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Middle East and North Africa Edition

July 16, Issue 88

The Rezidor Hotel Group has opened two new key properties in the UAE, strengthening its growing portfolio in the region.

Marriott to Debut in iraq Marriott international is poised to make its foray into iraq after signing agreements with empire iraq to manage two hotels in erbil, both slated to open in 2014.

4 flyDubai Joins sabre GDs flydubai and sabre travel network have signed distribution and technology agreements providing the carrier access to sabre’s extensive user database.

7 In This Issue Market Update Weekly News Accommodation News Air Travel News International Who’s Moved Travel Talk Agents’ Corner Travel Channels Rendezvous Events July 16, 2011

2 3 5 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 issue 88


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary Kammitsi Journalists rita Kasziba Duncan Macrae Marianna Keen Design & Layout elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Dimitris Thomaidis Maria Demetriadou Directors andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.o. box 25255 nicosia 1308 Cyprus tel: +35722820888 fax: +35722318958 Website Emails

Survey Predicts Optimism for Business Travel Sector UK business leaders gave an optimistic indication of their forecast business travel expenditure for this year in a recent survey by the online private jet hire platform,


ndertaken in March by Clarity, an independent online research group, the uK business leaders 2011 travel survey analysed responses from Ceos, managing directors and chairmen of some of the uK’s top companies. results suggest that business travel is still considered of high importance, despite advancements in technology and the rising trend in virtual events. as many as 95 percent of respondents stated that face-to-face meetings are still essential for them. The vast majority of business leaders included in the study, 80 percent expect to spend at least as much on their own business travel this year as they did in 2010, with just over a quarter 27

percent expecting their spend levels to increase by 10 percent. almost one in 10 respondents said they intend to spend as much as 25 percent more this year. a total of 39 percent of respondents said on average they spent between six and 10 days per month travelling on business in 2010, with a further 26 percent away for 11 days or more. an indicated rise in expenditure offers optimism to the business travel industry throughout the world, however, adam twidell, Ceo,, suggested that the sector has changed. “There is now increased pressure to travel on business as efficiently as possible – both in terms of cost and time. today’s business leader is looking to reach their destination as seamlessly as possible, with the ability to work on the way.”

UNWTO Reveals Positive Tourist Figures

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 14/7/2011 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 5.96 3.75 1,514.5 0.37 0.71 47.38 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.38 7.97 10,603 213.95 73.11 1.21

The number of international tourist arrivals increased by 4.5 percent in the first four months of this year, according to the latest issue of the unWto World tourism barometer. Growth was positive in all regions, apart from the Middle east, with some subregions achieving double-digit growth. south america’s tourist arrivals shot up by 17 percent, south asia’s by 14 percent and south-east asia’s by 10 percent. taleb rifai, secretary-general, unWto, commented on the industry’s strong performance. “Global tourism continues to consolidate the recovery of 2010 despite the impact of recent developments in the Middle east and north africa, as well as the tragic events in Japan, which are temporarily affecting travel flows to these regions. We should nonetheless remain vigilant as we face other persisting uncertainties such as high unemployment and increased public austerity measures.” unWto expects that destinations currently facing difficulties will see demand recover towards the end of the year. “it is time to support those destinations and help their tourism sectors to rebound, contributing to overall economic and social stability and progress,” added rifai. tourist arrivals in the Middle east were down by 14 percent, while north africa’s fell by 11 percent. nonetheless, some destinations in the Middle east have shown particularly positive results, such as saudi arabia and the uae. July 16, 2011

Dollar Rent a Car Expands into Saudi Arabia Dollar Rent a Car, a franchise of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. has expanded into Saudi Arabia in a franchise agreement with Al Wefaq Rent a Car.


