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25 MAY 2013

ISSUE 185

Gulf Air: New Office in Nicosia Bahrain-based, Gulf Air, recently celebrated the launch of its new office located on Griva Digeni Avenue, Nicosia, Cyprus.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is to add its fourth property to its North Africa portfolio with The Ritz-Carlton Marrakech slated for completion in the third quarter of 2016.

14 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE

04

WEEKLY NEWS

06

ACCOMMODATION

10

AIR

14

WHO’S MOVED

15

TRAVEL TALK

16

AGENT’S CORNER

17

TRAVEL CHANNELS

18

RENDEZVOUS

19

NEWS & EVENTS

20

The Ritz-Carlton to Expand in Morocco

12


4

MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel

Starwood Q1 Results Lift Full-year Outlook Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has reported a net income of USD213 million in the first quarter (Q1) of the year, compared to USD128 million in the corresponding period in 2012.

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli

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SALES & MARKETING

hese results are said to have been bolstered by a tax benefit of USD70 million in discontinued operations, while 18 new hotels and resorts entered the system during the three-month period, with a total of 400 properties in the active pipeline recorded in March. Frits van Paasschen, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, described Q1 as

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

a solid period, and besides boasting great performance across North America, he praised the hotel group’s Middle Eastern properties, with particular credit to Dubai. “Dubai is the perfect example of how growth in lodging demand is being fueled by the rising wealth around the world, the creation of new cities in fast growing economies, and the expanding reach of global business.”

Record Month at Dubai International

www.traveltradeweekly.travel

Dubai International welcomed a record 5.8 million passengers in March, marking a 20.6 percent year-on-year surge, and the fourth consecutive month with more than five million passengers and a double-digit growth. The monthly performance lifted the year-to-date traffic to 16,486,417, up 15.6 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2012. The largest increas in total passenger numbers was recorded on the Western European routes, followed by the GCC and Indian subcontinent. “We have had a very successful first quarter highlighted by record growth and the opening of the world’s first purpose built A380 facility,” indicated Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, adding that Dubai International today is not only the world’s second busiest international hub but also one of the most efficient.

EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

24/05/2013 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.98

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,504.00

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

97.35

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.29

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.65

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.58

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,283.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.55

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

80.08

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.29

Emaar Properties'Profit Surges

B

uoyed by the sustained robust performance of its shopping malls and retail, and hospitality and leisure businesses, Emaar Properties recorded a first quarter (Q1) net profit of AED556 million (USD151 million), marking a nine percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2012. The company’s revenues totalled AED2.11 billion (USD574 million), up 16 percent over the corresponding period in 2012,

with the shopping malls and retail, and hospitality and leisure businesses contributing some AED1.17 billion (USD318 million), equivalent to 55 percent of the total revenue. Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, described the Q1 results as conclusive proof of the remarkable resurgence of Dubai’s property, retail and hospitality sector and the unwavering confidence of investors in the company’s developments. 25 MAY 2013


6

WEEKLY NEWS

Giving Passengers Freedom to Travel

Dubai Tourism Vision for 2020 Approved

According to Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, simplified visa processes and lower barriers to travel have contributed significantly to rising passenger traffic to the UAE. “Easing visa processes has supported the growth of the aviation sector throughout the UAE, over the past few years, by allowing 32 nationalities to benefit from receiving a visa on arrival. This approach has been possible due to the continued efforts of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs. “Further simplification of the visa processes will contribute to substantially increased global passenger traffic and will make Dubai an even more attractive destination for both leisure and business travellers in support of the government’s Tourism Vision for 2020,” he said. Overall, passenger traffic at Dubai International soared 13.2 percent to 57 million in 2012, up from 50 million recorded in 2011.

Increasing Direct Services to Salalah Salalah, Oman’s southern capital, is seeing record tourism investment and visitor arrivals, with data collected by International Air Transport Association showing a 25 percent rise in air passenger arrivals in 2012. According to H.E. Ahmed bin Nasser Al Mahrizi, minister of tourism, Oman, Salalah is undergoing a remarkable transformation, from a seasonal destination associated with the Salalah Tourism Festival to the year-round destination of choice for leisure, nature, and adventure travel from the GCC. “It is a unique and beautiful part of Arabia with a temperate climate year-round. Improved air services are stimulating travel demand and investment in new accommodation and services. The tourism outlook for southern Oman is very exciting,” he said.

