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28 JULY 2012


dnata and Costa Cruises Collaborate dnata has been appointed as a passenger sales agent for Costa Cruises, providing dnata customers even more leisure options to choose from.choose from

The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority has announced that the total number of visitors to the emirate from January to May was 523,568.

04 Emirates Serves Portugal Daily Emirates has further extended its European reach by starting its first daily non-stop flight to Lisbon.





















Positive Visitor Numbers for Ras Al Khaimah





Carnival Corporation: Better Than Expected Carnival Corporation closed the second quarter (Q2) of the year with lower net income than in 2011, however expects higher earnings for the full year.

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou


SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Katerina Dalal 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 EMAILS


26/07/2012 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)



he company’s net income totalled USD14 million, or USD0.02 diluted earnings per share, as opposed to USD206 million, or USD0.26 a share in 2011, due to losses on fuel price contracts. “Cruise ticket prices, excluding Costa, held a firm close to sailing which, combined with stronger than expected onboard revenues, drove yields above prior year levels,” explained Micky Arison, chairman, Carnival Corporation. Arison further praised the company’s North American brands for performing well, achieving a three percent revenue yield improvement compared to 2011, which more

than offset slightly lower yields for the Europe, Australia, and Asia brands, excluding Costa. Summarising the company’s expectations for the full-year, Arison added, “The increase in booking volumes indicates that a progressive recovery is well underway and we are catching up following the slowdown in bookings during wave season, our peak booking period. The attractive pricing we have in the marketplace is clearly stimulating demand, especially for the Costa brand. We are pleased to see the resurgence in consumer demand for Costa, which is a testament to the brand’s long-standing reputation for quality built over many decades.”

Rizon Jet: Robust Increase in London Rizon Jet, the Qatar-based private aviation company, has experienced threefold traffic growth at its one-year-old VIP Terminal at London’s Biggin Hill airport. Despite the economic setbacks, demand for private jet charters into the capital city surges on the back of high profile events, noted Allan McGreal, director, fixed-base operations, UK, Rizon Jet. “Six months into our second year, movements and passenger numbers at our London base are up by almost 300 percent compared to 2011,” McGreal said. “Despite the backdrop of a gloomy economy, and a general flat trend in the business aviation market, Rizon Jet UK really is bucking the trend and delivering month on month growth. “Feedback shows we are consistently rated excellent across all segments of the business drawing comments particularly for client service and value for money, and whilst confident, we will be able to convert many new customers into loyal ones; we are not complacent and work hard to meet and exceed their expectations, and always seek long-lasting and rewarding relationships with our clients.”

Rizon Jet

28 JULY 2012

WEEKLY NEWS Al Jazeera Park Undergoes Makeover Al Jazeera Park is temporarily closed as one of Sharjah’s premier tourist destinations is set to undergo major improvements. Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the supervisory body of the development, is currently following up the final procedures of the project, which forms part of the organisation’s strategy to develop Sharjah and its tourist establishments. According to H.E. Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson, Shurooq, the project will significantly add to the already extensive list of the emirate’s attractions. Sharjah

28 JULY 2012


Qatari Diar to Develop Projects in Oman Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Omani Ministry of Tourism to develop three world-class leisure destinations in the Sultanate. The deal also established a partnership of 70/30 between the Qatari entity and the ministry on the three mixed-use projects. “Qatari Diar developments worldwide are recognised for spurring economies, lowering unemployment, defining new sector standards, and contributing to sustainability,” highlighted Mohammed bin Ali Al-Hedfa, CEO, Qatari Diar Group, who described this deal as one which signifies the company’s commitment to investing in the tourism sector of Oman, having signed a preliminary agreement with the ministry to finance and construct a mixed-use property at Ras Al Hadd in the Sur district of the Sultanate.



Sharjah to Welcome 130,000 Cruise Passengers Sharjah is set to experience a 50 percent increase in the arrivals of international luxury cruise passengers during the upcoming 2012-13 season. According to Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, the emirate’s Khor Fakkan Port is expected to host more than 40 luxury cruise liners with some 130,000 travellers on board, up 63,000 from the 2011-2012 season.

