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Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

01 DECEMBER 2012


Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

01 DECEMBER 2012


Five-star Plaque for JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing has officially presented JW Marriott Marquis Dubai with a five-star plaque.

Dusit International is to open its first property in the UAE capital in the first quarter of 2013.

08 Emirates Enhances Lagos Services Emirates is responding to growing passenger and cargo demand in Nigeria by upgrading one of its Lagos flights to a Boeing 777-300.


02 03 04 05 06 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi to Open Early 2013




Q & A with H. E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman H. E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), shares his vision for the rapidly developing emirate of Sharjah and its focus as it aggressively reaches out to new tourism markets in Europe and Asia.

Travel Trade Weekly: Tourism in Sharjah has grown rapidly over the past few years. How would you describe the current year so far?

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman Chairman, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: Sharjah’s tourism sector has grown from strength to strength over the past few years, keeping pace with the latest trends and practices in the global tourism industry. Today, the emirate attracts more than 1.5 million tourists on average. This year has also been very good in terms of the number of international tourist arrivals in Sharjah. We have seen an upsurge in numbers especially from neighbouring Gulf countries, following our recent road shows across the region. So we hope to further improve our performance this year. Travel Trade Weekly: Which are the emirate’s main feeder markets with reference to international visitors? H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: Europe and the Middle East remain our two main feeder markets. More than 40 percent of them now come from Europe especially from countries such as Russia and Germany. In 2011, we received more than 200,000 tourists from Russia; a response to Air Arabia’s strengthened connectivity to the country. We are getting a lot of visitors from CIS nations and emerging markets such as China, India, and the rest of the Middle East. Travel Trade Weekly: Over the past few months, Sharjah has conducted a number of roadshows. What are the main goals of these initiatives?

market for SCTDA and Sharjah in general? H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: The emirate is home to a large Russian population. The Russians, and visitors from other CIS nations, are attracted to Sharjah because of its proximity, hospitable climate, and friendly family environment, as well as its endless opportunities of shopping and leisure. So we are looking to build on these already-strong bonds with the region. Travel Trade Weekly: What aspects make Sharjah an attractive destination for tourists and investors?

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: This year, we have paid greater attention to marketing Sharjah around the world by conducting roadshows in the Middle East, Central Asia, and CIS states in recent months. We had great and enthusiastic responses to our roadshows in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait earlier this year, and more recently in CIS countries including Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. We have just hosted, in collaboration with the UAE government, successful roadshows across India, which is another major emerging market. The chief objective of the roadshows is to showcase Sharjah’s unique charms and reach out to the huge and fast expanding tourism and investment markets in these countries. Travel Trade Weekly: What aspects make Russia and the CIS nations an important

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: Thanks to its rich culture, monuments, and numerous museums and cultural events, Sharjah is designated and celebrated by the UN as the Cultural Capital of the Arab and Islamic world. All that we need to do is to promote it right and effectively. During the past five years, several new hotels, malls, and entertainment and cultural projects have come up. The emirate has introduced several cultural and tourism events and festivals. It is a booming market and a happening place in every sense. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the Authority’s plans for the remainder of the year? H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman: We have two of our biggest events coming up in December; Sharjah Water Festival and UIM F1H20 World Championship, the Sharjah Grand Prix [of the powerboat championship]. These are our flagship events and attract, each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors and motorboat enthusiasts, not to mention world champions.



Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines Commits to North Africa Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, a family-run company established by the Olsen family in Norway over 160 years ago, continues to show commitment to North Africa. “We have often found that by adding ports from North and West Africa such as Tangiers, Casablanca, or Dakar, we are able to enhance and outsell a traditional Canary Island cruise itinerary,” indicated Nathan Philpot, director of sales and marketing, Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, further noting that destinations such as Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia, and the African continent in general, offer an exciting alternative to the usual southbound ‘sunshine’ cruises. “However, these generally need longer than 14 nights in order to include strong itinerary content, and this can limit the appeal of such cruises to certain professional working people with constraints on annual leave,” explained Philpot. In the 2013/2014 season, Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines will be visiting some 240 destinations in 78 countries, with the new cruise programme featuring 12 maiden ports in cities including Yangon, Myanmar; Osaka and Hiroshima, Japan; and Nawiliwili, Hawaii, according to Philpot, who revealed that the cruise line carries some 100,000 guests a year across its fleet of four cruise ships.