ollar’s oďŹƒce in al rawabi, riyadh, will serve as headquarters for operations in riyadh, Jeddah, al Khobar and Jubail, and will be managed by nasser alqahtani, chairman and Ceo of the company. The franchise will target corporate clientele as well as holiday makers and residents who frequently opt to rent cars for drives to bahrain and the uae. alqahtani remarked on the significance of the new business agreement. “saudi arabia is a hub for regional and international investment at the moment. tourism is increasing at a steady pace. We have an influx of business tourists, saudi

has also been a hub for religious retreats and we are prepared to serve the tourist this ramadan season.�


Saudi Arabia is a hub for regional and international investment at the moment. Tourism is increasing at a steady pace The World travel and tourism Council (WttC) reports that leisure travel spending (inbound and domestic) is expected to generate 54.7 percent of

direct travel and tourism GDP during this year, compared with 45.3 percent from business travel spending, so Dollar expects an even distribution of business from both sectors.

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Marriott to Debut in Iraq Marriott International is poised to make its foray into Iraq after signing agreements with Empire Iraq to manage two hotels in Erbil, both slated to open in 2014. Erbil


he 200-room upscale Marriott Hotels & resorts-branded hotel and the 75-unit deluxe Marriott executive apartments property will form part of an ample mixed-use project. besides the hotels, empire World, currently under construction, will feature residential towers, private villas and office towers as well as retail and leisure facilities. erbil, the capital of iraqi Kurdistan, is instrumental to the region’s development and well-served by a number of international airlines, highlighted ed fuller, president and managing director, international lodging, Marriott international. “erbil is an encouraging destination with a lot of economic and commercial opportunity. The city serves as a gateway to the region and we are pleased to be working with empire iraq on this prestigious project and look forward to doing what we can to help instill a sense of market confidence in terms of the area’s security. We are confident that this significant development will help the people of erbil and Kurdistan to achieve their positive visions of the future.” Marriot represents the first international brand to invest straight into two properties in Kurdistan, noted Peshraw agha, chairman of the board, empire iraq. 4

“Marriott is the first truly global hotel brand to recognise the potential of iraq and establish not one but two properties in Kurdistan. erbil is the centre of growth in the area and Marriott’s commitment to these projects clearly indicates that erbil has arrived as an international city benefitting such prestigious and quality brands.”

Marriott is the first truly global hotel brand to recognise the potential of Iraq and establish not one but two properties in Kurdistan besides 200 rooms, erbil Marriott will feature a range of amenities and services, including four restaurants, lounges, a fitness and spa section and spacious meeting facilities. upon completion, the 75-unit Marriott executive apartments will present a five-star, full service hotel with the tenor of residential living for extended stay travellers. located in a separate building adjacent to the hotel, guests will enjoy access to all the facilities of both properties. erbil Marriott and Marriott executive apartments erbil, Marriott international’s first two properties in iraq, will extend the company’s global footprint to 71 countries around the world.

UAE Signs Open Air Services Agreement with Romania The UAE General Civil aviation authority signed an open air services agreement (asa) with romania, boosting cooperation in the air transport sector. H.e. sultan bin saeed al Mansoori, minister of economy and chairman of uae General Civil aviation authority, signed the contract with anca Daniela boagiu, minister of transport and infrastructure, romania, on June 21, while she was conducting an official trip to the uae. The agreement allows any number of designated airlines of both parties to perform scheduled air services, with any capacities, numbers, frequencies and types of aircraft, in any type of service (passenger or cargo), whether owned or leased, on routes between romania and the uae. in addition to unrestricted third and fourth freedoms, it includes the possibility to exercise fifth freedom traffic rights while operating all-cargo services. increased liberalisation achieved through the asa is anticipated to boost the air transport and tourism industries of both parties involved.

bmi Alters Syria flights Due to the ongoing political unrest in syria, british Midland international (bmi) has further rarefied its services to Damascus. The airline, which had previously offered daily flights to the capital city of syria, has now trimmed its operation to three weekly services on Mondays, fridays and sundays. all other flights apart from the modified schedule, which is effective until september 2, will be cancelled. The uncertainty in syria had already prompted bmi to alter its schedule and reduce the number of services operated between london Heathrow and Damascus from daily to four flights per week at the beginning of the summer. July 16, 2011

- Accommodation

Rezidor Opens Two Hotels in UAE The Rezidor Hotel Group has opened two new key properties in the UAE, strengthening its growing portfolio in the region.

Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai


he 471-room radisson royal Hotel, Dubai and the 257-room radisson blu resort, fujairah Dibba, previously managed by Jal, will be operated under the group’s core brand with immediate effect. both hotels are owned by aCiCo industries and its subsidiary. Kurt ritter, president and Ceo, rezidor, remarked on the significance of the new additions to the company’s portfolio. “The radisson royal Hotel, Dubai will be one of our flagships in the Middle east. it enjoys a prime location with outstanding visibility, an award-winning design, and world class service standards. We are proud and thankful to be the operator of such a high-quality asset. The radisson blu resort, fujairah Dibba further strengthens our growing portfolio of young and stylish resorts across europe, Middle east and africa, and opens new leisure markets to us.” The radisson royal Hotel, featuring a Zen spa, rooftop pool, night club, and eight meeting rooms, is located on the prominent sheikh Zayed road and the radisson blu resort, with a fitness centre, indoor conference space and four terrace pools, is situated between the Hajjar Mountains and the Gulf of oman.

V. Five Continents Hospitality to Open Kuwait Hotel V. Five Continents Hospitality Group is to consolidate its presence in the Middle east. The company, which currently operates two properties in the uae, is scheduled to open ramada Plaza in Kuwait, in the third quarter 2012. The Group is in process of taking over arabian suites and reopening the four-star hotel in Dubai after rebranding and renaming it. The company’s scope of work also focuses on the opening of two properties next year, one in egypt and one in Kuwait. Centrally situated in the main residential and commercial area of Kuwait City, the 299-unit hotel will offer a range of options including royal and presidential suites and deluxe rooms. With its two ballrooms, each seating up to 500 guests, spacious exhibition facilities and a conference hall with the capacity to accommodate 1,000 guests, the property will provide an excellent venue for both private gatherings and corporate events. it will also feature three restaurants, a swimming pool and a health club. With its service and amenities, the hotel is expected to set new standards, noted tarek elsherif, managing director, V. five Continents Hospitality Group. “ramada Plaza with its central location and excellent facilities, slated to open in the third quarter 2012 will be a valuable addition to our portfolio which we are planning to extend to 15 new properties in the next 10 years. Kuwait as one of the richest countries in the world with a well developed infrastructure, excellent entertainment and recreation facilities and attracts business and leisure travellers alike. our new five-star property we will be able not only to meet but exceed the requirements of the most demanding travellers.”

The Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai will be one of our flagships in the Middle East July 16, 2011


- Air Travel

Qatar Airways Partners with JetBlue Qatar Airways and JetBlue, New York’s Hometown Airline, have signed a new interline agreement to provide travellers with seamless connectivity between the airlines’ global networks.


n terms of the partnership, travellers will enjoy the convenience of combining flights on the carriers’ extensive route maps by booking a single itinerary. The qatari carrier currently operates daily non-stop services from its Doha hub to Houston, new york and Washington. Jetblue’s passengers will now be able to take advantage of qatar airways’ rapidly growing network and easily fly to a number of destinations that have previously been ‘out of reach’ for them, including bali, indonesia; Cebu, Philippines; Phuket, Thailand; and Hanoi, Vietnam. Jetblue, the top domestic airline at John f. Kennedy airport (JfK), will offer travellers flying with qatar airways more than 150 daily services to a number of major american cities, including boston, Chicago, fort lauderdale, los angeles, orlando, san francisco and san Juan, Puerto rico. Via Washington Dullas international airport, passengers will be able to continue their trips to dozens of cities in

California and florida as well as to boston and new york. Dave barger, president and Ceo, Jetblue, commented on the cooperation. “We’re honoured to partner with qatar airways, an airline that like Jetblue is constantly focused on delivering a premium experience to all travellers. We look forward to introducing Jetblue's award-winning service to more and more customers from all corners of the globe.” akbar al baker, Ceo, qatar airways, remarked on the partnership’s benefits. “We are pleased to now be growing our passenger base through this partnership with Jetblue which offers a convenient travel experience from Jetblue's domestic network in the us to the many international destinations we fly to beyond our hub in Doha, qatar. qatar airways' hub in Doha is strategically placed to connect east and West, with a timetable so carefully orchestrated that transit times on popular routes are as little as 30 minutes, a connection time which we comfortably can meet.”

