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14 JANUARY 2012


14 JANUARY 2012


AIDAblu Calls at Dubai German cruise line, AIDA Cruises, has extended its presence in the Middle East with AIDAblu now calling at the Port of Dubai for the first time, as well as Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Manama up until March.

South Africa is to become a key market for the Taj Palace Hotel, Dubai following a 31 percent increase in guests from the country.

04 Boeing Ends 2011 with Record-Breaking Orders Fuelled by a late flurry of record-breaking deals, Boeing booked 805 net commercial airplane orders in 2011.


02 04 05 07 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Taj Palace Hotel Dubai Aims for New Market





Qatar: Projects Worth USD106 Billion to be Awarded Ambitious development plans and opportunities will be put under the spotlight at the annual Qatar Projects conference, which will take place on February 5 – 8, at Grand Hyatt Hotel, Doha.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou SALES & MARKETING


Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant WEB & LAYOUT Elina Pericleous 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 EMAILS


he four-day programme, organised by MEED Events, will showcase the rapidly multiplying opportunities emerging in Qatar; one of the world’s fastest growing economies. “With Qatar’s high profile hosting of the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2022, a major coup for the country and indeed the region, the government has committed to an extraordinary programme of capital investment that will ramp up over the next 10 years to develop a world-class infrastructure to underpin an investment-friendly business and leisure destination. The overarching theme for this year’s event is ‘The Journey to 2022’, and the week will kick off with a dedicated sports business forum.” highlighted Edmund O’Sullivan, chairman, MEED Events. Based on the organiser’s 2011/12 Qatar Projects report, more than USD106 billion worth of projects will be awarded between now and 2022, including major investments

in oil and gas, heavy industry, electricity generation and water desalination, and social infrastructure and transportation links projects. “The scale of opportunities is unprecedented, and Qatar Projects 2012 will also provide exclusive insight into the country’s long-term blueprint for economic success as part of Qatar Vision 2030, with anticipated investment of up to USD100 billion,” concluded O'Sullivan. The last event attracted a record-breaking 644 attendees, and the next one has been expanded to include even more client-led presentations and case study analyses, providing an indepth look at the most ambitious mega-projects. Hailed as the world’s richest nation, the International Monetary Fund lists Qatar’s domestic product per capita at USD88,221, with the figure forecast to jump to USD111,963 by 2016. Qatar currently projects economic growth of around 16 percent for this year, and expects a budget surplus of USD6.1 billion for the fiscal year.

Accurate as of

11/01/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar






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)




STR: Growing Demand in the Middle East Driven by firmly increasing demand, the Middle East’s hotel industry achieved positive results in the key performance metrics in November 2011, based on data compiled by STR Global. Fuelled by the rising interest from travellers opting for the Middle East instead of Northern Africa, the region had occupancy rates, average daily rates (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) steadily increasing. Both Riyadh (+11.7 percent to USD285.07) and Dubai (+11.3 percent to USD279.06) posted double-digit ADR increase, with Dubai (+19.5 percent to USD243.56) and Jeddah (+14.3 percent to USD161.49) also recording impressive RevPAR growth. Meanwhile, the ongoing political upheaval left Northern Africa feeling the heat with the occupancy level (-47.4 percent to 39.2 percent), ADR (-14.4 percent to USD112.29), and RevPAR (-55 percent to USD44) significantly falling in Cairo.

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WEEKLY NEWS Abu Dhabi International Airport Awarded for Fast Travel Abu Dhabi International Airport has become the first airport in the region to receive a golden award for Fast Travel from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In response to growing demands for more adequate and faster procedures at airports, Fast Travel was initiated by IATA with the object of reducing airline costs and enhancing passenger experiences by offering a range of self-service options throughout the whole journey. The new programme targeted five airports and airline pairs, including Abu Dhabi International Airport with Etihad Airways. Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) implemented all six initiatives set by IATA; self-check-in, self-boarding gate, document check, a flight re-booking kiosk, bags readyto-go, and bag recovery kiosk, delivered through ADAC’s common user self-service kiosks. “ADAC is eager to deliver services and facilities that will exceed its customer expectations,” James Bennett, CEO, ADAC, commented on the accolade. “We are aware of the value of passenger time and we are working closely with related local and international institutions to adapt our processes and procedures to develop our facilities in the best available methods. This comes in line with our commitment towards delivering a unique travel experience in a state-of-the-art facility, whilst maintaining high levels of safety and security.” Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA, added, “IATA Fast Travel makes travel better. Passengers get more control over their journey with self-service options. And both airports and airlines benefit from reduced costs. By implementing all six Fast Travel components, Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi International Airport are showing global leadership moving on both technology and the passenger experience.”

