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18 FEBRUARY 2012


Building Regional Presence Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts joins forces with Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani & Sons Holding Company to manage two hotels in Doha.

Dubai is to welcome the world’s tallest hotel, with the 1,608-room JW Marriott Marquis Dubai scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of the year.

05 BWI Enters Saudi Arabia Best Western International has celebrated another milestone in its Middle East expansion drive by opening its first ever hotel in Saudi Arabia.


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Marriott to Launch the World’s Tallest Hotel in Dubai





Abu Dhabi: Hotel Guests Reach Record High Abu Dhabi recorded its most successful year to date in terms of hotel guest volume, according to data released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Melanthia Avgousti


SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Dominique Tennant 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 EMAILS


16/02/2012 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)




eating the previously forecasted target of two million by 6.5 percent, equivalent to over 100,000 guests, the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments welcomed over 2.1 million visitors in 2011. The year also saw the addition of a number of hotels and resorts to Abu Dhabi’s inventory, including several five-star beach properties opening up on Saadiyat Island. Significant annual growth was recorded across a number of key metrics including guest nights, which rose 22 percent to 6.3 million; occupancy levels, which were up seven percent to 69 percent; revenue, which increased by three percent to AED4.38 billion (USD1.2 billion); as well as length of stay, which expanded five percent, to 2.97 nights. Meanwhile, room

Abu Dhabi

revenue rose two percent to AED2.3 billion (USE631 million), though the average room rate showed a decline of 14 percent to AED490 (USD133), while food and beverage revenue increased by six percent to approximately AED1.61 billion (USD434.721 million).

Record Passenger Numbers at Oman Airports Both Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport experienced a robust increase in passenger traffic, with a record number of travellers passing through the airports’ terminals in 2011. With a significant rise of 12 percent over 2010 levels, as passenger volume reached 6.4 million, Muscat International Airport exceeded the six million milestone for the first time. As many families opted to travel and return to their home before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, July 2011 saw a total of 623,119 passengers pass through the airport’s gates, while the busiest day of the year proved to be December 22, with 23,613 travellers. Meanwhile, passenger numbers also reached a record level at Salalah Airport with 513,278 travellers reported, up 12 percent over 2010 figures. In July, the airport handled a total of 64,338 passengers, marking the busiest month of the year. According to Wihaad Soud Al-Harthy, marketing manager, aeronautical, Oman Airports Management Company, the solid rise in passenger volume reflects the positive trends that the aviation industry is witnessing in the Sultanate, driven by the constant fleet and route expansion of the national carrier, Oman Air, and steady increase in capacity and frequency by the airlines operating to the airports.

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Etihad Airways and airberlin Boost Services Etihad Airways and airberlin are to significantly increase services between Abu Dhabi and both Germany and Thailand. Starting March 25, airberlin will operate three daily flights to Abu Dhabi, including direct daily services from two German hubs, Berlin and Düsseldorf. In addition, subject to government approval, the European carrier will offer daily flights from Abu Dhabi to Phuket. Effective from April 15, Etihad Airway’s Abu Dhabi – Düsseldorf operation will also increase to a daily frequency. Etihad Airways will also introduce a third daily Abu Dhabi – Phuket service to cater to the growing demand of the route. Commenting on the new flights, James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways, said, “Our strategic partnership with airberlin continues to gain momentum, and we are delighted to announce such a major increase in services from our respective hubs. It all adds up to a game-changing proposition for travellers in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and across the rest of our combined global network.” With the addition of the new flights, the two airlines will now offer 42 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and four German cities. “By adding new daily connections from Berlin and Düsseldorf to Abu Dhabi, we are reinforcing our hubs and strengthening our strategic partnership with Etihad Airways. Flight guests who fly airberlin can now take daily trips to the Thai holiday island of Phuket, and our business guests will benefit from more frequent flights to Bangkok,” explained Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO, airberlin.

Green Light for New Abu Dhabi Terminal Complex Abu Dhabi Airport Company (ADAC) has received approval for the construction of the new Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC) at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Designed to become the primary gateway for airlines operating to Abu Dhabi, as well as the future home to Etihad Airways, the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) is slated to launch in the first half of 2017, with construction works planned to commence in the second quarter of this year.