Cruise liner calling at Khor Fakkan Port

“During the upcoming season, the Khor Fakkan Port, will receive two cruise ships a week as against just one weekly call in the last season,” Al Noman added. Costa Atlantica, Costa Classica, Costa neoRomantica, Seabourne Pride, and Seabourne Odyssey have already confirmed their arrival, and TUI and Royal Caribbean are currently in negotiations with the Khor Fakkan Port Authority.

dnata and Costa Cruises Collaborate dnata has been appointed as a passenger sales agent (PSA) for Costa Cruises; a leading cruise company in Europe and said to be the first cruise operator to have established regular itineraries out of Dubai. The new PSA agreement with Costa Cruises now provides dnata customers even more leisure options to choose from when booking their next holiday, as Nathan Adams, head of non-air travel, dnata, explained. “As a travel management company we are dedicated to ensuring only the finest travel products are available for our customers. We expect the rapid growth of the UAE as a cruise destination to continue. Costa’s packages are amongst the best in the industry, so this will be a welcome extension to our existing cruise business.” According to Dario Rustico, director of sales and marketing, central Europe, Africa, Middle East, and India, Costa Cruises, dnata’s extensive network and renowned brand within the Middle East markets certainly represent a golden opportunity to help communicate, to all local travellers, the advantages and the uniqueness of Costa Cruises’ service on all itineraries around the world.

TDIC to Add Medical Centre to Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), the master developer of Saadiyat Island and US-based DNA Health Corp., has signed a leasing agreement to establish a medicine and wellness centre within The Collection retail complex at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi.

Saadiyat Island

Due to open in the first quarter of 2013, Saadiyat Island’s DNA Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness will offer a new model of family health care based on a holistic approach combining Western medicine, advanced diagnostics and cellular therapies, and the Eastern alternative modalities. According to Nasim Ashraf, chairman, DNA Health Corp., the state-of-the-art centre will bring the highest level of US healthcare protocols to the UAE.

SCTA Graduates More Tourist Guides The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities’ (SCTA) Makkah Branch branch recently concluded its second intensive training course with 13 new tourist guides having graduated from the programme. After obtaining the proper licenses in the three prescribed categories of tourist guides prevalent in the Kingdom, including national, provincial and site’s guides, the graduates can immediately engage in the profession. Highlighting the great importance of such initiatives, Abdul-

lah Al Sawat, director, SCTA Makkah Branch, said, “SCTA has prepared the tourist guide licensing programme in the Kingdom in line with its policy to promote the role of tourist guides, by making the role more professional and providing [the trainee] with the opportunity to reflect the bright image of the Kingdom in terms of its deep-rooted culture and history. Besides, this programme aims to prepare tourist guides to provide proper information on tourist sites to domestic tourists in a professional manner.”

28 JULY 2012




Al Ain Resort Gets Upgraded

Elaf Kinda Hotel Re-opens

The historic One to One Resort – Ain Al Fayadha, which, following extensive improvements, opened its doors in June, continues its extensive renovation project with three more phases. The resort now welcomes guests with 20 villas, while phase two, which is slated for completion in August, will see the unveiling of the reception area and the re-opening of the 26-room boutique hotel, among others. By the end of the year, the final phase is also set to be unveiled and will include the introduction of river sports and a large number of recreational facilities including a family and kids’ club and camel track.

The Elaf Group of Companies has reopened its Elaf Kinda Hotel following SAR58 million (USD15.5 million) renovations. Located in the heart of Mecca, the newly renovated 240-key hotel aims to target religious travellers visiting the Holy City during the peak season of Hajj and Umrah, according to Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group of Companies. “We have invested a significant amount for the hotel’s renovation, which has been redesigned with new sections and facilities aimed at addressing all of our clients’ expectations and provide them with the best services while they perform their rituals and complete their pilgrimage,” he said.

Oetker Collection to Open Guerlain Spas Oetker Collection and Guerlain have entered into an exclusive partnership in a bid to launch Guerlain spas at the selection’s masterpiece hotels worldwide with Palais Namaskar, Marrakech, being the first property to benefit from the initiative. Guerlain, which maintains a very selective global network of beauty spas in prime cities as well as in a few resort areas, uses natural materials to create beauty potions at the five-star property’s Le Spa Namaskar, which revolves around the three fundamentals of purity, energy, and balance. The prestigious French brand’s debut in the Moroccan city opens a new perspective for future joint developments.

