Etihad: Most Successful Quarter One

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel Journalists rita Kasziba duncan Macrae Marianna Keen 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 www.traveltradeweekly.travel Emails info@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

Etihad has recorded its most successful first quarter (Q1) to date, with a significant increase of 21 percent in revenues and positive EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and rentals).

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he airline’s revenues totalled USd770 million after the first three months of the year compared with USd635 million following the same period of 2010, due to strong performances in both passenger and cargo traffic. The compelling figures coupled with a sound 5.9 percent reduction in costs per available seat kilometer, resulted in positive eBitdar for the first time in Q1. With passenger numbers up 10.6 percent (to over 1.8 million), passenger revenues increased by 15 percent. This is despite seat factor falling nearly three percent to 72.7 percent, attributable to the robust impact of the Middle east turmoil and the Japanese earthquake. Meanwhile, cargo revenues rose 44 percent along a capacity growth of 22 percent, leading etihad crystal cargo to achieve its best month to date in terms of revenues, number of shipments and tonnage carried.

The promising results mark a major step towards etihad’s goal, commented James Hogen, ceo. “i am pleased to report more positive progress on our journey towards break-even and profitability. our revenues continue to grow faster than our passenger numbers and, thanks to our robust cost controls, we are seeing a real benefit in our overall performance. This marks the first time we have delivered positive eBitdar in Q1.” in spite of difficult times, the carrier continued to expand and increase frequencies, highlighted Hogan. “These results were achieved despite significant challenges in our operating environment. This quarter saw unrest in a number of Middle east countries, which has clearly resulted in lower traffic into those markets. The earthquake in Japan in early March has also had an impact. our ability to respond to these situations is a reflection of the growing maturity and underlying strength of the business.”

Air Arabia: Continued Profit MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 12/5/2011 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)

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CURRENCY dirham Pound riyal Pound dinar dinar Pound dinar riyal rial dinar dirham riyal rial dinar dinar

1USD= 3.67 5.94 3.75 1,502.5 0.37 0.71 47.45 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.39 7.96 10,56 215.25 71.14 1.19

air arabia has recorded yet another profitable quarter despite a slight dip in net profit. The low cost carrier’s net profit for the first three months ending March 31, totalled aed44.2 million (USd12.03 million), a decrease of 12 percent from aed50 million (USd13.61 million) in the same period of 2010. The turnover accounted for aed513 million (USd139.67 million), representing an increase of six percent over quarter one 2010. Passenger volume rose by 11 percent, reaching 1.2 million, while average seat load factor stood at 85 percent. Sheikh abdullah Bin Mohammad al Thani, chairman, air arabia, elaborated on the performance. “We are satisfied with our results for the first quarter of this year that is in line with our expectations, given the region’s uncertainty that has adversely affected the sector. Though the region has clearly shown positive signs indicating the emergence from the more serious effects of the global financial downturn, the rise in fuel costs continues to challenge regional carriers. despite this, air arabia has shown strong resilience and remains on a path of steady growth.” The carrier has continuously enhanced its fleet and route map in accordance with its growth plan. “as we continue to build on the success of the airline’s expansion strategy into new markets in europe, africa and asia, air arabia remains committed to expanding the size and capacity of its fleet, while providing its customers the best value for money,” concluded Sheikh abdullah. MaY 14, 2011


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Shurooq Debuts Khorfakkan Project Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) is poised to launch its Khorfakkan Resort & Spa project.

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.e. Marwan bin Jassim al Sarkal, ceo, Shurooq, introduced the project at the arabian travel Market

(atM) last week. “Shurooq’s participation in atM is in line

with its objective of promoting the emirate of Sharjah as a leading regional investment and tourism destination. in line with this objective we are delighted to announce the launch of the Khorfakkan resort & Spa. Situated on a natural hillside beside a private cove with a white

sandy beach, the Khorfakkan resort & Spa is sure to become a much sought-after retreat. inspired by the region’s traditional architecture and way of life, it will feature a five-star luxury resort and amenities catering to a discerning audience.” The project will present two interlinked concepts: an exclusive 170-suite resort for guests and a fort that will be accessible for public and will also serve as the primary entry point into the resort. Besides a reception area it will also house dining facilities, a swimming pool, a spa and gym as well as business services. Shurooq is currently in negotiations with a number of international five star hotel operators to manage the resort. The 170-suite ‘hill town’ will feature a town square with cafes and restaurants as well as a plaza that will offer a relaxed environment at night. Shurooq was established in 2009 with the aim of driving the social, cultural, environmental and economic development of Sharjah. The authority’s scope of work focuses on encouraging further investments and nourishing tourism-related projects.

