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13 OCTOBER 2012

ISSUE 153

Al Raha Beach Hotel Completes Extension Following a multimillion dollar extension, the five-star Al Raha Beach Hotel now offers 144 brand new rooms and suites.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company welcomed the inaugural domestic flight of RAK Airways at Abu Dhabi International Airport on October 3.

03 Gulf Air and Cyprus Airways Expand Codeshare Agreement Gulf Air has announced the expansion of its existing codeshare partnership with Cyprus Airways.

08 IN THIS ISSUE RENDEZVOUS ACCOMMODATION MARKET UPDATE ACCOMMODATION AIR NEWS WHO’S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT’S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

02 03 04 06 08 11 12 13 14 15 16

RAK Airways Lands in Abu Dhabi

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RENDEZVOUS

Q & A with Omar Sabella Described as a non-commercial travel business, the recently established ExpediaME promises to deliver unique experiences to its clients and services that exceed the value of the actual price paid. Omar Sabella, managing director, ExpediaME, shares his views on the changing markets trends.

Travel Trade Weekly: ExpediaME is hailed as the first travel portal in Jordan and the Middle East and is designed as a simple getaway for online travel. How does it differ from other similar portals? Omar Sabella: Simply because ExpediaME is local and travellers are always looking for a local travel agent to deal with rather than dealing with an agent who has never been to the destination. Before ExpediaME, travellers could not find a local travel portal to book through since all the local travel agencies just have a website that does not give you clear prices and puts you through a series of emails and correspondences just to give you the price of a meal. ExpediaME has nothing to hide. We put all prices in front of our visitors and they get not only to book but also to customise their own packages before they buy it online, a feature that no other travel portal has. Travel Trade Weekly: What kind of packages and services do you offer? Omar Sabella: ExpediaME puts all the services in front of you so that you get to choose the price and service of the package, such as adding lunch, dinner, a camel ride, Jeep tour, hot air balloon, boat cruise, and so on. You name it and ExpediaME has it. Since customisation of packages is what ExpediaME is all about, we have a vision to enable travellers and corporations dealing with us to choose anything they like just through a few clicks. Travel Trade Weekly: ExpediaME currently

Omar Sabella Managing director, ExpediaME

Hopefully, other countries in the region will reach the same stability so we can start working on including them in our portal. Travel Trade Weekly: Over the past few years, online booking methods have gained considerable popularity. What do you think are the main reasons travellers increasingly rely on the Internet to manage their trips? Omar Sabella: Online travel is faster, easier, and a more practical method of booking, and since it is all about saving time, travellers coming from a new generation like to book everything not only online but even on a smart phone. In fact, this will be our next product; a smart phone application to have it all at the tip of your finger.

operates in Jordan and Dubai. Why have these locations been chosen? Omar Sabella: Jordan and Dubai have proven their stability during the last events of the Arab Spring and therefore they are great destinations to visit at this time.

Travel Trade Weekly: How do you think these new and fast-evolving trends will revolutionise the industry? Omar Sabella: Eventually all travel agencies will need a proper online booking system. We just started it and everybody will follow us, but we will be way ahead of them, and the ones who established standards of future travel. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your plans in the medium-and long-term?

We have a vision to enable travellers and corporations dealing with us to choose anything they like just through a few clicks

Omar Sabella: We like to assure all anxious travellers who want to save time and money that the solution is coming soon, because in the near future our services will not only be covering the Middle East, but hopefully a big part of the world.

