Travel Trade Weekly Issue 80

Page 1

Middle East and North Africa Edition

May 21, Issue 80

Abu Dhabi’s cruise industry has intensified its role in the emirate’s tourism sector after the arrival of yet another cruise line vessel.

Sheraton to Manage new Dubai ProPerty Starwood hotels & resorts worldwide has signed an agreement with abdulsalam alrafi group to open a new Sheraton hotel in Dubai.


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In This Issue Market Update Weekly News Accommodation News International News Air Travel News Cruising News Agents’ Corner Travel Talk Who’s Moved Travel Channels Rendezvous Events May 21, 2011

4 5 14 20 22 25 26 28 29 30 31 32 iSSue 80

Abu Dhabi’s Cruise Industry On-Track


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi Journalists rita Kasziba Duncan Macrae Marianna Keen

Wyndham: Exceeded Expectations Wyndham Worldwide has reported strong financial results for the first quarter (Q1) of the year with significantly increased revenues.


he company’s revenues totalled uSD952 million, representing a Design & Layout growth of 7.4 percent over Q1 elina Pericleous 2010. The increase came as a Sales & Marketing result of continued sales Dimitris Thomaidis momentum across the three business units Directors (lodging, vacation exchange and rentals and andreas Constantinides vacation ownership) and incremental Mary Kammitsi contributions from acquisitions. reported net Headquarters income rose by 44 percent to uSD72 million, P.o. box 25255 while free cash flow grew by 11 percent to uSD185 nicosia 1308 Cyprus million in the first three months of the year. tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Stephen holmes, chairman and Ceo, wyndham worldwide, commented on the Website performance. “we are pleased to report that 2011 started as Emails 2010 ended, with strong operating performance and accelerating earnings per share growth. we delivered strong operating performance across all our businesses and are confident in

the sustainability of our growth and cash flow. our confidence in growth and cash flow generation is reflected in our substantial share repurchase activity so far this year, the significant increase in our share repurchase program, and the previously announced 25 percent increase in our dividend for 2011.”

We are pleased to report that 2011 started as 2010 ended, with strong operating performance and accelerating earnings per share growth in addition, the company repurchased approximately 8.2 million shares of its common stock at an average price of uSD31.01 for approximately uSD255 million and the board of directors approved a uSD500 million increase to the share repurchase authorisation.

Starwood Sells Chicago Property MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 19/5/2011 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)


CURRENCY Dirham Pound riyal Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar riyal rial Dinar Dirham riyal rial Dinar Dinar

1USD= 3.67 5.95 3.75 1,511.98 0.37 0.71 47.40 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.38 7.93 10,603 214.50 72.29 1.22

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has completed the sale of w Chicago City Centre, although will continue to operate the property. Chesapeake Lodging trust purchased the hotel for uSD128.8 million, approximately uSD350,000 per key. in terms of a 40-year management agreement, Starwood will continue to operate the property under the w flag. Frits van Paasschen, president and Ceo, Starwood hotels & resorts, commented on the sale. “we continue to look for opportunities to sell high quality assets like w Chicago – City Centre as we complete our transition to an ‘asset light’ hospitality company. today, Starwood is increasingly focused on developing and operating distinct and compelling brands while delivering high quality experience that meet the changing needs and expectations of our global customers.” The 22-storey full-service luxury hotel, located in Chicago’s financial district, offers convenient access to several momentous buildings, including the willis tower, the Civic opera house, the Magnificent, the Millienium Park and the art institute of Chicago.

Today, Starwood is increasingly focused on developing and operating distinct and compelling brands May 21, 2011

UNWTO Reports International Tourism Growth in First Months of the Year According to a World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) study, international tourism levels increased by almost five percent during the first months of this year, with exceptions registered in the MENA region.


ollowing the seven percent escalation registered in 2010, figures from the april interim update of the unwto world tourism barometer indicate secure growth in the tourism market. all global regions registered a rebound during January and February, except for the Mena region. indicating a 15 percent increase, both South america and South asia led growth, followed by Sub-Saharan africa and Central and eastern europe. results were better than expected for europe, boosted by the recovery of Central and eastern europe and the temporary redistribution of travel to destinations in the continent due to developments in the Mena region. north africa registered a decrease in international tourist arrivals of nine percent, while the Middle east indicated negative growth of 10 percent. The americas was recorded in line with the world average, with five percent growth. taleb rifai, secretary general, unwto, commented on the results. “These results confirm that in spite of several challenges, the recovery of international tourism which was remarkably strong last year is consolidating.� worldwide, international tourist arrivals surpassed 124 million in the first two months of this year, up from 119 million in the same period of 2010, with emerging economies indicating growth two percentage points higher than advanced ones.

