Travel Trade Weekly Issue 90

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Middle East and North Africa Edition

July 30, Issue 90

Four SeaSonS Hotel MarrakecH openS ItS DoorS

Al Bateen Executive Airport saw significant growth in business aviation, according to figures for the first half of the year, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has reported.

Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech has swung its doors wide open to welcome travellers keen on indulging in Moroccan culture.

5 new route launcHeD Between DoHa anD MeDIna Qatar airways has launched its fourth route to Saudi arabia, with four flights per week to the holy city of Medina.

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 30 2011

2 3 5 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 ISSue 90

Al Bateen Executive Airport Sees Rise in Private Jet Activity

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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel Journalists rita kasziba Duncan Macrae Marianna keen Design & Layout elina pericleous

SWISS Reports Rise in H1 Passenger Numbers SWISS carried 7,367,099 passengers in the first six months of this year, a 10.9 percent increase on the same period last year.

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he positive results are reported to be attributable partly to Sales & Marketing improved industry conditions Dimitris Thomaidis this year; whereas in 2010 Maria Demetriadou numerous flight cancellations Directors had to be made due to the Icelandic volcanic ash andreas constantinides cloud, which affected international airspace. The Mary kammitsi company posted year-on-year increases in all its Headquarters monthly passenger numbers to date for the p.o. Box 25255 current year. nicosia 1308 cyprus tel: +35722820888 while the 79.1 percent seat load factor recorded Fax: +35722318958 on SwISS’s european network from January to June saw a 1.1 percent increase from the same Website www.traveltradeweekly.travel period in 2010, the 83.7 percent seat load factor for intercontinental services experienced a 1.3 Emails info@traveltradeweekly.travel percent decline. SwISS performed 74,613 editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel flights in the six month period, some 8.4 percent sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

more than in the same period of 2010. total capacity (in available seat-km) was increased by 11.4 percent in europe and by 12.3 percent on intercontinental routes. Meanwhile, the airfreight business, Swiss worldcargo, suffered a 2.5 percent decline in its cargo load factor (by volume) for the period, falling to 79.3 percent.

Al Bateen Executive Airport Sees 40 Percent Rise in Private Jet Activity MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 28/7/2011 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)

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CURRENCY Dirham pound riyal pound Dinar Dinar pound Dinar riyal rial Dinar Dirham riyal rial Dinar Dinar

1USD= 3.67 5.96 3.75 1,514.5 0.37 0.71 47.45 0.27 3.64 0.38 1.37 7.88 10,603 213.25 73.47 1.21

Al Bateen Executive Airport saw significant growth in business aviation, according to figures for the first half of the year, abu Dhabi airports company (aDac) has reported. compared with the same period in 2010, the airport recorded a 40 percent increase in private jet movements. recent success is accredited in part to the addition of al Bateen’s fifth operator, rotana Jet, which launched services with a Gulfstream G450 jet early this year. commercial activity from the airport saw 12 percent growth for the period, reaching a total of more than 4,500 commercial movements for the first half of the year. Stephen Jones, general manager, al Bateen executive airport, attributes the good news in large part to a step change in service levels, including the airport’s recently unveiled new fixed base operator (FBo), DhabiJet. “The changes that aDac has implemented recently, such as the professional team that has been put in place at DhabiJet, the exclusive FBo product with a range of exclusive new services, are all being very well received by the market and the traffic results are solid evidence of that”.

The changes that ADAC has implemented recently are all being very well received by the market and the traffic results are solid evidence of that JulY 30, 2011


British Airways Set to Begin Daily Flights from Saudi Arabia British Airways has revised its winter schedule to include daily flights from Riyadh, amounting to a total of 12 flights between Saudi Arabia and London Heathrow.