Bahrain to Denmark Service Launched Gulf Air has launched four weekly flights from bahrain international airport to Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. following the inaugural flight, Karim Makhlouf, chief commercial officer, Gulf air, commented that the new service will open the doors for huge commercial and tourism opportunities in the whole of scandinavia and the baltic region, as well as the Middle east and north africa. “The Kingdom of bahrain, from where Gulf air operates, sits at the gateway to the vast arabian Gulf providing easy access to 36 million consumers in the Gulf and 400 million consumers in the Mena region, and Gulf air provides excellent connectivity to these markets with its extensive network. bahrain, on its own, is July 16, 2011

ranked as the freest economy in the Mena region besides boasting rich cultural heritage and history, a tropical climate with some beautiful little islands and a multicultural, cosmopolitan lifestyle.” The asian and the indian sub-continent regions have gained popularity among scandinavians, according to Makhlouf. “on the other hand, arabs are also keen travellers, who look for newer places to spend their summer holidays with family and friends. With our Copenhagen connection, we are opening the doors for them to enjoy Denmark and beyond – the whole of scandinavia and the baltic regions. We are working closely with ‘Copenhagen Connected’ and hope to promote Copenhagen in the Gulf region.”

flydubai Joins Sabre GDS flydubai and sabre travel network have signed distribution and technology agreements providing the carrier access to sabre’s extensive user database. in terms of the multi-year global distribution contract, more than 350,000 sabre-connected travel agents around the world will be able to book flights on flydubai’s expanding network. Hamish broom, director of distribution for europe, Middle east and africa, sabre travel network, elaborated on the partnership. “our new agreement with flydubai gives our agency’s customers greater choice and relevant content in growth regions like the Middle east. agents can be assured of reaching the airline’s content through the global distribution system (GDs) as well as our commitment to working with them on an easy way to pay for and settle new ancillary services.” flydubai has also joined the users of the flight scheduling technology provided by sabre airline solutions, which is expected to generate up to two percent of incremental revenue for the carrier by improving its use of aircraft and passenger connections. Ghaith al Ghaith, Ceo, flydubai, commented that the partnership will further consolidate the carrier’s position in the market. “today’s announcement highlights the great partnership we have with sabre. We have enjoyed great success since we were established as Dubai’s first low-cost carrier two years ago, and now we are putting in place key initiatives to really accelerate our growth. Working with the world’s largest GDs, sabre, gives us global reach and enables us to take our business to the next level, while sabre’s flight scheduling technology will help us maximise our fleet and provide an even better experience for our customers.” 7

- Air News

Gulf Air Returns to Nairobi Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain has reinstated Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, to its network.


arcus bernhardt, chief services officer, Gulf air, commented on the re-introduced route. “We are pleased to see our service relaunched to nairobi in Kenya, our fourth destination in the african continent. Kenya has seen some impressive economic growth in recent years and we feel it is just the right time for us to be back to this great country.” The carrier has expanded at a rapid pace in the recent months, highlighted bernhardt. “With the addition of nairobi we have opened eight destinations in this year alone, which demonstrates our strategy of

Gulf Air

connecting key potential and underserved markets with the Kingdom of bahrain and beyond. We have scheduled services for good connections through bahrain, not just to allow passengers to take advantage of the airline’s regional network, the largest in the region, but also to travel to asia, africa and europe through our base in bahrain, the fastest hub in the region.” nairobi, the largest city of Kenya, is

instrumental in east africa’s financial and touristical developments. The relaunched route will be served by an airbus a320 in a two-class configuration.

