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21 DECEMBER 2013

Hamad International Airport Commences Operations The first Qatar Airways Cargo shipment was recently received at Hamad International Airport in Doha.

06 Record-breaking October in Abu Dhabi More than 2.27 million hotel guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s hotels and hotel apartments in the first 10 months of the year.


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Season's Greetings





Strong Hotel Performance in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector recorded substantial growth during October, according to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report. Occupancy levels rose 8.4 percentage points to 79.6 percent, average room rate (ARR) climbed 16.8 percent to USD182.37, and RevPAR jumped 30.6 percent to USD145.13. As a result, gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR) was 47.3 percent higher at USD117.43. “The growth in Abu Dhabi’s top line performance was attributed to the city hosting a

JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS

number of high profile international events,” commented Peter Goddard, managing director, Dubai, TRI Hospitality Consulting. Despite a two percentage point decline in occupancy to 83.4 percent, Dubai’s ARR rose 9.4 percent to USD396.87. Meanwhile the emirate’s RevPAR was up 6.8 percent to USD300.80, boosting GOPPAR 7.6 percent to USD280.70.

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Cairo Hotels Experience Setback Cairo’s hotel sector experienced a challenging month in October based on TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report. Occupancy levels in the Egyptian capital city remained subdued at 31.5 percent for the month, 23.2 percentage points lower than in 2012, and although average room rates (ARR) rose five percent to USD112.59, RevPAR plummeted 39.5 percent to USD35.44, leading to a 47.2 percent decline in profitability. Year-to-date occupancy levels stand at 37.1 percent compared to 48.1 percent in 2012, ARR however increased from USD99.33 to USD11.40, while RevPAR averages at USD41.29, versus USD47.75 in 2012.


20/12/2013 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)



Gulf Air Records Solid Results


ulf Air recorded solid financial and operational results for the third quarter (Q3) of the year, indicating that Bahrain’s national carrier remains on track towards achieving its annual restructuring targets.

Gulf Air

Operating results for Q3 were 24 percent better than predicted for the months under review, contributing to an overall year-onyear reduction in company losses of over 50 percent. Year-on-year the carrier reduced its expenses by close to 30 percent. Now nine months into its restructuring plan, Gulf Air has successfully completed the realignment of its network, and is focused on further strengthening its core routes. “Gulf Air’s restructuring continues to gain momentum,” commented H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, chairman, Gulf Air, stating that the airline is now in a much stronger position than it was a year ago and is wellpositioned for long-term success. 21 DECEMBER 2013

WEEKLY NEWS Cruising Roadshow Crosses GCC Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), and the Ministry of Tourism of Oman have partnered with Costa Cruises and MSC Cruises to promote cruise tourism in the region with a six-day GCC roadshow. The show’s main objectives included increasing MENA residents who would consider a cruise holiday, raising awareness of the Gulf as a cruise destination, and training agents to sell cruises in the region. According to H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, DTCM, MENA is increasingly being recognised as a key growth market for the industry thanks to the significant investment in infrastructure.

Corporate Events Drive Occupancy Rise in Qatar Driven by increased demand through corporate events and the Eid Al Adha holiday, four- and five-star hotels in Doha recorded an average occupancy of 68.7 percent in October, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report revealed. While occupancy rose 1.1 percentage point, average room rate (ARR) fell 6.5 percent to USD237.06, leaving RevPAR five percent lower at USD162.95. Higher operating costs, coupled with a rise in payroll expenses, resulted in a 10.5 percent drop in profitability at USD197.41. “Although occupancies in Doha increased marginally due to the events, ARR remained under pressure from high levels of competition and subdued profitability which incurred negative growth from [2012], explained Peter Goddard, managing director, Dubai, TRI Hospitality Consulting.

Katara Cultural Village, Qatar

Russian Visitors in Ras Al Khaimah


Conveniently located 10 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, Dubai Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf offers views of the city landscape of Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay and the Burj Khalifa.



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ART MARINE to Launch New Management Projects

Al Bandar Marina, Abu Dhabi

Costa Cruises Enhances Product in ME Costa Cruises is set to invest more in developing the local source market in the UAE and the Middle East, after the region was uncovered as a firm point on the company’s winter deployment schedule. This according to Dario Rustico, sales and marketing director, Central Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, Costa Cruises, who elaborated, “In the 2013/2014 season we [are deploying] two wonderful ships in the region, Costa Fortuna, with a 3,470 passenger capacity, and Costa neoRiviera, with a 1,727 passenger capacity, offering cruises calling at Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, and Khasab.” Costa neoRiviera aims to enhance the product offering, with a new cruise experience concept, including longer stopovers and special shore excursions. The cruise line will utilise a larger vessel, Costa Serena, with a 3,780 passenger capacity for 17 cruises, which will also call at North African ports in Tunisia and Morocco. Dario Rustico