Abu Dhabi International Airport

AIDAblu Calls at Dubai German cruise line, AIDA Cruises, has extended its presence in the Middle East with AIDAblu now calling at the Port of Dubai for the first time, as well as Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Manama up until March. AIDA Cruises, which debuted in the UAE in 2006, invites guests to experience thousands of years of history though AIDAblu’s seven-day Orient 1 route. Dubai, the highlight of the journey, where guests can spend two nights, has long been one of the favourite destinations of holidaymakers, according to Michael Ungerer, senior vice president operations, AIDA Cruises. “Dubai is a popular destination among our guests. The city makes a great impression with its hospitality, imposing skyline, and the unique nature surrounding it, which our guests can explore on the numerous trips offered.”


SCTA: 111 licenses The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities’ (SCTA) Licensing and Quality Assurance Department issued 111 licenses for tourism activities in December 2011. Based on the commission’s monthly report, SCTA issued five licenses for tour operators, one of which is local, while the other four licenses were granted to tour operators at a national level. With these issuances, the total number of licensed tour operators working in the Kingdom now reaches 154, offering services through 200 offices across the nation. Moreover, three travel agencies also received licenses during December, raising the total number of licensed travel agencies to 461. SCTA also announced licenses to 55 facilities, 20 of which were issued for hotels, and 35 for furnished apartments. An additional 48 classification certificates (16 for hotels and 32 for furnished apartments) were also announced, bringing the total number of issued licenses for operating accommodation facilities to 2,333, with 1,491 certifications of classification.

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Rotana: Seven Middle East Openings Rotana is to embark on a USD750 million investment and unveil seven new hotels across the Middle East during the year.


he ambitious expansion plan will see the opening of Rotana’s first properties in Bahrain and Jordan, the company’s second one in Qatar, and the launch of four additional hotels in the UAE. Upon completion, Rotana’s inventory will be increased to 14,000 rooms in the region. Furthermore, the company expects a six percent occupancy rate growth across its extensive portfolio of hotels over the 2011 levels. “2011 saw the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa registering positive growth, despite several challenging economic and political factors,” commented Selim El Zyr, CEO, Rotana. “We have properties in Syria

and Egypt, and whilst we have been affected by the unrest in both countries, we are hoping that the political situation will soon settle down. Airlines from the UK and the traditional European feeder markets to Sharm and Hurghada have planned an increase to their flights as of December 2011. We expect that as general business conditions improve in these countries and indeed right across the Middle East and Africa, so will the opportunities for hospitality.” Rotana’s new openings, which will provide more than 3,000 new job opportunities, include, Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana and Al Ghurair by Rotana, both in Dubai, with plans to open their doors during the third quarter;

Ramada Downtown Dubai Honours Top Tour Operators Ramada Downtown Dubai has recognised the top 10 tour operators and corporate accounts for their exceptional contributions to the success of the hotel. The awarded companies, booked the maximum number of rooms in the hotel for the year 2011, firmly contributing to its annual revenue. The top 10 tour operators include Arab Link, Gulliver Travels, White Sands Tours and Travels, Alpha Tours, Destinations of the World, Golden Tourist Tourism, Al Tayyar Travel and Tourism, Darina Holidays, Unique Choice Worldwide, and Rida International. “It is extremely vital to maintain a healthy business relationship with companies and travel agents who generate business to our hotel,” commented Wael El Behi, executive assitant manager, Ramada Downtwon Dubai. “This allows us to strengthen our business affiliation with them and increase brand loyalty towards Ramada Downtown Dubai. Wael El Behi with Alpha Tours official

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Centro Capital Centre and Capital Centro Rotana both located in Abu Dhabi, slated for the second quarter and third quarter respectively; City Centre Rotana, Doha, to be unveiled in the third quarter; the hotel group’s debut in Jordan with Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, set to open during the first quarter, and Bahrain's welcoming of Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, in the fourth quarter. “We believe our growth is supported by our commitment to keep evolving our products in line with travel trends and guest preferences, and one of the key areas for growth that we are currently addressing is the midtier market, for which we developed the Centro Hotels by Rotana brand,” concluded El Zyr.