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Accommodation

Al Raha Beach Hotel Completes Multimillion Dollar Extension Following a multimillion dollar extension, the five-star Al Raha Beach Hotel now offers 144 brand new rooms and suites either overlooking the Gulf shoreline of Abu Dhabi or the property’s sun-drenched courtyard. Specially designed to provide visitors with the latest equipment and facilities, each room comprises a 32-inch LCD TV, Wi-Fi Internet access, and mini bar while the suites offer a 52-inch LCD TV, complimentary in-room movies, Jacuzzi bath with a bathroom mirror which includes a 15-inch TV, just to name a few. In addition, the hotel is also set to enhance its culinary offerings with the first quarter of 2013 slated to see the launch of a number of new food and beverage facilities, including the pan-Asian restaurant with open kitchens, a sushi bar and a pre- and post-dinner Cuban bar and lounge. Adding to the venues of the hotel, the Promenade, directly linked from the garden to the new wing, takes guests on a luxurious journey. “We at Al Raha Beach Hotel are delighted to be extending the services we already offer,” commented Kamal Zayati , general manager, Al Raha Beach Hotel. “The extension is set to enrich our unique property making the most of its stunning location and expanding on the guest facilities to exceed the expectations of the most discerning travellers, while reinforcing its established image and reputation as an exclusive lifestyle destination for both local and international visitors.”

We at Al Raha Beach Hotel are delighted to be extending the services we already offer

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WEEKLY NEWS

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Delano Marrakech Opens Morgans Hotel Group has announced the opening of its newest international property, Delano Marrakech. In partnership with Moroccan entrepreneur Ahmed Bennani's Hivernage Collection and Marbella Club (MC) Hotel Group, the 71-unit boutique property comprises 27 suites and 44 guest rooms, all featuring iPads. The property also takes guests on a culinary journey around the globe presenting fine dining options which include Pomiroeu, where Michelinstarred executive chef, Giancarlo Morelli, transports Northern Italian cuisine to Morocco, offering a rotating seasonal menu in a space on the hotel’s lobby level. The 98-seat restaurant also features a spacious outdoor terrace where guests can dine al fresco in the open-air. For a more casual dining experience, Galerie provides an international café menu open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as for room service. Presiding over the hotel’s upper deck, Namazake presents an upscale eastern offering serving Japanese delights. Surrounding Namazake sits Sky Lounge, the property’s outdoor rooftop venue, boasting 360-degree views of the city and Atlas Mountains. MC Hotel Group is also set to unveil a new restaurant concept at Delano Marrakech, called Bon R, slated to open later this year while its acclaimed Suite Lounge, an underground nightlife venue, is scheduled to launch in 2013. For the ultimate retreat, guests at Delano Marrakech can indulge in the 1,858m2 The Pearl Spa, located beneath the hotel’s main level, boasting a private hammam area, mosaic pool, full-service beauty salon, and state-ofthe-art fitness centre.


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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou

Al Qasba: Over 1.3 Million Visitors Al Qasba, a premier tourist, leisure, and cultural destination in the emirate of Sharjah, attracted a total of 1,376,676 visitors in the first half of the year, based on data complied by Al Qasba Development Authority.

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

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

12/10/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.10

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

68.50

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.57

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.60

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,238.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.61

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

80.08

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.25

he varied recreational, cultural, and artistic facilities and amenities that are continuously developing alongside the diverse programmes available at the destination, have been key to the success, Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, chief operating officer, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) explained, adding that Al Qasba’s increasing prominence as a landmark tourist destination in the UAE and the region has also helped grow visitor volume. The impressive family turnout for Al Qasba is the best evidence of success and excellence in creating an ideal environment for members of family, Al Qaseer further noted. “We have developed integrated organisational measures to provide all means of comfort and luxury to all visitors.”

Al Qasba

Speaking about Shurooq’s aims to further increase visitor volume, Al Qaseer said, “In a time of accelerated rate of progress reported in the investment projects in the UAE in general, and in Sharjah in particular, the tourist promotion of Al Qasba has continued its strong growth. […] Figures show a steady increase in the number of visitors year after year. Al Qasba had bet big on family tourism and eventually won the bet.”