The recovery of international tourism which was remarkably strong last year is consolidating Taleb Rifai May 21, 2011


Route Opened Between Dubai and Hyberabad Budget airline flydubai has announced plans to launch flights to Hyberabad, its second Indian destination.


yberabad, nicknamed the City of Pearls, is the airline’s 37th destination and the new route will open up Southern india to travellers on flydubai’s rapidly expanding network. The flights will operate three-times-perweek and commence on June 11, providing the 1.4 million-strong indian

expat community in the uae with a lowcost connection to their home country during the peak summer holiday season. ghaith al ghaith, Ceo, flydubai, was delighted to announce hyderabad as the carrier’s latest destination. “There is a huge indian community in the uae and one of the reasons flydubai was established was to provide low cost, quality links to places the expat community in the

uae wish to travel to. hyderabad is an important new route for flydubai and goes a long way in our efforts to fulfil that commitment. while our Lucknow route provides a gateway to north and Central lndia, our hyderabad route will be a low-cost connection to South india, benefiting not only the indian expat population in the uae but also bringing increased tourism and business opportunities to this historic city.”

DTCM Support to Energy Forum Dubai’s Department of tourism and Commerce Marketing (DtCM) has signed a Memorandum of understanding (Mou) with the world energy Forum to extend cooperation and support for the 2011 world energy Forum that will be held in Dubai. The event will be held under the patronage of h.h. Shaikh Mohammed bin rashid al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the uae and ruler of Dubai, between november 14-17 at the Madinat Jumeirah. More than 1,000 delegates are expected to attend, including government dignitaries, energy ministers, and executives from a variety of energy companies to discuss issues relating to energy, sustainability and climate change.

Khalid A. Bin Sulayem, DirectorGeneral of the DTCM (left) with Harold H. S. Oh, Chairman, Executive Board of the World Energy Forum 6

May 21, 2011

Travelport Makes Booking on the Move Easier


usiness services provider to the global travel industry, travelport, has launched an innovative mobile travel booking solution, for its customers in the Middle east. travelport Mobil will enable the local travel trade to offer their clients 24hour access to travelport’s global Distribution Systems (gDS) content via their mobile phones and handheld devices. with the new technology, travellers can book and pay for flight, car and hotel bookings around the clock, as well as view travel itineraries on smartphones. The secure payment gateway functionality also ensures that bookings are instantly processed.


rabih Saab, president and managing director, Middle east and africa, travelport, notes that mobile bookings provide travellers with new levels of convenience. “travelport Mobil is a compelling product that allows travel agents to embrace the latest in mobile technology to offer an exceptional standard of service to clients. we are delighted to bring this solution to the Middle east in order to meet the discerning needs of today’s busy traveller.” Significantly for the travel trade, bookings with the mobile booking solution are automatically generated into the travel agent’s normal workflow procedures to enable full reporting and maintain full mid and back office integration.

Coral Hotels & Resorts Reveals First Hotel in Abu Dhabi Coral Hotels & Resorts unveiled its first hotel in abu Dhabi at an exclusive press conference on May 16. Liwa executive Suites was inaugurated by h.h. Sheikh Sultan bin tahnoon al nahyan, chairman, abu Dhabi tourism authority (aDta) and h.e. Mubarak al Muhairi, director general, aDta. Michel noblet, president and Ceo, hospitality Management holdings (hMh), remarked on the significance of the new property. “opening our first hotel in abu Dhabi is a true milestone for our group and will strengthen and reinforce our presence in the uae. abu Dhabi is fast emerging as a business and cultural epicentre of the region, with tourism in the capital set to grow to 2.7 million visitors per year by 2012.” hMh has partnered with al nasser holdings in the hotel project, which features 54 luxurious suites, a rooftop swimming pool and modern meeting facilities equipped for up to 50 people.

May 21, 2011

Jordan to Develop Inbound Tourism The Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (JITOA) discussed and celebrated great achievements at its Ordinary General Assembly and reaffirmed its commitment to further develop the industry.


he assembly included the review of the latest annual report as well as the approval of the draft budget for the new fiscal year 2011 and further initiatives. Mohammad Samih, chairman, Jitoa,


commented on the organisation’s performance. “Jitoa has been empowered by the great efforts of its valued membership and sustainable projects. we are eager to get ready to add many more achievements to our already accomplished success in

Jordans tourism sector to date.” Jitoa, which contributed more than 80 percent of the packaged tours coming to Jordan in 2010, implemented a number of projects to develop the kingdom’s inbound tourism industry, including the introduction of the mandatory Professional indemnity and Public Liability (Pi&PL) insurance coverage to ensure high standard services in all segments of the sector. another remarkable initiative, the launch of the first ‘Voluntourism Project’, aims to evolve the international trend into a new niche market in Jordan, while ‘Don’t mess with nature’ was addressed to raise environmental awareness. as part of the organisations’s endeavor to promote Jordan and support the local industry, Jitoa participated at the 15th east Mediterranean international travel and tourism exhibition (eMiTT 2011) in istanbul, representing Jordan for the first time at an international event. to strengthen the human resources capacity and further raise the level of the industry, Jitoa offers professional and exclusive certifications as well as various training programs at the george washington university, School of business. Furthermore, the organisation signed a Memorandum of understanding (Mou) with the tourist Police Department to improve the quality of the services provided in the Kingdom, including travel professionals’ language skills. Jitoa closed the annual assembly with the pledge to further develop the industry through ambitious projects in this and the upcoming years. May 21, 2011

