Travel Trade Weekly Issue 81

Page 1

Middle East and North Africa Edition

May 28, Issue 81

Fashion TV has signed an agreement with Al Habtoor Group to build the world’s first Fashion Hotel and will premier in Dubai.

STAR TREK FORAY INTO JORDAN Rubicon  Group  Holding  (RGH)  is poised to design and produce The Red Sea  Astrarium  (TRSA),  a  themed entertainment  resort  in  Aqaba,  Jordan, inspired by Star Trek.


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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 28, 2011

4 5 14 18 24 26 28 29 30 31 32 ISSUE  81

The World’s First Fashion Hotel in Dubai


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

IHG Invests in Manhattan InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in a joint venture with Brack Capital Real Estate (BCRE), has secured 180 Orchard Street in New York City for USD46 million and plans to develop a Hotel Indigo property, scheduled to open in 2013.


n terms of the pact, BCRE will own 51 percent of shares in the joint venture, while the remaining 49 percent will be Sales & Marketing possessed by IHG, which will invest up Dimitris Thomaidis to USD30 million in the project. The Directors multi-use  property  will  include  a  290-room Andreas Constantinides Hotel Indigo with retail component and parking.  Mary Kammitsi  Issac  Hera,  CEO,  BCRE,  elaborated  on  the Headquarters venture.  P.O. Box 25255 “This  prime  development  site  presents  an Nicosia 1308 Cyprus untapped opportunity to create a project that Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 will  benefit  neighbourhood  residents  while adding value to the area overall. Our strategic Website relationship has set the stage for many future projects with IHG and we are honoured to bring Emails the development site to fruition and offer the community  a  completed,  expertly-managed project  that  will  help  this dynamic neighbourhood further flourish.” The  hotel  on  the  Lower  East Side of Manhattan is scheduled to  welcome  its  first  guests  in 2013  and  will  be  managed  by Design & Layout Elina Pericleous

Currencies shown in red  are fixed against the US Dollar


CURRENCY Dirham Pound Riyal  Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar Riyal Rial Dinar Dirham Riyal Rial Dinar Dinar

This joint venture complements our strategy of investing capital into our brands to accelerate their growth Jim Abrahamson, president, the Americas, IHG, highlighted the brand’s ideal fit with the city. “It’s a privilege to be able to foster a strategic relationship with Brack Capital Real Estate as together we will bring a new Hotel Indigo to the New  York  City  market.  This  joint  venture complements our strategy of investing capital into our brands to accelerate their growth. In this case,  the  Lower  East  Side  of  Manhattan  is  a perfect fit for the Hotel Indigo brand and allows us to continue to work with the right owners to put the right hotel brand in the right location.”

Travelport: Slowdown in MENA

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 26/5/2011

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)

IHG. In accordance with the brand’s tenor, it will reflect the culture, character and history of the surrounding neighbourhood and will feature a restaurant, bar, state-of-the-art fitness centre and an outdoor pool.

1USD= 3.67 5.95 3.75 1,513 0.37 0.71 47.40 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.38 7.97 10,603 214.50 71.77 1.22

Travelport’s net revenue took a slight dip in the first quarter (Q1) of the year as a result of the slump in the Middle East and Africa.  The  business  service  company’s  net  revenue  stood  at  USD531  million, representing a USD5 million decline compared with Q1 2010, attributed to the decrease in transaction processing revenue in some parts of the MENA region. Operating income increased by 10 percent to USD79 million and EBITDA rose by 13 percent to USD135 million, while adjusted EBITDA accounted for USD147 million, indicating a growth of four percent compared with the corresponding period in the prior year. Operating income increased by USD7 million as a result of reductions in selling, general and administrative costs. Travelport’s net debt lowered from USD3.860 million to USD3.451 million. Jeff Clarke, president and CEO, Travelport, elaborated on the performance.  “I am pleased with Travelport’s Q1 growth in operating income and cash flow given the market and industry headwinds. Travelport continues to invest in new and innovative travel distribution technologies, including our Travelport Universal API, Travelport Desktop and Travelport ePricing products.” MAY 28, 2011

Star Trek Foray into Jordan Rubicon Group Holding (RGH) is poised to design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a themed entertainment resort in Aqaba, Jordan, inspired by Star Trek.


RSA, which will create more than 500 jobs, will reflect the heritage and culture of the region and will represent an unparalleled model for ‘green energy’. Incorporating state-of-the-art renewable technologies  and  housing  a  ‘future’  pavilion TRSA it will demonstrate a range of alternative energy sources.  Located in the coastal town of Aqaba, TRSA will present an unusual combination of immersive entertainment and learning experiences. Besides the advanced attractions, the 744.621 m2 development will feature five-star accommodation, theatrical productions and night time spectacles along with dining and retail outlets.  As the highlight of the Astrarium, RGH in collaboration with CBS  Consumer  Products  and  Paramount  Recreation  will develop  a  Star  Trek-themed  centre  with  multi-sensory  23rd century  experiences  and  exceptional  spaceflight  adventure. TRSA will be the first resort of its kind outside the US. In collaboration with the developer, architectural firm, Callison, has  been  chosen  to  master  plan  and  create  the  anticipated destination. Randa Ayoubi, CEO, RGH, commented on the venture. “TRSA will be a destination showcase in an extraordinary part of  Jordan.  The  opportunity  to  lead  the  design  on  such  a remarkable project and to work with such world class partners as CBS and Paramount is a dream-come-true for the entire RGH family. We are honoured, elated and proud to have our Themed Entertainment team in charge of moving this project forward.” TRSA will set new standards in entertainment, suggested Liz Kalodner, executive vice president and general manager, CBS Consumer Products.  “At its core, Star Trek is about brining worlds together and about a profound hope for the future. We are proud to bring such a unique, interactive Star Trek property to this part of the world to be a part of Jordan’s future.”

