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10 MARCH 2012

ISSUE 122

Bin Majid Group Unveils Mangrove Hotel Bin Majid Group’s hospitality division has added Mangrove Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah to its extensive portfolio.

TIME Hotels Management, a new Dubai-based hospitality company, has secured the management contracts for six hotel properties in the UAE.

10 Etihad Airways Launches Flights to Basra Etihad Airways is to commence flights to Basra, Iraq, as of April 15.

14 IN THIS ISSUE RENDEZVOUS MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR NEWS WHO'S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT'S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

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Six UAE Properties Reflagged

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RENDEZVOUS

Q & A with David Thomson With the opening of a host of new hotels and resorts, hospitality companies operating in the Middle East are set to face stiffening competition ahead. David Thomson, regional general manager, Jebel Ali International Hotels, talks about the shifting patterns of demand and plans for the hotel group's future.

Travel Trade Weekly: How did the properties perform in 2011? David Thomson: The company’s portfolio performed very well in 2011, and we are happy with the progress that was made. Given that Dubai is known as a safe destination, even though it is within a sometimes volatile region, unrest in the area does not impact negatively on our occupancies. In fact, during some uncertain periods, we find that the destination actually witnesses an increase in visitors, especially from the GCC. The global financial situation, however, affects our business from Europe at times, but in fairness we have strong and established properties that are well-known for their quality, service, and value, so we have not really suffered from this. Travel Trade Weekly: How have your source markets changed over the past years? David Thomson: Airlift, new routes, and increased capacity airplanes have certainly done a lot to diversify Dubai’s traditional feeder markets, although effective training and showcasing of the destination, in new and existing source markets, are equally important. The CIS market has been steadily increasing for a number of years now, yet Dubai is now beginning to see an uplift in travellers from both India and China as well. Travel Trade Weekly: The company prides itself on providing an extensive range of products and services, while, at the same time, paying homage to the Arabian heritage. Based on your experience, what are your guests really looking for?

David Thomson Regional general manager, Jebel Ali International Hotels

increased over the years. Our intent with Hadiya is to develop a long-term relationship with local corporate clients through offering value additions and retaining open and honest communication. Their business remains extremely important for us and in our experience, these key clients want to be kept informed and feel that they can openly address any discussion points to which they will receive valid feedback and solutions. Continuous communication is crucial, but, of course, Hadiya also offers a range of practical rewards. Travel Trade Weekly: The business activities of the company are not solely limited to resorts and hotel management. On which segment will the company focus in the coming years?

David Thomson: Dubai cannot really be boxed in as a this-or-that destination anymore. It has matured exceptionally well and offers now a vast range of cultural, sport, retail, adventure, nature, outdoor, heritage, and leisure attractions to suit almost any kind of traveller. What matters to us is what each of our individual guests are interested in experiencing and we focus on supplying them with as many options and opportunities. Travel Trade Weekly: The company recently launched Hadiya, a loyalty programme which rewards, corporate bookers. How has the significance of brand recognition, and loyalty, changed over the years? David Thomson: Rewarding loyalty has become more and more important as Dubai’s quantity and range of hospitality products

David Thomson: We are extremely proud of our varied portfolio. However, our core business remains on four- and five-star hotels. Especially in the four-star range, we see great potential. We are the only hospitality company with experience in managing four-star beach accommodation in Dubai. Travel Trade Weekly: What upcoming expansion plans do you have outlined for the region? David Thomson: Our next portfolio addition will be a four-star beach hotel in Dubai, set to open by the fourth quarter of the year. We are also close to confirming possible expansion opportunities in Europe and we are about to sign a number of management contracts in Asia. We are also in the process of building a new brand to facilitate our overseas growth.

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WEEKLY NEWS

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS

Dubai International: Record Passenger Volume Dubai International has experienced yet another record breaking month with passenger traffic in January reaching over 4.85 million, according to the latest figures released by Dubai Airports.

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Melanthia Avgousti

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SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

08/03/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.04

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

57.45

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.51

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.46

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,275.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

219.75

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

74.53

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.26

1USD=

urpassing the previous monthly record of 4,724,109 in July 2011, January this year witnessed a total of 4,852,139 travellers passing through the airport’s terminals, marking a 14 percent increase over the same month in 2011. The robust upsurge also represents the largest month-on-month growth in 14 months and brings Dubai International’s rolling 12-month passenger numbers to 51.57 million. The GCC countries continued to top the list of regions, with the largest rise in total passenger numbers in January, followed by Western Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Russia and the CIS. Meanwhile, Middle Eastern routes continued on a downward trend, while traffic on African routes surged after months of weak performance.