Positive Results for Abu Dhabi at WTM, London Abu Dhabi’s participation in this year’s World Travel Market (WTM), London, produced healthy results for stakeholders in the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) pavilion, securing a record of more than 550 meetings with key business partners. Additionally, TCA Abu Dhabi representatives welcomed 101 travel trade contacts and over 45 key media companies, to explore destination promotion opportunities. According to Mubarak Al Nuaimi, international promotions manager, TCA Abu Dhabi, the emirate’s delegation had witnessed a consistent stream of visitors to the Abu Dhabi spectacular, with people keen to learn more about the destination’s plethora of tourism developments and its culture and heritage. “We have managed to communicate to people all our new hotel openings and attractions such as Yas Waterworld and Arabian Nights Village,” Al Nuaimi said, adding that a large number of people are aware of the emirate's packed calendar of events in 2013.




Serenade of the Seas to Debut in Dubai Following three successful seasons in the Arabian Gulf, Brilliance of the Seas will be replaced by Serenade of the Seas in January 2013, for Royal Caribbean International’s fourth season in the region. “Serenade of the Seas will be sailing from Dubai after an extensive revitalisation at the end of this year,” revealed Lakshmi Durai, executive director, Middle East, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises, adding that passengers onboard the cruise ship will enjoy a variety of culinary experiences, upgraded technology, including ship-wide Wi-Fi, a digital way-finding system, and an outdoor movie screen, while new facilities will include a nursery and various lounges. “Serenade of the Seas will start the winter season on January 28, 2013. After a series of seven-night sailing out of Dubai, she will sail back to Europe from summer on April 15, 2013,” concluded Durai.




Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide: Another Solid Quarter Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has reported a net income of USD170 million for the third quarter (Q3) of the year, versus USD163 million recorded in the corresponding period in 2011.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli


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

xcluding special items, earnings per share from continuing operations was USD0.58, and including special items it reached USD0.75. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation amounted to USD275 million. Commenting on the results, Frits van Paasschen, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said, “Global RevPAR grew nearly five percent in constant currency, despite a deceleration in the global economy. In fact, occupancy rose in all regions and is now

reaching or exceeding peak levels in many markets around the world.” During Q3, the company signed 25 hotel management and franchise contracts, representing some 4,800 rooms, and opened 20 hotel and resort with approximately 6,500 rooms. According to van Paasschen, the future results are set to be driven by the trajectory of the global recovery and the group’s ability to use its high-end, global brands to acquire more than the fair share of the long-term growth in global travel.



29/11/2012 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)



Abu Dhabi International Airport: 1.2 Million Passengers Abu Dhabi International Airport recorded a robust 14.5 percent increase in passenger traffic for the month of September, with 1.2 million travellers passing through its facilities. Based on Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC)’s latest report, aircraft movements also continued to soar by 8.4 percent, totaling 10,057, as a result of Etihad Airways’ new services as well as flight frequency increases by other airlines operating to the capital. Along parallel lines, cargo volume reached 48,525 tonnes, marking a year-on-year increase of 24.9 percent. “This consistent double-digit growth in passenger traffic during the month of September indicates that this will be another record year for Abu Dhabi International Airport,” highlighted Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC, noting that the increasing attractiveness of the UAE capital as a trade and tourism destination is boosting inbound and outbound traffic, while the airport continues to offer efficient connectivity for transfer passengers across all continents. The top five routes from the airport in September were Bangkok,London, Doha, Manila, and Cairo.

Abu Dhabi International Airport


WEEKLY NEWS UAE and Cyprus Sign Air Services Agreement The UAE, represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), has signed an air services memorandum of understanding (MoU) and initialled an air services agreement with Cyprus. Signed by H.E. Saif Al Suwaidi, director general, GCAA, and Alecos Michaelides, permanent secretary, Ministry of Communications and Works, Cyprus, the agreement enables any number of designated airlines of both parties to perform scheduled services between the countries. The UAE delegation designated Etihad Airways, Emirates, Air Arabia, RAK Airways, and flydubai as UAE national airlines, while Cyprus Airways was designated by the Cypriot delegation. The MoU allows full flexibility on the routes, capacity, number of frequencies, and types of aircraft, in any type of service, both passenger or cargo, and both parties agree to allow unrestricted non-scheduled operations between the countries.