Taj Palace Hotel Dubai Aims for New Market South Africa is set to become a key market for the Taj Palace Hotel, Dubai this year as the hotel has, since 2010, recorded a 31 percent increase in guests from the country.

The leisure traveller is our key focus from this market because they prefer to book apartments The property attributes this rise in business to the surge in flights between Dubai and the major cities of Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. Mohamed Anwar, director of sales and marketing, Taj Palace Hotel, Dubai, commented, “The fact that Emirates has direct flights between South Africa and Dubai means that accessing the city is now easier for many travellers making Dubai an attractive holiday destination. There are two flights daily from Cape Town so we see a lot of arrivals from this city, particularly around the holiday periods.” Over 45 percent of business to the hotel is from the leisure segment and majority of the visitors are families travelling during the holidays. “The leisure traveller is our key focus from this market because they prefer to book apartments, and ours are some of the largest in the city,” continued Anwar. Dubai is also a convenient stopover for South Africans travelling to Mecca with many visitors adding one or two nights to their trip to see the city, according to Anwar.


Further Growth of Event Capacity During 2011, event capacity grew significantly, a trend which Dusit Thani Dubai suggests will continue to increase throughout this year. The hotel, situated close to Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai’s International Exhibition & Convention Centre, experienced event organisers requiring a larger capacity for business and social functions. Overall, 2011 had an event capacity increase significantly across all sector groups for Dusit Thani Dubai, especially with governmentorganised events held at the hotel, which grew by almost 40 percent. Corporate and government seminars and receptions increased 70 percent, while dinner functions had a 75 percent increase. These figures come as the fifth Middle East Meetings Industry Research report named Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the top MENA Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) destinations. Donna Atanacio, MICE sales manager, Dusit Thani Dubai, believes that this year is going to be an even more significant period for the MICE sector. “As research, and our own records, show, Dubai is a key MICE destination in the global market, with forecasts for this year anticipating Dubai attracting a large percentage of business in the region. More specifically, incentive travel is one which will certainly continue to see a significant growth and we are further developing our offerings to accommodate these needs.”

Hyatt: Stiff Competition Ahead

Peter Fulton

Regional hotels are set to face stiff competition as new and improved supply continues to enter the South West Asian market, according to executives of Hyatt International. The number of hotel rooms are expected to double over 2008 numbers in several key markets across the GCC and India. “2011 was a year of tremendous accomplishment for international hoteliers operating across the Gulf region, because many of us were able to open major properties in key markets, after years of planning and construction,” Peter Fulton, managing director, Hyatt International, South West Asia, pointed out. “But this year will be the time at which all of our properties will be tested against one another – tested primarily on guest experience, but also location and value for money,” he added. Customers are increasingly looking for unparalleled experience and value, according to Fulton, who said, “We believe that the Gulf and Indian hotel visitors are looking for an exceptional guest experience at an appropriate price point, and we think that Hyatt’s new and existing properties are ideally places to deliver an ‘authentic hospitality’ experience at a competitive price.”

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Air News



Emirates New Direct Service Emirates has launched its direct daily service to Rio de Janeiro, its second Brazilian gateway, with the airline anticipating strong demand for both leisure and business travel.


hierry Antinori, executive vice president, passenger sales worldwide, Emirates, commented, “As Emirates’ second Brazilian gateway, our new Rio de Janeiro service will add extra impetus to the vibrant Brazilian economy, boosting tourism and underpinning the city’s status as a leading hub for business and trade, particularly within the oil and gas industries.” As a partner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Emirates is proud to have a role to play in making the tournament a success, and looks forward to bringing football fans from across its global network to this unmissable event, according to Antinori.

Emirates’ South American network. Emirates has been flying to Brazil since 2007, when it launched its São Paulo route.


Emirates’ Rio de Janeiro flight is a linked service with Buenos Aires, meaning that customers in South America can now travel between the two cities. Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires will be the second and third points to be added to

Etihad Airways Lands in Düsseldorf Etihad Airways has commenced non-stop flights to Düsseldorf. The airline initially operates four weekly services between its Abu Dhabi hub and the German city, which is set to rise to a daily operation in April this year. Commenting on the launch, Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, said, “Germany is a strategically important market for Etihad Airways. We have carried more than 1.7 million passengers to and from Germany since we started flights to Munich back in 2004, and now we operate 25 weekly services to Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich.” Forward bookings for the route, which is served by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, are already strong and the service is expected to further strengthen the existing ties between the countries. “Düsseldorf was a logical step in growing our European passenger operations. By growing direct point to point traffic between the two cities, we also look forward to strengthening business and leisure ties between the capital of the UAE and Germany,” concluded Baumgartner.