Planet Travel & Tours Enhancing Services Planet Travel & Tours, the subsidiary of Planet Group, is launching a new online booking system and adding XML (Extensive Markup Language) to its system.


he newly introduced distribution channel ensures business-toconsumer (b2C) customer’s seamless connectivity to the wholesaler and travel managements company’s products and applications, while the XML system will allow agents and customers to access other travel related platforms. The additions, which are scheduled to be introduced by the end of august, will further simplify the booking and confirmation process, pointed out george M. Moussa, chairman, Planet group. “our online system accomplished greater distribution and sales across two separate

Planet City Tour

Planet City Tour

channels, our call centre and business-tobusiness (b2b) agents. we are on the final stage of the implementation of a new distribution channel for our b2C customers. we are also working on a plugin, which is an end to end management console for XML. This means we are now available to a bigger and wider market that is looking for efficient, effective and instant

online booking confirmation. This project confirms our commitment to offer customers the latest in technology that will guarantee better and efficient services.” Planet travel & tours web-based b2b system features all inbound tour related operations of the company, including accommodation, leisure activities and various DMC services in the uae.

ResNet World and EZYield Announce Collaboration The e-distribution and online marketing company, resnet world, has entered into a partnership with eZyield, the originator of automated online distribution management solutions for the global hospitality industry. The collaboration will result in resnet offering all the benefits of the eZyield hotel channel management system, partially relieving hoteliers of the daunting task of managing multiple extranets, often with a depleted workforce since economic downturn. The eZyield channel management system allows the growing number of online travel agents (otas), along with hotel booking engines and global Distribution Systems (gDS) connectivity, to be controlled and managed through one simple to use webbased control panel. all changes in hotel rates or availability made through the eZyield system will automatically populate all revenue channels. resnet world will offer the eZyield system to its hotel partners in the Middle east and india, in the hope of becoming more competitive in the marketplace. 12

May 21, 2011

- Accommodation

First Ascott-Branded Property in Doha Opening Soon The Ascott Limited announced that it has secured a contract to manage a 229-unit premier serviced residence in Doha. Ascott Doha, scheduled to open in the second half of this year, will be the company’s fifth property in the Gulf region.


onald tay, chief investment officer, The ascott Limited, commented on the company’s decision to expand in Doha. “Qatar offers tremendous potential for ascott as it is one of the fastest growing countries in the world due to its huge oil and gas reserves. Moreover, Qatar has been aggressively promoting tourism and will be hosting large scale international events such as the 2022 FiFa world Cup.”


ascott Doha will add to the company’s presence in Qatar’s capital city, which currently consists of the 200-room Somerset west bay.


Qatar offers tremendous potential for Ascott as it is one of the fastest growing countries in the world due to its huge oil and gas reserves

May 21, 2011

- Accommodation

Grand Palace Heralds Ritz-Carlton’s First Hotel in Saudi Arabia The Ritz-Carlton has announced its first venture in Saudi Arabia. The 493-room Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh will be situated within the Diplomatic quarter, next to King Abdul Aziz Conference Centre.


erve humler, president and Ceo, The ritz-Carlton, remarked on the ideal location of the new addition to the hotel chain’s international portfolio. “This majestic hotel’s prime location in the literal heart of the arabian Peninsula, luxury accommodation, variety of dining and meeting facilities, combined with The ritz-Carlton renowned service, will produce memorable stays for all our

corporate and diplomatic guests.” to accommodate international summits, the ritz-Carlton, riyadh offers more than 5,800m2 of conference space combined, including two large ballrooms. The hotel will position itself amongst the grand palace hotels in the world, with stately architecture modelled on traditional palaces and elegant arabian residences and interior design reflecting the Kingdom’s arabic heritage. Surrounding the luxurious structure will be verdant gardens, lavish fountains and a one kilometer driveway.

The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh

Al Yamm and Al Sahel Lodges by Anantara Start Taking Bookings Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas presented on May 2, updates on its two developments on Sir bani yas island in the western region of abu Dhabi, uae. al yamm Lodge and al Sahel Lodge will open to guests in the last quarter of this year. anantara began contracting with tour operators at arabian travel Market (atM) from May 2-5, giving them full specifications and details on each lodge and showcasing the difference between the two offerings. David garner, area director of sales and marketing, anantara hotels, resorts & Spas abu Dhabi, elaborated on the objective of promotions at the atM. “we aim to pick up as many bookings as possible for the opening period from the leisure market with the lodges product and from the MiCe market with our new Desert islands Conference Centre facility.” al Sahel Lodge and al yamm Lodge have been developed by tourism Development & investment Company (tDiC), using design principles that combine best practice with maximum efficiencies and minimal environmental impact.