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he increase from six to seven weekly flights from london to riyadh will be operated by the end of october. In addition to this route, the airline operates five services a week from Jeddah. paolo De renzis, regional commercial manager Middle east, British airways, elaborated on the decision to extend services in the kingdom. “we are absolutely delighted with the demand from the Saudi arabian market since we resumed flights two years ago. our two kingdoms share a great affinity and

JulY 30, 2011

passengers are travelling for a wide variety of reasons from tourism to business to education. In response to this continuously growing demand, we quickly realised that the additional one flight a week from riyadh, announced just over a month ago, wasn’t going to be sufficient. So, instead of adding one flight, we’ve decided to increase it to two, resulting in a daily service throughout the week from riyadh.” The riyadh route will be served using a Boeing 777 offering a choice of four cabins, including the award winning club world and the airline’s flagship first class cabin.

British Airways

Our two Kingdoms share a great affinity and passengers are travelling for a wide variety of reasons

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Drop in Abu Dhabi, Rise in Mecca Abu Dhabi has witnessed significant decline in gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR), whilst Mecca’s hospitality industry has been flourishing, according to STR Global’s Annual Profitability Survey 2011.

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ased on the market data provider’s analysis, while asia pacific, europe and latin america experienced a fruitful period with increasing Goppar, some Middle eastern results have been flagging. one of the highlights of the report is the impressive 75 percent Goppar growth in Shanghai, as a result of the successful hosting of the world expo. In contrast to the asian results, parts of the Middle east

suffered from the oversupply of hotel rooms, with abu Dhabi leading the negative ranking with a 40 percent decrease in Goppar. other parts of the region, however, experienced a successful period, with Mecca recording the highest proportion of revenue from gross operating profit with 68.5 percent. The lowest payroll to revenue ratio was found in Sharm el Sheikh with 11.8 percent whilst the highest is in athens with 46.4 percent.

Ascott to Open its First Serviced Residence in India The Ascott Limited will open citadines richmond Bangalore, its first serviced residence in India, on august 1. ascott secured the 96-unit property in Bangalore through a lease agreement and plans to begin operations in the coming week. lim Ming Yan, ceo, ascott, commented on the hotel chain’s expansion throughout the developing country. “India is a key market for ascott as it has significant demand for serviced residences arising from the fast growing economy. Many local as well as multinational companies have grown their operations in the country.” citadines richmond Bangalore is ascott’s seventh property under development in India, amounting to a total of 1,300 apartment units. The company has properties in ahmadabad and Hyderabad as well as two properties in both Bangalore and chennai. Somerset Greenways chennai is scheduled to open this year while the remaining five properties are expected to welcome their first guests within the next three years. “The six properties will cost uSD300 million when fully developed over the next three years,” added Yan. 4

Mecca

Grand Hyatt San Francisco Gets a Facelift The iconic Grand Hyatt San Francisco has embarked on an extensive transformation to become a world-class property upon re-opening in autumn 2012. Due to the increasing number of flights operated between the Middle east the uS, San Francisco has fast gained ground among arab travellers, noted kapil aggarwal, director of sales and marketing for South west asia, Hyatt International. “Middle eastern travellers are increasingly exploring wider areas of california beyond los angeles and San Diego and are being lured by the charms of San Francisco, including more than 200 parks, a cooler climate, a magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, nearby beaches, a wide range of world-class museums and multi-cultural dining options.” The landmark hotel, located in the heart of San Francisco, will re-open its doors in autumn 2012 as a world-class property, following an extensive uSD70 million, multi-phase transformation. The facelift includes the redesign of the hotel’s 659 units, the Grand club and the lobby, as well as the upgrade of the meeting facilities, the restaurant and the lounge. upon completion, Grand Hyatt San Francisco will set new standards, noted David nadelman, general manager. “with our unparalleled location in the heart of vibrant union Square, Grand Hyatt San Francisco has been a time-honoured favorite for visitors to the ‘city by the Bay’ for more than 42 years, offering limitless access to world-class shopping, historic landmarks and attractions, and premier dining and entertainment. our exciting renovation will reveal a sophisticated and luxurious new product, providing guests the very best in style, comfort and technology.”

