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Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

15 SEPTEMBER 2012

ISSUE 149

First So Spa Launched in the GCC Introducing a unique concept to the region, Sofitel has opened the first So Spa in the GCC at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche.

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Emirates and Qantas have announced a new global aviation partnership that will give customers a seamless international and Australian network, benefits and world‐class travel experiences.

Etihad Airways and RAK Airways Codeshare Etihad Airways and RAK Airways have signed an agreement to codeshare on five flight sectors including, for the first time, domestic flights in the UAE.

08 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE

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WEEKLY NEWS

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AIR NEWS

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INTERNATIONAL

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WHO’S MOVED

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TRAVEL TALK

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AGENT’S CORNER

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TRAVEL CHANNELS

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RENDEZVOUS

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NEWS & EVENTS

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Emirates and Qantas Global Aviation Partnership

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MARKET UPDATE

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

Jazeera Airways Gets Approval for Rights Issue An Emiree decree has been issued in approval of Jazeera Airways Group’s decision to raise the company’s capital by 91 percent to KWD42 million (USD148.8 million) through a rights agreement of 200 million shares.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou 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

14/09/2012 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

67.05

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.56

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.54

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,284.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.61

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

79.40

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.27

T

he rights issue, which will total a nominal value of 100 fils per share to existing shareholders, is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of the year once the customary ministerial process is finalised. The Emiree decree is a necessary step which organisations in Kuwait, operating in sectors that are deemed to be of ‘national interest’, have to go through to be formalised, and any changes to their articles of association, such as changes in capital, are to be approved by the head of the state and then processed by the Ministry of Commerce and other regulators before having them enacted. Jazeera Airways has registered a record-

Jazeera Airways

breaking earnings streak and net profit for the past eight quarters. The low-cost carrier, which is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, is one of the few fully-private airlines in the Middle East.

Gulf Air: Positive Business Performance Gulf Air witnessed positive improvements in the first half of the year leading to encouraging business performance results. The airline’s revenue increased six percent and passenger numbers were up 13 percent as compared to the corresponding period in 2011. Meanwhile, seat load factor grew five percent to reach 77 percent. The carrier’s Falcon Gold premium class experienced a healthy 35 percent growth while the economy class registered an improvement of 12 percent. Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, attributed the results to the combined efforts of rationalised route network, fleet optimisation, improved sales efficiency, products and services, cost efficiency measures, and expenditure reduction. “This is by no means a small achievement considering factors such as the temporary suspension of eight profitable routes and high fuel prices that have had a negative impact on our traffic and revenue,” he commented. “We are pushing forward with our cost-efficiency and sales efficiency measures and are targeting a further 15 percent reduction in its cost base for the full year; we have already achieved a cost base savings of BHD6.8 million (USD18 million) between January and May this year.”

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WEEKLY NEWS Hospitality Chief Calls for Innovative Strategies Although hotels in the Middle East continue to outperform the global average, responding to the changing market conditions is crucial if the region’s hotel sector is to maintain the momentum, according to Michael Scully, CEO, First & Foremost Hotels & Resorts, who will be addressing delegates at Boudoir Prestige, a new interior design and hospitality event on September 17 - 18 at Park Hyatt Dubai. The Dubai-headquartered hospitality company is witnessing increasing demand from owners, operators, and investors amid the intensifying local and regional competition set against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty. “Despite massive growth in the number of hotel rooms, the Dubai market, for example, has shown remarkable resilience so far, but the rollout of a further 11,307 rooms in the next couple of years, could squeeze business elsewhere,” he further emphasised.

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First So Spa Launched in the GCC Introducing a unique concept to the region, which blends therapies and treatments from around the world with the refinement and skill of the latest in French cosmetology, Sofitel has opened the first So Spa in the GCC at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche. The health facility, which Hannad Down, spa manager, So Spa, described as ‘an urban sanctuary where people can detach than reattach from the world’, features four single treatment rooms alongside a double private spa suite. Both male and female areas feature a separate hammam, scrub room, and Jacuzzi. Inspired by gastronomy, the spa menu defines typical categories and reads like a menu in a restaurant with starters, mains, sides, and desserts. In addition to the new spa, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is also home to the brand’s signature So Fit fitness and wellness concept.


