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12 OCTOBER 2013


TI’ME to Expand Into Qatar TI’ME Hotels Management is to manage its first property in Qatar with the development of a new 114-room four-star hotel in the rapidly emerging industrial belt of Wakra.

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority and luxury seaplane operator, Seawings, have launched a new seaplane service in Sharjah.

07 PAL Returns to Abu Dhabi Philippine Airlines (PAL) launches a five-time weekly service between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Manila.





















Seaplane Flights in Sharjah




QAIA: All-Time Record in August Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) has recorded the busiest month in its history with 694,343 travellers passing through its facilities in August.


SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT

ollowing a slight dip in July, the August figures mark a 15.09 percent year-onyear increase and bring the airport’s year-to-date passenger volume close to 4.41 million, up 2.97 percent compared

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

Queen Alia International Airport

to the corresponding period in 2012. Aircraft movements (ACM) also reached an all-time high with 6,465 ACM registered in August, an increase of 3.71 percent. As Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group, noted, air traffic in the MENA region can be particularly susceptible to external influences, which led to a traffic decline in July and notable increases in August. “Building on this latest milestone, we anticipate additional traffic growth in upcoming months, particularly in light of the Hajj season and redirected tourism supported by Jordan’s stability in comparison to neighbouring destinations,” added Binger. EMAILS

Dubai International: Almost Six Million Passengers Dubai International witnessed its busiest month to date with passenger volumes for August totalling 5,999,375, marking a year-on-year increase of 23.8 percent. The notable surge was supported by strong growth in almost all markets and increased demand for air travel during Ramadan and the Eid holidays. With monthly traffic breaching the five million mark for the ninth consecutive month, year-to-date passenger volume rose 16.4 percent to over 43.9 million. Spurred by strong increase in a number of markets, GCC routes topped the list of regions with the largest growth in passenger numbers, followed by Western Europe and the Indian subcontinent.


10/10/2013 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)



Kuwait: Significant RevPAR Growth


uwait’s hotel sector has benefitted from an increased leisure demand, generated mainly from domestic and Saudi visitors, during the Eid holidays, revealed TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats market review for August. During the month under review, occupancy rose 3.4 percentage points to 37 percent

while average room rates climbed 12 percent to USD271.72, leading to a 23.3 percent increase in RevPAR to USD100.59. Coupled with a decline in payroll costs, the rise in revenues filtered through to the bottom line, with gross operating profit per available room jumping 61 percent to USD86.54. 12 OCTOBER 2013

WEEKLY NEWS Ras Al Khaimah International Airport Introduces New Systems Passenger processing solution provider, ARINC Incorporated, has completed the implementation of systems at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport as part of a 10-year multimillion dollar deal signed in 2012. The project involved the design, supply and installation of the company’s core suite of airport passenger processing solutions, as well as advanced airport operational systems. As H.H. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qassimi, chairman, Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, highlighted, the airport’s strategic vision is tied into the larger vision of the emirate of developing tourism, trade and commerce. “The growth of Ras Al Khaimah is linked to the growth of the airport,” stressed Al Qassimi, adding that the expansion has given a boost to passenger numbers and with ARINC Incorporated’s systems in place, the airport is set to become an even more hi-tech, efficient and integrated airport.

Seaplane Flights in Sharjah Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and luxury seaplane operator, Seawings, have launched a new seaplane service in Sharjah. The customised charter service from Al Majaz Waterfront is now available to 25 destinations in the UAE including all major airports, Al Ruwais, Sir Bani Yas Island and many more, and visitors also have the option to enjoy the 30-minute Heritage Arabia sightseeing tour which departs from Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and flies them to Sharjah’s bustling Al Majaz Waterfront. “Sharjah has a long tradition of trade and commerce and its growing importance in the MICE industry makes it an attractive destination for Seawings charters,” commented Nigel Rea, chief operating officer, Seawings. Seawings Plane

H.H. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qassimi

Super-regional Mall in Muscat Oman Tourism Development Company and the Omani National Investment Funds Company SAOC (NIFCO) have signed a memorandum of understanding with Al-Futtaim Group for the development and management of a planned superregional mall in Muscat. Located adjacent to the upcoming Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, the mall is set to become the capital’s largest retail, leisure and entertainment destination. Oman Al Futtaim, chairman, Al Futtaim Group, commented, “The creation of major retail hubs is crucial towards the development of tourism as it helps destinations attract both regional and domestic traffic and this agreement today lays the foundations upon which Muscat can enhance its future tourism product and enrich the city’s retail landscape.”