Midfield Terminal Complex project

As a key component of the MTC development programme, the terminal building is expected to significantly contribute to the long-term success of Abu Dhabi’s aviation sector. Commenting on the government approval, H.E. Khalifa Al Mazrouei, chairman, ADAC, said, “This development represents one of the largest investments by the government to deliver the needed infrastructure, in line with Abu Dhabi Plan 2030, that will cater to the growth of the aviation sector in the region and confirms Abu Dhabi’s strong position in the global air transportation network.” Considered one of the most crucial projects to be undertaken in the UAE, the 700,000m2 MTB is expected to initially handle 27 – 30 million passengers per year. Besides a full terminal building, which will provide both passenger and cargo facilities, as well as duty free shops and restaurants, the MTB is the centrepiece of ADAC’s large-scale investment programme drawn upon Abu Dhabi International Airport’s anticipated traffic growth. The construction of the new terminal signals the next major stage in the overall development of Abu Dhabi International Airport, which also includes further capacity increases in the existing terminals, as well as the development of East Midfield; a new 2km² support area with facilities for cargo handling, in-flights catering, ground handing, and other ancillary facilities.

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Marriott to Launch the World’s Tallest Hotel in Dubai Dubai is to welcome the world’s tallest hotel, with the 1,608-room JW Marriott Marquis Dubai scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of the year.


t a height of 355m, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai will be the tallest dedicated hotel building in the world and is set to become a landmark of the global business hub. Expected to open in two phases, the first section will feature 804 rooms and a plethora of restaurants and lounges. In addition to catering to the increasing number of luxury business travellers visiting the destination, the hotel also aims to appeal to the booming MICE market. Commenting on the constantly increasing luxury business traveller visiting the emirates, Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, said, “The hotel will

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Shangri-La to Launch Two Hotels in Doha Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts has signed an agreement with Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani & Sons Holding Company to manage two hotels in Doha. Centrally located in the commercial heart of Doha, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel will offer direct access to the prestigious City Center Doha complex, and will comprise 272 rooms, including 46 suites and 42 serviced apartments. A variety of restaurants will also be available along with a spa and meeting facilities boasting a 840m2 ballroom and complementary function rooms. In addition, the hotel will also offer a helipad to accommodate the arrival of VIP guests. Merely 300m away from Shangri-La Hotel, the fourstar Traders Hotel will cater to business and leisure travellers alike. Apart from 238 rooms, including 44 suites and 84 serviced apartments, the property will feature a number of food and beverage outlets, a health club with spa, and indoor swimming pool, and a sun deck. Greg Dogan, president, Shangri-La International Hotel Management, said, “Our target is to build a regional presence and we are delighted to be opening two hotels in Doha.”

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fill a long identified gap in the market where groups, meetings, and conventions of up to 1,000 people can meet, sleep, and dine under one roof, in one location. There are businesses of this size choosing various cities around the world in which to meet, but, until now, Dubai has not had a single location of this size to accommodate this type of group. In simple terms, we will establish Dubai on the global conference market landscape.” The latest addition to JW Marriott’s hotel portfolio will boast an event space of more than 5,000m2 and will also offer guests nine restaurants and five lounges, along with a world-class spa, health club, and two ballrooms.




A New View of Doha The launch of InterContinental Residence Suites Doha The City marks InterContinental Hotels Group’s first foray into residence suites as short-, medium-, and long-term living options, providing a new perspective on luxury living for residents of the Qatari capital. InterContinental Residence Suites Doha The City opens alongside the new InterContinental Doha The City, with one-to four-bedroom modern apartments, all within the 58-storey tower located in the business and social hub of the capital. Conveniently located in the heart of the exclusive West Bay area, the residence suites are within close proximity to Doha’s world class financial institutes and leading businesses. The 176 fully-furnished residence suites are situated between floors four and 26 of the tower and offer views of the sea, the city, and the grand mosque, giving residents different perspectives of Doha. Residents can benefit from a private entrance, housekeeping, 24-hour room service, security-controlled car

parking with dedicated parking space, and the use of the hotel’s concierge facilities. All suites feature fullyequipped kitchens and high-speed Wi-Fi Internet with added advantages and amenities for residents including access to the hotel’s eight restaurants and lounges, a convenience store, an open-air rooftop swimming pool, a health and fitness club, whirlpool, sauna, and steam rooms, all located on-site. “Both established Doha residents and newcomers with discerning tastes are looking for living options that meet their needs for fantastic facilities in a highly desirable neighbourhood,” commented David Todd, general manager, InterContinental Doha The City. “With the influx of new executives and families coming to Qatar, as well as existing residents looking for a premium location, amenities, and services in their living choices, we are offering an experience that blends the familiar with the innovative, comfort with luxury, and modernity with the traditions of the region,” he concluded.

