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Arabtec to Built Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road Arabtec Construction has been awarded a contract for the construction of a 77-floor mixed-use tower on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.

Steigenberger Hotel Group has celebrated the launch of Steigenberger Hotel Makadi in Egypt.

11 Saudia Inaugurates Toronto Route Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) launched its first flight to the Canadian city of Toronto on October 28, while a reception was held the following day.


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Steigenberger Hotel Makadi Opens


WEEKLY NEWS Sharjah Continues Steady Growth Sharjah recorded 1,391,632 international arrivals for the first nine months of the year, marking a healthy 10 percent year-on-year growth, principally driven by strong interest from Europe and the GCC region. While Europe accounted for 33 percent of the total visitor numbers, the GCC countries represented 37 percent, Asia 14 percent, and Arab tourists 13 percent, with the remaining four percent coming from the Americas, Asia Pacific and Africa. According to Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, the total number of properties in the emirate now stands at 103, representing 9,573 rooms, and with a number of new hotels and resorts expected to open in the coming months and years, Sharjah’s room stock is set to reach 12,000 units by 2015.

Sharjah's Stand at World Travel Market

Dubai Cruise Sector to Welcome 300,000 Tourists With more than 20 leading global cruise lines anticipated to bring in as many as 300,000 tourists to the emirate during the 2013/14 season, Dubai is set to seal its reputation as an international hub for cruise tourism. Dubai is currently the home port for five major cruise lines, and three of these, including Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and AIDA Cruises, will be operating Gulf cruise itineraries out of Dubai during the coming season, while TUI Cruises will resume operations from the 2014/15 season and the emirate is also looking forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean International again in the 2015/16 season. In addition, the planned expansion of Dubai Cruise Terminal will endow the destination to cater to even more cruise lines.

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HVS: Marrakech Shows Significant Potential Over recent years, Marrakech has experienced substantial development in luxury hotel supply and according to HVS’s latest report the Moroccan city is set for future growth. The total number of hotels in Marrakech increased 27 percent to 124 between 2008 and 2012, primarily driven by an almost 50 percent rise in the five-star segment and a 64 percent growth in three-star hotels. In 2012, 41 percent of total room stock was in the fivestar segment, with some 6,540 units, and the four- and five-star markets account for nearly 80 percent of total bed nights. As the report highlights, new supply in the fivestar and luxury market is set to continue with a number of internationally branded properties entering the destination over the coming years, adding some 800 keys to Marrakech’s room inventory.



Passenger Traffic Soars in Abu Dhabi In September 1,369,051 passengers passed through Abu Dhabi International Airport’s gates, demonstrating a 10.1 percent yearon-year surge.



ccording to Abu Dhabi Airports’ report, aircraft traffic rose 13.1 percent to 11,379 in September, while cargo volumes increased 37.6 percent to more than 61,913 tonnes. The top five destinations for the month under review included Bangkok, London, Doha, Manila and Sydney.

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

“Efforts to attract new airline partners and new routes, alongside strategic investments in infrastructure, will enable Abu Dhabi International Airport to further accommodate the increase in passenger traffic whilst providing them with a wider choice for efficient travel solutions,” commented Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports.

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Jumeirah: USD1.4 Billion Syndicated Loan



15/11/2013 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar







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Burj Al Arab

Jumeirah Group has raised a USD1.4 billion syndicated loan to support long-term growth plans. The loan will be used to support the group’s expansion as the company continues to strengthen its footprint in the years ahead, as well as for general corporate purposes, at the parent level, for Dubai Holding Commercial Operations Group. According to Gerald Lawless, president, Jumeirah Group, the pricing achieved for the syndicated loan is a testament to the company’s financial strength and future prospects. “This financing will support our focus on driving profitable revenues from the existing portfolio while giving us the headroom to continue our local and international expansion,” commented Lawless.

Starwood: Notable RevPAR Growth


tarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide closed the third quarter (Q3) of the year with revenues of USD1.51 billion, marking a 3.6 percent year-on-year increase, while worldwide systemwide RevPAR increased 4.7 percent in constant USD.