12 OCTOBER 2013




World’s Largest Man-made Lagoon to be Built in Dubai Crystal Lagoons has revealed details of its grandest project to date; the world’s largest crystalline man-made lagoon in Dubai. Covering 40ha, the lagoon will form an integral part of the proposed USD7 billion Mohammed Bin Rashid City’s District One, and will comprise expansive custommade beaches, offering unlimited scope for swimming, water sports and other water-based leisure activities. “Our pioneering concept and state-ofthe-art technology, which allows for sustainable, swimmable, turquoise lagoons of unlimited sizes to be built and maintained at low cost anywhere in the world, is proving extremely popular with our growing list of partners across the Middle East,” stated Kevin Morgan, CEO, Crystal Lagoons, adding that Dubai gives the developer an outstanding strategic position in the Middle East.

Crystal Lagoons in Sharm El Sheikh

BAC Participates in 19th World Routes Development Forum and Exhibition Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has concluded its successful participation in the 19th World Routes Development Forum and Exhibition in Las Vegas, US. The three-day event served as an ideal platform for BAC’s delegation to promote the facilities and services available at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) to the aviation industry and network with decision-makers from key international airport and airline companies representing over 80 countries from all over the world. Mohamed Yousif Al-Binfalah, CEO, BAC, noted that the company’s participation in such prestigious events is in line with its efforts to work jointly with its partners to promote BIA to the international aviation community and attract airlines to turn the Kingdom into a regional hub.

More Mid-range Hotels in Dubai In a move to further broaden Dubai’s supply, the hotel investment industry was given a financial incentive to develop more mid-range properties. According to the new initiative, launched by Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Dubai Municipality and government partners, eligible hotels will be granted a concession on the standard 10 percent municipality fee which is levied on the room rate for each night of occupancy, encouraging owners to bring forward their construction timelines, creating more three- and four-star hotel rooms within a shorter timeframe. “In order to achieve our headline objective of 20 million visitors per year by 2020, we need to both increase the overall stock of hotel rooms in Dubai and widen the range of options for visitors,” emphasised H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, DTCM, adding that although in recent years the number of threeand four-star establishments has increased it is vital to continue to engineer the growth of this range.

Over 70,000 Visitors at Souk Okaz within Four Days H.E Hamad Al Sheikh, acting vice president, marketing and programmes, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), recently stated that the authority allowed 200 citizens from Al Taif to take part in the organisation of the events of Souk Okaz Avenue, which are in its seventh version this year. This encouraged local residents to attend the Souk and contribute to its success,

as the number of visitors exceeded 70,000 within the first four days of its launch, which affirms the success of Souk events and reflects in the heavy turnout, Al Sheikh confirmed. Additionally, Al Sheikh disclosed that SCTA has allowed over 70 productive families to display and market their products all along Souk Avenue.

SCTA’s gesture falls under its inclination to support local communities, as well as engage local citizens in organising various tourism and cultural activities and events. Furthermore, SCTA, within its tourism programmes, will organise 67 tours through seven tour operators in Riyadh, Al Ahsa, Jeddah and Medina, in which over 2,300 persons are expected to take part.

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WEEKLY NEWS Sharjah Further Strengthens US Business and Tourism Ties On the sidelines of its roadshow in the US, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry have signed four memorandums of understanding (MoU). Under the terms of the agreements, the parties will seek to share experience in promoting and attracting foreign investment and increasing business activities in Sharjah and the US in various sectors, including tourism. During the four-day event the emirate signed MoUs with the US-UAE Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce, the US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, and the US-UAE Business Council. As H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, explained, the delegation highlighted the rich business, culture and tourism offerings in Sharjah and presented the business and investment opportunities. “Many US entities showed keen interest in these opportunities. We have been able to hold several meetings with investors, the positive results of which will be evident in the near future, and the MoUs signed [during the road show] H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal (right) are the first of many yet to during the signing of the MoU with come,” added Al Sarkal. US-UAE Business Council

Hertz Partners with Turkey’s AiRep Aviation & Tourism The Hertz Corporation has appointed AiRep Aviation & Tourism as its outbound general sales agent for the country. The deal tasks AiRep Aviation & Tourism to grow The Hertz Corporation’s outbound car rentals from Turkey to more than 8,800 locations in 150 countries. Michel Taride, president, Hertz International, testified, “We see Turkey as a key source market for Hertz outbound car rentals and integral to our long-term growth strategy.” “AiRep Aviation & Tourism is committed to providing Turkey’s travel trade with the best range of travel products available on the market, and this partnership will allow extending this offer further,” commented Ferzan Ünlüsoy, general manager, AiRep Aviation & Tourism.

