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16 JUNE 2012
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16 JUNE 2012
Rotana to Expand in Turkey After signing its first management agreement in Turkey, Rotana aims to introduce a new dimension of hospitality in the country.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the debut of the first Le Méridien hotel in Algeria with the opening of Le Méridien Oran Hotel & Convention Centre.
Emirates Flies to Ho Chi Minh City Emirates has commenced daily service between Dubai and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
10 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE
NEWS & EVENTS
Algeria Opens its First Le Méridien Hotel
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi firstname.lastname@example.org JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou
Abu Dhabi: On the Way to 2.3 Million Hotel Guests
Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector continues its steady improvement having welcomed 196,753 guests through its hotels’ doors in April alone, based on data compiled by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi).
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Saudi Arabia (SAR)
esides a seven percent year-onyear increase in guest volume, guest nights rose three percent to reach 567,243, while hotel revenue climbed four percent to AED397 million (USD108 million). Meanwhile, hotel occupancy dropped 11 percent to 64 percent, and average length of stay slipped three percent. Abu Dhabi has so far received some 792,000 hotel guests this year, and the UK remains the emirate’s leading overseas source market, followed by India, and significant gains have been reported from Saudi Arabia, Germany, China, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, and Ireland. “Certainly if we can maintain guest growth we will reach our annual target of 2.3 million this year, with some important projects com-
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
ing up later this year to benefit from,” said H.E. Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi, adding that the authority aims to drive up domestic and regional tourism during the summer months with the help of an extensive summer campaign in conjunction with Etihad Airways, and will greatly focus on its important US and Saudi Arabian markets.
IATA: Soaring Passenger Demand Global air travel volume remained on the growth path, with passenger demand in April increasing 6.1 percent, based on data compiled by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Strong demand with limited capacity improvement pushed load factors to 79.3 percent, a record high for the month, and although freight markets experienced a contraction of 4.2 percent, cargo levels still stood two percent higher than in November 2011, with about 80 percent of this surge coming from the Middle East. “It is a volatile and risky world,” warned Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA. “Airlines are being cautious, managing through the uncertainty. There are signs that cargo has bottomed out. Amid the many distortions that have marked the first four months of the year, it is possible to identify the start of a growth trend in cargo for some parts of the world. But economic uncertainty in Europe makes it very difficult to be optimistic in the near to medium term.” Middle East airlines experienced 16 percent improvement in passenger demand, and with a capacity expansion of 12.7 percent, load factors stood at 78.3 percent.
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Rotana Eyes Turkish Expansion After signing its first management agreement in Turkey, Rotana aims to introduce a new dimension of hospitality in the country, as Selim El Zyr, president, Rotana, explained. Turkey has long been on the radar of the hotel management company which aims to manage hotels in key locations within the country, marking its entry with the landmark Rhossos Rotana Iskenderun, this according to El Zyr. ”The property in Iskenderun, expected to open in 2014, will be the first for Rotana in Turkey, but we are in serious negotiations with three or four different developers in different parts of Turkey, one of which is in Istanbul,” he concluded.
Al Waleed Group Launches Hospitality Arm Al Waleed Investment Group has established a new investment arm in the hospitality industry for the local market in Dubai. The company’s aim, through Al Waleed Hospitality, is to offer the best levels of luxury services, expressed Mohammed Abdul Razak Al Mutawa, chairman, Al Waleed Investment Group. The new arm has already acquired its first project, the Splendid Hotel, which will be renamed Alwaleed Palace Hotel Apartments. Furthermore, the company seeks to raise its assets in Dubai to more than 500 rooms by the end of 2014.
American Express ME Partners with Delta Air Lines American Express Middle East has launched a new partnership with Delta Air Lines, which will enable its card members to redeem membership rewards points for free flights and upgrades across the airline’s network of 340 destinations in nearly 60 countries, including an extensive range of cities in the US and Canada. Every two membership rewards points can now be exchanged for one mile in the Delta SkyMiles programme, which can then be redeemed for qualifying Delta, Delta Connection, and Delta Shuttle flights.
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Barwa Real Estate and Katara Hospitality Collaborate Barwa Real Estate, a leading Real Estate and Investment company in Qatar, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Katara Hospitality, Qatar’s leading hotel and resort owner, manager, and developer, previously known as Qatar National Hotels Company, in a bid to become one of the leading hospitality organisations in the world. The cooperation comes as part of Barwa Real Estate's efforts to expand its partnership platform and provide better services to its clients. Under this QAR1.1 billion (USD302 million) transaction, Katara Hospitality purchases Barwa Al Sadd Hotel and Recreational Building, in addition to Somerset West Bay Serviced Residencies, one of the most popular serviced apartments in West Bay, Doha.