At its core, Star Trek is about brining worlds together and about a profound hope for the future MAY 28, 2011


Holiday Factory Enters UAE A new real package tour operator, Holiday Factor has launched in the UAE, heralding a new era for the emirates’ tourism industry.


he company strives to offer competitive packages to 23 destinations  across  Asia, Europe, Indian Ocean and the Middle East and aims to bridge the gap on affordable deals.  Hakan  Bakar,  CEO,  Holiday  Factory, commented  on  how  the  company  will focus on offering cost-effective packages. “The  UAE  is  a  huge,  unexplored, promising  market  and  we  want  to capitalise  on  this  growing  segment  by providing  travellers  with  inspirational ideas and user friendly tools for a tailored vacation. There is an ever growing midlevel income group that offers potential for businesses. We studied the market and realised that this segment wants to travel but  there  weren’t  enough  affordable

options  available  to  them.  Most  travel agencies offer packages that are expensive compared to that in other markets making it  possible  only  for  a  few  to  afford  the same.” Holiday  Factory  promotes  its comprehensive  packages  with  a  new brochure, dedicated to summer holidays, which  includes  unparalleled  offers  at unusual prices. “We  offer  real  packages,  which  always include return flights, hotel, return airport transfers  and  the  services  of  a  tour representative.  The  system  of  affordable package  holidays  called  mass  tourism revolutionised the travel industry and has been available to the European and other markets for over forty years. The UAE will experience it for the first time,” added Bakar.

Besides  the  region’s  most  favoured destinations, such as Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan,  the  brochure  features  several European  countries,  including  Turkey, Italy,  France,  Spain,  UK,  Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary.  Asian  destinations  involves India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, while the  Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles may appeal especially to honeymooners.  Travellers can browse among more than 200 hotels and resorts or combine tours according their requirements.   “By developing a strong network across the  UAE,  who  will  be  promoting  and marketing  our  product,  we  aim  to  take outbound tourism to a whole new level in the emirate,” concluded Baker.

New Transfer Options From Dubai Airport Etihad Airways has  increased  its  transfer  options  from Dubai  with  the  launch  of  a  new  service  stop  for  its complimentary luxury coach service, Etihad Express. The stop at Dubai Marina Mall is in addition to the current stop at Chelsea Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road, and offers complimentary  ground  transport  for  Etihad  passengers between Dubai and Abu Dhabi International Airport.   Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, noted  that,  as  the  carrier  grows,  Dubai  becomes  an increasingly important market for it. “By expanding our services to Abu Dhabi, our guests will have the opportunity to take advantage of travelling to and from  the  nearby  city,  both  as  a  world-renowned  travel destination and a strong local market in a quick, comfortable and cost-effective manner.” Etihad Airways runs up to 10 shuttle services per day and the new  Marina  Mall  location  includes  free  parking  for  the airline’s customers. Travellers not flying with Etihad can also book a transfer aboard the luxury coaches with a one-way cost per person. As well as the Dubai transfer routes, Etihad Airways provides a complimentary luxury coach service from the inland city of Al Ain.  6

MAY 28, 2011

Saudi Hospitality Sector to Create 2.3 Million Jobs The inaugural Hotel and Hospitality Show Saudi Arabia has been launched to coincide with the Kingdom’s hospitality sector expansion plan, which aims to increase the number of hotel rooms over the next 10 years from 120,000 to 255,000.


ccording  to  the  Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), future  expansion  of  the industry,  which  is estimated at 83 percent growth, will create more than 2.3 billion jobs over the next decade. The  first  Hotel  and  Hospitality  Show Saudi Arabia, to be held from November 12-14, at the Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events, is anticipated to highlight the strength  of  the  country’s  industry. Organised by dmg Dubai, the event will be a comprehensive platform for hotel owners and operators along with other industry stakeholders including food and


beverage, MICE and hospitality suppliers and service providers.  Elie Rizk, CEO, MICE Arabia Group – a joint partner responsible for organising the  event  –  commented  on  the  show’s significance.  “The  importance  of  The Hotel  Show  lies  well  beyond  simply boosting individual hospitality-targeted businesses  in  the  region  and internationally, but in the Saudi economy as  a  whole,  with  hospitality  and  the SCTA integral to growing the Kingdom’s workforce in line with demand now and in the future.”  The  show  will  support  Saudi  Arabia’s planned  tourism  strategy  to  attract  88 million visitors over the next decade.

The importance of The Hotel Show lies well beyond simply boosting individual hospitalitytargeted businesses

MAY 28, 2011

Travelport to Launch New Hotel Function Travelport, in line with its initiation to enhance assistance for its hotel and car supplier customers, intends to invest in an innovative in-house support function.


he  business  service provider  aims  to encourage hotel and car bookings through its two Global  Distribution Systems  (GDS)  platforms,  Galileo  and

Worldspan,  as  well  as  its  online  leisure portal,  Travelport  Leisure,  with  the establishment  of  two  new  dedicated helpdesks, which will ensure widespread distribution  of  over  230  hotel  and  car customers’ content.