ART MARINE plans to further enhance its presence in the Middle East, launching additional marine management projects, and introducing extra services to existing contracts. The company’s regional portfolio currently includes Emirates Palace Marina and the resident-oriented Al Bandar Marina in Abu Dhabi, Reef Island Marina in Bahrain, and Marti Marina in Turkey. Speaking about the rising reputation of the sector, Bruno Meier, director of marina management, ART MARINE, said, “We saw the popularity of yachting grow in the Middle East over the last 10 years, and we expect this trend to move at an even faster pace in the future. We plan to manage and operate more marinas in the region, and therefore make our berth holders benefit from the numerous synergies that we will create between our marinas. More services will soon be introduced, such as the yacht valet services, or a specialised online ship chandlery.” According to Meier, these life-style oriented marinas also offer various events, making them attractive travel destinations.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Sails to the Region Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines offers various stops in the Arabian Gulf over the 2013/14 cruise season. Boudicca’s ‘Red Sea Voyage’ included stops in Safaga and Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and Aqaba, Jordan, while Black Watch’s ‘Africa & the Algarve’ cruise calls at Gibraltar and Tangier, Morocco. Martin Lister, planning manager, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, added that Balmoral and Black Watch’s ‘Grand Voyages’ will both call at Salalah and Muscat, Oman; Aqaba, Jordan; as well as Dubai, UAE. “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is also running a Canaries flycruise season in 2014 on board Braemar, where a select number of the cruises include visits to Morocco,” added Lister.

Olsen Cruise Lines, Boudicca

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Hamad International Airport Commences Operations

Hamad International Airport

The first Qatar Airways Cargo shipment was received at Hamad International Airport (HIA) on December 1, ushering in a new chapter in the Qatari aviation industry’s growth. Built over 77,000m2, the new terminal has been hailed as one of the largest in the world, and boasts a capacity to move 5,700 shipments simultaneously and handle 1.4 million tonnes of cargo per annum by 2015. The terminal also comprises a separate aircraft parking apron with 11 wide-body aircraft stands, as well as 42 loading docks, a live animal centre, a dangerous goods area and a perishable storage area, making it conducive to handling large and varied cargo shipments. The landside area contains 32 truck-loading facilities to ensure the efficient transfer of cargo in and out of Qatar, with full X-ray screening systems in place. The terminal is also highly automated for increased cargo efficiency. HIA’s cargo terminal has an automated storage and retrieval system to swiftly locate and process up to 1,000 unit load devices at a time.

Spain and Emirates Hold Promotional Workshop Spain’s Ministry of Tourism has teamed up with Emirates to organise a workshop for travel agents and tour operators from across the region. Held at The Address Downtown Dubai, the event saw over 25 Spanish companies presenting their products to more than 100 industry professionals who evaluated the workshops positively. As Carlos Hernandez, director, emerging markets, Spain Tourist Office (TSO), explained, the European country is determined to enhance its presence in the Middle East, thus TSO plans to carry out a number of promotional actions in the coming months. “We will increase our ties with professionals from the industry by strengthening our cooperation with airlines and tour operators,” he added.

Participants at the Workshop

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Record-breaking October in Abu Dhabi More than 2.27 million hotel guests checked into Abu Dhabi’s 148 hotels and hotel apartments in the first 10 months of the year, with October delivering a record monthly intake, guest nights tally, occupancy rate and revenues. According to figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, during the month under review 288,268 guests visited the emirate, marking a year-onyear increase of 29 percent, and bringing guest nights to 882,470, up 31 percent. As a result, occupancy levels rose 10 percent to 79 percent, and revenues improved 28 percent to AED578.4 million (USD157.5 million). Yearto-date guest numbers currently stand at 2.27 million, up 16 percent, with guest nights already exceeding seven million.

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Abu Dhabi

Dhi-Ain Village Development Project Launches H.R.H. Prince Meshari bin Sa’ud bin Abdul Aziz, governor, Baha, attended the laying of the foundation stone for the Dhi-Ain Village development project, in the presence of H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, president, Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities. Local in the Saudi province of Baha, the total outlay of the project is estimated at SAR16 million (USD4.3 million), and involves a three phased, five year development period. The first stage includes the repaving of main village passages, and the restoration and rehabilitation of buildings overlooking the lanes. Work will then begin on the restoration of endangered heritage buildings and sites in order to remove any potential hazards and secure passages. Bin Abdul-Aziz asserted the happiness of Dhi-Ain villagers because their age-old community mirrors their sense of national loyalty and the glorification of its history. He also pointed out that their contribution to developing their village bespeaks their awareness of the importance of cultural heritage.