Algeria Opens its First Le Méridien Hotel Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the debut of the first Le Méridien hotel in Algeria with the opening of Le Méridien Oran Hotel & Convention Centre. Owned by Sonatrach, the hotel is part of a mixeduse development, which includes an adjacent conference and exhibition centre, an esplanade, and an oceanfront promenade, located on Algeria’s northwestern Mediterranean coast. The property features 254 guest rooms and 42 suites, spa facilities, an outdoor pool, and fitness centre, just to name a few. It also houses meeting facilities, said to be the largest in North Africa, with nearly 9,000m2 of event space including two ballrooms, a pre-function area, and 23 meeting rooms. The hotel further boasts an auditorium that can seat up to 3,000 guests.
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Lufthansa Begins Flights to Beirut Lufthansa has introduced three weekly non-stop services between Beirut and Berlin. With these additional flights between the two capitals, the airline will now offer a total of 15 weekly non-stop services connecting Beirut to Frankfurt and Berlin providing easy connectivity to other destinations in Europe and North America. “Lufthansa is proud to make the capital to capital connection between Beirut and Berlin. Both exciting cities with a lot to offer in terms of culture, art, entertainment and night life – both great destinations now connected,” commented Colette Acra, general manager, Lebanon, Lufthansa.
Oman Air to Launch New Flights to Tehran Oman Air will commence daily services between Muscat and the Iranian capital, Tehran, from September 1. Announcing the new service, Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air, said, “We are extremely pleased to be launching our new service between Muscat and Tehran and to be offering customers the opportunity to travel aboard our outstanding Embraer 175 regional jets. Tehran offers visitors the opportunity to gain insights into not only Iran’s unique culture, but also its rich and ancient history. Furthermore, Tehran is a major business hub and we anticipate strong demand from both business and leisure passengers.”
Sabre and Saudia Extends Agreement Sabre Travel Network Middle East has extended its distribution agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), providing 350,000 travel agents with improved access to the airline’s fares and inventory. According to Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre Travel Network, the agreement also includes the future use of electronic miscellaneous document and improved connectivity. In addition, Abdul Mohsen Jonaid, vice president, passenger sales, Saudi Arabian Airlines, highlighted the vital part the extended agreement plays in the airline's global growth strategy as it nears completion of its entry to the SkyTeam alliance.
Emirates Adds Flights to Glasgow Emirates has underlined its commitment to Scotland with the introduction of a second daily non-stop service to Glasgow, which commenced on June 1. The additional flight, coupled with an aircraft upgrade on the existing service, will increase the airlines capacity to Glasgow by 47 percent, an extra 199 seats each way per day, with an additional 13 tonnes of daily cargo capacity. First class cabins will be available on both daily services, the first time this has been offered by a commercial airline operating into Scotland. “This announcement illustrates our commitment to Scotland and to our wider UK route network in difficult economic times. Our Glasgow route has been a real success story, and we are confident that there is demand for additional services flying to and from Dubai and beyond to our global network of over 100 destinations,” said Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates.
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Air Arabia Steps Up Nagpur Flights Air Arabia has increased the frequency of services on its Nagpur route, which came into effect on June 15. The low-cost carrier now offers four weekly services between the Indian city and its Sharjah hub. According to Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, this step underscores the airline’s commitment to the burgeoning Indian market.
Emirates Flies to Ho Chi Minh City Emirates has commenced daily service between Dubai and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “Through Emirates’ non-stop, daily service, Vietnam is now connected via one-stop in our Dubai hub to our global network,” commented Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, passenger sales worldwide, Emirates, adding that the airline looks forward to opening up a wealth of opportunities for both business and leisure travellers.
Etihad Airways to be Host Airline at WPS Etihad Airways, for the first time, will be the host airline of the International Air Transport Association World Passenger Symposium 2012, to be held in Abu Dhabi on October 16 – 18, at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. This event provides a platform for all industry bodies and organisations within the aviation industry to come together with the goal of finding solutions to industry challenges.