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As Emirates’ second Brazilian gateway, our new Rio de Janeiro service will add extra impetus to the vibrant Brazilian economy



Air News

Ethiopian Airlines Debuts in Oman

Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines has increased its presence in the Middle East by launching non-stop flights between Addis Ababa and Muscat. The capital city of Oman, which will be served three times a week, marks the African airline’s seventh destination in the Middle East following Beirut, Dubai, Jeddah, Kuwait, Riyadh, and Sana’a. “We are pleased that Ethiopian is starting the service at the time the Arab League tourism ministers’

nominate Muscat as ‘Arab Tourism Capital 2012’,” said Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO, Ethiopian Airlines, who further added, “The Sultanate offers popular tourist attractions such as the Wadis, parks, beaches, and mountains to be explored and experienced with its timeless traditions.” The new service links Ethiopian Airlines’ 63rd global destination with dozens of cities via the carrier’s hub at Addis Ababa. Convenient connections are now available to and from cities such as Johannesburg, Nairobi, Lagos, Accra, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Entebbe, and Lusaka.

Emirates to Fly to Vietnam Emirates is to strengthen its presence in South East Asia and launch scheduled services to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, effective of June 4. The airline will initially deploy an Airbus A330-200 in a two-class configuration on the route to its 124th global destination, which, as of October 28, will be served by a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft. Tim Clark, president, Emirates, commented on the new daily flights, “Following the signing of the Air Ser-

vices’ Memorandum of Understanding between Vietnam and the UAE in April 2011, we have been busy planning this route and it comes at a very exciting time for the airline as our global network continues to expand.” Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in the country and often referred to as the commercial capital of Vietnam, is home to over seven million people. With the trade between the UAE and Vietnam exceeding USD24 million in 2010, Emirates’ new

service is expected to attract not only holidaymakers but also businessmen. “Emirates will offer tourists and business travellers, particularly from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, a convenient option to access Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most vibrant places in South East Asia and we are convinced that this will prove to be a highly popular route. We look forward to growing our partnership with Vietnam,” Clark concluded.

Etihad Airways’ Groundbreaking Deal

Etihad Airways is a premier airline in a growing and dynamic part of the world

Etihad Airways has announced a deal valued at more than USD1 billion with aviation computer technology provider Sabre Airline Solutions. The 10-year contract will see Etihad Airways make use of the software across its reservations, inventory, marketing, planning, e-commerce, distribution, and departure control operations. To be implemented by February 2013, it is to reduce the airline’s technology costs while streamlining processes considerably. James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, commented, “This groundbreaking deal will play a pivotal role in providing Etihad Airways with the tools

necessary to achieve its next phase of growth and profitability targets in an innovative, sustainable, and cost effective manner.” Also included in the contract is a multi-year, full-content distribution agreement to provide Sabre Airline Solutions-connected travel agents worldwide with real time access to Etihad Airways’ flight and scheduling information, along with the airline being able to access the Sabre global distribution system to market and sell products. “We are privileged to work with a visionary carrier that will greatly benefit from Sabre’s best class-in-class technology,” stated Sam Gilliland, CEO, Sabre Holdings.

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Hampton by Hilton Arrives in Asia Pacific Hampton Hotels, part of the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands, has unveiled its first property in Asia Pacific with the opening of Hampton by Hilton Vadodara-Alkapuri in India. The latest addition to Hampton Hotels’ portfolio of more than 1,800 properties boasts an ideal location in the heart of Vadodara’s business and shopping districts, a 15-minute drive from the airport, and in close proximity to large companies and tourist attractions. Phil Cordell, global head, focused service and Hampton

Hampton by Hilton

InterContinental Returns to Russia InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) luxury brand has returned to Russia, after a decade away, with the opening of InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya. Situated on Russia’s most famous street, just a stone’s throw away from important landmarks, such as the Kremlin and the Red Square, and 30 minutes from Sheremetyevo International Airport, the hotel boasts an ideal base for both business and leisure travellers visiting the country. “We are in the heart of Moscow which is the perfect location for our guests because they can take in the local sights and sounds. Our guests can discover this fascinating city through our concierge who has the local expertise to help them experience Moscow as the locals do,” Oliver Hom, general manager InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya, commented. Owned by Business Centre on Tverskaya and managed by IHG, InterContinental Moscow Tverskaya forms part of a new business complex. The hotel comprises 203 rooms, including 16 junior and executive suites, and three penthouses. Furthermore it features 10 meeting rooms spanning over 600m2, and a ballroom. A restaurant and a lounge bar are also featured, while the spa with a gym is scheduled to open early this year.