To further facilitate travel agencies’ work in  the  key  areas,  including  the  Middle East, Travelport has recruited a team of dedicated  hospitality  business development managers, including Assita Kone,  who  has  joined  the  group  as hospitality business development manager for the region.  Rabih  Saab,  president  and managing director Middle East and Africa, Travelport,  commented on the announcements.  “There  is  significant  scope  for Travelport to play a pivotal role in this area and create real value for our hotel and car partners. With Assita’s appointment, along with a specialised hotel and car helpdesk in the pipeline, I’m confident that we  can  offer  an  industry-leading hotel and car support function to travel agents and suppliers alike.”

There is significant scope for Travelport to play a pivotal role in this area and create real value for our hotel and car partners In  2010,  hotel  bookings  made through  Galileo  and  Worldspan grew by 12.1 percent compared with 2009, and corporate hotel bookings through  the  GDS  channels  are expected to continue to rise by more than  20  percent  in  the  second quarter of the year. 10

MAY 28, 2011

Hungary Backs UNWTO Initiative Among the first European heads of state, the president of Hungary, Pal Schmitt, has joined the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign.


he  president  has addressed an open letter by Taleb Rifai, secretary general,  UNWTO, highlighting  the  crucial role  of  tourism  to  global  growth  and development. The address followed the European Stakeholders Conference held in  the  framework  of  the  Hungarian presidency of the European Union. “I think that the co-operation of international and national tourism organisations and the synergy that derives from this common work of  tourism  stakeholders  is  one  of  the prerequisites  of  successful  tourism development in Europe,” Schmitt commented.

The  president,  a  former  Olympic  gold medallist,  indentified  himself  with  the endeavour  by  emphasising  the  tie between  sport  and  tourism,  the  major drivers to future growth.  Rifai  hailed  the  president’s  backing  by highlighting the country’s relevance. “Hungary joining this campaign is a very important  step  in  our  efforts  to mainstream tourism in the global political and economic agenda. This is even more relevant as Hungary currently holds the presidency  of  the  European  Union. Europe  is  the  most  visited  region worldwide,  yet  tourism  has  not  always received recognition at the highest level as

a key driver of the region’s economy.” David Scowsill, president and chief executive, WTTC, commented on the initiative. “President  Schmitt  shows  great understanding of the enormous economic and  social  benefits  which  come  from fostering  the  development  of  travel  and tourism, and its ability to create new jobs. I hope other European leaders will be quick to follow his example.” Hungary,  which  had  nine  million international  tourist  arrivals  in  2010, proves  to  be  one  of  the  most  favoured destinations in Europe and is expected to be joined by other countries following the open letter from UNWTO and WTTC.

Marriott Conducts Sales Mission More than 35 Marriott International executives from across the world have embarked on a Middle East Senior Management Sales Mission.  The comprehensive sales mission kicked off in Abu Dhabi on May 1 and culminated in Kuwait on May 15. The Sales Mission is attempts to bring senior Marriott executives and hotels closer to Mariott’s highly valued customers and partners for a unique networking opportunity, as well as providing updates on various events and promotions from Marriott International leading into the peak summer travel season. Vladimir Dabbah, vice president global sales, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International, commented that the annual event demonstrates Marriott’s commitment to the region. “This highly comprehensive road show has become part of our sales culture and is designed to maximise the time spent in each city visiting our top customers and potential clients. It includes interactive market places and  networking  events  which  provide  our  customers  with  an opportunity to meet with international Marriott hotels on a single platform.” The mission, involving general managers and corporate executives from various Marriott properties across the globe, including the GCC, the Middle East, Europe, UK, US and the Far East, has covered seven cities across the GCC, such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jeddah, Al Khobar, Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait. “This is the perfect opportunity to show our appreciation to our customers and thank them  for  their  support  whilst  discussing  mutually  beneficial prospects on a one-to-one basis,” added Dabbah. 12

MAY 28, 2011

- Accommodation

Rixos Enters the Gulf Rixos Hotels is set to debut in the UAE with the launch of Rixos Residences Palm Jumeirah, a combined hotel and residence project in Dubai, scheduled to open in December this year.


he  imposing  property, located  in  the  most prestigious part of Palm Island,  will  mark  the company’s  foray  to  the emirates.  Fettah  Tamince,  chairman, Rixos  Hotels,  commented  on  the upcoming debut. “It  has  been  the  vision  and  mission  of Rixos Hotels to become a global player in the hotel arena. Middle Eastern markets have  always  presented  an  invaluable investment  opportunity  to  developing countries like Turkey and as a major hotel brand, we concentrate on key hotel and residence projects. We are thrilled to seal our presence in the region concurrently


Rixos Dubai

with our 10th year anniversary, with an exclusive  five-star  project  such  as  the Rixos Residences Palm Jumeirah Dubai.” The hotel section’s indoor area will cover only 30 percent of the territory while the remaining 70 percent will be dedicated to a  green  zone  with  gardens  and  a  beach promenade area. The hotel will present contemporary  style  enriched  with authentic Middle Eastern influence.

The residential block will feature 112 flats, including two-three bedroom residences as  well  as  four-five  bedroom  detached villas with garden and access to the roof gardens on the seventh floor that encircle the building.  The Antalya-based Rixos Hotels currently owns and operates eight premium resorts and villas and five city hotels in Turkey, Croatia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Libya.

