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Middle East and North Africa Edition

September 10, Issue 96

Mahan Air will commence flights between Tehran and Shanghai Pudong Airport from September 2. MurjAn SplASH pArk openS in Abu DHAbi The Municipality of Abu Dhabi has launched Murjan Splash park at khalifa park. The diversified environment comprises of a range of recreational facilities and educational tools.

4 Hilton to Debut in Sierra leone Hilton Worldwide is to cement its presence in the African continent after signing a management agreement with Cape Sierra Hotel Company, to develop the first Hilton Hotels & resorts property in Sierra leone.

In This Issue

Market Update Weekly News Accommodation News Air Travel News International Travel Talk Who’s Moved Agents’ Corner Travel Channels Rendezvous Events

SepteMber 10, 2011

10 2 3 6 7 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 iSSue 96

Mahan Air Strengthens Network Between China and Iran


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Managing Editor Mary kammitsi Journalists rita kasziba Duncan Macrae Marianna keen Design & Layout elina pericleous Sales & Marketing Maria Demetriadou brighite ess Dominique tennant

IHG Delivers Strong Profit in First Half of Year InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) released its financial results for the first half of the year, revealing strong performance across all regions, driven by increased occupancy from business and leisure travellers, as well as progressive rate improvement.


n the period up to june 30, global revenue per available room (revpAr) grew by 6.7 percent, rising 5.3 percent Directors in the eMeA region, excluding in egypt Andreas Constantinides (10 hotels) and in bahrain (2 hotels) Mary kammitsi where the political unrest resulted in significant Headquarters declines. revpAr growth in other Middle east t.t.W. travel trade Weekly ltd. p.o. box 25255 markets includes a 10.2 percent rise in Saudi nicosia 1308 Cyprus Arabia and a 3.4 percent increase in the uAe. tel: +35722820888 First half of year revpAr growth for Greater Fax: +35722318958 China was up 12.7 percent, while in the uS, Website where the Holiday inn re-launch is delivering sustained performance, it was up 8.2 percent. Emails Second quarter global revpAr growth was at 6.5 percent, or 7.4 percent excluding egypt, bahrain and japan. Global rate increase was 2.4 percent. eMeA revpAr growth for the three month period was at 4.8 percent, with rate increase of 2.1 percent. Global revenue increased by 10 percent (8 percent at Cer) to uSD850 million, up from uSD772 million in 2010. MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 08/9/2011 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 5.98 3.75 1,507.5 0.37 0.71 47.35 0.27 3.64 0.38 1.40 8.02 10,603 214.25 73.27 1.22

revenue in eMeA increased by 17 percent (10 percent at Cer) to uSD224 million, while operating profit increased by 22 percent (12 percent at Cer) to uSD71 million. This was reportedly driven by 14.4 percent owned revpAr growth and a uSD6 million increase in franchise royalties as a result of 5.3 percent revpAr growth and a two percent increase in year on year room count. Managed operating profit declined by uSD1 million to uSD31 million as underlying growth across continental europe was offset by a uSD4 million impact from the unrest in the Middle east. richard Solomons, Ceo, iHG, commented on developments. “our industry leading developments in mobile booking sites and apps are now generating over uSD10 million of revenue a month and we expect this to grow quickly as consumer booking preferences evolve. We have realised over uSD140 million in the year to date from the sale of our interests in four hotels and have committed to invest over uSD70 million of capital behind our brands.”

Accor Reports Strong H1 Revenue Performance, with Faster Growth in Q2 Accor has recorded strong half-year (H1) revenue performance for this year, with faster growth in the second quarter (Q2), indicating a strong momentum in the global hotel sector. revenue is reported to have risen by 4.4 percent, to uSD2,973 million, in H1, in which sales for upscale, midscale, and economy hotels saw an increase in revenue of 5.2 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. The fastest growth was recorded in Q2, with revenue amounting to uSD1,619

million. The strength was partly led by expansion, which increased revenue by uSD28 million, and a gradual recovery in average room rates. Accor opened 13,700 rooms (108 hotels) in H1 of the year, with a confirmed annual target of 30,000 new rooms. The hotel company is confident that this favourable momentum will carry on through the rest of the year, with positive signs already visible concerning activity in the summer season and the early autumn, according to the report. SepteMber 10, 2011

Eurostar Launches Ticketing App Eurostar, the high-speed passenger service linking the UK and mainland Europe has introduced an innovative free mobile application, which allows travellers to book journeys on-the-go and receive tickets on their phones.


assengers are now able to manage their trips between the uk and paris, lille and brussels, using the eurostar App via their iphone or Android device. once the booking is completed, it is verified by an electronic barcode, which can be easily scanned at check-in. The launch of the new application is in line with eurostar’s initiative to keep abreast of the shifting demands of travellers, noted nick Marcer, commercial director, eurostar. “our aim is to make the use of services as easy and seamless as possible. now, with the majority of our customers owning a smartphone, we are

really pleased that we are able to provide a new suite of services that make booking and checking in even easier for them. The new eurostar App and mobile website represent the start of many exciting mobile developments for eurostar, which will help ensure we become the first choice operator of short haul travel from the uk to europe.”