Khorfakkan Resort & Spa project 6

MaY 14, 2011



New Dubai Classification Scheme Launched The Dubai Government’s tourism licensing and promotional body, The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), launched a new hotel classification scheme on May 2, in line with the organisation’s vision to guide the emirate’s growing tourism industry.

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he Guest accommodation classification Scheme added a budget hotel category that has been kept outside the one to five star rating as well as new classification criteria for resorts, guest houses, timeshare properties, youth hostels, self-catering residences and university campus accommodations. in the new system, a new category, accolades, will communicate the exceptional level of luxury guest accommodation available in the emirate of dubai. it will identify those five-star hotels and resorts that consistenly exceeds

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Dubai

expectations and reward them with gold or platinum status. to support the successful implementation of the new quality standards, dtcM has

invested in extensive training programmes for all assessors and the ongoing development of classification software to automate the entire process.

MaY 14, 2011



Oman Targets GCC and India Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has altered its marketing strategy to focus on attracting short-term leisure and MICE business from the GCC and India. The Ministry will also start a global awareness campaign this year.

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alem al Mamari, director general of tourism promotions, Ministry of tourism, elaborated on the refocus. “The events of recent months have brought our industry together and reinforced the value of the

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Gcc and indian markets, with our latest discussions highlighting the underlying value of these areas. The Ministry takes the view that it is in the collective interest of all Gcc tourism authorities to more aggressively promote the region in their respective communications to the travel

trade and consumers, and to look at coordinated measures such as visas that promote intra-regional travel.” The Ministry’s altered strategy also strives to ulitise the great potential of intraregional tourism. “The growing transit passenger market is relatively unaffected by recent events in the Middle east, so in an environment where passenger transit growth outstrips arrivals it is in our common interest to think and act regionally in our communications and to bring forward practical measures to stimulate intra-regional travel,” added al Mamari. as part of its initiatives to advertise oman globally, the Ministry has just implemented a direct-toconsumer promotion in the UK. “We used the campaign as a soft launch for our summer campaign which has three components: resorts and hotels; the cool destinations of the Hajar Mountains, oman’s east coast and Masirah island and dhofar/Salalah – the destination of choice from July to late September. You will see these elements showcased in the roll-out of our print and web collateral,” said the director general. in addition, the Ministry also plans a road show in india along with various promotion campaigns. “our recent work in the indian market had piqued our interest and we are looking at a number of initiatives over summer. indigo airlines’ decision to start daily services between Mumbai and Muscat from next august is a positive indicator of growing travel demand for oman and bodes well for our future tourism and hospitality links,” concluded al Mamari. MaY 14, 2011



Monte-Carlo to Debut in the Middle East Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is planning to introduce its Monte-Carlo brand to the Middle East in September with the opening of Saadiyat’s first beach club.

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he exclusive club will represent the values and heritage of Monte-carlo SBM’s sister hotels and clubs in europe in a distinctive arabian way. The 39,500 m2 venue will offer residents and visitors alike a wide range of services and facilities, including a private beach lounge, a kids’ area, an outdoor swimming pool and a health and fitness centre. in addition, it will feature a selection of dining

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options. after sunset, the club will transform into an evening hotspot providing sophisticated entertainment. The beach club, located on the renowned tourism hotspot of Saadiyat Beach, will be nestled between two luxury hotel resorts, and will provide direct access to the arabian Gulf and the Saadiyat Beach Golf club. tdic, the developer of several cultural, residential and tourism destinations in abu dhabi, scheduled the opening for September.

Dubai Expert Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (dtcM) has launched dubai expert, a new online travel training programme in its key overseas markets to further promote the destination. The user-friendly programme, which is based on state-of-the-art software and technology, provides various information on dubai such as leisure and business destinations which are ideal for families, adventure, shopping or for cruising. dtcM, the developer and manager of the programme, expects dubai expert to assist travel trade partners to sell dubai as a destination of choice for their customers.

