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15 JUNE 2013


Holiday Inn Riyadh Meydan Opens InterContinental Hotels Group, hailed as the largest international hotel group in the Kingdom, has added yet another property to its Saudi network.

The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority has revealed details of the first themed tourist destination in Jordan that is set to further enhance Aqaba and the local economy.

08 Hilton to Launch Second Abu Dhabi Hotel Hilton Worldwide has signed an agreement for a new Hilton Hotels & Resorts-branded property in Abu Dhabi.


02 03 04 08 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

USD1.5 Billion Leisure Project to Transform Aqaba




Q & A with Dave Edwards Gama Aviation this year celebrates three decades of success, and here Dave Edwards, managing director, Middle East and Asia, Gama Aviation, expresses his views on a positive year ahead amid the ever-changing trends and barriers within the global private aviation sector.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the latest news and developments at Gama Aviation? Dave Edwards: 2012 was a good year for Gama; we added additional aircraft to our global fleet, and announced a number of exciting projects including the opening of our next executive aircraft handling fixed-base operator at Sharjah Airport in the UAE, providing a great, unrestricted link to Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Alongside that, we developed our aircraft maintenance services throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle East, supporting our own fleet and third party operators. We opened new offices in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Hong Kong, which increased our footprint dramatically, meaning that we are now at the heart of all the major business aviation continents. This year marks the group’s 30th anniversary and we will be celebrating that with further global expansion and logical, sustained growth. Travel Trade Weekly: How would you best describe 2012 in terms of performance levels? Dave Edwards: The charter market has continued to see a slow recovery, albeit sporadic and without a great deal of measurable trend that can be seen. As a group, we have become less reliant on charter as a core business over the past few years, however it is still an important part of the service that we offer to our clients and the nature of the market means that we are able to offer more cost-effective options to them. The other parts of the business, aircraft management, and our various support services, have performed well. Our results were

Dave Edwards Managing director, Middle East and Asia, Gama Aviation

broadly where we had forecast them to be and we are hoping to see stronger growth in many of our markets during the year. Travel Trade Weekly: How is business so far this year and what are your predictions for the following months? Dave Edwards: We are on track so far this year and that is due to a number of factors: We have added new aircraft; we have seen good repeat business growth in our Sharjah fixed-base operator, together with the successful renewal of one of our major contracts in Europe; and our focus on customer service has become even more critical to us. A lot of businesses now sell their service for almost a sub-cost and do not then deliver a service as a result; we have always found it important to be more realistic and deliver the service that

our customers want at a fair price for both parties. That position seems to work for us. Travel Trade Weekly: In your opinion, what are the obstacles and threats being faced by the private aviation sector today, and what is being done to overcome these? Dave Edwards: There are a few really; the main one of which is airport access for private aviation. Whilst the US is fortunate to have relatively good airport infrastructure, although that is now being affected by the government’s budget sequestration policy, the rest of the world is not so fortunate. If we look at Europe and the Middle East, two of our biggest markets, we see airport restrictions on a daily basis; London’s Heathrow recently reviewed business aviation access again and Dubai International has dramatically reduced business aviation parking from the beginning of the summer season. Meanwhile, Hong Kong International suffers significant business aviation congestion. The problem business aviation faces is that we bring in relatively small revenues to the airports compared to [commercial] airlines, both in terms of facility fees and also passenger volumedriven sales from duty free shops in terminals. Conversely, the passengers we carry tend to bring in significant investment to countries, but that is not the airport’s concern as a business, I guess. These factors are indicative of a trend towards marginalising business aviation, which I would strongly argue is counterproductive. If that happens, then governments have to support airport infrastructure investment in other locations; so far, it is relying totally on the private sector for funding, which has only happened on a handful of occasions.

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WEEKLY NEWS Mariner of the Seas Arrives at Dubai Port Royal Caribbean International’s Mariner of the Seas, a voyager-class ship, arrived in Dubai late in May ending her European tour, while on the same day she embarked on a journey towards Asia. Mariner of the Seas began an 11-night cruise from Dubai to Singapore with port calls at Goa, Cochin, Penang, and Kuala Lumpur, at the end of which she joined her sister ship, Voyager of the Seas. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO, strategy and tourism sector development, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, said, “Since Royal Caribbean International first started its operations in the Middle East, choosing Dubai as its homeport in the region, we have developed a highly successful working relationship and so are very pleased to be able to welcome the beautiful Mariner of the Seas on its journey to the Far East.”