Our aim is to make the use of services as easy and seamless as possible The free eurostar App also enables travellers to review their booking and


journey details and offers live service updates. Members of the loyalty programmes will earn points while business premier travellers will have the flexibility to alter their journey details to fit around their busy schedules. to best serve its hi-tech user passengers, eurostar has also launched a mobile version of its website.

Legoland Hotel to Open Legoland California is to build a three-storey lego-themed hotel. With construction set to begin in october, the nation’s first legoland Hotel is expected to open in 2013. Created to bring children’s imagination to life, the 250-room hotel will look like it is made out of colourful plastic bricks, and will feature brightly coloured lego decor, a pool area and a restaurant. peter ronchetti, general manager, legoland California resort, commented on the announcement. “in the summer of 2013, we are opening a legoland Hotel. We are ready to move forward in our development and i cannot wait to bring the legoland experience to the next level for our guests.” upon completion in 2013, legoland Hotel will join Sheraton Carlsbad resort and Spa and Grand pacific palisades, which already operate on the resort property. it will be the first legoland Hotel in the uS, but the third globally, following the 176-room legoland billund Hotel, opened in 1991, and legoland Windsor Hotel, set to debut in 2012. SepteMber 10, 2011


Dubai Airport to Become the Second Busiest Dubai International Airport (DIA) is expected to take the spot of the world’s second busiest international airport from November, according to analysis from Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).


iA, currently the world’s fourth busiest international airport in terms of monthly passenger traffic, has recently overtaken Frankfurt international Airport, and is expected to experience further growth over the upcoming months. in july, the airport handled 4.7 million

passengers, recording a significant increase of 9.7 percent year-on-year, while year to date traffic rose nine percent to 29.3 million. The airport aims to top 50 million passengers per annum this year, and take over the number three position from Hong kong international Airport (HkiA) by year end. CApA’s analysis of a forward schedule predicts that DiA will outperform not

Dubai International Airport

only HkiA but also paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG), to become the second busiest airport. With more than 1.3 million seats per week, as a result of the seasonal upswing in capacity offered by the airlines in the Gulf, as well as an increase in traffic connecting europe and Asia pacific via Dubai, DiA is anticipated to hold its position through to December and into the new year. The early winter period in europe will also aid Dubai Airport’s leap and push CDG to the fourth spot. DiA, in the long term, hopes to outstrip london Heathrow (lHr) and become the world’s busiest airport by 2015, with around 98 million passengers per annum. CApA’s forecast, however, points out that while lHr has little spare capacity for further expansion, DiA has the runway and terminal capacity to handle a 50 percent increase over the anticipated 50 million passengers for this year. Therefore, DiA is expected to maintain its second position through 2012 and overtake lHr before 2015.

Murjan Splash Park Opens in Abu Dhabi The Municipality of Abu Dhabi has launched Murjan Splash park at khalifa park. The diversified entertainment complex, primarily targeting children and families, comprises of a range of recreational facilities and educational tools. the pioneering project, composing part of the Municipality of Abu Dhabi, endeavours to ensure superior living and a sustainable environment for residents, emphasised Abdullah Al Shamsi, acting executive director for infrastructure and municipal assets, Municipality of Abu Dhabi. “Murjan depicts the keen attention of the 4

Municipality to provide recreational avenues and diverse alternatives to the inhabitants of the metropolitan area and encourage them to avail these facilities which are being constantly upgraded by the Municipality to bring them in line with world-class standards in terms of healthy environment, modern services and security for all family and community members.” The Splash park comprises of an adventure land fitted with water fixtures, convenient areas for play and fun, as well as outlets for selling foods and other products. exciting underwater events are in place, featuring jellyfish, multi-

coloured umbrellas and aquatic creatures, as well as staggering theatrical lighting and a sound system that creates an interactive multi-fun environment for all family members.

