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Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

17 NOVEMBER 2012


Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

17 NOVEMBER 2012


Danat Residence to Open in Q1 2013 National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels is to add another property to its growing portfolio with Danat Residence in Abu Dhabi scheduled to welcome its first guests within months.

Best Western International has continued its major Middle East expansion with the opening of its first hotel in Bahrain.

09 Qatar Airways to Serve Salalah Qatar Airways has announced its fifth new route of 2013 with the addition of Salalah, Oman’s second largest city, effective May 22, 2013, to its growing destination network.


02 03 04 05 06 09 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

BWI Launches First Bahrain Property




Q & A with Mohab Ghali Over the past decade, Hilton Worldwide has developed a strong network of hotels in Ras Al Khaimah, making the rising emirate, as Mohab Ghali, country manager, Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton Worldwide, describes, one of the key growth markets in the company’s regional development strategy.

Travel Trade Weekly: Hilton Worldwide currently operates three hotels in Ras Al Khaimah. How have these properties performed so far this year? Mohab Ghali: We have had a good year so far and all three of our properties, with a total of 828 keys altogether, are performing well. Hilton Ras Al Khaimah caters mainly to the business and overnighter segment with a focused-service hotel located close to the main commercial centre, whereas DoubleTree by Hilton Ras Al Khaimah offers families and the short-stay segment an upper upscale property at cost-effective rates. They also attracted a number of leisure weekenders, and some coming from meetings, conferences, and social events. Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa continues to draw in a large number of leisure tourists from around the GCC, UK, Germany and Scandinavia. With three distinct brand propositions, we are able to tap into diverse travel segments and maximise the potential of each of our properties. Also, the Hilton HHonors programme has helped us draw visitors with a number of promotions targeted at various segments including the MICE and events segments. In addition, our marketing strategy, including the early bird promotions we ran at the beginning of the year plus seasonal promotions such as the Great Getaway summer promotion, helped us build a strong booking base to sustain us throughout the year. Hilton Ras Al Khaimah, is scheduled for renovation in 2013.

Mohab Ghali Country manager, Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton Worldwide

Travel Trade Weekly: The company has a further three hotels in the development pipeline. When are they scheduled to open? Mohab Ghali: We have Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, Hilton Al Hamra Golf & Beach Resort, and DoubleTree by Hilton Resort Marjan Island in the pipeline. You can see by our pipeline that we are actively engaged in expanding our portfolio in Ras Al Khaimah and introduce a mix of brands to this growing market. Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, a sprawling 346-key hotel, is inspired by an Arabian palace and will bring the Waldorf Astoria brand of luxury to the UAE, in 2013. The hotel will boast a 350m private beach, a world-class championship golf course and three outdoor swimming

pools, among other facilities. We are also in the process of taking over the management of the iconic Al Hamra Fort Hotel and will rebrand it as the Hilton Al Hamra Golf & Beach Resort, in 2013. The 266-room property will have access to world-class golfing facilities and will be in close proximity to the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. Earlier this year, we partnered with Mohamed Ruqait Real Estate for a second DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Marjan Island will be one of the first hotels to open on the prestigious Marjan Island, when it launches in 2014. This 414-key hotel will feature 264 rooms and suites in the main building and 150 luxury chalets located directly on the resort’s private beach, with a full service spa located on the 11th floor. Travel Trade Weekly: What makes Ras Al Khaimah an attractive market for Hilton Worldwide? Mohab Ghali: We identified Ras Al Khaimah as one of our key development markets in this region in 2001 with the opening of Hilton Ras Al Khaimah. The emirate is swiftly becoming one of the region’s top destinations for MICE, thanks to the quality of its tourism and hospitality industry. Overall visitor numbers are steadily increasing as the industry and government work in tandem to promote Ras Al Khaimah as a destination globally, attracting niche segments like adventure tourists, cultural tourists, and the MICE industry.

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WEEKLY NEWS Dubai Business Bay Canal Project to Begin in Q1 2013


The Travel Attaché Launches in Dubai The Travel Attaché, a leading luxury travel specialist in the Middle East, has opened its headquarters in Dubai, marking the first of a series of offices to be unveiled across the region and Asia by 2015. Working with a network of over 200,000 suppliers, The Travel Attaché enjoys access to some of the most desirable properties on the globe and offers a diverse portfolio of hotels, villas, chalets, yacht, cruises, and private jets. In addition, an array of tailor-made experiences is also available ranging from kite skiing in Antarctica to private viewings of the Northern Lights. Liam Wholey, CEO, The Travel Attaché, described the launch of the company as a timely and significant milestone in the region’s tourism industry. “The Middle East remains one of the most dynamic parts of the world with a rapidly progressive consumer base and we are excited at the prospect of redefining levels of service and expertise in the leisure and business booking sectors.”