Abu Dhabi International Airport: Summer Traffic Surge Abu Dhabi International Airport witnessed a significant surge in passenger traffic during the months of July and August, based on the latest traffic report released by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC). In July, passenger traffic was up 16.7 percent, with more than 1.35 million travellers passing through the airport’s terminals, marking the highest monthly numbers in the airport’s history, while in August, passenger volume rose 20 percent after welcoming 1.3 million travellers. Ahmed Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC, described July and August as exceptional months. “With a year-to-date growth of 21.5 percent, ADAC is one of the world’s fastest growing airport operators,” he said. “It is encouraging to see in the first half of this year that passenger increase was sustained […]. The positive performance in passenger traffic this summer reflects the attractiveness of the emirate as a business and tourism destination with more passengers choosing Abu Dhabi International Airport as their gateway to the rest of the world.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Bella Riva Suite Hotel Receives Face-lift The four-star Bella Riva Suite Hotel, located close to the Mediterranean Sea in Manara, Beirut, Lebanon, has announced the completion of the renovation of all its guestrooms giving the property what Hadi Akl, general manager, Bella Riva Suite Hotel, described as a fresher and more modernised look, while the recent launch of its new website reflects the new image of the hotel. Bella Riva Suite Hotel is set to see more changes come onboard in 2013 with a new coffee shop and a mini gym currently under development. According to Akl, the reason behind all these developments is to give the hotel a face-lift so as to maintain its appeal, keep its business standards up, enhance it to reach higher levels, and to keep guests pleased. He further indicated that with the upcoming coffee shop, the team at Bella Riva Suite Hotel hotel will be able to socialise with clients, making them feel more involved with the hotel.

Doha Downtown Sets New Standards Doha Downtown has opened, raising the bar for short- and long-term accommodation options in the captial. Located in the central Al Sadd area, the 142-apartment hotel offers a full-range of luxury accommodation and facilities with a boutique touch, including a gym, indoor and outdoor pool facilities, a fully-equipped spa, valet parking, an international restaurant, and a café. All these facilities complement the apartments which come fully equipped for families or singles looking for a five-star experience. Doha Downtown has been designed to cater to the growing number of business travellers visiting Qatar as well as to families looking for a more spacious and private option.

Hyatt to Expand Saudi Portfolio With Saudi Arabia’s visitor numbers expected to grow at an accelerated pace, Hyatt International is keen to further strengthen its presence in the Kingdom with seven hotels under development. Based on statistics released by the Tourism Information and Research Centre, 2.9 million foreign tourists visited the country in the first quarter alone, and with the busiest period of the year ahead for religious travel, the Kingdom is set to welcome millions of travellers in the coming months. To accommodate the anticipated growth in religious travel, three Hyatt hotels are set to open in close proximity to religious sites.

Radisson Blu Launches 'Experience Meetings' Radisson Blu, The Rezidor Hotel Group’s upper upscale hotel brand, has introduced a new concept for meetings and events. ‘Experience Meetings’ harmonises all meeting essential, including breakout rooms, food, as well as connectivity with the intangibles such as service, satisfaction, and sustainability. This new initiative, which is built around three main elements namely brain food, an innovative and responsible food and beverage solution; brain fox, a specially designed breakout room; and connectivity with free and fast Wi-Fi for all meeting delegates.

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Accommodation

Emirates Palace to Host Polo Tournament Emirates Palace is set to play host to Coutts ‘Polo at the Palace’, a two-day tournament, hailed as one of the most exciting events in Abu Dhabi’s social calendar. Taking place on November 23 – 24, the event is inspired by London’s famous ‘Polo in the Park’, which has pioneered the city’s polo series by bringing the classic sport to a contemporary cosmopolitan audience. With admission restricted to a select 1,000 people per day, guests visiting ‘Polo at the Palace’ will be treated to an up-close view of the game at the custom-built polo field at Emirates Palace’s 100ha of private gardens. While four teams will battle it out for the Coutts Polo Cup, Emirates Palace will also showcase a cultural display by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, an exclusive pop-up La Martina boutique, and a Maserati showroom.