Murja depicts the keen attention of the Municipality to provide recreational avenues and diverse alternatives Major attractions of the Splash park include the children’s play structure with a number of waterslides, a lazy river and a radio controlled dhow derby. SepteMber 10, 2011

MENA: Diverse Hotel Performances While in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa key hotel performance indicators have been heavily impacted by political turmoil, several markets of the region show solid signs of growth, revealed the latest study of MKG Hospitality, the European expert in the hotel, tourism and restaurant industry.


espite the harsh aftermath throughout the hospitality sector due to the unstable circumstances, the MenA region began to post promising signs of improvement, noted Vanguelis panayotis, director of development, MkG Hospitality. “The good news is that the tide seems to be changing for the MenA region as a whole. Although some countries are still experiencing internal issues, the rest are no longer feeling the brunt.” GCC countries, except bahrain, experienced strong growth just before ramadan, as leisure tourism intensified and last minute business travel got underway. kuwait, in particular, recorded exceptional revenue per available room (revpAr) increase at almost 23 percent over the corresponding period in 2010. The country also remains one of the strongest GCC markets year to date, with more than seven percent revpAr growth. in like manner, the uAe continues to post positive figures, with a revpAr increase of more than 20 percent in july, driven by a notable rise in occupancy rate (or), added panayotis. “The uAe records the largest or increase in all of MenA, for the second consecutive month. indeed, this is a firm sign of market consolidation, perhaps gradually reliving to its former glory. Dubai is heading this momentum, especially leisure-resort orientated locations such as jumeirah beach.” The best performing market of the GCC year-to-date, however, remains Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is expected to retain its leading position in the coming months. With Qatar and oman recording revpAr increases of 7.5 percent, these GCC markets are the only ones achieving growth-on-growth. Although several north African countries, namely egypt, tunisia and Morocco, recorded massive drops in key hotel performance indicators, the decline is mainly attributed to rather high results in 2010. Meanwhile, bahrain remains the only truly unstable country of the region, with a remarkable drop in both demand and prices. SepteMber 10, 2011 One million clicks, the first online travel and tourism service provider of its kind in the Middle east, has recorded one million hits in just a month. The one-stop-shop online travel booking website, launched at the beginning of August, has fast gained notoriety and acknowledgement among travellers due to its extensive content and featured prizes and competitions on offer. Hani Dahlan, general manager and founder,, commented on the site’s success. “We are proud to announce this milestone, and would like to thank our customers and the public for their support and interest in our services, which we will continually be upgrading to ensure a superior online booking experience all year round.’s intent from the start was to bring something fresh and original to the regional travel industry, so to receive one million impressions in one month is very rewarding indeed.”

We are proud to announce this milestone, and would like to thank our customers and the public for their support and interest in our services With its constantly updated content, wide range of travel offers and services worldwide,, affiliated with Dahlan tours, attracts thousands of visitors every day, providing them with the opportunity to manage their whole trip on one platform, from flights and hotels to tours, car rental and other additional services. 5

- Accommodation

City Seasons UAE Surpass Expectations Despite the challenging environment in the Middle East, City Seasons Group of Hotels has weathered the challenges and recorded positive performance, with better than expected levels of business.


he group’s results have exceeded all prior expectations, noted Dylan Aniff, general manager, City Seasons Hotel Dubai. “initially business in the books did not show a positive trend, it was slow, and we did not expect it to grow as rapidly as it did, particularly in the month of july.” George Demitry, general manager, City Seasons Suites Dubai, added: “We have had fairly stable demand for the first half of this year but the summer was certainly higher than expected, especially july.” City Seasons Hotel Dubai’s average room rate increased by 13 percent, while City Seasons Suites Dubai recorded seven

percent growth in occupancy, due the a notable surge in GCC family market. “As a dry hotel group we always attract a large number of families from Saudi Arabia, kuwait and iran each year. they seek accommodation that can offer good sized rooms and suites to allow the families to all stay together,” added Aniff. City Seasons Hotel Al Ain has also surpassed prior predictions, commented raad tayeh, hotel manager. “Summer is usually a lean season for the hospitality industry in the region, considering weather conditions. However, for us, business was good during the first phase of summer.” City Seasons Group, which currently

operates five hotels in Dubai, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and Muscat, is now to focus on growing the conference and exhibition sector.

As a dry hotel group we always attract large number of families from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran “The higher yield business travel, conferences and exhibitions sectors are likely to be strong enough to surpass 2010 with both demand and rates on an upswing. However, it is highly probable that booking lead time will remain short as it has done all year,” added Demitry.

Kempinski Opens in Palm Jumeirah Kempinksi has revealed its first beachfront hotel in Dubai and its fourth property in the uAe. kempinski Hotel & residences palm jumeirah, located on the west end of the crescent of palm jumeirah, caters to high-end travellers and residents for both short and long-term stays, with 244 exquisite suites, penthouses and villas. With its elegant european-inspired interior design and exclusive custom-made furniture, the hotel presents a truly unique accommodation, noted burkhard Wolter, general manager. “kempinski was one of the first hotel groups to announce a property on palm jumeirah. We have built an impressive portfolio in the region over the past 14 years and we’re proud that kempinski Hotel & residences palm jumeirah will offer something disticnt in Dubai’s luxury travel and residential market- unmatched space and privacy in an iconic location, complemented by kempinski’s five-star service and signature eurpoean style.” besides a picturesque view over the palm jumeirah, the property boasts more than 20,000m2 of landscaped gardens, white-sand beaches, an outdoor swimming pool, a gym and spa, a kids’ club, a playground and a selection of restaurant and bars.