MAY 28, 2011

- Accommodation

Warwick Debuts in Jordan Warwick International Hotels (WIH) is set to debut in the Middle East after entering into a management agreement with Winter Valley Tourism Investment Company.


inter  Valley  / Warwick Resort & Spa,  Dead  Sea, Jordan is scheduled for its soft-opening in  August,  while  the  grand  opening  is expected at the end of the year. The property will  consist  of  161  rooms,  each  with  a picturesque  view  over  the  Dead  Sea  and access  to  the  beach.  It  will  also  feature  a gourmet restaurant, a lobby café and bar, an outdoor dining area, a pool bar, a gym, a kids’ club and a ballroom.  The latest addition to the France-based company’s portfolio, which will bring the number  of  Warwick  hotels  to  46  with more than 6,500 rooms in five continents,

is expected to cater to both business and leisure  travellers.  Paul  Leblanc,  vice president, sales and marketing, Warwick Group, commented on the resort. “Warwick International Hotels has a long track record in hotel management and we are  confident  that  our  new  Dead  Sea Resort & Spa will be one of the tourism pearls in this part of the Middle East.” WIH  is  poised  to  further  expand  its network,  and  is  currently  studying  a number of potential projects in the region. Jean-Francois  Garnier,  director  of development, Warwick Group, elaborated on the agreement.  “The  signing  of  this  new  management agreement in Jordan shows the capacity

and the willingness of WIH to respond to hotel investors and owners looking for a privately  owned  and  internationally recognised hotel brand to operate their hotels and resorts.”

Marriott International to Manage Three Hotels in Mecca, Saudi Arabia Marriott International announced a long term agreement with Jabal  Omar  Development,  which  will  see  the  hotel  chain operate three hotels in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The hotels will open in two phases, beginning in 2014, with the deluxe Makkah Marriott Hotel set to be the first. The 636room  JW  Marriott  Hotel  Makkah  and  the  432-room Courtyard by Marriott will open approximately a year later. Ed  Fuller,  president  and  managing  director,  international lodging, Marriott, elaborated on the offering the chain hopes to provide in the religious centre. “These hotels will provide worshippers  and  visitors  to  Mecca  with  an  array  of outstanding accommodations and services at a range of price points to fit virtually any travel requirement.” Once complete, the three hotels will be part of a multi-use development that will also include high-quality residential villas, retail services and other accommodations.

These hotels will provide worshippers and visitors to Mecca with an array of outstanding accommodations and services MAY 28, 2011


- Accommodation

World’s First Fashion Hotel Opens in Dubai Fashion TV has signed an agreement with Al Habtoor Group to build the world’s first Fashion Hotel that will premier in Dubai.


ccording  to  the agreement announced at the Cannes Film Festival, the five-star property will be owned and operated by Al Habtoor Group. The 30-storey hotel, located in the heart of Dubai, will feature the  world’s  largest  100m  LED  screen, broadcasting Fashion TV highlights. The 200 rooms will be equipped with state-ofthe-art technology, including the latest 3D gadgets. In addition, guests will have access to the biggest fashion DVD library in the world. Other amenities will include a wide array  of  food  and  beverage  facilities, nightclubs,  spas,  cinemas  and  various fashion themed rooms.

Michel  Adam,  president,  Fashion  TV, commented on the upcoming debut. “For years, we have wanted to create the ultimate fashion-themed hotel, aimed at providing  Fashion  TV  viewers,  models and  businessmen  and  women  with  a memorable fashion experience. It’s a great pleasure  to  sign  an  agreement  with Mohammed Al Habtoor [vice chairman and  CEO,  Al  Habtoor  Group],  to  share this vision and make this fantastic, global project a reality. Hotel experiences will no longer  be  the  same.  It’s  an  exceptional project and one which is likely to have a massive impact on Dubai, making it the future  fashion  capital  of  the  world.  The city will certainly never be the same again.”

The  property  is  set  to  usher  in  a  whole chain of hotels in major fashion locations around the world, catering also for largescale fashion industry and promotional events.

IHG Brings Staybridge Suites to Dubai InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)  has  signed  an agreement with H.E. Sheikh Rakadh Bin Salem Bin Rakadh Al Amiri to launch the first Staybridge Suites branded property in Dubai, scheduled to open in December 2012.  The upscale Staybridge Suites Dubai - Union Square, Jumeirah, located  in  close  proximity  to  the  city’s  administrative, commercial and financial districts, will cater to both business and leisure guests.  H.E. Sheikh Rakadh Bin Salem commented on the agreement. “Staybridge  Suites  offer  guests  something  different  from  a traditional hotel, providing upscale accommodation for people who want a home away from home when travelling.” The 165 all-suites hotel will offer spacious apartment-style living with additional services and public spaces.  Kirk Kinsell, president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, IHG, commented on the product. “Staybridge  Suites  Dubai  –  Union  Square  bridges  the  gap between regular hotels and serviced apartments close to the vibrant  Diyafa  district  of  Dubai  and  offers  a  more  homely environment for long-stay guests. Staybridge Suites guests tend to have a longer than average length of stay and our aim is to make that stay as comfortable as possible.” The hotel will represent the second Staybridge Suites in the UAE and the third in the company’s Middle Eastern portfolio. 16

MAY 28, 2011

- Accommodation

Hilton Worldwide Expands in Saudi Arabia and Hires 9,000 Team Members to Support Growth Hilton Worldwide is poised to triple the number of its hotels in Saudi Arabia, following the signing of six new properties in Mecca.


