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21 JULY 2012


Queen Elizabeth 2 to Become a Hotel Istithmar World plans to convert the iconic Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) cruise liner into a 300room luxury hotel, boasting top quality lifestyle facilities, over the next 18 months.

Jumeirah Group has celebrated the soft opening of its ninth Dubai-based property, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.

08 Auris Hotels to Debut in Oman Auris Hotels is gearing up for the opening of its first hotel outside Dubai in the fast developing Omani city of Sohar.


02 03 06 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Unveiled





MEA Hotels: Positive May Results The Middle East and Africa region’s hotel sector closed May with mostly positive results, based on data compiled by STR Global.


JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou

uring the month, the region’s occupancy improved 13.3 percent to reach 60.4 percent, while RevPAR averaged at USD88.39 after increaing 11.5 percent. Meanwhile, average daily rate fell 1.6 percent to USD146.32. Commenting on the results, Elizabeth Radall, managing director, STR Global, said, “Across the region, we saw strong growth in occupancy as travellers return to the countries impacted by the Arab Spring in 2010; average

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Katerina Dalal DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi

room rates remained under pressure.” Cairo, Egypt, witnessed the largest occupancy increase of 41.4 percent to reach 49.4 percent, while Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, fell 13.8 percent, resulting in volumes of 63.8 percent. In conclusion, Amman, Jordan, experienced double-digit average daily rate growth of 21.5 percent amounting to USD172.09, along with a strong RevPAR increase of 53 percent equivalent to USD124.02.

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

Eurostar: Successful Year so Far EMAILS


20/07/2012 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)




Eurostar experienced continuous growth in passenger volume and sales revenues in the first half of the year. During the six-month period, passenger numbers hit 4.8 million, a year-on-year increase of two percent, while sales revenues rose one percent amounting to GBP425 million (USD657 million), driven by improved leisure travel levels on both sides of the channel. Overall, despite the difficult economic climate, the company remained resilient, as Nicolas Petrovic, CEO, Eurostar, highlighted. “Leisure bookings have continued to grow and we have seen good take-up for travel to London over the summer period,” he said. “Whilst leisure sales have held up over the last six months, there is no doubt that corporate clients and business travellers, particularly in the financial services industry, are feeling the squeeze and are cutting back on their travel budgets as they adapt to the economic environment. The combination of economic pressures and the London 2012 Games has meant that we are seeing different travel patterns this year.”

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WEEKLY NEWS Introducing the World’s First Invisible Door Lock VingCard Elsafe, the global leader in hospitality security and part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, has announced the introduction of ‘Essence by VingCard’; an entirely new concept in locking design and technology. Essence by VingCard takes minimalism to the extreme, eliminating all lock hardware by encasing all electronic components inside the door itself and making security virtually invisible to hotel guests. Although undetectable on the door exterior, Essence by VingCard integrates VingCard Elsafe’s most advanced contactless locking solutions into the interior electronics, including radio-frequency identification and near-field communication compatible locking technologies.

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Onity Launches Latest Contactless Locking Solution Onity, one of the world’s leading providers of electronic locking solutions, has announced the launch of the latest contactless locking solution for the hospitality industry; the high technology (HT) radio-frequency identification (RFID) lock. This new lock allows current HT customers to easily upgrade from traditional magnetic stripe technology to RFID, which is rapidly becoming the global standard for contactless cards. “Onity’s HT locking solution has been our flagship product for years and has satisfied many customers worldwide. In response to customer demand, we have developed the HT RFID lock that requires no physical contact between the card and the reader which allows added convenience and quick access for the safety and security of the hotel guest,” said Laird Hamberlin, president, Onity.



MSC Cruises Launches Training Website for Travel Agents MSC Cruises has announced the launch of its new online training website for travel agents to learn about the company, the destinations it visits, all of its services, and more. The programme has been designed for travel agents to gain indepth knowledge of the cruising

company and includes detailed information about the entire MSC Cruises fleet, customers’ profiles, the exclusive MSC Yacht Club, and the MSC Aurea Spa. Plenty of information about the services MSC Cruises provides prior to travel are also available, as are the full

details on extra packages that agents can add on at the time of booking to earn additional commission. Upon completion, the agents are set to become MSC Experts and will receive a personalised certificate and a congratulations letter from Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO, MSC Cruises.