Salalah

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has approved the Dubai Tourism Vision for 2020, which aims to increase the destination’s visitor volume to 20 million per annum by 2020, and triple the annual contribution generated by the industry to the city’s economy, which is currently estimated at AED100 billion (USD27.22 billion). “The strategy behind the Dubai Tourism Vision for 2020 will further leverage a sector which has been a central pillar in the city’s economic growth, success, and diversification,” stressed H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), who explained that the strategy is based upon two central tenets; to widen the destination’s range of tourism offerings and to enhance the overall visitor experience from arrival to departure; and to adapt DTCM’s marketing approach in order to showcase Dubai to a wider audience and grow the conversion rate of awareness to bookings.

The Rezidor Hotel Group Continues Growth In the first quarter (Q1) of this year alone, The Rezidor Hotel Group signed five new hotels, with over 1,000 rooms, and opened five properties, with 940 rooms, bringing its operating portfolio in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to 338 properties, boasting 74,000 rooms in 56 countries across the three regions. In Russia and CIS, the hotel giant’s portfolio currently comprises 32 hotels in operation with a further 28 hotels under development. Meanwhile, The Rezidor Hotel Group’s Africa portfolio features 49 operating and developing hotels, with almost 10,000 rooms, and has the largest pipeline of hotels under development in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, in line with the group’s asset-light strategy, two leased hotels in Sweden have been converted to franchises, namely Park Inn by Radisson Malmö and Park Inn by Radisson Hammarby Sjöstad, while as part of the group’s turnaround programme Route 2015, two important leases in Western Europe, namely Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam, and Radisson Blu Hotel, Wiesbaden, have been announced.

25 MAY 2013


8

WEEKLY NEWS

ADAC Introduces GoSleep

DM to Complete 10 Projects

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) has announced an exclusive ‘world first’ with the introduction of the ‘GoSleep’ sleeping pods at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The ‘GoSleep’ is the latest, state-of-theart chair that converts into a private flat bed, and 10 such sleeping pods were recently set up in Terminal 3 and at the Al Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1, while a further 35 are currently on order for installation later this year. Commenting on this initiative, Mohammed Al Bulooki, chief commercial officer, ADAC, said, “Abu Dhabi Airports Company is proud that it is the first airport in the world to have secured an agreement to install the very latest passenger experience that embraces the latest technology.”

The Dubai Municipality (DM) continues to strengthen Dubai’s position as one of the most desired destinations, with 10 prestigious projects set for completion within the next few years. As Hussain Nassir Lootah, director general, DM, revealed, the total cost of the developments is estimated at about AED883.5 million (USD240.5 million), and the much anticipated Dubai Safari as well as Dubai Frame are both due to be completed in 2014. In addition, eight high-tech specialised markets will further add to Dubai’s attractions; these include the Al Ayas Shopping Complex, Al Fahidi Market, and Hatta Traditional Market.

Abu Dhabi Lures Golf Enthusiasts Abu Dhabi’s world-class golf courses, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and Yas Links, hosted a record number of 9,215 overseas rounds in the first quarter (Q1) of the year, representing an 89 percent year-on-year increase. Having amassed 20 percent of the UAE’s overseas rounds during Q1, the contribution of the capital’s golf clubs constitutes almost a third of the nationwide total, which rose 90 percent year-on-year. Abu Dhabi also continues to gain popularity among Asia golf aficionados, as Peter Walton, CEO, International Association of Golf Tour Operators, explained, describing Abu Dhabi as a great and complete product with impressive ambition.

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10

WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Wyndham Debuts Days Inn in Saudi Arabia Wyndham Hotel Group has opened its first Days Inn- branded property in Saudi Arabia. The 56-room Days Hotel Olaya Riyadh marks the first of 10 Days Inn hotels planned in the Kingdom as part of an exclusive development agreement announced earlier this year. “Designed to cater to the growing demand for affordable but high quality accommodation in the Kingdom, we see the introduction of Days Inn as the natural next step, having successfully established our midscale Ramada brand with Riyada International Hotels and Resorts over the last eight years,” commented Eric Danzinger, CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group.

Days Hotel Olaya Riyadh

Anantara to Enter Qatar Minor Hotel Group has partnered with Al Rayyan Hospitality to launch Anantara Doha Island Resort & Spa in early 2014, marking the brand’s debut in Qatar. The 141-key resort, which will be located on a 13ha island, home to a marina accommodating up to 50 boats, will offer a vast range of facilities and a selection of accommodation options, including 96 rooms, 34 pool villas, and 11 over-water pool villas, along with four restaurants and bars, four pools, an Anantara Spa, an exclusive wellness and holistic centre, and a fitness centre, further to a ballroom, two meeting rooms, and an outdoor event space.