Meanwhile, the company’s net income totalled USD157 million or USD0.81 per share, compared to USD170 million and USD0.87 per share in the corresponding period in 2012 when the figures were also supported by the sale of two hotels and a gain in discontinued operations.

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Developments Continue on Al Marjan Island As the first man-made island in the emirate, Al Marjan Island is set to further elevate Ras Al Khaimah’s status as an premium luxury destination. As Michael Hernandez, CEO, Al Marjan Island, explained, all of the land reclamation and roads have already been completed, some residential properties are already operating while four hotels are expected to open within the next six months, including Al Marjan Island Resort, Rixos Bab Al Bahr Resort, Santorini Hotel by Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts, and Hilton DoubleTree Beach Resort. “There are a number of properties that will start construction in 2014 but they have not made public announcements of the hospitality brands [...]. We are also engaged with significant international developers who are looking to develop large land areas on the Island which will make 2014 a very busy year for Al Marjan Island and Ras Al Khaimah,” concluded Hernandez.

Al Marjan Island

Government Policies and Privatisation Spur Regional Green Industry The GCC countries’ need for initiating green policies and investing in eco-friendly technology to achieve all-round sustainable development was underscored by the recentlyconcluded Green Middle East held in Sharjah. The event featured an exhibition, several special focus areas, an awards component and a high-profile conference. “The Green Middle East is no more just a sourcing platform. It has expanded to become a gathering point for businesses, government departments and officials, academics and students, professionals and even the common man to join hands towards a greener tomorrow,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah. Moreover, apart from presenting various innovative products, the show offered a platform for businesses and government departments to assess their green initiatives. Green Middle East

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Accor Opens Fifth Novotel Hotel in the UAE

Novotel Dubai Al Barsha

Accor Middle East has announced the launch of Novotel Dubai Al Barsha, adding another property to its rapidly expanding upper mid-scale hotel brand across the Middle East. Owned by API Hotels and Resorts, the 465-room, fourstar property is located on Sheikh Zayed Road and offers both business and leisure travellers a high-standard of spacious guest rooms and meeting facilities with panoramic views of the Dubai coastline. “The worldwide Novotel brand model has proven to be hugely successful in the Middle East since we introduced it to the Dubai market in 2003. It offers our guests world class value-for-money in terms of both services provided and facilities they can trust for the consistency of its high standards,” said Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East. Novotel Dubai Al Barsha is Accor’s fifth Novotel property in the UAE and the 13th region-wide, representing 2,547 rooms in the Middle East. Five additional properties are committed for development in the region by the close of 2015.

BWI Plans Major Qatar Expansion Best Western International (BWI) has signed an area development agreement with Qatari firm, Sphinex Hotels & Resorts, for the development of several new hotels in Qatar, the first of which will be a new-built 75-room property in the heart of Doha under the mid-scale BEST WESTERN brand. The deal also paves the way for future development which could see BWI becoming one of the biggest international operators in the market. Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, described Qatar as one of the 21st century’s great success stories. “In recent years it has transformed into a global power, attracting a huge amount of investment and hosting major international events. Today, Doha is a modern marvel, home to outstanding contemporary architecture, world-class sporting and event facilities, and one of the world’s biggest air hubs,” commented de Souza.

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S U P R E M E H O S P I TA L I T Y City Seasons Group prides itself on our standards of impeccable quality in everything we do. Stay with us at any of our great hotels and enjoy the surrounding local sites and landmarks. Experience the cities we call home while indulging in the luxury of first-class service, and a warm, family-friendly environment. ABU DHABI | DUBAI | AL AIN | MUSCAT




Steady Growth at Coral Beach Resort – Sharjah Following a successful October when guest occupancy reached 95 percent, the management at the Coral Beach Resort – Sharjah is predicting a strong end to the year, with continued growth in leisure traffic, particularly from the CIS market. Jean-Pierre Simon, regional general manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts, commented, “We have had a great month that helped us close the books with the highest RevPAR in Sharjah. Following the trend, we are therefore, expecting exceptional fourth quarter results and foresee a ‘house-full’ until the end of the year.”