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor and Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan

The AED2 billion (USD554 million) Business Bay Canal extension development in Dubai is set to commence in the first quarter (Q1) of 2013 with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Al Habtoor Group collaborating on projects underway in the Dubai Business Bay. The group is currently developing the Habtoor Palace on Sheikh Zayed Road, which will incorporate three hotels under the St. Regis, W, and Westin brands, adding more than 1,600 rooms to Dubai’s hotel room inventory, upon opening in 2015. RTA’s recently-announced extension plans to its Business Bay Project comprise modifications to the existing roads and bridges, to extend the canal from the Sheikh Zayed Road up to the beach passing Habtoor Palace. Meanwhile, the canal, which will stretch 2.8km, is set to be completed within two years. “The Al Habtoor Group and RTA will cooperate to ensure the projects work in unison,” emphasised Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, chairman, Al Habtoor Group, noting that once complete, Habtoor Palace will become a new landmark for tourists and UAE residents alike. “It is very exciting that the Canal project and Habtoor Palace will both be completed around the same time. It will offer something very unique to the region,” he concluded.

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Abu Dhabi: Record Guest Numbers During the first nine months of the year, a total of 1,741,330 visitors stayed in Abu Dhabi’s 131 hotels and hotel apartments.


JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli

he figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) mark a year-on-year increase of 15 percent, keeping the UAE capital well on track to achieve its annual target of 2.3 million hotel guests, as H.E. Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, TCA Abu Dhabi, noted. He further explained that the results are particularly encouraging given that the same

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Derek Lainsbury DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi

comparative period has seen a significant increase in hotel and resort inventory. In addition, the emirate recorded almost five million hotel guests nights year-to-date, up 10 percent over the same period in 2011, and while occupancy levels dropped seven percent to 63 percent, overall revenue improved three percent to reach AED3.15 billion (USD857.6 million). The UK remains the destination's prime source market.

HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466

Jazeera Airways Group: Best Earnings Jazeera Airways Group achieved a record net profit of KWD7.6 million (USD26.96 million) for the third quarter of the year, making the three-month period the company’s best quarter in history and its ninth consecutive quarter of profitability. Compared with the corresponding period in 2011, the quarterly net profit was up 24.6 percent, pushing earnings for the first nine months of the year to KWD11.4 million (USD40.4 million), recording a year-on-year increase of 23.6 percent. The results reflect the ongoing success of the group’s Strategic Master Plan, a business plan for the 2012 – 2014 period, noted Marwan Boodai, chairman, Jazeera Airways Group. With an on-time performance of 96 percent for the quarter, the airline also retained its position among the top 10 on-time performers worldwide, as measured by FlightStats.



16/11/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar







Egypt (EGP)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



Air Arabia: Passenger Traffic Soars


ir Arabia carried a total of 458,316 passengers in October, equilavent to a year-on-year increase of 22 percent, which led to an average seat load factor of 80 percent, up three percent over the corresponding month in 2011. “Combined with Eid break, which is a busy period for air travel across the region, October has seen Air Arabia adding a set of new

routes,” noted Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. “As we continue expanding into new markets, more customers continue to take full advantage of Air Arabia’s affordable fares, demonstrating Air Arabia’s proven business model and product offering.” The past few months have seen the airline add six new routes to its expanding network, which now covers a total of 81 destinations. 17 NOVEMBER 2012

WEEKLY NEWS Budget Car & Van Rental UAE Pushes Green Initiatives With sustainable solutions and green initiatives becoming higher priorities in the industry, Budget Car & Van Rental UAE is keen to set an example and adopt innovative practices. The company, which operates 22 branches across the UAE, is currently working on an agreement with a vendor for the supply of bio-diesel green petrol, revealed Salim Damji, senior general manager, Budget Car & Van Rental UAE. “Also, Liberty Automobiles Company, our sister company, is the authorised dealer for hybrid and electric buses, which Budget is promoting. We also have environmentally friendly small buses in our fleet which conform to Euro 4 emission standards,” explained Damji, adding that the company’s new service centre in Dubai Investment Park has been built to be environmentally friendly.