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WEEKLY NEWS Hertz Global Holdings and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Merger Hertz Global Holdings and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Hertz Global Holdings will acquire Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group for USD87.50 per share in cash in a transaction valued at a corporate enterprise value of approximately USD2.3 billion. The combination of Hertz Global Holdings and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group will create a global, multi-brand rental car leader offering customers a full range of rental options through its strong premium and value brands. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction. Mark Frissora, CEO, Hertz Global Holdings said, ˝We are pleased to have finally reached an agreement with Dollar Thrifty after a lengthy, but worthwhile, pursuit. We have always believed that a combination with Dollar Thrifty is the best strategic option for both companies. We will be a stronger global competitive player with a full range of rental options

Abu Dhabi on Track to Meet Targets Between January and July, Abu Dhabi welcomed some 1.37 million hotel guests, marking an increase of 11 percent over the corresponding period in 2011, and bringing the emirate closer to its annual target of 2.3 million guests. Based on Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s (TCA Abu Dhabi) latest report, while traditionally lower travel rates during the Holy Month of Ramadan led to a six percent drop in July’s guests volume, with 178,099 visitors checking into the emirate’s hotels and hotel apartments, the average length of stay rose to 2.84 days, up six percent on the comparative month in 2011. According to H.E. Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi, with a calendar packed with world-class events and the opening of new leisure attractions, the emirate is well on track to reach its annual target and the industry is encouraged by consistently strong growth across emerging international markets.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Promotion

not only in the US but in Europe and other markets given Dollar Thrifty's strong international presence.” Hertz Global Holdings anticipates at least USD160 million of annual cost synergies from the transaction, with additional sales growth opportunities. The transaction has been structured as a two-step acquisition including a cash tender offer for all outstanding shares of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group’s common stock followed by a cash merger in which Hertz Global Holdings would acquire any remaining outstanding shares of the car rental company’s common stock. Hertz Global Holdings also announced that it has reached an agreement to sell the Advantage business to Franchise Services of North America, an experienced rental car operator with subsidiaries, and Macquarie Capital. The closing of this divestiture is conditioned upon, among other things, Hertz Global Holdings completing the acquisition of Dollar Thrifty.

Princess Cruises Progresses with Second Generation Ships Princess Cruises has marked the beginning of the construction of the second of its new generation of ships with the official keel laying ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. At the same time, the Artist’s Impression of the New line announced that the Royal Princess ship’s name will be Regal Princess, and will debut in spring 2014. The 3,600-passenger and 141,000-tonne vessel will offer many similar features to its sister ship Royal Princess, which debuts in June 2013. Among these are a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than 8.5m beyond the edge of the vessel; private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! TV studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef’s Table Lumière, a private dining experience; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

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WEEKLY NEWS

IATA: Growth Slows

Promoting Sharjah

Both global air travel and freight continued to grow at a more moderate pace throughout July, based on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) latest report.

A Sharjah delegation, including representatives of tourism and travel agencies, recently headed to Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan to meet with 300 professionals of CIS travel companies, as part of its promotional roadshow in the CIS countries which was organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) in collaboration with Air Arabia. The CIS roadshow, the second of its kind this year, was launched on September 3 and continued till September 10, and was aimed at promoting Sharjah’s year-long calendar of cultural offerings, its world-renowned festivals and events, its tourism and heritage projects, and its high-class hotels, in a bid to attract more tourists to visit the emirate.

Passenger markets, with the exception of Africa, China domestic, and the Middle East, saw demand fall from June to July Passenger demand in aggregate was up 3.4 percent compared with the same month in 2011, however, it showed a significant slowdown in comparison to June (6.3 percent) and the first half of the year (6.5 percent), as a result of the recent fall in business confidence in many economies. Furthermore, freight demand was 3.2 percent lower than in July 2011. Based on IATA’s analysis, airlines have responded to the sluggish growth rate by reducing the capacity added to markets, thus keeping the average load factor at a relatively high 83.1 percent. Despite the Holy Month of Ramadan, Middle East carriers experienced the strongest traffic growth at 11.2 percent year-over-year, although this was surpassed by a 12.4 percent rise in capacity. The uncertain economic outlook is having a negative impact on demand for air transport, noted Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA, who added, “Passenger markets, with the exception of Africa, China-domestic, and the Middle East, saw demand fall from June to July.”