Middle East and Africa: 488 Hotels in the Pipeline The Middle East and Africa hotel development pipeline currently comprises 488 hotels with a total of 121,026 rooms, based on STR Global Constructions Pipeline Report for the month of October. Among the chain scale segment, the upper segment accounts for the largest portion of rooms, representing 32.3 percent or 39,048 rooms. With 23,743 rooms, the upscale segment contributes 19.6 percent, the luxury segment, with 23,091 rooms, represents 19.1 percent, and the unaffiliated segment, with 22,705 rooms, accounts for 18.8 percent to the total active pipeline. In addition, three segments each made up more than 20 percent of rooms under construction; the upper upscale segment with 22,472 rooms, accounting for 32.3 percent, the luxury segment, with 16,355 rooms, representing 23.5 percent, and the upscale segment, with 14,732 rooms, forming 21.1 percent.




Grand Millennium Dubai Pleased with WTM Outcome Following four days spent at World Travel Market (WTM), London, alongside the sales department of the hotel, Ghassan Farhat, director of sales, Grand Millennium Dubai, expressed his pleasure for being able to share the strategy and objectives of the team for driving the business forward. The goal was to place the hotel as the ideal choice for golfers due to its location in close proximity to the emirate’s premier golf courses, this according to Farhet, who added, “We met with different agents dealing directly with UK-based golfers. In fact, we have scheduled familiarisation trips for them towards the end of the month to further explore the hotel and its worldclass facilities.” Farhat further noted that the team met with UK-based international exhibition organisers in order to promote the hotel’s state-of-the-art meeting and event facilities and develop business relationships with global event organisers, especially for 2013.

Golden Tulip Hotels Oman Reveals Future Plans Golden Tulip hotels, Oman, participated in the World Travel Market, London, at the dedicated Oman Tourism stand, where the hotel group showcased its offerings and upcoming projects in Muscat and other regions. According to Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip, Middle East and North Africa, these projects will be officially announced in 2013, although plans have already been revealed to enter new countries such as Algeria and Georgia. “Our aim for the 2012 is to open 10 new hotels and to promote destinations with the help of the ministries of tourism and it is with the dedication of our employees and their loyalty to our company that we grow and improve,” Moukarzel commented.

InterContinental Cairo Citystars to Open New Floors InterContinental Cairo Citystars is to unveil its new Signature Suites Floors. Comprised of four floors, two of which were upgraded in 2011 and another two which underwent renovation earlier this year, the new additions include 109 rooms and suites, and are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, revealed Simon Stamper, area general manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars. The complex mainly caters to the corporate segment and families from the Gulf region, however, the management aims to attract more business from newly emerging markets, especially from the Far East and Latin America, Stamper further noted.

Radisson Blu Hotel Alexandria Increases In-house Entertainment In a bid to attract more holidaymakers, Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria, has further enhanced its entertainment options with the aim of creating a more charming atmosphere for all guests. Ahmed Diab, director of sales and marketing, Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria, explained that due to the hotel’s location on the tip of the northern coast road and near Alexandria’s industrial zone, the hotel is an attractive option for corporate clientele more than for leisure seekers, thus the property’s in-house entertainment programmes were increased and the animation team and DJ entertained the pool and beach areas respectively.




Sheraton Dreamland Hotel & Conference Center to Open New Ballroom Sheraton Dreamland Hotel & Conference Center, 6th of October City, Cairo, Egypt is gearing up to unveil its ballroom, set to take place in the next few weeks. “Our main ballroom, with huge capacities, is expected to be operational by the end of the year,” revealed Ghada Beshr, director of public relations, Sheraton Dreamland Hotel & Conference Center. In a bid to attract new markets, the property runs various attractive packages and promotions, noted Beshr. ”Our main feeder market is the Far East for leisure business, [followed by] the European market, which is pretty slow due to the current situation. However, in regards to corporate business, it is picking up these days and accordingly we are supporting these segments with special promotions,” she concluded.