Mariner of the Seas

Hotelbeds Projects Growth in Middle East The global accommodation wholesaler, Hotelbeds, is anticipating an increase of more than 50 percent increase in Middle East destinations for this year, due to the positive growth in demand for inbound and outbound travel. This announcement was shared at the Arabian Travel Market, in May, where Hotelbeds took part in a bid to increase its footprint in the region and connect with local clients and suppliers. The company is reportedly developing its proposition in the Middle East to ensure that it delivers customised services to the Arab client and supplier requirements, as the region continues to increase its sales as an inbound market.

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USD1.5 Billion Leisure Project to Transform Aqaba The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) has revealed details of the first themed tourist destination in Jordan that is set to further enhance Aqaba and the local economy. According to Kamel Mahadin, high commissioner, ASEZA, who announced that the project is ready for groundbreaking, the Red Sea Astrarium will transform the Aqaba region into a high-end tourism hub for the Kingdom. The 74ha development, which is expected to create over 4,000 jobs, will feature four hotels, an expansive retail and dining district, a theatre that will bring globally renowned shows to Aqaba, a 4D cinema, a water park, and an entertainment district with 16 attractions, 15 of which are being designed by Rubicon Group Holding, plus one based on Star Trek, catapulting Aqaba at the forefront of interactive entertainment.




Abu Dhabi: Substantial Growth in Demand

Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector benefitted from a string of high profile events in April, including the World Travel Tourism Council Global Summit, which helped occupancies reach 78.5 percent.



bu Dhabi’s hotel market continues to witness green shoots as occupancy levels hover close to 80 percent for the fourth consecutive month, however as competition continues to increase, hotels are facing pressure on rates as new hotels try to capture their market share,” commented Peter Goddard, managing director, Middle East, TRI Hospitality Consulting.

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian Derek Lainsbury DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE

Overall, average room rate declined 7.7 percent to USD144.57, however gross operating profit per available room surged 27.8 percent to USD82.07. While the capital city witnessed the substantial increase in demand during the month under review, hotels in neighbouring Dubai maintained comparable, albeit slightly lower performance levels versus the same period in 2012.

Dubai International: Double-digit Growth


Dubai International recorded nine consecutive months of double-digit growth after welcoming 5,418,946 passengers in April, marking a year-onyear increase of 18.7 percent. This robust improvement marks the fifth consecutive month which posts over five million passengers, and lifted figures to 21,905,363, up 16.3 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2012. In April, India proved to be the top destination country, followed by the UK and Saudi Arabia, while the top destination cities included Doha, London, and Jeddah. “Given the central role aviation plays in a country’s GDP, this also bodes well for the increasingly robust local economy,” noted Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports.


14/06/2013 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)



Abu Dhabi Hotels: Best April Yet


bu Dhabi’s 142 hotels and hotel apartments registered record figures for April with significant increases in most key performance indicators. According to the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), during the month, 236,704 guests stayed in the emirate, marking a 20 percent year-on-year rise, while guest nights jumped by almost a third to 738,797, and average length of stay rose eight percent to 3.12 nights.

Although average room rate dropped six percent to AED453 (USD123.3), occupancy rates climbed 12 percent and revenue improved 18 percent to AED468.5 million (USD127.6 million). Year-to-date, 868,121 guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments, up 10 percent, lifting guest nights up by 25 percent to reach 2.9 million, while average length of stay recorded a 13 percent growth to 3.29 nights, leaving the emirate on track for its annual hotel guest target of 2.5 million. 15 JUNE 2013



Louvre Abu Dhabi Progressing Fast

DTCM Amazes Pacific Agents

DMCA Attends Forum in Greece

Work has begun to waterproof the basements of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi, marking the start of one of the most critical stages in the construction process. Ali Al Hammadi, deputy managing director, Tourism Development and Investment Company, expressed delight at the rapid advancement that has taken place in the museum’s construction during the 600,000 working hours logged so far. Upon completion in 2015, the 14m deep concrete walls currently built in the sand will be removed to allow seawater to flow in gradually and surround the museum, which will give visitors the illusion that it is floating on the sea in the Saadiyat Cultural District.

Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), in partnership with Emirates and a range of the city’s hotels and attractions, hosted 280 Australian and New Zealand agents in a five-day familiarisation trip, organised by DTCM’s Australia and New Zealand office. The participants were travel consultants who registered and logged Emirates’ flights and Dubai stopover package sales. The top achieving agents travelled from all parts of the two Pacific countries to the emirate where they took part in an action-packed itinerary that highlighted areas of old and new Dubai as a perfect destination for a multitude of travellers.

Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) participated at the Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum, a premier sea tourism industry event in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, which ran from May 28-29 at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre, Greece. DMCA took part in the forum as part of its ongoing efforts to stimulate the emirate’s sea tourism sector growth and strengthen international relations to promote maritime security and safety. Ali Al Daboos, executive director of operations, DMCA, confirmed that the authority is eager to exchange ideas and collaborate on various projects with its Greek counterparts.

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Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria to Build Convention Centre Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is in the planning process to add a new convention centre to Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria. Set for completion in June 2014, the 3,600m2 venue will complement the property’s existing 500m2 of meeting space, making it one of the largest facilities of its kind in the country. Spreading across two floors, the centre will also include a 2,500m2 ballroom along with five flexible meeting rooms, a bride’s room, and an indoor car park. As Mark Willis, area vice president, Middle East and subShaharan Africa, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, pinpointed the demand for meeting and event space in Alexandria has risen significantly in recent years.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria

Holiday Inn Riyadh Meydan Opens InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), hailed as the largest international hotel group in the Kingdom, has added yet another property to its Saudi network. Located in downtown Riyadh, the eight-storey Holiday Inn Riyadh Meydan comprises 290 rooms, including 46 suites, several dining outlets, gym with sauna and spa facilities, kids area, and 16 meeting venues. According to Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, with Riyadh’s business districts booming, this new hotel answers to the growing demand for comfort, functionality and value accommodation.

Hilton to Launch Second Abu Dhabi Hotel Hilton Worldwide has signed an agreement for a new Hilton Hotels & Resorts-branded property in Abu Dhabi. Currently known as Abu Dhabi Al Maqta, the hotel will undergo a series of brand changes before re-opening its doors as Hilton Abu Dhabi Capital Grand this summer. The 281-room conversion property will boast an abundance of facilities, including a 700-capacity grand ballroom with a separate 500-capacity function room, five large meeting rooms, two boardrooms, and a VIP Majilis, in addition to indoor and outdoor pools, and seven restaurants and bars. As Rob Palleschi, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, expressed, this latest signing is a worthy addition to the group’s large Middle East portfolio.

Radisson Blu Tala Bay Aqaba Targets New Markets Radisson Blu Tala Bay Aqaba aims to tap into new markets and attract more visitors to the fast-developing Red Sea destination. As Ali Obeidat, director of sales and marketing, Radisson Blu Tala Bay Aqaba, pinpointed, with a number of new projects under development, infrastructure in Aqaba is already well-developed as it continues to strengthen its position on the tourism map.

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Bristol Hotel Amman Refurbishes Ballroom

Burj Al Arab Introduces Gold iPads

BWI Ventures into Myanmar

Bristol Hotel Amman, the 170-key property overlooking the Jordanian capital city, remains committed to its promise to deliver quality services, as it embarks on the refurbishment of its ballroom and its meeting venues. “Our hotel, in general, is well-maintained, however, we will continue to modernise the different outlets, including the lobby lounge,” commented Ziad Fostuq, general manager, Bristol Hotel Amman, adding that the latest introduction to the hotel’s food and beverage outlets, the pool-side Lebanese restaurant, will welcome guests and diners with live entertainment and water features.

Burj Al Arab has taken luxury to a whole new level with the launch of 24-carat gold iPads for its in-house guests. Designed exclusively for the hotel and engraved with its logo, the iPads are being offered to every guest upon check-in, making Burj Al Arab the first hotel in the world to offer the interactive customer experience software available on 24-carat gold iPads which can be used as a ‘virtual concierge’. According to Heinrich Morio, general manager, Burj Al Arab, the exclusive gadgets epitomise Jumeirah’s philosophy of ‘Stay Different’ and further enhances guest experience.

