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16 MARCH 2013

DAMAC and Paramount Partner DAMAC Properties has entered into an exclusive partnership with Paramount Hotels & Resorts, to develop DAMAC Towers by Paramount.


Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has established the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau with the aim of championing the emirate as a dynamic global business events leader.

12 Moxy Hotels to Launch in 2014 Marriott International is to enter the economy tier, three-star hospitality segment in Europe with the launch of the Moxy Hotels brand.


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Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau Launches




Q & A with Ashwini Kumar Abu Dhabi has long emerged into a leading global business destination and here, Ashwini Kumar, general manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, explains how the local hospitality players are to benefit from this development.

Travel Trade Weekly: The Global Business Travel Association expects that international business travel will grow this year. What are the factors which will lead to this development in the emirate? Ashwini Kumar: Located in the heart of the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is a global and strategic hub for commerce and travel. Abu Dhabi’s initiative for international conferences and exhibitions is aimed at facilitating and seeding innovative and viable business events aligned to Abu Dhabi government’s 2030 Economic Vision. Strong assessment criteria gauge the event’s type and degree of support. The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority’s initiative aims to bring corporate business to Abu Dhabi, while encouraging companies to have their meetings or incentives here. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the needs and requirements of the modern business traveller and how are these met by the hotel? Ashwini Kumar: Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi provides the customised service required for managing corporate travellers efficiently and professionally. We put the emphasis on giving personalised services and guarantee our guests a memorable stay. Our guests experience the authentic hospitality that complements this iconic structure; the impressive architectural feats create a uniquely refined guest experience; the hotel is unique in its forward-thinking design and well-crafted hospitality approach; the hotel was designed to cater to the individual travel-

Ashwini Kumar, General manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

ler seeking indigenous experiences; and the property offers many thoughtful features that executive travellers value today. All guestrooms offer features for business travellers, such as high-speed wired and wireless Internet, spacious work areas, easy-to-use clocks, and power outlets at desk level. Rain showers and separate oval bath tubs will make the hectic business day feel a million miles away, while guests who stay in the hotel’s suites can relax and take in the view from luxury infinity baths providing a private, spacious escape. Within the hotel, four exclusive stateof-the-art boardrooms are available to host private meetings, in addition to the adjacent Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC) which offers 19 meeting rooms, two conference rooms, a large banquet hall, and 72929m2 of interconnected exhibition space.

Travel Trade Weekly: Do you believe that the emirate will further develop as a business destination and, if so, what are the internal and external components which will help this growth? Ashwini Kumar: Being one of the richest cities in the world, Abu Dhabi has a strong and resilient economy and its wealth continues to grow. Government initiatives worth hundreds of billions of US Dollars ensure that Abu Dhabi’s development is delivered according to a careful economic transformation strategy. Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 underpins our forecasted aviation market growth. Abu Dhabi is renowned for its high-yield business travel supported by multinational companies located in the emirate, worldclass business-tourism facilities, the benefits of free zone areas, and the growth in the diplomatic and UAE government traffic backed by the booming business of the oil and gas industry. Travel Trade Weekly: How much of the business is dependent on ADNEC being in close proximity to the property? Ashwini Kumar: A large portion of our business directly relates to ADNEC. Hotel business and demand is linked to the events that take place at ADNEC. Due to the close location and link to the exhibition centre, the events held there will always impact positively on hotel occupancy during that period. Supporting ADNEC and its growth are key for the hotel in order to assist the development of Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi as a business destination.

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MEA: 480 Hotels in the Pipeline The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region’s hotel development pipeline currently comprises 480 hotels with 118,023 rooms, according to STR Global Construction Pipeline Report for January.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli



hese figures include projects in the construction, final planning, and planning stages, and among all the countries in the region. Oman reported the largest expected supply growth at 63.9 percent, once all 4,613 rooms in the Sultanate’s total ac-

Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi

tive pipeline open. Moreover, five other countries are expected to see an increase of over 30 percent, including Saudi Arabia, with 27,783 units in the active pipeline, Qatar, with 6,205 rooms, the UAE, with 31,827 keys, and Kuwait, with 2,069 rooms.

HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 210466 WEBSITE

Marriott International: MEA RevPAR up 8.3 Percent

After recording a 22 percent year-on-year growth in global sales, Marriott International announced a 8.3 percent increase in RevPAR figures across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region for 2012, driven predominantly by a 5.3 percent improvement in occupancy. The company’s performance was boosted by three openings in 2012, and its development pipeline continues to grow with the signing of five new properties featuring a total of 1,027 rooms. These include the 186-unit Rabat Marriott Hotel, Morocco, due to open in 2014, the 181-key Constantine Marriott Hotel, Algeria, and the 210-room Courtyard by Marriott Riyadh North, Saudi Arabia, both slated to launch in 2015, the 300-unit JW Marriott Casablanca, Morocco, and the 150-key Lagos Marriott Hotel, Nigeria, scheduled to be unveiled in 2016.



15/03/2013 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: Figures on Upward Trajectory


uwait’s hotels continued to experience increased business volumes during the month of January, as TRI Hospitality Consulting’s latest HotStats report has revealed. Driven by growing corporate and leisure demand, occupancy levels rose 6.1 percentage points to 58 percent, while average room

rate surged 10.2 percent to USD273.54, lifting RevPAR 23.3 percent to USD155.58. The surge in visitor numbers from the north-eastern region of Saudi Arabia during the extended holidays boosted food and beverage revenues by 47.1 percent, while total RevPAR was up 36.6 percent to USD362.29, and gross operating profit per available room climbed 65.5 percent to USD182.55. 16 MARCH 2013



Abu Dhabi CB Launches Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has established the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (Abu Dhabi CB) with the aim of championing the emirate as a dynamic global business events leader. The dedicated, one-stop-support-shop was set up to assist the growth of exhibitions and conferences within the emirate by forging closer links with the industry and providing both financial and nonfinancial support, as Abu Dhabi aims to be ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association among the world’s top 50 association meetings destination in the next five years. Abu Dhabi CB will provide a range of services to the industry, including bid presentation support, delegate generation campaigns, local stakeholder coordination and knowledge, on-site destinations advice, government support coordination, as well as public relations and marketing assistance.

Dubai Opens Ladies-only Spa Spreading over a total of 930m2, De La Mer Day Spa has opened its doors, heralding a new standard for ladies spa excellence in Dubai. Located on the Jumeirah Beach Road, De La Mer Day Spa offers a haven of wellness with a unique holistic approach which combines beauty, spa, fitness, and overall wellness under one roof. The spa’s private pool, gated outdoor garden, lounge area, hair salon, fitness room boasting state-of-the-art equipment and personal training, and health and nutrition consultation services allow guests to enjoy a true day-club experience. For larger groups or special occasions, guests can also hire their own private suite, ‘mix and match’ treatments from the extensive spa menu, and create their own personalised event package. De La Mer Day Spa

Abu Dhabi Hosts Australian Agents One hundred of Australia’s top travel agents visited the UAE capital at the beginning of March on a familiarisation trip hosted by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) in conjunction with Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia. During the three-day visit, the professionals experienced some of the destination’s finest hotels, and most stunning attractions. “Our aim is to more closely connect with these important influencers, convince them of our product so they can assist us in converting more Australian travellers into actual bookings for Abu Dhabi,” explained Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director of promotions and overseas offices, TCA Abu Dhabi, who views Australia as a strong market for the emirate, both as a stopover and as a stand-alone destination, with 31 flights a week linking Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to Abu Dhabi International. “Currently Australian guests in Abu Dhabi hotels average a stay of just over three nights; we want them to know there is now much more to see and do in the emirate so we can expand this length of stay,” he concluded.

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Thrifty Car Rental, UAE, Opens 12th Mall-based Outlet In line with its continued expansion drive, Thrifty Car Rental, UAE, a franchisee of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group and one of the largest car rental businesses in the country, is set to open its 12th mall-based outlet in the UAE this month. The latest store, located at Al Ghurair Centre in Rigga Road, is situated in the heart of Deira, making it an ideal spot for tourists due to its proximity to the Dubai Museum and Creek. According to Rahul Singh, general manager, Thrifty Car Rental, UAE, the company’s strategy is to open new outlets in high population density areas which are near to hotels, hotel apartments, and shopping malls, the latter which, he explained, are a fundamental part of life within the UAE, thus six new outlets are being planned country the emirate this year.