Room Key Now Has Access to Real-Time Rates and Availablities Sabre Hospitality Solutions has announced that Room Key, a new online hotel search engine owned by six of the world’s leading hotel companies, now offers access to real-time rates and availability for participating hotels in the company's SynXis Central Reservations System (CRS). This partnership, carried out as a request from customers to help facilitate and strengthen the overall distribution

strategy, gives SynXis CRS hotel partners a new way to drive unique traffic and bookings to their hotel’s own website, as Felix Laboy, president, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, explained. “We have completed the first implementations with several of our large SynXis CRS customers and it was flawless. The connection is now available to all of our CRS properties who want to participate.”

Accor Re-energises its Mercure Brand Mercure, Accor’s midscale brand, continues its global expansion at a sustained pace while it also revamps its hotels as part of its worldwide refurbishment programme. The expansion of the brand, which currently operates 19 properties across the Middle East, will focus on

countries where it is already present, notably the UK and Italy, and in 2013 it will also develop its network in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Meanwhile, the brand is also continuing its global refurbishment programme that ensures a refreshed new look each year across 10 to 15 percent

of its establishments. The project, expected to be completed within four to five years, is set to position the properties operating under the Mercure brand as ‘the best hotel in town’, as Frédéric Fontaine, senior vice president, global brand marketing, Mercure, highlighted.

Bahrain to Boost Cruise Industry In a bid to enhance Bahrain’s position as an international cruise liner hub, the General Organisation of Sea Ports (GOP), in its role as regulator of the Kingdom’s maritime affair and custodian of the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, recently hosted a meeting to formulate a collective strategy. In the presence of representatives from both the public and the private sectors, GOP outlined the need to initiate new and innovative ways and means by which the different stakeholders

can contribute to achieve the common goal. “At GOP our strategic plans are to promote Bahrain’s ports as a preferred destination to the cruise liners around the world,” emphasised Hassan Ali Al Majed, director general, GOP. “Developing and improving the quality of services is a very important aspect which will boost tourism revenues by attracting more tourists and visitors and improve the national economy as a whole.”

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Rixos: Five New Hotels Turkish luxury hotel chain, Rixos Hotels is to expand its portfolio of 16 properties with the addition of five new hotels in the UAE, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The expansion is set to win the company a foothold in the bargain-priced markets of the Arab and Central Asian nations, according to Basak Erel, vice president, Rixos Hotels. “Rixos Hotels has studied the market carefully, and with the current situation across the Middle East, Rixos Hotels found the potential to venture its way into Egypt, Ras Al Khaimah, an emirate within the UAE, Azerbaijani city of Quba, and the Kazakh capital of Astana, with another additional hotel to open in Istanbul,” explained Erel. Besides a 700-key hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, the company will launch its first all-inclusive property in Ras Al Khaimah with 627 rooms, and before the end of the year, it will also debut in Azerbaijan with the opening of a 210-unit hotel in Quba. Rixos Borovoe Kale will become the third property in Kazakhstan in the company’s portfolio which will also include Rixos Bomonty Residences, located in the heart of Istanbul, within the next three months.

Jumeirah Creekside Hotel Unveiled Jumeirah Group has celebrated the soft opening of its ninth Dubai-based property, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel. Located in the heart of ‘Old Dubai’ and overlooking the Dubai Creek, the property is just minutes away from the airport and many of the city’s landmarks, while the popular Aviation Club is located adjacent to it. Besides 292 rooms and suites, it comprises six restaurants and bars, 26 meeting rooms, a meeting academy, and a ballroom. From the start of 2011 to the end of this year, Jumeirah Group will have more than doubled the number of hotels it manages and in the coming months expects to open Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, Baku, Azerbaijan and Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa, Kuwait.

