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11 MAY 2013
Sofitel The Palm Dubai to Open This Summer Sofitel Luxury Hotels continues to grow its presence in the Middle East as it prepares for the launch of its five-star flagship resort.
Jumeirah Group has celebrated the soft opening of Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, the company’s first hotel in the Gulf region, outside the UAE.
10 Etihad Travel Mall Launches in Dubai Etihad Airways has unveiled the new Etihad Travel Mall, its flagship one-stop travel retail and check-in facility in Dubai.
15 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR WHO’S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT’S CORNER RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS
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Jumeirah Debuts in Kuwait
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi email@example.com
Abu Dhabi Hotel Profits up 72.9 Percent Hotels in Abu Dhabi capitalised on a surge in demand in February as the city entered the peak leisure and MICE tourist season, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s monthly HotStats report showed.
JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli
SALES & MARKETING
ccupancy levels in the capital shot up 18.6 percentage points to 80.8 percent and average room rate (ARR) surged 10 percent year-onyear to USD203.30, leading to a 43 percent rise in RevPAR, and a 72.9 percent growth in gross operating profit per available
Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi
room (GOPPAR). In Dubai, occupancy improved 5.3 percentage points to 90.1 percent, ARR stood at USD334.79, resulting in a 10.3 percent increase in RevPAR to USD301.7 and a 12.7 percent rise in GOPPAR to USD261.08, as the city hosted a plethora of events,
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Jazeera Airways Tops Regional OTP Ranking Jazeera Airways has retained its position as the Middle East’s most punctual airline on independent on-time performance tracker, FlightStats’ ranking, after achieving a 94.35 percent performance in February. Based on Jazeera Airways’ monthly operational performance report, the low-cost carrier recorded notable increases in passenger numbers on a number of routes it serves, including Amman, Assiut, Dubai, Jeddah, Luxor, Mashad, and Sohag, and proved to be the leading Kuwaiti airline to Beirut, Bahrain, Dubai, and Amman, and the market share leader to three Egyptian destinations, Assiut (56 percent), Luxor (73 percent), and Sohag (50 percent).
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MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of
10/05/2013 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar
Saudi Arabia (SAR)
NAS Holding Selects IPO Advisor
ational Air Services (NAS Holding) has appointed Saudi Fransi Capital as financial advisor for its planned Initial Public Offering (IPO). As Ayed Al Jeaid, chairman, NAS Holding, pinpointed, since its inception in 1999, NAS Holding has managed to capture a significant and growing market share in all of its markets, mainly due to its involvement
in diversified and complementary aviation businesses. “The next phase of the business expansion involves a significant growth in our operations, primarily through the development of the group investments and an increase in the size of the company fleet. The shareholders decided to increase the capital of the company through an IPO,” Al Jeaid further explained. 11 MAY 2013
Ras Al Khaimah TDA Changes Management The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (Ras Al Khaimah TDA) has announced changes in its management following Victor Louis’ decision to resign from his position as chief operating officer due to his moving to Canada with his family. His successor will be appointed within the next quarter, and until then Mohamed Ruqait Al Ali, general manager, private sector of H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi, will be in charge of the organisation, who will work with the team to achieve Ras Al Khaimah TDA’s targets of welcoming 1.2 million visitors by year-end and increasing the hotel room inventory to 10,000 by 2016.
Mohamed Ruqait Al Ali
GCC: 250 Million Passengers by 2020 A market study, titled The World Via Gulf, suggests that GCC airports will handle as much as 250 million passengers by 2020, while Dubai International is set to become the world’s busiest airport by 2015. The report, published for The Airport Show, which took place between May 6 – 8 in Dubai, indicates that the Middle East will have the third fastest passenger growth rate of 6.6 percent by 2016, and by 2025, seven billion people will be within reach via a single flight, while total aircraft movements will soar to 2.3 million. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, air traffic in the region is set to grow 5.2 percent annually until 2030, and to meet the rise in passenger traffic, Middle East airlines will increase their capacity by 12.8 percent this year, as they invest heavily in new aircraft, holding one-third of the global orders for the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A380.
SITA Technology at Beirut Airport The air transport IT provider, SITA, has announced the arrival of its technology systems at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport, whose passengers can now enjoy faster check-in and boarding, and on-time departures. According to Ibrahim Chehab, general manager, Lebanese Air Transport (LAT), Beirut airport has been experiencing growth and the need to update the systems was clear, thus LAT, which manages departure control services for 15 airlines that use the airport, has switched to SITA’s Departure Control Services. Chehab stated that an improvement in the air hub’s passenger processing is already being witnessed, and travellers are enjoying the improvements which have been made.
Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport
11 MAY 2013
WEEKLY NEWS Emirates Holidays: New Direction in Trade Strategy Emirates’ tour operating arm, Emirates Holidays, is set to implement changes aimed at improving operations and offer its trade and travel agent partners greater opportunities, as well as easier access to attractive holiday packages across the airline’s network. With this new trade strategy, the tour operator expects to strengthen its role as a major distribution channel for the affiliate airline as well as solidify its position as a leading leisure brand in Dubai and beyond. With year-long offers and access into new markets that the airline has launched, Emirates Holidays is targeting an increase in its operating revenue by 30 percent, and passenger numbers by 20 percent this year and double-digit compound annual growth over the next five years. “Following in-depth research and a reexamination of our core strengths and assets, Emirates Holidays’ new approach will place it in the formidable position of offering the industry an exciting cache of new products,” said Marc Bennett, divisional senior vice president, destination and leisure management, Emirates.
Care by Air – A Helping Hand from the UAE
Al Habtoor Group Unveils Water-based Theatre Plans
Care by Air, founded in 2009 in the UAE, continues to provide increased levels of humanitarian relief by maximising the efficiency of logistics and transport resources throughout air, sea, and land transportation. The non-profit organisation, led by four leading aviation and logistics companies, including Etihad Airways, Maximus Air, Aramex, and Abu Dhabi Airports Company, aims to reduce the expenses of moving humanitarian aid and, in turn, reduce the levels of deprivation by simply utilising unused capacity and offering cargo space, fuel, warehousing, handling and haulage ‘at cost’ to humanitarian organisations. Drawing on the values of the UAE, the organisation’s mission is to establish an international logistics network and offer urgent help to relief organisations while maintaining profits and making full use of company resources, making a real difference in the world.
Al Habtoor Group has teamed up with Franco Dragone Entertainment Group to construct the UAE’s first-ever permanent water-based theatre as part of the Habtoor Island project. Currently under construction on Sheikh Zayed Road, the development will also include three hotels under the Westin, St Regis, and W Hotel brands, while the new water-based production is expected to magnify Dubai as the hub where swarms of travellers and myriads of dreams come and go, as Franco Dragone, founder, Franco Dragone Entertainment Group, explained. The venue of the purpose-built theatre, designed by Paris-based designer Jean Rabasse, is scheduled to open in 2016, and will have a capacity of 1,400 unique seats. The scenic design will have a two million litre pool and hydraulic stage which will come to life during the show. Lights, sounds, and water elements will come together to create an extravagant and spectacular show, which will be the fourth of its type in the world after Las Vegas, Macau, and the future Han Show in Wuhan, mainland China.
Royal Caribbean Reveals Quantum-Class Ships
11 MAY 2013
Royal Caribbean International has unveiled the first details of the next generation of cruise vacations with its Quantum class ships. The new cruise liner series aims to take a dramatic leap forward, introducing pioneer onboard facilities such as skydiving experiences, venues including the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea, and the cruise line’s largest and most advanced staterooms ever, as well as North Star, a glass capsule transporting guests 91m above the water. “This new generation of ships gave us an opportunity to make another leap in vessel design. Innovation has always been part of our DNA and we have taken advantage of all that creativity to design Quantum cruising,” stated Richard Fain, chairman, Royal Caribbean Cruises. The first Quantum-class ship will debut in fall 2014 with Quantum of the Seas, followed by her sister-ship Anthem of the Seas in spring 2015.
The Ritz-Carlton DIFC Opens No 5 Lounge & Bar Linked to the heart of Dubai’s main financial area by a walkway, No 5 Lounge & Bar is set to become the social hub of The Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and a leading nightlife destination in the city. With its modern décor and lounge-style sofas, the venue provides an ideal backdrop to a business lunch or an upbeat evening. As Lothar Quarz, general manager, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, noted, the hotel, which offers an extensive programme of added value experiences, has been witnessing a significant increase in leisure guest volumes.
11 MAY 2013
51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites & Residences to Celebrate 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites & Residences, located in close proximity to the Buckingham Palace, London, is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation by launching special festival packages. The four-day celebratory event will take place between July 11 - 14 in the gardens of the royal palace, and the 86-suite hotel’s special festival packages include two nights in the luxurious Kings Junior Suite, two tickets to the Coronation Festival, two tickets to the Coronations Gala evening, and a threecourse meal at Bistro 51.
Ramada Plaza JBR’s Gastronomical Journey Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) continues to wow guests and residents alike with its take on culinary classics and inventive dishes. The property has already established itself as a popular spot in the Jumeirah Beach Residence district, offering savoury dishes and live entertainment in the Brazilian-style Fogueira Restaurant & Lounge on the 35th floor boasting striking views. The signature Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant, inspired by the 1920s America, is yet another popular venue offering an extensive menu of burgers, grills, cocktails, and cigars.