We aim to pick up as many bookings as possible for the opening period May 21, 2011


- Accommodation

Sheraton Brand to Manage New Dubai Property Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Abdulsalam Alrafi Group to open a new Sheraton hotel in Dubai.


heraton Dubai Sheikh Zayed road hotel, part of a threetower mixed-use project located in the heart of Dubai’s commercial district, is scheduled to open in 2014. The property is part of the Sheraton brand’s global strategic expansion plan that includes adding more than 60 new hotels over the next three years. roeland Vos, president, Starwood hotels & resorts, europe, africa and the Middle east, is delighted to be working with the abdulsalam alrafi group. “Dubai is a destination that continues to see growing demand from both business and leisure travellers. Starwood is

established as the sector leader in the Middle east and we are dedicated to continued growth and expansion in the region. This market continues to be integral to our overall development strategy.”

it will also feature extensive dining, conference and leisure facilities as well as signature Sheraton amenities.

Dubai is a destination that continues to see growing demand from both business and leisure travellers Sheraton Dubai Sheikh Zayed road hotel will consist of 660 rooms, including 480 guest rooms and 180 serviced apartments.

Abdulsalam Alrafi, owner, Abdulsalam Alrafi Group (centre) with Roeland Vos, President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Biltmore Arrives in Abu Dhabi Millennium & Copthorne has added biltmore to its portfolio of brands. The first biltmore brand luxury hotel in the Mena region is scheduled to open in 2013 in abu Dhabi. biltmore, after the original art deco design hotel in hollywood, brings opulent luxury and style to the Middle east. it is to be the first biltimore branded property in the region and will be located in the al bateen area of abu Dhabi where it is expected to welcome its first guests in 2013. Millennium & Copthorne is poised to add 12 new properties to its 12 operating ones by the end of the year, along with 52 signed management agreements in the pipeline. The introduction of biltmore in abu Dhabi further strengthens the company’s commitment to the region, where Millenium & Copthorne is expected to triple its portfolio. ali Lakhraim, president and Ceo, Millennium & Copthorne hotels and resorts, commented on the first upcoming biltmore hotel in the region. “bringing the first biltmore hotel outside of Los angeles to abu Dhabi is a coup. The timeless elegance and glamour of the biltmore is certain to resonate with this market. This unique brand, synonymous with exclusivity and quality, will cater to both the business and leisure market in a select few gateway cities around the world, with abu Dhabi leading the way. across our brands, we continue to see strong growth in the Mena region, and the addition of a new brand adds another string to our bow as we build momentum for further expansion and increase in market share.” 16

May 21, 2011

- Accommodation

Cristal Hotels to Debut in Beirut Cristal Hotels & Resorts has signed an agreement with Bliss 3000 SAL to operate its property in Beirut, Lebanon.


he deal, in which Cristal hotels will operate the furnished apartments under the name Cristal bliss residences, marks the company’s first venture in Lebanon. The newly renovated and fully-furnished studios are within walking distance of the Corniche, hamra Street, the american university of beirut and the american university hospital, and will be operational starting June. Peter blackburn, Ceo, Cristal hotels & resorts, revealed that it is only the start of major projects Cristal hotels have lined up to tap into Lebanon’s hospitality market. “it reflects our pursuit of facilities that

are strategically located and carry our unique brand of business and leisure living. tourism is one of the main pillars of the Lebanese economy, so we look forward to playing an important role in providing world-class accommodation to Lebanon’s local, regional and international travellers.”

Tourism is one of the main pillars of the Lebanese economy, so we look forward to playing an important role in providing world-class accommodation

Peter Blackburn (left) and Toufic El Tal

Cristal hotels & resorts aims to become the premier hotel operator in the Middle east, africa and asia. The luxury hospitality group already offers a wide choice of three-four- and five-star accommodation for business or leisure throughout the region.

Hyatt to Open its First Mecca Hotels A Hyatt Hotels Corporation affiliate has entered into an agreement with Jabal omar Development Company to manage three hyatt-branded hotels in Mecca, Saudi arabia. hyatt regency Mecca, hyatt Place Mecca and hyatt Summerfield Suites Mecca will be part of a two-phase planned mixed use development with a built up area of more than 2,000,000m2. The debut of hyatt regency Mecca in 2013 will mark the first phase of the plan. The opening of the other two hotels in 2014 will represent phase two. The three hotels will be the first hyatt-branded hotels in Mecca. Peter norman, senior vice president, real estate and development, hyatt international, europe, africa and Middle east, explained the reasoning behind the plan. “Mecca draws millions of tourists every year, many from regions where the hyatt brand is well known and recognised. opening these three Mecca hotels will strengthen the hyatt brand in Saudi arabia and will further hyatt’s goal of becoming the preferred brand in every segment we serve.” May 21, 2011


- Accommodation

Rotana Set to Unveil Two Dubai Hotels Hotel management company Rotana has announced that it will open two new properties in Dubai in quarter three of this year.