Dubai International

In terms of percentage growth, South America has proven the strongest market, followed by Russia and the CIS, and the GCC. Overall, total aircraft movements for the airport rose 8.4 percent to 29,680. “Our projections indicate this year’s traffic totals will reach 56.5 million, obliterating 2011’s record of 51 million,” expressed Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports. “

Air Arabia: Increased Turnover Air Arabia has reported a turnover of AED2.4 billion (USD653 million) for the full year of 2011, an increase of 16 percent over 2010. Meanwhile, having served some 4.7 million passengers, up six percent over 2010, with a seat load factor of 82 percent, the airline boasted net profits of AED274 million (USD74.6 million). Also delivering strong financial results for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011, Air Arabia reached a net profit amounting to AED78.7 million (USD21.4 million), equivalent to an increase of seven percent compared with the corresponding quarter in 2010. For the three month period, the company’s turnover reached AED638 million (USD173 million), up 17 percent over Q4 2010. Moreover, the low-cost carrier introduced six new routes during the year, including Moscow and Yekaterinburg, Russia; Kharkiv and Donetsk, Ukraine; and Gassim and Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. In addition, the airline also launched new services from its Alexandria hub to Milan, Italy; and Riyadh and Damman, Saudi Arabia. H.E. Muhammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, said. “Moving ahead, we look forward to providing our customers with even more value-for-money options this year, as well as an even wider range of services and destinations.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

GNTB to Develop New Mobile Phone Application The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is looking to develop a new application (app) for Apple and Android devices that will be available from this summer. The aim is to gather the top 100 must-see attractions of Germany according to those who have previously visited the country. From February 3 through to March 15, people can vote online, on GNTB’s official website, in 26 languages, as

well as on the tourist board’s international Facebook pages. The participants of the survey will also be informed on the results and 10 of them will have the chance to win an iPod shuffle. Petra Hedorfer, CEO, GNTB, commented on the development of the app, “Interaction with our customers strengthens our marketing initiatives and puts into focus how people around the world perceive Germany as a travel destination.”

UAE Signs Air Services Agreement with Liberia The UAE, represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), has signed an air services memorandum of understanding (MoU) and initialled an air services agreement (ASA) with the government of Liberia. The agreement was initiated by H.E. Saif Al Suwaidi, director general, UAE GCAA and H.E. Richelieu Williams, director general, Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, while the negotiations were attended by representatives from leading tourism institutions and groups across the UAE. According to the agreement, any number of designated airlines of both parties will now have the right to perform scheduled air services between the two countries. The UAE delegation designated Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, RAK Airways, and flydubai, as the UAE’s national airlines under the agreement. The Liberian delegation is set to designate its carriers in due course. The MoU also allows full flexibility on the routes, with regards to capacity, number of frequencies, and types of aircraft, on all services.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Dubai Encourages Green Initiatives The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently organised a three-day workshop on green practices to raise awareness among key players of the industry about environmentally sustainable tourism. The workshop, entitled ‘Green Tourism in GCC Countries – Between Hope and Reality’, aimed to highlight the increasing socio-economic role tourism has been playing across the six GCC nations, with Dubai leading the initiatives. Attended by officials from the United Nations Environment Programme, UNESCO, hoteliers, environmentalists, and media representatives, the workshop allowed participants to acquire knowhow on how to become an environmental sustainable business, an aim which DTCM wishes to enhance throughout the industry, according to Shaikha Al Mutawa, director, business development, DTCM.

STR Global: Encouraging MEA Results The Middle East and Africa region’s hospitality industry reported mostly positive performance results in January, based on data compiled by STR Global. The region closed the month with an average occupancy level of 55.5 percent, while average daily rate (ADR) increased 6.4 percent to USD181.61, and RevPAR climbed 6.4 percent to USD100.88 compared with January 2011. Occupancy levels in Beirut rose 32 percent to 53.4 percent, followed by Amman, up 30.8 percent, while Jeddah witnessed an increased of 26.9 percent. Two markets experienced double-digit ADR increase: Jeddah, up 13.4 percent to USD211.55; and Dubai, up 11.8 percent to USD269.85, whilst four markets recorded RevPAR growth of more than 20 percent, including Jeddah, up 43.9 percent to USD165.53, Beirut, up 38.7 percent to USD112.20, Dubai up 26.1 percent to USD232.72, and Amman, up 23.8 percent to USD93.71.