Swiss-Belhotel International Outlines Regional Expansion Plans
Crowne Plaza Madinah Opens
Swiss-Belhotel International continues to strengthen its presence in the Middle East. “Our network now covers 100 hotels and under-development projects in 12 countries, and the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing regions as part of our global expansion programme. Oman and Bahrain are both pushing ahead with ambitious agendas [...], and this fits perfectly with our own focused regional strategy,” highlighted Gavin Faull, president, Swiss-Belhotel International. The pre-opening programme of Swiss-Belhotel Seef in Bahrain is currently being finalised ahead of the property’s launch in early 2014, while the introduction of the first Swiss-Belinn branded property in Muscat is scheduled for the end of this year, and the company will also soon reveal details of its management agreement to operate a 110room property in Erbil, Northern Iraq.
Sofitel The Palm Dubai to Open This Summer Sofitel Luxury Hotels continues to grow its presence in the Middle East as it prepares for the launch of its five-star flagship resort on the iconic Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. The Polynesian-themed resort, set to welcome its first guests this summer, will boast 361 rooms and suites along with 182 fully serviced apartments, and will be encapsulated by a private 500m stretch of beach. Besides an array of food and beverage outlets, guests will also be able to enjoy a nightclub, a 2,500m2 spa, fitness centre, as well as extended conference and events facilities. Trumping a total of 100,000m2, the resort epitomises understated luxury combined with the utmost comfort, explained Christophe Schnyder, general manager, Sofitel The Palm Dubai, expressing his confidence that the property will attract both global and regional discerning travellers and groups.
Sofitel The Palm Dubai
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has unveiled its first Crowne Plaza hotel in Medina, further strengthening the compnay’s footprint in Saudi Arabia. Located just steps away from Masjid Nabawi, one of the largest mosques in the world, the 506-room Crowne Plaza Madinah is set to become a popular address among religious travellers as well as for events, meetings, and conferences. Besides a multi-functional business centre and five fullyequipped meeting rooms, the hotel also presents a variety of cuisines to suit every palate. “Our ideal location, combined with fantastic facilities and the best service that the hospitality industry has to offer, means that we are offering guests the perfect package,” claimed Mostafa Blanco, general manager, Crowne Plaza Madinah.
Crowne Plaza Madinah
Viceroy Hotel Group Launches Travel Consultant Website Viceroy Hotel Group revealed a game-changing new website, providing exclusive up-to-theminute news and information on the company’s properties, including corporate and hotel contact details as well as travel industry-related special offers and the ability to make reservations. Phase 1 of the site, which is already available, includes a blog-like functionality for agents to interact and additional elements will soon be introduced, such as the ability to create custom agent profiles and access for agents to produce custom fact sheets and flyers, which will thus enable them to forward to their clients all their personal information pre-populated from their profile. “This site allows us to seamlessly interact with our travel representatives as well as post the latest information about our properties in real time, which elevates our service-orientated approach to the next level,” commented Cheryl Bennett, vice president, travel industry sales, Viceroy Hotel Group.
11 MAY 2013
Jumeirah Debuts in Kuwait Jumeirah Group has celebrated the soft opening of Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, the company’s first hotel in the Gulf region outside the UAE. Situated close to Kuwait City’s business and financial centre, the luxury beachfront hotel features 408 units, including 80 residential suites and 12 villas, along with a spa, a kids club, six restaurants, and extensive meeting venues and events space, with the largest ever ballroom in Kuwait spanning 1,950m2. Gerald Lawless, CEO, Jumeirah Group, believes that the quality of the hotel and services delivered by the team, which is being led by Mark Griffiths, general manager, Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, will offer the people of Kuwait and visitors from around the world, a true taste of Jumeirah’s unique brand of hospitality.
Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites, a new hotel in Tecom Dubai, aims to give its guests a real taste of boutique hospitality in the UAE. Currently undergoing the finishing touches, the property, which is expected to soft launch by the first week of June, has been designed for those who value luxury and privacy, boasting a sports and entertainment lounge, outdoor coffee shop and shisha lounge, an all-day dining restaurant, a discotheque, as well as a spa and swimming pool. As Fouad Bizri, general manager, Boutique 7 Hotel & Suites, explained, the 79-key hotel is an independentlyowned property by the Aber Group, and one which has been developed to offer a perfect balance of luxury and comfort. Fouad Bizri
Frontel for Hospitality to Expand in the Middle East Saudi Arabia-based Frontel for Hospitality has outlined plans to take its growing portfolio of properties beyond the Kingdom’s borders. Owner-operator of the recently renovated five-star Western Alharithia Hotel in Medina, the company is keen to become the operator of choice for hotel owners and developers across the region, according to Rushdi Sherwani, director of brand development, Frontel for Hospitality. The company is already actively growing its brand presence on its home turf, where it will launch its first Frontel-branded property; the 1,350-key Frontel Village Hotel, Medina, in 2014, while the 650-room Frontel Hotel Al Baiya is slated for opening in 2015, and Frontel Business Hotel, under the branding Frontel Eco, in Jeddah, is set to be unveiled in 2016. Frontel Village Hotel, Medina 11 MAY 2013
Grand Heritage to Add to Qatar Portfolio Grand Heritage Hotel Group plans to further strengthen its presence in Qatar with its third property in Doha scheduled to open in spring 2014. Located in the Downtown West Bay area, the five-star Grand Heritage West Bay will feature 317 luxurious guest rooms and suites furnished with modern amenities, high-end finishes, and equipped with the latest in technology. Guests will enjoy a variety of flavours with three separate restaurants, including a Lebanese and Indian outlet, and a full complement of beverages with regional and international selections. Located above the lobby area, the hotel’s full-service destination spa will comprise multiple treatment rooms, along with a sauna, Jacuzzi, and an indoor swimming pool.