he five-star al Khor rayhaan by rotana and the deluxe hotel apartments al Khor arjaan by rotana, will be a part of the new expansion of al ghurair Shopping complex. omer Kaddouri, chief operating officer, rotana, explained how much the company was looking forward to the openings. “we are excited about the upcoming opening of our 15th rotana property in Dubai, which we are certain will meet the demands of guests seeking contemporary accommodation, convenience and paramount comfort. The total number of


7,888 rooms managed by rotana in the uae only, confirms rotana’s strong dedication in delivering premium hospitality and services to provide guests with the ultimate choice for a complete accommodation experience.” both new properties feature the latest high-tech facilities, including a wide choice of food and beverage venues, a ballroom and six fully-equipped meeting rooms with the most up-to-date audiovisual equipment. “al Khor rayhaan by rotana and al Khor arjaan by rotana are first-class properties, which have been developed with leisure, corporate, long-term guests and families in mind,” Kaddouri added.

Omer Kaddouri

“The opening team, headed by the general manager, Mark McCarthy, is working hard to ensure all areas of the opening are perfected and ready to open on time in quarter three of this year.”

May 21, 2011

- International

Hilton Expands in Malaysia Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with Hatten Group to manage a DoubleTree by Hilton property in Melaka, Malaysia, scheduled to open in 2014.


he 265-room hotel will represent the brand’s second property in Malaysia, which is a key market for the company. Martin rinck, president, hilton worldwide asia Pacific, discussed the deal of the property. “hilton worldwide has been expanding aggressively across asia Pacific with a wide range of award-winning brands, such as Doubletree by hilton, waldorf astoria hotels & resorts, Conrad hotels & resorts, hilton hotels & resorts and hilton garden inn. The Doubletree by hilton, Melaka will complement our strong portfolio of trading assets and will

also compete well with the existing international and local hotel supply.”

Hilton Worldwide has been expanding aggressively across Asia Pacific with a wide range of award-winning brands The new property will mark hilton’s entry into the favoured tourist destination of Melaka, on the west coast of Malaysia. william Costley, vice president operations, hilton worldwide Southeast

asia, commented on the brand’s intensive growth. “we continue to add momentum to our expansion in Malaysia, where we currently operate five hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and Kuching. The Doubletree by hilton, Melaka is the third signing we have announced this year. The Doubletree by hilton, Melaka demonstrates the brand’s growing appeal in the market and adds to our full-service collection of hotels and resorts that is growing quickly throughout the country.” The 27-storey hotel will form part of a mixed-use development, which will also include various retail offerings and residential apartments.

Mövenpick Opens Second Property in Thailand Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts announced the management of the residences Laguna beach Phuket, with immediate effect. The resort, previously named Palm beach Club hotel, is located on bang tao beach, one of Phuket island’s most pristine beaches, which is well renowned among golfers. blue Canyon Country Club and the Laguna Phuket golf Club are within a 20-minute drive, as is Phuket international airport. The expansion in Thailand comes in accordance with the hotel group’s long term strategy, commented andreas Mattmüller, chief operating officer, Mövenpick hotels & resorts, Middle east and asia. “we are pleased to have the opportunity to operate this exclusive retreat and to expand our presence in Thailand, one of asia’s top leisure destinations. we have plans to increase our portfolio in the country and to operate six hotels in Thailand by 2014.” at Mövenpick residences Laguna beach Phuket, guests are offered a variety of leisure and entertainment facilities including an expansive swimming pool nestled amid tropical gardens, lively dining options and a modern fitness centre. The resort also features a spa that provides traditional Thai treatments as well as therapies derived from asian and european influences. The new addition to Mövenpick’s portfolio will complement the Mövenpick resort & Spa Karon beach Phuket, the first property the hotel company opened in Thailand. 20

May 21, 2011

- Air News

Safi Airways Enters India Safi Airways, the international airline of Afghanistan, continues its expansion by adding Delhi to its route map.


s part of the carrier’s restructured growth strategy, the airline will commence services to the indian metropolis from June 16 and will operate four flights per week. The Kabul-Delhi route will be served with an airbus a320-200, which has a capacity of 12 business and 132 economy class seats. The launch of the new route reflects the recently appointed senior management’s endeavor to transform Safi airways into the most preferred airline of afghanistan by providing seamless connections to an extended network along with higher safety Al Qasba - Travel Trade Monthly - 21 May 2011 Trim: 112mm x 155mm standards, improved service and increased Bleed: 122mm x 165mm productivity.

Michael Mctight, chief operating oďŹƒcer, Safi airways, commented on the new route. “Safi airways endeavors to provide travellers with unique travel options along with secure, dependable and convenient flights. india’s capital has been on our radar for a while now and with growing demands for this sector, Safi airways will provide direct access to its passengers between the two hubs.â€?