Middle Eastern travellers are increasingly exploring wider areas of California beyond Los Angeles and San Diego and are being lured by the charms of San Francisco JulY 30, 2011


- Accommodation

Cristal Group Targets Pakistan Cristal Group Holding is to embark on its first venture out of the Middle East after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with real estate company Rufi Group for a joint venture to open at least 10 properties in Pakistan.

Peter Blackburn (left)

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he Group, which currently operates cristal abu Dhabi and will open cristal Salam Hotel in September, aims to increase its portfolio to 25 properties within the next five to 10 years throughout the Middle east, africa and asia. Marking its debut out of the Middle east, the company plans to open at least 10 contemporary properties in the forthcoming five years in pakistan ranging from budget to luxury hotels. taking into consideration its hidden potential, pakistan holds bright prospects, noted peter Blackburn, president and ceo, cristal Group Holdings. “This is cristal’s first venture out of the Mena region composing an essential part of our aggressive expansion plan. pakistan is a very promising market for us and definitely a key to the rest of the asian markets. Having known rufi Group for a long time; I am convinced that it is the best possible marriage between the two groups, each representing an enormous wealth of experiences in their own field.” rufi Group, with four decades of experience in developing properties in pakistan, Dubai and canada, strives to set new standards in the pakistani hospitality industry, commented Mehroz Manzoor, group director of business development, rafi Group. “Building on the success of our core business we are excited about the prospect of diversifying the hospitality industry with cristal Group Holdings, which offers a logical synergy to rufi Group’s presence in pakistan.” JulY 30, 2011

Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech Opens Its Doors Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech has swung its doors wide open to welcome travellers keen on indulging in Moroccan culture. The 16-hectare walled resort in the heart of the city comprises of 141 rooms and suites, and offers an array of options for relaxation and exploration, noted Jean claude wietzel, general manager. “ensuring that every guest gets the most out of their time with us is our priority.” with its peerless design the resort evokes Moroccan traditions, and offers picturesque views of the atlas Mountains and Menara Gardens. to best cater to families travelling with children, the resort features a fullysupervised facility dedicated to kids, a young adult centre with babysitting services and two pools. The current three dining options of the resort will soon be enhanced upon opening a new restaurant and rooftop lounge in September. Guests can unwind in one of the two pavilions of the spa, or take part in true Moroccan adventures offered within proximity of the resort. “In celebration of our grand opening, Four Seasons Hotel is offering several value packages designed to introduce travellers to the city in a way they’ve never experienced before. our event specialists are receiving a lot of inquiries for weddings, galas and corporate meetings in the adgal Ballroom, and with five additional spaces plus the garden, spa and dining options, Four Seasons Hotel Marrakech is ready to welcome them all,” added wietzel.

Ensuring that every guest gets the most out of their time with us is our priority

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- Air Travel

Etihad: Five Years, Five Flights in Sudan On the fifth anniversary of non-stop services between Abu Dhabi and Khartoum, Etihad Airways has launched a fifth weekly flight to the capital city of Sudan.

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he airline commenced its operations to khartoum in July 2006, and the route has since delivered sound results with more than 200,000 travellers and nearly 6.5 million tons of cargo carried during the last five years. James Hogan, ceo, etihad, commented on the additional service. “etihad is experiencing a period of rapid expansion with the launch of many exciting new destinations and the arrival of new aircraft. our services to khartoum have exceeded our expectations over the past five years, and we are pleased to be able to build on this success with an additional flight. khartoum is a special destination for us due to the established cultural and commercial ties between Sudan and the uae.” etihad, which operates a two cabin airbus a320-200 aircraft on the route, provides Sudanese passengers with seamless

Etihad Airways

connectivity to the airline’s expanding network, noted Mohamed elnoman, country manager for Sudan, etihad. “etihad has enjoyed consistently high load factors across all cabins since the launch of services between khartoum and abu Dhabi in 2006 and we are very proud of that success. The additional weekly flight will open new horizons for our commercial activities in Sudan and will offer our customers more flexibility in their travel to abu Dhabi and onto the airline’s worldwide network. The recently

announced operations to chengdu and Shanghai in china will also add extra value for our clients from Sudan.”