Best Western Debuts in Saudi Arabia Best Western International (BWI) has celebrated another milestone in its Middle East expansion drive by opening its first ever hotel in Saudi Arabia. Situated in the booming city of Al Khobar, Best Western Plus Sand Rose Suite Hotel offers 12 rooms along with 36 luxurious suites, and a host of facilities to cater to both business travellers and families. All rooms and suites, available in four categories, provide guests with complimentary Wi-Fi connection and panoramic views of the city’s skyline and corniche. The array of facilities features a fully-equipped business centre, a swimming pool, a fitness centre, as well as a rooftop restaurant. “This is a momentous occasion for BWI. The opening of the Best Western Plus Sand Rose Suite Hotel marks not only the addition of another superb hotel to our portfolio, but also our entry into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, Best Western Plus Sand Rose BWI, commented. Suite Hotel

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Air News

Qatar Airways Embarks on This Year’s Expansion Qatar Airways has commenced flights to Tbilisi, Georgia via Baku, Azerbaijan, marking the airline’s entry into the south-eastern European region and initiating its current year route expansion programme.

Akbar Al Baker and Eldar Salimov, executive director, Azerbaijan Airlines


he daily services linking Doha and Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport, underscore the fast development of Azerbaijan’s tourism industry and the great significance of its energy resources, according to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways. “We assessed Azerbaijan as a destination with great potential that would create a new air corridor providing wider choices for both leisure and business travellers,” he said. “Azerbaijan’s rich energy resources offer great business opportunities and a landscape that provides a good base for family and independent tourism. As well as enabling visitors from around the world to visit Baku, we also look forward to providing Azerbaijanis with the opportunity to fly to global destinations on Qatar Airways via our Doha hub,” he expressed. Addressing guests on arrival to the flight’s final destination in the Georgian capital, Al Baker remarked how the services will cater to a highly underserved market. “Tbilisi becomes Qatar Airways’ 112th destination worldwide and it gives me great pleasure to celebrate our arrival here. We sincerely look forward to growing this route with additional capacity in the future and we look forward to welcoming more destinations into our ever increasing European network.” The new route, operated by an Airbus A320, further diversifies Qatar Airways’ network in the continent, which already includes the cities of Ankara, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Venice, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, London, and Madrid. 18 FEBRUARY 2012


Emirates Expands in Africa Emirates has extended its reach to Africa with the launch of a new linked service to Lusaka and Harare, set to connect Zambia and Zimbabwe to key markets across Europe, the Far East, Australasia, and the Indian subcontinent. Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice president, revenue optimisation and distribution, Emirates, commented on the new route, “Zambia and Zimbabwe are both important emerging business and industrial centres, with economies that are projected to grow by over five per cent annually during the coming years.” It is also expected that Emirates’ service to Harare will support the tourism ministry’s projections that the sector will contribute over USD5 billion to the Zimbabwean economy by 2015. “The arrival of Emirates to Zimbabwe is a very significant development for the market. We welcome the entrance of a truly global airline, with an extensive network, and great reputation for quality service,” noted Nicholas Goche, minister of transport, communications and infrastructural development, Zimbabwe.




Air News

flydubai Expands Iraqi Network


flydubai has launched scheduled flights to Najaf bringing the total number of Iraqi destinations served by the carrier to four. Najaf, the historic city 160km south of Baghdad, will be served three times a week and the launch of the new route follows the airline’s inaugural flight to the Iraqi capital city. “The new service reflects our strategy to link Dubai with underserved airports, making it more convenient for inbound and outbound passengers,” Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, commented. “At a time when a number of international airlines are looking at opportunities in Iraq, flydubai is leading the way with direct flights to four cities across the country in just 18 months. I am also pleased to report that our first flight today was sold out, which highlights the demand for travel to Najaf.” The addition of Nafaj to flydubai’s fast expanding route map secures the carrier’s leading position among UAE-based airlines with the largest Iraqi network. The Iraqi government has allocated USD40 million this year for development projects covering infrastructure, electricity, education, and health. In an effort to further strengthen relations between Iraq and the GCC countries, officials are currently in discussion to host the forthcoming Arab Summit in Baghdad.