Steigenberger Hotel Makadi Opens Steigenberger Hotel Group has celebrated the launch of Steigenberger Hotel Makadi. Located on the Red Sea coast, the hotel, which previously operated under the Jaz Hotel flag, offers 83 superior rooms and 10 executive suites, various food and beverage outlets, a health club with steam bath, sauna, Jacuzzi and gym, and a large pool area. Those seeking an active holiday experience will be impressed by the 18-hole championship golf course and the nine-hole executive course, which extend over a distance of 6,880m, while tennis court, squash courts and various beach and water activities are also available and guests can also enjoy the property’s own beach. Steigenberger Makadi

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Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana to Open in Q1 2014 Rotana Hotel Management Corporation continues to strengthen its Saudi portfolio with 4,100 units expected to be added to the Kingdom’s room stock by 2016, creating some 1,500 jobs, and with Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana set to welcome its first guests in the first quarter (Q1) of 2014. Located close to Riyadh’s upscale shopping centres, the company’s second hotel in the country will feature 236 rooms complemented by state-of-the-art facilities, including a health club, ballroom, meeting centres and four restaurants. As Selim El Zyr, president, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, noted, driven by religious, business and domestic tourism the Kingdom continues to enjoy growth thus the company is also expanding into the mid-range and budget hotel sector with the launch of four hotels under the Central Hotels by Rotana brand in Riyadh, Al-Khobar, Dammam and Jeddah. Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana

One to One Hotel – the Village: Notable Occupancy Increase One to One Hotel – the Village, Abu Dhabi, has recorded an 8.8 percent increase in year-to-date occupancy levels, while room revenue rose 4.4 percent year-on-year. As Ahmad Al Araj, executive assistant manager, sales and marketing, One to One Hotel – the Village, explained, the boutique hotel has gained particularly strong popularity among Chinese, Thai and Indian visitors. “The hotel is designed to offer a home-away-from-home ambience for both business and leisure travellers, who get to enjoy a full menu of services from world-class dining and modern meeting facilities to complete relaxation in a tranquil garden setting,” remarked Al Araj. One to One Hotel – the Village

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Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah Renovates 72 Rooms After refurbishing 212 rooms in 2012, Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah is now renovating 72 additional rooms in a bid to further improve guest satisfaction. As Kamal Rijhwani, director of sales and marketing, Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah, revealed, the continuous enhancements have helped ensure greater guest comfort and the management is looking to close the year with an average occupancy close to 80 percent. “The current feeder markets for the resorts are Russia and other CIS countries, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE. We also have plans to expand into North Africa and the Levant region,” added Rijhwani, noting that in recent years, the emirate has developed tremendously with its own features and the destination is fast becoming a preferred choice for both individuals and groups.




Lotus Hotel Unveils New Look Lotus Hotel, the four-star deluxe property in Dubai, has completed the renovation of its deluxe guest rooms and facilities. The project also included the hotel lobby, coffee shop, pool area, skylit atrium gym and the business centre, while a new room, specially designed for guests with disabilities, has also been added. “Our guest experience and satisfaction levels have been greatly enhanced with the newly renovated areas and we are happy to receive a positive response towards the hotel’s new design,” asserted Wajeed Bagwan, general manager, Lotus Hotel, noting that with Dubai’s hospitality sector continuously evolving, the management felt that it was the perfect time for an extensive refurbishment that has indeed elevated the hotel’s standards. Lotus Hotel now offers 102 rooms, including 12 junior suites, boasting not only a modern new look, but also stunning views of the city, while other facilities include an Indian restaurant, a bar, a rooftop swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, a gym and a business centre.

Lotus Hotel

Hyatt Forays into Iraq Hyatt Hotels Corporation confirmed that a Hyatt affiliate has entered into a management agreement with Claremont Group, a New York-based real estate development company, for a Hyatt Regency hotel in Iraqi Kurdistan. Slated for opening in 2017, Hyatt Regency Sulaymaniyah will feature 210 rooms, an all-day dining restaurant, more than 1,660m2 of meeting and event space, a fitness centre, a five-treatment room spa, and three pools. The first Hyatt-branded property in Iraq will be the only hotel in Hawary Shar Park, a 971,250m2 leisure and entertainment park, currently under development, which will include a shopping mall, a golf course and zoological gardens. Peter Norman, senior vice president, real estate and development, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, described the property as one of the most exciting Hyatt projects under development.