MaY 14, 2011



- Accommodation

Hilton Worldwide Hits the Ground Running with Openings Across Middle East and Africa Hilton Worldwide has opened five hotels across the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, the Indian Ocean and South Africa since the start of this year, adhering to the company’s plan to expand across the Middle East and Africa.

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he company has also signed agreements for four new properties in the Mea across four of its brands, which include the Hilton Sharjah, Waldorf astoria ras al Khaimah, Hilton Garden inn doha al Sadd and doubletree by Hilton, dubai al Barsha. rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle east and africa, Hilton Worldwide, observed the growth and opportunities that the hotel company is being faced with in the region. “We’ve hit the ground running in 2011

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and we’re experiencing a fantastic rate of growth.” Hilton Worldwide recently opened its first hotel in Jordan, the doubletree by Hilton aqaba, and it also plans to debut in namibia, Qatar and equatorial Guinea during this year. in total, Hilton Worldwide expects to have opened 10 hotels across the Middle east and africa by the end of the year, and it anticipates growing its presence in the area by nearly 80 percent over the coming three to four years. Hilton Worldwide currently operates 49 hotels and one convention centre in the Middle east and

DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba

africa, with 15,000 rooms and more than 17,000 team members across 15 countries.

MaY 14, 2011


- Accommodation Starwood Announces Growth in UAE Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced plans to expand its presence by opening the 220-room Four Points by Sheraton Sharjah, in 2013.

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he hotel will form part of a mixed-use oďŹƒce, residential, retail and hotel development situated across from the central Souk area of the city. roeland Vos, president, Starwood Hotels & resorts, europe, africa, Middle east, commented on the hotel chain’s decision to expand its presence in Sharjah. “With the combination of rich culture and tradition, a robust economy and endless sunshine, Sharjah is poised to revive its position as a major travel destination in the region.â€?

The Four Points by Sheraton Sharjah Hotel, will feature 187 rooms and 33 suites, a fitness centre, an outdoor pool, four meeting rooms and a business centre. Hasan ahmad ibrahim al Marzouqi, hotel owner, Four Points by Sheraton Sharjah, expressed his delight in signing the operating services agreement for the Starwood hotel. “We are very proud to contribute with this prestigious project to the tourist industry in Sharjah and the Uae.� Starwood currently operates three Four Points by Sheraton hotels in the Uae, all located in dubai.

Downtown Opens The Rezidor Hotel Group announced on May 8 the opening of the radisson Blu Hotel, dubai downtown. The opening marks the hotel chain’s seventh property in the Uae. Kurt ritter, president and ceo, rezidor, remarked on the growth in the hotel market. “The opening of this property is a further sign for the positive and optimistic atmosphere within our industry which we also felt during aHic and atM last week. The markets are bouncing back and we see revPar increasing – fuelled by both occupancy and rate.� located on the upper floors of a mixed use building, the hotel borders Business Bay, a mega project covering an area of 6 million m2, which is designed to be the new centre of dubai commerce. in addition to 220 contemporary rooms and 22 suites, the hotel features ample meeting facilities including six conference rooms, two board rooms and a business centre.

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MaY 14, 2011

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- Accommodation

Seven Saudi Arabian Hotels Due To Open Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has completed seven hotels in Saudi Arabia, which are due to open in the near future.

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he hotels represent three of the group’s four brands, serving luxury and midmarket segments, and will increase the existing HMH inventory of rooms in Saudi arabia by almost 44 percent. Michel noblet, president and ceo, HMH, believes that the new hotels will give the company greater access to the Saudi market, which is growing quickly as demand for rooms soars. “Str Global’s February 2011 report for Saudi arabia revealed a significant increase in occupancy and revPar in the country. overall, Saudi arabia saw occupancy rates rise by more than nine

percent, adr rates increase by nearly 10 percent and revPar soar by nearly 20 percent. our new properties are ideally placed to take advantage of this growth and are an excellent representation of our brand’s offering of world-class business and leisure facilities.”