13 OCTOBER 2012

WEEKLY NEWS

DTCM Classifies JW Marriott Marquis Dubai A delegation from the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has visited JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, to review the soon-to-open hotel’s units and facilities for classification grounds. In a detailed presentation, the licensing and classification team was informed about the services and entertainment techniques adopted at the property. Hailed as the tallest all-hotel tower in the world, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is set to open its doors later this year marking the Marquis brand’s debut outside North America, and will launch in two phases with the first stage comprising 804 rooms, as well as an array of restaurants and lobbies. Located only 10 minutes from Dubai International, the property will also feature conference and banqueting rooms, a fitness centre, swimming pool, whirlpool, spa, sauna, and solarium.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

RAK Airways Lands in Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) welcomed the inaugural domestic flight of RAK Airways at Abu Dhabi International Airport on October 3. RAK Airways, the flag carrier of Ras Al Khaimah, which comes to Abu Dhabi International Airport following a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has launched four weekly services between the two airports.

ADAC to Welcome Alitalia During the recently-concluded 18th World Route Development Forum in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) announced that it is finalising its preparations to welcome Alitalia, the national airline of Italy, with its direct flights between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Rome International Airport – Fiumicino, on December 1. Alitalia will operate four services a week through a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways on an A330 aircraft offering a seating capacity of 230 passengers. This new agreement will provide travellers from Abu Dhabi International Airport with Rome as a new destination, as well as with connecting flights from the capital to Venice and Zurich, Switzerland. Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC, commented, “ADAC is looking forward to welcoming this new partnership between Alitalia and Etihad Airways, as a new airline will be joining ADAC’s airport family while adding another destination in the airport’s network. Furthermore, it demonstrates the attractiveness Abu Dhabi enjoys as a destination as well as a key connecting hub for the region.”

Commenting on the new operations, James Bennett, CEO, ADAC, said, “ADAC is pleased to see more domestic routes use Abu Dhabi International Airport, helping domestic travellers to reach hundreds of global destinations with ease. In addition, domestic flights from the capital’s international airport will also provide international guests with an opportunity to explore other emirates in the UAE.”

Gulf Air and Cyprus Airways Expand Codeshare Agreement Gulf Air has announced the expansion of its existing codeshare partnership with Cyprus Airways.

Athens

Under the new codeshare agreement, Gulf Air passengers will have better and faster connections to travel to Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece’s popular holiday and tourist destinations via Larnaca on Cyprus Airways. Similarly travellers from these two cities will be able to connect to more than 48 destinations via Larnaca. Customers can book tickets to these destinations on both airlines’ websites, sales offices, and worldwide contact centres.

John Brayford, CEO, RAK Airways, added, “Our pioneering codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways has certainly created a buzz in the marketplace. We are delighted with the high level of interest shown and this augurs well for the future success of the Abu Dhabi route.” The airline plans to increase services to daily flights between the two emirates by the end of the year.