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Accommodation

WEEKLY NEWS

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Six UAE Properties Reflagged TIME Hotels Management, a new Dubai-based hospitality company, has secured the management contracts for six hotel properties in the UAE, previously managed by Layia Hospitality. Besides two hotels, namely TIME Oak Hotel & Suites in Al Barsha, and TIME Grand Plaza Hotel in Al Qusais, the company has also taken over the management of four hotel apartments, including Opal, Topaz, and Crystal Hotel Apartments in Dubai, and Ruby Hotel Apartments in Sharjah, comprising a total of 745 rooms. With the addition of the six properties, the company will be looking to improve efficiency and raise quality standards wherever possible, putting guests first, this according to Mohamed Awadalla, area vice president, TIME Hotels Management, who further indicated the hotel’s embarkation on a dedicated journey into becoming one of the leading hospitality businesses in the UAE. “TIME Hotels is an ambitious, forward-thinking hospital-

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ity company with plans to expand and strengthen our brand identity by using these six properties as a platform for further growth in the region to target business and leisure travellers, particularly those from neighbouring GCC states,” Awadalla expressed, further highlighting the three t's - tourism, trade, and transport - which, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Dubai Economic Sector Commitee, stressed are the three core elements upon which the region's future prosperity relies. Owned by Gulf General Investment Company (GGICO), a public shareholding company, and Investment Group Private, TIME Hotels Management estimates a turnover of approximately USD27 million during the current financial year. Mohamed Al Mazroei, assistant managing director, GGICO, noted, “This seamless transition in management is an important chapter in our long-term business strategy, and one which means we can now look towards our future with a new impetus.”


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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Bin Majid Group Unveils Mangrove Hotel Bin Majid Group’s hospitality division has added another property to its extensive portfolio with the opening of Mangrove Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. Strategically located on Al Qassimi Cornich, in proximity to the city centre and malls, and 10 minutes from the emirate’s international airport, the launch of the property forms part of the group’s expansion plan. Featuring 30 standard guestrooms, 90 suites, 60 executive suites, and six presidential suites, as well as a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool, an all-day dining restaurant, business centre with meeting rooms, and an outdoor coffee shop, to name a few, the hotel boasts of mangrove and sea views from all of its 186 rooms. “To stay ahead of competition we intend to offer innovative products and then position Mangrove well. As a result we expect approximately 45-55 percent occupancy in the very first year of its operations,” emphasised Hardeep Negi, director of operations, Bin Majid Beach Hotel and Mangrove Hotel.

Hyatt: Focus on Saudi Arabia Hyatt Hotels Corporation has recently unveiled plans to add another three properties to its Saudi Arabian portfolio, set to considerably strengthening the group's presence in the country and bolster job creation. Voicing his optimism on Saudi Arabia as a promising destination for the group Thierry Bertin, vice president, worldwide sales, Hyatt International South West Asia, explained, “The current prospects of the Kingdom are very positive due to the number of infrastructure projects currently under development and the growing popularity of religious tourism. We envisage creating more than 2,500 jobs and have already started out Hyatt Univeristy in Park Hyatt Jeddah.” Morever Bertin added, “The Saudi customers have different tastes and aspirations. They are already familiar with our brands and sub brands where they are staying in the region in Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, or overseas in London, New York, or Zurich. In addition, we have more projects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Beirut, and Al Khobbar within the region.”

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Accommodation

Cristal Hotels & Resorts to Expand in Qatar Cristal Hotels & Resorts will open a new branch office in Doha, Qatar, marking the hotel group’s second representation bureau in the region, following its international debut in Lebanon. The branch office will be operated in cooperation with Al Dana Development, and the executives there will supervise the developments and operations of the upcoming hotels in the area. Furthermore, three new Cristal Hotels & Resorts properties are expected to open in the next five years, with the first opening scheduled in 2013. Commenting on the launch of the new office, Peter Blackburn, president, Cristal Hotels & Resorts said, “Our new base in Qatar will allow us to get even closer to the region’s traveller and understand their needs which will translate into an even better hotel product that we will make available to our clients.”

Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek: Above Expectations Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek started the year with high occupancy levels and expects to maintain the momentum throughout the year. The 276-room business district property enjoyed a healthy guest mix throughout 2011, according to Janet Fitzner, general manager, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Janet Fitzner Deira Creek. “Our hotel has been very steady and string in performance throughout the crises in the past few years,” she said. “We are pleased with results of 2011 and looking forward to see this year to be even more successful.” With a large segment of the hotel's clientele stemming from the US and Europe, the local market also proves to be very important, predominantly from GCC countries, Fitzner indicated, adding that this year might bring even better performance metrics. “The year has started excellent, above our expectations and we remain positive for the rest of the year. Business on the books for the upcoming months is already on an established level with an increase compared with 2011,” she concluded.

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WEEKLY NEWS

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IHG Launches New Hotel Brand, EVEN InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the launch of a new brand in the US, namely EVEN, which is set to focus on healthier travel at a mainstream price and will become the eighth hotel brand under the IHG collection. Exercise area, EVEN The first EVEN location is expected to be announced in the second quarter of this year, while the hotel is set to open during the first months of 2013. According to Kirk Kinsell, president, the Americas, IHG, 100 EVEN hotels are expected to be signed throughout the next five years. EVEN Hotels aims to offer four main features, namely exercise, eat, work, and rest, all under the same roof. Regarding exercise, the hotels will offer in-room workout options and other individual or group wellness amenities. The eat feature will include nutritionally designed menus and restaurants, while the work feature will provide technological products that make working easier, and the rest feature will give the guests everything they need to relax.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments Welcomes Executive Guests The executive floor of the Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments, in the centre of Fujairah city, is now ready to welcome guests after spending one year under renovation. The property includes spacious deluxe and super deluxe one- and two-bedroom executive suites, all of which include a living room, dining area, and separate kitchen. The executive guests will also be able to enjoy a renovated swimming pool on the roof top, the Al Roof restaurant, separate ladies and gents gymnasium featuring sauna bath facilities, as well as a shisha terrace, a business centre, in-house express laundry, and daily housekeeping.

Accommodation

Emirates Grand Hotel to Tap New Markets Emirates Grand Hotel closed 2011 on a high note, after recording high occupancy levels, and is keen on maintaining the momentum by penetrating new markets. According to Frank Owens, group general manager, Emirates Grand Hotel, 2011 was a recovery period for the industry, and proved to be a healthier year than 2010, so real signs of growth are on the horizon this year. Furthermore, Owens attributed the emerging European, as well as the traditionally strong GCC market, to the hotel’s stellar performance. “What is noticed during this time is the visits of families from the European sector, who wish to explore this great city. Also, with events such as the Russian New Year and Chinese New Year, the affluent tourists are now heading to the UAE,” he said. Indicating the hotel’s aim to continue broadening its reach, thus eye new source markets, Owens said, “We are planning to focus more on the European and the South African market as well as on Eastern Europe, by taking business trips and attending South African trade fairs and some other events. We hope that these visits will help us tap potential tourists from that upcoming market. In addition, we will also focus on targeting the corporate market and get business from other potential markets.”

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Air News

Etihad Airways Joins with Hainan Airlines Etihad Airways has commenced codeshare flights with Hainan Airlines, the airline’s first ever codeshare with a Chinese carrier, allowing Hainan Airlines to place its ‘HU’ code on Etihad Airways-operated flights between Abu Dhabi and three Chinese cities, namely Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai. The agreement also extends to Etihad Airways’ flights to Khartoum International Airport in Sudan. James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, commented, “The agreement with Hainan Airlines expands our network reach into China and gives us immediate access to the millions of potential Chinese travellers to the Middle East and beyond to Africa. “It also provides a firm foundation for growing the Etihad Airways brand in the Chinese market. We will continue to explore opportunities for collaboration with Hainan Airlines and, in particular, to include more destinations on each other’s networks over time.” The joint venture will also integrate the Etihad Guest and Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Club loyalty programmes, enabling travellers to earn miles on each other’s flights. Further commenting on the agreement, Tie Li, president, Hainan Airlines, said, “We have great expectations of the partnership, and believe that through mutual creativity, we will be able to bring synergy and, hopefully, value to our customers.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