STR Global’s February 2011 report for Saudi Arabia revealed a significant increase in occupancy and RevPAR in the country “despite the recent economic and political turmoil, HMH’s growth remains strong in the country as well as the region. We have

Coral Beach Hotel - Jubail

continued to execute our expansion strategy in the region irrespective of the difficult times,” added noblet. “The bottom line is you need to know how to market your hotels, and that is the only way to be successful in today’s challenging business environment.”

Marriott to Introduce Residence Inn Marriott International announced its plans to introduce the residence inn brand to Bahrain later this year. The residence inn by Marriott Juffair, will be the first residence inn-branded property in the Middle east. Situated in the Juffair district of Manama, the 78-room hotel caters for extended stay travellers, with each suite offering a fully-equipped kitchen and separate living area. ed Fuller, president and managing director for international lodging, Marriott, demonstrated his enthusiasm in the hotel chain’s expansion. “We’re thrilled by the continued expansion of our presence in Bahrain and are excited to introduce our third lodging brand in the country, giving travellers a growing choice in accommodation when they visit the country.” Marriott announced it would also operate a residence inn-branded property in Jizan, Saudi arabia in 2012 and another in algiers in Ed Fuller (left) and Shaikh Hisham Abdulrahman Al-Khalifa 2014. 16

MaY 14, 2011


- Accommodation

Sol Meliá to debut in GCC Sol Meliá, the Spanish resort hotel chain is poised to introduce its first property in the Middle East. The fivestar ‘urban-resort’ in Dubai is scheduled to open in October.

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he opening of the 164room Melia dubai on october 12 will represent the company’s foray in the Gulf coinciding with the Spanish national day. andre Gerondeau, executive vice president, hotels division, Sol Meliá Hotels and resorts, elaborated on the debut. “This is our first property in the arabian Gulf and the first step to realising our expansion plans for the region. We are currently negotiating with potential partners in Qatar, Saudi arabia and Jordan and we hope to make further announcements in the near future." The new property, which will feature five

MaY 14, 2011

food and beverage outlets, a full service spa, a rooftop swimming pool with Spanish tapas bar and an executive floor, is expected to attract a wide range of travellers. Gilles longuet, general manager, Meliá dubai, commented on the guest profile for the property. “our target guest mix is 50-50 business and leisure, targeting Gcc nationals, indians, Germans, British, Spanish, Greeks, French and Brazilians.” daniel lozano, senior vice president, Melia brand, described the aed200 million (USd54.45 million) investment as a strategic venture. “We chose dubai because this is the commercial hub for the region and we felt our

brand attributes would suit such a cosmopolitan market. We believe that our traditional Spanish hospitality can offer a new dimension to customers in the region, while still appealing to arab guests. our brand strength in Germany, UK, italy and elsewhere in europe, will give us a competitive edge when we begin our marketing campaigns in these regions for inbound business to dubai. We can also use that leverage to secure outbound business.” a total of eight brands represent Sol Meliá around the world, of which the luxury brand, Gran Meliá and the lifestyle brand, Me by Meliá are expected to appeal the most to guests and investors alike in the Middle east.

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- International

Germany Announces Record-Breaking Visitor Numbers Overnight stays by visitors to Germany from abroad totalled 60.3 million in the period spanning from January to December 2010, according to the latest figures from the German Federal Statistical Office.

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he report also shows that the number of overnight stays by international travellers passed the 60-million mark for the first time. The figures represent an increase of 10 percent compared with 2009, illustrating an upward trend in both holiday and business travel. the arabian Gulf is one of its stronger growth markets, with the number of overnight stays reaching 968,336 in 2010 (by visitors from this region). this is an impressive increase of 26.4 percent compared with 2009, when 766,089 overnight stays by Gulf arabs were registered in Germany. the

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German national tourist Board (GntB) expects this number to reach 2.3 million by 2020. antje roeding-Boudier, director of marketing and sales, Gulf countries, German national tourist office (Gnto), commented that the figures prove that Germany is becoming increasingly popular with foreign visitors. “i am particularly pleased about the high number of overnight stays by visitors from the arabian Gulf. With almost one million overnight stays recorded for this group, the Gulf region is now the fourth strongest overseas source market for Germany. “Between January and december 2010,

Lake Constance

26.4 percent more overnight stays by Gcc travellers were recorded, compared with the figures of 2009 when this number stood at 766,089. This shows an increase of 202,247 overnight stays.”

