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Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

08 SEPTEMBER 2012

ISSUE 148

Sofitel to Debut in Casablanca For the first time, Sofitel is to open its doors in Casablanca with the inauguration of Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche.

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Al Majaz Waterfront has maintained its position as one of the premier destinations in Sharjah, with 1,151,433 tourists visiting the site in the first half of the year.

Air Arabia Expanding India Services Air Arabia has announced the expansion of services to the Indian capital, New Delhi, from the carrier’s primary hub in Sharjah.

07 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR NEWS INTERNATIONAL WHO’S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT’S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

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Al Majaz Waterfront: Over One Million Visitors

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY

Jet Airways Reports Profit

MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou

Jet Airways posted a quarterly profit of INR333 million (USD4.4 million) for the three-month period ending June 30, versus a loss of INR52 million (USD27.6 million) in the corresponding quarter in 2011.

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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 www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

7/08/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.10

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

66.87

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.59

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.76

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,283.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.61

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

79.97

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.26

et Group, which includes Jet Airways and Jetlite, recorded a total revenue of INR52.7 billion (USD948.5 million), marking a year-on-year increase of 31.4 percent, 56 percent of which accounted for international operations bringing international revenues up 29.8 percent with an average seat factor of 86.3 percent. “Fuel cost increase and depreciation of the Indian Rupee vis-à-vis the US Dollar weighed heavily on the industry's profitability,” noted Nikos Kardassis, CEO, Jet Airways, highlighting that the industry has been going through turbulent times over the last few quarters. “Going forward, we do not expect any major capacity increase given the delivery schedules of airlines in the sector,” he added, simul-

Jet Airways

taneously assuring that as India’s premier airline, Jet Airways will continue to strive in its endeavour to enhance guest experiences through various strategic marketing and customer friendly initiatives.

Air Arabia: 31 Percent Profit Increase Demonstrating the continued strength of the airline’s business model, Air Arabia posted a net profit of AED66 million (USD18 million) for the second quarter of the year, marking a 31 percent growth over the corresponding period in 2011. The carrier’s turnover for the quarter amounted to AED729 million (USD198 million), up 23 percent, while passenger volume rose 15 percent to reach 1.3 million, pushing load factors to 85 percent, up three percent. Commenting on the results, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, said, “Air Arabia’s expansion strategy and efficient operating model continue to be reflected in the airline’s financial performance, amidst continues political challenges that the region is witnessing. In the second quarter of this year, our proven ability to identify and capitalise on underserved served routes continued to reap enormous benefits.” For the first half of the year, Air Arabia reported a net profit of AED115 million (USD31 million), resulting in an increase of 22 percent compared to the AED94 million (USD25.6 million) recorded in the corresponding period in 2011.

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WEEKLY NEWS Al Majaz Waterfront: One Million Visitors

Badawi Mall Debuts Real Ice Skating Rink

Al Majaz Waterfront has maintained its position as one of the premier destinations in Sharjah, with 1,151,433 tourists visiting the site in the first half of the year. Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, chief operating officer, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), attributed the success to the renewal of and diversification in activities and service facilities, and said that the number included 348,000 visitors to restaurants and cafès and over 800,000 visitors to other attractions, which cater to the needs of all age groups and social segments at the 231,000m² park which opened to the public at the end of 2011.

Badawi Mall, the biggest shopping mall in Al Ain City, has switched from having an artificial ice skating rink to now boasting a real one, in a bid to offer visitors a year-round destination with a host of activities and programmes. The indoor ice rink, hailed as the biggest in a shopping mall in Al Ain, covers an area of 600m2 and uses technology that maintains ice consistency at all times, ensuring constant safety and quality. The new skating rink is set to host a wide variety of events and skating lessons will be offered all year round.