Kempinski was one of the first hotel groups to announce a property on Palm Jumeirah 6

SepteMber 10, 2011

- Air Travel

Gulf Air Launches Three New Routes Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, is to add three new destinations, Rome, Entebbe and Juba, to its expanding route map.


ffective from november 30, the airline will resume services to rome and will operate four flights per week to the historical capital city of italy. The carrier will also return to uganda and will, from December 5, offer four weekly flights to the African destination. upon commencing thrice-weekly services to juba from February 7, 2012, the South Sudani city will mark Gulf Air’s fourth destination in the African continent. The new destinations underscore the carrier’s commitment to offering flights to niche and underserved markets, noted

Samer Majali, Ceo, Gulf Air. “The launch of services to these new destinations demonstrates once again Gulf Air’s long-term strategy to connect bahrain and the region with new and unexplored markets having sound business potential. it is one more example of our pioneering tradition, establishing our leadership position to gain commercial advantage in new markets. The commencement of our services to entebbe and juba firmly establishes our renewed focus in the emerging markets of the African continent, where we see a huge potential. it also opens up new business opportunities between bahrain and these fast-developing countries.”

Gulf Air

The launch of services to these new destinations demonstrates once again Gulf Air’s long-term strategy to connect Bahrain and the region

flydubai Steps Up Indian Expansion flydubai has increased its commitment to india with the launch of scheduled services to Ahmedabad, the carrier’s third major destination in the south Asian country. The new route, operated on Saturdays to Sardar Vallabhbhai patel international Airport, expands the airline’s network to 39 destinations across the Middle east, Asia, Africa and the fringes of europe. Flights to Ahmadabad, the world’s third fastest growing city according to Forbes, also marks the carrier’s entry into Gujarat, which, as one of india’s most prosperous states, holds enormous opportunities for the airline, noted Ghaith Al Ghaith, Ceo, flydubai. “i would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to the indian authorities. Thanks to their strong support, the uAe is now connected to a city that is witnessing incredible infrastructure growth which in turn has led to a population increase. As a rising centre of education, information technology and scientific industries, Ahmadabad remains the cultural and commercial heart of Gujarat and much of western india and as a result we expect this route to prove very popular.”

The UAE is now connected to a city that is witnessing incredible infrastructure growth SepteMber 10, 2011


- Air Travel

Mahan Air Strengthens Network Between China and Iran Mahan Air will commence flights between Tehran and Shanghai Pudong Airport from September 2.


he new route represents the 18th international destination served by Mahan Air, since being established as the first iranian private airline in 1992. Hossein Hosseini, director of marketing, Mahan Air, expressed his pleasure in the expansion. “We are delighted to announce Shanghai as our third new route this year, after kuala lumpur to Mashad as well as flights to istanbul Sabiha Airport, turkey. We have seen a significant increase in demand for Shanghai, a focal point of trade and tourism for a iranian travellers. Additionally, the strong demand shown by the Chinese businessmen for travel to

Mahan Air

iran, and the continued growth of trade volume between iran and China, has created the right opportunities for introducing direct flights between the two great cities of Shanghai and tehran.”

ANA to Launch First Routes for Boeing 787 Dreamliner All Nippon Airways (ANA), the launch customer for the boeing 787 Dreamliner, will initiate the aircraft’s first flights, with the Haneda–Frankfurt route, to be launched in january 2012, marking its first long-haul service. The first Dreamliner is scheduled to be received in late September and will also be used on the Haneda–beijing route from December, marking the aircraft’s first regular international service. in addition, the Dreamliner will be deployed on the Haneda–okayama and Haneda-Hiroshima domestic routes from november 1. prior to its regular services, AnA will operate a special charter flight between narita and Hong kong on october 26 and 27, which will be the world’s first flight with passengers onboard the Dreamliner. excursion flights will depart from and land in narita on october 28 and 29 to allow more customers to experience the comfort of the Dreamliner. by the end of this fiscal year, the aircraft will be used on regular services connecting Haneda with itami, Yamaguchi–ube and All Nippon Airways Matsuyama. 8

in conjunction with the launch of this new destination, the airline is offering promotional airfares and double mileage for its Mahan & Miles members until December 31.