Royal Jordanian Airlines Codeshare with VIA Rail Canada Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has signed an agreement with VIA Rail Canada, Canada’s rail passenger service, whereby RJ may sell train tickets to its passengers wishing to continue their travel beyond Montreal to Toronto and Ottawa. RJ has become VIA Rail Canada’s first codeshare partner and, according to the agreement, upon purchase of a RJ airline ticket, passengers are issued with one which holds a code for both means of transportation, air and rail. Commenting on the deal, Amer Hadidi, CEO, RJ, said, “The frequency and travel times of VIA’s trains between Montreal and Toronto, and Montreal and Ottawa extend the quality of services and comfort experienced by RJ passengers to and from Amman. Through such partnerships, RJ aims at giving more convenient travel options to its passengers.” Pierre Santoni, senior director, domestic and international sales, VIA, added, “We are excited to partner with RJ to enable travellers to and from Ottawa and Toronto to take the VIA Rail trains to Montreal’s Trudeau Airport and connect with RJ flights to Amman and beyond in a seamless fashion.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Emirates Adds Capacity for Cyprus Emirates has started operating with a larger aircraft, Airbus A340-300, on the daily Dubai-Larnaca-Malta route, providing travellers and cargo customers from Cyprus additional seating and cargo capacity. Offering a total of 267 seats, with 12 seats in first class, 42 in business class, and 213 in economy class, as well as 13 tonnes of cargo capacity, the new aircraft is replacing the Airbus A330-200, which was initially introduced in April 2002. Jaber Mohammed, manager, Cyprus, Emirates, said, “Operating daily, Emirates is now one of the main scheduled carriers in Cyprus. We are experiencing growth and we felt the need to offer a larger capacity aircraft in terms of seats and cargo capacity. The A340-300 will provide our customers with the latest comforts and amenities onboard while our multilingual cabin crew will provide the highest levels of service and care throughout the flight.”

flydubai Launches Flights to Bucharest flydubai recently inaugurated services to its latest destination, Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and as of October 28, the airline will increase this frequency to four times a week. According to H.E. Yacub Yousif Al Hosani, UAE Ambassador to Romania, the opening of flydubai’s route will lead to the strengthening of relations with Romania through those travelling for leisure as well as for those further developing the two destinations’ trade links. Parallel to flydubai’s expanding presence in Central and Eastern Europe, over the past 12 months, the airline has witnessed an upsurge in air traffic between the UAE and Russia of 85 percent and between its hub and Ukraine of 112 percent.

Etihad Airways and nasair Codeshare Etihad Airways and nasair have signed an agreement to codeshare on 26 flight sectors across the MENA region and Asia. Within the agreement, Etihad Airways will place its ‘EY’ code on nasair flights between the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Medina the airline’s hub, Abu Dhabi. nasair will place its ‘XY’ code on Etihad Airways flights between Abu Dhabi and Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Colombo, Dhaka, Kuwait, Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, Tehran, Beirut, Bahrain, Muscat, Jakarta, Amman, Damascus, Basra, Baghdad, Erbil, Khartoum, Cairo, Tripoli, Istanbul and subsequently on flights operating to Europe, the Americas, and South East Asia over the coming months.

Air Arabia Departs to Ufa Air Arabia has announced the launch of services to Ufa, its third destination in Russia. Flights to the city, which commenced on October 2, mark Air Arabia’s 77th destination worldwide and complements the carrier’s two existing operations to Moscow and Yekaterinburg. “We are confident that this new service will positively contribute to the strong trade and tourism relations between the UAE and Russia as well as offer customers an affordable and unique product,” said Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia.

13 OCTOBER 2012


WHO'S MOVED

Luis Soares Luis Soares has been named associate director of sales at Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. Previously, Soares worked as sales manager at the five-star Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, where he achieved the ‘Hyatt Masters’ award in March this year. Prior to joinging the company, he also received the 2009 hotel rising star of

the year award at Hilton London on Park Lane, and has worked at five-star properties across Europe. A graduate in tourism management – marketing from the University of Algarve, Soares brings seven years of experience to the role and aims to place the hotel on the world map.

Sherif Sabry Sherif Sabry has been appointed hotel manager at The Torch Doha, located in Aspire Zone Foundation. With a successful track record of 23 years in the hospitality industry, Sabry has gained an excellent eye for detail. Driven to deliver the highest quality of service, he changed his career in 1991 from bank head audit department in Egypt to join the sales and marketing department of Sheraton Cairo Hotel. After holding director of sales

13 OCTOBER 2012

and marketing positions at a number of destinations, including Dubai, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, with hotel chains such as Sharq Village and Spa, managed by The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, Sabry accepted the challenge three years ago to open The Torch Doha and has since contributed greatly to the hotel’s results.