Best Western International (BWI) has sealed an agreement to take over the management of Green Hill Hotel, a modern new property located in Yangon, Myanmar. The property, which features 189 rooms and suites, will be operated under the midscale BEST WESTERN brand, making BWI the first US hotel company to establish presence in the country; one which Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, believes has one of the world’s hottest hotel markets at present. According to de Souza, the partnership with Green Hill Hotel is just the start of BWI’s plans for Myanmar.

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Emirates Resumes Services to Libya Illustrating Libya’s importance in Emirates’ global network and the airline’s commitment to the country, the UAE carrier will restart passenger flights to Tripoli, via Malta, as of September 1. “We have been closely monitoring the situation in Libya and feel that the time is right to relaunch our services, which will help to support business, international trade, and passenger travel to and from Tripoli, as well as strengthening the country’s overall infrastructure,” said Jean Luc Grillet, senior vice president, commercial operations, Africa, Emirates. Emirates’ three-weekly flights to Tripoli will be served onboard a Boeing 777-200ER, in a threeclass configuration. Emirates

Gulf Air and RJ Celebrate First Successful Year Gulf Air and Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) have announced that the number of passengers transported by the Bahraini carrier between Bahrain and Jordan surged by 216 percent since the codeshare agreement, initially signed in 2004, was modified in 2012. Ahmed Janahi, acting chief commercial officer, Gulf Air, commented, “The success of the codeshare partnership with Royal Jordanian reaffirms the efficient working relationship between both airlines.” Basma Majali, acting vice president, commercial, RJ, added that the airlines will build on the success that was witnessed in 2012, and continue to enhance the codeshare agreement in the interests of the companies and their customers.

Qatar Airways: Second Destination in Oman Joining Muscat as the airline’s second destination in Oman, Qatar Airways has commenced services to Salalah, marking the airline’s fifth new route of the year. With the Omani capital already being served 31 times a week, the new four-times-a-week flights to Salalah, brings the total of operation to the Sultanata by Qatar Airways to 35 a week. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “As one of the most beautiful places in the Gulf [...], Salalah has tremendous appeal for visitors across the Gulf, Europe, the US and many other countries, steeped in history, culture and natural beauty.”

RJ Adds Lagos and Accra Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) announced that it will enrich its route network with two new African cities, namely Lagos, Nigeria, and Accra, capital of Ghana, starting July 3. The company will operate the Amman-Lagos-AccraLagos-Amman route twice-weekly with its wide-bodied, 280-seat Airbus A330s. Amer Hadidi, president, RJ, pointed out that connecting the Jordanian capital with these two African cities is bound to attract a large number of passengers, particularly Muslim pilgrims who wish to continue their flights to Saudi Arabia to conduct Hajj and Umrah.

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Pierre Basmadjian Pierre Basmadjian has been named director of human resources at Novotel Al Bustan Abu Dhabi and Adagio Al Bustan Abu Dhabi. He started his career at Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort in 2004 before joining Rotana Hotel Management Corporation where he served a number of properties in Dubai,

Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, as well as Abu Dhabi. Prior to his appointment, he held the director of human resources position at Centro Yas Island and Yas Island Rotana. In his new role, he will provide strategic support in areas of talent acquisition, employee development, and employee relations.

Leon Salinel Leon Salinel has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Media One Hotel, Dubai. Salinel began his career in the Philippines as sales account manager in 1989 before moving to the UAE to join The Ritz-Carlton Dubai in 1998 as groups and incentive sales manager. He later worked at Fairmont Dubai as director of business development, and in Bahrain as director of sales, while most recently he

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served as executive assistant manager in charge of sales and marketing at Dusit Thani Dubai. Salinel, who has spent almost 18 years in the UAE continuously advancing his expertise in business development, staff selection, brand marketing, maintaining service, and operational excellence, now aims to take forward a business development strategy utilising his sales skills across all sectors of business for the hotel.


Nabil Khuzouz Nabil Khuzouz has been named general manager at Millennium Hotel Amman. Khuzous joins Millennium Hotels & Resorts from InterContinental Hotels Group, bringing with him 31 years of experience in the industry. Over the past three decades, he has held various key management positions at five-star prop-

erties across the Middle East. In his new capacity, he will lead the newly-opened Millennium Hotel Amman in order to position it as one of Jordan’s leading business and leisure hotels.

Over the past three decades, Khuzouz has held various key management positions

travel talk is your space



David Milican

Director of sales and marketing, Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, Cairo.