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Hilton Expands in Egypt Hilton Worldwide has signed an agreement with Egyptian Touristic Resorts to launch two new premium Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties in Cairo and Alexandria. Scheduled to open at the end of 2013, Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch Resort will feature 195 rooms, various restaurants, large function venues, four meeting rooms, as well as outdoor and indoor pools, to name a few. Offering panoramic views of the country’s greatest tourist attractions, Hilton Giza Pyramids will offer 390 rooms, a variety of restaurants, a large function room, meeting and boardrooms, an extensive health and spa club, and an outdoor pool. The property is slated for opening in 2016. According to Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, the hotel group has proudly served Egypt for over 50 years and these signings are testament to the commitment and confidence it has towards the country.

Nikki Beach to Open in Lebanon

Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts

Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts has partnered with Zardman, the real estate development, investment, and management company, to develop Nikki Beach Resort in Damour, Lebanon. Encompassing 45 villas alongside a luxury lifestyle boutique hotel, Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, and the signature Nikki Beach Club, the destination is scheduled to welcome its first visitors in 2014. “Aside from the obvious benefit to the Lebanese economy, Nikki Beach is part of our ambitious plan to expand and create new projects all over Lebanon as well as abroad,” highlighted George Zard Abou Jaoude, founder, Zardman. Meanwhile, Jihad Khoury, CEO, Nikki Beach Hotel & Resorts, expressed excitement in bringing Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts to Lebanon, placing trust in the destination as a natural fit for the brand.

Queen Elizabeth 2 to Become a Hotel Istithmar World plans to convert the iconic Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) cruise liner into a 300-room luxury hotel, boasting top quality lifestyle facilities, over the next 18 months. The 293m long vessel, which in its heyday could accommodate more than 2,900 people, will be moored next to the original cruise terminal of Port Rashid, and developed, along with the planned maritime museum right next to it, into a leading cruise destination. H.E. Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman, Istithmar World, commented, “Our vision is to enhance the facilities on board but retain the very strong sense of history that is a fundamental part of her attraction. Having the QE2 moored as a floating, top-class hotel, right on the waterfront in the centre of Dubai, will also add further life and activity to the surrounding area.”

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Golden Tulip to Expand in Bahrain Golden Tulip Hotels Suites and Resorts MENA has partnered with Durrat Al Bahrain to manage up to 100 villas at the luxury residential, commerical, and tourist resort development project. “The partnership with Golden Tulip, to manage the villa resort segment of the project, comes as part of the management’s endeavours to make Durrat Al Bahrain a luxury destination to visitors, providing all types of facilities and services such as beach access, swimming pools, recreational and sporting facilities to end users and tourists,” stressed Jassim Al Jowdar, CEO, Durrat Al Bahrain. Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip Hotels Suites and Resorts MENA, added, “We look forward to starting operations at Durrat Al Bahrain. We are also proud to be part of this prestigious project and will exert our best offers to manage the resort villas according to the highest international standards with local flavours. This new venture will be an asset to our portfolio.”

Auris Hotels to Debut in Oman Auris Hotels is gearing up for the opening of its first hotel outside of Dubai in the fast developing Omani city of Sohar. The soon-to-open Auris Lodge Hotel Sohar, the seventh addition to the company’s portfolio, will offer an ideal base for both business and leisure travellers visiting the Sultanate’s industrial hub. Located just opposite the market, five minutes from the beach, and accessible from the city’s main business and economic centres, the new hotel will feature 70 spacious rooms and suites, a business centre, and a number of state-of-the-art meeting rooms. Leisure facilities will include a wellness spa, a gym, pool with grilling stations at the side, and a various food and beverage outlets.

Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah Undergoes Refurbishment In a bid to improve overall quality and ambience of the hotel, Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah is undergoing a soft refurbishment of its 212 rooms and suites. Upon completion, all renewed rooms will offer a range of new facilities, including 32-inch LCD flatscreen TV sets, contemporary glass-door minibar, high-class themed and individually customised headboards, uniquely styled carpet and black-out curtains with inimitably styled windows, just to name a few. Apart from the refurbishment, which is being carried out in stages and slated for completion by mid-October, a plethora of new water activities have been introduced at the hotel’s private 300m beach. These include paddle boating, jet skiing, kayaking, water skiing, and parasailing.