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Paramount Hotels & Resorts Plans New Regional Projects Paramount Hotels & Resorts has outlined plans to further expand its regional and global footprint, mainly targeting capital and gateway cities as well as key resort destinations around the world. The company currently has two projects under development in Dubai, namely Damac Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts Dubai in the Burj Khalifa area and Paramount Hotel Jumeirah Waterfront near Sheikh Zayed Road, in addition to a similar property, DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts in Riyadh. “Hotel development in the Middle East region is experiencing strong growth. For this reason we are actively looking at more opportunities,” said Thomas Van Vliet, CEO, Paramount Hotels & Resorts, revealing that the company is in serious negotiations for new projects in Saudi Arabia, Qatar as well as Oman.

DAMAC Towers by Paramount, Dubai

Arabtec to Built Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road Arabtec Construction, a subsidiary of engineering and construction group, Arabtec Holding, has been awarded an AED1.8 billion (USD490 million) contract for the construction of a 77-floor mixed-use high-rise tower on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Just one block away from Burj Khalifa, the new tower is set to become one of the destination’s top 10 tallest buildings rising 369.1m, and offering 22,000m2 of office space on 18 floors, 908m2 of retail area and a new 350-room hotel along with 83 serviced apartments and 180 luxurious apartments. Negotiations are already underway with a number of global hospitality brands for the management of the six-star hotel and serviced apartments which will collectively occupy 25 floors. J O I N O U R G L O B A L L O YA L T Y P RO G R A M AT ACCO R H OT E L S . CO M

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Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai Doubles Room Inventory Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai has completed the current phase of its expansion programme, adding 115 new superior rooms to the existing inventory of 115 units. Located on the first four floors of the extension, the 40m2 superior rooms were designed with the corporate traveller in mind. ”These additional rooms, not only increase the number of guests we can accommodate, but by offering the very latest in technology, design and guest comfort, they also enable us to compete more effectively for greater market share,” stressed Simon Moore, general manager, Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai, adding that before the end of the year, the extension will also be home to 75 club rooms and suites, while three new food and beverage outlets and state-ofthe-art ballroom and meeting facilities are expected to be unveiled in early 2014. “With the cooler temperatures putting outdoor events back on the agenda, our al fresco venues are a major driver for banqueting business, giving us an added value edge, especially for the MICE market,” added Moore.

Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel Launches Health Club Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel has added a state-of-the-art health club to its facilities. Hailed as one of the largest and most prestigious health clubs in Abu Dhabi, Special One Fitness is equipped with highly advanced fitness machines and offers a range of activities and programmes such as aerobics, nutrition, body toning, indoor track run, steam bath, cardio fitness, and various massage treatments, just to name a few. Salah Selumi Al Zaabi, director of sports and management, Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel, outlined, “On site is the latest fitness equipment as well as highly qualified and experienced trainers. Whether you are a serious body builder, an athlete in training or a person looking for rehabilitation workout, we have the right and advanced equipment and personalised training programmes to help you achieve your goals.”

New Superior Room

Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers Officially Opens

Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has celebrated the launch of Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, the first international five-star hotel in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, one of the fastest growing new districts of Dubai. “Many major global corporations are relocating to Jumeirah Lakes Towers and this is creating a diverse, exciting neighbourhood,” noted Andreas Mattmüller, chief operating officer, Middle East and Asia, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, saying that the company firmly believes that the destination boasts exceptional potential and is expected to thrive as a major hospitality and social hub. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers features168 rooms, three dining and entertainment options, meeting facilities, spa, gym, an outdoor infinity pool and access to Riva Beach Club on Palm Jumeirah.

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Qatar Airways Continues China Expansion Qatar Airways announced it will begin flights to Hangzhou, China beginning December 20, with the nonstop service from Doha to the capital city of Zhejiang Province, flying four times a week. Just two months after the launch of the Chengdu service, the airline is offering passengers even more options for flying into China with the introduction of its seventh route in the country which will provide additional connectivity for business and leisure travellers connecting from Asia, the Middle East and GCC countries, stressed Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways. Qatar Airways began operations to China in 2003 with the launch of nonstop flights to Shanghai, with the carrier further expanding its portfolio over the past decade with the addition of Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing, and Chengdu. Hangzhou is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in China, known for its rich history and picturesque scenery. An Airbus A330 will be operated on the Doha – Hangzhou route that will feature 24 seats in business class and 236 seats in economy class.