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Hala Abu Dhabi Offers UAE Tours and Safaris Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management company of Etihad Airways, has introduced a range of tours and safaris in the UAE. The tours are hosted by a team of multi-lingual guides, including the first woman in the emirate to be licensed as a guest guide and off-road driver by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. “City tours and desert safaris are a quintessential part of visiting the UAE on holiday, so we are extremely proud to operate these services in-house using a branded fleet of Hala Abu Dhabi vehicles,” commented Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways. The introduction of the new services in one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for inbound leisure tourism, is testament to the continued expansion and diversification of Hala Abu Dhabi, and reinforces the company’s strategic endeavours to promote the best of the UAE.

Hertz UAE Opens at Al Maktoum International Airport Hertz UAE has opened a new car rental branch at Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai World Central (DWC). The new location, the 19th in the UAE, will capitalise on the increasing volume of air traffic and business flowing through DWC, and marks an important step in the company’s growth strategy, as Nigel Johnson, general manager, Hertz UAE, identified. “This is our fifth airport location in the UAE, and establishing an early presence here is crucial; a booming regional aviation sector underpins our expansion strategy. Not only is DWC home to what soon will be the largest world-class airport in the world, it is also a fully integrated economic zone supporting logistics, aviation, commercial, exhibition, humanitarian, residential and leisure related businesses,” added Johnson.

Hertz UAE Opens at Al Maktoum International

Shurooq Hosts Sharjah-India Roundtable In line with its strategy to promote Sharjah as a leading business and investment hub, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) hosted a Sharjah-India roundtable this month. The event featured presentations in four of Sharjah’s key sectors, namely travel and tourism, environment, healthcare, and transport and logistics. H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, noted, “Sharjah’s strategic location and diversified economy make it an excellent base of operations for investors and companies wishing to establish themselves in the region.” Heart of Sharjah Project

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USD47.4 Million Worth of Contracts Awarded on Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah

Dubai to Become the Global Evens Hub Having established itself as a reputable events hub in the MENA region, Dubai has set sights on being recognised as the world’s leading events and entertainment destination. Speaking at the Host Cities Conference, following the UAE’s winning bid to stage Expo 2020, H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said that facilitating improvements in event oragnisation was pivotal if Dubai is to realise its ambition. Ahmad Belhoul, CEO, strategy and tourism sector development, DTCM, added, “Our overarching strategy includes the continual development of our annual calendar across both business and leisure events, and the development of more city-wide festivals, following the model of the Dubai Shopping Festival.”

Arabian Travel Market

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Dubai-based developer, Nakheel has awarded contracts worth AED174 million (USD47.4 million) for the construction of two new beachfront projects on Palm Jumeirah. United National Engineering Company has been appointed to construct Azure Residences, under a contract worth AED135.5 million (USD36.9 million), while Al Ghurair Contracting and Engineering Works has won an AED38.7 million (USD10.5 million) contract to build Club Vista Mare. Work on both projects - two of several currently underway on Nakheel’s flagship Palm Jumeirah island - are set to begin soon, with an 18-month construction timeline for Club Vista Mare, and two years scheduled to build Azure Residences. The 10-storey Azure Residences complex includes 170 one- and two-bedroom apartments, an infinity pool, nine restaurants, a gym and a car park. Club Vista Mare is spread over two floors and will feature 33 studio apartments, eight food and beverage outlets, a gym and retail facilities.



Middle East Carriers Outperform Global Average The International Air Transport Association (IATA) have released global passenger traffic results for October, showing a moderate acceleration of the robust demand trend of the last few months. Total revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) rose 6.6 percent compared to October 2012, marking an improvement over the September increase of 5.2 percent. Worldwide, capacity increased 6.5 percent year-on-year, thus load factor remained flat at 78.9 percent. For the month under review, Middle East carriers posted by far the strongest traffic growth at 14 percent, and while capacity rose 13.9 percent, load factors stood at 75.5 percent. According to IATA’s analysis, airlines in the region benefitted from strong demand for business-related premium travel, and solid performance in key economies, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, also supported the improvement in both business and leisure travel. Tony Tyler, CEO, IATA, noted that by year-end, global passenger numbers will have exceeded three billion, while January 1, 2014 will mark a century of scheduled commercial aviation.