Alila to Expand in the Middle East Alila Hotels & Resorts is to debut in Oman in late 2013 with the opening of Alila Jabal Akhdar. Set 2,000m above sea level and two hours from Muscat, the boutique Asian hotelier’s first project in the Middle East will provide access to one of the Sultanate’s untapped areas, described by Mark Edleson, president Alila Hotels & Resorts, as the perfect location for a first foray into the region. “Its combination of interesting natural eco-systems, physical beauty, and intriguing history and culture perfectly fit within our development philosophy,” he expressed. The launch of Alila Jabal Akhdar forms part of development pipeline projects for the Asian company, which include upcoming properties in Indonesia and future expansions into China and Europe.

Dragon Mart Hotel to be Built As part of the Dragon Mart phase two development, a 14,000m2 three-star hotel is to be added to the retail complex, namely Dragon Mart Hotel. Located on the north east side of Dubai’s existing complex, the nine-storey establishment will feature approximately 246 rooms, and will encompass a built up area of around 14,000m2. Scheduled to be completed in 13 months, the construction contract has already been awarded to Kele Contracting, which is also responsible for the upcoming new multi-storey car parking facility, due to open for visitors in the fourth quarter of the year. The completion of phase two will bring the total size of Dragon Mart to 335,000m2.

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Air News

Qatar Airways Launches Services to Perth Qatar Airways has launched scheduled flights to the Western Australian city of Perth, with three-weekly services, becoming the airline’s second gateway in the country after Melbourne. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, led a high-profile delegation consisting of H.E. Pablo Kang, Australia’s ambassador for Qatar, airline executives, and international and local media, onboard the company’s flagship long-haul Boeing 777 aircraft which serves the non-stop QR900 flight from Doha to Perth. Addressing guests on arrival who were welcomed with a special traditional ceremony, Al Baker said Qatar Airways' arrival in the Australian city marked one of the Gulf carrier's biggest route launches this year. “There has never been a better time to expand in Australia, a time when the Australian dollar is strong and business and leisure travellers worldwide search for easier and quicker ways to connect and do business.” Rola Obeid, country manager, Australasia , Qatar Airways, added, “Tourism is the major economic driver in Western Australia and Qatar Airways arrives at a time when tourists and business travellers seek easier connections worldwide, as well as superior service that will easily exceed expectations.”

Etihad Airways Begins Lagos Services Etihad Airways has started its six flights a week operation between Abu Dhabi and Lagos, Nigeria. To celebrate the new service, and Nigeria’s love for football, Etihad Airways operated its iconic ‘blue moon rising’ A330-200 aircraft, painted in Manchester City Football Club’s famous colours, for the inaugural flight. Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, the lead sponsor of the English football team, said, “We are delighted to launch Etihad Airways flights to Lagos and our first passenger destination in West Africa. This is a momentous occasion in Etihad Airways history as we expand our flight network in Africa and increase ties between the UAE and Nigeria.” The new service builds on the airline’s existing Africa flights to Cairo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Nairobi, and Tripoli.

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LAN and TAM Airlines Merge Chile’s LAN Airlines and Brazil’s TAM have merged to create LATAM Airlines Group and one of the world’s biggest airlines. The transaction was carried out through an exchange offer in which TAM’s shareholders could elect to exchange their TAM shares for LAN Airlines shares at a ratio of 0.9 LAN shares for each TAM share. Through the carriers’ combined businesses and networks, the newly formed group will initially reach out to 150 destinations in 22 countries, and transport cargo to 169 destinations in 27 countries.