Lufthansa Resumes Flights to Libya

Our presence in Libya serves as a testament to our commitment in serving travel demands between our hub and Tripoli

Lufthansa has resumed three weekly flights to Tripoli, a year after ceasing operations. “We are proud to be back in service with flights between Frankfurt and Tripoli. Our presence in Libya serves as a testament to our commitment in serving travel demands between our hub and Tripoli, “commented Werner Kellerhals, regional general manager, North Africa, Malta, and Senegal, Lufthansa. Further commenting on the re-

introduction of flights to Tripoli, Antonio Tassone, general manager, Libya, Lufthansa, noted, “The resumption of our flights to Tripoli is a strong and important signal to Libya and the Western business community that we are confident to be back. As a leading European airline, Lufthansa can help and meet the demand to and from the Libyan capital. All our local staff are back to work and eager to maintain our excellent reputation in the Libyan market. “

Safi Airways Increases Flights Safi Airways is to boost its capacity between Kabul and Dubai as of March 28, operating four daily flights on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Lloyd Carswell, chief commercial officer, Safi Airways, commented, “Due to growing demand, Safi Airways’ additional flights from and to Kabul and Dubai will meet the requirements of travellers constantly flying between the two cities. Flights will be operated by our Airbus 320 and Boeing 767 on key days between the two cities effective March 28 thus providing our customers a convenient and frequent travel option targeting the busier days of the week.”

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Air News


Royal Jordanian Airlines Suspends Five Routes Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has suspended operations to five destinations on its network in a move to reduce the operating costs and mitigate the impact of the unrest in parts of the region. Blaming the soaring fuel prices and the outcome of the Arab Spring, the airline is to discontinue its services to Brussels, Munich, and Al Ain starting in March and April respectively, while two other destinations in the Gulf area will be announced at a later date. Moreover, RJ has also decided to reduce the number of frequencies on a number of other routes, including Rome, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Amsterdam, Colombo, and KharRoyal Jordanian Airlines toum, in a bid to cut costs. In the coming months, based on the amount of bookings to certain destinations, the company is set to cancel further flights, and reconsider its fleet size, according to Hussein Dabbas, president, RJ, who added that the company will keep tight control on all aspects of capital expenditure. As a result of the constant increase in fuel prices, the financial results of the airline were adversely affected in 2011, and the political turmoil that swept the region forced the carrier to close some of its stations, such as Tripoli and Benghazi, for several months, while traffic to other destinations, including Tunis, Damascus, Aleppo, Sana’a, Aden, Bahrain, Cairo, Alexandria, and Sharm El Sheikh, noticeably dropped, Dabbas further noted.

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Thon Hotels Belgium Welcomed by Great Hotels of the World Great Hotels of the World has announced that five Thon Hotels in Brussels, Belgium have been added to its collections, chosen for their exceptional facilities. Part of Great Hotels of the World’s Luxury Collection, is Stanhope Hotel, Brussels. Situated in the centre of the capital city, the renowned hotel boasts 125 individually designed rooms and suites, as well as four apartments with capacity for up to six persons, featuring separate kitchens, terraces, and dining areas. Moreover, the hotel has nine conference and meeting rooms, as well as six boardrooms for meetings accomodating up to 30 people. In addition, Thon Hotel EU, Brussels, opening in April, is to come under the Premium Collection. Located in the European district of the city, the hotel will feature 405 rooms and 37 apartments, as well as 10 large meeting venues. Another addition to the Premium Collection is Thon

Dusit Thani Maldives Opens Dusit International has announced the opening of a 100-villa resort, Dusit Thani Maldives, considered a landmark addition to the fast expanding brand's portfolio. Located on Mudhdhoo Island in Baa Atoll, the resort features Dusit International’s signature Devarana Spa, the largest swimming pool in the Maldives, three restaurants, as well as two bars, and is 35 minutes by seaplane from the capital, Malé, The Beach Villas offer 141m2 of comfortable living space, many complete with private pools, while the Lagoon Villas, measuring 151m2, feature a private deck area and plunge pool, offering a combination of beach and lagoon access. The Ocean Villas offer 184m2 of space with decks featuring private pools and salas, large day beds and deck chairs. The most prestigious accomodations are the premium two-bedroom Ocean Pavilions and Beach Residences, which have large swimming pools, and indoor and outdoor dining areas. Maldives