General manager, Auris Plaza Hotel.

“It is a great pleasure having been recognised with the 2013 MENA Travel Award for the second consecutive year. This prestigious recognition is a testament to the ongoing commitment of each colleague in turning moments into memories for our guests. Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers has become Cairo’s preferred meeting destination, due to its extensive meeting and social facilities, state-of-the-art equipment, and dedicated sales and operational teams.”

“[Winning the Best New Five-Star Hotel category at the MENA Travel Awards] was a tremendous effort from the whole team. Achieving a high and consistent standard from day one is testament to each and everyone’s contribution. Seeing so many repeat customers in year one also demonstrates the level of guest satisfaction that has been realised. […] We will continue investing in best practices in line with the global hospitality industry.”

Ali Lakhraim

Taher Al Jaghbir

President, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne.

CEO, Abdali Boulevard Company.

“Millennium is our entry strategy for new markets as our Millennium Hotels represent over 50 percent of the entire portfolio worldwide. We are looking at expanding our midscale brand especially in Saudi Arabia with already multiple Copthorne hotels due to open. We have also launched new initiatives in terms of branding opportunities with the launch of Millennium Executive Apartments and The Biltmore.”

“The Boulevard project is a major component of Abdali development […]. It includes a blend of cafés, restaurants, spas, health clubs, and high-end retail outlets in addition to 30,000m2 of modern office spaces and around 400 luxurious services hotel apartments. […] The Boulevard will soon stimulate Amman’s tourism platform through the creation of a dynamic, cosmopolitan, unique and integrated mixed-use project .”

TRAVEL TALK is your space – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, and observations to

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AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Ayman Boghdady POSITION: Owner COMPANY: Sawa4tours LOCATION: Egypt WEB: Who are you? My name is Ayman Boghdady. I am the owner of Sawa4tours and I have a degree in hotel management and tourism. Our main office in Luxor covers all tourism fields; incoming, outgoing, transportation, meet and assist at the airports, special and tailor-made programmes, in addition to daily tours and trips to visit archaeological sites throughout Egypt. We offer a wide variety of programmes which are designed to satisfy all desires and wishes, starting with classical tours, leisure, and very special diving, to safari, golf, and special events programmes. Our programmes are designed and operated to meet all your needs and to be suitable for all categories and budgets. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The best thing is travelling and meeting other people with different languages and culture. When is the best time to visit Egypt? The best time to visit Egypt is during winter. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I do not know where my next holiday will be. Maybe in Egypt, at the Red Sea. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Finding a travel agent that you can trust is not always easy, and there are several reasons why you should travel with us; we are big enough to meet all your needs and small enough to care; we do not consider our clients as merely business, we like to consider them as our friends and personal guests; we have provided all our clients with unforgettable experiences that many of them have chosen to return to us more than once; we are available 24/7 with various emergency contact numbers, and our tour operators work on shifts to cover the time difference, so no matter how late it is, you will find one of our tour operators available.

Travelport Partners with Air France-KLM Travelport has signed a new multi-year global distribution agreement with Air FranceKLM, providing all Travelportconnected users, including those in the Middle East and Africa, with full content. The deal also includes ancillary services, such as Economy Comfort and Seat Plus, and allows agent to gain access to full content from Air France’s new regional carrier, HOP!. Commenting on the partnership, Robin Ranken, head of supplier, Europe, Travelport, said, “We are delighted to reach

a mutually beneficial, fullcontent agreement with Air France-KLM. We will continue to work with Air France, KLM and HOP! to distribute their products the way they want, including any new content or merchandising options.” Olivier Hours, director, distribution systems, Air FranceKLM, added, "Travelport is an important distribution partner for Air France and KLM and we are looking forward to working closely together, in particular progressively implementing optional products.”