Jet Airways Boosts Services to Kuwait Jet Airways has introduced a second frequency four times a week between Kuwait and Mumbai, bringing the total number of flights between the two cities to 11 a week. According to Sudheer Raghavan, chief commercial officer, Jet Airways, the new flight will provide seamless connectivity to guests flying onwards on the airline’s extensive network.
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Markus Oberlin Markus Oberlin has been named CEO of Farnek Avireal. Oberlin, who has over 20 years of international experience, including seven in the Middle East, has previously served as general manager of the property and facilities management outsource company. As CEO, he takes on broader strategic responsibilities with a
mandate to take the company forward as regional market leader through both its facilities management and sustainability programme capabilities.
Oberlin will lead the team through the propertyâ€™s facilities management and sustainability programme capabilities
Mohammed AbuKaraki Mohammed AbuKaraki has been appointed assistant director of sales at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City. AbuKaraki, who has more than eight years of experience under his belt, moves to Dubai from Abu Dhabi where he held the senior sales manager position at an international business hotel. He started his career in his home country, Jordan, in the guest services department of a five-star property and quickly progressed into
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sales. In his new position, AbuKaraki will be in charge of developing and coaching the sales executives and managers, and assisting the director of sales and marketing.
AbuKaraki began his career eight years ago in Jordan starting from the guest services department in the hotel sector before quickly moving into sales
Wissam Suleiman Wissam Suleiman has been appointed general manager of Kempinksi Residences & Suites, Doha. Suleiman began his career in the hospitality industry of Amman 16 years ago, and has since then worked at some of the hotel groupâ€™s most highprofile properties in the region, including Kempinski Ho-
tel Mall of the Emirates, Dubai, and Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, and Kempinski Hotel Aqaba, both in Jordan. His wealth of experience will be key in further strengthening the position of the property as one of the most prestigious fully-serviced residential hotels in the Qatari capital.
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President, Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ).
General manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Beirut.
“As the national carrier partner in Jordan for the Fast Travel programme, RJ is proud of its contribution in this latest milestone to Jordanian aviation [after being awarded certificates for achievement in this programme]. We have worked closely with Airport International Group to implement the International Air Transport Association’s best practice guidelines for every stage of the traveller experience at the Queen Alia International Airport. The hard work has paid off.”
“We are proud and privileged to receive the [Lebanon’s Leading Resort] award [in the World Travel Awards 2012 ceremony held in Dubai], which recognises the service excellence and performance of the entire team. We are truly committed to exceed customer expectations over and over again. Our aim is to create rejuvenating experiences that result in everlasting memories”.
H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority.
“Kalba [a serene tourist spot on Sharjah’s East coast] has a great deal to offer international tourists, from its mangroves and soft water sports to Emirati heritage. This needs to be adequately promoted by the tourism industry. Sustainable and eco tourism has been around for nearly 20 years yet its potential has not been fully exploited by the industry in the UAE. With this fam trip, we aim to increase visitor numbers to contribute to the local economy in a sustainable manner.”
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AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Dimitri Deschamps POSITION: Director of sales & marketing
COMPANY: Adam Travel & Tourism LOCATION: Jordan WEB: www.adamtraveljordan.com Who are you? I am a French citizen living and working in Jordan. After getting my master’s degree in France, I decided to visit the Middle East. I therefore enrolled as a student at the University of Jordan, where I studied Arabic. After a year at the university, I felt that I had to stay longer in the country and this is how I started to work with Adam Travel & Tourism. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is always a magical moment to assist people in discovering something new and in spending a nice time with their family and friends. By working in the travel industry, I have the chance to be a part of this incredible moment, when they finally take the time to enjoy, relax, and escape from all their worries and problems. When is the best time to visit Jordan? From March to May and from September to November. Hence, our guests can enjoy the great weather of Jordan, while avoiding the very hot summer and the rainy winter. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to discover Asia and Malaysia seems to be the perfect destination to do so. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Contrary to other agencies in the country, it is very important for us not to limit ourselves to the markets we are already working with, but to always look for an innovative way to satisfy new guests. We are not prisoners of the past but definitively pioneers of what will be the features of the future. If you are looking for quality and authenticity in your travel, you are at the right place.