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Showcases 30 New Projects Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts continues its fast-paced global expansion with 30 projects under development worldwide, 10 of which will be opening within the next 12 months. At the Arabian Travel Market, the company laid special emphasis on the recently-opened Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square, and also held a press breakfast to celebrate the upcoming opening of Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lake Towers, the group’s sixth Dubai property offering 168 rooms and 307 apartments. Meanwhile, Mövenpick Hotel & Spa Oceana will eventually become the seventh hotel when it opens on Palm Jumeirah. The company will also soon mark a total of ten properties in Saudi Arabia with the 433-key Mövenpick Hotel Riyadh set to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2014. In an aggressive but sustainable vision to expand with a mix of corporate and leisure properties, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts aims to be operating 100 hotels by 2015.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: Robust Middle East Pipeline Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has held a GCCwide sales development roadshow during which the company revealed further details of its regional expansion plans. “The Middle East is one of our most active regions in terms of development, and having properties in almost every capital city in the GCC within the next few years will serve to further consolidate our presence in the market,” asserted Christopher Norton, president, hotel operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, who informed that work on the 237-room Four Seasons Resort Dubai, Jumeirah Beach, is progressing rapidly. Norton also confirmed that the development pipeline for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in other key MENA cities is also forging ahead, including Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay and Four Seasons Hotel Casablanca, both slated for launch in mid-2014. Other upcoming properties include Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, Four Seasons Resort Oman, Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait City, and Four Seasons Hotel Jeddah.
11 MAY 2013
Swiss Inn Adds Two Hotels in Egypt Enriching its portfolio in Egypt, Swiss Inn Hotels & Resorts unvealed two new properties, bringing the total number of hotels operated in the country to 11. El Malikia Swiss Inn Resort in Abu Dabbab, Marsa Alam, features 358 rooms, restaurants, and a swimming pool amid gardens and landscaping, while the second property, Rohanou Swiss Inn Resort in El Quseir, is located 10km south o the city on a cliff overlooking the Red Sea. This boutique hotel boasts 85 guestrooms, restaurants, bars, and swimming pool, while the architecture is reminiscent to Nubian style housing.
El Malikia Swiss Inn Resort
Hilton to Open 20th Saudi Hotel Hilton Worldwide continues to establish strong roots in Saudi Arabia after entering into an agreement with Abdullah Aziz Al Rajhi & Sons to open the company’s 20th property in the Kingdom and eighth in the capital city of Riyadh. Located in the heart of the commercial district in downtown Riyadh, the 309-room DoubleTree by Hilton Riyadh – Olaya is due to welcome its first guests in mid2015. The 20-storey property is set to appeal to both the leisure and business traveller offering services to satisfy both types of guest.
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi Achieves Green Certification Commitment to sustainability was officially recognised as Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi was awarded the ISO 14001 certification, which identifies the hotel as an environmentally friendly business entity. ISO 14001 sets the criteria for an environmental management system and assists in reducing the cost of waste management, savings in consumption of energy and materials, lower distribution costs, and an improved corporate image. Within the first year of operation, the property passed the final auditing stage, receiving the certification.
TIME Ventures New Room Configuration In a bid to satisfy corporate demand for one-bedroom accommodation, TIME Hotels Management is embarking on a configuration of TIME Oak Hotel & Suites, located in the Tecom area of Dubai, adding 59 new rooms to the property. The hotel’s existing inventory of 161 rooms will be increased by just under 37 percent, while the design will be flexible in order to convert back into one- and two-bedroom hotel apartments, during the holiday periods.
11 MAY 2013
Etihad Travel Mall Launches in Dubai Etihad Airways has unveiled the new Etihad Travel Mall, its flagship one-stop travel retail and check-in facility in Dubai. H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, officially opened the Etihad Travel Mall during a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways. The Etihad Travel Mall offers, under one roof, everything travellers need to plan, book, and travel with the airline, offering them the option to purchase a ticket, check-in for a flight, drop off baggage, and board an Etihad Express luxury coach bound for Abu Dhabi International Airport. After checking in at Etihad Travel Mall, guests may proceed directly to immigration and security upon arrival at the airport.