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Air News

Emirates to Serve London with A380s Emirates’ five daily flights to London Heathrow will all be served by Airbus A380s as of February 1, 2013, firmly establishing the airline as the principal double-decker operator into the British capital. Combined with the daily Manchester A380 service, this will mean that Emirates will be sending 42 A380 flights to the UK each week, by far the company's biggest A380 market. Known for its quietness and fuel efficiency, Emirates’ A380s boast 14 flat-bed first class private suites with electrically operated doors while business class features 76 fully-flat mini-pods, all onboard the aircraft’s upper deck. Downstairs, depending on the configuration, there are 399 or 427 comfortably contoured seats in economy class, spread across four separate cabins. “Our customers will also have a greater chance of an all-A380 experience when travelling across our network between London, Dubai and places such as Bangkok, Beijing, Tokyo, Sydney, and from October 1, Melbourne,” commented Salem Obaidalla, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and Russian Federation, Emirates.

RJ Suspends Services to Syria Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) suspended its operations between Amman and Damascus and Aleppo, in light of the regression in demand on travel to both routes due to the current situation prevailing in Syria. RJ has also put out various options to the passengers who already issued their tickets to the airline’s destinations in Syria. Without any penalties, travellers may either refund the tickets of the cancelled flights or revalidate them to a later date after RJ resumes the service. In addition, passengers may use the ticket value to travel on any other route on RJ's network.

Qatar Airways Pursues in Saudi Market Qatar Airways has expressed interest in launching an airline registered in Saudi Arabia. According to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, the Kingdom represents a key growth area. However, he recently expressed particular concern over excessive fuel charges in Saudi Arabia describing these factors as detrimental to airlines, alongside the government’s policy of controlling domestic air fares. Capping airfares, Al Baker said, will never allow any airline to operate commercially in the Kingdom, citing the demise of domestic carrier Sama Airlines due to such measures. He further stressed that other airlines operating domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were facing the same problem of rising costs, pointing out that these needed to be seriously addressed. Al Baker indicated that Qatar Airways was keen to invest in the Saudi domestic aviation market but this was dependent on a fundamental rethink by the government of certain factors which needed to be tackled.

28 JULY 2012



Emirates Serving Portugal Daily Emirates has further extended its European reach by starting its first daily non-stop flight to Lisbon. “Emirates has become the only carrier in the Middle East operating into Portugal with a daily non-stop service, doing more than just transporting passengers from one point to another, but also opening trade opportunities that did not exist before,” said Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, passenger sales worldwide, Emirates.

Welcoming Reception

“Our broad network of 20 points in the Far East and Australasia, 17 across the Middle East, and over 180 flights to India every week, will offer travellers from Lisbon and beyond easier access to a vast range of worldwide destinations,” he continued. “This is coupled with an unparalleled experience in the air with on-board features like ice, our award-winning in-flight entertainment system, worldclass service, and gourmet cuisine,” Antinori concluded.


Etihad Airways Acquires Higher Stake in Virgin Australia Etihad Airways has welcomed the decision by the Australian government to allow the airline to increase its equity stake in Virgin Australia Holdings to a maximum of 10 percent. Etihad Airways currently has a 4.99 percent stake in Virgin Australia, acquired earlier this year, and had applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board to raise the level of its investment. The purchase was made following the development of a highly successful multi-tiered partnership between the two airlines that includes code-sharing on flights, joint marketing initiatives, and reciprocal earn-and-burn on their respective frequent flier programmes. The strategic partnership has already delivered significant revenues to each airline with the equity stake expected to lead to further revenue generating opportunities. Together, Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia currently operate 24 flights per week between Australia and Abu Dhabi offering travellers greater choice and access to a combined network of more than 285 global destinations.

flydubai Unveils Mobile Website Travellers can now access a host of online functions and important travel information in the palm of their hand with the launch of a new mobile website from flydubai. Designed to work with any device that has Internet connection and a web browser, the new mobile feature allows customers to book and pay for flights from almost anywhere in the world. With all the functionality of the normal flydubai booking process, travellers can choose their seats,

purchase checked baggage, and select insurance, as well as access to-the-minute flights status information, including arrival and departure times and the journey duration. “flydubai recognises that mobile technology is playing an increasingly important part of our customers’ everyday lives,” commented Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, who added that this is just the start of the airline’s plans for mobile technology.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Launches London Guide App Virgin Atlantic Airways has launched a free iPhone application that brings London to life with a new city guide, featuring itineraries from well-known Londoners and the best places to eat, drink, and sleep, for global sports fans arriving into the UK capital. ‘Virgin Atlantic’s London City Guide’, features exclusive interviews with famous Londoners, little-known facts and lists, fashion tips, information on the best out-of-London destinations for weekends away, along with a calendar to help users keep track of sporting activities across the city. Furthermore, the app offers augmented reality onthe-ground views, whereby the consumer points the phone at an iconic site and a computer-generated overlay provides information on more about the surrounding area. Brad West, country manager, UAE, Virgin Atlantic Airways, commented, “Rather than just offering a traditional guide book’s top picks, we have curated our own, and allow users to pick places and events they would like to add to their wish list.”