Hotel Brussels City Centre, situated in the heart of the capital. The hotel is designed to facilitate both business travellers and tourists alike, boasting 454 rooms and 17 meeting rooms, including one on the top floor. Furthermore, Thon Hotel Brussels Airport has also been added to the Premium Collection, featuring100 rooms and conveniently located close to Brussels Airport, with just a 15-minute journey to the city centre. The hotel also provides a complimentary shuttle service to the airport and features two meeting rooms, which can accommodate up to 80 delegates. Thon Hotel Bristol Stephanie, Brussels, another recent member of the Premium Collection, boasts 142 rooms, five conference and banqueting rooms, a 365m² ballroom, and five breakout rooms, which can accommodate up to 400 delegates for all types of events.

Equatorial Guinea Debuts New Generation ibis Hotels ibis Bata has opened its doors in Equatorial Guinea’s second largest city, marking the debut of the very first new generation ibis. The 120-room hotel, the brand’s second property in the country, is strategically located just a few minutes from ibis Bata the airport and aims to cater to the increasing demand of high-end, valuefor-money, comfort, and services. A restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, and a terrace bar are also available. The launch of ibis Bata kicks off the massive rollout of the new generation’s ibis family hotels, with 14 properties being already equipped with the new banners which will include two ibis hotels (Bata, Evry), six ibis Styles hotels (Evry Cathedrale, Berlin An Der Oper, Leipzig Aiport, Berlin City Ost, Zaragosa Ramiro I, Arnedo La Rioja), and six ibis budget hotels (Viry Chatillon, Grenoble Voreppe, Grenoble Seyssins, Königswinter, Tanger, Leysin).

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Ghanim Monzer Alsukhon Ghanim Monzer Alsukhon has been appointed country manager for Jordan at Gulf Air. His lengthy involvement in the aviation industry along with his past experience with Gulf Air, in particular, have once again seen him cover a number of managerial positions with Bahrain’s national carrier, including country manager for Jordan between 2005 and 2007.

With over two decades of experience and an in-depth knowledge of the domestic and regional market, Alsukhon has once again been chosen as the most suitable candidate to manage the airline’s operations in the Jordanian market.

He has been chosen to manage the airline's Jordanian market

Amira El Serafy Amira El Serafy has been named marketing and communications director at Grand Millennium Dubai. After graduating with a Bachelor degree in Mass Communications from the American University of Sharjah, where she focused on a number of media-related subjects, she began her career at a media monitoring agency in Dubai, in 2004. She then became a freelance journalist

Jasmine Arika Jasmine Arika has been named director of marketing and communications at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi. Having spent the past 12 years in various sales and marketing roles within the hospitality industry, Arika brings a wealth of knowledge to the role. She takes on her first Middle East assignment and moves to Abu Dhabi after gaining experience in London and Singapore. She is

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inspired to be part of the team at Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi and hopes to count her time at the hotel as one of the many successes of her career. Arika takes on her first Middle East assignment and moves to Abu Dhabi.

Arika takes on her first Middle East assignment and moves to Abu Dhabi


before moving to marketing consultancy to broaden her experience. She joins the team of Grand Millennium Dubai after more than five years at Jebel Ali International Hotels’ corporate office, where she held the position of assistant director of marketing. Her knowledge of the region and its media industry will expand opportunities for the promotion of the hotel to a wider audience.

Cramer Ball Cramer Ball has been named CEO of Air Seychelles, a new strategic partner of Etihad Airways. Ball, who previously served as regional general manager, Asia Pacific South and Australasia, Etihad Airways, has been seconded to the national carrier of the Republic of Seychelles, as part of the restructuring of the airline, which aims to position itself for future development,

and will be implemented jointly with Etihad Airways. The highly respected aviation professional brings a wealth of broad-based industry experience, which encompasses both commercial and financial areas of the business. Prior to joining the UAE-based airline, he held senior management positions at Gulf Air, Qantas, Kendell Airlines, and Ansett Australia / Air New Zealand.


travel talk is your space


Peter Mansourian

Iftikhar Hamdani

General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

General manager, Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman.

“It is important for us in the hospitality sector to keep our ear to the ground if we are to understand global travel trends. The success of a hotel depends on accessing both the business and leisure markets. International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin is the ideal forum to touch base with travel agents and tour operators from over 180 countries around the globe and since this is the contracting season it is crucial for us to be in Berlin at this time.”