With the addition of Nairobi we have opened eight destinations in this year alone

Etihad Airways Opens New China Route Etihad Airways has revealed plans to commence services to Chengdu in southwest China as of December 15, subject to government approval. Chengdu, the airline’s 69th destination, is the capital of sichuan province and will be connected to etihad’s home-base in abu Dhabi by four nonstop return services per week. James Hogan, Ceo, etihad airways, explained that the new service provides the first ever flight link between the uae and sichuan province. “The new Chengdu services will connect the uae with the economic centre and transportation and communication hub of China’s booming southwest region. This will further stimulate the growth of commerce and trade between the uae and China, already the uae’s third largest trading partner. it will also provide a new, more convenient gateway into southwest China for business and leisure travellers from europe and the Middle east and a faster new route to europe and the Middle east for the rapidly growing Chinese outbound travel market.” The flights to Chengdu will take place on tuesdays, Thursdays, fridays and sundays, returning to abu Dhabi on the same days. 8

July 16, 2011

- International

Banyan Tree to Open Four Angsana Hotels Banyan Tree is to further enhance its portfolio of Angsana branded properties with four openings this year.


ollowing an extensive renovation, angsana bintan revealed its revamped new look in June. nestled in indonesia’s scenic tanjung said bay, the property is a heavenly retreat in the tranquil island of bintan. besides 106 suites and rooms, it features a private beach, and a number of food, beverage

and recreational facilities. scheduled to welcome its first guests by December 1, angsana laguna Phuket, the designated flagship property, is set to usher a new breed in the brand’s portfolio of ‘stylish, practical and caring’ properties. Guests will enjoy an array of dining concepts, a swimming pool and a brand new room category, dedicated to families.

located 10 minutes away from the capital city of Port louis, angsana balaclava is set in Mauritius’ striking turtle bay. The property, which will consist of 39 suites and 11 villas, is slated to open in the third quarter of the year. as part of the integrated Xixi Paradise development, angsana Hangzhou is due to also open in the third quarter of the year. The contemporary hotel will feature 59 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant with outdoor terrace, a poolside bar alongside an open-air roof garden, a library and meeting facilities.

Starwood Targets Chinese Travellers A Starwood Personalised travel programme aims to serve the unique preferences of Chinese travellers, debuting in 19 starwood hotels in gateway cities around the globe. as one of the world’s fastest growing travel markets, with 100 million outbound travellers expected by 2015, China will play a significant role in global travel within the next decade, and the new initiative is anticipated to respond to this. among the international cities in which the programme has been introduced are Paris, Mexico City and new york. starwood Personalised travel offers a variety of simple tailored touches that are considered important to the Chinese guest. The new initiative is a natural move, commented frits van Paasschen, president and Ceo, starwood Hotels & resorts. “Just as our hotels in China have historically catered to american and european travellers with familiar amenities from home, now our hotels globally will provide the same services to Chinese travellers.” 10

July 16, 2011

Wael El Behi

Paul Arnold

Wael el behi has been appointed as executive assistant manager of ramada Downtown Dubai. el behi, who has nearly two decades of experience in sales, marketing and operations with luxury hotel brands, Wael El Behi previously worked with Coral Hotels & resorts, where he held several managerial positions. These included executive assistant manager of Coral Deira Dubai, general manager of Coral boutique Villas and regional director of sales and marketing. in 2009, as general manager, he was in charge of the successful opening of suha Hotel apartments. Prior to joining ramada Downtown Dubai, he held the position of director of business development with auris Hotel Management. in his new role, he will be instrumental in positioning the hotel as a leading deluxe hotel apartment in the market.