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Yas WaterWorld: Development on Schedule The 15ha outdoor Yas WaterWorld Abu Dhabi, located next to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, is gearing up for its official opening in the fourth quarter of the year. Based on the developer, Aldar Properties’ latest construction progress update, on site construction has progressed rapidly and all rise installation is now complete with good progress being made on themed rockworks and external facades. In addition, work on the internal finishes as well as landscaping is in full swing.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Best Western to Debut in Oman

Muscat

Best Western Premier Muscat is to welcome its first guests in October, marking the brand’s debut in the Middle East and Best Western International’s (BWI) foray into the Sultanate. Located in the business and commercial district of Al Kuwait, close to several embassies and government ministries, the 203-room hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travellers and is set to become a key part of the capital city’s tourism industry scene. The 10-storey property houses four function rooms, a fitness centre, sauna, indoor swimming pool, and a premier floor with enhanced ameni-

ties. Food and beverage outlets include an all-day dining outlet, a grill house, and a café with complimentary use of computer hubs. Describing the Middle East as one of the most exciting hotel markets in the world, Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, said, “The launch of the Best Western Premier Muscat will offer the perfect combination of superior facilities, exquisite service, and international-standard amenities in the centre of this fast-growing city. I am sure this hotel will prove to be a game-changer, not only for the city of Muscat and the Sultanate of Oman, but also for Best Western’s development in the Middle East.” By 2015, BWI aims to add another 20 hotels to its regional portfolio.

Rezidor to Open Dubai Hotel in 2015 The Rezidor Hotel Group is to add another property to its Dubai portfolio, namely the 300-room Park Inn by Radisson Dubai Al Jadaf, scheduled to open in 2015. Located in the Al Jadaf area, only 5km from Dubai International and within close proximity to a number of major attractions, the hotel will comprise two restaurants, a

lobby lounge, bar, fitness centre, and 400m2 of meeting space, and will form part of a new development that will comprise two more hotels of a more upscale and luxury positioning. “Dubai and the UAE are a promising market for Park Inn by Radisson,” emphasised Kurt Ritter, president, The Rezidor

Hotel Group, adding that the hotel will add value to the up-and-coming Al Jadaf area, offering a stylish yet reasonably priced accommodation option. The company’s current UAE portfolio comprises nine hotels with 2,550 rooms in operation, and it aims to further strengthen its presence in the market.

Sofitel to Debut in Casablanca

Casablanca

For the first time, Sofitel is to open its doors in Casablanca with the inauguration of Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche. The glass building, designed by Belgian architect Patrick Guénard, is said to reflect the breath of modernity that Morocco's largest city is currently experiencing. Situated at the heart of the business district, the 24-storey hotel features 141 bedrooms and 30 suites offering views of the city’s skyline. Additionally, the hotel offers a variety of dining possibilities including French, Arabian, Maghrebi, Persian, and Asian cuisine, and a bar lounge decorated with paintings and sculptures, dedicating its interior to art. Moreover, the property’s 24th floor boasts a penthouse with protected access and a terrace covering an area of 120m². Alongside Sofitel Agadir Thalassa, this is the second hotel to open in Morocco this year and brings the number of Sofitel hotels in the Kingdom to eight.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Introducing Air Arabia Maroc Le Méridien to Limassol Spa Add&Milano Resort’s Flights Grand Presidential Suite The five-star Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort is now offering the ultimate in luxurious hotel accommodation with the launch of its Grand Presidential Suite. Situated on the top floor of the property, this new suite spans 300m2 with services such as private check-in and an optional butler. As well as living and dining spaces, office area, and bathroom with a king-size Jacuzzi, the suite also has its own kitchen, walk-in closet, and a separate guest restroom. In addition, the outdoor wooden deck boasts a private pool, garden terrace, marquee, luxury furniture, and panoramic views of the Mediterranean. Situated on one of the Blue Flag beaches in Cyprus, the five-star Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort combines 329 luxury guest rooms and suites, with facilities and services for families, conferences, leisure, weddings, and is also home to the award-winning Le Spa, a Thalgo, and Elemis Spa, with 34 treatment rooms and seven thalassotherapy pools.