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Abu Dhabi’s Website Hits Surges 107 Percent Visitors to had increased 107 percent over Abu Dhabi’s Formula1 Grand Prix weekend, with 32,331 people from 155 countries clicking on the UAE capital’s destination website. “The number of visitors more than doubled, compared to the previous weekend, with hotels, airlines, and restaurants being the most popular searches,” explained Khaled Al Hashemi, chairman, digital committee, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, adding that overall, 89,315 page views had been registered during the event. To stay abreast of the latest news and happenings in Abu Dhabi, visitors from 27 countries throughout Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, Scandinavia, the Far East, and Australia, also signed up for the site’s monthly newsletter, with the most prominent age range coming from the 31-40 age group, over twothirds of which were male. The website is currently available in eight languages including English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, and Chinese.




Silversea Cruises: Growing Demand in the Region Silversea Cruises has been experiencing increasing demand from both travel professionals and individual customers in the MENA region, according to Thomas Harrison, director of sales, Nordic, Benelux, South Africa, and Middle East, Silversea Cruises. “I have recently taken over the management of this region and am happy with the progress we are making,” Harrison explained, further noting that the company has recently embarked on simplifying its rates and rolling out a new ‘fare guarantee’ programme. “We are about to launch our 2014 voyages including the recently purchased vessel Galapagos Explorer II in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Silversea will start sailing as Silver Galapagos in October 2013. This is our second expedition ship and we are delighted to be able to offer these exciting destinations with the hallmark product Silversea has become renowned for,” Harrison added.

Royal Caribbean Introduces Weddings at Sea Couples wishing to share their special moment with friends and family are now able to get married or renew their wedding vows on Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ships. The Commonwealth of The Bahamas has cleared the cruise line to conduct legal weddings aboard its ships while out at sea, offering couples the option to organise a ‘multidestination’ wedding. Couples choosing any of the customisable ‘Royal Romance’ package options will be married in a manner which is recognised by The Bahamas through the newly-passed Marriage Act. The actual location of the ship when the marriage takes place is then recorded in the Marriage Record book of The Bahamas.

AIDA Cruises: 14 Cruises in the Arabian Gulf AIDA Cruises, which has been operating in the region since 2006, will offer a total of 14 cruises across the Arabian Gulf throughout the current season. Following the recent arrival of AIDAblu, the ship will go on weekly round-trip voyages around the Gulf using Dubai as its homeport. The company has also announced that it will return to the region in November 2013 with AIDAdiva, which will travel the Arabian Gulf on a weekly basis until March 2014.

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Mövenpick Adds Five Cruisers on the River Nile Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has become the largest international operator on Egypt’s River Nile following the addition of five new cruise vessels to its fleet. Built in the UK nearly a century ago, SS Misr, considered the fleet’s flagship, is said to be the only internationallymanaged steamship in the country today, whose décor still recreates classic iconic eras for each of its individually-designed suites. In addition, SB Feddya, the boutique sail boat, redefines the ‘dahabeya’, the traditional Egyptian sailing boat, with a fresh and unique concept, while the long cruise voyages between Cairo - Luxor - Aswan will begin operations as of April 2013 aboard MS Hamees, after a gap of 18 years, and MS Sun Ray and MS Dakarum will also be joining the fleet.

SS Misr

Orient Queen II Ends Successful Season Abou Merhi Cruises’ Orient Queen II cruise vessel ended the season on a high note and will continue its journeys on the Mediterranean Sea from April 2013 onward. The company’s second cruise vessel, named after its first, started its first voyage on July 9 and ended the season on October 1. “At first, we were having an average of 300 passengers, which means 100 percent occupancy of this cruise vessel,” explained Hana Abou Merhi, general manager, Abou Merhi Cruises, adding that despite demand having gradually softened due to the political situation, the last two voyages achieved 98 percent occupancy. Orient Queen II departed every Monday from the Port of Beirut to sail seven-day cruises calling at the ports of Antalya, Rhodes, Mykonos, Marmaris, and Bodrum.

17 NOVEMBER 2012


Saudi Arabia Plans USD914 Million Ports Development Saudi Arabia’s ambitious maritime investment programme is to be showcased at the upcoming Seatrade Middle East Maritime (SMEM) 2012 on November 27 - 29 as Saudi Ports Authority and King Abdul Aziz Port together intend to spend USD914 million on port development in the Kingdom. More than USD750 million is being invested into the growth of King Abdul Aziz Port, Dammam, with USD535 million set aside for a container terminal capacity expansion, following a 10 percent increase, over 2011 figures, in container handling in the first half of the year, and USD213 million for other facilities including a USD51 million power plant. Saudi Ports Authority has also outlined a USD164 million development plan which includes a new container terminal in Dhiba Port and two additional container terminals at King Fahd Industrial Port, Jubail, due for completion by 2014.