“We would like to express our gratitude to the Ajman Hotel Business Group and Ajman Chamber of Commerce for organising such a healthy event [the first Football Championship among the Ajman hotels]. Due to our busy schedules, it is hard to squeeze time for fitness, but we know how essential it is. By participating in such activities, the hotel employees got a chance to bust stress, relax, and enjoy time with the hotel fraternity.”

Francois Galoisy

Anselm Godinho

General manager, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City.

Managing director, International Conferences & Exhibitions.

“This award [the 2012 Travelers' Choice Award in the category of “Top 25 Trendiest Hotels in the Middle East] means a lot to all of us as it shows our dedication and hard work to keep up the high standards set by Dubai hotels. Meeting our guests’ expectations is key for us and being part of this award category, amongst a number of other selected, newer hotels, is a great honour and very encouraging.”

“World Discovery Fest 2012 [an event offering multiple travel, holiday, and lifestyle options] has become more diverse with its focused tourism and travel packages. [The event] has received a very enthusiastic response from our target audiences, particularly exhibitors who are eager to capitalise on the enormous growth potential of the region as a global tourism and travel market.

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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AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Tarek Mousa POSITION: CEO COMPANY: Egypt and Beyond Travel LOCATION: Egypt WEB: Who are you? I am Tarek Mousa, CEO of Egypt and Beyond Travel. I joined the travel industry in 1989 and was lucky to start working for a major luxury travel company. Three years later, I was posted to their branch in Australia where I stayed for a further 15. I then returned to Egypt in 2005, to start my own company, with the concept of a small boutique destination management company to offer high quality personal travel services to Egypt, Jordan, and the Holy Land. What is your favourite thing about working in this industry? Making clients’ dreams come true. People work hard the whole year and save up for their annual holiday, so it is a huge responsibility, as travel agents, to make their dreams come true. There is nothing more fulfilling than clients coming back so happy about their holiday. This is why the travel industry is an addictive industry. Once you are in it, you can’t leave. It is a lifestyle we choose and enjoy. When is the best time to visit Egypt? Generally, from October to the end of April. However, May and September, although they are warmer months, usually offer prices which are a lot cheaper. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? The new product in Egypt is a long cruise from Cairo to Aswan for 10 nights. This is what I would like to do. It is absolutely magical. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our personal touches are the secrets of our success. From the minute our clients arrive to our ports, I ring them personally to welcome them and give them my personal cell number to call if they need anything. Dinner at home with local families make a huge difference to our clients' itineraries. Our impeccable attention to detail, rigid quality control standards, and our highly trained staff ensure that every trip with Egypt and Beyond is smooth, trouble-free, unforgettable, and full of wonder.

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Travelport to Renew Distribution Rights Travelport has signed an agreement with travel technology service provider Stargate Cyber Active, to renew its distribution rights of Worldspan global distribution system (GDS) in Saudi Arabia. The multi-year agreement affirms that Stargate Cyber Active will remain the distributor of Worldspan’s technology and services to travel agencies in the Kingdom, extending a successful, long-standing partnership with the GDS provider. Commenting on the agreement, Rabih Saab, president, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, said, “We are delighted to continue what has been a mutually-beneficial relationship with Stargate in

one of Travelport’s most strategically important countries in the region. As experts in Worldspan technology and support, Stargate understands the needs of Worldspan-connected travel agencies and has a solid track record effectively delivering the platform.” According to Sean Van den Haute, CEO, Stargate Cyber Active, “We see a strong future for Worldspan and look forward to working closely with Travelport in launching innovative new products and services in Saudi Arabia. By leveraging a winning combination of global reach, leading technology, and hands-on support, we believe that we can offer travel suppliers a real competitive advantage.”

Amadeus Acquires airconomy Amadeus has announced that it has acquired the Frankfurt-based company, airconomy; an international strategy consultancy supplying precise and comprehensive data on passenger demand, to develop and incubate market intelligence products, and drive Amadeus’ response to growing prospects for travel market intelligence. In 2011, Amadeus, in partnership with Total Demand by airconomy, launched a business intelligence tool which delivers detailed key performance indicators on passenger demand to help benchmark network strengths and weaknesses. Total Demand by airconomy can help carriers plan and develop networks that respond to true passenger needs and behaviour, as well as maximise profitability on existing routes and in the development of new ones. “Increasingly, companies are relying on hard data to make business decisions, but in the travel industry, the proliferation of travel booking channels makes it ever more difficult to get a consolidated view of a seemingly simple question: how many people want to fly between A and B and how much will they spend? This is the question which airconomy will help us answer,” commented David Doctor, director, distribution marketing, Amadeus.