Seawings Pilots Aerial Tours Luxury seaplane tour operator, Seawings, recently organised Dubai’s first-ever aerial educational tours. The 40-minute flights formed part of the company’s recently launched educational programme, Higher Learning, and was attended by over 50 students at Seawing’s base in Jebel Ali Beach Hotel. Each tour was preceded by a 30-minute briefing designed by educators to provide students with information to derive the greatest educational benefit from the tour and allow guests to gain a unique perspective on the history, development, architecture, economy, and ecology of Dubai. In addition, the flights also provided an aerial perspective on the commercial, industrial, and residential infrastructure located in the particular natural environment that defines the destination. Commenting on the initiative, Nigel Rea, chief operating officer, Seawings, said, “We have specially designed this programme to combine curriculum-relevant teaching with the thrill of a seaplane flight which will make for an unforgettable educational experience for each student.”

Mega Mall Sharjah Set for Renovation Mega Mall, conveniently located in the heart of Sharjah at Abu Shagara, is to undergo a renovation project in the coming months. The upgrades are aimed at reinforcing the shopping mall’s standing as a leading destination in the UAE and to help increase annual footfall, which reached over 8.1 million in 2012. “We have already commenced renovations of all the restrooms and towards the end of the year we will commence a renovation in our food court area,” revealed Laura Watts, general manager, Mega Mall. “The aim is to keep Mega Mall a top-of-mind shopping destination and to keep Mega Mall fresh and modern to compete with newer shopping centres that have been developed. In doing minor renovations and by having compelling strategic marketing activities throughout the year, footfall is expected to increase,” she added. Mega Mall

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Copthorne Hotel Sharjah to Open in Q2 Copthorne Hotel Sharjah is to welcome its first guests in the second quarter (Q2) of the year, as part of its soft opening launch. Located on the Corniche Road, overlooking Khalid Lagoon, the property will boast a distinctively welcoming ambience with Middle Eastern hospitality and refined service, and easy access to the city centre and the airport. Designed to appeal to both corporate and leisure travellers, the hotel will feature 255 luxurious guest rooms, including 11 suites and 24 Club Rooms, further to two restaurants, five meeting rooms, a business centre, a health club, a spa, a pool terrace, and an exclusive Club Lounge.


Tamani Hotel Marina Eyes New Markets Tamani Hotel Marina, the first Islamic all-suite hotel in Dubai, started the new year on a positive note as both occupancy and RevPAR have shown promising growth driven by increased business levels from new markets. The 55-storey hotel’s RevPAR rose four to five percent over the previous three years’ average, while occupancy levels in February were eight percent up compared to the corresponding month in 2012, revealed Walid Al Awa, general manager, Tamani Hotel Marina. “This means not only is the concept of Islamic hotel being more widely spread and accepted, Tamani Hotel Marina as a brand and Marina as an area is gaining momentum,” he further remarked, adding that along with the already existing source markets, which are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, CIS, and Europe, the hotel also succeeded in penetrating new markets, including China, India, Australia, and South Africa.

The Cristal Group to Reopen Baghdad Hotel The Cristal Group plans to relaunch the landmark Ishtar Hotel in the Iraqi capital as Cristal Grand Ishtar Hotel. One of the tallest buildings in Baghdad, the 20-storey property features 307 rooms and suites, further to four food and beverage outlets, conference and meeting rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, a business centre, spa, gym facilities, and outdoor pool. Expressing his delight at the upcoming opening, Peter Blackburn, president, Cristal Group, said, “It is our honour to be the first international hotel operator in Baghdad in over 20 years and to be managing the prestigious Cristal Grand Ishtar Hotel, where extensive development is underway. We see it as the beginning, and we look forward to being part of Iraq’s growth and development. We invite business travellers to come and stay at Cristal Grand Ishtar Hotel while in Baghdad and experience the same Cristal hospitality throughout your stay.”