28 JULY 2012


Azar Saliba Azar Saliba has become the new hotel manager of Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. Saliba, who comes from a 17year hospitality background, is the youngest hotel manager within the Jumeirah Group. Previously working as resident manager at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, he has built up a successful track record with the

group since joining it in 2006. His talent for dealing with both guests and staff, coupled up with his bilingual skills, has led to his progression up the managerial ladder.

Saliba is the youngest hotel manager within the Jumeirah Group

Lee Stephens Lee Stephens has been named general manager of MSpa International, the spa division of Minor Hotel Group. With 19 years of experience under his belt, Stephens will lead the spa management company’s continued growth in the region and beyond. Having been based in Asia for nine years, he has held various key positions within the industry, working most recently as managing director of Sol Spa Services, his own spa consultancy in Hong

28 JULY 2012

Kong. Prior to that, he was in charge of the operations and business development of some of the most recognised spas and skin care centres in Hong Kong and was also instrumental in the growth of the spa division of Paua Group. His previous work experience also includes leading luxury and cruise lines across the globe, such as Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, and the spa at Atlantis on Paradise Island in The Bahamas.


Floria Wun Floria Wun has been appointed director of public relations, international, at Langham Hospitality Group. Wun will be in charge of overseeing public relations for the group in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, where she will play a pivotal role in developing and driving the group’s strategy

and enhance the profiles of the company’s portfolio of brands. Prior to joining Langham Hospitality Group, she served as director of public relations with a luxury hotel brand in Beijing and held a regional position with another international luxury hotel brand as well.


travel talk is your space


Alfred Pisani

Hossam Kamal

Chairman, Corinthia Hotels.


“Corinthia celebrates 50 years in business this year and we wanted to mark this milestone with a series of philanthropic gestures including community driven projects in Africa. The [Water for Life project promoted by water aid charity Just a Drop and sponsored by Corinthia Hotels] in Tabata-Bima [in Tanzania] will provide long term sustainable benefits to the community and directly help to give children the gift of life and good health.”

“The arrival of our 80th aircraft comes concurrent with EGYPTAIR’s 80th anniversary, which confirms that EGYPTAIR is an important part of the Egyptian modern history as we dedicate all our capabilities for serving the society and to participating in the charitable initiatives done by the expatriate Egyptians. In spite of the [recent] hardships, EGYPTAIR continued its fleet modernisation plan in addition to performing its national role in serving the national economy.”

Leon Salinel

Pep Lozano

Executive assistant manager, sales and marketing, Dusit Thani Dubai.

General manager, The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal.

“This is the first year we are doing the Evening Shisha Lounge. It completes the whole Iftar experience. We have found in the past that our Iftar guests, more often than not, wanted to stay longer into the evening. The new addition has created a relaxing oasis around our rooftop pool. The calming water and amazing views of both Sheikh Zayed Road and the Burj Khalifa under Arabic tented areas offer a great location for Ramadan evenings.”

“The experience Ritz-Carlton provides is more than just personalised service. We create unique memories for our guests; ones that have an emotional connection for them which they will remember for a very long time. This happens by anticipating our guests’ needs and empowering our ladies and gentlemen to then create a ’wow’ experience for the guest. The level of employee engagement and desire to create truly memorable experiences for our guests is tangible.”

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

28 JULY 2012


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Mahmud Ahmad POSITION: President COMPANY: Bonds Travel Bureau LOCATION: Pakistan WEB: Who are you? My name is Mahmud Ahmad and I am a veteran of the travel industry in Pakistan. I have held many coveted posts such as serving twice as chairman of the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan, twice as Pakistan chapter president of American Society of Travel Agents, director of United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations, and several advisory level roles for the betterment of the travel trade locally and internationally. Bonds Travel Bureau is primarily a travel management company handling corporate customers. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Everyday is a new day and the travel industry keeps re-innovating itself. It seldom gets boring! When is the best time to visit Pakistan? Pakistan is a destination that can be visited year round. The entire country is rich with culture and heritage, and the hospitality of the Pakistani people is known for its warmth and over-the-top graciousness. Any visitor would be lucky to experience first hand the mystical and magical tours that Pakistan has to offer. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Europe and/or the Middle East. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Having the knowledge and experience of the travel trade, I can proudly say that we are thorough in our approach to handling customers. We provide a complete solution with a very proactive thought process; giving the customer choices, accommodating their needs, and building a trustworthy relationship is our main objective. Therefore, we thrive on relationships as we know the value of each, and we know that in order to have a future we must keep learning from the past and build on our present.