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Sabre Introduces First Eco-Certified Hotel Programme Sabre Holdings has launched the Sabre Eco-Certified Hotel Program, a scheme that provides clear-and-easy access to sustainable properties. The initiative addresses the growing demand for environmentally-responsible accommodation and includes more than 4,700 hotels certified by globallyrecognised schemes. These hotels will be clearly distinguished in Sabre Travel Network’s global distribution system and reflected in other Sabre Holdings’ products. More than 180,000 Sabre Red Workspace users can shop and book eco-certified hotels using the current ‘hotel search’ tool, and nearly 2,000 corporate and agen-
cy customers are able to specify eco-certified hotels during the request for proposal (RFP) process by using Sabre Hotel RFP tool. Furthermore, for suppliers, the programme provides hotels with a new and innovative way to differentiate themselves, reinforce their brand, and tap into the growing number of travellers and travel planners looking for sustainable hotel options. The Sabre Eco-Certified Hotel Program will continue to hold the line against ‘greenwashing’ by only accepting hotels that have undergone a third-party audit and are certified by a programme aligning with criteria set by sustainable, environmental, and social bodies.
Uncovering Sharjah's Needs of Tourism Al Shaab Village, Sharjah’s newest entertainment and shopping attraction, has placed the finishing touches as it gears up to welcome visitors.
his undertaking, which is a joint venture between Al Shaab Club and Al Zajil Fair Management, is the culmination of intensive studies to uncover the needs of the tourism market in the emirate in particular, and the UAE in general. The ambition of the project is mirrored in its cost of over AED150 million (USD40.8 million) which embodies world-class quality standards and facilities, including numerous restaurants and cafés, leisure and retail amenities, a health centre equipped with state-of-the-art sporting equipment, an exhibition hall with a capacity of some 240 people, and a 530m2 ice rink, all spread over an area of some 13,000m2.
DTCM launches ‘Do More in Dubai’ The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has embarked on a new initiative in a bid to further boost domestic and inbound tourism volumes during the summer months. “Our aim is to increase the tourist growth by 2530 percent through the attractive promotional programmes for both the nationals and expatriates in the UAE and overseas visitors,” Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, executive director, business development and media relations, DTCM, said. The initiative, which runs for both overseas and domestic visitors until September 30, aims to bring average occupancy rates above 85 percent. As part of the programme, visitors will receive discounts at a number of hotels and hotel apartments as well as at the Dubai Mall, and other touristic attractions.
Qatar Airways Becomes ICCA Member Qatar Airways has become a member of International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the leading global industry body promoting the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) sector, a move which is set to benefit the airline in promoting its business in Qatar and as a global carrier flying MICE traffic to destinations worldwide.
Sharjah Museums: Accessible For All The Community and Accessibility Service at Sharjah Museums Department’s (SMD) Department of Interpretation and Education, recently conducted workshops for the elderly and children with special needs under the theme ‘Sharjah Museums Are Accessible For All’. According to Alya Burhaima, director, Department of Interpretation and Education, SMD, the department’s interest in organising special events for the elderly aims to teach younger generations about the importance of respecting older people.
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Q & A with Samer Majali Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, tells Travel Trade Weekly how Bahrain has promptly picked up the pieces from the unfortunate events of 2011, with signs of growth on the horizon, in terms of passenger and overall visitation figures, thanks to the country’s well-developed tourism offerings.
Travel Trade Weekly: How was business overall in 2011 amid the unfortunate events across the region throughout the year and how is this progressing? Samer Majali: We were on track throughout 2010 and in link with our 2009 business strategy, however 2011 was a challenge to the organisation for a number of factors. The geopolitical developments in the region, and in Bahrain, coupled with the dramatic fuel prices increase had an impact on our traffic resulting in a drop in passenger numbers. That said, the situation is improving and we see an encouraging trend as passengers return.
year, customers will increasingly see the upgraded aircraft on various routes across its network.