brand management, Hilton Worldwide, said, "Hampton Hotels continues to grow its global footprint. With the addition of our first Hampton by Hilton in India, this property establishes the brand as a true global brand that is driven by strong developers who understand the value of the Hampton brand and the investment opportunities it has to offer. This is a strong viable hotel brand that meets market demand and the needs of the global traveller.” Guests at the 72-room hotel will benefit from a host of leisure and business amenities, which include an outdoor pool, a fitness centre, two meeting rooms, and an extensive rooftop facility. With the hotel set to ignite the mid-market segment in India. Chris Desai, senior vice president, Baywood Hotels, the operator of the hotel, noted, “There is untapped demand in the Indian market for top class focused service hotels and we hope to fill it with the launch of Hampton by Hilton which offers the ideal option for savvy travellers who look for great value during their stay.

Best Western International Makes Mark in Gunsan Best Western International (BWI) has broken ground on a new hotel in the city of Gunsan, South Korea, with Best Western Gunsan Hotel due to open in the third quarter of 2013. The 183-room hotel will add Gunsan as a new destination to BWI's existing presence in South Korea, which currently comprises nine hotels. The hotel will include a swimming pool, bar, fitness area, meeting rooms, and business centre, and will be located close to the city's convention centre. Best Western Gunsan Hotel is set to emerge as an economic hub of Northeast Asia, a location of choice for business, industry, and tourism. “The addition of Best Western Gunsan Hotel reinforces Best Western’s commitment to continuously expand our presence in South Korea, in terms of both number of hotels and locations. South Korea is a diverse destination of many tourist attractions and business opportunities and this is something in which Best Western is actively involved in presenting to the world’s travellers” commented Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and the Middle East, BWI.

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Saleem Bin Amanullah Bin Abdul Hussain

Yannis Anagnostakis Yannis Anagnostakis has been appointed area general manager by InterContinental Dubai Festival City. Having worked in a number of international locations with various world-leading brands, Anagnostakis brings extensive background to his new role. He replaces Tom Meyer, who recently relocated to Bali within the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Anagnostakis

started out working for Hilton in Athens, Cairo, London and Durban. He then joined IHG in the Americas, and worked in Miami, San Francisco, and Toronto. Most recently he served as general manager of Jumeirah Emirates Tower. His main goal at IHG's Dubai Festival City is to position the luxury properties and the destinations, as a whole, as the best in Dubai.

Paul Whetsell Paul Whetsell has been named president and CEO of Loews Hotels. Whetsell, will focus on further developing and growing the brand, while delivering superior financial operating results. Prior to joining Loews Hotels, Whetsell served as a member of the board of directors of Virgin Hotels, providing strategic guidance in the company’s operating and property

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acquisition activities. In 1987, Whetsell founded the CapStar Hotel Company, which was later divided into MeriStar Hotels & Resorts and MeriStar Hospitality Corporation of which he held the positions of chairman and CEO until the company was sold. He also served as chairman and CEO of Interstate Hotels & Resorts until 2003, and remained chairman until 2009.


Saleem Bin Amanullah Bin Abdul Hussain has been appointed general manager customer services at Oman Air. Based at the airline’s headquarters in Muscat, he will spearhead Oman Air’s drive for the highest quality in all direct customer contact. The industry veteran, with 23 years of experience, brings extensive expertise, strong commitment to delivering a

seamless passenger experience, and proactive approach to the role. His successful career, both within the Gulf region and beyond, includes various positions with Gulf Air, such as head of airports. Most recently, he worked as CEO, Cargo for RAS-ENT, Canada. He holds an airline pilot and flight dispatch certification from the Airline Flight Dispatcher Training Center in Dallas.

Tom Horton Tom Horton has been elected chairman of oneworld. Horton, will act as ‘first among equals’ of the chief executives of the group’s member airlines, leading oneworld as the alliance undergoes its biggest expansion in five years. During Arpey’s period of tenure as oneworld's chairman, Horton worked hand-in-glove with him in alliance matters, and has played a pivotal role in strength-

ening the alliance through the significant deepening of cooperation between its member airlines. Prior to joining oneworld, Horton held various positions at AMR Corporation and American Airlines, including those of CEO, chairman, and chief financial officer. He also served as chief financial officer and vice president at AT&T Corporation.


travel talk is your space


Amr Hamed

Peter Mansourian

Hotel manager, Liwa Executive Suites.