Saudia Inaugurates Toronto Route Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) launched its first flight to the Canadian city of Toronto on October 28. The flight took off from King Khaled International Airport, Riyadh and later from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah after the airline made necessary arrangements at Toronto International Airport where it has opened an office. The carrier’s first flight to the destination, which was headed by Khaled Al-Molhem, director general, Saudia, and Abdullah Al-Ajhar, executive vice president, public relations, Saudia, was welcomed by a group of 75 civil, airport, and tourism officials, as well as business representatives, while an inaugural reception was held the following day at the Trump Tower in downtown Toronto. Saudia will operate three flights weekly from Saudi Arabia to Toronto, taking off from Riyadh and passing through Jeddah, on a Boeing B777200 aircraft equipped with 24 seats in first class, 38 in business class and 170 in guest class. Saudia Arrives in Toronto

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Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

Etihad Airways to Launch Flights to Medina Etihad Airways will introduce nonstop daily services to Medina, Saudi Arabia, in a bid to meet growing demand from religious Hajj and Umrah travellers. “Our new flights will cater to the Saudi Arabian population living in the UAE, as well as to the growing numbers of business and religious travellers looking to fly to the city. The demand for the Umrah flights has always been very strong and with plans for the expansion of the Prophet Mohammed Mosque underway, we expect this demand to continue to grow in the future,” confirmed James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways. Starting on February 1, 2014, the carrier will offer 50 weekly flights to Medina, Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah.




Gulf Air to Resume Thiruvananthapuram


Cargo Aircraft Movements Surge 46 Percent at DWC Aircraft movements (ACM) rose 46 percent at Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), while fluctuations in charter traffic have seen freight volumes dip in the first nine months of the year. According to Dubai Airports’ report, driven by a 63 percent rise in the third quarter of the year, ACM between January and September reached 16,923, freight traffic however stood at 146,181 tonnes, down 11.3 percent, owning to the fluctuations in charter operations as freight volumes began to stabilise after the rapid growth seen in the first few years of cargo operations at the airport. “It is not unusual for new airports to see fluctuations in cargo traffic particularly from charter airlines,” explained Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, suggesting that this volatility will be short-lived as the level of scheduled freighter traffic is set to increase substantially in 2014.

Gulf Air announced that it will recommence its flights to Thiruvananthapuram, India with five weekly services to Trivandrum International Airport starting on December 15. The airline’s decision to resume flights to the Kerala capital reinforces its strategy of strengthening its core network and maximising convenience for its customers while providing business links to Bahrain that support economic growth. “Our decision to resume flights to Thiruvananthapuram emphasises the importance we attach to India, one of our key markets, and our business strategy to concentrate on highdemand point-to-point routes to ensure our core customer base is served effectively and efficiently,” said Maher Salman Al Musallam, acting CEO, Gulf Air, commenting that the news will be welcomed by the Indian community living and working in Bahrain and the surrounding GCC countries as well as the business community for whom the direct flights will provide a great advantage. Thiruvananthapuram is the fifth Indian destination to be added to the airline’s existing network.

Mahan Air to Fly to Milan Milan, Italy is to become Mahan Air’s fourth European destination in March 2014, since the airline currently serves Dusseldorf, Germany; Almaty, Kazakhstan; Istanbul, Turkey; and Moscow; Russia. The flight will be operated by an Airbus A310-300 in a two-class configuration with 12 business class seats and 190 in economy. Milan is the second largest city in Italy and the capital of Lombardy with a population of about 1.35 million, while its urban area is the fifth largest in the European Union, with the city boasting various tourist attractions. The Italian destination is hailed as one of the most famous vacation spots which is said to attract global tourists from around the world because of its remarkable architecture and cultural attractions.