Etihad Airways and Jet Airways Forge Strategic Alliance Etihad Airways has agreed to subscribe for 27,263,372 new shares in Jet Airways at a price of INR754.74 (USD13.93) per share. The value of the equity investment, reaching USD379 million, will result in the UAE carrier holding 24 percent of the enlarged share capital of the Indian carrier. The strategic partnership, which is subject to full regulatory and shareholder approval, includes the injection of USD200 million to create and strengthen a wide-ranging partnership between the two carriers, which will gradually expand existing operations and introduce new routes. As part of the agreement, which follows India’s recent decision to allow foreign direct investment into the country’s civil aviation industry, Etihad Airways paid USD70 million to purchase Jet Airways’ three pairs of London Heathrow slots, while USD150 million will be invested by the Abu Dhabi-based carrier by way of a majority equity investment in the Indian airline’s frequent flyer programme.
11 MAY 2013
ADAC Partners with Cathay Pacific Airways Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has announced that Cathay Pacific Airways has launched a new weekly passenger service between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, having commenced operations on May 4. This new route complements the airline’s existing three times weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong and reinforces its commitment to the Middle East market, according to Brian Yuen, country manager, UAE and Oman, Cathay Pacific Airways, who further expressed, “Our world class products and services will offer passengers from UAE a new level of travelling experience between the two counties.” Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, ADAC, also commented, “Abu Dhabi - Saudi market grew by 26 percent during 2012, both in terms of origin and destination transfer traffic. Therefore, ADAC is glad with the decision taken by Cathay Pacific to extend their world-class services to accommodate the growing demand for more routes out of Abu Dhabi. With Cathay Pacific Airways selecting Abu Dhabi as a connection between a key Middle East market and its global network, it illustrates the capital’s firm position as an international aviation hub.”
Turkish Airlines Commences Flights to Aqaba Turkish Airlines has started services to Aqaba, Jordan, as its 221st destination, connecting Middle Eastern travellers to the largest country network for any airline in the world. The carrier currently operates flights from Istanbul to Aqaba three times a week, its second city in Jordan, where operations also exist to the capital, Amman.
Hertz and Qatar Airways Launch Arabic Language Booking Facilities Hertz and Qatar Airways have introduced an Arabic language option to their online booking platform, providing Arabic-speaking passengers worldwide with the ability to book Hertz rental vehicles in their preferred language for the first time. The Arabic option to the fully functioning website, which launched in April 2012, is aimed at catering to the growing number of Arabic customers flying with Qatar Airways globally, who also need onward ground transport upon arrival at any one of the 125 destinations to which the carrier flies.
EGYPTAIR Adds Direct Services to Doha EGYPTAIR has announced the addition of two direct flights between Cairo and Doha starting on June 1. The new route will be operated onboard a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, set to increase the total number of weekly flights to reach 14 services in a double daily operation to the Qatari capital.
11 MAY 2013
RJ and IATA Training Partnership Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed a new partnership in the field of training, whereby RJ can now deliver IATA training courses which will help students and aviation professionals in the region enhance their professional competencies to meet the association’s standards. Through this partnership, RJ will become a major IATA-accredited training centre in the region. “We are proud of our human resources capabilities that allowed us to become one of the professional training centres accredited by IATA, as this will enhance our educational mission,” commented Amer Hadidi, CEO, RJ.
Khaled Bahgat Khaled Bahgat has taken on the position of general manager at Ramada Hotel & Suites, Corniche Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. Bahgat has over 33 years of experience with luxurious properties and joins Ramada Hotels & Suites from Algosaibi Hotel, Al Khobar, where he worked as general manager
for five years. Having served Hyatt International for 13 years, Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts for four years, and Turin Hotels International for another four years, he brings a wealth of international experience to the role. He also managed five different resorts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.
Sue Wheatley Sue Wheatley has been named director of sales and marketing at Raffles Dubai and Raffles Praslin Seychelles. Having started her career in the UK, after spending two years in the US, Wheatley returned to London for three more years before relocating to the Middle East in 1998. Since moving to Dubai, she
has held various senior positions across the city, including assistant director of sales at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, director of sales at Emirates Towers, director of business development and marketing at Burj Al Arab, before joining Raffles Dubai as director of sales and marketing in March 2010.
Oliver Hewson Oliver Hewson has been appointed commercial manager for Gama Aviation with the task to further develop its significant growth throughout the MENA region. Hewson, who joined Gama Aviation’s UAE-based team in 2009 to help establish the private aviation company’s Air Operators Certificate in the country as well as set up the regional charter sales division, boasts significant experience in business development and sales.
He will be expanding his services, which currently sees him supporting not only Gama Aviation’s charter and management clients, but other operators and aircraft owners using the company’s exclusive facilities in Sharjah. Hewson will be responsible for identifying further opportunities within the MENA market place for Gama Aviation’s various business units, generating new contracts and sustaining high levels of customer service and support.