BWI Launches First Bahrain Property Best Western International (BWI) has continued its major Middle East expansion with the launch of its first hotel in Bahrain. The opening of the upscale 250-room Best Western Plus The Olive is the latest in a series of ‘firsts’ for BWI in the region this year. Following the company’s debut in Saudi Arabia and the launch of its first Best Western Plus hotel in the Middle East, located in Al Khobar, at the start of the year, the hotel giant has since opened its first ever properties in Kuwait, Muscat, and Riyadh.

Danat Residence to Open in Q1 2013 National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels (NCT&H) is to add another property to its growing portfolio with Danat Residence in Abu Dhabi scheduled to welcome its first guests within months. Work is well underway on the deluxe residence, which is due to open in the first quarter (Q1) of 2013, as Rima Rawass, group marketing manager, NCT&H, explained. Strategically located minutes away from Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Danat Residence will feature 189 furnished apartments, and will provide business and leisure guests alike with an ideal setting for both long and short stays. “NCT&H is always looking for ownership or management of new hotels under its division of Danat Hotels & Resorts,” emphasised Rawass, adding that the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has been working hard to promote the UAE capital as a touristic and business destination locally and internationally. “Abu Dhabi now has new hotels under many different brands that can accommodate both the leisure and corporate segments,” Ra wass concluded. Danat Residence

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Hala Group Enterprises Brings Vichy to Qatar Hala Group Enterprises and Vichy Spa International, a partner company of cosmetic giant L’Oreal, have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a medical spa hotel and resort in Qatar in 2013. Located on the outskirts of Doha near Aqua Park, the group’s other mega project in the country, the new development is set to bring a unique experience to the country, as Ijaz Malik, general manager, Hala Group Enterprises, highlighted. “The resort is eloquently designed by experts to offer the customers a tranquil experience by examining the aesthetics.” Similarly, Peter van de Bunt, hotel advisor, Hala Group Enterprises, described the project as an entirely new hospitality and medical spa concept to Qatar and the region, and one which combines hospitality and healthcare.



Al Hamra Village Continues to Develop Al Hamra Village, located on the southern tip of Ras Al Khaimah, has witnessed an increase in occupancy levels and visitor numbers as it continues to enhance its position as an attractive destination. According to Mark Hawkes, group chief financial officer, Al Hamra Group, Al Hamra Village aims to further develop its leisure facilities with Al Hamra Marina’s recent signing of a partnership for the launch of a new sailing academy, which is set to develop local talent and promote Ras Al Khaimah as a sailing destination, while the village is set to welcome the a Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2013, and include activities for children and a cinema complex.


Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa: Steady Growth

Katara Hospitality Reveals Expansion Strategy

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa has recorded encouraging performance results over the past months and aims to maintain the positive growth trend by attracting new markets. The resort’s dynamic sales strategies have paid rich dividends, Hossam Kamal, general manager, Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, explained, adding that the hotel expects higher growth of volume from Eastern Europe as well as from Italy and China. “As for Fujairah’s tourism sector, we also expect increases from the Eastern and Western European markets as they shift from similar resort destinations such as Sharm El Sheikh, Syria, or Beirut,” he continued.

Katara Hospitality, the Qatar-based hospitality giant, has revealed its ambitious expansion plans. During the past year, the company has doubled its portfolio by acquiring iconic hotels in key markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia, as Hamad Abdulla Al Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality, noted, adding that the strategic plans for international expansion will help the company become one of the leading hospitality organisations in the world. Keen on preserving the industry heritage, acquiring iconic properties and turning them into thriving businesses forms a major part in the company’s growth strategy.

The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa: Steady Occupancy Increase The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa continues to record improving occupancy levels, leading to a year-to-date average figure of 45 percent, as Jonathan Hallmark, marketing manager, The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, has revealed. “The increase in occupancies is a result of a stronger client base that we managed to build up, as well as strong MICE business [driven by] events such as the Arabian World Construction Summit in May,” he explained, adding that the UAE and the GCC represent the resort’s largest source markets, while with reference to international clientele, Northern and Western Europe, as well as the US, are also among the property’s top clientele. Hallmark also emphasised the potentials of the South American segment; one which he believes has long been a missing link for the capital and is an emerging economy which will bring in more opportunities The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf for leisure and corporate travel. Resort & Spa

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Air News

Gulf Air Introduces Mobile Check-in In its continuous efforts towards easing passengers’ travel experience, Gulf Air has launches mobile check-in. With just a few clicks, using their Internet-enabled mobiles, customers can check-in from 24 hours to 90 minutes prior to their flight’s departure. This new application allows passengers to choose their seats through the airline’s website whereby a barcode will appear upon confirmation, which can be shown at the boarding gate after completing immigration procedures, and is only valid after travel documents have been checked, verified, and stamped at designated immigration counters. The mobile check-in facility is currently available in airports in Bahrain, Copenhagen, Doha, Dubai, Frankfurt, London, Larnaca, and Paris, with more stations to be added as soon as permissions are received from respective airport authorities.