EgyptAir Returns to Iraq After a suspension of more than two decades, national carrier egyptAir has resumed direct flights to iraq. The airline ceased its operation to baghdad following iraq’s invasion of kuwait in 1990, but has now relaunched flights to the capital as well as erbil. The resumed service demonstrates the confidence the carrier has in its development plans, noted Ayman nasr, Ceo, egyptAir. “egyptAir took the decision to operate this route in the light of the company’s regional expansion strategy and to restore the investments and tourism traffic between the two countries to the normal levels through Cairo Hub. egyptAir is confident of the ability to carry on the network expansion plans and the operation of new routes.” egyptAir operates a total of seven weekly flights to iraq, including four services to baghdad, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and three flights to erbil, on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.

EgyptAir is confident of the ability to carry on the network expansion plans and the operation of new routes SepteMber 10, 2011

- International

Hilton to Debut in Sierra Leone Hilton Worldwide is to cement its presence in Africa after signing a management agreement with Cape Sierra Hotel Company, to develop the first Hilton Hotels & Resorts property in Sierra Leone.


atrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president development for europe and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, elaborated on Sierra leone’s first Hilton hotel, scheduled to open in 2014. “Hilton Worldwide has enjoyed a presence in Africa for more than 50 years and our commitment to the continent remains as solid as ever. We have opened five hotels in Africa already this year and we are confident Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra will prove to be an important addition to our growing portfolio.” located in Aberdeen, Freetown, the 200-room hotel, will feature a business centre, health club, outdoor pool, five restaurants and bars. Hilton’s foray into Sierra leone reaffirms the company’s confidence in emerging countries, noted Dave Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & resorts. “For generations Hilton has led the way into emerging markets. our brand enjoys a pioneering reputation for successfully establishing hotels in new and diverse markets. today’s signing is a true reflection of this spirit and we look forward to bringing our first class facilities and service to Sierra leone.” The fast improving business environment makes Sierre leone an ideal place for investments, said keith Aki-Sawyerr, managing director, Cape Sierra Hotel Co. “As commercial interests in the country grow, there is a requirement for more top quality hotels to meet the needs of the growing numbers of overseas visitors. Hilton Hotels & resorts is the ideal partner to provide the standards and strong brand needed to ensure we develop the leading hotel in the city.”

Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Sierra Leone

DoubleTree Debuts in Romania The first, Doubletree by Hilton branded property, has opened its doors in romania. The opening of the 88-room, Doubletree by Hilton bucharest-unirii Square, marks another milestone in the brand’s european expansion, noted rob ralleschi, global head, Doubletree by Hilton. “With this fantastic new addition for Doubletree by Hilton in europe, we are proud that our brand is now open in romania, where guests can enjoy world renowned Doubletree by Hilton hospitality. in the coming months we look forward to additional romanian Doubletree by Hilton openings in the cities of ploiesti and oradea.” A 24-hour business centre and 200m2 of flexible meeting and conference space makes the hotel an ideal place for business meetings, conferences and any kind of social event. it also features a fitness centre, sauna, spa, restaurant, bar and coffee shop. Saleem Sarieddine, managing partner, Doubletree by Hilton bucharest-unirii Square, elaborated on the opening. “We are proud to represent the first Doubletree by Hilton in romania and look forward to sharing the brand’s worldwide commitment our local community and offering first class hospitality to the world’s travellers.” romania’s first Doubletree by Hilton hotel is operated under a franchise license agreement by ViS 7 import export Srl with a subsidiary of Hilton Worldwide.

Rezidor Expands in Hungary Rezidor Hotel Group is to open a park inn by radisson hotel in the Hungarian capital in the fourth quarter of 2012. kurt ritter, Ceo, rezidor, commented on the new addition to the brand’s portfolio. “park inn by radisson budapest will perfectly complement our existing radisson blu béke Hotel, budapest. We are delighted to be present with our two 10

core brands in Hungary’s capital city. At the same time i am proud that this agreement took our total number of signings in 2011 (year to date) to 21 hotels and more than 5,000 rooms.” The new mid-market property, already under construction, will be situated within an office park in the northern part of budapest. its ideal location will provide easy access to the city’s historic

centre, shopping malls and the airport. besides 136 rooms, the hotel will feature a restaurant, bar, fitness centre and 400m2 meeting space. Central eastern europe has long been an important market for rezidor’s business development, with the group now operating in most of the primary markets, including Warsaw, prague, bucharest, bratislava and Sofia. SepteMber 10, 2011

Hal Philp

Jean Pierre Simon

Deputy general manager, St. Regis, Doha.

Regional general manager, Northern Emirates and Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah.

“We are incredibly focused upon offering the level of service that our international guests expect, and so we are investing in the preparation necessary to ensure that everything within the hotel is up to St. regis standards. every guest is an individual with specific tastes and different ideas about what they want from their time in Doha, and our aim is to ensure that we are totally prepared to make their time an enjoyable one.”