12 OCTOBER 2013


EmQuest and Contac Services Launch mywurld Platform EmQuest, a division of Emirates Group, and Contac Services, a source for travel solutions, partnered to launch the mywurld travel platform in Middle East and Africa. The new suite of products will enable EmQuest to provide travel agents with a number of new, innovative products, adding value for their agencies, as EmQuest customers will have a single solution to manage their global distribution system bookings and to access global content. Naz Nizari, senior vice president, EmQuest, stated that leisure has been a missing component in the range of solutions and suppliers the company offers, but with mywurld, travel agents and their customers will find it easy, convenient and cost-effective to plan Nizari (left), and Riaz Pisani, their itineraries and photos, on the go. CEO, Contac Services




Wyndham Launches New Brand in the Middle East

Majectic Arjaan by Rotana Excels as Rotana’s First Hotel in Bahrain

Wyndham Hotel Group has announced the signing of Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai, the first hotel to fly the brand’s flag in the Middle East. The 188-room property, which is located in the heart of the popular Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai, is owned by R Hotels, while it includes studio apartments, one- and two-bedroom suites and a penthouse with panoramic views of both the sea and Dubai Marina. “We are seeing increased demand for hotel products which allow guests to maintain their routines with a home away from home,” outlined Rui Barros, senior vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group, who added that Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham caters perfectly to this audience, while also providing the additional space and flexibility required by many families.

Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel Eyes Scandinavian Market Following major improvements recorded from the Scandinavian markets, Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel’s management plans to embark on a road show in a bid to further increase visitor numbers from the northern countries. As Sandeep Jaitly, general manager, Golden Tulip Nizwa Hotel, revealed, over the past 12 months, guest volumes from the Scandinavian markets rose 42 percent, driving occupancy levels up by 14 percent. “Due to the imitative and aggressive promotions being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism, Oman is getting a greater acceptance as a leisure and cultural destination and we foresee a great increase in the country’s tourism industry,” indicated Jaitly, adding that, as part of an extensive project, the hotel’s entire lobby area has been renovated while some guestrooms are currently undergoing a total revamp and refurbishment.

Since its opening in March, Majestic Arjaan by Rotana has significantly exceeded its revenue budget each month and with only a few months left from the year the management expects this tendency to continue. “Being new and the first Rotana property in Bahrain, the reception of the market, especially the leisure and corporate sectors, has been remarkable. We have been very busy especially during the weekends,” revealed Raiz Saban, general manager, Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, adding that building on the past months’ success, the management now aims to continuously exceed guest expectations. Majestic Arjaan by Rotana

Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai: 100 Percent Wi-Fi Access

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company: 20 New Hotels by 2016

After installing Wi-Fi Internet access throughout the hotel, the management team at Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai is now extending free Wi-Fi everywhere on the hotel premises as part of its Triple B, ‘bed, breakfast and broadband’ promotion. Over recent months, the management has noticed a steady rise in the number of guests requesting free Wi-Fi, mirroring the findings of’s recent survey, which highlighted that 67 percent of respondents chose free Wi-Fi as the facility that most wanted to become standard throughout all hotels, when travelling on business. “That statistic resonated with us,” noted Simon Moore, general manager, Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai, adding that based on statistics 56 percent of travellers considers free Wi-Fi an absolute must when booking a hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has mapped out a major expansion and development initiative that is set to bring the total number of properties in its portfolio to 100 hotels and resorts by 2016. According to Herve Humler, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the robust pipeline of hotel projects indicates a continued strong demand for The Ritz-Carlton product and services. “Across the globe, and especially in Asia and the Middle East, we will be the undisputed top-tier luxury hospitality brand by 2016,” suggested Humler. Upcoming openings in the MENA region include new properties in Rabat, Morocco, and Cairo, Egypt, both slated for launch in 2014, while new hotels are also due to be unveiled in Muscat, Oman, and Tunis, Tunisia in 2016.

12 OCTOBER 2013


DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts, Riyadh by 2016

DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts, Riyadh

Damac Properties has announced the launch of a Paramount Hotels & Resorts-branded serviced residences tower in Riyadh. Set for completion by 2016, DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts, Riyadh, will offer a spa, high-end restaurants and fivestar accommodation. “We have seen a huge response from Saudi’s interested in the projects we are collaborating on in Dubai and we are delighted to bring the Paramount Hotels & Resorts brand to the Kingdom and offer the same high standard of luxury living,” commented Ziad El Chaar, managing director, DAMAC Properties. Located in the heart of the capital, next to the 150m high DAMAC Esclusiva, the property will feature 215 one-, two- and three-bedroom residences, a 932m2 penthouse on the top floors, and will be managed by DAMAC Maison.