Dubai International, Consourse A

UNWTO Conference on Tourism and Media The impact of technological innovation and evolving media channels on tourism communication was discussed at the 3rd UNTWO International Conference on Tourism and Media in Portugal – part of the World Tourism Oganization (UNWTO)’s ongoing endeavour to lend tourism a higher level of editorial recognition. Centred around the theme, ’How new media is shaping the news’, the conference underscored key trends, such as news generation’s development from a top-down analogue format into a digital interactive experience, and the emergence of bloggers as influential news sources. Participants agreed that the solution to communicating tourism is in offering a bigger picture of the economic, social and environmental impact of the industry. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, said, “While tourism coverage by mainstream, business and news agencies is growing, there is still much room for tourism to have greater journalistic rec3rd UNWTO International Conference ognition.” on Tourism and the Media

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Hilton Abu Dhabi Receives Blue Flag In recognition of Hilton Abu Dhabi’s eco-sustainability efforts, the hotel’s Hiltonia Beach Club has been awarded the Blue Flag honour. The accolade is received by those who match the strict pre-

Hilton Abu Dhabi Beach

Charity Drive to Pledge Support for Education in Africa The team at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre has raised some AED20,000 (USD5,445) through employee contributions through the ‘Road to Awareness 2013’ campaign. The charity drive is a joint initiative by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and UNICEF aimed at ensuring underprivileged children receive the basic necessities, such as the right to quality education. The amount collected by the hotel will be used for the advancement of 8,000 children in need in Cameroon and Nigeria, by facilitating their enrolment in schools. Praising her colleagues’ generous contribution, Deveekaa Nijhawan, public relations and communications manager, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, said, “As a socially responsible organisation, the hotel continues to support Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference social and altruistic causes.” Centre Team

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set criteria, and was awarded after results from a thorough analysis of water samples taken from sea water in the area showed the high quality of the surrounding environment, thus reflecting the property’s endeavours to protect and develop its coastline. Describing the award as a fantastic achievement, Wolfgang Maier, general manager, Hilton Abu Dhabi, said, “The hotel is a long-standing favourite in the emirate. We have always taken our ecological footprint very seriously and continually take steps to minimise our impact, while providing a seamless guest experience.” The accolade will endorse environmental consciousness and the importance of sustainability, according to Maier, who concluded, “As one of the most established beach clubs in Abu Dhabi, our high-flying Blue Flag will promote awareness of environmental best practice and encourage the sustainable development of beaches across the UAE.”




Emirates Launches its Longest A380 Flight

Hubert Frach Speaking after the Arrival of A380 in Los Angeles

Gulf Air: New In-flight Offering with Traditional Games Gulf Air has unveiled its new in-flight entertainment games offering, becoming the first airline in the world to launch six traditional Middle Eastern games onboard its flights. The new games have now been successfully installed across Gulf Air’s entire fleet, and include the regional favourites of Tawle, an Arabian-style backgammon game, Basha, a popular regional card game, as well as Moosiqar, which allows players to create melodies with one of the Middle East’s oldest instruments, the Oud. Ahmed Janahi, acting CEO, Gulf Air, commented, “As one of the oldest carriers in the region, Gulf Air has always tried to maintain links with tradition. [...] When we discovered multiplatform video games developer Quirkat’s new games offering we were delighted to offer them onboard for our passengers to enjoy. It is an added bonus for Gulf Air and our customers that we will be the first airline in the world to provide these games while supporting a Middle Eastern game publisher at the same time.”

Emirates inaugurated its A380 service to Los Angeles, with the double-decker aircraft’s touch down in the US city marking the completion of the world’s longest A380 flight in operation. Crossing Russia, the North Pole and Eastern Canada on its route, the landmark service has a published duration of 16 hours and 20 minutes. The aircraft itself is equipped with onboard shower spas and a lounge for first and business class passengers, while travellers in all cabins have access to Wi-Fi, 1,500 channels of in-flight entertainment, and gourmet-chef prepared meals. “Bringing the glamorous A380 set of wings to the City of Angels seemed like a natural fit as this aircraft mirrors the luxury of the Hollywood lifestyle,” said Hubert Frach, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations, West, Emirates. The introduction of the 489-seat Airbus A380 service is a direct response to demand, with over one million passengers travelling between Los Angeles and Dubai so far.

Oman Air and Turkish Airlines Codeshare Oman Air and Turkish Airlines have signed a codeshare agreement covering services between Oman and Turkey, allowing passengers to benefit from the products and services offered by both carriers on the Muscat – Istanbul return routes, operated by Turkish Airlines. “Both airlines offer an outstanding choice for our customers, with Oman Air’s growing network currently serving 43 premium destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa, and Turkish Airlines flying to more global destinations than any other carrier,” remarked Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air. According to Pearce, the codeshare agreement will offer customers of both airlines even greater convenience, and is the latest step in the increasingly close links between Oman Air and Turkish Airlines, both of whom share a commitment to delivering excellence in cusWayne Pearce (left) and Temel Kotil, tomer service. president, Turkish Airlines (right)