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Golden Tulip Expands in Lebanon Golden Tulip MENA is to further strengthen its presence in Lebanon with its fourth property set to open in May. Part of a large-scale development on the Jiyeh shores on the southern part of the country, Golden Tulip Jiyeh Marina Resort will offer 152 rooms and suites, a spa, a number of food and beverage outlets including a rooftop lounge, further to a yacht marina, and extensive meetings, conferences, and events spaces, that can accommodate up to 3,500 people at the same time. The estimated cost of the project reaches over USD113 million, USD38 million of which has been spent on the hotel, and the new establishment is set to complement the company’s presence in Lebanon, according to Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip MENA.

DAMAC and Paramount Partner DAMAC Properties has entered into an exclusive partnership with Paramount Hotels & Resorts, the official licensee of Paramount Pictures, to develop DAMAC Towers by Paramount, in the heart of downtown Burj Khalifa area, Dubai. Slated for completion by the end of 2015, the USD1 billion development will be composed of four towers, one of which will comprise the Paramount Hotel & Residences, with the remaining three towers housing the DAMAC Maison – Paramount co-branded services hotel residences. The four 250m-high towers will be brought together with a multi-level plaza, boasting themed food and beverage concepts, meeting and events facilities, a screening room, swimming pools, kids club, and retail outlets all featuring the Paramount Pictures brand and its selected partners.

Hilton Adds to Egypt Portfolio Golden Tulip Jiyeh Marina Resort

Moxy Hotels to Launch in 2014 Marriott International is to enter the economy tier, threestar hospitality segment in Europe with the launch of the Moxy Hotels brand which will debut in Milan, Italy, in early 2014. Over the next 10 years, 150 Moxy Hotels are set to open in key European destinations, including Germany, Austria, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, each of which will offer 150-300 contemporary rooms along with adaptable public and meeting spaces. Marriott International is working closely with Inter Hospitality Holding, part of the property division of Inter IKEA Group, which will be the initial developer and owner of the first Moxy-branded properties, while Nordic Hospitality has been selected as the first franchisee to operate the brand.

Hilton Worldwide has entered into an agreement with Saudi Egyptian Real Estate Development, to open the company’s sixth hotel in the Egyptian capital city. Strategically located in the upscale residential and diplomatic district of Maadi, the 23-storey Hilton Cairo Nile Maadi will comprise 257 rooms and is slated to launch early 2016. Designed to appeal to both the leisure and business traveller, it will feature a 400m2 function room, two board rooms and three meeting rooms, further to a state-of-theart health club and spa, an outdoor swimming pool, two restaurants, a lobby lounge, and an executive lounge.

Carlos Khneisser, vice president, development Hilton Worldwide, Middle East; Christian Grage, vice president, operations, Hilton Worldwide, Egypt and Levant; Darwish Hassanin CEO, SECON; Mohammed Essam El-Din Ramadan and Omar El Shawatfi, owners, SECON. 16 MARCH 2013


Air Arabia Serving Mattala Air Arabia has announced that it has added its second destination in Sri Lanka with the launch of non-stop flights to Mattala. The airline will operate two weekly services between Sharjah and Mattala, to be increased to four times weekly starting May 19. According to Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, this new operation is in direct response to passenger demand, and will contribute to the trade and tourism ties between the UAE and Sri Lanka.

Iraqi Airways Celebrates Direct London-Baghdad Services Iraqi Airways is celebrating its first direct flight from London to Baghdad, after more than 23 years, by introducing its new mascot for the airline. The mascot can be found on Edgware Road and in central London, and the public will also have the chance to win one of the free flights sponsored by IKB Travel to Baghdad or Sulaymaniyah, by filling in the competition entry card. The competiton will be run every day and a winner will be chosen at random by IKB Travel each month.

Etihad Airways and Garuda Indonesia: New Codeshare Destinations Etihad Airways and Garuda Indonesia have announced a number of new codeshare destinations in Indonesia, Europe, the Middle East, Singapore, and Australia. The Abu Dhabi-based airline’s EY code is now on Garuda Indonesia flights between Jakarta and Singapore, Denpasar Bali, Manado, Surabaya, Balikpapan, and Makassar, and between Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam. Furthermore, Garuda Indonesia has also placed its GA code on Etihad Airways’ flights to five new cities, namely Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Bahrain, and Brussels, bringing the total number of codeshare destinations to 10. Customers of both airlines will further benefit this year when Garuda Indonesia increases frequency between Jakarta and Abu Dhabi and onwards to Amsterdam from four to six flights weekly as of June 21.