TI’ME to Expand Into Qatar TI’ME Hotels Management is to manage its first property in Qatar with the development of a new 114-room four-star hotel in the rapidly emerging industrial belt of Wakra. The nine-storey TI’ME Rako Hotel is set to open in mid-2015 and will feature a grand lobby, restaurants, banquet space with capacity for 500 guests, gym, rooftop swimming pool and sauna, along with individual male and female treatment rooms, several retail outlets and a 460m2 penthouse suite. “Wakra is a key destination for Doha’s expanding maritime sector with its strategic location close to the new under-construction container port which will replace the existing Doha Port upon completion of phase one in early 2016. This will place the company in a prime position to capture port-related business,“ explained Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TI’ME Hotels Management.

12 OCTOBER 2013


Ramada Encore Izmir Unveiled Wyndham Hotel Group has opened Ramada Encore Izmir, the first of 30 planned Ramada Encore properties to be developed in Turkey over the next 10 years through an exclusive development agreement with hotel operator, Ever Tourizm Insaat Pazarlama Ticaret. Located in the Egepark Shopping Mall, the hotel features 168 rooms, a fitness centre, and meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 200 delegates. Expressing delight at the opening of the property, Eric Danziger, CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group, stated, “Catering perfectly to the growing numbers of travellers looking for all the comfort and convenience of an internationally renowned midscale brand, we are confident the simplicity of Ramada Encore will prove as popular in Turkey as it has elsewhere in Europe and Asia.“

Ramada Encore Izmir





Elaf Bakkah Hotel Celebrates Soft Opening Following its recent soft-opening, Elaf Bakkah Hotel already expects to achieve healthy occupancy rates during the upcoming Hajj season. “Given the steady level of demand for high quality hotel rooms in Mecca in the months ahead, especially during Hajj, we are adding hundreds of new rooms to the market through our Elaf Bakkah Hotel,” commented Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group. Located in the Mahbas Al-Jin area, the hotel offers 810 rooms, 32 suites, two restaurants, and guests can also engage in a shopping experience at the hotel’s 15 stores. Elaf Bakkah Hotel represents a key element of the group’s strategy to increase its number of hotel rooms to 5,000 in Saudi Arabia. Elaf Bakkah Hotel

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Adds New Restaurant The St. Regis Abi Dhabi has opened Rhodes 44, the capital’s first restaurant by the Michelin-starred celebrity chef Gary Rhodes. Offering guests an intimate venue for all-day contemporary dining, the restaurant boasts the perfect setting for Rhodes’ masterful reinventions of classic British and European dishes, complemented by Arabian influences. According to the chef, Rhodes 44 continues Abu Dhabi’s legacy of Western and Arabian cultures, in a setting graced with local character. Oliver Key, general manager, The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, added, “Gary Rhodes is one of the most highly regarded chefs in the world, and we believe Rhodes 44 will quickly become Abu Dhabi’s premier destination for travellers, residents, and businesspeople seeking a relaxed yet refined dining experience in a captivating setting.”

The Domain Bahrain to Add Spa The Domain Bahrain, one of the latest additions to the Kingdom’s hospitality scene, is to launch an extensive spa and wellness centre. As Patrick De Groot, general manager, The Domain Bahrain, revealed, ‘Vie’ the full-fledged spa and wellness club will comprise two full floors in the building. “The Domain Bahrain will provide express and day spa programmes, as well as resident spa and wellness packages,” De Groot further revealed, adding that since the property opened its doors on Eid Al Fitr, the response has been very encouraging. “Our guests and members are a young, very social audience, eager to make new contacts around them. We like to think that they are tech-savvy modernists, who appreciate that ’real-time social engagement’ which is the ultimate form of entertainment,” added De Groot.

City Seasons Al Hamra Abu Dhabi Launches Club Lounge City Seasons Al Hamra Abu Dhabi has inaugurated its Club Lounge offering Club Floor guests an array of upscale complimentary benefits. Located on the 16th floor of the building, the lounge provides the ideal setting for business meetings or relaxation. Hot and cold foods and beverages are served throughout the day, and guests can benefit from Wi-Fi Internet, cable TV, and iPad working stations. “In recent months we have seen an increased number of business travellers staying at City Seasons Al Hamra,” explained Dylan Aniff, general manager, City Seasons Al Hamra Abu Dhabi, suggesting that, based on the positive response so far, the management might have to look at increasing the space earlier than planned.

City Seasons Al Hamra Abu Dhabi

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easyJet to Introduce Bristol – Marrakech easyJet announced two new routes for Bristol Airport with flights to Marrakech set to launch on December 14 and operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Ali Gayward, commercial manager, easyJet, outlined, “Marrakech boasts luxury hotels, rich history and culture and excellent shopping opportunities with a flight time of just over four hours.” Robert Sinclair, CEO, Bristol Airport, noted that the announcement adds another exciting destination to easyJet’s extensive route network from Bristol, which is the largest available at any UK airport outside London, while it also brings another country to within easy reach from Bristol Airport.