Sabry has been appointed hotel manager at The Torch Doha

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Titus Rosier Titus Rosier has joined The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort as director of sales. Rosier, no stranger to the UAE and the GCC hospitality sector, has worked in various capacities across a number of Starwood Hotels & Resorts properties. Prior to his appointment, he served as director of sales at Sheraton Abu Dhabi, where

he was also responsible for the Starwood Preferred Business programme. Before moving to the UAE capital, he held different sales positions at Le Méridien Dubai, Le Méridien Fairway, Le Méridien Al Aqah, Sheraton Bahrain, and Sheraton Xi’an as well as Golden Tulip and Tulip Inn hotels in the Netherlands.


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TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal

Kapil Aggarwal Director of sales and marketing, Southwest Asia, Hyatt International.

CEO, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority.

“Sharjah’s business attractions, existing investment opportunities, tourism facilities, strategic geographical position, advanced infrastructure, investor-friendly legal framework, and the highly developed transport networks [...] were all highlighted during the various meetings [in Malaysia from September 2-7]. [These] are all elements that were received with a great deal of interest from investors during the talks.”

“The UAE is second only to Saudi Arabia in terms of the outbound travel market, and the rest of the GCC follows suit. Travellers from the UAE and Saudi Arabia are already planning their next holidays [particularly for Eid al Adha on October 15], and we have seen a lot of favourability towards Malaysia and India, both within reasonable flight times from the Gulf.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith CEO, flydubai.

“We launched our operations during an unprecedented period of global economic crisis, however, by having a clear vision and strong leadership, we have opened up new and previously untapped markets which our fleet of 24 737-800NG aircraft gives us access to. We knew that by carrying Dubai’s name we would challenge conventions around low-cost travel.”

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 editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Daniel Eid POSITION: General manager COMPANY: Eid Travel LOCATION: Lebanon WEB: www.eidtravel.com

Who are you? My name is Daniel Eid, the general manager of Eid Travel in Lebanon. I was previously general manager of Iraqi Airways in Lebanon and held positions at British Airways 20 years ago. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My favorite thing about working in the industry is the fast pace evolving world of business travel, as more users are switching to online and the delicate corporate travel market. When is the best time to visit Lebenon? Everyday is the best time to visit Lebanon. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? For my next holiday, I would like to travel to Switzerland. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Now in the travel industry it is all about the service and the speed that counts for who will be the best travel agent worldwide, as rates are uniform for all. Beirut, Lebanon

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Travelport and RAK Airways Collaborate Travelport and RAK Airways have jointly announced their first ever global distribution system (GDS) partnership agreement. Under the new deal, Galileo and Worldspan-connected users worldwide will gain access to all of RAK Airways’ fares and inventory with immediate effect. Travelport has confirmed that the deal forms part of its ongoing strategy to aggregate the broadest range of airline content into its GDS channel for travel agency customers worldwide. “We are thrilled to be signing our first participation agreement with RAK Airways,” Will Owen Hughes, director, business development, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, expressed. “It very much forms part of our ongoing strategy to work hand in hand with the country’s national carriers to maximise the growth potential of this important travel region.”

Further commenting on the partnership, John Brayford, CEO, RAK Airways, said, “The deal between the two companies will enable RAK Airways to widen its distribution base considerably. Offering our customers better access and more choice is important to us and this agreement will help us deliver this. Travelport’s extensive global network complements our ambitious expansion plans and this agreement will really help serve RAK Airways’ future distribution needs.”

Travelport has confirmed that the deal forms part of its ongoing strategy to aggregate the broadest range of airline content into its GDS channel for travel agency customers worldwide


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Global Declaration to Promote Youth Travel Over 700 delegates from 63 countries at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC), San Diego, have called on governments and businesses worldwide to tap into the potential of youth travel.