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Emirates Increases Middle East Frequencies Emirates will be adding an additional daily flight to each of its popular Doha and Kuwait routes, increasing the total capacity by 29 percent, effective this August. Doha will be receiving six flights per day, making it the number one country in the Middle East, according to flight frequencies across the region, followed by Kuwait, which will be welcoming five daily flight services. Both routes will provide 46,430 inbound and outbound seats per week, supporting the trade and tourism growth in the area.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Etihad Airways to serve Basra Etihad Airways is to commence flights to Basra, Iraq, as of April 15, becoming the airline’s third city to be served in the country. James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, commented on the importance of the upcoming route, “Iraq’s surging economy represents a good opportunity to add even greater depth to our schedule. Basra is an important industrial and transport hub but currently has only limited access to air services and we are delighted to be able to help improve these, by investing in the local community.” Oil and gas represent the backbone of the local economy, and major companies rotating staff in and out of Basra have already expressed strong interest in the new flights. The route will also provide seamless connectivity over Abu Dhabi for Etihad Airways’ flights to Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Australia.

Emirates Upgrades Dublin Aircraft

Dublin

Following the successful launch of flights to Dublin, Ireland, Emirates has announced the deployment of a larger aircraft on the route as of July 1. The new passenger service, which was launched on January 9, has already become one of the airline’s most successful route launches with load factors driving through 90 percent for many of the flights. “Normally, this would provide enough capacity for the first two to three years of a new route operation. However, Dublin is exceeding our expectations much faster than was predicted and we need more seats to satisfy demand,” commented Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates. From July 1 onwards, the replacement Boeing 777-300ER will provide a total of 360 seats, representing an increase in capacity of 52 percent.

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WHO'S MOVED

Mohamed Taher Mohamed Taher has been named director of sales and marketing at Traders Hotel, Dubai. Taher’s career, within the tourism and hospitality industry, spans over 25 years and throughout various locations, including the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. Prior to joining Traders Hotel, he worked as director of sales at

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its sister property, Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai; a position which he held for eight successful years. In his new role, his main focus will be to develop a strategy to maximise opportunities from the US, Australia, Asia, Africa, and the GCC, the hotel’s key markets, while overseeing the entire marketing division.

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Sara Assad Sara Assad has joined the marketing and communications team of Four Seasons Hotel Amman as director of public relations. Having previously worked at a number of reputable publications, Assad brings with her a vast journalistic background to the hotel, as well as a strong foundation in social media.

Assad holds a mass communications and journalism degree from Lynn University Florida. Joining Four Seasons Hotel Amman marks her first venture into the hotel and hospitality industry and she looks forward to experiencing all it has to offer.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Omer Kaddouri

Habib Khan

Chief operating officer, Rotana.

General manager, Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa.

“We support Reed Travel Exhibitions and Abu Dhabi in hosting an important exhibition such as GIBTM, which will hugely assist in developing MICE tourism. We have always been very active with the promotion of our MICE properties, all over the Middle East, through our local and international sales offices, and our participation at GIBTM has assisted us in further developing this sector and in showcasing our products and offerings.”

“We have been attending the ITB Berlin every year; it is the most effective trade fair for the industry that supports all types of travel and hospitality related activities. Hence, we cannot afford to lose such an opportunity. If business is booming, then we ought to participate, appreciate, and pay our respect to the supporters. If otherwise, then it makes it even mandatory to go and seek help from the industry drivers.”

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Zayeem Mohtisham POSITION: Tours consultant COMPANY: Al Tayer Travel Agency LOCATION: Dubai, UAE WEB: www.altayerholidays.travel Who are you? My name is Zayeem Mohtisham and I work in the wholesales department of the agency, handling train packages called Train Tours of Europe. What is your favourite thing about working in this industry? I get to know about and deepen my knowledge on interesting destinations around the world being given the chance to visit the places I sell the most. When is the best time to visit the UAE? During the Dubai Shopping Festival as the whole city gets into the festive mood. Then again, Dubai welcomes tourists all year round, be it during the traditional festivals, the national day, or New Years Eve. It lives up to its mark. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would love to travel to Ireland and explore more of the greener side of the Emerald Isle. Why should people come to you for travel advice? To sell a travel product you need to know the product. And at Al Tayer, all members of our staff have in-depth knowledge and experience in selling these travel products.