General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

“Events such as the World Future Environment Exhibition and World Future Energy Summit have garnered global support. Meanwhile, the World Ophthalmology Congress in February is a huge international stage in this sector and expected to host some 12,000 delegates, boosting demand for all types of accommodation and meeting facilities. To meet the needs of these and other regular guests, we can offer tailor-made long-stay accommodation packages with even more attractive rates.”

“The Dubai Shopping Festival [which takes place all over Dubai from January 5 to February 5] brings people from all over the world and our package allows them to make the most of their time here in Dubai. It is not just about the shopping but treating yourself and having a great time. With delicious delicacies and sumptuous spa treatments, Grand Millennium Dubai aims to offer the best package to do just that.”

H.E. Khalifa Al Mazrouei

Usama Karim Al Haremi

Chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC).

Head corporate communications and media, Oman Air.

“Abu Dhabi Airports Company is proud to be celebrating this special occasion [ the 30th anniversary of the airport] and highlighting Abu Dhabi International Airport's achievements over the past 30 years. The emirate of Abu Dhabi has experienced remarkable development in this short period of time, with Abu Dhabi International Airport being a vital part of the capital’s growth. and a key contributor to the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision of economic diversification .”

“We are immensely proud to be the Gold Sponsor of the Oman First initiative [the project initiated to create the largest e-greeting card in the world], which will pay respects to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Oman Air is committed to supporting the life and development of Oman and to assisting individuals to achieve their full potential. Oman First will help to promote the benefits of technology at every level of society and encourage people from every corner of the nation to engage with digital culture.”

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, and observations to

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dnata Acquires Leading Online Travel Agency

NAME: Dina Cheraghvand POSITION: International

marketing manager

COMPANY: Iran Paradise LOCATION: Iran Who are you? My name is Dina Cheraghvand. I am the international marketing manager for Iran Paradise. Iran Paradise, established in 1995, is one of the most experienced leading destination management companies in Iran in organising group inbound and outbound tours. It is also accredited by the Association of Air Transport and Tourist Agencies of Iran, and the Iranian Inbound Tour Operator association. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The most special part of the travel industry for me started with a dream of travelling. I experienced many different fields in the tourism industry and finally I found my satisfaction in incoming tours management as it makes me know my own country much deeper. It allows me to show its beauty to the world along with gaining the knowledge to know many other countries’ culture and simultaneously have the chance to travel abroad to take part in many worldwide tourism exhibitions. When is the best time to visit Iran? Spring and autumn for most of the standard tours. Also from April until mid May, and then from October until mid November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Brazil because we recently had a very nice group from Rio de Janeiro who invited us to their homes, so I like to plan it for the next year. I would also like to visit Uzbekistan for Samarkand and Bukhara as it has a very special place in Iran's history and literature. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We try our best and we believe that the golden key in our services is that we try to keep the Iranian style of hospitality in a way that all of our tourists forget all the bad images that the propaganda against Iran has created.

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dnata has acquired a majority stake in Travel Republic, the largest privately-owned online travel agency in the UK. The acquisition, which represents one of the biggest business transactions in dnata’s 52-year history, allows the air services provider to capitalise on the fast increasing popularity of online travel booking. Travel Republic, which offers customers the choice of 120,000 hotels and flights with some 100 airlines to 650 destinations worldwide, serves over two million travellers per year. The online agency recorded an increase of 40 percent in its annual turnover for 2011 to more than USD617 million, and is on target to become one of the largest travel companies in the European region. The transaction marks another milestone in dnata’s international expansion, and follows its recent entry into another growing market, India. “Travel Republic will complement our existing leisure and

corporate travel services in Dubai and internationally,” commented Iain Andrew, divisional senior vice president, travel business, dnata. “The company has an impressive, dynamic management team and I am confident that together we can further develop the business, in line with the outstanding service and quality for which dnata is renowned.”

According to Kane Pirie, managing director, Travel Republic, the acquisition will be of benefit to both companies. “We are excited that Travel Republic has joined the dnata family. dnata is forward thinking and ambitious and will help accelerate our growth across Europe and beyond.”