We are incredibly focused upon offering the level of service that our international guests expect

Hal Philp

Jean Pierre Simon

“While the russian market dropped slightly in 2010 with the impact of the global recession, we anticipate it will rebound strongly in 2012 and the otDYkH leisure show is an ideal opportunity to present the emirate and our hotel to a vast potential audience. As the largest country in the world, where just 15 percent of the population has travelled overseas, russia represents a huge market that is growing by an annual rate of around 14 percent. it is close enough to Sharjah for the emirate to be considered a short-haul destination that is ideal for competitively priced family sunshine holidays.”

The OTDYKH Leisure show is an ideal opportunity to present the emirate and our hotel to a vast potential audience

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

SepteMber 10, 2011


Menno de Boer

Menno de Boer Menno de boer has been appointed by eastern investment Group Holding as general manager of the soon-to-open five-star Millennium Hotel Amman in jordan. Having previously worked in Malaysia, japan, indonesia, China, Vietnam, Sri lanka, jordan and egypt, de boer brings wide experience and extensive knowledge to his new position. He is an alumnus of The Hague Hotel Management School in the netherlands and has mastered in a number of core disciplines at Hilton university.

Dieter O. Franke

Dieter O. Franke Eddy Nohra

Dieter o. Franke has been named as general manager of interContinental Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first internationally branded hotel. Franke, who brings with him more than 24 years experience in the hospitality industry, will be in charge of overall commercial operations as well as maintaining the hotel’s leading position and reputation. He joined interContinental Hotels Group (iHG) in 1987, and has since held a number of managerial roles across all key hotel functions in europe, America, the Mediterranean and the Middle east. His most recent positions include hotel manager at interContinental Dubai Festival City from 2007, and general manager of Crowne plaza Abu Dhabi, Yas island and Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi, Yas island from 2009.

eddy nohra has been appointed as general manager of Coral beach Hotel & resort, beirut. Following his studies in hotel management at ecole Hoteliere de Montreux in Switzerland, he embarked on his career at lausanne palace Montreux. After gaining experience at nouveau palace Hotel, belgium, he returned to lebanon to join Al bustan Hotel. He then spent 10 years at phoenicia interContinental and edde Sands Hotel before taking on his current position.

Kinan Al Ghraoui

Kinan Al Ghraoui 12

kinan Al Ghraoui has been appointed as cluster general manager of Villa rotana, rimal rotana and rihab rotana in Dubai. The seasoned hotelier joined rotana back in 1996 as rooms division manager of rimal rotana. His commitment to the property’s success earned him a promotion to general manager of both rihab rotana and rimal rotana in 2001, before moving to Afamia rotana Hotel and resort in Syria. in his new position he aims to further intensify the properties’ market reach, in both regional and international markets. SepteMber 10, 2011

Agent’s Insight Name: Seif Saudi Position: General manager Company: Jordan Select Tours Location: Jordan Who are you?

New e2e-Travel Package for Small Tour Operators ISO Travel Solutions, the consultancy service provider for the tourism industry, and HitchHiker, an it specialist for flight tariff management and online flight queries, have launched the end2end (e2e) travel package for small and medium-sized tour operators. The new e2e-travel package allows small companies to profit from a well-approved system of their bigger counterparts by combining the strength of iSo’s tour operator system pacific and Hitchhiker’s flight management solution As the name end to end travel package clarifies, the system ensures the smooth workflow from purchase of flights up to the point of service. As a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool it provides tour operators with a convenient and cost efficient solution, noted Markus kretschmer, sales director, iSo travel Solutions. “iSo and HitchHiker have been partners for many years now. in the past we were often recognised as the it providers for large companies. With our new model for smaller tour operators based on a SaaS approach, we want to show that our solutions can be used in an efficient way by all market participants. our partnership now gives all tour operators the chance to profit from our in-depth expertise in tour operating and flight it solutions. We are certain that no other it company can offer the same quality.” Thomas boffo, managing director, HitchHiker, added: “The partnership with iSo builds on the growth and success of hosted HitchHiker online query solutions that provide accurate and comprehensive flight information. extending our relation to key players like iSo is important for the future of as the tour operator sector has become a key customer segment for us. We are proud to provide a compelling new option for tour operators looking for a professional, cost effective and flexible selling and management platform.” SepteMber 10, 2011

My name is Seif Saudi and i am the general manager of jordan Select tours. i launched the agency in 1994, while, at the same time, i was studying in the uk. Since its establishment, the company has grown from strength to strength, to become one of jordan’s most respected inbound tour operators. in 2005, we decided to re-brand it from jordan eco-tours to jordan Select tours to better coordinate our core products, which are incentives and high end tours for groups and free and independent travellers (Fits). We currently consist of a devoted team of 22 staff members, offering professional, multilingual and high quality services within the framework of responsible tourism. jordan Select tours is affiliated to a number of associations, including jordan tourism board, jordan inbound tour operators Association, The Global Compact, The international ecotourism Society and others.