16 MARCH 2013



RJ Departs From New QAIA Terminal Airport International Group (AIG) has announced the start of operations at the new Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) terminal with three Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) flights, which took off on March 3. Accordingly, the team at RJ has asked those of its Queen Alia International Airport passengers departing to Athens, Doha, and Sharm El Sheikh to go directly to the new terminal and follow the signs that have been set up in the building’s lounges to complete the usual travel procedures. AIG clarified that these operations are merely the first three which will be departing from the new terminal until the full transfer of all flights takes place on March 21.




Qatar Airways Serving Cambodia

Barcelona Welcomes Emirates A380

Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight to Cambodia touched down in the capital, Phnom Penh, on February 20, further extending the airline’s reach in Asia Pacific. With the launch of daily scheduled services, Qatar Airways becomes the only Middle Eastern airline flying to the southeast Asian nation. According to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, the latest route opened up a great new market for business and leisure travellers from around the world, while at the same time opened up air access from Cambodia to destinations worldwide. “I take this opportunity to thank the Cambodian Government and local airport authorities for their great support in helping us launch daily flights to this wonderful country,” he commented.

Emirates was welcomed at Barcelona-El Prat Airport on February 24 as the airline brought its popular A380 aircraft for a one-off service to Spain for the first time ever, with another such event having taken place on March 1. “Emirates is currently operating two one-off Airbus A380 services between Dubai and Barcelona after overwhelming demand for air travel by our customers,” commented Richard Jewsbury, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and the Russian Federation, Emirates. “The signature Emirates A380 service is fundamental to our overall strategy, and bringing this popular aircraft to Spain represents a significant milestone in our operations to Barcelona after just seven months of operations.”

Etihad Airways and Kenya Airways Unite Etihad Airways is to expand its reach significantly across Africa after signing a strategic commercial partnership agreement with Kenya Airways, the national flag carrier of Kenya. Etihad Airways will place its EY code on Kenya Airways’ flights from Nairobi to 27 destinations across the African carrier’s network in the continent. As part of the reciprocal codeshare agreement, Kenya Airways will place its KQ code on the UAE airline’s daily service between the two capitals and, subject to government approval, onwards to up to 32 key destinations across Etihad Airways’ global network.

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Agnes Hlavacs Agnes Hlavacs has been named director of revenue at Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai. Hlavacs joins the team from Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre, where she served as pre-opening revenue manager. Prior to that, she worked at Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, London, as revenue manager

and also held various roles in reservations and front office. With over seven years experience in the field, Hlavacs will now lead the revenue management and reservations team and will be responsible for revenue optimisation and pricing strategy to grow market share while overseeing the reservation department’s work.

Nadim El Chakhtoura Nadim El Chakhtoura has been appointed director of operations at EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort in Lebanon. El Chakhtoura, who holds a degree in hotel management and tourism as well as a masters degree in food, beverage and convention management from Switzerland, brings over 17 years of experience to the role. Prior to joining EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort in Lebanon in 2005, as director

16 MARCH 2013

of food and beverage, he held various positions at a number of prestigious hotels in the country, including Le Royal Hotels & Resorts and Genifor Rotana, both in Beirut. Previously, he also served as general manager of the U Bay Club & Restaurants. In his new role, he will oversee all operations of the éGroup, including the five-star boutique hotel and the three-star é l'Hôtel, the Tropical spa, restaurants, wedding venues, and the beach resort.


Fady Atwan Fady Atwan has been named director of sales and marketing at InterContinental Abu Dhabi. Atwan, who joined InterContinental Hotels Group in early 2010, has over 11 years of hospitality experience under his belt. Most recently, he worked as director of sales, group and leisure, at InterConti-

nental Festival City, where he was responsible for leading his team to drive revenue growth, managing wholesale, airlines and the meetings and incentive segments. In his new position, he will be instrumental in developing and implementing the hotel’s sales and marketing strategies.


travel talk is your space


Khalaf Al Habtoor

George Demitry

Chairman, Al Habtoor Group.