Assorted MEA Results The lingering impact of the political unrest in parts of the Middle East and Africa has greatly affected the tourism industry, based on STR Global’s latest report. In 2011, occupancy levels across the region declined 6.8 percent to 57.1 percent, while average daily rate climbed 5.3 percent to USD162.81 and RevPAR fell 1.8 percent to USD92.99.


ue to the Arab Spring starting early 2011 across North Africa, the performances between Africa and the Middle East differ greatly,” explained Elizabeth Randall, managing director, STR Global. “Africa reported declining occupancy for all months in 2011, with average room rates declining throughout the latter half of the year. Africa’s results were further impacted by supply increases in

South Africa and the FIFA World Cup in 2010.” Despite the challenging climate, the Middle East was able not only to maintain, but also improve, its overall performance, according to Randall, as she explained, “The Middle East reported occupancy and average-room-rate improvements driven from the strong demand growth (nine percent), the highest growth rate for the global regions, and the highest yearly growth achieved since the last seven years.” Abu Dhabi reported the largest growth

in occupancy, up 9.9 percent to 64.8 percent, followed by Dubai, up seven percent to 75.4 percent. Cairo, at the same time, fell 44.9 percent in occupancy to 36.1 percent. Jeddah and Riyadh posted the largest average daily rate increase, up 6.9 percent to USD203.51 and 6.6 percent to USD271.67 respectively, while Dubai achieved the largest RevPAR increase, up 10.7 percent to USD168.64. Cairo’s RevPAR level fell significantly, down 49.2 percent to USD42.71.

Improvement of Visa and Foreign Visitor Processing

Accessing Information On-The-Go

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has joined industry voices in support of the decision taken by the current US government’s administration, to implement the necessary measures to improve visa and foreign visitor processing in order to create jobs and spur economic growth in the US. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, commented, “For every job created in tourism, another 1.5 jobs are created in other sectors and thus this is a key moment to support the sector. Travel facilitation is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be a vital tool to grow the tourism economy and create jobs. This objective is of particular relevance at a time in which economies are looking to stimulate their exports and economic growth but have limited capacity to use fiscal policy instruments.” UNWTO has been urging governments to consider advancing travel facilitation which has been identified by the organisation, together with others leaders in the industry, such as the World Travel and Tourism Council, as a main priority for this year. UNWTO advises countries to make the most of information and communication technologies in improving visa applications and processing formalities, as well as the timings of visa issuances.

Abu Dhabi International Airport, operated by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has announced the launch of its new mobile website, the first of its kind in the region, designed to make it easier and quicker for passengers on the move to access the latest information via their smart phones. Through the new mobile website, passengers can enter their flight details to receive a personalised experience providing flight information, flight status updates, terminal information, as well as personalised listing of duty free shops. Passengers can also locate available parking spaces, and enjoy many other online services. Hamed Al Hashimi, head, information and communication systems, ADAC, commented, “We know that smart phones are heavily used by our passengers and represent 59 percent of connections to our free Wi-Fi service, and 17 percent of visits to our websites.” To complement this new innovation, the mobile website has also introduced a personalised SMS and email alert to communicate any flight changes directly and quickly to passengers.

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Q & A with Imran Siddiqui A plethora of events will be taking up a majority of Fujairah’s agenda this year, luring in tourists from all walks of life, and Imran Siddiqui, general manager, Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments, is promising some of the emirate’s most pleasant accommodation, services, tours, trips, safaris, and overall satisfaction.

Travel Trade Weekly: Which travel trade shows will you be participating at this year? Who will you be targeting, and why?