he  new  hotels  will form part of the Jabal Omar  Development in  the  holy  city, which is expected to be one of the largest hotel projects in the world.  Hilton  Worldwide  will  manage  30 percent  of  the  rooms  in  the development,  across  six  hotels, comprising of four Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties, including an allsuites hotel and a convention centre, a DoubleTree by Hilton and the first Conrad hotel in the Kingdom. All six hotels are scheduled to open in 2014. The  venture  brings  the  number  of hotels  in  Hilton’s  development pipeline in Saudi Arabia to 12, with a total  of  more  than  6,000  rooms. Consequently, the company will need to recruit 9,000 new team members over the next three to four years. Rudi  Jagersbacher,  area  president, Middle  East  and  Africa,  Hilton Worldwide, elaborated on the hotel chain’s recruitment strategy.  “We’ve got a huge task ahead of us to recruit the number of people required for  our  upcoming  hotels  in  the Kingdom.   By  partnering  with  The Prince  Sultan  College  for  Tourism and  Business  we  hope  to  engage aspiring  young  Saudis  to  pursue  a career  in  hospitality,  and  to  work together to train the people we will need across our hotels.” When all six hotels are open, Saudi Arabia will represent the first country across the Middle East and Africa to become  home  to  all  five  Hilton brands offered in the region. MAY 28, 2011

By partnering with The Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business we hope to engage aspiring young Saudis to pursue a career in hospitality 17

- International

France’s First Ascott-Branded Property Opens in Paris in June Ascott is to acquire and transform prime properties in Paris, with Ascott Arc de Triomphe Paris set to be its first serviced residence in France.


he  Ascott  property  will be  formed  via  the combination  and conversion  of  Hotel  K and the adjacent vacant residential property.  The luxurious 106unit  serviced  residence  will  begin operations in June. Lim Ming Yan, CEO, Ascott, underlined the  brand’s  commitment  to  Europe. “Within the first four months of this year, Ascott  has  invested  SGD203  million (USD163.7 million) in Europe through our  acquisitions  of  Ascott  Arc  de


Triomphe  Paris  and  two  properties  in Frankfurt  and  Hamburg.  This demonstrates  Ascott’s  long-term commitment  to  Europe,  and  we  will continue  to  identify  opportunities  to deepen  our  presence  especially  in  key markets  like  Paris,  London  and  major cities in Germany.” Ascott  Arc  de  Triomphe  Paris,  situated close  to  Champs  Elysées  Avenue, combines contemporary design with the distinctive  architecture  of  19th  century Paris.  It  represents  the  brand’s  49th property across 22 cities in Europe.

Ascott Arc de Triomphe Paris

We will continue to identify opportunities to deepen our presence

MAY 28, 2011

- International

Hilton Extends Hilton Garden Inn Brand in Washington DC Hilton Garden Inn, the upscale yet affordable brand of hotels from Hilton Worldwide, announced the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol.


he  204-room  hotel, situated  in  the  city centre,  is  operated  and managed  by  OTO Development and strives to  ensure  travellers  on  the  road  have everything they require. Rich  Lingenfelter,  general  manager, Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol  commented  on  the  hotel’s offering  to  visitors.  “Our  convenient location,  comfortable  guestrooms, superior  amenities  and  friendly  hotel team members make our hotel an ideal

choice for business or leisure travellers.” Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC/US Capitol  features  the  brand’s  signature Garden  Sleep  System  bed  –  a revolutionary  bed  providing  selfadjusting,  pressure-free  support.  A glass-enclosed pavilion lobby featuring a lounge area with a television and fireplace also keeps visitors comfortable. Guests will benefit from a complimentary 24-hour  business  centre,  two  meeting rooms,  various  dining  options  and recreational facilities including an indoor swimming pool.

Hilton Garden Inn Washington DC

Holiday Inn Birmingham-Hoover Opens in Alabama InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)  announced  the opening of the 112-room Holiday Inn Birmingham-Hoover, which is located on a lake just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. The five-storey hotel caters for leisure and business guests, offering an indoor heated pool as well as a fitness centre and business centre that are both open 24 hours a day. Gina LaBarre, vice president, brand delivery, the Americas, IHG, expressed her delight on the new hotel opening. “We are thrilled to welcome Holiday Inn Birmingham-Hoover to the Holiday  Inn  family  of  hotels.  Holiday  Inn  hotels  are specifically  designed  for  business  travellers  and  family oriented leisure travellers in need of a full-service lodging experience, and this hotel fits well within that offering.”  Nearby attractions include Regions Park, Aldridge Botanical Gardens,  Verizon  Wireless  Amphitheatre  and  Alabama Adventure Water and Theme Park. Holiday Inn Birmingham-Hoover includes features in keeping with the USD1 billion Holiday Inn brand re-launch.

Holiday Inn hotels are specifically designed for business travellers and family oriented leisure travellers 20

MAY 28, 2011

- International

Westin Hotels Debuts in Peru with Country’s Largest Convention Centre Westin Hotels announced that Peru’s largest meeting and convention facility opened in the heart of San Isidro, Lima, on May 17.


n addition to extensive meeting facilities, the Westin Lima Hotel &  Convention  Centre  features 301  rooms.  It  prides  itself  on being  an  ideal  venue  for weddings,  social  galas  and  business functions. Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts, commented on the new expansion. “We are delighted to make our landmark entry in South America, where we expect to aggressively grow the Westin brand over the next decade.� Al Qasba - Travel Trade Monthly - 21 May 2011 Trim: 112mm x 155mm The debut of Westin in Peru comes soon Bleed: 122mm x 165mm after  the  brand's  entry  into  Costa  Rica,

Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Centre

with the opening of its first all-inclusive resort, The Westin Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal. Westin is also poised to enter into Panama and increase its presence in Mexico.