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PAL Expands Mid-East Network Philippine Airlines’ (PAL) regular route expansion to the Middle East continues with the recent reintroduction of regular services to Saudi Arabia. The airline resumed the Manila – Riyadh route on December 1, and services to Dammam were operational again as of December 3. PAL deploys its brand new twin-engine Airbus 330-300 aircraft on the nonstop flights to both destinations, offering overseas Filipino workers and other travellers faster and more convenient travel between the Philippine capital and the Kingdom. The carrier first flew to Riyadh on March 1, 1987, but the service was suspended in 2011, while flights to Dammam started on July 3, 1982, with the route being paused in August 2001. The operations are expected to be welcomed by Filipino expatriates, who number over 1.8 million in Saudi Arabia alone. The A330-300 aircraft being used on the flights make up part of a 20-strong order, the first of which was delivered to PAL in September this year. The airplanes accommodate 414 passengers, configured into two classes, premium economy, with 39 seats, and economy, with 375 seats.


Emirates Touches Down in Kabul, Afghanistan

Emirates Lands in Kabul

21 DECEMBER 2013

Emirates has inaugurated its latest route between Dubai and Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. The daily service is being operated by an Airbus A340-500 aircraft, offering 12 first class, 42 business class and 204 economy class seats in each direction. The launch of the Kabul route marks the airline’s 138th destination in its network, while Afghanistan has become the 78th country it operates to. Adel Al Redha, chief operations officer, Emirates, commented, “This new route presents a new opportunity for the population of Afghanistan to access new travel opportunities and destinations thanks to our extensive global network across six continents. It will also provide an opportunity for the many Afghans living overseas to visit home again whilst experiencing Emirates renowned service and product.”

Qatar Airways to Boost Services to Istanbul Qatar Airways plans to commence fourweekly passenger services to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, beginning May 22, 2014. The route will become the airline’s third in Turkey after Istanbul Ataturk Airport and Ankara Esenboğa Airport. The airline currently operates 10 flights-a-week to Istanbul’s main international airport, while it flies four times weekly to the Turkish capital. Situated close to various industrial hubs, Sabiha Gökçen International Airport is the second international airport serving Istanbul. Commenting on the service Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “Turkey’s aviation industry has experienced unprecedented growth over the past few years and we are delighted to be part of this growth by launching additional capacity into this vibrant market.”




Ritz-Carlton Reserve to Launch in Bali The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has announced Bali, Indonesia as the next location for a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. The resort is set to open in Ubud in the summer of 2015, and will join the collection which includes Phulay Bay, Thailand and Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico. The property will occupy a prime, yet secluded position in the hills along the Ayung River, with views of Bali’s terraced rice paddy fields adjacent to the village temple. It will feature 60 villas and suites showcasing local architectural features indigenous to Bali. The hotel’s gardens will lead to a spa and two swimming pools designed to respect the guest’s needs for privacy and personal space, featuring personal day beds, and sheltered areas. “Bali is a well established destination for luxury travellers and we are confident that our resort in Ubud will raise the bar for style, service, and quality in the area,” said Herve Humler, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Ubud, Bali

Anantara Debuts in Africa Anantara Bazaruto Island Resort & Spa in Mozambique has welcomed its first guests, marking Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas entry into Africa. Located a 15-minute flight from the mainland, the family resort

Anantara Bazaruto Island

is set on one of the largest islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago, a protected national park area in the Indian Ocean. Designed in natural harmony with its surroundings, the property offers a boutique collection of 44 villas, including the Anantara Pool Villa, which provides a sanctuary for families and friends. Additional facilities at the resort include six restaurants and bars, swimming pools, children’s entertainment rooms, a fitness centre, tennis, volleyball and golf courses, a 1,300m2 spa, and meeting and events venues. According to Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, Minor Hotel Group, the addition of the resort as the first Anantarabranded property in Africa is a significant milestone for the company. “We are currently exploring other opportunities in Africa, both with our partners and independently, and for sure we are looking to further develop the Anantara brand on the continent,” revealed Rajakarier.

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Samer Khair

Antoun Kobercy Antoun Kobercy has recently been promoted, taking on a new position at Golden Tulip Seeb Hotel in Muscat, Oman as the hotel’s director of rooms. Kobercy joined Golden Tulip eight years ago and during his time with the company he has worked in numerous roles including front office and rev-

enue manager. In addition to his new job at the property in the Omani capital, Kobercy also serves Golden Tulip MENA as assistant franchise director for the whole region.