28 JULY 2012


Travelport Launches New Application Travelport has announced the launch of a new travel application, ViewTrip Mobile, for users of smartphones in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Following a successful launch in the UK earlier this year, this is now one of the first, fully integrated global distribution systems powered travel itinerary applications available in these countries. ViewTrip Mobile delivers time-critical information and other valuable tools to enable travellers to be fully aware and in control of their travel arrangements at any time. Among the useful features are simple, one-time registration with future trips automatically synced to the mobile; flight status with live flight alerts; detailed airport and city guides;

location aware services; weather forecasts; currency conversion; and itinerary management. Travelport, through its development partner ManticPoint, are also offering a white-label version of ViewTrip Mobile, enabling travel agents to brand the application and itineraries using their own logo and colours, take control of content including agency-specific help and advice, decide which affiliate content appears, and proactively manage and target communications with the traveller via the app when disruption or the travel environment changes. According to Rabih Saab, president, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, ViewTrip Mobile is already making a positive impact.



Keeping the Middle Eastern Traveller in Mind UK tourism is set to get a boost from Middle Eastern travellers following the end of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


ith the country anticipated to receive some six million visitors throughout the sports event, officials expect a total of approximately 30.7 million visitors for the full year. A vast array of late summer deals are attracting UAE families after the games time, noted Carol Maddison, UAE manager, VisitBritain, adding that especially

with Eid which falls on August 19 and with schools across the UAE not set to resume until September 9, visitors will be offered ample time to enjoy a cooler summer holiday in the UK. Should Gulf visitors travel to London during the holy month of Ramadan, they can plan on enjoying Iftar breakfast options at hotels across the city, created with the Middle Eastern traveller in mind.

Mövenpick: Focus on Energy and Water Savings Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts achieved major reduction in emission of greenhouse gases as well as significant savings in water consumption at its properties across the Middle East. During the last 12 months, following the Green Globe certification of hotels in the UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, the company accomplished the reduction of 11,765 tonnes of CO2 and savings of 129,345m3 of potable water.

Maximising Jet Fuel Production Monroe Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, has reached an agreement with Phillips 66 to acquire the trainer refinery complex south of Philadelphia. As part of the transaction, Monroe Energy will enter into strategic sourcing and marketing agreements with BP and Phillips 66. The acquisition includes pipelines and transportation assets that will provide access to the delivery network for jet fuel reaching Delta Air Lines’ operations throughout the Northeast, including its hubs at LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. After receipt of USD30 million in state government assistance for job creation and infrastructure improvement from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Monroe Energy’s investment to acquire the refinery will be USD150 million and the company will spend USD100 million to convert the existing infrastructure to maximise jet fuel production. Production at the refinery combined with multiyear agreements to exchange gasoline, diesel, and other refined products from the refinery for jet fuel, will provide 80 percent of Delta Air Lines’ jet fuel needs in the US.

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Q & A with Neil Palomba Neil Palomba, corporate operating officer, MSC Cruises, speaks to Travel Trade Weekly about the cruise line’s re-entry into Tunisia after its seized operations to La Goulette, Tunis, following the political situation in 2010, and how the company is doing its part in promoting the country as safe, secure, and stable.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has MSC Cruises’ return to La Goulette, Tunis, been over the past 12 months and how was the feedback you received from the passengers regarding the re-introduction of this route?

have made a total of 131 calls to Tunis, bringing about 790,000 international tourists. This represents a 25 percent increase in calls and a 34 percent increase in passenger visits from 2011.

Neil Palomba: MSC Cruises was, in fact, the first cruise line to redirect its ships back to Tunisia, with MSC Fantasia and MSC Lirica returning to La Goulette on July 5, 2011, and MSC Splendida and MSC Sinfonia both calling at the port the day after. During the approximate four-month period in which events prevented MSC Cruises from calling into Tunis, the company decided not to replace La Goulette with another port of call, choosing instead to spend a day at sea so as to be ready to reinstate the original call schedule as soon as conditions were restored. The feedback from guests was overwhelmingly positive. Tunis has always been a popular destination with our guests and they were happy to be able to experience the renowned North African hospitality.