Coral Oriental Dubai Expects a Record Year Coral Oriental Dubai is experiencing a record year with guests coming from established and new markets, according to Tony Homsi, general manager, Coral Oriental Dubai. Homsi further indicated that with reference to figures issued by Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, the scale of growth is city-wide with an overall increase during the first half recorded at 10 percent over 2011 levels. “All hotels in Dubai are benefiting from the expansion of air access and the transformation of the city from a stopover and beach destination to one that caters for all markets, all requirements,” he said. “City hotels are now in demand, offering competitive rates and convenient access to all the retail and tourist sites as well as shuttle transfers to the beaches. The metro has certainly opened up Dubai to the benefit of business guests and leisure travellers alike,” Homsi added. With regards to the hotel, high occupancies have been recorded so far this year, due to lucrative average room rates in particular, Homsi further pointed out, adding that hotel rates throughout the emirate are now far more appealing than they were a few years ago, when they became high and discouraged visitors.


Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi to Open Early 2013 Dusit International is to open its first property in the UAE capital in the first quarter of 2013. Strategically located in the new business and government district, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi will feature 402 rooms and suites and a host of facilities such as a conference centre which will comprise a variety of functions rooms including a 785m2 ballroom that can host up to 2,000 guests, and a broad selection of dining outlets and recreational facilities. “Abu Dhabi is emerging as one of the most soughtafter business hubs in the region and we see enormous potential for a world-class business hotel in the capital,” stressed Scott Mawhinney, general manager, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi, adding that the 37-storey glass tower property is set to cater to the discerning needs of the discerning business traveller. “Our wide range of leisure facilities, complemented by the strategic location close to many of the city’s major attractions such as the Abu Dhabi Corniche, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and Abu Dhabi Golf Club, is a perfect fit that embraces the expectations of today’s affluent business traveller,” Mawhinney concluded.

Five-star Plaque for JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has officially presented JW Marriott Marquis Dubai with a five-star plaque. Majid Al Marri, director, hotel classification department, DTCM, who presented the plaque, commented, “The JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is a new addition to the city’s portfolio of business hotels that are increasingly in demand. “We have conducted a number of site visits to identify all classification and licensing procedures. The hotel provides a wide range of facilities and restaurants as well as open spaces that meet all the guests’ needs and will add great value to Dubai as a tourism, business, and commerce hub.” Officially recognised as the world’s tallest hotel, at a height of 355m, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is set to open in several phases, with its first tower comprising 804 rooms and suites, currently in soft-opening phase, as the property gears up to launch all nine restaurants and five lounges in January 2013. The grand opening is scheduled to take place in February 2013.


Air News

Emirates Enhances Lagos Services Emirates is responding to growing passenger and cargo demand in Nigeria by upgrading one of its Lagos flights to a Boeing 777-300, serving both dailies with Boeing 777s . “Deploying a Boeing 777 on the Dubai-Lagos route demonstrates the strong demand from travellers to fly with Emirates and experience our superior products and services,” commented Jean-Luc Grillet, senior vice president, commercial operations, Africa, Emirates. “The aircraft upgrade will open up more seats to our customers travelling to and from Nigeria and further raise Emirates’ contribution to Nigeria’s economy,” he added. The Airbus 340-500 currently deployed on one of Lagos’ two daily flights will be replaced with a larger Boeing 777-300ER as of December 1, giving a 48 percent boost to seat capacity.

Air Arabia Goes Mobile Air Arabia has announced its new state-of-the-art mobile website, allowing passengers to search flights, purchase air tickets, check travel details, view reservations, change flight itineraries, select seats, book in-flight meals, and more, all on the move. The airline promises to continue making the website more user-friendly by offering additional services. It is currently available in English and Arabic, and more language options are to follow. Air Arabia has also presented an enhanced online check-in facility to include a variety of destinations from which it operates. “The newly designed mobile website and the improved web check-in facility just reiterate this by incorporating additional features that our passengers will find convenient and easy,” commented Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia.