Michael McTight

Safi Airways endeavors to provide travellers with unique travel options The carrier will also launch services to herat and Jeddah within the next months.

flydubai and Travelport Sign Deal



flydubai and Travelport have reached a key agreement, which will ensure that all travelport-connected travel agents worldwide have full access to flydubai fares. The partnership will enable flydubai to expand its global reach by tapping into the network of 63,000 travel agents who currently use travelport’s galileo or worldspan global distribution system (gDS) to secure travel bookings. ghaith al ghaith, Ceo, flydubai, observed the importance of the partnership. “Since the start of commercial operations less than two years ago, flydubai has gone from strength to strength and making our great fares available to travel agents is now the next major step in our growth plan. Partnering with travelport will give us exposure to an important global network of travel agents and help diversify our customer base, bringing our success to the next level.� in return, the multi-year deal will allow travel agents to gain access to content from flydubai, Dubai’s first low cost carrier (LCC). rabih Saab, president and managing director, travelport Middle east and africa, emphasised the opportunities that could be exploited via the agreement. “flydubai has a winning formula and a great future ahead. There is so much growth potential within the Middle east’s LCC sector that it only makes sense for LCC’s in the region to capitalise on the opportunities available through the travel agency distribution channel.� May 21, 2011

- Air News

Jazeera Holidays Goes Online Jazeera Airways, in cooperation with Boodai Aviation, has launched Jazeera Holidays, a one-stop online shop for all-round holiday services.


he new feature allows travellers to book their flight and hotel stay from a wide selection of thousands of properties in the Middle east on one platform. Through a single itinerary and payment method, passengers can browse amoung numerous hotel brands and sort the results by price, type of the property or location through direct connection to google maps. Stefan Pitcher, Ceo, Jazeera airways, commented on the new feature. “holiday travel should be exciting and easy, and we’ve launched Jazeera holidays to make planning and booking all-rounded vacations for customers hassle-free. we are

confident that our customers will love this new feature.” Jazeera airways is the first carrier in Kuwait to offer such an application. Monzer najia, vice president and general manager, boodai aviation group commented on the new feature.

We’ve launched Jazeera Holidays to make planning and booking all-rounded vacations for customers hassle-free “Jazeera holidays adds a great value to the customer as it allows them to have full control of their inventory 24-hours daily.”

Oman Air Reopens Zanzibar Route Oman Air has re-commenced its non-stop services between Muscat and Zanzibar. The three-times-a-week flight began on May 16 and operates on Mondays, tuesdays and Saturdays. Zanzibar represents the carrier’s third destination in africa and second in tanzania on its growing network. The airline’s management team believes these flights will build stronger business, cultural and touristic ties between the two countries. it is also hoped that they will increase opportunities for tourists from europe, the indian subcontinent and other oman air routes to explore the destination. tourism has replaced Zanzibar’s major dhow construction as the city’s major industry, but the city has maintained a strong essence of cultural heritage. Zanzibar is now a bustling fishing centre and much of the area’s rustic charm remains. Oman Air


May 21, 2011

- Cruising

Abu Dhabi’s Cruise Industry On-Track Abu Dhabi’s cruise industry has intensified its role in the emirate’s tourism sector after the arrival of yet another cruise line vessel.


he 755 passenger capacity Ocean Princess, which is currently on a round-the-world voyage, represents the first vessel registered to the Los angeles-based Princess Cruises’ fleet to dock in the emirate. it will soon be followed by the 2,272-capacity Dawn Princess, which is scheduled to dock at the Mina Zayed Port as part of its globe-trotting voyage on June 16. george Varghese, general manager commercial, rais hassan Saadi group, commented on the growing influx. “The arrivals of Ocean Princess and Dawn Princess illustrate increasing international operator demand for abu Dhabi. The emirate’s regular winter season itineraries yield the majority of cruise traffic, but year-round stop-overs for round-the-world vessels could see arrivals extended to the traditional outof-season summer months.” Princess Cruises is wholly-owned by Carnival Cruises, the world’s largest cruise line operator, which generates about 75 percent of abu Dhabi’s cruise arrivals. The emirate will soon welcome another cruise line, MSC Cruises in its port, which will embark on 19 regional itineraries with its luxury MSC Lirica from october. Costa Cruises’ Costa Favalosia, the biggest cruise liner even to be built with 3,800-capacity, will arrive in abu Dhabi in november, while aiDa Cruises’ AIDAblu will dock in the emirate in the winter.

May 21, 2011

The cruise industry’s continuous development is crucial to abu Dhabi’s tourism sector, highlighted Lawrence Franklin, strategy and policy director, abu Dhabi tourism authority (aDta). “increased cruise arrivals are a core enabler in aDta’s strategy to attract 2.3

million hotel guests to the emirate by the end of 2012. over the past two years, cruise arrivals to the emirate have nearly doubled and in the forthcoming 2011/12 season, we are expecting 68 ships to deliver upwards of 145,000 passengers and 50,000 crew.”