Grand Presidential Suite

High Chinese Market Potential The growth in inbound visitor numbers from China to the UAE has prompted TIME Hotels Management to augment its strategic marketing efforts in order to target this increasingly influential sector, as the number of Chinese travelling overseas is forecast to hit 84 million by 2015, and 100 million by 2020. “Officials have released data that shows outbound tourism from China has grown 20 percent in the first five months of the year, which is consistent with our experience and that of the Dubai market overall,” explained Mohamed Awadalla, area vice president, TIME Hotels Management, who also noted a significant increase of inbound Chinese business for leisure and corporate visitors to the group’s Dubai properties over the last 12 months.

RAK Marriott Airways Opens to Launch Istanbul Hotel Domestic Flights Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel has opened its doors, bringing the number of properties in Marriott International’s Turkish portfolio to nine. Located on the European side of the city, the 20-storey hotel comprises 212 rooms, a rooftop bar, a lobby bar, an all-day dining restaurant, a fitness centre, and flexible meeting spaces with a ballroom. Amy McPherson, president, Europe, Marriott International, described the hotel as a magnificent addition to Renaissance Hotels’ portfolio. “Istanbul is a premier cultural destination, making it a perfect fit for our Renaissance Hotels brand. Turkey offers tremendous opportunity for development, and we see huge potential for continued growth across all of our brands here,” she revealed.

Shangri-La to Open Horizon Club in Abu Dhabi Specially designed to cater to the needs of frequent business travellers and leisure guests seeking enhanced personalised services, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi is to introduce a new concept with the launch of the Horizon Club. Based on the idea of ’hotel within a hotel’ guests staying in the property’s 24 Horizon Club rooms and suites enjoy a range of exclusive privileges including meet and greet at the airport, personalised in-room check in, access to the exclusive Horizon Club lounge with personalised concierge services, state-of-the-art boardroom, complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access and use of laptops, spacious terrace, and complimentary food and beverage, just to name a few. Arbind Shrestha, general manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, the new addition to the property will provide guests a higher standard of experience which is certainly a necessity for frequent travellers. Horizon Club

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Accommodation

Qatar Airways Enhances Services Qatar Airways has once again raised the bar and set new standards for a five-star offering in the aviation industry by leveraging on the iPad to offer personalised service to its customers at various touch points. The iPad provides Qatar Airways’ cabin crew and concierge staff at the airline’s exclusive premium terminal at Doha International Airport and premium lounge at London Heathrow, with a multi-faceted functionality and easy access to customer information, data on flights, and destinations at their fingertips. Cabin crew and concierge staff at both airports are able to use this custom-built, state-of-the-art mobile application to anticipate customer needs and deliver the airline’s unrivalled five-star service from their iPad in a paperless environment.

Qatar Airways Introduces iPad for cabin crew and concierge staff

The app, with an interactive seat map design, highlights the presence of VIPs and Privilege Club members onboard. It also identifies customers quickly, provides ready access to customer information, and alerts the crew and concierge staff at the premium terminal and premium lounge of passengers’ special meal or service requirements. According to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, the iPad enables cabin crew and concierge staff to know the customer better, proactively responds to their needs, and offers an enhanced brand experience. “While we will continue to offer the personal touch and unrivalled five-star service onboard, Qatar Airways will use innovation as an extension of our brand engagement to understand our customers better and set new benchmarks in service and customer experience,” he concluded.

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WEEKLY NEWS Air Arabia Expanding India Services Air Arabia has announced the expansion of services to the Indian capital, New Delhi, from the carrier’s primary hub in Sharjah. The airline now offers twice-daily flights to the capital totalling 14 operations a week to the city.