Our services to Khartoum have exceeded our expectations over the past five years, and we are pleased to be able to build on this success with an additional flight

New Route Launched Between Doha and Medina Qatar Airways has launched its fourth route to Saudi arabia, with four flights per week to the holy city of Medina. The new flights, non-stop from Doha, take Qatar airways’ capacity to Saudi arabia up to 60 services per week. The carrier recently boosted capacity to Saudi arabia with 14 weekly flights to Qatar Airways

JulY 30, 2011

the capital, riyadh, 14 weekly flights to the red Sea port city of Jeddah, and 28 weekly flights to the key commercial hub of Dammam. akbar al Baker, ceo, Qatar airways, expressed his delight at the airline’s addition of Medina to its global route network.

“This further strengthens our presence in the kingdom of Saudi arabia and clearly proves how important this dynamic market is for Qatar airways. we will now be able to fulfil the long-felt need of our customers, especially as we welcome the Holy month of ramadan in a few weeks from now. as the route to Medina develops, we will also look to add frequency and capacity to improve connectivity even further.” Qatar airways’ expansion this month also includes extending its reach in South asia, with the launch of flights to kolkata, India, on July 27. kolkata is the 12th destination served by Qatar airways across India. 7


- Air News

Transfers at airberlin’s Hub in Berlin Hit New Peak This summer, airberlin has been able to offer passengers more options than ever before, with 9,000 connecting flights per week from Berlin.

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ransfers at airberlin’s hub have hit the new peak one year before the new Berlin Brandenburg willy Brandit airport (Ber) is due to open. Joachim Hunold, ceo, airberlin, suggested that expansion considers Berlin’s air operations as a whole. “The hub in Berlin is already operating successfully and we are developing it with Ber airport in mind.” The hub structure, which has constantly been expanded, is based on six waves of flights between east and west as well as north and south. During peak times, up to 24 airberlin planes arrive at the airport from other parts of Germany, europe and

airberlin

intercontinental routes. passengers can connect smoothly to another wave of flights after arrival, and reports suggest that in light of the steady growth, passengers in transit in June amounted to 17 percent, while 23 percent

was the maximum recorded on any single day so far. This summer airberlin is offering a total of 70 destinations from Berlin via non-stop flights, and 12 connecting flights at least three times a day during the week.

Eritrean Airlines Returns to Dubai Eritrean Airlines, the national carrier of eritrea, resumed its services to Dubai. The airline, which re-launched its international operation on July 16, returns to the emirate with four weekly flights. The resumed route provides passengers with greater options and further strengthens the existing relationship between the african country and the uae, noted arif uddin Qadri, country manager, eritrean airlines. “It’s a significant development for the airline as well as for the thousands of passengers whose travel for business and leisure will now be more comfortable, quicker and economical. The resumption of flights to Dubai will further bolster bilateral relations between the two countries and bring immense benefit to the economies.” The carrier, whose fleet consists of two aircrafts, also operates flights from the eritrean capital city of asmara to rome, lahore, Jeddah, khartoum and cairo.

The resumption of flights to Dubai will further bolster bilateral relations between the two countries and bring immense benefit to the economies 8

JulY 30, 2011



- International

Starwood to Debut Four Points in Spain Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to debut another brand in Spain, after signing an agreement with Amrey Hotels to operate a Four Points hotel in Barcelona.

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our points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal will mark the brand’s entry into the Spanish market, where Starwood has already built up strong presence with 15 hotels under six of its nine brands. roeland Vos, president, Starwood Hotels & resorts, europe, africa and the Middle east, commented on the annoucment. “we are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with amrey as we debut our Four points brand in Spain. This successful relationship goes back more than five years with our le Meridien ra Beach Hotel & Spa just outside of Barcelona. Barcelona has always been a top destination for international travellers and a perfect market for our unique and compelling lifestyle brands. This agreement further underlines Starwood's commitment to continued growth and investment in the city of Barcelona and

throughout Spain.” Four points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal is slated to welcome its first guests, following the renovation and rebranding process of the existing amrey Diagonal Hotel, this fall.