12 OCTOBER 2013

Gulf Air Increases Flights to Pakistan Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air has announced that it is due to increase frequencies between Bahrain and Pakistan from 14 to 21 per week. Effective from December 16, Gulf Air’s new weekly schedule will see operations to Karachi rise from seven to 10, to Islamabad from two to three, to Lahore from three to four, and to Peshawar from two to four. “Increasing frequencies in Pakistan demonstrates the forward-looking emphasis of Gulf Air as it continues to implement its restructuring strategy,” remarked Ahmed Janahi, acting chief commercial officer, Gulf Air.



Jazeera Airways to Fly to Dubai World Central Jazeera Airways plans to start serving Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central with two weekly flights starting October 31. The new route to the master-planned aerotropolis scheduled to open this month, complements Jazeera Airways’ current operation between Kuwait and Dubai International, which will remain unchanged at an average 25 flights per week. Ali Fairooz, vice president, ground operations and product, Jazeera Airways, commented, “Our customers now have the choice between flying to the heart of Dubai, or to an arm’s length from Dubai’s resort city of Jumeirah.”




PAL Returns to Abu Dhabi Philippine Airlines (PAL) has launched a five-time weekly service between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Manila. As Ramon Ang, president, PAL, noted, the inauguration of the service marks the carrier’s return to the UAE capital after an absence of more than 15 years and is expected to be welcomed by the large Filipino community living in the UAE. Meanwhile, Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), described PAL as an important partner for Abu Dhabi International Airport as demand for new routes continues to increase. “Through the Capacity Enhancement Plan, ADAC is making the infrastructure improvements necessary to enable Abu Dhabi International Airport to maintain its position as a growing international aviation hub,” concluded Al Haddabi.

flydubai Switches Kuwait Operations Terminals flydubai celebrated moving its eight daily flights from the main terminal at Kuwait International Airport to the Sheikh Saad Al Abdallah General Aviation Terminal, in a bid to offer enhanced customer experience for passengers flying in and out of Kuwait. The airline’s inaugural flight touched down at the terminal and was welcomed with a water cannon salute, while it was received by Fawaz Abdulaziz Al Farah, president, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, and a delegation of Kuwaiti officials. “We welcome flydubai and are pleased to open the doors of Sheikh Saad Al Abdallah General Aviation Terminal to passengers who will benefit from all the convenient facilities this terminal has to offer,” said Al Farah.

Etihad Airways: New Schedule for São Paulo Etihad Airways unveiled new timings for its daily service between São Paulo and Abu Dhabi, offering passengers more convenient travel options and improved connections. From October 27 to December 19, flights will take off from the Brazilian city at 19:15, while from December 20 onwards the departure time will change to 23:15. The revised schedule is set to greatly improve the number of connections over the airline’s Abu Dhabi hub to over 350 services per week. As Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways, explained, “The new schedule builds on the success of the carrier’s existing service and the high demand from business and leisure travellers both in Brazil and the UAE. “The schedule will provide easy convenient connections to and from destinations further east in Korea, China, Japan and further across Asia.”

Etihad Airways

flydubai Cabin Crew

Etihad Airways Announces Plans for India Etihad Airways is set to greatly increase options for travel to and from India as, from November 1, the airline plans to more than triple the number of seats it now offers on the prime Abu Dhabi – Mumbai and Abu Dhabi – New Delhi routes. “Following the recent signing of a new air services agreement between India and the UAE, we now have the opportunity to add significant capacity between the two countries, not only meeting existing demand for trade and travel but also ensuring that we can meet the continued strong growth,” said James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways.

12 OCTOBER 2013


Sami Nasser Sami Nasser has been named senior vice president of operations in the Middle East, Africa and India at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Based in Dubai, Nasser will be responsible for providing leadership across the Middle East, Africa and India for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Swissôtels Hotels, and additionally, he will also

be instrumental in developing strong relationships with key partners and owners in these regions. Nasser has over 25 years of hospitality experience under his belt, having held various roles in several countries both in operations, sales and distribution.

Nasser has over 25 years of hospitality experience

Marwan Haddad Marwan Haddad has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Doha Marriott. Haddad joins the hotel after an extensive career in sales of over 10 years, which has seen him rise from a sales intern at JW Marriott Hotel Dubai to being recognised as one of Marriott International’s top sales and marketing professionals in the Middle East and Africa region. Most recently, Haddad served as the director of sales at Bahrain-based Marriott Executive

12 OCTOBER 2013

Apartments Manama, where he was based for five years, and he is additionally credited for successfully opening the country’s first Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartments. In his new role at Doha Marriott, Haddad will head up a team of more than 10 sales and marketing associates.