Paul arnold has joined rosewood Hotels & resorts’ global development team as vice president of development for the Middle east, africa and indian ocean (Meaio). in the newly created position, arnold will lead the ultra-luxury hotel and resort operator’s expansion initiatives within the Meaio region, and Paul Arnold provide support for development activities in europe. Having spent the past seven years in the Middle east, he brings strong industry network and deep regional market knowledge to his role, in which he will also spearhead the opening of rosewood abu Dhabi and rosewood Dubai hotels. He began his career in the industry in operational roles at various hotel properties in the us. He then worked for 12 years at ernst & young, five of which were spent in the us before moving to the Dubai office where he was in charge of the company’s real estate, hospitality and leisure advisory services practice across the Middle east and north africa.

Detlef Winter Detlef Winter has been appointed as general manager of athens ledra Marriott. Winter’s impressive career as a hotelier spans over 30 years and includes positions at five-star leading hotels across europe, asia, africa and Detlef Winter the Middle east. as general manager, he will spearhead the operation of one of the busiest hotels in athens. besides maintaining athens ledra Marriott’s long-standing reputation, he also aims to bring the hotel forward in all aspects, including guest satisfaction and increasing the number of international guests from the Middle east, asia and africa.

Lampros Brianas

Lampros Brianas

lampros brianas has been chosen to take on the role of regional market manager, Mena, at amadeus. brianas will be in charge of driving the growth of amadeus’ distribution and it business in the region, with specific focus on Kuwait, lebanon, Jordan, syria and sudan. He will also manage the local amadeus commercial organisations in these markets with the aim to grow profitability. Having been with amadeus for six years, he has gained experience in sales consulting while working on global sales transformation consulting projects and airline account management and managing the relationship with airline partners across the african region. July 16, 2011


Akbar Al Baker

Taleb Rifai

CEO, Qatar Airways

Secretary General, UNWTO

“We are among shining stars from the Middle east and will continue to explore new growth opportunities to cater for growing air travel demand.”

“The message on this World tourism Day is that, thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before. This interaction between people of different backgrounds and ways of life represents an enormous opportunity to advance tolerance, respect and mutual understanding”.

We will continue to explore new growth opportunities

Taleb Rifai

Thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before

Akbar Al Baker

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


July 16, 2011

Travelport Makes Ticketing Easier for Dubai Reservation Agents Business services provider Travelport, as part of its extensive global partnership with fCm travel solutions and parent company flight Centre, has migrated the travel group’s operations in Dubai to the Galileo global distribution system (GDs). fCm travel solutions is the corporate travel subsidiary of flight Centre, an australasian travel agency with more than 2,000 outlets around the world. The conversion was a team effort that involved transferring the group’s reservation and ticketing systems from a previous GDs to the Galileo platform. each of fCm Dubai’s reservation agents received hands-on training in preparation for the new system, enabling a smooth transition post-migration. as a result of flight Centre’s worldwide marketing agreement with travelport, fCm Dubai will gain access to a broader range of products and support services offered globally by the company, with the aim of implementing strategic solutions that can significantly improve agent productivity and streamline mid and back office processes. andrew boxall, general manager, fCm Dubai, feels that travelport will continue to develop new technology aimed at improving the travel industry. “We are confident that travelport can deliver the next generation of travel technology, matched by unparalleled customer service at both a local and global level. our mutual aim is to introduce cutting-edge products into our operations that can meet fCm Dubai’s future needs and bring our success to the next level.”

We are confident that Travelport can deliver the next generation of travel technology matched by unparalleled customer service July 16, 2011

Agent’s Insight

Denzil D’Silva

Name: Denzil D’Silva Position: General manager Company: Omega Travel & Tours Location: Bahrain Who are you? My name is Denzil D’silva and i have been working in the industry for the past 29 years, of which i served 14 years with KlM bahrain. Currently i hold the general manager position of omega travel & tours, a member of radius, the global corporate travel management company serving multinational corporations with regional or global travel programs. radius currently manages usD19 billion worth of annual travel expenditure through a tighly-intergrated global network, operating in 80 countries. omega also acts as the general sales agent for south african airways, a member of the international air transport association.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? i enjoy working with our customers and discussing their next holiday destination with them. in this industry every single day is a new learning experience. you get to know new customers, airline managers and sales persons, thus your network is growing day by day. in addition, i cannot deny that getting the chance to discover an airline’s latest destination and getting discounts at airlines or hotels are also part of the profession.