Air Arabia




Gulf Air Meeting Long-term Strategic Needs Gulf Air has announced that after extensive negotiations with Airbus and Boeing, its two key suppliers of wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, it has signed amendment agreements with both aircraft manufacturers to realign its original orders to meet its longterm strategic needs. The revised agreement with Airbus permits the conversion of the existing wide-body obligation into eight A320ceo family aircraft, all of which will be delivered by year-end, plus up to 16 A320neo family aircraft slated to join the fleet in the latter part of the decade. Meanwhile, the revised Boeing agreement allows the airline to reduce its wide-body 787s Dreamliner requirement between 12 and 16 aircraft, depending on Gulf Air’s strategic requirements, all of which are also scheduled for delivery towards the end of the decade and will replace the Bahraini airline's current wide-body fleet. “As long-standing trade partners, Airbus and Boeing have understood our challenges and I am delighted that we have arrived at mutually agreeable solutions in-line with the government directive to put the airline firmly on a path towards sustainability,” commented Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air.

Etihad Airways Extends Chauffeur Service to Milan Customers Etihad Airways has announced the extension of its signature chauffeur service, available to premium customers travelling to and from Milan Malpensa International airport, Italy. The complementary transfers are available to Diamond First and Pearl Business class customers, and operate to and from anywhere within a 60km radius of the Italian airport. “Etihad Chauffeur is all about extending the inspirational experience we provide our customers in the air to ground level. It is yet another example of our attention to detail, innovation, and the premium service quality we continue to roll out for our premium customers,” Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, said.




Le Méridien Debuts in Mexico City Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Trinity Investments, and Terra Investments have announced the launch of the first Le Méridien Hotel in Mexico City with the opening of the 160-suite Le Méridien Mexico City. The inauguration of the property is part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's expansion in Latin America, marking the group’s 71st hotel in the region and seventh in Mexico City. “The brand boasts the strongest portfolio ever in its 40-year

history and the debut of Le Méridien in Mexico City, which is a hub for style and creativity, marks another key milestone in our transformation,” said Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Le Méridien and Westin Hotels & Resorts. “The brand epitomises the sophistication and style that Mexico City, as a world gateway city, exudes,” stated Ryan Donn, managing director, Trinity Investments.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations to Open Two New Resorts InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced that by the end of the year, Holiday Inn Club Vacations will have more than doubled its portfolio, since its foundation in 2008. The news was revealed at the Americas Investors & Leadership Conference, Orlando. The two new properties are Holiday Inn Club Vacations Panama City Beach Resort, and Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Beach Resort, and according to Del Ross, vice president, sales and marketing, the Americas, IHG, the addition of the two new resorts to the Holiday Inn Club Vacations portfolio demonstrates the strength of the brand and its ability to find strategic opportunities for growth. In 2008, IHG and Orange Lake Resorts allied and created the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand; a successful strategic alliance which has once again proven that vacations matter to consumers, as Don Harrill, CEO, Orange Lake Resorts pointed out.“ By aligning with IHG and the Holiday Inn brand family once again, we’ve been able to create more awareness and visibility for our resort destinations so that more travellers can learn about and consider us for their next stay with friends and family.“



Daniel Mathew Daniel Mathew has assumed the position of general manager at Centro Sharjah, UAE. Mathew started his career with Rotana in 2008, heading the pre-opening team of Rosa Rayhaan by Rotana in Dubai, in the capacity of general manager. Over the past three decades, he has gained a wealth of experience, having held various key management positions

with renowned international chains in the Middle East and North America. In his new position, Mathew has been tasked with directing the overall management and operation of Centro Sharjah.

Over the past three decades, Mathew has held various key management positions with renowned international chains

Mark McCarthy Mark McCarthy has been named general manager of the 428-room and suite fivestar Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana and the 192-apartment Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana, both located in Dubai and slated to open in December. A well-respected veteran of the hospitality industry, McCarthy brings over 19 years of experience to the role, in which he will spearhead a team of

Jan Siddiqi Jan Siddiqi has been appointed director of sales at Ramada Plaza Jumeriah Beach Residence, Dubai, and Ramada Sharjah. Siddiqi, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration marketing, has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Over the past 14 years, he has held various sales and marketing positions with a number of reputed


brands, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, and Marriott International. Siddiqi moves back to Dubai after working at Wyndham Grand Regency Doha, another prestigious property in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts’ regional portfolio.

Siddiqi has over 20 years of experience


seasoned hotel professionals who are expected to play strategic roles in leading the hotels’ bid to capture a large share of business in the Deira district, one of Dubai’s busiest destinations for both business and leisure travellers.