Haddad joins the hotel after an extensive career in sales of over 10 years


Sherif El Mansoury Sherif El Mansoury has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Rosewood Corniche, the five-star hotel in Jeddah. El Mansoury, who has 13 years of experience in the industry, joins the team from Mosaic Palais Aziza & Spa Hotel in Marrakech, Morocco, where he served as director of sales and marketing.

Prior to that experience, he worked at Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay as director of sales, at Fairmont Nile City Hotel, Cairo as assistant director of sales and as director of sales, and The Ritz-Carlton, Sharm El Sheikh, where he spent seven years, playing an essential role in increasing average room rate, occupancy and business volume.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Panos Panagis

DJ Flanders

General manager, Radisson Blu Hotel, The Diplomat.

General manager, The Royal Golf Club.

“A major project will start by mid December with the complete renovation of our conference centre, ballroom and banquet area. Once completed, we will have a fantastic new product, catering to the needs of major conferences and conventions. One of the largest ballrooms on the island will be a state-of-the-art facility, providing us with the opportunity to attract more international MICE business to Bahrain.”

“The Royal Golf Club currently has 10 “Stay & Play” hotel and golf packages in place, making a golfing holiday to Bahrain, an attractive and affordable option. In addition, the Club offers a “No Hassles” golf package exclusively to inbound business travellers and the recent acquisition of 20 new sets of TaylorMade hire club sets means that visitors who had not planned on playing golf, we can easily accommodate them should they change their minds.”

Puneet Singh

Arbind K. Shrestha

General manager, Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre.

General manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi.

“Technology will play an even more important role in the future. Travellers are increasingly relying on peer reviews when choosing which destination or hotel they go to […]. I also believe that people care more about the carbon footprint and choose hotels that have less impact on the environment. Preference for locally produced food will also affect restaurant offerings. In an increasingly hectic world many travellers will shift to ’wireless’ holidays too.”

“We are delighted to have partnered with UAE Red Crescent. We saw remarkable results out of these charitable initiatives [with month-to-date contribution of the Ramadan Package totalling AED3,000 (USD816) from both Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi and Traders Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, while the monetary donations summed up to AED1,500 (USD408), and we certainly look forward to working again with UAE Red Crescent.”

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

12 OCTOBER 2013


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Omran Dakkak POSITION: Managing director COMPANY: Dakkak Tours International LOCATION: Jordan WEB:

Who are you? Dakkak Tours International is one of Jordan’s leading, independently-owned, incoming tour operators, and destination management companies serving the leisure and incentive markets for more than 55 years. Since then, Dakkak continued to grow forming Dakkak Group, under which various brands are featured, all related to travel services. Today, we do have eight offices in Jordan, one in Jerusalem and one in the US, forming Dakkak Group in addition to several representatives worldwide. Our head office is based in Amman, Jordan. We are a full travel service company offering a wide selection of products and facilities in Jordan and beyond. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Working in the travel industry gives you the opportunity to get to know different cultures, exchange experiences and present one’s country to the world. Being a Jordanian, an Arab, genuine hospitality runs in our blood. It is part of our daily life and practice. When is the best time to visit Jordan? Jordan is an all-year-round destination. The diversity the country has is rare to find elsewhere. In winter and in hilly areas in Amman weather may be rainy and rather cold, while within 45 minutes’ drive to the Dead Sea one can enjoy a dip in its salty waters. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I do not have plans yet. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Dakkak Tours International holds extensive experience in the travel industry in Jordan. We know what we can offer. Our services are unique and carefully calculated to offer value-formoney.

easyJet Adopts Amadeus’ Enhancements easyJet and Amadeus have announced the launch of unique system enhancements that will allow travel agents around the world, in a phased approach, to book lowcost airlines with the same booking flow as that used for traditional carriers, regardless of the operator’s distribution preferences. The British airline is the first to become a light ticketing airline in the Amadeus system, improving the way in which travel agents access, book and provide services when selling easyJet flights, something facilitated via the introduction of a virtual ticket number. Traditional shopping, booking,

and back-office flows will be combined with real-time dynamic fares and a full ancillary offering provided through easyJet’s connection with Amadeus, thus giving better access to the carrier’s great value inventory than before. Andrew Hodges, director, sales, distribution and business, easyJet, commented, “Working with travel agents in the most effective way is fundamental to our strategy of servicing the higher yield business travel market and our move to become a light ticketing carrier within Amadeus is a key step in driving adoption and bookings from agents.”

Golden Sands Hotel Apartments Co-sponsors Agent Workshop Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, part of A.A. Al Moosa Enterprises, recently participated in a workshop organised by the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing targeting tour operators and travel agents from Central and East Europe. As a co-sponsor of the workshop, the team headed by Nives Deininger, director of sales, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, made a short, but detailed, presentation to 55 participants from Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia, who visited Dubai from September 8 - 12. “The travel agents showed interest in our product, especially for families who travel on a budget. It was a great workshop to inform our partners about our products and highlight Dubai as a perfect destination for a large number of travellers including families, couples, food lovers, shoppers and culture enthusiasts,” stated Deininger.