11 MAY 2013
Vice president, sales and marketing, Middle East and Africa, Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA).
General manager, Bella Riva Suite Hotel, Beirut.
“GTA is already catering to additional service requirements that agents need with information [...], thus illustrating our desire to work hand in hand with our agents to enable them to provide quality service to their travellers. One only has to look at things like major hotel chains that have embraced that ‘boutique’ style hotel concept to see that there is a real desire for people to have that more unique experience and that is people driven.”
11 MAY 2013
“We have managed to change a lot over the past two years and still to come is our hotel’s façade. This has always been one of our concerns and hopefully we will complete it this year. Special promotions and deals will be a constant motion throughout the year as well. […] This year is expected to be better than 2012 with an approximate seven to 10 percent rise in visitor arrivals. Let us hope it booms beyond our expectations.”
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Sabre and NTT Collaborate Sabre Travel Network Middle East has signed a landmark agreement with National Travel & Tourism (NTT), part of Omani conglomerate Saud Bahwan Group. This deal will see NTT exclusively use Sabre’s innovative travel technology solutions to book travel packages for its customers across the Sultanate, including Sabre’s web booking engine, an advanced internet booking tool that is set to help NTT tap into the lucrative and competitive online marketplace. “NTT has been a loyal Sabre partner for many years and this new deal underscores our level of commit-
ment to NTT,” commented Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre Travel Network Middle East. “By signing up for a complete Sabre package, NTT is well placed to improve their internal reporting structures, customer interactions, efficiency and market intelligence,” he added. In line with its plan of attracting over 12 million tourists by 2020, Oman has already initiated a large number of tourism-related projects, including the construction of new airports, upgrading of transportation infrastructure, a special cruise-only port, and additional hotel rooms to accommodate the visitors.
AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Fadi A. Areish POSITION: CEO COMPANY: T3 Group, Al Thuraya Travel & Tours
LOCATION: Jordan WEB: www.althurayatravel.com Who are you? I am the CEO of T3 Group, Al Thuraya Travel & Tours; a Middle East destination management specialist, providing a wide range of travel experiences and unique services of the highest quality, at the right price. All operations are handled through our main offices in Jordan and Dubai. I started in the tourism business in 1998. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? To fulfill the needs and desires of clients whilst showing them Jordan from a different perspective; living ‘different’ and special experiences that will capture their hearts and minds. When is the best time to visit Jordan? All year around. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Either Paris or Rome. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our professional multinational team is ready to bring your holiday to its highest expectations with constant attention to details. Therefore, Al Thuraya Travel & Tours has been ranked number one tour operator for the last four years by the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities in Jordan. This is solely based on the quality of service provided and the number of customers served.
11 MAY 2013
Q & A with Tarek Elsherif Since its establishment in 2012, Mourouj Hotels & Resorts has already embarked on a number of prestigious projects, and here Tarek Elsherif, managing director, Mourouj Hotels & Resorts, reveals the company’s future development plans.
Travel Trade Weekly: How would you define the company’s mission and main goals? Tarek Elsherif: Our mission is to become the favourable hotel operator for families and business travellers seeking a home away from home by providing a healthy environment with alcohol-free hotels and offering international service standards at an affordable price.
Tarek Elsherif Managing director, Mourouj Hotels & Resorts
Travel Trade Weekly: Tell us about the company’s expansion plans. Tarek Elsherif: We have a very ambitious plan to develop Mourouj Hotels & Resorts’ presence, and we already have a few hotels in the pipeline that are expected to be operational towards early 2014 in Egypt on the north coast and in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In addition, we are also looking into some projects in Qatar.
Travel Trade Weekly: Mourouj Hotels & Resorts currently operates properties in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Fujairah. Tell us a little about these properties. Tarek Elsherif: Currently, we operate four hotels, with two in Abu Dhabi, offering a combination of a four-star hotel and a serviced apartment, offering working space for business travellers, [further to] one serviced apartment in Dubai, and a five-star hotel in Fujairah. This range of hotels helps achieve our mission to offer a wide range of services on different levels, targeting families, business travellers, and long-term guests, and all four properties are alcohol-free hotels. Travel Trade Weekly: Since its establishment, Mourouj Hotels & Resorts has been committed to operating hotels in a healthy environment with no alcohol services. How would you describe your target market? Tarek Elsherif: For the first glance, a lot of people would think that with alcohol-free hotels we would be only targeting local families or guests from the region, while we have been able to attract guests from all over the globe.
11 MAY 2013
fore, we are targeting a very special niche market not only in the GCC but also from the US, South Africa, as well as Europe, and we have already received some bookings requests.