Mahan Air

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Wael El Behi

Pasquale Baiguera Pasquale Baiguera has joined Mövenpick Hotel Beirut as general manager. Baiguera, who has 30 years of experience in the hotel industry, has worked with Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts for the past 17 years. Previously, he held positions in Dubai, Copenhagen, Prague,

Helsinki and Milan before moving to Turkey to lead Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel, Istanbul in the capacity of general manager. Baiguera takes over from Jan Bundgaars who continues to serve Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts as vice president of development in Europe and Africa.

Wael El Behi has been named general manager of Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai, the brand’s flagship property in the region. A seasoned hotelier, El Behi takes on the role after serving for more than two years as general manager of another Wyndham Hotels & Resorts property,

Jan Swartz Jan Swartz has been named president of Princess Cruises. Swartz, who has been at the forefront of industry innovation for a number of years, will oversee the Princess line’s worldwide operations. Swartz was appointed to her previous role of executive vice president, sales, marketing and customer service in January 2009, having previously served as senior vice president of customer service and sales for both the Princess and

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Cunard brands since 2004. In 2001, she was named vice president of strategy and business development, and worked on the P&O Princess/ Carnival corporate acquisition. Prior to joining Princess Cruises, Swartz served as CEO of MXG Media.

Swartz has been at the forefront of industry innovation for a number of years


Ramada Downtown Dubai, also managed by R Hotels. El Behi, who has more than 20 years of experience in hospitality management, sales and marketing, will be responsible for directing the overall management and operation of the 188-room city resort, which will open in two phases.

Samir Arora Samir Arora has joined Ramada Downtown Dubai as general manager. Arora, who has more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, takes on the role after serving as resident manager of VIDA Downtown Dubai and Al Manzil Downtown Dubai where he also worked as executive assistant manage and front office manager prior to achieving his promotion. As general manager, he will

be responsible for the overall hotel operations and he will also oversee the property’s budget and financial plans, as well as the detailed planning and implementation of various different sales and marketing strategies.

Arora has more than two decades of experience in the hospitality industry


travel talk is your space


Kamal Chaoui

Thomas Van Vliet

General manager, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi.

CEO, Paramount Hotels & Resorts.

“[Abu Dhabi]’s development over the last five years is virtually unmatched and with the hotel’s neighbouring area becoming the new diplomatic and commercial heart of the city, we expect this to have a major positive impact. We believe our proximity to Abu Dhabi International Airport is a huge benefit, as is our proximity to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.”

“The decision to have our first hotel launched in Dubai is linked to several factors, the first being the fact that the company behind Paramount Hotels & Resorts, PHR FZ, is registered and headquartered in Dubai […]. Secondly we found in DAMAC Properties a strong partner with a common view and with whom we have great plans for hotel, resort and residential development.”

Saif Al Midfa CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.

“This is the age of information technology and social media, and we need to understand that our clients’ expectations are changing. Today, technology is allowing them to do things online what they used to do at exhibitions. We will have to look at how to re-engineer our events to meet these changing expectations. The successful integration of the new media into our marketing and sales drives will certainly help us a lot.”

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: Apostolos Dimopoulos POSITION: Owner/general manager COMPANY: Aegean Thesaurus Travel LOCATION: Greece WEB:

Who are you? My name is a Apostolos Dimopoulos and I have been working in the travel industry since I remember myself. I used to work in our family business which was based in Athens and was founded in 1961. My travel agency, Aegean Thesaurus Travel & Tourism, founded in 1987, was then, and still is, the only comprehensive Greek travel agency to operate on the island of Sifnos and since 1987 has experienced a steady growth in operations. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The emerging travel needs are always different so it is a challenge to compete in a constantly evolving travel market so that our clients remain satisfied with the quality of our services and have a memorable stay in our country. Clients who are happy with our services and the positive feedback we receive from them, makes our efforts worthwhile and gives meaning to our work. Also, a happy traveller usually results in many new travellers visiting Greece every year thus improving the country’s economy. When is the best time to visit Greece? The best time to visit our country is from late April to mid-July and from the end of August to mid-October, when you can achieve the best value for money in terms of lower hotel rates and the island destinations are less crowded. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? South America; Mexico or Peru. Why should people come to you for travel advice? According to our client testimonials and remarks on travel blog sites, we are well-known for our travel expertise, professionalism, great customer service, immediate support around the clock and crisis management as well as preparing customised packages to suit our clients’ tastes and very specific preferences.