McCarthy will lead a team of professionals to capture a large share of business in the Deira district

Binu Varghese Binu Varghese has joined Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence and Ramada Sharjah as director of sales and marketing. Having held increasingly responsible roles within the sales and marketing sector, Varghese brings over 15 years of experience to the role. He started his career with Taj Group of Hotels in India before moving to the Middle East in 2000. After having served Inter-

Continental Hotels Group and Wyndham Hotel Group, he joined Millennium Hotels and Resorts, where he most recently worked as director of sales and marketing at Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai. In his new role, building on his wealth of knowledge, Varghese will work towards maximising revenue while also focusing on yield management and building relationships and loyalty.


travel talk is your space


Jean-François Laurent

Salim Damji

General manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh.

Senior general manager, Budget Car & Van Rental – UAE.

“The fact that we have been acknowledged in not one, but two important categories [at the International Hotel Awards at this year’s World Travel Market in London], is a fantastic way to celebrate our first anniversary. I would like to dedicate the awards to all our ladies and gentlemen, in recognition of their continued excellence and dedication in ensuring that we remain the Kingdom’s premier gateway to luxury hospitality.”

“Moving to the new headquarters in Dubai Investments Park was a major highlight [of the year] for the company, as it also houses a large, hi-tech, multi-brand vehicle service and maintenance facility. This dedicated state-of-the-art service centre is equipped with the latest diagnostic and repair equipment, manned by highly experienced technicians, and is conveniently located, with easy connectivity to all territories in the UAE.”

Mark Hawkes

Hossam Kamal

Group chief financial officer, Al Hamra Group.

General manager, Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa.

“We foresee tremendous potential in Ras Al Khaimah and will continue developing our portfolio of investments in line with [the emirate’s] growth strategy. The government is very supportive and […] aims to attract 2.5 million visitors by 2015. The emirate has all the natural ingredients to attract tourists and boasts access to the Arabian Gulf. In addition, there are many activities available for visitors [...] and outdoor enthusiasts.

“Fujairah is the best place to enjoy summer holidays and weekends. Some of the facilities available include camping along the beautiful beaches, diving in natural marine reserves, […] and exciting cruises. Enthusiasts of cultural and sports tourism will find the most beautiful cultural and artistic festivals, international championships such as speed boats races, fishing competitions, and other exciting water sports.”

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





BidTravel Group and Travelport Renew Partnership Agreement

NAME: Ugo Piatti POSITION: Director of sales and marketing COMPANY: Viking Group Egypt LOCATION: Egypt WEB:

Who are you? Our main company, Viking Nile Cruises, has been working very successfully with several markets for the past 20 years, building a unique reputation for its excellent services. We look after our partners from the very beginning by offering the best products at the most competitive prices, prompt correspondence, and the best services to our clients. In Luxor, we are very well-established running all the operations from our Viking Travel office, which can count on the support of a fleet of 25 buses and mini-vans, all of which are constantly renewed to always be of the latest models at Viking Transportation. We also own a hot air balloon company called Viking Air running daily several flights over Luxor's beautiful West Bank. Viking Travel recently launched into the Japanese market and we are thrilled to say we are receiving excellent feedback with the new detailed and demanding programmes. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The satisfaction of providing excellent services and having all customers return home with lifetime memories. When is the best time to visit Egypt? Egypt is perfect to visit all year around. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to go on a Nile cruise as it is one of the most relaxing holidays ever possible. The unique Nile scenery and its magical atmosphere make it the perfect holiday. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because of our 20-year experience and excellent reputation, thanks to the attention to detail, health and safety, reliability, and ability to cover all sorts of requests; we boast offices all over the country and own several assets so as to control quality of all services provided.


BidTravel has signed a new, strategic agreement with Travelport, which will see its franchise businesses in Southern Africa continue to have access to the Galileo global distribution system (GDS) platform and other extensive technology provided by Travelport. BidTravel operates various travel management company brands in Southern Africa, and under another new long-term agreement to acquire the Travelport Universal Desktop, the travel management company’s brands in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana will have access to Travelport’s air, hotel, and car content, including Travelport-exclusive deals with African airlines. Travelport’s ePricing technol-

ogy will also be deployed across the BidTravel network, ensuring travel consultants the best possible flight options for their customers. Dawood Tagari, executive director, information technology, BidTravel, has expressed confidence in the partnership which he believes will bring additional sales, especially as Travelport’s product suite and content match BidTravel’s goals and growth strategy. In addition, Mark Meehan, managing director, Travelport Africa, said, “BidTravel is Africa’s largest travel group and we are honoured to have been selected once again as their strategic technology partner.”