Sharjah

CIS tourism sector representatives and media expressed their interest in Sharjah tourism features and highlighted the outstanding position the emirate has earned in the CIS countries, which hugely contribute to Sharjah’s tourism sector, with Russia on top having represented some 208,000 visitors in 2011. On this regard, Mohamad Ali Al Noman, chairman, SCTDA, said that this roadshow comes at a time where Sharjah continued to prove its prominence in the CIS tourism markets, which form 15 percent of the general tourism flow into the emirate.

RAK TDA Launches New Application

RAK Tourism Application

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA) has released the ’RAK Tourism’ Apple application, dedicated to visitors and residents alike with the overview of the emirate’s attractions, hotels, excursions, events, and image gallery, as well as heritage and culture. Available for complimentary download for iPad and iPhone devices, the application is set to take tourism to a new level, noted Victor Louis, chief operating officer, RAK TDA.

This app will act as a guide to all the emirate’s attractions “Today, technology plays a key element in everything we do; in work as well as leisure. This app will act as a guide to all the emirate’s attractions introducing this affordable luxury destination to people from around the world to discover the varied leisure and adventure attractions and the truly Arabian hospitality,” he commented.

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Air News

Air Arabia Introduces City Terminal Check-in Air Arabia has launched its first City Terminal Check-in in Dubai, in the Lamcy Plaza shopping mall, offering passengers increased convenience. The counter, which is available seven days a week, is equipped to accept baggage from passengers which is then sent straight to Sharjah International Airport. Checked-in passengers then receive their boarding passes and claim tags, allowing them to Lamcy Plaza Shopping Mall proceed straight to their flights once at the airport, thus helping to reduce the amount of time passengers need to spend at the airport and making the entire process of flying more hassle free, as Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, expressed.

WEEKLY NEWS

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Global Passenger Fleet to Double Over the next two decades, some 28,200 passenger and freighter aircraft of 100 seats or more, worth nearly USD4 trillion, are expected to be delivered worldwide, based on Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast. Considering that global passenger traffic is set to grow at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent in the next 20 years, over 27,350 of the total delivery figure will be passenger aircraft valued at USD3.7 trillion, meaning that by 2031 the world’s passenger fleet will have expanded by 110 percent. Based on the report, over the next two decades, emerging economic regions will represent more than half of all traffic growth and according to John Leahy, chief operating officer, customers, Airbus, by 2031, four of the world’s biggest traffic flows will be domestic in and around the US, China, Intra-Western Europe, and India, accounting for a third of the world’s air traffic.

Etihad Rolls out Sabre Technology Etihad Airways has begun utilising a new Sabre software, as part of a billion dollar technology agreement signed by the two companies in 2011. The implementation of the catering software, which migrates all business operations including the passenger reservations programme and enables the airline to manage all meal and catering services through a single platform, kicks off the largest technology project in Etihad Airways’ history.

“This new catering software allows us to better manage, audit and analyse important processes such as meal forecasting and the procurement of equipment and resources,” noted Lee Shave, vice president, guest experience, Etihad Airways. “The enhanced control means we should make savings in excess of USD5 million per annum, while continuing to provide a world-class and award-winning guest experience onboard.”

Garuda Becomes Liverpool’s Official Global Airline Garuda Indonesia and Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Ground have entered into a threeyear partnership, making the flag carrier the official global airline of the legendary football club. Under the deal, which forms part of Garuda Indonesia’s ‘Quantum Leap’ programme, aimed at transforming the airline into a global company, whenever the football team tours to destinations that are served by the Indonesian airline, especially in Asia and Australia, it will enlist services of the carrier. The agreement also offers the airline the opportunity to carry out a marketing communication campaign programme at the Anfield stadium, and to gain access to the club’s international fan base, enabling Garuda Indonesia to grow its business worldwide.

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Ian Ayre, managing director, Liverpool FC, and Emirsyah Satar, president, Garuda Indonesia


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WEEKLY NEWS

Etihad Cargo’s Dedicated Freighter Service to Doha Etihad Cargo has inaugurated a new weekly freighter operation from Abu Dhabi to the Qatari capital, Doha. The new cargo service, which commenced on September 3, operates every Monday using an Airbus A300-600F freighter, with a capacity of 42 metric tonnes. David Kerr, vice president, Etihad Cargo, said, “We are delighted to launch our first dedicated freighter service to Doha, and believe that it will further strengthen the trade ties between the UAE and Qatar.”