IATA: Travel Demand Softens The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned of softening travel demand in the aviation industry despite passenger traffic growth in the month of November 2011.


lthough passenger traffic climbed 4.3 percent above November 2010 levels, the weakening demand becomes apparent when comparing to the previous month, October 2011. Globally, passenger load factors showed a sharp decline to 76.3 percent from 78.5 percent in October 2011. Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA, blamed the global economic performance for the decline which is palpably reflected in air transport markets. “Although passenger markets have had some growth relative to the beginning of the year, about two percent, the trend has been both soft and volatile. Continuing economic uncertainty will likely mean market shortcomings deepening,” he explained.

“In 2011, the story of aviation’s importance was even more compelling as governments around the world seek solutions to economic uncertainty. Economic growth is the only durable solution. Aviation can be a catalyst for that growth. But that depends on governments allowing airlines to get on with the business of providing global connectivity. The New Year’s resolution for every government, with respect to aviation, should be to stop over-taxation or mis-regulation of this vital economic driver,” Tyler added. On a more positive note, carriers in the Middle East experienced a robust 10.1 percent increase, along with a 10.4 percent capacity growth, and all-in-all recording one of the strongest year-on-year growths at 9.8 percent.

Boeing Ends 2011 with Record-Breaking Orders Fuelled by a late flurry of record-breaking deals, Boeing booked 805 net commercial airplane orders in 2011. With the delivery of 477 airplanes, the company ended the year with a strong backlog of 3,771 unfilled commercial orders. Jim Albaugh, president, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, summerised the company’s performance. “2011 was one of the most exciting and important years in Boeing’s history. By placing record orders, our customers showed their confidence in our products and the quality of work performed by our employees. Our goal this year is to ensure that the 787 production is stable and reliable, while maintaining focus on execution as we deliver an increasing number of airplanes across all our programmes.” By setting a new record for orders in a single year at 200, the 777 once again led Boeing’s twin-aisle programme. Meanwhile, the launch of the 737 MAX resulted in more than 1,000 orders and commitments to date. “The 737 MAX, with its unmatched efficiency, will be a key part of our customers’ future fleet needs,” added Albaugh.

Alison Price On Air Debuts ‘Chef in the Sky’ Alison Price On Air, the London-based in-flight catering business, has launched the first ever ‘Chef in the Sky’ service. The innovative offering provides clients with a true in-flight gastronomic experience by bringing a personal chef on board to prepare and cook meals. Designed to accommodate larger, more complex menus such as those with three and eight courses, the service ensures a variety of tastes. In addition, travellers will also benefit from the added bonus of a complimentary sommelier service along with an extensive wine list.

Chef in the Sky

Commenting on the personal service, Daniel Hulme, director, in-flight services, Alison Price On Air, said, “We are aiming to create the ultimate on-board catering product. This is the first time that anyone has offered such a service and the offering is part of our continual aim to provide clients with a wide range of options when it comes to their inflight catering experience. We anticipate that ‘Chef in the Sky’ will appeal to corporations, private owners of the heavy jet airliners such as the BBJs, and ACJs, and VIP charter companies.” Travellers can take advantage of the ‘Chef in the Sky’ on private heavy jet flights from all London Airports, and the company aims to extend the service in the future to additional private and charter flights from the capital city.

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Q & A with Frank Owens In 2011, despite the multiple global and regional challenges, the UAE’s hospitality sector managed to stay on the growth track. Franks Owens, general manager and area director, business development, Emirates Grand Hotel, talks about the new year’s new opportunities and goals.

Travel Trade Weekly: How do you intend to sustain the hotel’s leading position and gain a competitive edge in a marketplace that is becoming more and more crowded? Frank Owens: Emirates Grand Hotel is not your regular hotel standing tall along Sheikh Zayed Road. As our name suggests, we offer grandiosity in terms of facilities, service, and guests pampering. We are the icon of true Middle East hospitality and we intend to sustain this position by staying alert with what is happening in the market and keeping an eye on the demands of our clientele. We do research and encourage our staff to go the extra mile whenever they are serving our guests. Our primary goal is to have superior guest satisfaction. We also take advantage of our great location, being in the business district and accessible by car and the metro. Travel Trade Weekly: Since taking on your first assignment in Dubai in 2005, the UAE’s hospitality industry has gone through major changes. How have the emirates’ image and the visitor markets altered over the years? Frank Owens: The UAE continues to improve its image by constructing the best infrastructure, and the government is always looking for ways to move forward so it was not hard to adapt to the changes. The city has changed dramatically over the last couple of years and it is for the better so this helps in promoting the property. As such we have seen more and more visitors coming to the city and new markets are emerging and coming to the emirates.