Barcelona has always been a top destination for international travellers and a perfect market for our unique and compelling lifestyle brands located within the 22@, Barcelona’s innovations district with major developments underway, and adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, the hotel will feature 154 rooms, an all-day dining

Four Points Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal

restaurant, a café, bar, fitness centre, prefunction area, business centre, and meeting room spaces.

Best Western Expands in Fiji Best Western has expanded its australasian portfolio with the addition of three properties on the islands of Fiji. Best western’s debut in the favoured tourist hotspots of Fiji will further consolidate the hotel chain’s presence in the region, noted rob anderson, chief executive, Best western australasia. “Fiji is a key destination for australians and new Zealanders, for both business and pleasure. we are excited to bring the Best western brand, known for its consistent high standards, friendly service and terrific value, into Fiji.” Situated in Martintar nadi, only five minutes away from nadi International airport, Best western Hexagon International boasts a central location. 10

nestled among a tropical garden, the 114room hotel features a poolside restaurant, bar, lounge, three swimming pools, tour desk and conference rooms.

We are excited to bring the Best Western brand, known for its consistent high standards, friendly service and terrific value, into Fiji Built on expansive tropical grounds, Best western Grand west’s Villas, located in

nadi Bay, comprises of 20 self-contained units, an outdoor swimming pool with water slide, tennis courts, tour desk, a restaurant and a bar. The 47-room Best western Suva Motor Inn, located within proximity to the heart of the capital city and government buildings, offers an ideal base for both business and leisure travellers.

Best Western Hexagon International JulY 30, 2011


Angela Brav

Angela Brav

angela Brav has been chosen to take on the role of chief executive for europe at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) following the promotion of kirk kinsell, former president europe, Middle east and africa, to president of the americas. Brav joined IHG in 1988, and has since held a number of senior roles in IHG’s uS and european businesses. Most recently she worked as chief operating officer for the americas with responsibility for the operation of over 3,000 franchised and managed hotels in north america. prior to joining IHG, she held various operational positions with a number of hotel management companies. Besides her solid industry background in the uS, she also gained experience in Belgium and Mexico. with her new role, Brav has also assumed a seat on the company’s executive committee.

Jan Smits Jan Smits has been appointed as chief executive for asia, Middle east and africa at Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). Smits, who has been with IHG since 2002, adds the company’s operations in the Middle east and africa to his existing responsibilities in the Jan Smits asia-australasia region. Smits, who has had a successful 30-year career in the industry, earlier held the position of director of operations with rydges Hotels & resorts. prior to that, he was with Southern pacific Hotel corporation (SpHc), which was acquired by IHG in 2000.

Ahmad Araj ahmad araj has been appointed as cluster director of sales and marketing at cristal Hotels and resorts, abu Dhabi. In his new position, araj will be in charge of the implementation and development of the luxury hospitality company’s overall sales and marketing strategy, including advertising, media and public relations for cristal Hotel, abu Dhabi and cristal Salam, slated for opening in the third quarter of the year. previously, he held the role of director of sales at Grand Millenium al wahda Hotel abu. araj, who has more than 15 years of hospitality management experience, began his career as marketing manager at Sport Ghurnatah in riyadh. previous experience include positions at al ain rotana Hotel, Beach rotana Hotel and towers, rotana Hotels outbound Sales office and Intercontinental al ain resort. Ahmad Araj JulY 30, 2011

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Justin Francis

Justin Francis

Co-Founder, responsibletravel.com “[al ain] as the first uae site to be included on the uneSco world Heritage list, a great responsibility comes with having what is now recognised as one of the world’s greatest and most important cultural treasures. It will be thrust into the spotlight as a remarkable place to visit, and all eyes will be watching to see how it is being conserved for future generations. I encourage the uae to embrace this responsibility and benefit from a huge opportunity for responsible tourism in the country to flourish, with al ain at the forefront”.