Air News

Etihad Airways and RAK Airways Codeshare Etihad Airways and RAK Airways have signed an agreement to codeshare on five flight sectors including, for the first time, domestic flights in the UAE. The deal, the first of its kind between two UAE carriers, will see Etihad Airways place its EY code on the RAK Airways flight between Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi. In return, RAK Airways will place its RT code on Etihad Airways routes, which initially include flights between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow, Manchester, Dublin, Bangkok, and Geneva. RAK Airways’ operation between Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi will commence on October 3. According to both Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, and John Brayford, CEO RAK Airways, this is an exciting milestone for the airlines which follows months of consultation and collaboration. RAK Airways and Etihad Airways Codeshare

Emirates and Qantas Global Aviation Partnership Emirates and Qantas have announced a new global aviation partnership that will give customers a seamless international and Australian network, exclusive frequent flyer benefits and world‐class travel experiences. Subject to regulatory approvals, it is anticipated that the partnership arrangements will take effect in April 2013. Under the agreement, signed by Tim Clark, president, Emirates, and Alan Joyce, CEO, Qantas, the Australian airline will move its hub for European flights from Singapore to Dubai and enter an extensive commercial relationship with Emirates. The 10-year codesharing partnership is enhanced by integrated network collaboration with coordinated pricing, sales, and scheduling as well as a benefits sharing model. Neither airline will take equity in the other. The partnership will see Qantas, along with Emirates, as the only airline operating at Dubai International’s Terminal 3. The two carriers will jointly offer 98 weekly services between Australia and the global gateway city of Dubai including four daily A380 flights. In addition, Emirates and Qantas frequent flyer agreements will be aligned, giving customers expanded opportunities to earn and redeem points, with reciprocal access to tier status benefits.

easyJet to Introduce Allocated Seating As part of its aim of making travel hassle-free and affordable, easyJet is to roll out allocated seating across its network as of November. The airline has been trialing allocated seating since April and over this period more than 800,000 passengers have flown on 6,000 trial flights. Research among these travellers shows that more than 70 percent think allocated seating is better than easyJet’s current system, due to the improved boarding experience, while over 60 percent said that they are more likely to use easyJet in the future as a result. The key tests of the trial were to improve passenger satisfaction without impacting easyJet’s ability to deliver industry leading punctuality or adding cost, all of which were achieved on trial flights. easyJet

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WEEKLY NEWS

International

Expansion of Zest Hotels in Indonesia

Zest Hotels

The expansion of the two-star Zest Hotels International brand in Indonesia has been announced by Gavin Faull, president, Swiss-Belhotel International. “Swiss-Belhotel International proudly presents the new collection of hotels, resorts, and serviced residences managed by the group. As part of our group’s commitment to provide affordable and convenient accommodation, the Zest Hotel brand is being developed as ‘value for money’ accommodation that offers a new benchmark of services and facilities for both business and leisure travellers,” commented Faull. This new brand is set to enhance the group’s rapidly growing portfolio of twostar to five-star properties across major cities in the country such as Jakarta, Bogor, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Balikpapan, Cirebon, Manado, Makassar, and the islands of Bali and Batam. Emmanuel Guillard, CEO, Zest Hotels International, added, “With our current 70 operating hotels and development projects throughout the archipelago, the development of more Zest Hotels coming into our projects will further strengthen the presence of Swiss-Belhotel International in this region. The aim of Zest is to redefine the image of budget hotels among business and leisure travellers.”

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company Debuts in Austria The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has opened its first hotel in Austria in the capital city of Vienna. The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, a 202-room property located on the central Schubertring Boulevard, is the ninth hotel in Europe for the luxury hotel company, and composes four historic palaces dating back to the 19th century with views of the city’s landmarks from its guestrooms and roof-top bar. “We are delighted to open our 80th hotel in this key European capital and to offer discerning global travellers a truly unique property here in Vienna,” said Herve Humler, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. “The hotel will bring The Ritz-Carlton service philosophy to the city and combine it with Viennese hospitality to create memorable experiences for guests whether travelling on leisure or for business.” The club lounge, located on the seventh floor, provides guests with exclusive access to a private concierge service, a gastronomic presentation throughout the day, and views of the cityscape. In addition, the hotel boasts a variety of dining options offering authentic Austrian cuisine. Recreational amenities comprise an 18m indoor swimming pool, fitness room, and a boutique Guerlain Spa. The property’s business and event facilities include the 300m2 Crystal Ballroom, two permanent boardrooms, and three function rooms with natural light, complemented by a business centre, all located on the first floor.