General manager, City Seasons Al Hamra Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

“We are always on the lookout for potential partners. Accor is a respected brand and has a lot of experience in the European market. The Al Habtoor Group is constantly searching for strategic partnerships.”

The Al Habtoor Group is constantly searching for strategic partnerships

“We are very committed to supporting the cultural and arts activities [like the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs show in Abu Dhabi]. Such participation comes as a translation of the long commitment of the founder of the City Seasons Group, H.H. Sheikh Mussalam Bin Ham and our chairman, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Ham. The Fairy Tale show is certainly soul enriching, encouraging, and everlasting glimpse of hope which we wish to establish in our new generation.”

Saif Mohammed Al Midfa

Amine Moukarzel

Director general, Expo Centre Sharjah.

President, Golden Tulip Middle East.

“MICE Arabia Congress [held on February 27 - 28 in Doha] is a premier regional event aimed at bringing the stakeholders in the meetings, exhibitions, and hospitality industry face to face with corporate buyers. During its two-day run, the event offered an insight on the Gulf market through various keynotes, panel discussions, and round table sessions. Experts covered most pressing issues facing the MICE industry, along with sharing insights on the latest trends.”

“With more than 70 hotels in the MENA region, Golden Tulip MENA has plans to expand and open new properties in Algeria, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, and Lebanon offering many job opportunities and training for a better hospitality life, because what we do together is a way of life.”

Golden Tulip MENA has plans to expand and open new properties

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

16 MARCH 2013


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Peter Bell POSITION: Product manager COMPANY: Atlanta Travel & Tourism LOCATION: Dubai WEB:

Who are you? My name is Peter Bell and I am the product manager at Atlanta Travel & Tourism. I am responsible for finding new products and negotiating contracts with our suppliers, and also to nurture relationships with them by meeting regularly, to keep-up-to-date with changes to the products which we already sell and to discuss ways in which we can further evolve our partnerships in positive ways. Atlanta Travel & Tourism specialises in inbound travel and tourism and creates unique leisure packages for its clients. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel and tourism industry? Working in the travel industry ensures that no two days are ever the same. You always meet new people and tackle new problems daily which is very attractive for me and allows me to not become stuck in a mundane routine as is usually the case for many industries and sectors. When is the best time to visit Dubai? In Dubai, money talks and with countless shopping malls, flamboyant hotels, a huge array of dining choices and fantastic clubs and bars, there are plenty of ways to spend it. However, there is another side to Dubai; Heritage Village, a nice cultural place where local people take joy in their songs, dance, and traditions. Where would you like to travel for your next holiday? For my next holiday I would love to visit places such as China, Thailand, and India. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our group of companies is reputable and experienced, with over 17 years operating in the UAE, we have trusted partnerships with both suppliers and clients alike which have been built and maintained for many years and are based on trust and good hard work to a high standard which is why they continue to work with us.

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BritAgent Launches in Qatar After the successful execution and delivery of the BritAgent online training programme in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, VisitBritain is venturing again into the GCC, having recently launched the project in Qatar at the British Embassy in Doha. The programme will be attended by key decision makers from leading travel agencies in the country, as well as representatives from its media sector. ‘Britain the Basics’ is the theme of the first online module that gives an insight on the fundamental information and tools which the travel agent needs to book and plan thecli-

ent’s visit to Great Britain. The second module identifies unique selling points of different countries that make up Great Britain, and takes an in-depth look into the key differences and product offerings each region offers, and how these can appeal to repeat visitors. The third module covers unique selling experiences that can satisfy the travel agent clients’ special interests and diverse lifestyles. Once the agents have completed the programme, they will be granted BritAgent status, which signifies their expertise and knowledge about travel to Great Britain.