Emirates to Increase Flights to Basra In an important move to support the growing number of travellers to Basra, Emirates will introduce three additional flights between Dubai and the Iraqi city, increasing its operations from four to seven flights per week, starting August 1. The extra services will increase existing capacity by 79 percent per week in both directions, making it easier for both business and leisure travellers in Basra to connect seamlessly with key industry hubs in the US and Europe. “The decision to introduce these additional flights to Basra highlights the destination’s importance within our growing global network,” commented Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East, and Iran, Emirates, who added that since the launch of the route, the airline has seen strong passenger loads between the two cities and has provided an integral link between the southern region of Iraq and the rest of the world. Emirates



Sweet Experience at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa


Sheraton New Orleans Hotel Revamp

Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Germany, is to begin the production of its very own honey. As a unique initiative of the food and beverage team, the hives of five young bee colonies were brought and set up in the property’s private park. After harvesting the first crop of honey, with an estimated yield of 20kg per hive, it will be marketed under the name of Brenners Park Honey. Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa is part of The Oetker Collection, considered one of the most inspiring selection of hotels in the world.

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has embarked on a USD45 million renovation of the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, resulting in a transformation of the property's 1,100 guest rooms and suites, Sheraton Club Lounge, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, and lobby. Slated for completion in 2013, the project is part of an ongoing effort to enhance the company’s properties across the globe, following the recently-concluded USD6 billion brand-wide revitalisation. The highlight of the refurbished lobby will be the brand’s Link@ Sheraton experienced with Microsoft; the signature social hub where travellers can stay connected with instant access to information and technology for work, leisure, and social networking. The hotel's meeting and event facilities, including its ballrooms, are also in the midst of substantial improvements. “The comprehensive renovation to the Sheraton New Orleans underscores our commitment to attracting an even larger segment of the meetings and convention business in this vibrant city,” commented Denise Coll, president, North America division, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

The Ritz-Carlton to Make its Mark in Austria The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, is set to become the company’s first property in Austria when it opens its door to the public on August 27. Featuring 202 guest rooms and suites, one restaurant offering classic Austrian cuisine, a hotel bar, and a rooftop terrace, just to name a few, the property is located in the heart of the city on the famous Ring Boulevard, close to popular tourist spots. On the seventh floor, The Ritz-Carlton Club will offer an exclusive atmosphere with private check-in, five food presentations per day, as well as access to a bar for every guest who stays in a room or suite within the club category. Additionally, the hotel will boast a spa with six treatment rooms, two separate health areas for ladies and gentlemen, with a sauna and steam bath, in addition to an indoor pool and fitness centre. Furthermore The Ritz-Carlton Vienna will offer a total of 900m2 of conference space including the Crystal Ballroom, two boardrooms, and three meeting rooms, all fully equipped with the latest technology.

Holiday Inn Express Maceio Ponta Verde Opens InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the opening of Holiday Inn Express Maceió Ponta Verde in Brazil. The newly-built, 160-room hotel is located one block from Ponta Verde beach in Maceió, the capital of the coastal state Alagoas, in Northeast Brazil, and is close to several historic attractions, museums, and restaurants. Additionally, the property boasts four meeting rooms, altogether offering corporate guests 150m2 of space, and also comprises an outdoor pool, fitness centre, and business venue. “This new property exemplifies IHG's goal of finding the right opportunities to introduce the Holiday Inn Express brand in destinations with a strong demand for highquality yet affordable hotels,” expressed Ricardo Lopez, vice president, sales and marketing, IHG, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Maceiò, Ponta Verde

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Mike Clarke Mike Clarke has been appointed director of technical services at Rizon Jet. Clarke moves to Doha after serving BBA Aviation for 18 years in progressively responsible positions culminating in his role as sales and marketing director for Sub Sahara Africa. Previously, he also held sales and technical positions in charge of the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and Africa. In his new role, Clarke is respon-

sible for the management, refinement and growth of the Rizon Jet Technical Services that currently include maintenance, repair and overhaul, and continuing airworthiness management organisation facilities in Doha and in Biggin Hill, London. His experience and expertise will prove invaluable as the company further develop's this important arm of business.