Starwood’s Aloft Hotels to Debut in Russia Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the signing of Aloft St. Petersburg, which will mark the debut of the hotel group’s brand, Aloft Hotels, Russia, when it opens its doors in 2015. Owned by Remstroyintour and Ludmila Kudryavtseva, the 200-room Aloft St. Petersburg, will be located in an emerging business district within close proximity to galleries, restaurants, and green spaces, and is set to offer an entirely new approach to hospitality in the city. “We are delighted to partner with Remstroyintour and Ludmila Kudryavtseva to open the first Aloft hotel in the country,” commented, Roeland Vos, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. “We see great opportunities to grow our Aloft portfolio in markets like Russia where there is a strong demand for affordable yet stylish, innovative hotel brands. The signing of Aloft St. Petersburg underlines Starwood’s continued commitment to expanding our portfolio of midmarket brands in Russia and throughout Europe.”

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WHO'S MOVED

Masami Egami Masami Egami has been named general manager at Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea. Having worked in a number of countries around the globe including the UK, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, UAE, Bahrain, and Jordan, since beginning his career at Hilton Osaka in

1990, Egami brings a wealth of knowledge to the role. Prior to his appointment, he served as hotel manager at Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea for two years, where he played an instrumental role in providing European standards in a luxurious experience, as part of the company’s initiative.

Nils Axing Nils Axing has been named general manager at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi. His responsibilities include overseeing the performance and day-to-day operations of the 369-room hotel. With a career spanning over 20 years, the seasoned hotelier brings a wealth of knowledge to the role. After gaining experience at Scandic Hasselbacken Hotel in Stockholm, he continued in progressive leadership positions at Grand Hotel Stockholm,

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ranging from banqueting manager to director of food and beverage and culminating, in 2004, as general manager of the property. In 2006, he was appointed CEO of The Grand Group Stockholm, where he oversaw the company’s brand repositioning, and in 2010, he became the general manager of InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam. Axing attended the School of Economics at the University of Uppsala and The Stockholm School of Economics.

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Sid Sattanathan Sid Sattanathan has been named cluster general manager of Cristal Hotels & Resorts’ Abu Dhabi properties. He has been tasked with overseeing operations of both Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi and the recently opened Cristal Salam Hotel. Sattanathan, who has over 25 years of hospitality experi-

ence, began his career in the front office and branched into distribution and revenue management, which later led him to regional corporate roles in Singapore, Sydney, and Amsterdam, with Pegasus, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, and InterContinental Hotels Group. He also served as manager of Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Borja Ibarrondo

Emirsyah Satar

Managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Onity.

President, Garuda Indonesia.

“Onity has been focused on involving employees and increasing job satisfaction levels through communication, training, internal promotion, and programmes such as Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE). Employees are trained to use ACE and empowered to implement standard processes across the company. The programme helps ensure world-class quality in products and services with a focus on process improvement and efficiency.”

“We are very pleased to join up with Liverpool Football Club [and become the Global Official Airline of the club]. They are one of England’s best football clubs and already a well-known global brand, with fans and supporters all over the world, including in Indonesia. Liverpool, You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Tony Tyler CEO, International Air Transport Association.

“Africa has the greatest potential of any continent for aviation to contribute even more to its development. With a few km of runway, even the most remote location can be connected to the global village. This has a huge and positive impact on development. And that is the best reason for governments across Africa to […] work together to ensure its safe, efficient, and sustainable progress.”

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: Trevor Hewett POSITION: Owner COMPANY: African Pride Tours LOCATION: South Africa WEB: www.africanpride.co.za

Who are you? My name is Trevor Hewett and I am the owner of African Pride Tours, a family business which started 22 years ago. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? My favourite thing is meeting such a cross-section of interesting people throughout the world. When is the best time to visit South Africa? There is no bad time, although I often advise foreign visitors to avoid the peak periods which are mid-December to early January. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to travel to the glacier region of Patagonia in Argentina, and I will be there during October. Why should people come to you for travel advice? For our superior product knowledge of sub-Saharan Africa, built up over more than 30 years in the industry.