TRAVEL CHANNELS JTB Launches Live Web Cameras The Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) has teamed up with EarthCam to launch a collection of live streaming webcams with views of some of the Kingdom’s most treasured locations.


his collaboration makes Jordan the first country in the Middle East to offer live streams for tourism purposes 24 hours a day from any PC or smartphone. EarthCam’s webcams act as a virtual passport, allowing people from all over the world to enjoy Jordan’s most visited sites, including The Citadel Towers in Amman, the busy city streets of the capital, the Red Sea, as well as the Dead Sea, where the lowest webcam on the planet has been installed. The collection also includes the first webcam to deliver views of a world wonder, namely the ancient site of Petra. According to Abdul Razzaq Arabiyyat, managing director, JTB, this initiative will not only show that Jordan is unaffected by the regional political turbulence, but will also showcase the beauty of the sites day and night.

Social Network for Hoteliers Roomize, a new social network designed exclusively for hospitality property owners and managers, has been launched. The website, which offers its members various immediate and personal ways to interact with each other, can be accessed by owners and managers of all categories of hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, holiday farms, and boutique hotels from all over the world. The online community enables members to build relationships with fellow professionals by sharing their work experience, proposing mutually beneficial projects, exchanging rooms with each other without any charge or for a discounted price, and making constructive comments via private or public reviews upon their return.

Dubai Cruise Tourism on the Rise On welcoming Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas on her maiden call in early February, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has announced robust growth of cruise tourism in the emirate. Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director of business tourism, DTCM, commented that the cruise liner joined Dubai’s home porting roster in 2010 and every season was successful for the destination ever since. He added that DTCM forecasts a steady growth in this sector and works in collaboration with cruise lines to further promote potential of this segment regionally and globally. Dubai received 407,825 cruise tourists from 105 ship calls in 2012, while projections for 2015 are set to 120 ship calls and over 450,000 cruise tourists. The annual increase of cruise tourists to Dubai are in line with the forecasted global cruise tourist growth of three percent annually and the department looks forward to receiving over 420,000 passengers and 110 ship calls this year.

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Q & A with Ramsay Rankoussi Designed with the long-staying business and leisure guest in mind, the Millennium Executive Apartments Brand is set to fill a gap in the market, further strengthening the company’s presence in the region, as Ramsay Rankoussi, manager, development planning and asset management, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, explains.

Travel Trade Weekly: What were the main motives behind the company’s decision to introduce yet another brand? Ramsay Rankoussi: We have noticed that there is a serious demand for serviced apartments in the region and that guests coming in the UAE or other GCC countries are often, by nature, staying for longer [periods] than any other places in the world. Many business travellers, contractors, consultants are being assigned for a couple of months in the region and they would often opt for a serviced apartment where all the amenities and services are provided with no hassle. GCC visitors are also requesting larger and multiple connected rooms, travelling along with their family. Finally, we have experienced from existing hotels which also have serviced apartments that their residential component is sustaining high levels of performance and there were also higher financial benefits to this model for both the owner and the operator. A lower cost structure, higher financial returns, and a more efficient and practical design, are elements that have influenced many investors to consider the model. [...] Travel Trade Weekly: How would you describe the target market for the new brand? Ramsay Rankoussi: Millennium Executive Apartments have evolved from the DNA of Millennium Hotels, offering all the luxury and comfort that a hotel has to offer with a feeling of being perfectly at home. [It] caters comprehensively to the needs of business and leisure travellers who are looking for medium- to long-term stays.

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Ramsay Rankoussi Manager, development planning and asset management, Middle East and Africa, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels

Travel Trade Weekly: The new brand will debut with Millennium Executive Apartments Abu Dhabi. What makes the UAE capital the ideal fit for the brand? Ramsay Rankoussi: Abu Dhabi still has a strong reliance on corporate demand. While the government is taking various initiatives to boost leisure demand, we have realised that the growth in business activities in the capital is increasing the demand for long-term stays. Also, despite the rental declines lately, the city still has one of the highest residential costs with limited properties offering adequate facilities and services. Travel Trade Weekly: Which other regional destinations could see the opening of Millennium Executive Apartments?