I encourage the UAE to embrace this responsibility and benefit from a huge opportunity for responsible tourism

Khalid bel Jaflah Vice President Commercial UAE, Emirates “For many, ramadan is an important time to be together as a family unit. The uae is largely an expatriate community with family networks often spread around the globe. to help bring families together during the holy month, emirates has established these special fares.”

The UAE is largely an expatriate community with family networks often spread around the globe Khalid bel Jaflah

Travel Talk is your space – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

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JulY 30, 2011


Rotana Makes Booking Holidays Easier for its Abu Dhabi Staff The human resources department of Beach rotana abu Dhabi has opened two counters in the employee area of the hotel for flight ticket and vacation bookings. this is in order to provide easier access and more convenience to the employees wanting to go on a trip. The human resource team has also negotiated discounted rates with selected travel agencies that are used for vacation bookings and keep up to date with special offers to different destinations which are promoted to the staff on a regular basis. The flight reservation team is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in case of emergency flight requirements. Ziad Makhlouf, director of human resources, Beach rotana abu Dhabi, commented on the launch. “This initiative is one of many we have been implementing to make the lives of our employees more convenient. we listen to their comments, suggestions and concerns, and this initiative came up as a proactive suggestion during one of our team meetings. I am very happy to see it working.”

This initiative is one of many we have been implementing to make the lives of our employees more convenient

Agent’s Insight Name: Shazia Poona-Haq Position: Director of Sales Company: HTT Global Holidays & Incentives Location: UAE Who are you? My name is Shazia poona-Haq and I work as director of sales of HTT Global Holidays & Incentives. HTT is a 25 year old travel specialist originating in kenya and now with offices in Dubai, london and Moscow. we specialise in creating memorable and unique holidays and incentives to exotic destinations within africa, asia, Middle east and europe. with a team of experienced and passionate travel specialists, we take pride in creating bespoke programs, sourcing innovative activities and constantly adding to our product offerings. we have worked on programmes for two persons up to 2,000 persons, with attention to detail and personalisation. as a company we are committed to sharing more of the world and its endless possibilities with our guests, and go out of our way to ensure their journey gives them memories of a lifetime. whether it’s renewing your wedding vows in the bush with the Masai in kenya, rewarding your top performers with experiences in Ferraris and private yachts in Dubai, or quiet getaways to world class spas in the Himalayas - we can create it for you!

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Interacting with diverse people with a flair for hospitality makes this industry an exciting one to be part of; in addition to engaging actively with travel, exploring and marketing destinations and developing an appreciation for various cultures. The audience in the travel industry provides a platform for specialists to remain creative, specialised and constantly challenged to remain innovative.

When is the best time to visit the UAE? From october until May when the weather is pleasant and enjoyable. Summer months experience very high temperatures that may not be ideal for travel. It is also ideal to visit the uae during its various festivals and events such as the shopping festivals, international sporting events or art and film festivals among others. These are opportunities to enjoy world class events, international talent and entertainment as well as great offers and deals at hotels, venues and retail outlets.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Ideally my next destination for holiday travel would be australia - a continent on its own with vast terrain, mixed cultures and some of the world’s unique wildlife species.

Why should people come to you for travel advice?

Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi JulY 30, 2011

HTT is a specialised travel provider with years of industry experience. our team includes extensively travelled specialists who source, experience and put together the product based on personal experiences and empathy for what our clients expect and require. This is proven via the various testimonials from our clients who attest to having had memories of a lifetime on their journeys with us. our ultimate goal is always guest satisfaction. our team goes to every length to ensure our guests get what they expect and beyond from journey planning to final delivery. 13


Sustainable Tourism Observatory Opened in China China and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have opened a third Sustainable Tourism Observatory to monitor the environmental and socio-economic impacts of tourism.

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he Zhangjiajie observatory, in Hunan province, will gather and report data on the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism in the area, based on unwto sustainable tourism indictors. It will form part of a network of observatories that help policy makers encourage sustainable tourism growth. In recent years, tourism has boomed in the region, generating economic wealth, jobs and development opportunities for local

residents. Zhangjiajie receives up to 40,000 tourists every day during its peak season. taleb rifai, secretary general, unwto, noted that the observatory will help improve the local economy. “tourism authorities in Zhangjiajie are well aware of the importance of tourism to the local economy, but more importantly, of the need to manage this growth sustainably. The observatory represents a vital tool for doing so, providing tourism organisations with the information they need to move forward sustainably.”