Westin Hotels is set to double its portfolio in  Latin  America  by  2012.  Overall, Starwood Hotels & Resorts currently has 65 hotels and resorts in 13 countries in Latin America.

Raes Istanbul Zorlu Centre to Open in 2012



Raes Hotels and Resorts announced that it will open a hotel in Istanbul in 2012, within the city’s largest development in years, the Zorlu Centre. The  Raes  Istanbul  Zorlu  Centre,  which  will  reflect  the cultural features of the Turkish city, is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2012. It will accommodate both leisure and  business  travellers,  featuring  indoor  and  outdoor swimming pools, a heliport and what is set to be one of the largest spas in Istanbul. John  Johnston,  president,  Raes  Hotels  &  Resorts, commented on the unique oering of the Zorlu development and its common values with the Raes brand. “It will be a new district for the city of Istanbul and a destination for people from around the world. Being part of a development where the arts are a key element reaďŹƒrms our own commitment to arts, culture and sense of place.â€? The Zorlu Centre, where the Raes hotel will be situated, will also bring together a performing arts centre, oďŹƒces, residential property and retail outlets. 

It will be a new district for the city of Istanbul and a destination for people from around the world MAY 28, 2011

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- Air News

Al Bateen Launches DhabiJet Al Bateen Executive Airport has unveiled DhabiJet, a new fixed-base operator (FBO) handling service.


habiJet  was  formed  to meet  the  diverse requirements of business aviation  customers visiting  Al  Bateen.  The brand new service, which represents a ‘one stop  shop’  contact  point  dedicated  to exceptional customer service, will operate from the existing executive terminal under the management of the qualified DhabiJet Customer Service Team headed by Pauline Smith, senior FBO manager. Passengers will enjoy  access  to  the  terminal’s  relaxation lounge, sleep rooms, showers, rest areas and flight planning facilities. Mohammed Al Bulooki, vice president, Al Bateen  Executive  Airport,  Abu  Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), elaborated

Al Bateen Executice Airport

on the new service. “All  of  the  team  at  Al  Bateen  are  excited about the launch of DhabiJet as it represents a critical piece of the jigsaw in our stated aim to create the best Business Aviation Airport in  the  Middle  East.  The  focus  will  be  on

service and facilities, most importantly on making life simple for our customers”. ADAC’s Al Bateen airport recorded a 25 percent  increase  in  commercial  aircraft movements in April, compared with the same month in 2010.

Gulf Air Suspensions Gulf Air has suspended its operations to and from Beirut, Iran and Iraq, due to the security concerns.  The temporary suspension of the airline’s flights to and from Beirut holds up to and including May 31, while services to and  from  all  destinations  in  Iran  and  Iraq  have  been suspended up to and including June 30.  Passengers, booked for the relevant duration, can reschedule their  travel  for  a  later  Gulf  Air  flight  up  to  and  including September  30.  Where  necessary  and  possible,  Gulf  Air endeavours to transfer the booking to an alternative carrier amid the same circumstances: date, destination and class. Passengers affected by suspensions can also apply for a full refund.


MAY 28, 2011

- Air News

nasair Flies to Karachi nasair is poised to launch scheduled flights to Karachi, Pakistan, effective from June 18.


he  Saudi  Arabian low cost airline will operate  daily services  with  its Airbus A320 aircraft to  Karachi  from  both  Riyadh  and Jeddah airports. The announcement was  made  in  response  to  the growing  demand  for  services between  the  two  countries, resulting from an increase in the number  of  Pakistani  expats living  and  working  in  Saudi Arabia and the likely influx of an estimated  200,000  pilgrims ahead of the Hajj season.  Simon  Stewart,  CEO,  nasair, commented on the new routes.  “We  are  proud  of  our commitment to being the smart choice for passengers throughout the MENA region and beyond. By adding this new destination, we intend  to  efficiently  serve  the Pakistani businessmen, executives, families  and  workers  living  in Saudi  Arabia.  We  also  hope  to offer Saudi business people more travel  options  for  reaching expanding markets in Pakistan.”

The  new  routes  will  bring  the number  of  nasair’s  international destinations  to  19.  To  better  serve customers,  alongside  the  intent  to expand its route map, the carrier also plans to redesign its website and add advanced features.

We are proud of our commitment to being the smart choice for passengers throughout the MENA region and beyond MAY 28, 2011


Agent’s Insight Name: Samer Costantine Position: Sales Manager Company: Cosmos Tours Location: UAE

Samer Costantine

Who are you?

Amadeus Launches Travel Agent Solutions Amadeus Qatar has launched two new solutions that will help travel agents to easily access a wide range of Amadeus and nonAmadeus  fare  content  and  provide  the  lowest  fares  to  its customers.  The  new  Amadeus  Master  Pricer  Expert  is  a  shopping  and comparison  solution  for  travel  agents,  offering  optimised accuracy.  The  solution  makes  it  possible  to  immediately  access  a  vast selection of fares and tailor recommendations for customer’s needs. The  Amadeus  All  Fares  can  also  help  travel  agents  to  offer  a greater breadth of low fare choice and travel flexibility to their customers with the ability to access multiple content sources, compare prices quickly and book the best available offer. Travel agents can use it to access more than 500 Amadeus airlines and more than 40 websites. Wafiq Al-Wahidi, general manager, Amadeus Qatar, noted that the company was keen to invest in research and development to offer solutions that can simplify travel agents’ work. “With Amadeus Master Pricer Expert, agents can search and book  fares  from  scratch  or  they  can  ‘beat  the  price’  already booked in the customer’s Passenger Name Record. Up to 20 price recommendations are sourced directly from the airlines ensuring agents can offer optimal accuracy to their customers. With the Amadeus All Fares, agents can search and book low-fares from both Amadeus and non-Amadeus sources.”