India has always been a market of focus for Air Arabia and we currently serve 13 cities across India from Sharjah “The rapidly expanding aviation sector in India is one of the country’s major economic drivers,” said Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. “We are confident that the expansion of services between Sharjah and India’s capital will further enhance the air travel options for the residents of both states and positively contributes to the economic development of both countries. “India has always been a market of focus for Air Arabia and we currently serve 13 cities across India from Sharjah. This number reflects the ever-growing appeal for Air Arabia flights between the two countries and we are looking forward to offer more customers our value for money air travel.”

Etihad Airways Suspends Flights to Damascus Etihad Airways has suspended flights between Abu Dhabi and Damascus with immediate effect until further notice. The decision has been made due to the deteriorating security position in Syria. Etihad Airways will notify affected passengers and offer a full refund for unused tickets.

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines Codeshare Following the exchange of a comprehensive memorandum of understanding with China Eastern Airlines in March this year, Etihad Airways has signed a codeshare agreement with the Shanghai-based carrier, marking the Abu-Dhabi based airline’s 37th codeshare deal. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, expressed appreciation to the government regulators for approving the new agreement and commented, “The codeshare with China Eastern Airlines is a win-win for both businesses and for travellers across our combined global networks. It expands our networks in a commercially viable and mutually beneficial way, and offers our customers more choice of destinations, schedules and loyalty benefits.” Initially, China Eastern Airlines will place its MU code on Etihad Airways’ flights between Abu Dhabi and Shanghai and will both then expand the partnership in subsequent phases of cooperation. The two airlines also plan to offer reciprocal benefits such as mileage earn and burn to members of their frequent flyer programmes, Etihad Guest and Eastern Miles, in the fourth quarter of the year. Liu Shaoyong, chairman, China Eastern Airlines, commented, “China Eastern is very pleased to cooperate with Etihad Airways and values the partnership. Signing the codeshare agreement has great significance for increased cooperation in a range of areas which will be for the benefit of our shared customers.”

Etihad Airways and China Eastern Airlines sign codeshare agreement

Air Arabia to Launch Flights to Odessa Air Arabia has added yet another destination in Ukraine with the launch of flights to Odessa, as of October 12. Air Arabia is the UAE’s first airline to enter Odessa and represents the carrier’s fourth destination in the country complementing its 10 weekly flights to Kiev, Donetsk, and Kharkiv. “The launch of this new service will further strengthen our current flights to Ukraine offering customers wider choice of affordable air travel. We are confident that the launch of flights to Odessa will strongly contribute to the trade and tourism ties of both UAE and Ukraine,” said Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. “The launch of Odessa service is a continuation of Air Arabia’s promise to customer’s to expand its Eastern European presence and extend Air Arabia’s value for money fares to multiple destinations across the region,” he concluded.

Etihad Airways and Alitalia Codeshare Etihad Airways and Alitalia, Italy’s flag carrier, have announced that direct Rome - Abu Dhabi flights are set to commence on December 1. Subject to government approval, Alitalia will offer the four weekly flights using an Airbus A330 aircraft in conjunction with codeshare partner Etihad Airways. The flights, with seating capacity for 230 passengers, will operate on a split schedule ensuring maximum connectivity over Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub. Etihad Airways will place its EY code on the new Rome flights, providing travellers with direct access to the Italian capital from Abu Dhabi, building on the daily service it already operates to the northern Italian city of Milan. In addition, Etihad Airways will codeshare on Alitalia flights beyond Rome to the cities of Venice and Zurich. Moreover, Alitalia will continue to place its AZ code on Etihad Airways flights from the UAE capital to Bahrain, Muscat, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Melbourne, and Sydney.

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WEEKLY NEWS

International

Opening of Hotel Indigo Veracruz Boca del Río Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) upscale boutique brand, has announced the opening of the 106-room Hotel Indigo Veracruz Boca del Río, Mexico. The new property, which Mary Dogan, director, brand management, Hotel Indigo, the Americas, IHG, described as a perfect fit for this location, is situated in the Veracruz business district. “The hotel is a place where guests can enjoy a comfortable stay experience while being immersed in the neighborhood’s celebrated culture and history,” she added. Guests can also experience local traditions offered in the hotel’s restaurant La Bamba Bistro, where local chefs incorporate elements representative of the region, including seafood dishes that draw on Veracruz’s history as a fishing town. Common areas include the restaurant, bar, swimming pool, gym, business centre, and the Jamapa ballroom, all offering free Wi-Fi access.