Amadeus Qatar Launches Ticket Changer Amadeus Qatar has introduced an innovative new service, amadeus ticket Changer, to facilitate ticket reissuing. with the new technology, amadeus Qatar became the first global Distribution System (gDS) provider in the country to offer this service which automates calculations necessary to reproduce a ticket and minimise the length of the process. any changes requested by customers can be made within five minutes at any point-of-sale. in addition, amadeus connected users save on airline debit memo and training costs. wafiq al-wahidi, general manager, amadeus Qatar, elaborated on the new technology. “amadeus is a pioneer of innovation in our industry. we are always looking to develop new products and solutions that increase customer service and reduce time involved to perform the service. Manual ticket reissuing is such a lengthy and tedious process – it involves airline debit memos, 30-minute calls to the call centre, lengthy and expensive staff training. with amadeus ticket changer, all this is a thing of the past. it is the most powerful and flexible automated solution available currently in the market.”

Agent’s Insight Name: Ikram Zahreddine Position: Owner Company: Raed Travel & Tourism Location: Lebanon Who are you? we are a dynamic travel agency determined to set new standards of services and gear up to satisfy the most demanding clients. we rely on our years of experience and on our well trained, experienced and competent staff to deliver high standard of services.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The art of communication and the competition in which you exploit all your resources, knowledge, experience and creativity in order to build a bridge to your markets.

When is the best time to visit Lebanon? Lebanon is a year round destination, thanks to its location, weather, services and entertainment activities that it offers.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? every country has its own beauty but, since it is summer time, i really would like to visit the baltic area or austria.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? it is a very nice question. nowadays the world has become a small village, which increases the competition level and forces us to create new ideas to attract clients and build a bridge of reliability between them and the company. in addition, our vast experience and travel knowledge make us pioneers in the domain.

Lebanon 26

May 21, 2011

Faruk Mustafa Rasool

Tim Clark

Chairman, Faruk Group Holding

President, Emirates Airline

“iraq is a promising market; with more growth potential than any other market in the world is expected to have in the next five to 10 years. our operations in Sulaymaniyah will support not only our entry into the iraq market but also in the global business community.”

“if by the end of the year oil prices have reached around uSD130 - uSD140 per barrel, watch this space, there will be some casualties. i expect that airlines which will struggle particularly are those on the periphery.”

Faruk Mustafa Rasool

Iraq is a promising market; with more growth potential than any other market in the world is expected to have in the next five to 10 years

I expect that airlines which will struggle particularly are those on the periphery Tim Clark

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


May 21, 2011

Nabil Khuzouz nabil Khuzouz has been appointed as general manager of Crowne Plaza Petra. Khuzouz, who has more than 29 years experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, has previously held key management positions in five-star hotels across the Middle east, which include in amman, Jeddah, riyadh and Dubai. besides spearheading the hotel’s departments, he will be in charge of increasing the level of guest satisfaction and enhancing key financial markers of the hotel.

Nabil Khuzouz

Mrad El Khoury Mrad el Khoury has been appointed as general manager of towers rotana Dubai. el Khoury began his career with some renowned international chains, including Starwood. he joined rotana in 2003 as area director of sales and marketing for Dubai and northern emirates. Three years later he was promoted to general manager of burjuman arjaan by rotana, before moving to Fujairah rotana resort and Spa. in his new role he will be responsible for the operations of the 360room property, aims to further solidate the hotel’s position in both the regional and international market.

Mrad El Khoury May 21, 2011


South Africa Joins Tourism Campaign South Africa has become the first African nation to join the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign, created by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE).


outh africa’s President Jacob Zuma, noted that given the importance the country attached to the industry, he was delighted to be joining the campaign and highlighted the economic and social value of tourism. “we take tourism very seriously in this country given its job creation potential. That is why we have identified tourism as one of the six job drivers in our new growth path framework. tourism is well positioned to be a leading avenue for addressing unemployment, especially given its labour intensive nature. tourism jobs are not only created in the travel and


We take tourism very seriously in this country given its job creation potential tourism industry, but also in manufacturing, financial services, agriculture, healthcare and numerous other peripheral industries. More significantly, this sector has become a fertile environment for entrepreneurs and small, medium and micro enterprises while historically disadvantaged people are increasingly making their careers in

South Africa

tourism, creating jobs for others and building their own businesses.” David Scowsill, Ceo and president, wTTC, commented that South africa has a clear appreciation of the positive impact of travel and tourism, with its ability to stimulate growth and generate new jobs. “President Zuma has a deep understanding of the industry, and we salute his leadership.”