Marc Bennett Marc Bennett has been appointed divisional senior vice president of the destination and leisure management division of Emirates Group. Having worked across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, Bennett has over 18 years of leisure and hospitality industry experience in tour operating, pricing, yield management, and distribution. He joins the group from TUI Travel’s Euro-

Amanda Claassens Amanda Claassens has been chosen to head Wings Travel Management’s Middle East operations. Claasens has been with the full-service travel management company for seven years and has served in a number of roles, including head of operations in Johannesburg, South Africa, before moving to Dubai two years ago to take on the position of

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head of operations. In her new position, based in Dubai, she will be responsible for the company’s Middle East as well as Cyprus operations. With offices in South Africa, UK, US, Brazil, and the Middle East, Wings Travel Management has provided oil and gas marine as well as corporate and government travel expetise for clients for the past 20 years.


pean sport businesses where he held the position of managing director for the Europe, the Middle East, and Asian region for two years. At Emirates Group, he has been tasked to oversee all business units within the division, which includes Emirates Holidays, Arabian Adventures, Congress Solutions International, and Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia.

Peter Hoesli Peter Hoesli has been named general manager of Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, in Jordan. Hoesli, who will concurrently hold the position of regional manager, Jordan, takes on the role from Bruno Huber, who was promoted to vice president operations, Asia, after seven successful years at the Jordanian property.

Hoesli joined the company in 1998 and has since then worked in Egypt, Gaza, Ramallah, and in Jordan; first as general manager in Petra, and for the last six years at the Mövenpick Resort & Residences Aqaba. The seasoned hotelier, who has an impeccable eye for detail, will play a vital role in the renovations process at the property.


travel talk is your space


Samer Majali

Razan El Khatib

CEO, Gulf Air.

Lecturer BBA, Bachelor of Business Administration, Stenden University Qatar.

“This is truly a major milestone for Gulf Air as we take charge of full Fleet Technical Management responsibility, demonstrating our strong in-house technical expertise. In-sourcing is a key part of our overall business strategy as it allows us to refocus on our engineering and maintenance systems and processes so that we achieve technical self-reliance and self-sufficiency.”

“I believe that our International Business Management students have high potential to indulge in the events market and attain such an achievement [’Once upon a Time in Sharq’ fashion show]. They were able to attract important sponsors and invite designers from abroad which was by itself a high standard of managerial skills and team work.”

Hassan Al-Mousawi CEO, Rizon Jet.

“Being passionate about our business and investing in our people will always remain one of our first priorities. It is not just the facility, but the people that make the difference. Our business in the Middle East and Europe continues to grow and new opportunities keep presenting themselves. We are seeing this as a true testament to the increasing strength of the Rizon Jet brand.”

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

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AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Mounir Nakad POSITION: General manager COMPANY: Amin Kawar & Sons (Lebanon) LOCATION: Beirut, Lebanon WEB: Who are you? I am a Lebanese citizen and I joined the travel and tourism business in 1964 as assistant to incoming and outgoing tour manager at Amin Kawar & Sons (Lebanon). In that period of time, it was the golden age of Lebanon. When war came to the country, I had to change my positions from tours to ticketing as it cancelled out the tourism sector. Accordingly, I had several ticketing sales courses. I served the company as sales manager until I reached the position I am at now. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? From my childhood, I always wanted to become a pilot, but due to lack of finances, I could not make it. So, I turned to work in travel trade as it was the only available position for me and it consists of airplanes. I love my job because it is not routine; everyday there is something new. When is the best time to visit Beirut? We have nine months of sunshine, so any time you come to Beirut will be a good time. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to go to Mauritius or Seychelles where I will have tranquility and warmth. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are experts in our field and we are knowledgeable lawyers on behalf of our client and against all the providers such as airlines. What the clients need is one call to our office and they will get everything they requests along with five-star service and minimal charges.

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Seychelles Invites Saudi Professionals Reaffirming its commitment to the Middle East region, the Seychelles Tourism Board in partnership with Etihad Airways recently hosted six travel professionals from Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The invitation of the group, which enjoyed visits to various unique sites on the islands of Mahé and Praslin with a visit to Valée de Mai, formed part of the two countries’ ongoing initiatives aimed at further increasing traffic between the destinations. They were also given the opportunity to visit a number of hotels across the country including Dhevatara Beach Hotel, Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, Kempinski Seychelles Resort, MAIA Luxury

Resort & Spa, Raffles Praslin Seychelles, and The Wharf Hotel and Marina. Ahemd Fathallah, regional manager, Middle East, Secyhelles Tourism Office, described this trip as one which has equipped the agents with a better understanding as to how to position and sell the destination to their discerning clientele. Over the past few years, Seychelles has experienced significant growth from the Middle East market, with visitor numbers reaching 12,800 in 2011, following a 54 percent surge from the Saudi market, and a 43 percent improvement from the rest of the region.