Nives Deininger

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UNWTO Partners with JATA

Sharjah Launches Orientation Programme

On the occasion of JATA Travel Showcase 2013, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA).


his aimed to reinforce the knowledge and positioning of the tourism sector in Asia and the Pacific. The deal will see the two bodies collaborating in the exchange of best practices, particularly the experience of Japan’s tourism recovery following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and data sharing. “This partnership is the first forged in Asia and the Pacific by UNWTO, a region which is growing to be the centre of gravity in tourism. This is an ideal platform from which UNWTO, joining hands with JATA, would like to further our actions to advance tourism growth in the region,” outlined Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO.

Ras Al Khaimah TDA Hosts Ukrainian Press Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (TDA) has invited a delegation of five Ukrainian media representatives for a jam-packed, four-day trip in a bid to further promote the destination in Ukraine, one of the top five source markets of the emirate. The programme introduced the journalists to Ras Al Khaimah’s wide variety of activities and facilities and showcased its beaches, desert and landscapes, attractions and hospitality offering. “With its temperate climate, stunning landscapes and vast outdoor adventure offering together with exclusive hotels and resorts, Ras Al Khaimah is fast establishing itself as a premium luxury destination,” stated Khalid Motik, director, Ras Al Khaimah TDA. With arrivals for the period between January and July reaching 18,906, Ukraine has positioned itself as the emirate’s fourth largest source market.

Participants during the Press Trip

In line with its endeavours to develop the skills and professional excellence of tourism industry partners, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) has introduced a new orientation programme titled ‘Explore Your Destination’, arming professionals with the latest information about new projects and landmarks of the emirate. The two-day course, which was attended by 40 employees representing some of the major hotels, included presentations by industry experts, visits and field trips to Sharjah’s numerous museums, art and cultural centres and other tourist attractions. As H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, SCTDA, noted, recent statistics prove the eminent position the emirate has earned itself on the regional and international tourism map, and the authority is sparing no effort to further enhance the skills and aptitudes of tourism professionals and organise more similar initiatives and workshops.

Al Ogair Project Set to Become a Major Tourism Destination H.H. Prince Badr bin Mohammad bin Jalawi, chairman, Al Ahsa Tourism Development Council, stressed the significance of Al Ogair Development Company in Al Ahsa municipality, further referring to the importance of the project for the continued development of domestic tourism in the Kingdom. Bin Jalawi commended the deliberated steps made by Saudi Commission of Tourism & Antiquities and the great efforts it exerted for the establishment of this project, adding that, Al Ogair seacoast is the best gift to the people of the municipality and the Kingdom, and that it is one of the best and beautiful tourism locations in the Kingdom aside from its historic and economic importance.

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Q & A with Mohammed Khoori Since Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, part of the A.A. Al Moosa Enterprises, pioneered the hotel apartment concept in Dubai, the segment has grown significantly both in supply and popularity and Mohammed Khoori, general manager, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, predicts a bright future for this category of accommodation.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has the popularity of hotel apartments changed since the opening of the property? Is there an increasing demand for hotel apartments in Dubai? Mohammed Khoori: Golden Sands Hotel Apartments were the first to launch such a product back in 1989. As pioneers in this category of accommodation, we enjoyed somewhat of a monopoly for a period of time. However, there has certainly been a dramatic growth in this sector both in supply and demand. Hotel apartments are indeed popular with Saudi nationals as they enjoy travelling with their families and like the flexibility that hotel apartments offer. Also, since most hotel apartments are alcohol free, this is an added attraction for Muslim visitors. Some of Dubai’s major hospitality companies identified that there is indeed great demand for hotel apartments, and some have developed their own apartment brands. According to recent reports from Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, revenues generated by hotel apartments grew 21 percent to AED2.8 billion (USD762 million) in 2012 compared to 2011. The average length of stay in hotel apartments was three nights longer than hotels and the occupancy rate was higher compared with hotels thus proving that it is indeed a lucrative segment. Hotel apartments are also proving popular amongst other markets, and demand in this sector is expected to continue to grow. Travel Trade Weekly: How would you describe your target market? Mohammed Khoori: The GCC market is one

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Mohammed Khoori General manager, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments

and Emirates airline we are now receiving more Australian travellers. The Indian subcontinent market, especially the Indian travellers, is a growing market. We have seen growth in demand from groups as well as [free independent] leisure travellers for both stopovers as well as holidays. Travel Trade Weekly: The property has recently embarked on a refurbishment project. Could you please tell us about how it has progressed?