Imran Siddiqiui General manager, Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments

Imran Siddiqui: I will be attending the world’s most popular travel trade exhibitions like ITB Berlin, WTM, ATM, and others. The main international countries we are targeting will include European and CIS countries, as they are our most popular markets especially from the leisure and business segments. We all know that these countries love to travel. Travel Trade Weekly: Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments offers guests a ‘home-like’ atmosphere, boasting a wide range of services incorporated into every apartment. How do you believe this ‘home-like’ trend is developing, if so, within Fujairah? Imran Siddiqui: The ‘home-like’ trend is developing within Fujairah by providing services and facilities for guests to feel like they are in their own room or kitchen. Apartments are fully equipped with basic facilities which they usually have in their home. This trend will continue to develop and offer more facilities to guests, which suit their needs. Travel Trade Weekly: Adventure travellers seem to be a significant market in Fujairah’s tourism industry. How does your hotel serve this market, in terms of collaborations with other institutions around the emirate, and how is the hotel promoting this niche segment? Imran Siddiqui: We do offer tailor-made activities within Fujairah like coastal trips and

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are the World 8 Ball Pool Championship, UIM Class1 World Powerboat Championship, Formula 2000 Championships, and many other local tournaments. Travel Trade Weekly: With competition quickly developing throughout the emirate, how do you feel Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments will perform this year and what are you doing to continuously improve the hotel’s services, facilities, and overall status?

city tours. We collaborate with tour operators for our desert safaris, dhow cruise, and private beach facilities. We promote these niche segments to our guests by giving them an information file in which we compile flyers, booklets, maps, and introduction letters in a variety of languages like German, Russian, Arabic, English, and Italian. We do meet our guests to further introduce and suggest tailor-made activities. Travel Trade Weekly: What do you have in plan for other potential guests entering the hotel’s doors as well as with reference to this year's tournaments? Imran Siddiqui: We are planning to offer our more competitive rates to tour operators. Aside from our room rates, we also offer tour packages, and our services and facilities. This year’s tournaments we are looking forward

Imran Siddiqui: Emirates Springs Hotel Apartments is still optimistic to have a successful 2012 despite all the competition. We are doing our best to render services and facilities that satisfy our guests. We encourage our guests to suggest, comment, and review how their stay was with us and, based on that, we can improve our low points. Aside from guests’ comments, we initiate improving and introducing new facilities and services. Travel Trade Weekly: What aspects of Fujairah do you believe should be extensively highlighted as a means of bringing in tourists to the emirate? Imran Siddiqui: Fujairah has it all, from heritage and cultures, dazzling coastlines, majestic mountains, and deep wadis. It has a rich marine life suitable for scuba diving, windsurfing, water sports, fishing, and many more. Anyone can enjoy their stay here whether an adventurous or nature-lover person. Fujairah is still a developing emirate but with all the gift of nature and preserved cultures and heritage, we can offer a splendid holiday for tourists.



Technology Taking Over The rapid development of technology including back office, electronically-supported personalised sales, and locationsensitive mobile travel services, has led to an unprecedented rush of exhibitors to ITB Berlin 2012, with over 230 travel technology companies from 15 countries expected to participate in the event, which runs from March 7 to 11. The event will feature back office technology, hotel software, and reservation machines, as well as social media, travel portal, and mobile travel solutions. Visitors can find online travel agencies as well as providers of event and airline software. With a joint stand for the Thai Software Industry Promotion Agency, as well as new technology providers from

Greece, India, Romania, and the UK, ITB Berlin, once again, highlights its major international importance in this segment. “We are particularly pleased that we have been able to inspire many new innovative companies and the regular, high performing participants, as well as previous exhibitors, to come to ITB Berlin,” commented David Ruetz, director, ITB Berlin. “In the last few years, we have continually increased the number of forums and discussion platforms at ITB Berlin. This year the papers will be interpreted on the stage of the eTravel World. As part of the ITB Berlin Convention, we examine industry trends, which are, more than ever, driven by further developments in the field of travel technology,” he concluded.

We are particularly pleased that we have been able to inspire many new innovative companies and the regular, high performing participants, as well as previous exhibitors, to come to ITB Berlin

EVENTS Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo Melbourne, Australia, February 21 – 22, 2012 ( A must attend event in the region for the meetings and events industry, offering a platform to discover the latest ideas and conclude business plans.

MITT Moscow, Russia, March 21 – 24, 2012 ( Russia’s leading travel exhibition, with over 3,000 participating companies and 185 destinations, serving as a key meeting and networking place for the industry

The International Hotel Investment Forum Berlin, Germany, March 2 – 5, 2012 ( The conference programme includes interviews with leading hoteliers, forecasts from top economists, panel discussions on the latest developments, trends, and best practice in the industry.

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

ITB Berlin Berlin, Germany, March 7 – 11, 2012 ( The world’s leading travel trade show, offering trade visitors the opportunity to meet business partners and do business with them.

China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market Beijing, China, April 18 – 20, 2012 ( 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.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 119  

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 119  

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