TRAVEL CHANNELS Mexico Commits to UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics

Tourism Contributing to Haiti’s Recovery Tourism’s role and dedication to Haiti’s recovery and development has been acknowledged by Michel Joseph Martelly, president, Haiti, who assured that the sector will continue to contribute to the country’s economic revival and stability.


ccording to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals to Haiti resumed growth in 2011, after dropping by 34 percent in 2010, a direct consequence of the earthquake. In supporting the country, UNWTO will work with the Ministry of Tourism and will focus on issues such as strategic development plans, training programmes, and a tourism satellite account to measure the impact of the industry. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, stressed that the people need to see the benefits of tourism, concluding that it is vital that they realise that this sector can be part of the solution, driving socio-economic development, while protecting and preserving Haiti’s unique cultural and natural heritage.

Fourteen of Mexico’s major tourism companies and associations have signed commitments to the World Travel Organization (UNWTO) Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, at the 94th Session of UNWTO Executive Council. This was done alongside other private sector professionals that have committed to promoting and implementing the values of responsible and sustainable tourism, which maximise the socio-economic benefits of the sector and minimise negative impacts, as the Code dictates. “The Code is vital in several areas, but most importantly because it protects people, particularly those less favoured such as children and women, against exploitation and promotes social inclusion,” Gloria Guevara, minister of tourism, Mexico, stated.

IDeaS Revenue Solutions Partners with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group IDeaS Revenue Solutions, provider of pricing and revenue management software, has announced a three-year exclusive commitment with Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group to be their sole revenue management solutions partner. As part of this agreement, the IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS) will initially be installed at the group’s Barcelona property and later in other hotels. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, was the first to use IDeaS RMS, which is currently being used in 17 hotels throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. The ability to select modules within the IDeaS RMS enables each property to adapt its revenue management system to the individual needs of each hotel, and is said to lead to better revenue. “IDeaS’ solutions deliver robust demand forecasts, enabling our revenue directors on property to make effective decisions and thus maximise revenue for the group in the longterm,” confirmed Cordula Laemmermann, vice president global revenue and distribution management, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.




Q & A with David Garner With a unique city, desert, and island portfolio, Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas offers guests the true, 360 degree Abu Dhabi experience, and the company aims to further strengthen its presence in the UAE, as David Garner, regional director of sales and marketing, Middle East, Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas, reveals.

Travel Trade Weekly: How have the company’s properties performed so far this year? David Garner: Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara opened its doors in June, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort opened in October 2009, and Desert Islands Resort & Spa in October 2008. Both Qasr Al Sarab and Desert Islands have seen an increase in occupancy for all months throughout the year. With such unique products offering both island and desert environments, we have strong support and operate at healthy occupancies, which are up on 2011 at an annual average of above 50 percent. During the summer months, we of course operate at a lower occupancy due to climatic conditions and demand. Travel Trade Weekly: How has the UAE airlines’ expansion benefited your business? David Garner: We are pleased that Etihad Airways continues to grow its route network and capacity to support the growth in inbound passengers. By opening up new routes such as the Seychelles and Maldives, it gives us a great opportunity to attract new guests. Anantara Hotels & Resorts has four resort properties in the Maldives for example, which means we can offer destination packages and promote ourselves as a preferred stop-over destination. These new market openings will definitely increase the footfall into Abu Dhabi, which provides us with more opportunities to build demand whilst it also diversifies our guests' nationality mix. Travel Trade Weekly: How do you intend to promote the hotel to these new markets?


David Garner Regional director of sales and marketing, Middle East, Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas

emerging markets. The development of many citywide events such as Formula1, Volvo Ocean Race, golf events, international concerts, and exhibitions, as well as new attractions lined up such as the completion of the museums on Saadiyat island and the Yas WaterWorld, all create great opportunities to drive traffic to Abu Dhabi. Large-scale events, such as congresses and conventions, often have a long lead time of up to many years so it is vitally important that the partners including TCA Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways, as well as hotels and venues, all work together to attract these events to the city. Travel Trade Weekly: Anantara has a number of projects in the pipeline. Could you tell us about these?