Cape Town

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Amadeus Launches New Processing Centre Amadeus has announced the opening of a new ‘energy annex’ on the site of its existing global data processing centre in Erding near Munich, Germany. The construction of the new annex, which acts as an extension to the original structure of the 24 year old building, was commissioned by Amadeus in line with the recent commercial growth of the business, following a number of significant new customer wins and migrations for its airline IT business and also the launch of its New Businesses portfolio which covers the travel sectors of rail, hotel

and, most recently, airport IT. “In recent years, Amadeus has seen inexorable growth in its airline IT business, winning new Altéa customers from all over the world. Furthermore, following the launch of our New Businesses portfolio, we felt it prudent to take steps to increase and invest in not only new hardware but also the infrastructure to house it efficiently. We also want to prepare the ground for future innovation in terms of new products and services,” commented Eberhard Haag, executive vice president, global operations, Amadeus.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

New Flight Simulator at The Red Sea Astrarium

V

A division of Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), RGH Themed Entertainment, the designer and project manager of The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), is to develop a new flight simulator attraction at the USD1.5 billion leisure-resort in Aqaba, Jordan.

isitors taking a ride on the Wonders! will travel in custombuilt flying machines through the fabric of space and time to explore the wonders of the world in their prime, including the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Macchu Picchu, or Petra. Vekome Rides Manufacturing will develop the ride system utilising an innovative 4D simulator technology. In addition, an entire slate of media content will provide a randomised experience for every ride cycle, ensuring a truly unique and unpredictable adventure. “The Wonders! attraction provides a themed centrepiece of oldworld exploration and fascination. What is more, it brings the resort to full circle; The Red Sea Astrarium brings the world together then Wonders! sends people out into the world again,” noted Randa Ayoubi, CEO, RGH.

Wonders!

MEA: Occupancy Decline The Middle East and Africa’s hotel sector reported mostly negative performance figures for the month of July as a result of Ramadan, based on STR Global’s latest monthly report, with an occupancy drop of 4.9 percent. Average daily rate (ADR) increased 2.1 percent to USD140.67, and RevPAR fell three percent to USD79.72, with Jeddah and Amman achieving the largest ADR increases throughout the region, by 7.9 percent and seven percent respectively. In addition, the Saudi city was the only key market to report a RevPAR increase, improving 12.7 percent to USD191.53, while the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina reported RevPAR increases of 90.9 percent and 33.0 percent, respectively. In contrast, Beirut ended the month with the largest decreases in all three key performance metrics. Occupancy fell 19.3 percent to 53.9 percent in the Lebanese capital, whereas ADR was down 25.2 percent to USD495.78 and RevPAR dropped 39.6 percent to USD105.48.

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Hamad Al Mulla Katara Hospitality, formerly known as Qatar National Hotels, has been at the forefront of Qatar’s tourism industry for over four decades, and here Hamad Al Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality, reveals the group’s aims of becoming one of the leading hospitality organisations in the world.

Travel Trade Weekly: What was the main driver behind the decision to rename the brand? Hamad Al Mulla: By rebranding as Katara Hospitality, we have created a new corporate identity which is relevant to our ambitious international expansion plans which heralds a new era of opportunity, in line with Qatar’s own tourism development strategy. As we embark on a new wave of strategic expansion, we have seized the opportunity to redefine the brand and set the platform for future growth, not only of our rapidly expanding portfolio, but of Qatar’s reputation as a key player in the global tourism market. The word ‘Catara’ dates back to 150AD and was originally used by the ancient Greeks to refer to the area known as the Qatar Peninsula. The decision to revive the name Katara reflects our rich cultural heritage and pays homage to the country’s ancient roots, while symbolising the nation’s recognition beyond regional borders since ancient times. This cultural wealth is the foundation of our national vision and is the basis on which the government of Qatar and Katara Hospitality are developing a sustainable tourism offering for future generations to come.