The key factor is what we are offering in terms of services and facilities, and certainly the location of our hotel and proximity to either business areas or leisure facilities. Travel Trade Weekly: The company plans to add another unique property to its portfolio with the opening of Barari Hunting Resort. What kind of activities will be available for guests staying at the resort? Tarek Elsherif: Barari Hunting Resort will be a very unique resort and the first of its kind in the Middle East. We are planning to open its doors in September to catch the hunting season while the weather is acceptable to be in the open desert. This resort will feature 15 top VIP villas, varying from one to three bedrooms each, and will offer an all-day dining facility, a gym, and a swimming pool. The prime activity will be hunting, there-
We have a very ambitious plan to develop Mourouj Hotels & Resorts’ presence, and we already have a few hotels in the pipeline Our plan also includes expanding in the UAE and we are expecting to close a couple of deals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi soon. We, at Mourouj Hotels & Resorts, are focusing on the quality of services offered to our clients and [aim] to develop our team members to ensure the full satisfaction of our guests, investors, and staff.
TRAVEL CHANNELS IATA Announces Organisational Restructuring
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced an organisational restructuring of its main divisions and regional operations.
his move is being executed to better address the needs of its 240 member airlines, based on the key principle of ‘Global Development, Regional Delivery’, with effect as of July 1. On a regional level, IATA’s operations will be consolidated from seven regional structures into five, based around the hubs of Amman, Beijing, Madrid, Miami, and Singapore. Notably, Africa and the MENA region will be combined into one, and will be known as Africa and the Middle East, with Hussein Dabbas, regional vice president, MENA, IATA, set to lead Amman’s regional office. IATA’s four externally-focused head office divisions will be reorganised into five, namely airports, passenger, and cargo services; member and external relations; safety and flight operations; financial and distribution services; and marketing and commercial services.
SMD’s Science Day Event In line with Sharjah Museums Department (SMD)’s objectives to encourage learning and to provide a suitable platform for creativity and development, Sharjah Science Museum has launched its first ever Science Day. The event, which ran between April 17-19, was aimed at furthering scientific knowledge and highlighting the most prominent scientific discoveries and inventions of modern science. Science Day featured scientific educational programmes for pupils, fun-filled and educational shows, as well as a number of displays that raised awareness about the various uses of science in all aspects of modern day life. Several organisations supported and contributed to the event such as Sharjah Police General Directorate, Dubai Police, Air Arabia, the General Civil Aviation Authority, and Hobby Centre.
Sharjah Science Museum
Rosewood Corniche and Jeddah Autism Centre Support the Community Rosewood Corniche was recently under the limelight, underlining its continued commitment to supporting the local Saudi community, for the second edition of the vertical marathon initiative which took place on April 10. The event saw 32 children from the Jeddah Autism Centre and Al Anjal School, along with a host of volunteers, join with the hotel’s members of staff and guests, to take part in the challenge as teams which were divided into three different categories: children, hotel employees, and volunteers, which included a number of supporters from the Friends of Autism group as well as local teachers.
Sharjah Focuses on Gulf Tourism Market After its remarkably successful pitch at several international exhibitions and road shows in Europe over the past few months, Sharjah has now turned its attention to the ever-booming Gulf tourism market as the region gets ready for the long holiday season. The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has embarked on a series of road shows, in cooperation with Air Arabia, across the GCC countries, which began on April 17 to woo the massive and constantly growing population of the region as well as Arab tourists. The countries on SCTDA’s itinerary include Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Kuwait, according to H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, SCTDA. The first leg of Sharjah’s road show campaign, led by SCTDA, began with a presentation in Muscat, Oman, and concluded with the Riyadh Travel Fair and presentations in the major Saudi cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, and Al Khobar.
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Q & A with Hanan Al Mahmoud As Sharjah continues to consolidate its position as a strong contender on the regional and global stage, Hanan Al Mahmoud, director, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre (JRCC), talks about the team’s endeavours to tap into the immerse potential of the region’s booming MICE sector.
Travel Trade Weekly: What makes JRCC an ideal venue for corporate and private events? Hanan Al Mahmoud: Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre is an affiliate of Sharjah Ladies Club and a semi-governmental establishment founded by the wife of the ruler of Sharjah, H.H. Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, with the vision of providing an all-year impeccable venue for social and corporate events. With its extravagant multi-purpose halls, and wide range of luxury services, Al Jawaher opened its doors on February 13, to welcome weddings, galas, exhibitions, meetings, conferences, and much more. The hall is situated opposite to Sharjah International Airport, on an area equivalent to 5,500m2, and is efficient to accommodate up to 3,000 standing guests and 2,500 in round table seating arrangement. The hall can be divided into three smaller halls, of 500 - 1,500 people range, with an optimum soundproof system so it can accommodate different functions at the same time. Following our mission to be acknowledged as the ultimate destination for events in Sharjah, JRCC promises to offer the finest if not the only A to Z stop for events. This means that while clients can have the freedom to arrange for all details of their event, they will also enjoy the option of availing our extended services offer, which will allow them to sit back and relax, as we take care of all the heavy lifting. Our wide range of extended services include a complete innovative colour lighting system; up-to-date audio and visual systems; a miniature showroom that displays the mini version of the banquet hall and its banqueting equipment where clients will have the freedom to arrange the tables, chairs, to produce options
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Hanan Al Mahmoud Director, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre.