IATA Recognises Training Partners The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Training and Development Institute (ITDI) has honoured its best performing training partners as part of its recognition programme.


hile the Premier Circle programme recognises excellence among IATA’s authorised training centres, ITDI honours its most outstanding partners in dangerous goods training as well as its top regional partner, which, this year, was awarded to Air Traffic & Navigation Services, South Africa. From the Middle East, Qatar Aeronautical College was recognised in the Premier Circle category. Commenting on the awards, Guido Gianasso, vice president, Human Capital, said, “IATA congratulates all the winners on their achievements and we thank them for their contribution in developing the leadership skills that our members and industry partners require to successfully address the challenges facing the air transport industry.”

VISIT FLORIDA Marketing Tourism VISIT FLORIDA has announced the lineup of speakers and special events for its 45th Annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism being held on September 5 - 7, at Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Recognised as the premier educational conference for the Florida tourism industry, this event provides the opportunity for participants to learn the latest in marketing strategies, receive critical industry research data, and share best practices. This year’s conference theme, ‘Be Brilliant!’, will comprise of inspirational speakers and session which will include a total of 17 educational sessions covering current tourism related topics.

UNWTO Welcomes New Egyptian President Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UN World Tourism Organization, has congratulated Muhammad Morsi on his election as Egypt’s new president and applauded his support for the tourism sector, as expressed in the president’s first speech after taking office. “I warmly congratulate president Morsi on his recent win and welcome his strong commitment to tourism, a major pillar of the Egyptian economy,” Rifai announced. “We will work together to encourage investment in all sectors, and restore the role of tourism for the benefit of the Egyptian economy and every citizen in Egypt,” said Morsi. Tourism arrivals for the first five months of the year increased by 29 percent over 2011, which were down 32 percent following the pro-democracy movement that swept across the MENA region. Rifai believes that tourism to Egypt, one of the leading foreign exchange earners and job creators in the country, is showing clear signs of recovery, boosted by political support at the highest level. “UNWTO offers its full support to the Egyptian tourism sector and will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities towards its full recovery,” he concluded.

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Q & A with Deepak Dahiya Securing healthy occupancy rates during the summer period and Ramadan, and utilising the online and last-minute booking trends are some of the most pressing issues currently facing the hotel sector. Deepak Dahiya, director of sales and marketing, Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road, shares his views on the ever-changing market trends.

Travel Trade Weekly: How do you ensure high occupancy rates during the summer? Deepak Dahiya: This summer period, we are focusing on the GCC market with a targeted summer and Ramadan promotion, which will assist in driving our occupancy levels further upwards. Launched earlier this year, this promotional offer has already yielded an encouraging response, with the strongest feedback emanating from the Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti, Qatari, and Omani markets so far. The travel pattern of the GCC traveller historically shows that during the second half of Ramadan, many come to Dubai and stay through the ensuing Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday period. Moreover, during the last two years, the GCC market has swelled for Dubai hence there is much strategic sense in targeting this segment, especially during this period. Simultaneously, we will continue with our concerted efforts to retain the CIS and Indian markets at our higher-than-average market rate structure. Travel Trade Weekly: Which are Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road’s main target markets? Deepak Dahiya: Traditional markets such as the CIS and Indian subcontinent remain strong for us, as does the local GCC market. While the European market has dropped, we are confident that our participation at key European travel trade exhibitions this year, such as ITB Berlin, will help to re-grow this market in the long-run. Keeping an eye on the long-term, we are also focusing our efforts on growing the emerging BRIC economies by pursuing ag-

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gressive pricing and marketing strategies which are aimed at developing these volume markets with a burgeoning middleclass market whose levels of travel and spend are spiralling upwards.