Ramsay Rankoussi: The first property is expected by end of the first quarter in Abu Dhabi. We are moving along with the schedule to open our second hotel apartment property in Dubai Marina by end of the year hopefully. We are looking at taking the brand to Saudi Arabia where the market is tremendous for such a product type in different cities such as Medina, Mecca, Riyadh, or Jeddah. Other subsidiary cities are also under the radar and we believe the Kingdom is one of our biggest growth potential for the brand. Other cities in the region are part of our future targets and we are in talks for Doha and Istanbul, and potentially increasing the presence in existing markets with mature demand such as the UAE. Travel Trade Weekly: Tell us about the company’s plans for the current year. Ramsay Rankoussi: The next 12 to 18 months represent a very busy period for the company. We have over 3,000 rooms adding up to our operating portfolio, which represents an additional 14 hotels to join the region with market entry in Muscat, Al Ain, Fujairah, Sharjah, Medina, and further market growth in Sulaymaniyah, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. We are pleased to see most of our brands being deployed in the future openings from Grand Millennium, Millennium, and Copthorne Hotels. The first half of the year would see the Millennium Executive Apartments Abu Dhabi opening with 198 rooms, two Copthorne in Medina with a combined sum of 390 rooms, and another Copthorne in Sharjah with 255 rooms.



New Frontiers for Oman’s Tourism Agenda The Arabian Travel Market road show 2013 landed at Grand Hyatt Muscat on February 11, following stops in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, and the UAE. On the occasion Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, explained that the Omani government has allocated USD39 million to develop tourism sites in Dhofar province this year. “This shift of focus outside of the capital, Muscat, is a clear sign that the Sultanate is powering ahead with a well thought-out and diversified plan for tourism growth,” he said. Muscat International Airport’s multi-million dollar terminal is set to open in 2014, with the capacity to handle 12 million passengers per annum, while new tourism hotspot, Salalah, is also preparing for one million passengers each year once it debuts its upgraded airport in 2014. Meanwhile, both Qatar Airways and Oman Air are preparing to launch new services to and from Salalah this year.

DTCM Organises Green Exhibition The Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) is gearing up to hold the ‘Green Exhibition’ from April 7-9, which is set to take place alongside the seven-day Dubai Green Festival slated between April 7-13. The exhibition aims to promote the importance of environmental awareness as part of social development efforts involving businesses, individuals, and communities, by encouraging initiatives and efforts that focus on increasing ecological awareness and preserving environment for sustainable development. Eyad Abdul Rahman, executive director, media relations and business development, DTCM, explained that organising this first-ofits-kind green extravaganza in the region comes in response to the UAE’s aspirations for innovative solutions to environmental problems and sustainable development. He further explicated that among the event’s host of goals is rationalisation of environmental behaviour and supporting community participation to preserve and understand the surrounding environment. The exhibition will also offer an ideal platform for professionals in the hospitality and tourism sector, as well as providers of environmental solutions, to network and exchange expertise, Rahman added.

EVENTS Moscow International Exhibition Travel & Tourism (MITT Moscow) Moscow, Russia, March 20 – 23, 2013 ( Russia’s leading and largest travel exhibition with over 3,000 participating companies and 197 destinations, a key meeting place for industry professionals. The Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 25 – 27, 2013 ( A leading event for the meetings, incentives, and business travel industry in the GCC region, which can truly unlock all participants’ business potential. Saudi Travel & Tourism Investment Market (STTIM) Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 31 – April 4, 2013 ( This event covers all travel and tourism investments aspects in the Kingdom through a combined conference and exhibition. International Destination Expo (IDE) Dubai, UAE, April 4 – 7, 2013 ( A destination training programme where participants can meet local suppliers and build profitable long-lasting relationships.

World Travel Market Latin America (WTM Latin America) São Paulo, Brazil, April 23 – 25, 2013 ( A leading global event which brings the world to Latin America and promotes Latin America to the world. Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, May 6 – 9, 2013 ( The travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. IMEX 2013 Frankfurt, Germany, May 21 – 23, 2013 ( A show that innovates, inspires and presents new opportunities for the global meetings industry. International Luxury Travel Market Asia (ILTM Asia) Shanghai, China, June 3 – 6, 2013 ( 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.

16 MARCH 2013

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 175  

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...

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 175  

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...