MHG Adds to Thailand Portfolio Minor Hotel Group (MHG), which boasts over 80 properties in operation across 10 countries, has added a new property to its portfolio in Phuket, Thailand. Located on Layan Beach, on Phuket’s northwest coast just 20 minutes Layan Beach, Phuket from Phuket International Airport, Bundarika Villas & Suites features 77 units on 400m of secluded beach. MHG has also acquired 5ha of adjacent hillside land with panoramic views of the Andaman Sea, which it plans to develop into a high-end residential project. The hotel group’s total investment is some THB3 billion (USD95.9 million), which includes funds for a substantial refurbishment over the coming months, before the property is rebranded as Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa in 2013. MHG has a proven record of accomplishment in Phuket’s hospitality sector, as evidenced by the successful development of its two upscale hotels on Mai Khao beach, namely Anantara Phuket Villas and JW Marriott Phuket, as well as the Turtle Village Shopping Plaza Phuket located adjacent to the two hotels.

Aloft Hotels Opens 60th Property Globally Aloft Hotels, the ‘Style at a Steal’ brand by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, has unveiled its 60th hotel globally with the opening of Aloft Asheville Downtown, North Carolina. Owned and operated by McKibbon Hotel Group, Aloft Asheville Downtown offers 115 guest rooms, outdoor meeting space on its Air Level pool deck and The Ledge observation deck, as well as indoor meeting space. “We believe that Starwood’s Aloft brand will be a great addition to Asheville, and the location and amenities that this hotel has to offer can’t be beaten,” said John McKibbon, chairman, McKibbon Hotel Group, who further explained that the team has worked hard to incorporate many local details into the hotel, from the artwork to bar and menu items.

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WHO'S MOVED

Jean-Phillipe Bittencourt Jean-Phillipe Bittencourt has taken on the position of general manager at Pullman Deira City Centre Dubai, formerly The City Centre Hotel, where his main responsibilities will be to spearhead the property’s new brand identity whilst driving its new positioning and building its profile across local, regional, and international markets. Having worked all over the

world including France, Morocco, Argentina, Brazil, and the UAE, Bittencourt brings almost 30 years of experience and vast knowledge of the Middle East market and culture to the role. The experienced hotelier most recently served as general manager of Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, where he oversaw the preopening and successful opening of the hotel.

Tarek Madanat Tarek Madanat has been appointed area director of sales and marketing by Kempinksi Jordan. He joins the company from InterContinental Hotels Group in Jordan where he worked as director of sales and marketing for three years. Having also previously served The Ritz-Carlton, Madanat brings over 15 years of hotel sales and marketing experience to the

Alexandra Mallosi Alexandra Mallosi has been appointed director of sales at Crowne Plaza & Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island. Having graduated with a master’s degree in tourism management, Mallosi’s career with InterContinental Hotels Group began in 2007 at Athenaeum Athens in Greece, where she worked as sales executive at the

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five-star property. Mallosi moved to the UAE in September 2010 to take on the role of senior sales manager at Crowne Plaza & Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island, a position she held until her recent appointment. As director of sales, her main goal will be to contribute in placing the renowned property firmly on the map.

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role, in which he will be responsible for Kempinksi Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea and Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea. Madanat is expected to play a key role in enhancing the company’s success in the region and further strengthen its market brand.