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Travel Industry Groups: Developing Distribution Standards Collectively The European Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations and the European Technology & Travel Services Association (ETTSA) are the driving forces behind a new initiative, which proposed a new collaborative model for the development of neutral and open data standards to enable enhanced distribution of airline products through any channel. The goal is to bring the entire industry together to develop technical standards, in a bid to facilitate carriers to make custom offers to travellers while fully preserving robust comparison shopping across multiple airlines and protecting consumers’ data privacy.

The groups extended an open invitation to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and other stakeholders, to join the multilateral initiative in a truly collaborative manner. “While IATA claims New Distribution Capability is such a data standard and nothing more, in reality it appears to involve a group of airlines attempting to collectively impose on buyers, consumers and travel agents a business model,” said Christoph Klenner, secretary general, ETTSA, adding that the model is founded on opaque fares and ancillaries which make comparative shopping difficult.


TRAVEL CHANNELS 21st World Travel Monitor Forum Reveals Changing Trends Financial crises, recessions, political turmoil and civil unrest, wars – none of these things can stop people from travelling, according to Rolf Freitag, president, IPK International, an international tourism consultancy.


ithout a doubt travelling continues to be a global mega trend. Already today, one-third of the human race is travelling,” said stated Freitag, speaking at the opening of the 21st World Travel Monitor Forum in Pisa, Italy held between October 29 - 30. According to the IPK International trend survey carried out in 20 of the world’s most important source markets, which were presented at the event, in 2012 tourism grew by four percent making it one of the most successful years to date. In terms of international travel, volume market shifts are taking place as countries with a large population and high GDP used to generate a correspondingly large volume, but this balance is changing. Established international travel markets such as Germany, US and UK registered only moderate single-digit growth.

Rolf Freitag

Race around the World in Jordan

IATA: Delivering Value to Air Travellers

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Jordan organised a marathon for its colleagues as part of IHG’s Race Around the World initiative. InterContinental Jordan, InterContinental Aqaba Resort, Crowne Plaza Amman, Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa, Holiday Inn Amman, and Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea have all taken part in this corporate social responsibility activity. More than 170 staff from each of the country’s IHG properties participated in the marathon by either running or cycling. The marathon started at Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea and ended at Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa. In the relevant statement, it is assured that IHG staff members are always eager to take part in various activities that focus on the wellbeing of the body and the soul, as well as initiatives that are related to their communities.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on all partners and stakeholders involved in passenger travel to work together to deliver greater value to passengers, with Tony Tyler, director general, IATA, during his speech at the opening of the World Passenger Symposium in Dublin, noting that every day more than eight million passengers take advantage of the safety, speed and convenience of air travel. “Our passengers are focused on value and their expectations are high and rising. That means we must continuously examine, modernise and evolve our offering. The goal is to ensure that what we see as ‘service’ actually means ‘value’ to our customers,” said Tyler.

During the Marathon

23 NOVEMBER 2013



Q & A with Haydee Cruz At Beach House Collection, ‘Crafting the Extraordinary’ is more than a slogan as it resonates with the company’s determination to create lifetime memories in the Maldives, which as Haydee Cruz, director of sales and marketing, Beach House Collection, reveals, continues to attract more and more Middle East guests.

Travel Trade Weekly: The Beach House Collection brand was officially introduced to the public at ITB Berlin in March. Please tell us about the brand’s background and its core values and traits. Haydee Cruz: At Beach House Collection, we create magical encounters, immersing guests in the destination’s unique customs and traditional arts through authentic cultural excursions; creating opportunities to meet warm, welcoming local people and discover the rich cultural heritage of their world; sharing intriguing, insightful stories at each point of the guest journey, bringing the destination vividly to life. Since our launch we have been following the below values which can be found throughout our resorts; promises fulfilled: we deliver an experience that guests can believe and trust in; visionary service: we offer personalised service that intuitively understands guests’ needs; perfect harmony: we offer the perfect balance of escapism and warm, inviting environments; enduring stories: we share narratives that connect guests to the destination, deepening their experience and ensuring that they leave with memories to share. Travel Trade Weekly: Over the past two decades, Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, chairman and managing director, Beach House Collection, has built up strong partnerships with travel trade specialists and travel agents in Europe and all over the world. What are your main target markets and how do you reach them? Haydee Cruz: We work closely with the luxury travel specialists in key source markets to guarantee the comeback of the traditional