When is the best time to visit Bahrain? i would suggest spending your holiday here sometime between november and april.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? shanghai, China. i have read so much about the city and i cannot wait to discover it.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? What make omega really special are our excellent and experienced team and the personalised service we offer. our office in the bahrain Mall, open seven days a week, is happy to assist our customers anytime. Moreover, omega is the only travel agency in bahrain that operates the airmiles loyalty programme. Bahrain


UNWTO Report Highlights China’s International Tourism Growth China continues to demonstrate strong growth and has shown by far the fastest growth with regard to expenditure in international tourism in the last decade, according to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights 2011 Edition.


anking as the seventh biggest source market in 2005, China has since overtaken, respectively, italy, Japan, france and the uK, to reach third position in the ranking. in terms of receipts, an increase of 15 percent moved China up the rankings to fourth position. Hoping to further develop China’s travel and tourism market and raise the country’s profile, the China outbound travel and tourism Market (CottM), now in it’s eighth year, will be held on april 18-20, 2012 in beijing.



The event helps players in the Chinese travel trade to network, do business and share their knowledge of the industry. The previous CottM saw 235 exhibitors

from 55 different countries showcase their destinations and travel services to 3,300 leading outbound tour operators from all over China.

July 16, 2011

Q & A with Simon Stewart With the continually transforming airline market come frequent alterations in strategy and changes in ways to stay competitive. Simon Stewart, CEO, nasair, tells travel trade Weekly about the airline’s model, vision for the future and the challenges it has been faced with in the industry. Travel Trade Weekly: Tell us about the business model for nasair. Simon Stewart: We consider ourselves to be the saudi flag carrier. We are basically a low cost carrier (llC) in essence, but we are actually a hybrid, and i don’t believe that any airline out there is an lCC in its purest form anymore. basically carriers have got the elements of lCC models. our focus is on being a smart choice airline with smart services for the saudi people. our venture is about providing aviation services to the saudi people from inside and outside the Kingdom. We’re committed to high performance, and also for us it’s about low fares. We ensure that we’re ahead of the competition all the time. it’s about having a young fleet; obviously it’s a young and safe fleet, with high safety and standards. it’s about providing these smart services to our clientele and really that means focus on what smart services mean. for me it’s about leadership and service, and a front focus on the friendly warmth of our people. our airline is our employees and the way they communicate with our clientele is what it’s all about. also, online booking and our fares save them money. in that case we’re almost purist lCC. it’s about the ability to be a one-stop-shop for your journey. lastly, unlike other lCCs, we don’t want customers stampeding at the gate, running down the isle, and diving into the nearest seat where they feel is appropriate. We actually offer seat allocation, which has been quite popular as a service. you could say that’s similar to other carriers, but we also focus on doing the basics right and being reliable and being fair. That doesn’t mean we’re not always innovating. We have a bunch of very exciting projects, which are going to July 16, 2011

be dropping into the market, offering an advantage, which we’ll keep low profile. it’s like any business - you need to innovate. However, what you can do is employ some raw principles and rely upon them. it’s simplicity through smart services and we’ve got a complete new website launch, which a lot of work has gone into that.

Travel Trade Weekly: So how will this change the business? Is it just a facelift Simon Stewart or are you thinking about the facilities the website is opening to clientele? have a lounge, and it’s the same in riyadh, Simon Stewart: There should be an because our customers want this. so we’ve effortless visit to our website. if i want to go on and find a flight to Jordan, i want to come up and see a nice landing page all about Jordan, and where you can hire a car there. you see, it’s about re-facing and actually making all the services linked together.