Hanan Al Mahmoud: JRCC is expecting to host more than 90 events till the end of the year, most of which are weddings, some conferences, graduation, birthday, and cocktail parties. What more is that Al Jawaher is planning to host its own signature events hopefully in the near future. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the main challenges faced by the management?
of their desired layouts; a fully-equipped Arabic kitchen; sufficient parking lot of more than 1,000 spaces; plus widespread drop-off points, VIP valet, and security services. In addition, we are in the process of providing a comprehensive listing of professional and credible suppliers and service providers that can help our clients fulfill their vision. As per MICE events, our philosophy when it comes to corporate functions is very simple: excellent service, commendable value, stunning setting, and amazing people coming together to provide exceptional luxury events, from small- to large-scale events […]. Our aim is to provide you with the best hospitality service and to become the perfect event host and partner, guaranteeing you come back year after year. Travel Trade Weekly: What kind of events are scheduled to take place at the centre?
Hanan Al Mahmoud: In addition to being at an establishment stage which requires tremendous efforts in organising teams and systems used, currently, the major issue we face is that in most of Sharjah and its neighbouring areas, residents think that JRCC is a social project. So, here lies the biggest challenge; changing the point of view of everyone with regards to our project that despite being a semi-governmental organisation, Al Jawaher Reception & Convention Centre is a purely commercial venture that seeks to provide the highest quality services in the region, therefore, prices offered suit the available packages. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your long-term goals? Hanan Al Mahmoud: We are targeting to host the major MICE events that are happening in Sharjah. Plus, JRCC is planning to host and organise its own signature exhibitions and various events [such as] career fairs, fashion shows, and jewellery fairs, as well as art galleries. In addition to that, we are also targeting meetings and conferences such as award ceremonies and social events. We are also in the process of organising youth-orientated shows, most likely cars or electronics fairs.
NEWS & EVENTS
Egypt Hosts FIAVET Conference In the framework of the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism to attract important events to the country, Egypt hosted the annual conference of the general assembly of the Italian Federation of Travel & Tourism Associations (FIAVET) in Luxor from March 18-20, with the opening ceremony entitled ‘Global Competition: Italy and Egypt for a Possible Challenge’. Competing with five other foreign and Arab countries, the Egyptian tourism office in Italy achieved the privilege to organise the biggest tourism-related Italian gathering in Luxor, which is considered to be a good opportunity to attract Italian tourism to southern Egypt, showcasing all its cultural treasures.
National Conference of Tourism Held in Algiers The Algerian Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts organised the second national conference of tourism which was held from April 14 - 15 at Palais des Nations, Algiers. The event was intended to be a space evaluation, reflection, and discussion on the status and future of domestic tourism, while it aimed to bring together all stakeholders in the tourism chain, including central and local government, business and tourism stakeholders, experts and associations, as well as institutions and sectors.
WTM Latin America Ends with Positive Results World Travel Market (WTM) Latin America, which took place on April 23-25, ended on a high note with exhibitors, visitors, and buyers all toasting the success of the inaugural event, with an impressive volume of business deals signed. A turnout of 1,200 exhibitors, 20 percent more than expected, took part in the three-day WTM Latin America, with a large majority expressing dedication to attend the event in 2014, this according to Lawrence Reinisch, director, WTM Latin America, Reed Travel Exhibitions, who announced strong feedback from all participants.
EVENTS INDABA 2013 Durban, South Africa, May 11 – 14, 2013 (www.indaba-southafrica.co.za) One of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar that showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa’s best tourism products.
International Luxury Travel Market Asia (ILTM Asia) Shanghai, China, June 3 – 6, 2013 (www.iltm.net/asia) A leading ‘by invitation only’ event for the luxury travel community of the Asia Pacific, presenting the world’s most sought after collection of luxury experiences.
Moscow International Travel Fair Moscow, Russia, May 16 – 18, 2013 (www.mitf.su) A unique tourist fair which allows participants to present their services and attract new clients.
The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) Chicago, US, June 11 – 13, 2013 (www.aibtm.com) A three-day event focusing on the Americas’ meetings and events sector, where no time is wasted and where deals get done.
IMEX 2013 Frankfurt, Germany, May 21 – 23, 2013 (www.imex-frankfurt.com) A show that innovates, inspires, and presents new opportunities for the global meetings industry.
Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) Beijing, China, June 21 – 23, 2013 (www.bitechina.com) One of Asia’s leading travel and tourism events, which will showcase a range of destinations, tourism attractions, travel packages, and services.
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