I have been working in the industry since 2006. Besides handling inbound sales,  I  also  attend  various  international  events  and exhibitions, representing my company as sales manager. Cosmos Tours is a fast growing and renowned tour operator based in Dubai, working on both inbound and outbound travel for more than  a  decade.  Our  team  consists  of  multilingual  experts  in tourism, all of them well trained to cater for all requirements in a professional way. Our state-of-the-art communication technology ensures efficient service which results in customer satisfaction. Over and above that, we have our own fleet of fully equipped luxury coaches, four-wheel drives and a Bedouin campsite, which depicts a real touch of Arabian history and traditions. In addition, Cosmos Tours enjoys long lasting business relations with major operators  across  Europe,  Scandinavia  and  the  Far  East.  Our comprehensive range of tours provides relaxation and recreational activities for visitors and also enables them to witness the spice and diversity of Arabian culture and history.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? I enjoy working in the industry for various reasons, including the possibility to travel, meet new people, learn about new traditions,  habits  and  to  understand  others  as  well  as  to encourage travelling. It is a unique way to explore the world.

When is the best time to visit the UAE? Between September and April. Besides the nice weather, these months are packed with various events and festivals.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? To Bali, Indonesia, which has been regarded as a tourist haven for decades. It is renowned for lots of highly developed arts and sculptures, paintings and historical places and offers a wide range of dance, music and fun activities.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? First and foremost for the honesty and transparency we offer. Furthermore,  our  dedicated,  multilingual  staff  is  ready  to provide the best service 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are also internationally connected with suppliers and partners all over the world. 26

MAY 28, 2011

Michael Scully

Thomas Grunder

Managing Director, Hospitality, Seven Tides

Vice President of Global Sales, Jumeirah

“Many hotel operators here are fishing in the same pond. This strategy is unsustainable, we need to open-up new markets, to drive in more visitors. There are a number of untapped market segments, such as singles, the 18-30 market, mature couples, sports, medical, families, budget-holidays and even back-packers. It’s amazing that Dubai does not have a four-star beach resort, Michael Scully let  alone  extensive  public  beach facilities for economy travellers.”

“People want to come to Dubai and diversify the hotel sector with more luxury and more exclusive hotels as well  as  three-and  four-star  properties  meaning  the emirate can now approach different customer bases to fuel growth.”

It’s amazing that Dubai does not have a four-star beach resort

The emirate can now approach different customer bases to fuel growth Thomas Grunder

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 28, 2011

Hossam Kamal

Hossam Kamal

Hossam Kamal has been appointed as hotel manager of Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa. Kamal, who has 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, joined Rotana in 2004 as senior assistant front office manager for Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi. A year later he moved to Egypt to be part of the pre-opening team of Grand Rotana Resort & Spa Sharm El Sheikh, as front office manager before being promoted to director of rooms. In 2008, he returned to the UAE as part of the pre-opening team of Cove Rotana Resort Ras Al Khaimah, where he worked his way up to executive assistant manager. In his new role, he will focus on positioning the resort as the best in the area and promote it both regionally and internationally.

Klaus Assman Klaus  Assman  has  been appointed as general manager for Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Dubai. Assman, who has been with Jumeirah for eight years, has  previously  gained  preopening experience in the US, Asia and the Middle East. In his new role, he will lead the pre-opening  team  of  the company’s  new  property, scheduled to welcome its first guests by the end of the year. Prior to joining Jumeirah, he worked for Shangri-La in the Philippines, and Park Hyatt in Germany and the US.

Klaus Assman MAY 28, 2011


Online Travel Bookings Enjoy Growth The online travel and tourism industry will experience solid growth over the next few years, according to research by Euromonitor International, with the Middle East set to lead the way.


ir  travel  remains  the strongest  online category,  making  up more  than  half  of  sales by  value  in  North America and Australasia in 2010.  For the Middle East and Africa, air represented around 10 percent of value sales in 2010.  Between  2010  and  2015,  air  travel  will experience  a  13  percent  compound annual  growth  rate  in  the  region, alongside Eastern Europe, the strongest online growth figures in the Travel and Tourism Global Overview report. Online hotel bookings in the Middle East and  Africa  will  grow  by  more  than  12


percent over the period, sharing the top slot  with  Latin  America.  The  growth figures  for  North  America  are  in  single digits for air and hotels, at six percent and four percent respectively.  Nadejda  Popova,  travel  and  tourism industry analyst, Euromonitor International Travel, commented that the Middle East is one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations and source markets. “This growth is replicated online over the next five years with web sales across both air travel and accommodation increasing dramatically.” In the mature online market of Western Europe  hotel  sales  still  represented  a

worthwhile opportunity. Social media is another opening, particularly as airlines such  as  Delta  and  easyJet  now  have transactional pages on social networking websites.

MAY 28, 2011

Q & A with Frederic Bardin In the face of increasing threats to the travel and tourism industry, Emirates Holidays has held its position in the market through diversification and extension of its product portfolio. Frederic Bardin, senior vice president, Emirates Holidays, expands on the travel agent’s innovative ideas and plans for exploiting upcoming markets. Travel Trade Weekly: Tell us about than you find in August. This year you will Emirates Holidays’ performance. probably find more promotions in August Frederic Bardin: For  the  year  2009 as a lot of the business for hotels during there was a drop. However, there was a little growth in 2010 and so far for this year we are picking up a bit faster. We have around  25  percent  growth  this  year compared to 2010 and we have budgeted for  this  financial  year,  which  started  in April,  for  30  percent  growth.  We  have space  to  grow  in  our  market  and  our advantage is that we are  not just a Dubai operator.  We  sell  out  of  New  Zealand, Africa,  China  and  so  forth,  from  all markets on the Emirates network .