T

his comes in light of its capacity to boost tourism growth and global development, a call supported by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which estimates that youth travel generates in excess of USD185 billion in international tourism receipts, with much of the growth being led by emerging markets. According to Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, who opened the three-day conference, 20 percent of the 990 million international tourists who travelled the world in 2011 were young people. He further explained, “These young travellers are environmentally-aware and tend to stay longer and interact more closely with the communities they visit than the average tourist. As such, youth travel has emerged as one of the most promising paths towards a more responsible and sustainable tourism sector.�

UAE celebrates First Aircraft Landing On October 5, the UAE celebrated the 80th anniversary since the first plane landed in the country. To mark the commemoration, an Auster aircraft took off from Sharjah International Airport and flew to Al Khor, Khalid Lagoon, and then over Al Mahatta Museum, the actual place where the first plane landed 80 years ago. The Auster was at a visible magnitude allowing the public full view of the commemorative flight and has been grounded at the Al Mahatta Museum, marking the conclusion of the celebration of this landmark event.

DFW and ICN International Airports Leaders from Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport and Incheon (ICN) International Airport from Seoul, South Korea, have signed a partnership agreement designed to foster close cooperation between the two airports. The DFW-ICN partnership pact outlines the principles on which the two airports will work collaboratively on business and operational projects. They will jointly promote existing non-stop passenger service between DFW International Airport and ICN International Airport, and will share information and best practices in areas ranging from sustainability to customer service, engineering, airport amenities, and airfield operations. According to Jeff Fegan, CEO, DFW International Airport, this agreement marks a key milestone for the US airport and as a global leader, ICN International Airport provides a new model of airline and government partnership that DFW International Airport can learn from.

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Inge Huijbrechts Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s ambitious Think Planet initiative is set to help reinforce the company’s position as one of the industry leaders in terms of sustainability, as Inge Huijbrechts, director of responsible business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, talks about the goals and challenges of the project.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the main goals of the programme? Inge Huijbrechts: Think Planet was designed to help us reduce our energy consumption by 25 percent over the next five years. Many of our hotels have already introduced progressive, environmentally-friendly measures in the past, and the implementation of Think Planet will help us spread these initiatives across our hotels and assist us to set priorities for energy-saving investments that will have the biggest impact. We also thought it was important to adopt something like Think Planet because we are currently faced with rising energy costs in many countries, along with government carbon taxation. Moving forward, reducing our energy consumption will also contribute to maximising our profits, so Think Planet is both good for business and our planet. Travel Trade Weekly: How will these initiatives spread throughout all of the group’s properties and help strengthen employee engagement? Inge Huijbrechts: With the support of the area vice presidents, a team of Think Planet champions has been appointed. It is a very active and knowledgeable network of 17 individuals. Staff engagement in Think Planet is tremendous. All of our hotels have introduced the Think Planet training video to the staff and have put up the posters. Many Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s properties have taken Think Planet a step further by actively stimulating employee suggestions and by making each hotel’s targets very tangible.

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Inge Huijbrechts Director of responsible business, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

from the start than to retrofit. Travel Trade Weekly: Could you also share with us some regional examples? Inge Huijbrechts: At Park Inn Muscat, all TVs have been installed with infrared sensors where the TV gets switched off immediately if there is no movement in the room. At Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City, the lights on the roundabout are solar powered and the plants are watered with recycled water. At Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah, the conversion from diesel boilers to natural gas usage will result in expected savings of up to AED3 million (USD816,800). At Radisson Blu Resort, Jordan Aqaba, we have an organic garden which supplies the hotel with fresh vegetables.