Deepak Dahiya Director of sales and marketing, Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road

competitive pricing, rate parity, as well as open availability across multiple online channels. Above and beyond these activities, we are constantly reviewing and responding to each and every guest comment and feedback on guest review forums, with a view to securing a superior guest satisfaction index. Finally, to keep up with the ever-shifting online trends and to ensure we can adapt readily and accordingly, we invest in Pay Per Click Marketing efforts, which yield better returns on online channels. Travel Trade Weekly: Where do you see the greatest potential to further grow your business?

Travel Trade Weekly: Travellers are increasingly moving towards online and last-minute bookings. How are you adapting to these new trends? Deepak Dahiya: The strategy at Mercure Gold Hotel Al Mina Road Dubai is to ensure our product has appropriate visibility; appropriate in the sense that hotel content inclusive of text, graphics, live images, and videos, is kept continually up to date. In line with our ongoing determination to attract last minute bookers and subsequently convert them into bookers with us, we maintain a strong focus on providing

Deepak Dahiya: There is a clear indication from government projections that a positive shift in figures now places Saudi Arabia and India as the top producing markets for Dubai. The driving factors that have helped Dubai further attract these key markets are multilayered: Dubai has continued upon its march towards economic development and creating a world-class infrastructure for both corporate and leisure tourists; it boasts one of the strongest strategic locations globally; the unrest that has unsettled the region has generated positive opportunities in Dubai; and the economic turmoil into which Europe has been thrown has helped to propel confidence levels in this emirate’s business capabilities. Aside from these top producing markets, we are also eyeing the keen opportunities facing us from within the Indian and Chinese markets, which are slated to grow further and are, as a result, already being hailed as volume markets of the future.



QH to Develop Harrods Hotels Qatar Holding (QH) is to open Harrodsbranded hotels in London and other prime locations around the world. As part of its long-term strategy, the company plans to launch Harrods hotels in key cities, such as Kuala Lumpur, New York and Paris, as well as in China. QH has already signed a memorandum of understanding in Malaysia with property developer Jerantas Sdn Bhd, in a quest to study the potential development of a Harrods hotel in Bukit Bintang. The Qatari company, which owns the world-class luxury brand Harrods, and the Malaysian firm will jointly invest MYR2 billion (USD634 million) to build a Harrods Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. “Qatar Holding will invest more, especially in Malaysia's natural resources, due to the country's political stability and economic growth expected to average five percent,” said Dr. Hussain Ali Al-Abdulla, vice chairman, QH.

Etihad Airways and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Collaborate Etihad Airways and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, have signed a new partnership offering members of their award-winning loyalty programmes, Etihad Guest and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), an array of new benefits. Etihad Guest members can now earn Etihad Guest Miles when staying at Starwood Hotels & Resorts around the world, while SPG members can convert their Starpoints into Etihad Guest Miles, with each Starpoint equivalent to one mile in the Etihad Guest programme. SPG members will be given an extra 5,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints converted to Etihad Guest Miles. According to Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, the hotel company shares many of the same guest experience values as Etihad Airways and believes this partnership will be warmly welcomed by members of the Etihad Guest and Starwood Preferred Guest programmes.

Etihad Airways

EVENTS China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) Beijing, China, September 12 – 14, 2012 ( A leading meetings, incentives, and business travel show providing the ultimate platform for suppliers to the MICE industry.

The 18th World Route Development Forum Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 29 – October 2, 2012 The largest global event of its kind, attracting over 2,750 delegates from more than 80 countries, and determining the future of air services.

International French Travel Market (IFTM Top Resa) Paris, France, September 18 – 21, 2012 ( An international fair for networking, doing business, innovating, and keeping abreast of market developments, offering a 360° panorama of the travel industry.

ITB ASIA Singapore, October 3 - 5, 2012 ( Where exhibitors across all sectors of the travel-value chain, meet with top international buyers from the MICE, leisure, and corporate travel markets.

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

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

PATA Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 ( Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers.

Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) Moscow, Russia, October 15 – 17, 2012 ( Addressing the key opportunities and challenges across the region and offering a platform to exchange ideas with fellow industry experts.

21 JULY 2012

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 141  

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 141  

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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