He will be responsible for Kempinksi Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea and Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea

Raffi Torikian Raffi Torikian has been named area director of sales and marketing at Crowne Plaza Dubai Deira. Based at the property, he will also oversee and support the sales and marketing teams at Holiday Inn Sharjah, Holiday Inn Dubai Downtown, and Holiday Inn Dubai Embassy District. The experienced hotelier moves to Dubai from the

UAE capital after a successful tenure with Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island as director of sales and marketing. Having been part of the pre-opening team of the two Abu Dhabi Yas Island properties, his experience will be an invaluable asset as Crowne Plaza Dubai Deira undergoes a renovation project.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Richard Nuttal

Gokul K.C.

CEO, Bahrain Air

General manager, Gokulam Park Doha.

“We have used the last 12 months to invest in upgrading our systems, our products, and our organisation. We are in a much better place than we were 12 months ago. We are determined to be Bahrain’s favourite airline. Despite intense competition in the sector and turbulence in the global economy, Bahrain Air’s second quarter results indicate that the airline is well on track to outperform its forecasts for the year.”

“The first half of the year has had its highs and lows but in general it has been stronger for us than the corresponding period in 2011. We saw an increase in tourists from the GCC as well as in the number of business travellers visiting Qatar. Creating loyalty by providing personalised service and client confidence in our product is a sure shot way of maintaining higher occupancy than the competition.”

Joydeep Ghosh Director of sales and marketing, Mövenpick Tower & Suites Doha.

“The first half of the year was very exciting with events like the TEDxSummit, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Project Qatar, and Cityscape Qatar, which increased the flow of tourists to the country. Sure there is more to do and Qatar is trying every possible way to do better year-on-year. As we see the new developments and projects [taking shape], we welcome visitors from all around the world.”

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 editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Felice Calabretta POSITION: Owner COMPANY: Auratours LOCATION: Italy WEB: www.auratours.it

Who are you? Auratours was founded in 1999 by a team with more than 30 years experience in the tourism industry, and since 2002, it has become a complete incoming and outgoing tour operator. Fundamental for its own development has been the tight cooperation with Transat TourCanada, among the 10 best tourist groups in the world. This deal has allowed the birth of an efficient incoming department, whose people work with experience and hearts for client’s satisfaction. Today, Auratours has more than 100 faithful clients and about 20 employees plus permanent staff in the major airports across Italy. We specialise in the organisation of customised itineraries and the creation of thematic programmes for groups and free independent travellers assisting in organising activities with a nice and unforgettable experience. Thanks to our online booking system, we give fast access to availability for more than 2,000 hotels in Italy, a large number of activities, flights, and all our packages. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Creating special itineraries in Italy and make the customers happy. When is the best time to visit Italy? Each time is perfect time to visit Italy; summer for the sun, springtime for the colours, autumn for the wine and food, and winter for the mountains. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? My next trip will be to Australia. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Each of our clients is a VIP. Creating and providing escorted tours and tailor-made routes, we want to let you meet cultural heritage together with history and traditions linked to the wide variety of destinations in Italy with an emphasis on personalised services.

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RAK TDA Ties Up with Russian Tour Operator to Launch Charter Flights Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA) and Russian tour operator Natalie Tours have signed an agreement which will see the introduction of twice weekly charter flights between Moscow and Ras Al Khaimah, running from the end of October to the end of April 2013. The charter service, the first to directly connect the Russian capital and the emirate, is expected to bring an extra 7,000 Russian tourists to the destination and boost hotel demand by an additional 17,000 room nights. The flights will be oper-

ated by Transaero Airlines every Tuesday and Friday, carrying 156 passengers each way. Commenting on the Russian market’s great significance, Victor Louis, chief operating officer, RAK TDA, said, “Since the establishment of the RAK TDA in May 2011, Russia has always been a market set in our sights for further development in helping us reach our strategic goal of 1.2 million visitors by 2013.” The important role of catering and coordinating all needs of guests arriving on the charter flights from Moscow, goes to Alpha Tours, the Dubai-based destination management company.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

UAE Participates in Global Aviation Meeting The UAE, represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and UAE Permanent Delegation at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), took part in a high-profile international meeting in Washington, D.C., to address the critical question of aviation emissions.