MaY 14, 2011



- International

French Hotel Given Palace Status Hotel Le Bristol, Paris, has become the first French hotel to be officially granted ‘palace’ status, one year after it was awarded a fifth star. The luxury hotel is now the only european family-owned palace, having belonged to only two families since it opened in 1925. didier le calvez, chairman and general manager, Hotel le Bristol, Paris, noted that the new distinction is bound to improve the hotel’s reputation around the world. “in a highly competitive environment, this distinction will valorise exceptional hotels like le Bristol on the international scene. This award wouldn’t have been possible without the confidence and the regular investments made by the oetker Group since 1978, and le Bristol’s staff, who work hard to be the best, every day. The ‘palace’ status enhances French influence abroad and confirms le Bristol’s position Didier Le Calvez as an exceptional hotel.”

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MaY 14, 2011



- Air News

Oman Air Resumes Flights Oman Air recommences services between Salalah and Dubai as well as Muscat and Zanzibar.

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he national carrier of oman restarted the operation to dubai from May 4, just before the Salalah tourism Festival. abdulrazaq alraisi, chief commercial oďŹƒcer, oman air, elaborated on the twice weekly flights. “The number of tourists from the Gulf states visiting Salalah during the annual Khareef season has been steadily increasing. With our direct flights we are sure we can cater to more enthusiastic travellers who wish to escape the sizzling summer heat of much of the arabian Gulf for the cool climate Al Qasba - Travel Trade Weekly - 14and May 2011Monsoon Trim: 112mm x 155mm Bleed: x 165mm season.â€? showers of122mm Khareef The airline will reinstate Zanzibar to its

route map from May 16. alraisi commented on the resuming services. “oman air is very happy and excited to bring back Zanzibar to our network. it is a unique destination in terms of tourism

potential as well as business and commercial prospects. oman has friendly relations with Zanzibar and represents our third destination in africa and second in tanzania�.

flydubai Introduces New Key Flights to Saudi Arabia

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flydubai announced it has inaugurated two new routes to Saudi arabia, with flights departing for riyadh and Jeddah from dubai. Ghaith al Ghaith, ceo, flydubai, demonstrated gratitude to the Saudi authorities for their hand in launching the new venture, and verified his confidence in the aordability and popularity of the new service. “i would like to thank the Saudi authorities for their assistance and dedication in helping to get these new routes o the ground. Saudi has long been a focal point for flydubai, so we are delighted to add riyadh and Jeddah to our growing list of destinations. and with so many people travelling between the Uae and Saudi arabia every month for business and leisure, we are confident our aordable service will prove popular in the months ahead.â€? in addition to the commercial hubs of Jeddah and riyadh, flydubai destinations in Saudi arabia Rabih Saab (left) include Gassim, Ghaith Al Ghaith Yanbu and abha. MaY 14, 2011


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- Air News

UAE Airline Teams Up With Royal Jet Etihad Airways has launched a new premium travel service portfolio, Premium Connect, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with private charter service provider Royal Jet.

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he agreement will enable passengers to access a bespoke and personalised service to single or multiple destinations beyond etihad’s extensive network. Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, etihad, revealed that Premium connect will consist of a portfolio of carefully selected luxury travel partnerships. “if a guest’s journey continues beyond abu dhabi, etihad will be able to offer them a number of onward private travel options through Premium connect. royal Jet’s wide-ranging fleet includes some of the most luxurious, sophisticated

and technologically-advanced private jets in the world and is an ideal launch partner for this unique travel solution for the discerning traveller.”

If a guest’s journey continues beyond Abu Dhabi, Etihad will be able to offer them a number of onward private travel options Shane o’Hare, ceo, royal Jet, commented that the service extends etihad’s premium service through royal Jet’s ability to provide high levels of luxury, flexibility, responsiveness and

discretion to today’s sophisticated traveller. “This will be achieved through absolute service excellence supported by a diverse product offering and an exceptional team of highly qualified professionals.”