May 21, 2011

Q & A with Victor Louis Amidst the turmoil experienced in the Middle East, Ras Al Khaimah is promoting itself as a relaxing retreat, with developments underway to underpin this image. Victor Louis, chief operating officer, Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Hotels & Tourism Development, talks about the industry’s strategy, projects and attractions. Travel Trade Weekly: RAK Hotel and Tourism Development Authority revealed that in order for the emirate to increase its visitor numbers, it will invest USD100 million in hotel and tourism projects in the next four years. What green growth plans and environmental sustainability initiatives are in place from the level of the authority? Victor Louis: among others, one of our most important projects is the stunning al Marjan island which is a collection of five man-made islands located 27km southwest of the main town centre in raK. while developing this unique place only the most natural procedures have been undertaken. having said that, cautiously laid natural rocks took the places of concrete ripraps to ensure marine life wasn’t affected during the process. This will not only flourish marine life but also attract coral life and help a reef formation, giving birth to a new natural wonder in raK.

publicised La hoya bay. another palatial project of ours is the Mina al arab, which is a mixed use leisure and holiday beach resort development offering lush landscaping, protected coastal wetlands and pristine beaches together with homes, hotels and worldclass amenities, to shape a vacation experience along the beach of raK. The aeD10 billion (uSD 2.7 billion) project will cover an area of 30 million square feet and be spread along 13km of a beachfront strip and a group of islands.

Victor Louis

and other eastern european nations. as raK develops more high-end infrastructure, it is also attracting an increasing number of emiratis year-round for weekend trips, attracted by its mix of natural beaches, deserts and mountains.

Travel Trade Weekly: With the budget RAK flag carrier servicing only short-haul routes, including India, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is increasing regional tourism considered the key tourism strategy for RAK? Travel Trade Weekly: With Waldorf Victor Louis: The re-launch of the Astoria RAK set to be the luxury brand’s flagship carrier raK airways in october first UAE property, opening later this 2010 was definitely expected to contribute year, will attract a new tourism market? to stimulating regional tourism and Do you think this retracts from RAK’s attracting business. The company’s greatest image as a lower cost destination asset is its low-cost fares, starting at Dh10 compared with other emirates? Travel Trade Weekly: It has been said (uSD2,7). however, raK airways is not Victor Louis: along with other highthat RAK Hotel and Tourism a low-cost airline. it provides the same end projects in the pipeline, the luxury Development Authority was established services as regular carriers, including segment in raK is gradually strengthening and experiencing a robust to encourage foreign investment and luggage and meal service. growth. The newest hotels to open are manage state funded tourism projects. At what stage is the development of the Travel Trade Weekly: Which primarily five-star properties, with several national travellers do you believe are more expected to open in the short to man-made Marjan Island? Victor Louis: regarding new most attracted to the lower cost aspect medium term. Perhaps the highest-profile property in the pipeline is the “seven-star” investments, we have got different kinds of RAK as a destination? of projects due to come online this year, Victor Louis: in the last few years, the Palace raK, set to open mid 2011. including the waldorf astoria hotel – the luxury brand’s first uae property – and two new shopping malls, which include the raK Mall and the al naeem Mall. The man-made Marjan island remains under construction, including the much May 21, 2011

numbers of incoming european tourists were definitely increasing. within the european market, germany, the uK, Scandinavia and italy are the primary drivers; although strong growth is emerging from russia, the Czech republic

with all these upcoming properties and investments, that will definitely develop the tourism market in raK, we are planning to make the emirate a haven of peace containing age-old traditions and modern life. 31

Dubai Selected for Cruise Convention Following Cruise Tourism Growth Dubai has been chosen as the venue for the Seatrade Middle east Cruise Convention following significant growth in the uae’s cruise tourism. The conference and exhibition event, which focuses on the Middle east’s rapidly expanding cruise sector, will be held in Dubai on october 18–20. The decision follows on from figures from the Dubai Department of tourism and Commerce Marketing (DtCM), indicating that 103 ships carrying more than 390,000 passengers will dock in Dubai this year, up from 55 ships in 2007. in the Middle east, cruise tourism over the past three years was recorded to have exceeded the global average of five percent, representing a valuable contribution to tourism in the period of economic downturn.

hamad M. bin Mejren, director of business tourism, DtCM, commented on Dubai’s tourism growth. “Despite the slowdown in the global tourism industry, cruise tourism in the gulf has been growing steadily, thanks to the efforts of the DtCM and the cruise operators. This demonstrates the resilience of Dubai's economy and the trust put in it by the global cruise operators.”

Despite the slowdown in the global tourism industry, cruise tourism in the Gulf has been growing steadily During the Seatrade Middle east Cruise Convention, delegates and visitors from


regional destinations will have the opportunity to reach cruise line decision makers and hear the latest in industry trends. The broader economic impact of cruise tourism in the region and ways to enhance this, as well as the next steps in marketing the region’s cruise credentials, will also be covered during the event.

Events International Pow Wow San Francisco, US, May 21-25, 2011 ( an international marketplace and the largest generator of Visit uSa.

Asia Luxury Travel Market Shanghai, China, June 13-16, 2011 ( an event showcasing the world's most sought after destinations and travel experiences to travel buyers from across the asia Pacific.

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

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

International Travel Expo Hong Kong, 9-12 June, 2011

AIBTM Baltimore, US, June 21-23, 2011 ( hong Kong’s only travel Fair also covering markets of China a uS event for the business travel and meetings industry. and asia


May 21, 2011

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