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tates from all over the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, and the UAE joined the US at the event and concurred that aviation is a global industry requiring a global solution, therefore emissions of greenhouse gases from international aviation should be addressed mult ilaterally, and ICAO is the appropriate forum to pursue this issue.

According to H.E. Saif Al Suwaidi, director general, GCAA, who underscored the significant value of gathering nations with such diverse views on a very sensitive topic, this meeting is extremely important in the process of consensus building. ICAO’s ongoing endeavours include setting a CO2 standard, implementing fuel reporting requirements, promoting the improved use of air navigation tools to reduce emissions, developing technical aspects, as well as assisting states in their development and deployment of alternative fuels.

IHG Jordan: Protecting the Environment As part of InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) commitment to the environment, each of the company’s cluster hotels in Jordan has embarked on a range of activities to ensure that their operations are as clean and environmentally-friendly as possible.

InterContinental Aqaba Resort

SIDF: USD33 Million Worth of Projects Since signing an agreement for cooperation between the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in 2008, the volume of investment in tourism-related initiatives, under the Kafala programme, has reached SAR125 million (USD33 million). Investments comprised the funding of 105 projects including travel agencies,

tourist accommodation, and restaurants, as well as car rental companies, across the entire Kingdom. The funding forms part of SCTA’s initiative aimed to promote small and medium enterprises in cooperation with public and private funds and banks to drive job creation in the tourism field and support regional development across the provinces spread over several municipalities.

InterContinental Resort Aqaba’s scope of work focuses on reducing the consumption of electricity and water, while plans have also been made to replace the normal lights with LED light bulbs. At Crowne Plaza Amman, energysaving LED light bulbs are already being installed, as well as water saving fittings in the bathrooms, and the hotel is also committed to recycling the waste. Incandescent lamps and spot lights are also being replaced at Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, where the energy consumption has also been monitored closely, as well as the waste recycling endeavours. For their ongoing efforts, the hotels have been awarded with a number of prestigious accolades.

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RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Stephanie AbouJaoude Speaking to Travel Trade Weekly, Stephanie AbouJaoude, regional marketing manager, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, highlights the extreme importance of branding and reveals how research, knowledge, feedback, simplicity, and promises, among others, are the ways to survive in the burgeoning world of hospitality.

Travel Trade Weekly: What does the name Carlson Rezidor mean to existing and potential customers and how do you guarantee them that you constantly strive to live up to your name?

Stephanie AbouJaoude Regional marketing manager, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

Stephanie AbouJaoude: As the parent company, Carlson Rezidor puts the majority of its branding activities into the company’s three core brands, Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Hotel Missoni. Radisson Blu is our upper upscale brand, Park Inn by Radisson is mid-market, and Hotel Missoni our lifestyle brand. All of our marketing and branding activities are individually created for each brand, to reflect the feel and style of each whilst strategically targeting their key audience. Travel Trade Weekly: How difficult or easy would you say is developing, maintaining, and evolving a valued brand name amid the current climate in a bid to remain resilient in the face of any surrounding factors, competition, and threats? Stephanie AbouJaoude: In the Middle East at the present time, maintaining a strong brand image is crucial. In locations such as Egypt, where business has been impacted by political unrest, a strong brand image and the brand’s promises are what people are looking for in a hotel. They are relying more than ever on the bigger brands. It is these brands where they feel safe and secure. In addition, it is not just the brand name but what that particular brand promises. For example, with our Radisson Blu brand we have several ‘brand standards’. Free

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high-speed Wi-Fi for every guest, super buffet breakfast, and the ‘yes I can!’ service ethos. All of these concepts could be classed as brands in their own right. We actively promote these concepts as they are part of the overall brand and what it stands for. It is this consistency and added extras that will keep a guest returning to a Radisson Blu, anywhere in the world, time and time again. Radisson Blu and Park Inn are both very active branding and marketing wise. Recently, we strategically moved away from image-based advertising to tactical-based campaigns. This is because in today’s climate our guests are looking for something more tangible than an image; they want to know exactly what they are getting, how much, and where. A pretty image of a scenic backdrop is no longer intriguing enough for the consumer.