David Garner: We will support our trade and industry partners to build stop-over packages and itineraries that combine our hotels with Etihad airways flights. In addition, we already work closely with a number of airlines and tour operators as well as Anantara’s international sales offices to build awareness of the destination and to promote our product. This can be through hosted familiarisation trips alongside sales visits. Travel Trade Weekly: What do you think are the main factors behind Abu Dhabi’s ever-growing appeal? David Garner: There is a concerted effort by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and Etihad Airways to build constant presence internationally. We participate in their exhibitions and roadshows alongside Anantara’s extensive sales trips to existing and

David Garner: Two projects are coming up in the last quarter of the year. Desert Islands Conference Centre can hold meetings for up to 350 persons on Sir Bani Yas Island. With direct flights to the island, this opens up new opportunities for large groups which can easily access the product and combine meetings with island- and water-based activities. Desert Islands WaterSports Centre will also open in the fourth quarter. The centre will offer a range of water-based activities. Coming up in the first quarter of 2013 is Anantara Al Yamm Villas on Sir Bani Yas Island. Consisting of 30 villas located on the water’s edge, [it] will offer an intimate, feet-in-the-sand design concept. Coming up in the second quarter of 2013, Anantara Al Sahel Villas on Sir Bani Yas Island will consist of 30 luxurious rustic villas with private plunge pools located in the Arabian Wildlife.



QNCC Utilises Solar Energy As one of the most environmentally friendly large-scale event venues of its kind in the world, Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is harnessing the power of solar energy to help power the UN Climate Change Conference (COP18/CMP8), which commenced on November 26 and is set to continue until December 7. The centre’s design includes 3,500m2 of solar panelling, which provides up to 12.5 percent of the venue’s energy needs each day during the 12-day event, which is set to welcome an estimated 17,000 participants. “Energy efficiency was a specific consideration during the design and build phase of the project,” highlighted Adam Mather-Brown, general manager, QNCC. “Qatar has a desert climate and cooling systems are of paramount importance. The centre was designed and built to the highest environmental standards and conceived with a focus on sustainability, a feature that complements the objectives of COP18/CMP8.”

IGTM 2013 to be Held in Costa Daurada Organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions, International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) will take place on November 11 - 14, 2013, at one of Europe’s new golfing destinations, LUMINE Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community, located in the coastal region of Costa Daurada, Tarragona, Catalonia. Calle Carlsson, general manager, LUMINE Golf & Beach Club, part of the LUMINE Mediterránea Beach & Golf Community, said, ”The IGTM represents a unique opportunity for the Costa Daurada region to develop strategic business relationships whilst showcasing the product to an engaged audience. “It is vital for the region to demonstrate how its diverse product already attracts golfers from established markets, but also how the on-the-ground expertise, quality of product and service, as well as the commitment to facilitating the business process will encourage operator partners to send its clientele to the region.“ Situated just 15 minutes from Barcelona Reus Airport, the Costa Daurada region will showcase its 240km of sandy beaches, villages and countryside, as well as its cultural and historic attractions, firstclass culinary offering and, of course, its golf and leisure resorts.

EVENTS 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.

Ferien – Messe Wien Vienna, Austria, January 10 – 13, 2013 ( The leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria with over 100,000 consumers and thousands of experts from within the sector.

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.

SATTE New Delhi, India, January 16 – 18, 2013 Mumbai, India, January 21 – 22, 2013 ( Hailed as South Asia’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event serving the inbound, domestic, and outbound markets.

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 travel services, destinations, and holidays.

East Mediterranean Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) Istanbul, Turkey, January 24 – 27, 2013 ( Considered the fifth largest travel exhibition in the world, EMITT brings together 4,500 exhibitors and over 128,000 visitors.

Garuda Indonesia International Islamic Expo 2012 Jakarta, Indonesia, December 14 – 16, 2012 ( A meeting point where tourism practitioners, policy makers, hoteliers, investors, and sellers and buyers gather together.

HOREXPO Cyprus 2013 Nicosia, Cyprus, January 25 – 27, 2013 ( The second edition of the event covering a wide range of travel industry sectors, including hotels and catering.


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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 160  

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 160  

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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