Kobercy joined Golden Tulip eight years ago

Samer Khair is the new general manager at Salalah Marriott Resort. With over 23 years of hospitality experience, Khair has gained a comprehensive understanding of the industry and the region. He started his career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Shadi Karameh Shadi Karameh has been named director of sales at Grand Millennium Dubai. Starting his career as front desk shift leader with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in the UAE, Karameh then moved to the sales team where he specialised in corporate account development. Karameh joins Grand Millennium Dubai from the Dubai sales office of Raffles Praslin – Seychelles where he served as assistant director for two

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years. Prior to that, he worked as director of business development at destination management company, Bon Tours. He also spent two years with JA Resorts & Hotels overseeing international sales.

Karameh joins Grand Millennium Dubai rom the Dubai sales office of Raffles Praslin – Seychelles


in Switzerland and Jordan. After working at the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities and various properties in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Oman with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts and IHG, he joined Saad Group in Al-Khobar in 2011 as general manager of the hospitality division.

Bruce Hanna Bruce Hanna has been appointed country manager for Saudi Arabia at Travelport. Based in Jeddah, he will be responsible for all Galileorelated commercial activities in the Kingdom, including managing existing customer relationships and identifying new business opportunities. A seasoned global distribution system veteran, Hanna has more than two decades of experience with Travelport. Prior to joining the Saudi

team, he worked in Johannesburg as vice president of commercial for Travelport Southern Africa, and he also held roles such as director of market support in Africa, as well as president and CEO for Galileo India. Hanna is replacing Ghulam Al Balooshi, who, after serving as interim general manager in the Kingdom, has returned to Dubai to focus on his role as country manager for the UAE and Lower Gulf region.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Michel Lansen

Kamel Ajami

General manager, DoubleTree by Hilton Aqaba, Jordan.

Country manager, Jordan, Hilton Worldwide.

“Aqaba is ideally placed to support Jordan’s tourism aspirations whether it is business-led or across the many different sectors of leisure tourism. The city’s enviable coastline location in the northeast corner of the Red Sea attracts short and long-stay tourists and the tremendous work carried out by Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority has shaped Aqaba’s status as a distinct destination with broad sector appeal.”

“The MICE industry has always been active, and being the largest standalone convention centre in Jordan, our source markets [at King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre managed by Hilton] have always been the same. We host conferences and meetings of up to 3,000 participants. [...] We are also working on finishing Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa, with 285 rooms and suites, which is scheduled to open in 2014.”

Graham Cooke

Taher Al-Jaghbir

President, World Travel Awards.

CEO, Abdali Boulevard Company.

“JA Resorts & Hotels has enjoyed another fruitful year as the group continues to develop its range of products and its gracious brand of hospitality. We congratulate its flagship property, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort, for winning ‘World’s Leading Family Resort’, as well as JA Oasis Beach Tower in Dubai for being voted as ‘World’s Leading Serviced Apartment Hotel’ for the second year in a row."

“At The Boulevard, our vision is to introduce, in Amman, a truly exceptional mixed-used development that combines a pedestrian-friendly promenade with the best outdoor shopping and high-end retail outlets, entertainment and fitness facilities, world-class business offices backed with the latest state-of-the-art infrastructure, and luxurious serviced hotel apartments providing the highest standards of hospitality.”

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

21 DECEMBER 2013


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Amine Lagoune POSITION: Owner/Inbound

manager Algeria

COMPANY: Algérie Tours LOCATION: Algeria / France WEB:

Who are you? We are an inbound agency working in Algeria for the past 13 years. All of our travel programmes in Algeria are available on our website, and all of our trips in Algeria are accredited by the Ministry of Tourism with which we work closely. We guarantee quality service with English-speaking guides, safety and appropriate supervision. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? I love creating new channels of communication, meeting new partners, and when our customers come back delighted with their trip. When is the best time to visit Algeria? The ideal time to travel to Algeria is from March to June, and then from September to November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I will visit ‘The Gardens of the Saura’ which is a set of beautiful oases between the mountains and the Algerian desert. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Algérie Tours is an incoming agency in Algeria, which has extensive experience in group international tourism. Our cultural trips to Algeria are our creations because of our knowledge of the riches of Algeria. The eight Algerian UNESCO-classified sites of world heritage such as the Antique Tipaza, Djamila and Timgad sites, make the country rank second after Italy to have the most Roman ruins. Algeria is a new destination in the Mediterranean.