Qatar Executive to Add Three New Aircraft to its Fleet Qatar Airways revealed plans for its corporate jet division, Qatar executive, to expand its fleet with the addition of three new Bombardier aircraft. The incoming deliveries will include a Bombardier XrS in May, followed by a challenger 605 in July, and a Global 5000 in august, the latter of which is the second delivery from an order for two Global 5000s announced at the Farnborough air Show in July 2010. The move by Qatar airways responds to the surge in private travel in the Middle east and worldwide. akbar al Baker, ceo, Qatar airways, commented on the rapid growth in the corporate jet travel market. “When Qatar executive first began, it was a successful operation right from the start. The travel patterns we witnessed from the onset were indicative of the pent-up demand for tailor-made and completely customised travel. it immediately became obvious that we were filling a gap in a market which has grown rapidly, particularly in the Middle east region.”

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MaY 14, 2011


- Air News

Gulf Air Adds New Summer Flights Gulf Air has added more flights, seats and flight options to a number of its key destinations, as well as creating three new destinations this summer.

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ore than 1,700 seats have been added per week to the existing summer flights to meet increasing passenger demand, while services to Kabul, copenhagen and nairobi will soon be launched. Karim Makhlouf, commercial officer, Gulf air, commented that the airline expects demand for its services to be high this summer. “Summer has always been a busy season with schools closed for vacation and people travelling abroad to spend their holidays in popular summer destinations visiting friends, family and relatives or simply to escape the heat, and we have always seen a tremendous rush for tickets.

Many of Gulf air’s destinations are very popular with customers in Bangkok, colombo, istanbul, Kathmandu and Manila. These markets are already witnessing over 80 percent bookings, and come summer, the demand will be even higher”. The airline has ensured it meets the summer rush by increasing frequencies and

operating bigger aircraft. in addition, the introduction of split schedules on some routes will allow flexibility for customers including arrival and departure options according to their leisure needs. The split schedule also offers better onward connectivity options for those travelling to other destinations via Bahrain.

Airberlin More Dubai Flights Airberlin has revealed plans to increase the number of flights to dubai from Berlin-tegel, starting with its winter schedule 2011-2012. The German carrier will now be the only airline providing service between the German capital and dubai five times a week, with the new connections now available for bookings. domestic connections offered by the airline include düsseldorf, cologne-Bonn and Munich. The airline also offers connecting flights from airports including Barcelona, Gothenburg, copenhagen, Helsinki, Moscow, Stockholm, Vienna and Zurich. MaY 14, 2011

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India Favours Homegrown Online Travel Agents indian travellers prefer local online travel agencies (ota) to their bigger, global counterparts, according to a recent report by travel industry research company PhocusWright. PhocusWright’s indian online travel traffic report tracks the growth of india’s online travel population. it revealed that more than 40 percent of internet users visited the online travel category in quarter four of 2010, representing a 45 percent increase in unique visitors year on year. in comparison, the total internet audience grew only 13 percent over the same period. otas are playing a major role in driving online travel booking growth, with traffic to otas growing faster than that to both the airline and hotel supplier categories, increasing 65 percent from quarter four of 2009 to quarter four of 2010. in quarter four of 2010, otas attracted more than double the unique monthly visitors of airlines and nearly seven times more than hotel websites. in many major travel markets around the globe, otas and supplier websites wage fierce battles over online market share. in india, however, local otas are beating not only airlines and hotels in terms of traffic, but also their own global counterparts.

Agent’s Insight Name: Isaaf Nahas Position: General Manager Company: Nahas Travel and Tourism Location: Syria Who are you?

Isaaf Nahas

My name is isaaf nahas and i am the general manager of nahas travel and tourism. i lived in Germany for several years before returning to Syria. i really enjoy working in the industry as i love being in contact with people and assist them with well organised and planned tours. Furthermore, i am really interested in art which is closely related to tourism, which explains why i enjoy restoring ancient houses in the old town.

What is your favorite thing about working in the travel industry? tourism brings people together and it leads to personal contact in which people are able to understand attitudes and beliefs, which have been previously incomprehensible due to the long distance. However, tourism builds a bridge over these gaps and helps to make friends across countries.