Qatar Airways to Serve Salalah Qatar Airways has announced its fifth new route of 2013 with the addition of Salalah, Oman’s second largest city, effective May 22, 2013, to its growing destination network. The new four-weekly service comes as the airline implements a new codeshare agreement with Oman Air on flights between Doha and Muscat, and, according to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, is indicative of the expansion into a large variety of attractive tourism destinations served by the carrier. “Salalah offers passengers travelling from our global network with yet another unique holiday option to experience and at the same time provides the convenience of two gateways within the same country. With this new route, passengers wishing to explore Oman at length will also be able to take advantage of different travel options, booking flights into Muscat, and returning from Salalah or vice versa,” Al Baker added.

Emirates Flies Daily to Yemen Commemorating the 16th anniversary since the launch of its twice-weekly services to Sana’a on October 28, 1996, Emirates has introduced an additional weekly flight to the Yemeni capital, now serving the city with daily operations. “It is with great pride that we are strengthening our commitment to Yemen at the same time as we celebrate our 16th anniversary,” said Husain Bani Hashem, country manager, Yemen, Emirates, indicating that the daily service will further stimulate trade and tourism between destinations on the airline’s vast network via Dubai. Additionally, the frequency, which is currently being supported with a three-class configuration Airbus A330-200, will provide flexibility for passengers travelling from Yemen to Dubai and onwards, to popular destinations such as China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, France, UK, and US, and will enable Emirates SkyCargo to offer additional capacity. Sana'a

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Air News

Emirates Departs for Adelaide Emirates’ first commercial flight to Adelaide, South Australia, recently departed from Dubai, significantly boosting the city’s international flight capacity and connecting the region to the airline’s global network of more than 120 destinations. Initially, the service, which marks South Australia’s first non-stop flight link with the Middle East, will operate four times weekly, increasing to daily services as of February 1, 2013, with an annual capacity of 200,000 passengers. According to Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Far East and Australasia, Emirates, the team has long held ambitions to operate flights to Adelaide, and once the service becomes daily, nearly 5,000 international seats per week will be added on the route, representing a 30 percent increase for the market, boosting jobs and investment in South Australia’s AUD5.3 billion (USD5.5 billion) tourism sector, and adding 14 tonnes of commercial cargo space on each flight.

Etihad Airways Launches Flights to Ahmedabad Etihad Airways has introduced flights between Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad, India’s fifth largest city and former capital of the Indian state of Gujarat. With the addition of Ahmedabad, Etihad Airways now flies to nine Indian destinations including the cities of New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Kochi, with a total of 59 flights to the country per week. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “Etihad Airways is committed to serving the Indian market and people, whether in India or the diaspora. We are delighted to launch this new service and are committed to serving our customers in Guajarat.”

RJ Suspends Amman - Muscat Services Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has decided to suspend its operations between Amman and Muscat, Oman, as of November 17. Amer Hadidi, president, RJ, said that the decision to suspend operations is due to commercial reasons, further pointing out that Jordan’s flag carrier and Oman Air are currently working on concluding a codeshare agreement allowing customers to travel between the two cities under the RJ code. He added that Oman Air will keep running its seven weekly flights between Muscat and Amman.

THAI Lands in Sapporo THAI, the national carrier of Thailand, has celebrated its inaugural flight to Sapporo, Japan, with a ceremony which was presided over by Sorajak Kasemsuvan, president, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited, and attended by THAI’s and Tourism Authority of Thailand’s officials. Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital and Japan’s largest city, is the carrier’s sixth destination in the country, following flights to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport International Terminal. The city, which is famous for its annual Sapporo Snow Festival, was the first city in Asia to host the Winter Olympics, in 1972, and will be served three times a week onboard an Airbus A330300 aircraft.

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Name Change for Protea Hotel Waterfront Centurion Protea Hotels, a hospitality group boasting more than 120 properties in South Africa and seven other African countries, has announced the name change for Protea Hotel Waterfront Centurion into Protea Hotel Centurion. Meanwhile, the group has informed that the hotel’s global distribution system codes will remain the same.

The four-star hotel, located between Johannesburg and Pretoria in the province of Gauteng, is within walking distance of the Centurion Gautrain Station, the Centurion Mall, and the SuperSport Park cricket stadium. It features a total of 177 rooms including suites and the VIP presidential suite, as well as a conference centre, secure parking space, and a restaurant.