Emirates Holidays Ties Up with TUI India Emirates’ tour operating arm, Emirates Holidays, and TUI India, the respective operator of Le Passage to India, a local destination management company, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding under which TUI India will be the preferred agent for Emirates Holidays in India. The partnership is the initial phase of a strategy aimed at exploring supply and distribution opportunities between the two companies, with a focus on collaboration and innovation to drive the development of outbound tourism in India, as Marc Bennett, divisional senior vice president, destination and leisure management, Emirates, confirmed, “India remains a key source market for Emirates Holidays – and our partnership with TUI India is a testament to our continued commitment to present a wide range of holiday options to disJeannette Linfoot, director of tour operations, new markets, TUI Travel cerning Indian travellers.” and Marc Bennett

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International Tourism Receipts up Four Percent in 2012 International tourism receipts hit a new record in 2012, reaching an estimated USD1.75 trillion worldwide, representing a four percent year-onyear increase, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.


t is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” noted Taleb Rifai, secretary-general, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). By regions, the Americas recorded the largest growth in receipts, followed by Asia-Pacific, and Africa, and although figures in the Middle East were still down, they showed a notable improvement over 2011 results. In fact, tourism receipts in the Middle East reached USD47 billion, representing four percent of the worldwide total, while the top 50, led by the US, followed by Spain and France, also included the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, as well as Lebanon.

ITB: High Demand for Muslim Travel DinarStandard, a specialised research and advisory firm empowering emerging Muslim markets for growth and global impact, has presented a survey predicting that by 2020, growth in Muslim travel will have reached 4.8 percent, significantly higher than the global figure of 3.8 percent, while a total of 14 percent of all international trips will be undertaken by Muslims. The findings were presented at the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin Convention, which further revealed that Muslim travellers’ preferred destinations include Malaysia, Turkey, and the UAE. The survey examined travel habits of 1,000 Muslims around the world; half hailed from Asia, 22 percent from MENA, and 15 percent from the Americas. When asked which factor stands as the most important at the holiday destination, 67 percent answered halal food, while 53 percent stated that the second most important feature was the overall price of the trip, and nearly 50 percent said the Muslimfriendly atmosphere.

Kempinksi Hotel Soma Bay Goes Organic The Red Sea property, Kempinksi Hotel Soma Bay, has announced that Sedat Bugday, executive chef, Kempinksi Hotel Soma Bay, started planting organic vegetables and herbs at the hotel providing fresh harvested ingredients to be used by the guests for their exclusive cooking classes held twice weekly with the property’s culinary team. The luxurious hotel features 325 rooms and suites, ranging mostly from 39m2 to 185m2, seven dining venues, and spa facilities that extend 4800m2, which include four treatment units, an open-air Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, and aquatonic pool, as well as a gym, four tennis courts, and a squash court.

Al Ain Zoo Joins EAZA Al Ain Zoo has been accepted as a member of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), demonstrating the zoo’s success in meeting the highest international standards of animal care and being a major contributor to wildlife conservation. EAZA awarded the zoo with the membership after a series of inspections in all areas of operation, including animal health and welfare, safety, as well as the efforts initiated regarding education, research, conservation, and enhancing the visitor experience. “Being a member of EAZA will provide both parties with opportunities to exchange knowledge and adapt best practices related to the conservation of endangered species and the education of our community to better protect the animals in our region,” highlighted Ghanim Al Hajeri, director general, Al Ain Zoo.

Bird Show at Al Ain Zoo

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Q & A with Paul Diab Over the past few years, Golden Tulip MENA has continued to strengthen its presence in the region by opening new properties in key destinations. Here, Paul Diab, director of operations, Golden Tulip MENA, talks about the company’s fast-paced development and growth strategy.

Travel Trade Weekly: Today, the company operates over 6,400 keys in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and Tunisia under the three-star Tulip Inn and four-star Golden Tulip brands. How has your business performance fared over the past months?

Paul Diab Director of operations, Golden Tulip MENA

Travel Trade Weekly: As a fast-growing global brand, Golden Tulip has long been committed to talent management and training. How challenging is it today in the MENA region to find the right persons to hire?

Paul Diab: This year started on the right foot as we are experiencing good business in certain markets and better [results] than in same period in 2012; such markets are the UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and city hotels in Tunisia. The main highlights for the first quarter included the great performance of the Oman properties, especially our Tulip Inn Muscat, plus the launching of our first properties in Algeria; Golden Tulip Sabri and Tulip Inn Rym El Djamil. Both properties are located in the city of Annaba. Travel Trade Weekly: In line with its global growth trends, the company will soon launch a new property in Lebanon. Please tell us about the company’s regional pipeline. Paul Diab: Our Golden Tulip Jiyeh Marina Resort is scheduled to open soon; this will strengthen our presence in Lebanon. As for our development in the region, in addition to the Golden Tulip Jiyeh Marina Resort, we have opened Golden Tulip Sabri and Tulip Inn Rym El Djamil in Annaba, Algeria in early January, and we are also looking to open Golden Tulip Oran in Algeria by November, Tulip Inn Suites & Residence in Bahrain by this month, and Golden Tulip Sports City in Dubai by August. The first Royal Tulip-branded property in the MENA region will be the Royal Tulip Al-