Hamad Al Mulla CEO, Katara Hospitality

2013 and 2016. The group is currently working on Lusail Foxhills Hotel Project, which is forecasted to be a four-star hotel with approximately 160 units, slated to open in 2017. Additionally, three properties have been purchased from Barwa Real Estate, two of them due to open in 2013.

Travel Trade Weekly: Besides the Lusail Marina Towers, what other projects are under development in Qatar?

Travel Trade Weekly: The company earlier outlined plans to more than double its portfolio of properties by 2030. Could you tell us about Katara Hospitality’s further expansion plans?

Hamad Al Mulla: Katara Hospitality owns and manages more than 5,000 rooms through its local and international properties. This figure includes operational and under development properties with openings expected between

Hamad Al Mulla: Our international expansion began in 2006 with the acquisition of the Renaissance Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, and we currently have hotels operational or under development in eight countries.

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Our strategic expansion is governed by a few pillars. We acquire iconic hotels around the world, not only for their history and heritage, but for the challenge to bring them to their former glory and turn them into successful businesses. Currently, we have four historic properties under re-development, due to open in the coming two years. Raffles Hotel Singapore will go through a major refurbishment project later this year. We re-develop former buildings into luxurious hospitality assets. Tazi Palace in Morocco was a former royal residence and it is being converted into a palace hotel. Another hotel is under development in Paris, where we are converting an 18th century building into a fivestar luxury boutique hotel. We are also looking at acquisitions in emerging markets, following the directions generated by the country’s foreign policy in supporting developing markets. The development in the Union of Comoros is a relevant example. We are building the first property on the island that meets international standards in an emerging tourist destination. Travel Trade Weekly: What role does Katara Hospitality play in the country’s social and economic development? Hamad Al Mulla: Over the last four decades, we have shaped the hospitality landscape in Qatar. In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, Katara Hospitality is seeking to change the face of the hospitality industry through pioneering investments and property developments which will leave an enduring legacy, while aiming to become one of the leading hospitality organisations in the world.


16

NEWS & EVENTS

Al Ain Zoo Showcased at Abu Dhabi Exhibition Offering visitors the chance to learn about its comprehensive education programmes and conservations activities, Al Ain Zoo participated in the 10th Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, held between September 5-7 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. “Al Ain Zoo is home to an internationally important conservation programme focusing on the wildlife of the world’s arid regions,” explained Muna Al Dhaheri, acting director, life science and education, Al Ain Zoo, noting that the zoo is involved in conservation research, captive breeding and propagation, and the reintroduction of threatened species to their wild habitats. “Our Education Centre encourages life-long learning about the complex desert eco-system and the interrelationships of people, culture and their environment,” added Al Dhaheri.

Al Ain Zoo

Shurooq Conducts Malaysian Tour In line with its mission to promote the emirate’s investment and business potential and present the vast range of opportunities available to foreign companies, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has held a number of meetings with investment authorities and private firms in Malaysia. Despite the remarkable figures and reports on the volume of trade exchange and investment between the UAE and Malaysia, the capacity exists to increase cooperation and further strengthen business and investment ties between the countries, noted H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, adding that the authority is committed to encouraging and attracting investors from all over the world, and offer the necessary facilities and incentives by adopting global practices and removing obstacles. During the six-day tour, Shurooq’s delegation held a series of meetings with officials in charge of a number of economic and investment sectors, as well as with representatives of the tourism, business, and investment sectors.

EVENTS Meetings Industry & Business Travel Russia (MIBEXPO) Moscow, Russia, September 19 – 21, 2012 (www.mixexpo.ru) The main business place for Russian and international companies, professional meeting organisers, and MICE industry services suppliers.

International Tourism Bourse (ITB) ASIA Singapore, October 3 – 5, 2012 (www.itb-asia.com) Where exhibitors across all sectors of the travel-value chain, meet with top international buyers from the MICE, leisure, and corporate travel markets.

Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) Nairobi, Kenya, September 25 – 26, 2012 (www.africa-conference.com) An event showcasing the potential Kenya and other high-growth destinations across the continent have to offer.

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

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 (www.pata.org/events/pata-travel-mart-2012) Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers. The 18th World Route Development Forum Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 29 – October 2, 2012 (www.routesonline.com/events) The largest global event of its kind, attracting over 2,750 delegates from more than 80 countries, and determining the future of air services.

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. 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 together.

15 SEPTEMBER 2012

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 149  

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 149  

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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