Travel Trade Weekly: What does 2013 hold regarding the popularity of Tunis as a destination onboard MSC Cruises?

Travel Trade Weekly: How many MSC Cruises passengers have visited Tunis so far since the cruise company’s return to the city and what are your end-of-year predictions? Neil Palomba: In 2011, MSC Cruises called in Tunisia a total of 105 times, bringing 480,000 international tourists to visit Tunis. This year, four ships from MSC Cruises’ state-of-theart fleet are calling regulary in Tunis, and guests on board MSC Fantasia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Sinfonia, and MSC Splendida are enjoying the delights of the area. By the end of the year, MSC Cruises will

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Neil Palomba Corporate operating officer, MSC Cruises

Neil Palomba: MSC Cruises’ number one priority is the safety and security of its guests, and so the swift return of MSC Cruises’ ships to the region was a great way of showing the world that the area was once again safe, secure, and tourist friendly. From being the first cruise line to redirect ships back to the region, to our press statements, and guest communications, MSC Cruises has made concerted efforts to promote Tunisia as a safe country to visit. MSC Cruises has in fact become a true ambassador of the country, making a significant contribution to consolidating its image and profile. Tourism represents one of the biggest resources for this country’s economic revival and we are proud to be making our contribution. Travel Trade Weekly: What makes Tunis different to the rest of the cities on MSC Cruises' destination network?

Neil Palomba: While MSC Cruises is always looking into new destinations to meet our guests’ expectations, Tunisia will certainly continue to be an important destination on MSC Cruises’ itineraries in 2013. Proof of this is that our newest ship, MSC Preziosa, which will set sail for the first time in March, will be calling regularly at Tunis. Travel Trade Weekly: How are you promoting Tunisia as a safe country to visit?

Neil Palomba: As one of only two ports of call in North Africa, Tunis offers guests on MSC Cruises’ Mediterranean itineraries a completely unique experience, boasting African and Arabic hospitality, architecture, history, and culture, all of which are a great contrast and complement the rest of the destinations on the Mediterranean itineraries. Tunis actually consists of three cities: the modern capital city of Tunisia, with its wide streets and busy sidewalk cafés; the Arabic Medina (Old Town) from the Middle Ages, an exciting labryinth laden with secrets; and the ancient Phoenician/Roman city of Carthage, which lies 18km from Tunis. There is something special in Tunis for every MSC guest to discover.



Positive Visitor Numbers for Ras Al Khaimah The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Ras Al Khaimah TDA) has announced that the total number of visitors to the emirate from January to May was recorded at 523,568, generating a revenue boost reaching some AED277 million (USD75.5 million). The main visitor source markets to Ras Al Khaimah were Germany, the UAE, Russia, Austria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Italy, Sweden, and the UK, with Germany bringing in more than 172,700 tourists followed by the UAE with 114,000. Compared to 2011, Ras Al Khaimah’s hotels have performed consistently well for the first five months of the year with occupancy and daily rates increasing across both beach and city properties resulting in total hotel revenue of almost AED277 million (USD75.5 million). The beach hotels and resorts recorded an average occupancy of 82.4 percent with an increase of 5.9 percent as well as an approximate 23.2 percent rise in average daily rate, where RevPAR improved by roughly 32.7 percent. The city hotels showed a growth in the average daily rate by 20.6 percent and in RevPAR by 32.8 percent as well as the occupancy, which rose nearly seven percent reaching an average of 73.7 percent.

Commenting on the recent visitor figures, Victor Louis, chief operating officer, Ras Al Khaimah TDA, said, “Ras Al Khaimah’s popularity among domestic, regional, and international visitors continues to rise. This is an extremely encouraging result that both supports and bolsters Ras Al Khaimah’s success as a global affordable luxury destination offering leisure and adventure experiences as well as a viable destination ripe for further tourism investment.” In light of the visitor volume and with new developments due to open, Ras Al Khaimah TDA is confident of achieving its goal of welcoming 1.2 million visitors by 2013 and reaching a hotel room inventory of 10,000 rooms by 2016. Speaking about future plans, Louis said, “In the coming months we are working on a series of new tourism projects with a budget of USD500 million that was assigned by the government of Ras Al Khaimah until the end of 2013. We are also tapping into new source markets and looking into expanding and developing charter flights direct to Ras Al Khaimah from European cities after the success of the charter flights from Germany, Austria, and Sweden, which we introduced in 2011.”

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.

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

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Profile for T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 142  

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 142  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

Profile for elinaperi