Travel Trade Weekly: What sort of innovative energy saving techniques and measures will be introduced? Inge Huijbrechts: The biggest energy consumers in our hotels are the heating ventilation and air-conditioning, lighting, sanitary hot water, and cooling in the kitchen. Naturally, the biggest savings can therefore be made by optimising the technical installations in these areas which require investments. Some hotels are already seeing the important effect of these Think Planet investments. With Rezidor being one of the fastest growing hotel companies in the world, working closely with owners to introduce Think Planet principles and technologies in new builds and renovations is essential. It is much cheaper to put the right technology in

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the major challenges of implementing such an ambitious and innovative programme in this region? Inge Huijbrechts: The region has specific challenges notably with market forces of district heating and cooling. Additionally, we need to work closely with our owners and suppliers to multiply the Think Planet success and make the circle of enthusiasts grow. The biggest challenge is education. As a region, we are still behind Europe, the US, and others. We have to educate our staff first and foremost and then we have to educate our guests and the surrounding community. One of the other challenges we face is supply and demand; some of the materials we need are not readily available in the region so it can hamper our efforts or make for slow progress.


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NEWS & EVENTS

DBA Aims to Bring Congresses to Dubai Dubai Bid Alliance (DBA), a working group within Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB), a division of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, tasked with the collaboration of bringing congresses and other lucrative international meetings to Dubai, recently met at Atlantis, The Palm. DBA brings together various stakeholders who share an interest in the promotion of Dubai as a globally leading destination for major international meetings, as Carl Palmlund, vice president, group sales, Atlantis, and representative, DBA, explained, “Meeting planners are keen to work together with cities or a destination where there is an alignment between the different suppliers and where the destination is united in hosting events.” Similarly, Jerad Bachar, director, DCB, noted, “When you combine the strengths of the entire congress community of Dubai, you truly have one of the most attractive cities in the world for congresses and events. The DBA will continue to evolve and play a key role in selling Dubai in this highly competitive global market.”

Dubai to Host ASTA Expo Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has confirmed Dubai as the official host of the American Society of Travel Agents’(ASTA) International Destinations Expo. The event, being held in April 2013, is being brought to the emirate by Dubai Convention Bureau on behalf of DTCM, and is expected to attract some 500-700 travel agents. Hosting such a prestigious show is a great honour and is recognised throughout the tourism and convention industries worldwide, highlighted Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director, business tourism, DTCM. “Cities from around the globe vie for this opportunity,” he added. “We can expect to see continued growth of North American tourism traffic in 2013 and beyond as these ASTA agents serve as new ambassadors for Dubai, spreading their enthusiasm to new clients from around the world.”

EVENTS Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference Singapore, October 15 – 17, 2012 (www.tdiasia.questexevents.net) Consisting of an array of networking opportunities, the event will focus on hotel investments and tourism infrastructure developments.

World Travel Market (WTM) London, UK, November 5 – 8, 2012 (www.wtmlondon.com) A must-attend business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors.

Diyafa 2012 Doha, Qatar, October 16 – 18 , 2012 (www.diyafaqatar.com) The seventh edition of this international hotel, restaurant, and food exhibition, showcasing some of the world's best international products from across the world.

PURE Life Experiences Marrakech, Morocco, November 12 -15, 2012 (www.purelifeexperiences.com) A premier travel trade exhibition serving one of the hottest high-end travel sectors at the moment – experiential travel.

The Cruise Show Birmingham, UK, October 20 – 21, 2012 (www.cruisingshow.co.uk) A high profile event that will see the attendance of a plethora of qualified buyers, industry experts, and decision makers. The Luxury Travel Fair London, UK, November 1 – 4, 2012 (www.luxurytravelfair.com) A collection of the finest and most unique travel experiences from around the world will be brought together for the seventh year running.

International Golf Travel Market Algarve, Portugal, November 12 -15, 2012 (www.igtm.co.uk) The premier event for the golf travel industry with over 600 golf tourism suppliers and 350 pre-qualified buyers. The Hotel Show – Saudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 17– 19, 2012 (www.thehotelshowsaudiarabia.com) A full spectrum hospitality and supplies event for the region, bringing leading manufacturers and qualified buyers for the hospitality, catering, and food and beverage industries together.

13 OCTOBER 2012

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 153  

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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