What do you like the most about working in the industry? it is an interesting profession, although admittedly not always for good reasons. What i really like is that every day is different and offers something new to discover. You learn a lot about culture, nature, and even about your own country. it requires creativity and allows you to realise your own ideas.

When is the best time to visit Jordan? jordan is truly an all-year-round destination. Winter is not that cold and summer is not too hot. An incentive trip, however, is best scheduled between March and December, as january and February might feel cold for some visitors.

Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Anywhere that i can ski. besides travelling, skiing is my passion, and i cannot wait for the winter season.

Why should people come to you for travel advice? because we do our best to meet our clients’ requirements. We really try to understand what each of our clients wants and go to all lengths to fulfil their requests and provide them with the experience of a lifetime. 13

China’s Online Travel Traffic to Rise Despite the fact that China’s travel market is evolving at a rapid pace, online penetration remains relatively low. This, however, could potentially rise, revealed a report by travel industry research authority, PhoCusWright.


he China online travel traffic report, created in partnership with global digital intelligence provider, comScore, examined traffic volume and visitor behavior across key online travel categories in China, and found that travel-related sites attract only 14 percent of the Asian country’s internet users.

The release analyses how traffic to both online agencies and other travel related categories are beginning to drive the growth of the country’s travel market, explained Douglas Quinby, senior director, research, phuCusWright. “China is home to the largest internet population and the second largest travel market in Asia-pacific (ApAC), yet it has relatively low online travel penetration. This is a provocative mix of dynamics that has the makings for a really interesting future. We have partnered with comScore to unravel how some key trends in travel and online behavior are taking shape across a wide range of online travel categories, including supplier websites, online travel agencies, traveller review sites and metasearch.” The report examines traffic volume, unique visitors, cross-visitation and source/loss patterns across key travel subcategories,

including online travel agencies, airlines, metasearch and travellers review websites, among others.

China is home to the largest internet population and the second largest travel market in APAC, yet it has relatively low online travel penetration based on the results, phocusWright predicts that China, along with the increase in traffic volume to travel websites, is likely to experience a steep surge in online bookings over the coming years, and the country’s online travel penetration rate will climb accordingly.

UNWTO Debuts Hotel Energy Solutions The World Tourism organisation (unWto) and its partners have launched an online tool to help hotels analyse their energy consumption and improve technologies, while cutting costs. The Hotel energy Solutions (HeS) etoolkit provides hoteliers with a comprehensive evaluation on the properties’ current energy use and recommends alternative solutions. Through an investment calculator it also calculates the expected savings on operational expenses via renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies and actions. Following years of research and testing the toolkit was finally put to the test in August, 14

in more than 100 european properties, and received positive feedback. tourism, one of the major drivers of employment and development, is today responsible for around five percent of the world’s Co2 emissions, out of which hotels and other types of accommodations account for two percent. unWto has resolutely been working to raise awareness of the tourism industry’s accountability over climate change, and aims with the HeS project to increase energy efficiency (ee) in european small and medium hotels by 20 percent and their use of renewable energies (re) by 10 percent. to further support energy and cost savings, unWto is to launch a web based

energy School and a series of reports for accommodation establishments registered with the project. The organisation’s HeS project is expected to be rolled out globally over the coming years. SepteMber 10, 2011

Q & A with Safak Guvenc The travel and tourism industry in Qatar has remained strong despite struggles across the Middle East. Safak Guvenc, general manager, W Doha Hotel and area manager, Qatar, Starwood Hotels, talks to travel trade Weekly about how the new hotel has survived and what threats and opportunities are being faced in the industry. Travel Trade Weekly: Do you have any recent or upcoming developments to share? Safak Guvenc: in the region from a Starwood perspective, we will be opening a St. regis hotel in the fourth quarter of this year. Therefore, representing Starwood we will have the Sheraton, the W Doha and the St. regis in the region. regarding the W, the only thing we have added is the lounge downstairs. That’s an area for our corporate guests to meet.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has W Doha Hotel performed so far this year, compared with the same period in 2010? Safak Guvenc: our occupancy is higher

i foresee the same things happening in September, all the way to December. We will have the World petroleum conference which is going to be really big, then the Arab Games.

Travel Trade Weekly: Has turmoil across the Arab world affected the number of GCC travellers visiting W Doha Hotel? Safak Guvenc: Yes, especially with egypt being close; however, we don’t have too much leisure business in Qatar so i think that it has mostly, positively affected Dubai and Abu Dhabi. if you compare the market, GCC has been positively affected, but not in Qatar. Although i’m sure there must be a couple of percentage effects over the weekends, from leisure business coming from Saudi Arabia.