Samer Majali CEO , Gulf Air
Travel Trade Weekly: What are the latest developments regarding increased and improved services for travellers using Gulf Air? Samer Majali: Gulf Air launched the world’s first live TV on-board our aircrafts with full connectivity in October 2011 in partnership with Panasonic. For the first time in the world, passengers are able to enjoy an avant-garde experience on-board in a fully integrated broadband connectivity that offers high speed internet, 3G-4G mobile data speed connectivity, voice over the internet, streaming videos, and the world's first in-flight live TV satellite stream across continents. In addition, the airline recently retrofitted its Airbus A319 aircrafts enhancing the entire interior’s look and feel, and also retrofitted six of its A320 aircraft with Audio and Video on Demand seats. Future plans include further retrofits to seven A320s and six A330s. As modifications are being completed on the rest of the Gulf Air fleet throughout the
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Travel Trade Weekly: As for your popular business market, what are the plans this year to market and promote Gulf Air's product to these passengers? Samer Majali: We are continuing with our 2009 business strategy of operating the largest Middle East and regional network. We target double daily flights to all our regional capitals so that our business travellers now have more options to travel to these cities and return the same day. Furthermore, Gulf Air has one of the most generous frequent flyer programmes called ‘FalconFlyer’, with more than one million members worldwide. The new loyalty programme is packed with privileges and
a large number of loyalty points and miles when members fly, which can be exchanged for free flights, upgrades, lounge access, and excess baggage in addition to membership upgrades. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your expectations regarding inbound tourism overall to Bahrain this year? Samer Majali: Bahrain is recognised as one of the leading financial hubs of the Middle East, specialising in offshore banking and attracting international corporate houses and business establishments to set up their ventures in the kingdom. In the coming months, one can see many significant developments that will serve to positively impact our tourism industry. Importantly, Manama, which currently holds the status of Capital of Arab Culture, is renowned for its heritage sites, man-made developments, stunning marinas, world calibre sporting facilities including the well-known Bahrain International Circuit, all of which serve to draw crowds throughout the year. The increasing arrivals to the country in the past months, and the return of several prestigious sports and other events such as Formula 1 prove that Bahrain is coming back to its past glory. Bahrain also sees many leisure travellers particularly from neighboring GCC countries on weekends or public holidays and, of course, religious travellers en route to Saudi Arabia who find Bahrain a convenient transit point along their journey. As the year unfolds, it is evident that it is fast becoming normal as inbound passengers have shown, and we hope to have a good year.
NEWS & EVENTS
STB: First Corporate Event in Saudi Arabia The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) Middle East office, in conjunction with Etihad Airways, recently held a series of corporate educational seminars to 90 key corporate clients in Dammam, Riyadh, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in a bid to increase visitor volume from the Kingdom ahead of summer and Ramadan. Each seminar included a hosted dinner and hotel prizes were given away sponsored by Banyan Tree Seychelles, Kempinski Seychelles Resort, Raffles Praslin, and flight tickets from Etihad Airways to the island. The event was considered to be the start of a series of joint activity plans in Saudi Arabia, according to Ahmed Fathallah, regional manager, STB Middle East.
Airport Show 2012: Vast Growth Potential The Middle East’s aviation sector is expected to continue its fast paced development unabated, key industry players at the Airport Show 2012 in Dubai agreed. The three-day event, which took place from May 22 - 24 and attracted over 210 exhibitors from 32 countries, provided the global aviation industry with the opportunity to tap into the promising potential of the region, where an estimated USD400 billion is expected to be invested in the airlines’ and airports’ future improvement, Mohamed Bader-Eddin, show director, Reed Exhibitions Middle East, the organiser of the event, expressed.
Royal Caribbean Upgrades Grandeur of the Seas Royal Caribbean International has completed the bow-to-stern revitalisation of its Grandeur of the Seas. The USD48 million project included the addition of five new dining venues, technological upgrades, a poolside LED screen, the refreshment of furniture, and the addition of new entertainment offerings including an aerial entertainment in its six-deck centrum. Moreover, new, dedicated lounges have been introduced such as the new Diamond Lounge for Crown & Anchor Society loyalty guests, a concierge lounge for suite and top-tier guests, a Royal Babies and Tots nursery, as well as a transformed Viking Crown Lounge.
EVENTS The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibitions (AIBTM) Baltimore, US, June 19 – 21, 2012 (www.aibtm.com) A leading exhibition for the meetings and events industry, bringing together professionals from all around the world.
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.
China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) Beijing, China, September 12 – 14, 2012 (www.cibtm.com) A leading meetings, incentives, and business travel show providing the ultimate platform for suppliers to the MICE industry.
ITB ASIA Singapore, October 3 - 5, 2012 (www.itb-asia.com) Where exhibitors of all sectors of the travel-value chain, meet with top international buyers from the MICE, leisure, and corporate travel markets.
International French Travel Market (IFTM Top Resa) Paris, France, September 18 – 21, 2012 (www.iftm.fr) An international fair for networking, doing business, innovating and keeping abreast of market developments, offering a 360° panorama of the travel industry.
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.
Africa Hotel Investment Forum 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.
Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) Moscow, Russia, October 15 – 17, 2012 (www.russia-cisconference.com) Addressing the key opportunities and challenges across the region and offering a platform to exchange ideas with fellow industry experts.
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