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Franks Owens General manager and area director, business development, Emirates Grand Hotel

own steak house and an Asian restaurant, as well as Lebanese Tal Al Amar Restaurant. We will be also launching our own travel desk in the lobby where the guest will be guided or able to book their own travel arrangements. Travel Trade Weekly: Despite the obstacles in 2011, the UAE’s hospitality industry managed to sustain high occupancy rates. What do you think are the major reasons behind this?

Travel Trade Weekly: In your new position, you are also in charge of handling the operations of the cluster properties. What are the major points of your plans for these properties? Frank Owens: We have several plans to announce in the coming months to establish the presence of the brand in the region but foremost, it is to exceed customer expectations by providing the best service and value for money. Emirates Grand Hotel Group, which manages the Emirates Grand Hotel and Tulip Inn Sharjah, offers world-class facilities and we deliver the highest standards of service which is paramount to both business and leisure travellers. Our rooms are one of, if not, the biggest in size within the area. Moreover, our spa is one of our biggest attractions for both in-house guests and local residents. We will be opening our

Frank Owens: The UAE is considered the safest destination in the region after the recent and still ongoing political upheavals in some of the preferred destinations in the Middle East. The UAE has a stable trade business backed by a solid government so despite the ongoing political instability around the region, the UAE is still a good place to invest and a lot of people are doing it. Another factor is that our hotels provide excellent service for their money so the industry managed to sustain the high occupancy rates. The Dubai government is also one to commend because of their efforts to bring more visitors to the city through exhibitions and festivals. Travel Trade Weekly: How do you think the industry and your hotel(s) will perform this year? Frank Owens: Based on statistics released in 2011, we are seeing growth because Dubai is now an affordable destination. People travel to find entertainment and comfort, a nice hotel, good food, relaxation, shopping, and Dubai has this, so these are things that will help the industry pick up again and this is the year to realise this.



Developing Online Travel Bookings Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012 is to launch dedicated technology seminars to share technology insights with regional travel agents, to begin to diversify and develop their capabilities. Middle East travel agents are diversifying their traditional booking channels in light of increasing competition from technology, as business and leisure travellers make the move from office to online bookings buoyed further by improved internet transaction security. According to Reed Travel Exhibitions, travel agencies are not only confronted to the online booking capabilities of major regional airlines, but also face the growing number of Online Travel Agencies, which are pursuing aggressive development agendas and investing millions of dollars into promoting one-stop online booking portals. ATM 2012 is to hold seminars presented by Reed Travel Exhibitions regarding the latest in technology advances and online consumer behavior, in addition to industry analysts

providing invaluable insights into digital trends. Mark Walsh, group exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, commented. “The Middle East travel community is still very much people focused. However, online booking functionality is the norm now within the regional airline community and this is leading the shift in mindset on both the part of the consumer and a growing number of the region’s travel agencies.” While technological advancement is accelerating, many travel IT experts believe that companies in the Middle East are languishing up to five years behind other international markets, despite having one of the fastest growing internet populations in the world. “The trend towards online transactions is an inevitable one. We want our technology seminar series to both inspire the industry and communicate the benefits of embracing technological change while, at the same time, ensuring that the business of travel remains a very positive one,” Walsh further noted.

EVENTS FITUR International Tourism Trade Fair Madrid, Spain, January 18 – 22, 2012 ( A meeting point for tourism professionals, in which they can establish lines of action, strategies, and business alliances.

Central Asia & Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) Istanbul, Turkey, February 6 – 8, 2012 ( An event with an interactive programme that allows attendees to identify hotspots for growth, exchange ideas, and develop their business.

Horeca Kuwait Kuwait City, Kuwait, January 22 – 24, 2012 ( Operating under Leaders Group for Consulting & Development, this trade exhibition is a comprehensive event covering hospitality, catering, and food sectors in Kuwait and the GCC.

Travel Technology Europe London, UK, February 7 – 8, 2012 ( Europe’s leading annual travel technology event that connects the travel industry with market-leading technology solution providers.

Austrian and Central European Travel Business Vienna, Austria, January 22 – 24, 2012 ( A tourist market place, industry meeting point, platform for generating new networks, initiating business deals, and reinforcing existing customer relations.

SATTE New Delhi, India, February 10 – 12, 2012 ( India’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event with more than 6,000 travel agents and tour operators from all over India and its neighbouring markets.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 114  

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 114  

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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