23 NOVEMBER 2013

Haydee Cruz Director of sales and marketing, Beach House Collection

ket to us. We are located very close to most of the Middle East countries with major airlines flying directly to Male including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Oman Air, making it the perfect short-haul holiday destination from this region. Our resorts are also ideally designed for this market because of our very spacious accommodation that offers full privacy, which is important to travellers from the Middle East and North Africa. Travel Trade Weekly: Following the success of Beach House Iruveli, Sun Siyam group, the mother company of Beach House Collection, revealed plans to further expand the brand’s presence. Please tell us about the company’s expansion plans.

markets to the destination. It is our aim to consolidate the Beach House Collection in the market by supporting the travel agents’ efforts to reach our target audience which we do through public relations, social media activities as well as through co-op advertising. We are developing strategic alliances with destination specialists to expand awareness of the brand and to build business in every form to increase the occupancy across our properties, with new as well as repeat guests. In our top five markets during the first year of operation we currently have the UK, Germany, Asia, Russia, Australia and the Middle East.

Haydee Cruz: Beach House Iruveli in the Maldives and Beach House Pasikudah mark the beginning of the Beach House story, while future development will see the brand expand across the Indian Ocean and Asia. […] We are currently working on the opening of Beach House Pasikudah in Sri Lanka and look forward to introducing this beautiful property to the world in the beginning of 2014.

Travel Trade Weekly: How important is the Middle East and North Africa region to your business? Haydee Cruz: This is a very important mar-

Beach House Iruveli



GCAS Becomes an IATA Authorized Training Centre The Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies (GCAS) has been appointed as an International Air Transport Association (IATA) Authorized Training Centre (ATC). By offering globally recognised IATA cargo and dangerous goods courses, GCAS will be able to further diversify its current portfolio, while it will also serve as an IATA examination centre for the UAE capital. As Aws Al Khanjari, general manager, GCAS, pinpointed, the appointment makes GCAS one of the few aviation training centres to have both a regional training centre as well as ATC approval from IATA. “GCAS’ ability to offer additional courses that are in demand will support Abu Dhabi Airports’ objective in driving the development of Abu Dhabi’s aviation industry, and contributing to Abu Dhabi Vision 2030,” added Al Khanjari.

EVENTS CMT – The Holiday Exhibition Stuttgart, Germany, January 11 – 19, 2014 ( Hailed as the world’s largest public trade fair for tourism and leisure with exhibitors from all over the world.

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

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.

Seatrade Middle East Cruise Forum Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 9 – 11, 2013 ( Key issues impacting the development of the Arabian Gulf’s cruise industry will be debated at the forum, which will feature a summit session and a conference.

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November 2013

ITCA Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 24 – 26, 2013 ( The International Travel Catering Association (ITCA) has once again chosen Abu Dhabi to host its membership.

Travel Turkey Izmir Izmir, Turkey, December 5 – 8, 2013 ( The last edition of the event welcomed 430 exhibitors and close to 15,000 visitors from 36 countries.


Go and Regiontour Fairs Brno, Czech Republic, January 16 – 19, 2014 ( The fairs will focus on both the professional and the general public in a bid to showcase one of the largest Central European presentation of the tourism industry. International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) Madrid, Spain, January 22 – 26, 2014 ( A global meeting point for tourism professionals with close to 10,000 exhibiting companies.

Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) 2013


GCC Cigre 2013


Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Prix


December 2013 The Life & Style Show UAE


SME Congress and Expo


China Consumer Products Fair 2013


Winter Consumer Fair


January 2014 SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event 2014 - Abu Dhabi


INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition 2014


World Future Energy Summit 2014


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit 2014

20-22 Information correct at time of publication. Please check for alterations.

23 NOVEMBER 2013

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 211  

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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