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Sabre Travel Network Promotes Air Travel Marketplace Sabre Travel Network has announced the launch of ’Let the Market Fly’, an advocacy and education campaign to promote a transparent, vibrant marketplace for air travel, and to broaden understanding of its benefits for airlines, travellers, and the agencies that connect them. The effort comes at a critical time for consumers’ continued ability to quickly and easily comparison-shop for air travel. This year is set to witness a turning point for the travel industry, with several critical issues to be decided that could impact how consumers shop for and buy air travel. For example, some market participants continue seeking to reduce travellers’ ability to comparison shop. In addition, proposed new taxes on airlines in the US, and other public policy issues abroad, could increase costs for consumers and airlines. As a result, Sabre is significantly expanding its current advocacy and education efforts with ’Let the Market Fly’, anchored by its website and a variety of events and activities around the world throughout the year. “Travel is the lifeblood that connects nations, people, and businesses, and drives the global economy,” said Sam Gilliland, CEO, Sabre Holdings. “’Let the Market Fly’ will facilitate discussions among everyone with an interest in an open and healthy travel marketplace, from airlines to agencies, and from corporate travel buyers to everyday travellers.”


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TRAVEL CHANNELS Britain, a Growing Destination for Middle Eastern Tourists

Oman Forges Ahead

Great Britain’s national tourism authority, VisitBritain, has released 2011's inbound tourism figures for the island. All-in-all, 30.6 million tourists entered Great Britain in 2011, recording a three percent increase from 2010, and boastLondon ing the strongest year since 2008. These numbers are expected to grow this year, due to events such as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Commenting on inbound Middle Eastern tourists to Great Britain, Guy Warrington, consul general, British Embassy, Dubai, said, “The whole world will come together in London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The UAE national team will experience the finest training and sporting facilities the world has to offer. And, for our Emirati guests visiting the UK in July, I promise the warmest of welcomes.”

The Oman Ministry of Tourism is aiming to increase the GDP contribution of tourism to approximately 3.5 percent in 2015, from the recorded two percent in 2011, while it eyes an overall growth of 10 percent this year. Having embarked on its expedition as the ’Arab Tourism Capital 2012’ in January, the sultanate’s capital city, Muscat, has been placed in the global limelight and Haitham Mohammed Ghasani, director, tourism promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, predicts an excellent year ahead for the entire country. “We expect this year to be a turning point in our efforts to take the performance of our tourism sector to the next level,” he commented. In addition, the country’s ongoing tourism plans include the study of around 30 locations across the sultanate for potential tourism development, and the construction of an archaeological park and a museum.

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Sherif Shahein Brushing off the residue of 2011’s events, Baron Hotels & Resorts, Egypt, strategically presses on as Sherif Shahein, vice president, Baron Hotels & Resorts, Egypt, divulges details on the hotel group’s upcoming plans and developments while it simultaneously, albeit carefully, adapts to changing tourism trends.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the latest news and updates at Baron Hotels & Resorts? Sherif Shahein: Baron Hotels & Resorts’ future developments include the opening of its fivestar deluxe Baron Palace Resort Sahl Hasheesh, later this year. This hotel will comprise 650 rooms and suites, including 33 swim-up suites with a private swimming pool, 33 family rooms, and royal suites also with private swimming pools. It also includes 18 restaurants and bars, featuring a number of international cuisines and extends on 600m of private sandy beach. Moreover, a unique MICE complex will be included that will host up to 600 guests, as well as a swimming pool complex covering a surface area of 5,000m2.

try professionals have to explore marketing opportunities and spot the underperforming businesses to protect market share and identify unsuccessful rate strategies. We have to keep promoting Egypt as a unique destination combining history with a twist of modernisation, and yet keeping in mind the competition.

Sherif Shahein Vice president, Baron Hotels & Resorts, Egypt

Travel Trade Weekly: How are tourism trends evolving in Egypt and how are you adapting to these changes? Sherif Shahein: Due to the unrest, Egypt’s hospitality and tourism industry has been affected. However, tourism to the country still captures the classic type of traveller seeking leisure on the shores of the Red Sea with unsurpassed diving opportunities, exceptional weather, and outstanding hospitality. However, different trends in the tourism industry in Egypt will possibly emerge in the near future including wellness, wedding and honeymoons, and MICE tourism. Meanwhile, the emerging trends noticed are those related to new uprising destinations such as Sahl Hasheesh Bay. Because of the current slowdown of business in Egypt, hospitality indus-