When is the best time to visit Syria? Syria is a country that can be visited all year around, but the best climate is from april to June and from october to november. However, booking is expected to be concluded in advance.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Mexico. as i heard people are really warm there and the country is full of culture which is somehow very close to the Syrian.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? as our slogan states ‘we don’t handle guests, we welcome them’. our staff is creative in putting together programmes and is really keen on satisfying specific requests. We care for details and always make sure that our clients enjoy the real flavour of Syria and its people. 26

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James Hogan

Helen Beck

CEO, Etihad Airways “The positive response to our services to iraq has exceeded expectations and is testament to the strong growth in relations between our two countries. We are committed to building strong and sustainable ties in this region and look forward to seeing continued strong demand on our services, particularly from government and business travellers, as well as people from iraq visiting family and friends around the world.”

Regional Director, International Representatives, EMEA, Royal Caribbean International “We are delighted to take home the award for the Middle east’s leading cruise line for the second year running. This award is a real testament to our dedicated employees who go above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service every day. We are committed to providing our customers with a friendly and personal service and have worked hard to perfect our Gold anchor Service to inspire our guests to come back again and again.”

We are committed to building strong and sustainable ties in this region

James Hogan

We are delighted to take home the award for the Middle East’s Leading Cruise Line for the second year running

Helen Beck

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 editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

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Antoine Flouty

Antoine Flouty antoine Flouty has been appointed as resident manager at intercontinental (iHG) Jordan. Flouty, who has more than 14 years of experience in the hospitality industry with iHG, has previously held several managerial positions in various cities including Manama, abu dhabi, doha and Beirut. Most recently he worked as resident manager of intercontinental regency, Bahrain. Besides diplomas in hospitality management and hotel and restaurant management, Flouty has solid expertise in re-branding, refurbishment, openings and managing teams.

Tareq Daoud tareq daoud has been appointed as area director of worldwide sales – Gcc for Hyatt Hotels & resorts. daoud will be in charge of executing Hyatt’s growth strategy in the Gcc, a key region to the global expansion of the company. daoud, who brings solid background and sales expertise to his new role, joined Hyatt in 2002, as associate director of sales and has most recently held the position of associate director of sales and marketing at Grand Hyatt dubai. Prior to joining Hyatt, he worked in Jordan, Saudi arabia and Qatar with several luxury hotel brands.

Tareq Daoud MaY 14, 2011

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IATA Reveals Latest International Traffic Figures The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that growth in passenger demand has slowed recently, while freight markets are on the top.

S

cheduled international traffic results for March this year, showed that year-on-year growth in passenger demand had slowed to 3.8 percent from the 5.8 percent recorded in February. conversely, year-on-year growth in freight markets rebounded to 3.7 percent in March from the 1.8 percent recorded in February. Global passenger demand fell by 0.3 percent in March compared with February, while cargo demand expanded by 4.5 percent. Giovanni Bisignani, director general and ceo, iata, commented on the latest

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results. “The profile of the recovery in air transport sharply decelerated in March. The global industry lost two percentage points of demand as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the political unrest in the region.”

The profile of the recovery in air transport sharply decelerated in March disruptions in Mena, caused by political unrest, cut international travel by 0.9

percent, with egypt and tunisia experiencing traffic levels up to 25 percent below the norm for March. Military action in libya virtually stopped civil aviation to, from and within the country. The tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan caused a one percent loss of global international traffic in March.

MaY 14, 2011


Q & A with Steve Knight The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition (AIBTM), to be held in June 21-23, in Baltimore, prides itself as the first large-scale exhibition of its kind to bring together the entire meetings and events industry of the world in one US location. Steve Knight, project director, AIBTM, talks about the events inimitable business opportunities. Travel Trade Weekly: Will AIBTM their business goals achieved. no other operations be different in any significant industry event in north america even ways to those of the EIBTM? Has an comes close to delivering this many appointment-based meetings structure meeting minutes over two days. proved popular in the past with businesses from all nations? Travel Trade Weekly: Will the event Steve Knight: The formula for aiBtM be held in Baltimore every year or are is similar to that of iBtM’s portfolio of other locations being considered? events around the world, however, it is an Steve Knight: We have no plans at this event strategically placed in the US to serve the US meetings industry. US domestic buyers will have the opportunity to purchase from US-based suppliers, US buyers can purchase from international suppliers and international buyers can purchase from US suppliers. The Hosted Buyer Programme, which matches exhibitors and buyers together to do business, has been a driving force in the development of reed travel exhibition events, which include aiMe, ciBtM, GiBtM and eiBtM, the leading global events for the meetings and events industry. The Programme is a popular format that is recognised by the international meetings industry. With the pre-scheduled appointment system, there is no unnecessary wasted time in setting up meetings, as from the outset we bring together people who want to meet and do business, delivering a strong return on investment. aiBtM will attract over 3,000 meeting professionals from all over the world, 2,000 of which will be individually qualified Hosted Buyers. over 700 global exhibiting companies are available at the Hosted Buyers’ disposal for eight prescheduled one-to-one appointments per day, this means 640,000 minutes of meetings will take place during two days, guaranteeing that time is maximised and MaY 14, 2011