Hilton Worldwide East Africa Agreement Hilton Worldwide has announced the signing of a licensing agreement with long-standing franchisee, Opulent Hotel Group, for the conversion of a 130-room hotel in the capital city of Bujumbura, Burundi, East Africa. The DoubleTree by Hilton Bujumbura, slated for completion in early 2014, will undergo a 18-month improvement and rebranding programme before officially launching under the DoubleTree by Hilton banner converting from Novotel, Accor. Property renovation plans are already underway and will cover all key areas of the hotel including full refurbishment of the hotel lobby and renovation of all guest and meeting rooms. As part of the programme, a new business centre and fitness facility will also be introduced into the hotel for the first time. “Hilton Worldwide’s famous pioneering spirit is very much alive and well as we continue to explore exciting new markets in Africa and expand our presence into new countries,” commented Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, Hilton Worldwide Europe and Africa, adding that East Africa is attracting an increasing numbers of travellers.

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Chetan Sethi Chetan Sethi has been appointed general manager at easyHotel Dubai, Jebel Ali, owned by Istithmar World, a premier investment company. Sethi brings with him a successful track record of 19 years in the hospitality industry. Prior to his appointment, he worked for Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces in India, holding

various management positions for 10 years. In 2004, he moved to the UK and became the general manager of Cairn Hotel Group with responsibilities for the company’s hotels in Edinburgh, York, and Carlisle. In his new post, Sethi will focus on growing the brand presence of easyHotel with a creative twist.

Raul Salcido Raul Salcido has joined The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, as general manager. A graduate of the University of Puebla, Mexico, who also holds a master’s degree in hospitality management from the Cornell University, Salcido began his career at The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun in Mexico in 1993, and worked his way up to senior management level before becoming the general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. Bringing over 19 years of in-

17 NOVEMBER 2012

ternational and brand experience to the hotel, Salcido moves to the UAE from a three-year stint as general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco. New to the Gulf region, he joins the hotel ahead of the unveiling of the property’s new inventory in early 2013.

Salcido moves to the UAE from a three-year stint as general manager of The RitzCarlton, San Francisco


Helen McCabe-Young Helen McCabe-Young has returned to Kerzner International as executive vice president of sales and marketing for One&Only Resorts. A marketing veteran, McCabeYoung first joined the company in 2003 as senior vice president of sales and marketing for One&Only Resorts with responsibilities for developing

worldwide sales, marketing, and public relations platforms for the brand. In her new role, she is in charge of the strategic development and oversight of the company’s global corporate communications as well as the worldwide sales and marketing for One&Only, inlcuding retail and spa business development.


travel talk is your space


David Thomson

Hussein Hachem

Chief operating officer, JA Resorts & Hotels.

Cluster general manager, Al Bustan Rotana Dubai & Al Murooj Rotana Dubai.

“The diverse spread of locations has made Dubai a ‘crossroads’ for international air travel. Airline expansion has helped Dubai tremendously as a destination in the past years and will continue to grow. New air routes provide accesses to new markets; Brazil and China being good examples. With the UAE’s major expansion project, such as its international airport, it is set to welcome greater passenger traffic than any other time in history.”

“Both Al Bustan and Al Murooj Rotana Dubai […] have showcased positive performance in the first nine months of the year. I must say we have done well across the different aspects of the business, including rooms, meetings and events, as well as food and beverage. GCC countries remain on the top of the list when it comes to our main source markets. However, the was also an increase in the number of business and leisure travellers coming from Europe.”

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AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Omar Sabella POSITION: Managing Director COMPANY: HistoriaME LOCATION: Jordan WEB:

Who are you? I am Omar Sabella and I have been involved in the field of tourism for the last five years, which made me realise a gap in the local market of the travel business in Jordan and the Middle East in general. In this modern world, the industry is shifting towards online travel portals where 60 percent of travellers are buying their tours online from international travel portals that are not specialised in the certain market. HistoriaME is a local travel portal that is specialised in the Middle East local market. We started with Jordan and the UAE with a plan to add Egypt and Oman to our travel portal in the near future. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Working during the high-season, or what we call the season-rush, where everybody is trying to find a hotel room, transportation, and a plane seat. At such times, you feel good about yourself for achieving these requirements and the demands of your customers. Also, meeting the majority who arrive from different places makes you feel even better. When is the best time to visit Jordan? Jordan is a unique country that you can visit almost all year round, apart from January and February. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I always go to Dubai for business but now I need to try it as a leisure destination and am sure it will meet my expectations. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Simply because HistoriaME is local and travellers are always looking for a local travel agent to deal with rather than dealing with an agent who has not been to the destination. We put all prices in front of our visitors and they get not only to book but also to customise their own packages before buying them online, a feature that no other travel portal has.