Zhangjiajie Observatory

The Zhangjiajie observatory is part of the Global observatory on Sustainable tourism (GoSt) initiative, established by unwto to support sustainable tourism policies. The two other observatories currently in operation are located in Yangshuo and Huangshan.

Tourism authorities in Zhangjiajie are well aware of the importance of tourism

Zhangjiajie national park

Holiday Preferences of Over 50s Changing Europe’s over 50s market is an expanding group, the holiday preferences of which are changing, a new report has revealed. analysis commissioned by Messe Berlin and carried out by the world travel Monitor, have indicated that the over 50s are more mobile and more active than ever before. Between 2005 and 2010 vacation travel by europeans aged 55 and over expanded by 17 percent and this age group, as a whole, accounted for more than a quarter (27 percent) of all trips abroad. This corresponds to 78 million holiday trips. 14

as far as holiday preferences are concerned, beach holidays are the most popular and continue to grow in popularity.

Socio-demographic change in Europe presents a major challenge as well as offering enormous opportunities city tours, cruises and excursions have experienced a significant boost among the over 55s.

Martin Buck, director of the competence centre travel and logistics, Messe Berlin, noted that it is important to monitor changes within age groups. “Socio-demographic change in europe presents a major challenge as well as offering enormous opportunities. as the number of older vacationers rises, so this target group acquires growing importance for the travel industry as a whole. That is why it is so important for the world’s travel industry to be informed about the requirements, demands and wishes of the over fifties with regard to their travel plans.” JulY 30, 2011


Q & A with Iftikhar Hamdani and Wael El Behi With political turmoil throughout the Middle East having had an effect on travel trends, hotels in the UAE are reaping the rewards. Iftikhar Hamdani, executive assistant manager, Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman and Wael EL Behi, executive assistant manager, Ramada Downtown Dubai tell travel trade weekly about the hotels’ success and market changes. Travel Trade Weekly: How successful do you feel the recent road show promoting Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman in the GCC was? Iftikhar Hamdani: This is the third Gcc trip on behalf of ramada ajman and we are now very established in this market, making strong relationships with travel agents dealing with the uae market. we are continuously creating awareness for ajman as a destination during our visits because many tourists from Gcc are currently focused solely on Dubai in the uae. we have gathered positive responses from eastern Saudi arabia, especially from travel agents dealing with corporate bookings.

Iftikhar Hamdani

Wael El Behi

Wael El Behi: The key criteria are Travel Trade Weekly: From which flexible rates, availability of rooms and a sectors do you think that visitor wonderful and great shopping destination numbers have risen most? Business, with lots of activities for kids. FIT, leisure, family? Iftikhar Hamdani: ajman still enjoys Travel Trade Weekly: What other visitors from the corporate segment while Travel Trade Weekly: From which national visitor markets to the hotels have we maintain the leisure segment at the countries do you think the two hotels seen a significant increase so far this year? same time. while Dubai occupancy has were able to generate most business? Iftikhar Hamdani: ajman is reaping a seen a rise from the leisure segment due Iftikhar Hamdani: our major share is

from Saudi arabia. riyadh is playing a vital role in the rise in occupancy in our hotels but we have tremendous support from visitors from Jeddah, eastern Saudi arabia, kuwait and Doha. Wael El Behi: For ramada Downtown Dubai our top five feeder markets in terms of room nights are Saudi arabia, uae, kuwait, uk and Qatar.