Timgad, Algeria

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Elaf Group Celebrates with Egyptian Agents Elaf Group officials travelled from Saudi Arabia to Egypt in order to celebrate and honour agents for achieving positive results this year. The special felicitation ceremonies were attended by Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group, as well as heads of various other departments. “The group’s agents outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including Egypt have done exceedingly well in serving the pilgrims coming to Saudi Arabia during the Umrah and Hajj seasons this year. I affirm Elaf’s plans to expand its business to have more

agents across the major countries with Muslim populations,” said Bin Mahfouz. “The accomplishment of Elaf Group is allied with the efforts of our esteemed dealers, and this is why we always appreciate, reward and motivate our dealers who perform consistently well yearon-year. The recognised performance of our Egypt dealers during this Umrah and Hajj season accomplished another success story as they shared our vision for quality and excellence, which is central to sustained success,” concluded Bin Mahfouz.

Travelport Announces Agreement with Hong Kong Carriers Travelport signed a multiyear content agreement with Hong Kong Airlines and low-cost carrier, Hong Kong Express Airways. Effective immediately, the deal provides Travelport-connected agents worldwide with access to up-to-date route information and fares from the airlines, both of which have also selected Travelport as their preferred global distribution system (GDS) in Hong Kong, meaning Travelport-connected agents, and their customers in the region will benefit from exclusive promotions. Damian Hickey, vice president, global distribution sales and services, Asia Pacific, Travelport, commented that the agreements are testament to the company’s commitment to delivering unrivalled travel content to its customers, whilst helping to grow bookings on both airlines via Travelport’s GDS platforms. Jiang Yu Tao, deputy director, Hong Kong Express and Hong Kong Airlines, added, “We look forward to working with Travelport to deliver our service offering to more travel agents worldwide.” Damian Hickey


TRAVEL CHANNELS Solar Seawater Desalination Plant in Ras Al Khaimah

The largest solar-powered seawater desalination plant will be established in Ras Al Khaimah, entailing an output of over 83 million litres of potable water per day, and 20 megawatt of solar power per hour.


his was announced by Utico Middle East, one of the GCC’s largest private full service utility and solutions providers, at the 2nd Annual Global Independent Water and Power Projects (IWPP) Summit, in Ras Al Khaimah in November. According to Richard Menezes, executive vice chairman, Utico Middle East, the GCC has an abundance of sunshine throughout the year and the aim will be to harness this free energy and channel it to UAE residents at extremely low costs. The solar plant venture is yet another major announcement by Utico Middle East, since the company confirmed a USD408 million coal power plant to be Richard Menezes Addressing the IWPP Summit set up in Ras Al Khaimah in 2012. in Ras Al Khaimah

World Routes Strategy Summit 2013 Findings Published Findings have been released from the World Routes Strategy Summit 2013, which took place in October in the US alongside the 19th World Route Development Forum, detailing the conclusions from the two-day event. Points raised include the fact that collaboration across the airline, airport and tourism sectors is key to adapting to a challenging market environment. The ‘Addressing CO2 Emissions’ session found that the aviation industry remains committed to carbon neutral growth, while ‘The State of the Industry’ session emphasised that although the sector remains fragile, growing collaboration with stakeholders is a positive sign for the future. The report also revealed that there is a need to open the lines of communication with passengers to improve service, particularly in view of expected growth in demand for air transport in the rising middle classes and emerging markets.

Travel Enhances E-commerce A new study from Expedia Media Solutions provides insight into the content journey of today’s traveller, including platform and device usage patterns, purchase trends, and how content influences the decision-making process. The survey shows the expansive opportunity leisure tourism provides, accounting for 37 percent of total ecommerce through the first half of the year. Additionally consumers are spending 93 percent more time with online content than three years ago, while online travel spending is up eight percent year-on-year. Online travel agencies are visited by 80 percent of travellers during the booking process.

South America Overtakes Rivals South American travel market continues to rise according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report. The region displays stable improvement of outbound international travel, while this year’s figures for inbound travel to the Americas were moderate. The World Tourism Organization reported a rise of 3.2 percent, although 2014’s World Cup in Brazil will play an important role in increasing this figure, as around 600,000 international visitors are expected to attend the event. Meanwhile, international departures from Canada grew six percent this year whereas the US market for international travel rose only one percent, which helped North America to achieve a year-onyear growth figure of three percent. Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

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Q & A with Daniele Venuti Following the past years’ slowdown, Jordan’s tourism industry is again adamant about a positive outlook for the Kingdom. Here Daniele Venuti, director of sales and marketing, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Jordan, shares his views on how to turn challenges into opportunities.