Travel Trade Weekly: Low cost airlines, versus legacy airlines; what do you think is the difference between the two in reality? Simon Stewart: lets cut to the bottom line. lCCs are relatively new in the aviation field, saying actually we’re not going to have any frills, we’ll have a lean management structure, decreased processes to cut down time, a smart use of technology and, as we discussed with the website and the upgrading for nasair, integration of the mix. Communication is also very, very important. so basically lCCs have this lower cost basis from the very start, and its steam rolled, so now you’ve got a bunch of airlines with elements of lCCs. for us, the simple thing is its about providing the product that your customers value at the right price. so here in Dubai, we actually

actually got legacy. until recently you didn’t get what you paid for. People can’t be with some llCs and expect a scenic destination or city airport and wonder why you’re 25 miles outside town, where the taxi fare costs more than the airfare. We view things in a different view in this region. There are not so many secondary airports, infrastructure or facilities, so we’re working in that area, and at a regional view. There are differences in this region, so the elements of the business model of lCC and elements of legacy are through the needs of our customers. We provide the right product, and it gives us a product advantage, a market advantage and a communications advantage. We’re continually looking at ways to assert delivery and what we’re offering our various customers.

Travel Trade Weekly: Do you have statistics on types of bookings? Simon Stewart: around 30 percent are business travel, while the remainder is divided between leisure sectors. The number visiting family and friends is one of the highest. 15

QCCI, Qatar Tourism Authority and events Sign MoU to Organise World Chambers Congress in 2013 Qatar Chamber of Commerce & industry (qCCi) signed a Memorandum of understanding (Mou) with the qatar tourism authority and events to organize the eighth World Chambers Congress in Doha in 2013. organised by the iCC World Chambers federation and held every two years in different regions of the world, the World Chambers Congress is the only international forum for chamber executives worldwide and business leaders to share best-practice experience, develop networks and learn about new areas of innovation from other chambers. The next event, to be held on april 23-25, 2013, proposes to help attendees face the challenge of remaining relevant to

companies in their region. qCCi will be supported in the running of the event by the expertise of international consultants: KPMG, one of the largest international companies which provides auditing, tax and advisory services; Patton and boggs, an international law firm that serves as a legal advisor to businesses throughout the region and worldwide; and brown lloyd James, a public relations firm that offers strategic advice, public diplomacy guidance, government relations council, reputation management and media relations. ahmed al nuaimi, chairman, qatar tourism authority, remarked on the importance of the organisation’s involvement in the event and the benefits it could have on tourism. “qatar tourism authority welcomes the opportunity

to work with qCCi in organising such a significant international event for qatar and the region. The World Chambers Congress will be an excellent opportunity to showcase the country as an evolving destination for international conferences and events, and share our progressive vision with the global business community.” The 2013 congress is expected to attract delegates from over 125 countries worldwide and it represents another milestone in the qatar national Vision 2030 fostered by His Highness sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairman of qCCi, and Her Heighness sheikha Moza bint nasser, first lady of qatar, to secure the state’s rising position in the region and in the world.

Events Sports and Events Tourism Exchange Cape Town, South Africa, July 27-29, 2011 ( an event that focuses on south africa’s facilities and services for all top level international events and the exchange between sports tourism and the events industry.

Top Resa, International French Travel Market Paris, France, September 20-23, 2011 ( an international travel and tourism trade fair for networking, doing business, innovating and keeping abreast of market developments. Cityscape Dubai Dubai, UAE, September 26-29, 2011 China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition ( Beijing, China, August 30-September 1, 2011 a b2b networking exhibition and conference for emerging real ( estate markets globally. a leading event for the meetings, incentives, business travel Kazakhstan International Tourism Exhibition and events industry in China and asia. Astana, Kazakhstan, September 27-29, 2011 PATA Travel Mart New Delhi, India, September 6-9, 2011 The eighth Kazakhstan international tourism exhibition in ( astana, which caters for both the b2b and b2C markets and asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show with networking and features a vibrant mix of inbound and outbound destinations. contracting opportunities.


July 16, 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 88  

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