Safak Guvenc

Travel Trade Weekly: Has any change in the number of business travel guests been noted? Safak Guvenc: Yes, plenty. our

Crystal lounge. There will be at least three different celebrity Djs coming every month, for the next eight months. We are contacting international Djs and Djs that are performing in other W hotels, who will perform at least twice a month. Also, we’re introducing a piano player into our Champagne lounge. We are really focusing very much on Crystal lounge, and to use, it we are going to divide it into Vip areas. There will be exclusive membership only, then Crystal lounge, which will continue as a club, and Champagne lounge for entertainment and corporate guests. We believe in supporting upcoming celebrities more than established ones. That has been our strategy since day one.

Travel Trade Weekly: Do you think this increase is due to a number of events being held in the country as well as the announcement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar? Safak Guvenc: of course, there are a lot

corporate bookings are continuously growing year on year. They increase by about 15 percent year on year and i think this will continue.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are your predictions for the coming years? Safak Guvenc: Qatar tourism

2022, which are at the consultancy stage.

forward. We are completely revamping

than in 2010 because in january we had the Asian Games, giving us a much stronger month than january 2010. The growth continued in February, and March was the same as in 2010. Going into April, May, june and july there was continued growth in occupancies for us at W Doha. Year after year, considering that this is our second year of operation, the property is maturing, and W Doha is growing in market share. We are probably growing about eight to nine percent per year.

We will have the World Petroleum conference which is going to be really big, then the Arab Games

Travel Trade Weekly: The hotel has a of indications. The government is very vivid party scene at night. Do you active in booking conferences; then you think that further associating the have the Asian Games in january, which hotel with the music industry really picked up the city. Another factor increases interest in the hotel? includes the projects that are starting for Safak Guvenc: Yes definitely, its going SepteMber 10, 2011

Authority has been very active in promoting Qatar, and also we should mention the positive influence of Qatar Airways, promoting Qatar and opening extra destinations. i believe that Qatar tourism Authority and Qatar Airways, as well as the upcoming competition, will assist in the growth of Qatar. 15

Chinese Outbound Booming Following a slight dip, the volume of foreign travel from Asia’s three main travel nations has picked up again, with China leading the growth, according to an evaluation by ipk international – World travel Monitor Company, commissioned by itb berlin. After a nine percent decline in 2009, foreign travel from Asia has made up for lost time with a notable 17 percent increase recorded in 2010. With this representing a total volume of 128 million individual journeys, Asia’s share of foreign travel globally now accounts for 18 percent, making the continent the second largest outbound market after europe (56 percent). The Asian outbound travel market has long been dominated by China, japan and South korea with more than one-third (a total of 46.5 million) of all Asians who travel abroad

coming from one of these countries. According to the analysis, while journeys to other Asian destinations remain popular, overseas trips have lost ground, as three out of every four international trips by Asians takes place within the continent. However, individual markets vary greatly. Whereas some 39 percent of japanese travel outside Asia, only 33 percent of Chinese and 20 percent of koreans take overseas trips. Martin buck, director, Competence Centre travel and logistics at Messe berlin, elaborated on the altering travel behavior. “The decline in overseas travel from Asia is attributable firstly to the world economic crisis and secondly to the rapid development of destinations within Asia. As a result, Asians are finding that journeys

within their own continent are not only more favourably priced but also attractive.” over a period of five years China has experienced the largest growth in foreign travel, followed by South korea and japan. With a 15 percent increase, China also occupies first place with regard to travel to europe. As opposed to other markets, South korea has witnessed a slight decline in overseas travel, suggesting that the country has not yet fully recovered from the economic crisis. The report also reveals that most of the foreign journeys originating from these top three countries are in the form of holidays or other private trips. in China in particular, vacations have emerged as important in motivating people to travel, with round trips steadily gaining ground.

Events 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.

CIS Travel Market St. Petersburg, Russia, October 12-14, 2011 ( An event focusing on CiS countries, attended by airlines, tour operators, travel agencies, accommodation providers and tourist associations.

ITB Asia Cityscape Dubai Suntec, Singapore, October 19-21, 2011 Dubai, UAE, September 26-29, 2011 ( ( An event where international exhibitors, Asia pacific’s leading A b2b networking exhibition and conference for emerging real companies and emerging enterprises meet top buyers. estate markets globally. World Travel Market Kazakhstan International Tourism Exhibition ExCel London, UK, November 7-10, 2011 Astana, Kazakhstan, September 27-29, 2011 ( ( leading global event for the travel industry, presenting a The eighth kazakhstan international tourism exhibition in diverse range of destination and industry sectors and Astana, which caters for both the b2b and b2C markets and providing an opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and features a vibrant mix of inbound and outbound destinations. conduct business.


SepteMber 10, 2011

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 96  

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