17 NOVEMBER 2012


Travellers Taking More Advantage of Travel Deals New research from Association for British Travel Agents (ABTA) suggests that consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to choosing ‘when’ to book their holidays. Six in 10 people said they had changed ‘when’ they booked their holiday in the past 12 months so as to take advantage of deals and greater availability. A third of consumers booked their holiday further in advance this year, a quarter booked closer to the departure date, and four in 10 booked at the same time. The top reasons cited

for booking in advance were better deals/cheaper prices; better availability; better choice; to get time off work; and the weather in the UK. Those leaving it to the last minute also did so primarily because they believed they could get a bargain. Better deals and cheaper prices was the number one reason for leaving it late, with six in 10 people stating that this was the reason for their delay. Other reasons included better choice, the weather in the UK, and worry about money and job security.


TRAVEL CHANNELS New UNWTO Campaign Calls Tourists to Make a Difference

The new World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) campaign, One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities, is asking tourists to vote for what they believe is the most beneficial travel tip.


ith one billion tourists travelling the world this year, transforming these one billion tourists into one billion opportunities is at the heart of the online campaign, which was launched at the World Travel Market, London, by Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO. One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities is set to culminate on December 13, a symbolic date chosen for the arrival of the one billionth tourist, despite the impossibility of knowing exactly when and where the lucky visitor will arrive. On this day, the most popular tip will be revealed, publicised to millions through social media, and celebrated in Spain, home to the UNWTO headquarters.

UAE Visitors to the Seychelles Leap Over 10,000 Mark Seychelles’ National Bureau of Statistics has revealed that from the start of this year until the week ending October 21, the islands welcomed a total of 10,052 visitors from the UAE, marking a 58 percent increase over 2011 figures. Following France, Germany, Italy, and Russia, which occupy the first four places respectively, the UAE is now Seychelles’ fifth leading market. The same source revealed that the number of visitors from other Middle East countries is also growing mainly due to the good air connectivity and Julie Muirhead, regional director, Middle East, Seychelles Tourism Board, also attributed the growth to the organisation’s increased presence and activities in the region which has become a primary source market for the country.

Sharjah’s Economy to Grow Significantly Travel and tourism is one of the four key sectors which has been chosen by Sharjah to catalyse the emirate’s economic growth over the next four years. Transport and logistics, healthcare, and environment, in addition to other sectors, are among the main sectors that are projected to offer the most significant investment potential in the emirate, as a recent study, released by the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), has revealed. Commenting on the emirate’s business potential and future prospects, H.E. Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, noted, “Sharjah is capitalising now on four key sectors to drive its economy towards a brighter and more prosperous future, especially after it managed to weather the global financial crisis relatively successfully due to its well-diversified economy, which is ranked as one of the most diversified economies in the region.” Al Sarkal further attributed Sharjah’s unique characteristics and competitive advantages to its position as an ideal business destination for investors.

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Q & A with Ayman Ashor Located on the edge of Rub Al Khali, one of the biggest deserts in the world, Tilal Liwa Hotel offers an ideal, secluded getaway for weekend escapes and honeymoons, and Ayman Ashor, general manager, Tilal Liwa Hotel, reveals all the other factors and trends driving the business.

Travel Trade Weekly: Which were the main trends driving your business so far this year? Ayman Ashor: Compared to 2011, the occupancy and business mix was different and opposite. The hotel has had more business on weekends than on weekdays. This is due to the attractive step-in price and added values offered to guests. There has been growth in overall revenue compared to 2011 in the online, weekend, and leisure business segments. Occupancy increased comparatively and, year-to-date, we achieved 72 percent. Room revenue rose five percent, food and beverage revenues grew 21 percent, and other revenue departments experienced an increase of 14 percent. Travel Trade Weekly: Which markets are you focusing on? Ayman Ashor: Our main feeder markets are the UAE residents and leisure travellers coming from the German market. The local UAE market is then further divided into two: expats and locals coming for leisure from Dubai and Abu Dhabi for the weekends, and then coming for business purposes during the weekdays. For the leisure market, the resort attracts also the overseas international market through ‘desert and beach’ combination three-night packages with our sister hotels in Abu Dhabi, such as Al Raha Beach Hotel and Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort. Travel Trade Weekly: As Internet penetration continues to grow across the region, developing interactive corporate and social media websites to attract and engage poten-