stage to change the host city for aiBtM. Baltimore was chosen as the location for aiBtM for a number of reasons, none more important than its proximity and ease of access to the vast eastern seaboard meeting and events community.

AIBTM will attract over 3,000 meeting professionals from all over the world, 2,000 of which will be individually qualified Hosted Buyers Travel Trade Weekly: From what markets has the event attracted most demand this year? Are there any exhibitors from the Middle East and North Africa region? Steve Knight: The exhibiting community at aiBtM includes regional US as well as international – those looking to do business with outbound meetings from the US. There are a significant number of national tourist organisations and convention bureaus including Meet taiwan, Switzerland tourism, Barcelona cVB, Madrid convention Bureau, new orleans Metropolitan convention & Visitors

Steve Knight

Bureau, Philadelphia, turespaña, Puerto rico convention Bureau, costa rica tourism Board, Jamaica tourist Board, tourism australia, Malaysia convention & exhibition Bureau, Brazil, German convention Bureau, china, Moscow exhibition and convention agency and argentina. Middle east and north african exhibitors include, egyptian tourist authority, laico Hotels & resorts (tunisia), abu dhabi tourism authority, and Government of dubai. They join hotels and venues including brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Marriott Hotels and Starwood Hotels and resorts, Hyatt Hotels and resorts, intercontinental Hotel Group, Fairmontraffles-Swissôtel Hotels & resorts, Sofitel luxury Hotels, langham Hotels international, carnival cruise lines, revel atlantic city and George Mason University.

Travel Trade Weekly: How much capacity is still remaining at the event to be held this June? Steve Knight: at the beginning of april 2011, 97 percent of booth space had already been sold. 31


ADNEC Increases Exhibition Space The available event space at abu dhabi national exhibitions company’s (adnec) al ain convention centre in the Uae, has been increased with the opening of the first phase of a major development. The new halls were opened by H.H. Sheikh tahnoon Bin Mohammed al nahyan, ruler’s representative in the eastern region of abu dhabi, and boosts the event space at the venue to more than 20,000m2. This includes the brand new 6,000m2 al Khabisi Hall 2, the 6,600m2 al Khabisi Hall 1 and an 8,125m2 outdoor event area. H.H. Sheikh tahnoon, noted adnec’s successful efforts to develop the venue to a world class standard and highlighted the significant impact the new facilities at the al ain convention centre would have in promoting the city of al ain as well as the

wider eastern region of abu dhabi. adnec aims to develop al ain convention centre into a landmark project that will draw an expanded range of events to al ain, including corporate

events and concerts, besides the current portfolio of exhibitions and conferences. This will enable event organisers to tap further into the commercial potential of al ain city.

Events The Hotel Show Asia Luxury Travel Market Dubai, UAE, May 17-19, 2011 Shanghai, China, June 13-16, 2011 (www.thehotelshow.com) (www.altm.com.cn) a hospitality event for the Mena, Gcc and emerging an event showcasing the world's most sought after destinations markets. and travel experiences to travel buyers from across the asia Pacific. International Pow Wow San Francisco, US, May 21-25, 2011 (www.ustravel.org/events/international-pow-wow) an international marketplace and the largest generator of Visit USa.

CITY FAIR The European Cities Travel Workshop London, UK, June 20, 2011 (www.cityfair.travel) a one day event of pre-scheduled appointments dedicated to the sector of city tourism.

IMEX Frankfurt, Germany, May 24-26, 2011 (www.imex-frankfurt.com) a worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events.

AIBTM Baltimore, US, June 21-23, 2011 (www.aibtm.com) a US event for the business travel and meetings industry.

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