Travel Trade Weekly: In the digital age, a growing number of companies are working online to sell/promote/market their products. How has technology helped Carlson Rezidor in the field of branding? Stephanie AbouJaoude: There are many benefits that the digital age has brought to marketing and branding in general. Obviously, we can now reach a much wider audience than was traditionally available to us in print. The digital age has also introduced us to a time where we can receive instant feedback both negative and positive. Feedback is crucial when measuring a campaign and is also crucial when it comes to planning the next campaign or branding exercise. In regards to the hotel industry, online and social tools are also very timely; we can execute something quickly which works well for seasonal deals and even smaller food and beverage activities. Travel Trade Weekly: What would you say a successful brand development project comprises in terms of strategies, focuses, and targets? Stephanie AbouJaoude: The key to successful brand development is research. This important beginning stage cannot be overlooked; research is the foundation of all successful brand development. Part of research is incorporating previous feedback, as mentioned above. You also need to discover what the market wants and needs, you should not just create something for the sake of creating something. Lastly, your ideas should be fresh yet simple; this is how you gain the competitive edge.


16

NEWS & EVENTS

VingCard Elsafe Collaborates with Lutron Electronics VingCard Elsafe, the global leader in hospitality security and part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, has announced an integrated product solution with Lutron Electronics, a world leader in the design and manufacturing of light and shade control solutions for commercial and residential applications. Through this collaboration, VingCard Elsafe and Lutron Electronics have developed a total guestroom control solution package for luxury hotels, which integrates Lutron Electronics’ premier lighting, drapery, and shade control modules with VingCard Elsafe’s award-winning Orion energy management system, as well as guestroom door locks, electronic safes, and minibars. Using this solution, hotels can provide their guests with total in-room comfort and increase energy efficiency with the option to automatically turn lights on and off, adjust shades, and control the temperature according to whether the room is occupied or vacant.

Sharjah Kicks off CIS Roadshow The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), in collaboration with Air Arabia, has organised a roadshow in three CIS countries, namely Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, in a bid to introduce the emirate’s tourism product and agenda for this year. Promoting the destination in these markets is of great importance to Sharjah, emphasised Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, SCTDA, adding that the initiative is in line with the authority’s promotional strategy to boost the tourism sector, keeping pace with Air Arabia’s continuous expansion. The emirate has already proven to be one of the most preferable destinations for CIS countries, and Russians in particular, according to Al Noman, who referred to the annual increase in the Russian tourists visiting Sharjah which reached 207,617 in 2011. “This number is expected to increase this year,” indicated Al Noman, adding that in 2011 the emirate welcomed 60,313 visitors from Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

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

International Tourism Bourse (ITB) ASIA Singapore, October 3 – 5, 2012 (www.itb-asia.com) 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 (AHIF) Nairobi, Kenya, September 25 – 26, 2012 (www.africa-conference.com) An event showcasing the potential Kenya and other high-growth destinations across the continent have to offer.

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

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 (www.pata.org/events/pata-travel-mart-2012) Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers. The 18th World Route Development Forum Abu Dhabi, UAE, September 29 – October 2, 2012 (www.routesonline.com/events) The largest global event of its kind, attracting over 2,750 delegates from more than 80 countries, and determining the future of air services.

World Travel Market (WTM) London, UK, November 5 – 8, 2012 (www.wtmlondon.com) A must-attend business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors. The Hotel Show – Saudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 17 - 19, 2012 (www.thehotelshowsaudiarabia.com) A full spectrum hospitality and supplies event for the region, bringing leading manufacturers and qualified buyers together.

08 SEPTEMBER 2012

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 148  

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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