of our strongest markets, especially the Saudi market, which has a very good demand for hotel apartments. Saudi travellers often travel with their families so Golden Sands Hotel Apartments is the perfect place for them as we have different unit configurations to suit their needs. Travel Trade Weekly: Which are the most promising markets for your hotel and for Dubai in general? Mohammed Khoori: Saudi Arabia is one of the most important markets for us and visitors from this market travel all-yearround, during holidays, school breaks and long weekends. However, we are now seeing visitors from emerging markets such as Australia, Latin America and the Indian subcontinent. After the partnership with Qantas

Mohammed Khoori: We have refreshed the look of our two- and three-bedroom apartments with some major refurbishment of furnitures and fixtures. We are also now offering free Wi-Fi Internet to all our guests in all our rooms and apartments. We have made changes to the lobby, restaurant, and poolside to offer greater service and facilities to our guests. Travel Trade Weekly: How do you ensure high occupancy rates, and at the same time, high average rates? Mohammed Khoori: We have a good sales and marketing team who connect with both our target market and potential markets. Ensuring that we maintain our customers loyalty to the Golden Sands brand is always a key factor in securing year-round business. We have a good mix of guests who prefer ours over other properties because of our good location, great facilities and good value-for-money. Our TripAdvisor account also helps in getting the “word out� because a lot of travellers now are doing research prior to their travel.



ADAC Holds ACI Meeting

Sharjah US Road Show Strengthens Ties

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) hosted the second Airports Council International (ACI) Environment and Safety Committee Meeting, at Hilton Capital Grand Abu Dhabi from September 24 - 26. The event was the second held within the Asia Pacific network with the next round being staged in Kuala Lumpur, while attendees included 20 senior members from the Asia Pacific airport network along with representatives from Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport, Urban Planning Council, and Etihad Airways, who shared their best practices regarding sustainability and airport environmental issues. Ahmed Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, ADAC, commented, “Our commitment to sustainability, as demonstrated by Abu Dhabi International Airport becoming the first airport outside of Europe to be ACI Airport Carbon Accredited, makes ADAC the right place to start up such important dialogue and planning.”

Taking part in a five-day tour of Washington, D.C. and New York City, from September 30 - October 4, the road show delegation showcasing Sharjah was comprised of more than 20 corporations, entities, organisations, and government departments based in the emirate. Held under the slogan Sharjah – Promising Opportunities, Global Horizons, the event included meetings with a large number of US firms, investors and authorities. H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said that the Sharjah road show in the US was organised under the ongoing directives of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson, Shurooq, which call for building new international business relationships as well as strengthening existing ties. “The emirate of Sharjah has a great deal to offer foreign investors, both in terms of investment potential and ease of business, and as the authority tasked with promoting Sharjah’s many opportunities in the global arena, Shurooq has been very busy making the emirate’s potential known internationally,” remarked Al Sarkal. “In the last two years alone, Shurooq has facilitated a number of highly successful road show events across the world, and we are very pleased to now be expanding our scope to the US. This road show is only the first step of many in the journey of mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation between Sharjah and the US,” he added.

EVENTS International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Asia Singapore, Singapore, October 23 – 25, 2013 ( A three-day business-to-business trade show and convention where exhibitors meet with top international buyers.

EMEA Hospitality Summit Montreux, Switzerland, November 11 – 13, 2013 ( A premium forum bringing elite buyers and sellers together from across Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Ukraine International Travel Market (UITM) Kiev, Ukraine, October 23 – 25, 2013 ( Hailed as the season’s largest event for professionals in Ukraine, UITM enables participants to showcase their offers to thousands of visitors.

International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) Costa Daurada, Spain, November 11 – 14, 2013 ( Exclusively organised for the golf travel industry, the show is set to attract over 600 suppliers from 55 nations.

Saudi Conventions & Exhibitions Forum Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 3 – 4, 2013 ( The Kingdom’s leading conference and exhibition for the MICE industry with over 700 stakeholders of the Saudi and regional sector.

The Global Meetings & Events Expo (EIBTM) Barcelona, Spain, November 19 - 21, 2013 ( An annual event for the meetings, incentives, conferences, events and business travel industry, where exhibitors can connect with a global visitor audience.

World Travel Market (WTM) London, UK, November 4 – 7, 2013 ( WTM is a vibrant must-attend business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to close to 50,000 travel professionals.

International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Cannes, France, December 2 – 5, 2013 ( A leading ‘by invitation only’ event for the global luxury travel community, held annually in Cannes. 12 OCTOBER 2013

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 205  
Travel Trade Weekly Issue 205  

Travel Trade Weekly Middle East & North Africa is the first and only weekly virtual publication of its kind in the MENA region. It is distri...