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Ayman Ashor General manager, Tilal Liwa Hotel

With very low margins, increasing competition and constantly rising costs, hotels now need every advantage they can get to win customers and keep them. Social media has increasingly become part of hotel Internet marketing strategy as we see the way that guest interact online has changed drastically which, of course, offers the hotel new online channels to get business and interact with them. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your expectations and plans for the remainder of the year?

tial guests is crucial. How do you think the growing significance on online marketing will shape the industry’s future? Ayman Ashor: We have experienced a shift in business trends from customers using different booking tools like booking websites, mobile and iPad applications, as well as social group buying sites. Mobile devices have actually outsold desktop PCs for over a year, so this is an issue that is going to become more prevalent. It is not enough to just monitor for keywords on your established platforms; conversations about your brand can happen across many platforms such as consumer review sites, as well as media sharing sites, and many others. The hotel industry, like much of the service industries, is very dependent on knowing just what the consumer wants, hopefully before the customers know it themselves.

Ayman Ashor: The occupancy forecast is expected above 75 percent as the key performance indicators show a positive increase in guest numbers, revenues, guest nights, as well as the average length of stay. Tilal Liwa Hotel is now portrayed as an ideal destination for a weekend desert escape and a secluded hideaway leisure resort. This season, the hotel is preparing more adventure activities to offer for the guests like archery, desert volleyball or desert walks to the oasis; outdoor events are also being planned for entertainment and sports in the desert.

It is not enough to just monitor for keywords on your established platforms; conversations about your brand can happen across many platforms



Jordan to Host the 32nd International Academy of Pathology Conference in 2018 The International Academy of Pathology recently selected Jordan as the destination for its 32nd conference in 2018. The conference, which is expected to attract around 5,000 international delegates, will be taking place at King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre Managed by Hilton (KHBTCC). Ismail Matalka, president elect, Arab division, International Academy of Pathology, praised the collaborative efforts of Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) and KHBTCC, in preparing an attractive proposal following years of combined professional collaborative efforts. In addition, Abdel Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director, JTB, is positive that the conference will place Jordan as a first-choice MICE destination and will have a major impact on the local economy. “This victory is only the beginning. I am confident that the joint efforts, persuasive proposals, and KHBTCC’s experience in delivering high profile international conferences will definitely help us attract many more major events and conferences to Jordan,” he asserted.

International Golf Travel Market Reveals Trends in European Golf Tourism A survey commissioned by Reed Travel Exhibitions, organisers of the International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) and carried out by SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC., has revealed that golfers from Germany and Scandinavia are most likely to have taken an international golf holiday in the last 12 months, and that German golfers tend to stay the longest, averaging 7.5 days for golf breaks. The research, which focused on the four largest European golf markets namely the UK, Scandinavia, Germany, and France, also indicated that golfers generally tend to travel in groups of two to eight people, with British and Scandinavian golfers travelling in the largest groups. Despite the fact that UK and Ireland has the largest number of golfers in Europe, German golfers’ tendency to take international golf breaks and stay for more than a week, makes Germany a vital target market for golf travel destinations, emphasised Peter Grimster, exhibition manager, IGTM.

EVENTS China International Travel Mart (CITM) Shanghai, China, November 15 –18, 2012 ( The largest professional travel show in Asia with participants from all sectors of the travel industry.

India International Travel Mart Hyderabad Hyderabad, India, November 30 – December 2, 2012 ( India’s premier exhibition for travel, tourism, hospitality, leisure and other related sectors.

The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 17– 19, 2012 ( A full spectrum hospitality catering and supplies event for the region, bringing leading manufacturers and qualified buyers together.

Monte Carlo Travel Market (MCTM) Monte Carlo, France, December 2, 2012 ( An event, enabling participants to make a maximum number of contacts in a minimum amount of time.

INTUR Valladolid, Spain, November 22 – 25, 2012 ( A show offering professionals and companies the opportunity to make business and generate innovation.

Food & Hotel Oman Muscat, Oman, December 3 – 5, 2012 ( Formerly known as Food Expo, the event has been re-branded to reflect the emerging hospitality and tourism market in the Sultanate and the region.

EIBTM Barcelona, Spain, November 27 – 29, 2012 ( A leading global event for the meetings, incentives, events, and business travel industry, held in a vibrant business and tourism destination.

Travel Turkey Izmir Tourism Fair & Conference Izmir, Turkey, December 6 – 9, 2012 ( One of the leading tourism shows in Turkey, focusing on all kinds of services, destinations, holidays and on transportation and accommodation.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 158  

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 158  

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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