Travel Trade Weekly: What do you anticipate for this summer being the second quarter of your financial year? Frederic Bardin: We are hoping that Arab families will take a longer holiday than usual and take breaks  for six weeks until the end of July. We are also looking at  the  destinations  that  are  suitable  for these families and we are asking ourselves about the possibility of these families not coming back to the Gulf area just because it  is  Ramadan  in  August,  but  spending Ramadan  somewhere  else,  in  a destination  that  provides  facilities  for Ramadan. For example, there are hotels in Australia that provide facilities for Arab families,  like  the  proper  food  and Ramadan  tents.  So  a  big  sales  job  is planned for the summer and  we also have very good deals for Dubai.

this period is not GCC traffic but mostly from Europe, who book almost anywhere to be in the sun and want to escape. This August  there  will  be  even    less  GCC business than before due to Ramadan.

Travel Trade Weekly: Do you have any new announcements or concepts? Frederic Bardin: The new things we do usually  consist  of  new  destinations revolving around the  Emirates network. For example, we started selling Spain half way through 2010 when Emirates started going to Madrid. We also started flights to Geneva and we are going to have a small brochure out on Copenhagen as we start flights  there  on  August  1.  We  will  start promoting Buenos Aires in autumn as we will start flying there from January 2012 – a flight attached to Rio de Janeiro.  We also just launched two luxury safari trains in India: one in the north and the other  one  in  the  south.  We  have  also expanded  on  the  cruise  section  in  our brochures. We are aiming to service our clients and create a concept where we can do anything with regards to cruises – sell any company, big cruise, small ship and river  cruise.  We  are  talking  about thousands of ships in the world.

Travel Trade Weekly: Would you say that cruising is something upcoming and a new trend? Travel Trade Weekly: Do you find the Frederic Bardin: I am hoping for it to months of June and July challenging for be  something  big.  A  lot  of  cruise the UAE area, particularly in Dubai? companies  are  coming  into  the  UAE Frederic Bardin: You find a lot more during winter and summer. The intake of promotions in hotels in Dubai during July MAY 28, 2011

Frederic Bardin

the  local  market  is  very  small  and  the

majority  of  the  cruise  customers  come from Europe where the passengers get off the ship, they decide for example to stay in Dubai for a few days and then they fly back to Europe. We are trying to sell to locals in the UAE the idea that they can also sail out on a cruise, go to Muscat, to Abu Dhabi etc.  and  it  is  just  another  way  of discovering something new.

Travel Trade Weekly: How much will suppliers in your brochures change this year? Frederic Bardin: We  do  not  tend  to change hotels if we find the mix is good however,  we  do  start  asking  ourselves questions if the room nights in one hotel are very low compared with others. Then we consider that maybe we do not have the  right  property.  If  a  hotel  does  not work,  then  we  may  take  it  off  after analysing all aspects as to why.    31

ATM 2011 Organisers Report Impressive Figures The success of  Arabian  Travel  Market (ATM) 2011, has mirrored the strength of  the  Middle  East’s  tourism  industry through its impressive post-show figures, according to organisers. Although the official audited figures for the  May  2-5  show  at  the  Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre  will  not  be  available  until  next month, initial estimates make impressive reading. Participant numbers for this year’s event were up by more than 10 percent year-onyear at 24,300, increasing from 21,900 in 2010.  More  than  2,200  exhibiting

companies  set  up  stands  in  almost 20,000m2 of floorspace. Mark  Walsh,  group  exhibition  director, Reed  Travel  Exhibitions,  organiser  of ATM  2011,  described  the  show  as  an effective barometer for the health of the regional travel and tourism sector.  “Notwithstanding  our  hugely  popular seminar and conference programme and dedicated  cruise  and  medical  pavilions, the  numbers  and  feedback  comments echo  the  underlying  confidence throughout the industry and the wave of optimism going forward. These figures are a clear demonstration of just how robust

ATM 2011

the region’s tourism sector is, as travel and tourism  operators  and  hoteliers  from outside the Middle East look to the Gulf as  an  inbound  source  market  of  choice, especially given the slow pace of economic recovery across Europe and the US.”

Events International Travel Expo Hong Kong, June 9-12 , 2011 Hong Kong’s only Travel Fair also covering markets of China and Asia. 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.

China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition Beijing, China, August 30-September 1, 2011 ( A leading event for the meetings, incentives, business travel and events industry in China and Asia.  PATA Travel Mart New Delhi, India, September 6-9, 2011 ( Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show with networking and contracting opportunities.

Top Resa, International French Travel Market Paris, France, September 20-23, 2011 CITY FAIR The European Cities Travel Workshop ( London, UK, June 20, 2011 France’s  international  travel  and  tourism  trade  fair  for ( A one day event of pre-scheduled appointments dedicated to networking, doing business, innovating and keeping abreast of market developments.  the sector of city tourism. AIBTM Baltimore, US, June 21-23, 2011 ( A US event for the business travel and meetings industry.


Cityscape Dubai Dubai, UAE, September 26-29, 2011 ( Business-to-business networking exhibition and conference for emerging real estate markets globally.

MAY 28, 2011

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