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in the region that already is associated with the brand, plus we do have good number of request for franchise and this will be evaluated by the board.

exandria [which is] scheduled to open this month, and [we are also] working on several projects in Amman, Doha, Muscat, and Cairo, to name a few. [....] Plus, we do have a couple of other Royal Tulips in the pipeline such as Royal Tulip Amway in Bahrain. We are seeing positive response from the market on the brand and we can say that our target of having six Royal Tulips in the region by end of 2014 will be achieved. Travel Trade Weekly: Over the past years, the company has launched a number of properties under franchise agreements. Could this trend continue in the future or shall we expect a franchised-to-managed shift? Paul Diab: The company strategy is to shift more towards the managed properties, but we still provide the franchise to our partners

Paul Diab: Human resources is a very important aspect in our world, and retaining the staff, training to develop talented employees, and develop them for the next generation of managers and the next position is not an easy job especially with all the openings in the market place. One good aspect of our system is that due to the growth of the company we are promoting from within, and this is very important for us as the employee is knowledgeable with our system, policies and procedures, knows our philosophy and can adapt easily to the new environment. We search in the marketplace for the right manager that can fit and adapt to our way of working, and can incorporate in our environment. [...] The most important [factor] at this time and at this stage of our company growth is that we have not lost sight of the most important element of our industry and that is the human resource, the training, and the development of personnel. Because of what the employee has invested in the position and the company, he/ she needs to feel that he/she is getting a return on this investment through promotions, development, and upper mobility.



Miami Tourism Authority in Dubai A first time exhibitor at Arabian Travel Market, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau took part in the four-day tourism and travel show aimed at informing the industry of its luxury lifestyle offerings with a focus on attracting the regional market. According to Gisela Marti, vice president, marketing and tourism, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, it is the first time for Miami to proactively engage the Middle East travel industry in the Gulf, while she added, “We believe our multicultural urban city in many respects shares a number of similarities with major cities in this region, and we are here to say ‘Welcome! Come visit and join us in Miami for a fun luxury lifestyle experience.’” Among the summer attractions is the Miami Spa Month taking place in July and August, during which time visitors are invited to test out a range of luxury spas with promotional treatments.

Lufthansa Boosts Middle East Schedule This summer, Lufthansa is offering more flights than ever from the Middle East to Europe, the Americas, and rest of the world, via its hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. Lufthansa’s Middle East network is set to grow substantially, with more than 140 weekly services from 14 destinations, becoming the largest programme ever performed. In 2012, over one million Middle Eastern passengers chose Lufthansa for their flights, and over 200 destinations worldwide and vice versa, across the region; a figure which reflects an increase of more than 10 percent compared to 2011. “There is so much more potential in the UAE for Lufthansa. Our flights to and from Frankfurt and Munich are both well received by passengers [...],” commented Carsten Schaeffer, vice president, sales and services, Southeast Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Lufthansa.

EVENTS Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) Beijing, China, June 21 – 23, 2013 ( One of Asia’s leading travel and tourism events, which will showcase a range of destinations, tourism attractions, travel packages, and services.

Food and Hospitality Oman Muscat, Oman, September 2 – 4, 2013 ( The event showcases a comprehensive range of services in the international food, beverage, and hotel industries.

Travel & Tourism Fair (TTF) Kolkata, India, July 5 – 7, 2013 ( TTF is hailed as India’s largest business-to-business focused travel trade show network.

Group Leisure & Travel Trade Show Birmingham, UK, September 18 – 19, 2013 ( One of Britain’s biggest annual group travel event with 200 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors.

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention San Diego, US, August 4 – 7, 2013 ( GBTA’s Convention will bring together thousands of business travel buyers and industry suppliers and a strong line-up of keynote speakers.

The Hotel Show Dubai, UAE, September 28 – 30, 2013 ( Now in its 14th year, the show is a key meeting place for leading suppliers and buyers.

15 JUNE 2013

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 188  

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...

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