Travel Trade Weekly: Why do you think that travellers from the GCC region are visiting the UAE more nowadays? Iftikhar Hamdani: This is mainly because of this year’s crises in egypt, Syria and tunisia. These contributed to the flow of tourists to the uae. Hotels are well prepared this time and are offering very good, value for money deals. emirates also offers good packages thus attracting a good number of passengers with transit flights. JulY 30, 2011

good number of bookings from Germany, while Dubai is on top with Gcc visits and a mix of other nationalities as well as demand from other leisure segments, primarily due to its location. Wael El Behi: compared with 2010, we have seen a significant increase of 10-15 percent from the domestic market in terms of room nights.

to its location, it has also seen a significant rise in corporate travellers due to the facilities that we offer to that segment. Wael El Behi: we are enjoying a healthy business mix at ramada Downtown Dubai. There are always preferred periods and a different seasonality for each segment.

Travel Trade Weekly: What occupancy are the two hotels currently enjoying and how do you expect this to change over the remainder of the year? Iftikhar Hamdani: ajman is

Travel Trade Weekly: The hotels have been present at numerous trade fairs this year, including ITB Berlin. What further international travel and tourism trade events will representatives from the two hotels be attending this year? Iftikhar Hamdani: we will attend the

experiencing 90 percent occupancy yearto-date (YtD), which is a record, especially as our hotel has the biggest inventory in the northern emirates. Wael El Behi: we are so far performing better than last year and in line with this year’s forecast in terms of revenue and occupancy level.

leisure Moscow exhibition, the world travel Market (wtM) this year and will take a few more trips to the Gcc. Wael El Behi: our plan is to continue our Gcc road show campaign into the last quarter of the year as well as to participate in leisure Moscow exhibition in September and the wtM in london, in november. 15


Great Hotels of the World’s MICE Business Roses

l

ondon-based global hotel sales and marketing alliance, Great Hotels of the world, has experienced solid growth in its meetings and incentives business. The alliance has recorded a sound 89 percent year-on-year increase in meetings and incentives enquiries through its MIce desk in June, further contributing to the healthy 31 percent growth witnessed between January and June. armand Guillemot, director of MIce sales, Great Hotels of the world, commented on the flourishing business. “enquiries for meeting and incentive bookings have been increasing steadily

since october 2010 and have risen dramatically in the first half of 2011, signalling a healthy growth in the MIce market. our enquiries are from a mix of agency and direct corporate buyers, mainly from France, uk, Ireland and Germany. The most requested destinations for meetings and incentives are Spain and the uk but we do also get demand for other emerging destinations such as Seoul, Montenegro and India.” other highlights of the alliance’s report feature various MIce trends, including as short as an average six-week lead time for enquiries, and a significant rise in the value of enquiries. However, the study also indicates, that destinations requested

are usually closer to their base. “Businesses nowadays are much more return-on-investment focused. Budgets are cautiously growing but price is still a big deciding factor. above all buyers are looking for flexibility and added value whilst remaining cost-effective,” concluded Guillemot.

Businesses nowadays are much more return-oninvestment focused. Budgets are cautiously growing but price is still a big deciding factor

Events China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition Beijing, China, August 30-September 1, 2011 (www.cibtm.com) a leading event for the meetings, incentives, business travel and the events industry in china and asia.

Cityscape Dubai Dubai, UAE, September 26-29, 2011 (www.cityscape.ae) a B2B networking exhibition and conference for emerging real estate markets globally.

PATA Travel Mart New Delhi, India, September 6-9, 2011 (www.pata.org) asia pacific’s premier travel trade show with networking and contracting opportunities.

Kazakhstan International Tourism Exhibition Astana, Kazakhstan, September 27-29, 2011 www.leisure.kz The eighth kazakhstan International tourism exhibition in astana, which caters for both the B2B and B2c markets and features a vibrant mix of inbound and outbound destinations.

Top Resa, International French Travel Market Paris, France, September 20-23, 2011 (www.iftm.fr) an international travel and tourism trade fair for networking, doing business, innovating and keeping abreast of market developments.

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CIS Travel Market St. Petersburg, Russia, October 12-14, 2011 (www.restec.ru) an event focusing on cIS countries, attended by airlines, tour operators, travel agencies, accommodation providers and tourist associations.

JulY 30, 2011


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