Travel Trade Weekly: How has business been these past few months? Daniele Venuti: The last two years saw a drop in business in the tourism industry in Jordan due to the political situation in the Levant region, together with the economic crisis that is affecting most of the European markets. In the last few months we have been affected by such situations and we have had to increase our efforts in terms of quality of service, product enhancement and marketing activities. Such efforts, together with the strong brand awareness that we have been building in Jordan over the past 15 years, have allowed us to reduce the impact of the crisis, and focus on our guests needs in order to maintain their long-term loyalty. Travel Trade Weekly: Which markets have shown notable changes in the past few months? Daniele Venuti: We saw the biggest drop from the Southern European countries such as Italy, France and Spain. These markets used to represent an important share of our business and therefore, we had to focus on other markets in order to balance the drop in volume. Jordan, the Levant region, and the GCC markets have shown an important increase, not only in terms of individual travellers but also as ad hoc groups. Such a change in our business mix, and the proximity of these markets, has the advantage of allowing us to react and promote our properties directly and therefore more effectively. In the coming future we will be also travelling far to open and promote Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts Jordan to the emerging markets

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Daniele Venuti Director of sales and marketing, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Jordan

in marketing, and the development of new attractions across the country that create further interest in the destination. Travel Trade Weekly: Please tell us about Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ plans for the coming months.

in Asia and South America. We do not expect an immediate return on investment from these markets but we believe that this is the right time to do it, looking at the long-term. Travel Trade Weekly: How can hoteliers play a role in reviving the Kingdom’s tourism industry? Daniele Venuti: Hoteliers are just one aspect of the whole tourism industry, same as local travel agencies, tourism board and the national carrier. We believe that the goal of 9.4 million visitors in 2015 is only achievable with a strong common effort that sees the opening of new routes to Amman’s international airport, the promotion of the destination in all those countries where Jordan is not yet known, the participation in communication activities such as press trips and familiarisation trips, the investment of funds

Daniele Venuti: At Mövenpick Hotels & Resort Jordan, we constantly aim to improve our quality or services and products. During 2014 we will renovate 323 of our rooms and suites at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea, ensuring a refreshed look while still keeping the Arabesque theme. Also, at Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea [in October] we received the UN Women Gender Equity Seal Accreditation […]. Nine companies in Jordan have received this seal, among which Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea is the only hotel. In September this year, we announced free Wi-Fi connection in all our Jordanian properties; this is not only available in the guestrooms, but throughout the properties in all public areas. We have also increased the speed of Internet in order to facilitate the increasing trend of sharing moments of life with family and friends through social media. In September again, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts worldwide with an evening event that saw the participation of some 400 invitees including embassies, ministries, tourism professionals and large corporate companies. For [2014] we are already working on several projects that will focus on the guests experience, but also on sustainability programmes, to support the local community and maintain the natural heritage.



ITB Berlin: Focus on New Trends The next edition of ITB Berlin in March, 2014, will provide strategic input on the latest trends shaping the tourism industry’s future. One of the key topics for discussion will be the luxury tourism sector, while the use of new technologies in the travel industry will also be also highlighted through various sessions. In addition, following the successful debut of eTravel World, the show will now extend into the weekend. At the ITB Global Future and Trends Summit Day, Lee McCabe, head of travel, Facebook, will deliver a keynote speech on the prospects for social media securing new customers, which will be followed by sessions focusing on the travel patterns and opportunities of tomorrow.


Sponsored by


ITB Berlin, 2013

EVENTS CMT – The Holiday Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany, January 11 – 19, 2014 ( Hailed as one of the world’s largest public trade fairs for tourism and leisure with exhibitors from all over the world showcasing their products. Ferien Messe Wien Vienna, Austria, January 16 – 19, 2014 ( An international event for holidays, travel and leisure, and the leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria. Go and Regiontour Fairs Brno, Czech Republic, January 16 – 19, 2014 ( One of the largest presentations of the industry, with an emphasis on Central European regions. International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) Madrid, Spain, January 22 – 26, 2014 ( A global meeting point for tourism professionals with some 10,000 exhibiting companies.

November 2013 SATTE India New Delhi, India, January 29 – 31, 2014 Mumbai, India, February 3 – 4, 2014 ( Hailed as the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia, with more than 600 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2013


GCC Cigre 2013


Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Prix


December 2013 The Life & Style Show UAE


East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) Istanbul, Turkey, January 30 – February 2, 2014 ( Already over 4,000 travel companies from 67 countries have applied for the 18th edition of the event.

SME Congress and Expo


China Consumer Products Fair 2013


Winter Consumer Fair


SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event 2014 - Abu Dhabi


Business Travel Show London, UK, February 4 – 5, 2014 ( The 20th edition is expected to attract more than 200 exhibiting companies and over 6,000 travel professionals.

INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition 2014


World Future Energy Summit 2014


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit 2014


Borsa International Tourism Exchange (BIT) Milano, Italy, February 13 – 15, 2014 ( A business-to-business event, which has been present on the market since 1980.

January 2014 Information correct at time of publication. Please check for alterations.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 215  
Travel Trade Weekly Issue 215  

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...