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Travel Trade Weekly: Amid growing competition across the city and throughout the region, how are Baron Hotels & Resorts’ developments endeavouring to maintain their reputation? Sherif Shahein: Being a market leader, we anticipate and fulfill guests’ needs through a series of marketing intelligence practices. For example, Baron Resort Sharm El Sheikh has introduced a one-of-a-kind VIP exclusive concept to its Royal Suites guests,

including express check-in, unlimited visits to all à la carte restaurants, local and imported alcoholic drinks, top VIP extra bathrooms and room accessories, and turn-down service, just to name few. With its modern architectural flair and stunning 600m beachfront, it is a spacious complex with an excellent range of facilities. Its sister, Hotel Baron Palms Resort Sharm El Sheikh, is a five-star boutique-style superb hotel with Andalucian-style features amidst over 150 palm trees and vast tropical landscapes. This oasis of serenity offers a cosy allinclusive accommodation with attentive staff and has won numerous awards from Thomas Cook, Thomson, and other prominent international tour operators. Established in 1980, Baron Hotel Heliopolis, Cairo, is the first foundation for Baron Hotels & Resorts Egypt. Following the strategy of continually rising to exclusive standards of perfection and quality, the hotel is set for an expansion plan that includes the addition of an extension to the existing building, which will also be totally redesigned and renovated. The extension spreads over to comprise a larger lobby area, 230 elegantly-furnished rooms and suites, an array of spectacular restaurants and bars, and a shopping arcade. It will also feature one of the best banquet rooms that accommodates up to 600 guests equipped with cutting-edge technology, an outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool, and a tropical restaurant and bar to complement a perfect setting with eclectic alfresco dining options. The hotel will also feature leisure, sports, and fully-equipped wellness and relaxation centres.


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NEWS & EVENTS

Kuwait Outshines MEA Market Average Kuwait outperformed the Middle East and Africa market average in regards to its RevPAR performance, according to the latest STR Global hospitality report. The country’s occupancy levels grew by 5.3 percent to 55.1 percent, as average daily room rate improved from USD221 to USD227 and RevPAR increased to USD120, recording an overall healthy 19.2 percent increase year-on-year. An additional report by Euromonitor indicated 554,000 arrivals in Kuwait in 2010 and estimated one million arrivals by 2015. In line with these figures, the Arabian Travel Market has also already witnessed an increase of 118 percent from pre-registered visitors from the country, ahead of this year’s event, while the number of people interested in buying tourism products from Kuwait has risen by 105 percent since 2011. In 2011, Kuwait launched a five-year tourism plan, which aims to attract more of the leisure segment, as part of the government’s strategy to develop the country as a commercial and financial centre alongside tourism, according to Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, who said, “One area that Kuwait could look to develop as part of this plan is the exhibitions and events sector, effectively bolting-on a programme of leisure activities either before or after business people conduct their meetings.”

Jordan to Host Medical Event The International Medical Tourism, Wellness & Spa Congress, which being organised by Private Hospitals Association, Jordan, in collaboration with the Medical Tourism Association, is set to take place on March 18 – 20 at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea. Around 400 regional and international participants, including scientists, doctors, and researchers from a large number of healthcare service providers, will gather at the event, to shed light on the medical sector and raise awareness with regards to international standards set to promote this sector.

EVENTS Moscow International Exhibition Travel & Tourism (MITT) Moscow, Russia, March 21 – 24, 2012 (www.mitt.ru) Russia’s leading travel exhibition, with over 3,000 participating companies and 185 destinations, serving as a key meeting place.

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Dubai, UAE, April 28 – 30, 2012 (www.arabianconference.com) An event that brings together regional leaders to discuss the key topics and challenges of the coming months.

GIBTM Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 26 – 28, 2012 (www.gibtm.com) A leading event for business travel in the GCC region, unlocking business potential within the Middle East for all professionals.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, April 30 – May 2, 2012 (www.arabiantravelmarket.com) A major event that unlocks business potential within the Middle East for tourism professionals, where destinations around the world showcase their diverse range of tourism options.

China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market (COTTM) Beijing, China, April 18 – 20, 2012 (www.cottm.com) A business-to-business exhibition, which provides a platform for international tourism boards and travel services to meet with China’s key outbound tour operators.

GTM Germany Travel Mart (GTM) Leipzig, Germany, May 13 – 15, 2012 (www.germany.travel) The largest incoming workshop in Germany where German providers meet key buyers from the international travel industry.

10 MARCH 2012

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 122  

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

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 122  

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

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