Hilton to Debut in Bahrain Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with Tashyeed Properties Company to open a new DoubleTree Suites by Hilton-branded property in Bahrain, marking the hotel company’s entry into the country. DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Bahrain Juffair, due to open in late 2015, will be located in Manama’s residential area of Juffair and will form part of an upscale, mixed-use development. The fivestar property, which is expected to appeal to the long-stay corporate and leisure guest, will offer 350 rooms, three restaurants, a lobby lounge, two meeting rooms, an outdoor pool, and ‘his and hers’ health clubs.

Abidos Hotels Reflags Corp Executive Hotel Apartment Abidos Hotels has added a second hotel to its growing Dubai portfolio, with the unveiling of Abidos Hotel Apartment - Al Barsha, formerly known as Corp Executive Hotel Apartment Al Barsha. The 143-unit property, centrally located in the heart of New Dubai, within walking distance of the Mall of the Emirates, is an outstanding product that has performed consistently well over the last three years, with exceptional financial results and a very high reputation among both local and international travellers, according to Mina Habib, vice president, Abidos Hotels.

25 MAY 2013


Accommodation

Golden Tulip Partners with MEA Golden Tulip MENA and Middle East Airlines (MEA) have signed an agreement offering loyal customers further benefits. Under the terms of the partnership, members of the national airline’s frequent flyer programme, Cedar Miles, are now able to redeem miles with each stay at any Golden Tulip, Tulip Inn, and Royal Tulip Hotels. “We would not be as successful in the MENA region without having the Cedar Miles especially with its alliance with SkyTeam complementing and yet improving our presence with a major Arab carrier and international airlines,” commented Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip MENA, adding that the company’s presence in Lebanon is becoming stronger with the five-star Golden Tulip Jiyeh Marina Resort set to open in June, and its fifth property in the country in Achrafieh also under construction. Mohamad El Hout, chairman, MEA (left) and

Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip MENA

Saudi Arabia Welcomes First Four Points by Sheraton Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has opened Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia, marking the brand’s debut in the Kingdom. Owned by Khaldia Towers Company, a partnership between Al Jedaie Group and Al Hokair Group, the 376-unit hotel is located 20 minutes from the city’s business district and 45 minutes from the King Khalid International Airport, making it an ideal choice for business travellers. In line with the brand’s ‘best for business’ approach, guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi access in all public areas, as well as ultramodern meeting and event space, including 18 purpose-built meeting rooms, alongside two dining venues, while the third one, on the 26th floor, is scheduled to open in early 2014, and a fitness centre and spa will be available later this year.

25 MAY 2013

WEEKLY NEWS

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Swiss-Belhotel International Expands to Riyadh Swiss-Belhotel International has added a new Saudi project to its growing Middle East portfolio after partnering with owning company Al Jumaiah Group and Alpha Tours to open a 126-room hotel in Riyadh’s new financial district. Located on King Fahd Street, just 1km from King Abdullah Financial City district, the 126-key Swiss-Belhotel Riyadh is scheduled to welcome its first guests in September 2014, and will feature two restaurants, three meeting rooms with banquet facilities, and leisure space including a swimming pool, health club, and games room. “As the commercial capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh captures considerable inbound demand, and the signing of a second property gives us guaranteed city-wide coverage and access to a burgeoning corporate base to drive solid and sustained business growth,” commented Gavin Faull, president, Swiss-Belhotel International.


12

WEEKLY NEWS

Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh Launches Ladies-Only Floor In an effort to help women who visit the Saudi capital feel more comfortable and secure, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre has transformed its top-most floor into a sanctuary for female travellers. The Pearl Floor, situated on the 48th level, is fitted out with 22 premium rooms and two Four Seasons Executive Suites, and features a special express check-in desk and is managed by a team of experienced female staff. The floor also includes a stateof-the-art ladies gym and a modern women-only lounge boasting views of Riyadh and access to free Wi-Fi.

Accommodation

The Ritz-Carlton to Expand in Morocco The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is to add its fourth property to its North Africa portfolio with The Ritz-Carlton Marrakech slated for completion in the third quarter of 2016. “Expansion in this region is unquestionably an essential part of our future growth strategy,” commented Herve Humler, president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Owned by Jnan Amar Company, the resort will be developed around the polo fields of Jnan Amar Polo Resort, an upscale community, 20km from the city centre of Marrakech. The fortress-style property will feature 60 suites and 20 villas, alongside a number of bars and restaurants, a luxury spa, and leisure facilities.

Salalah Rotana Resort & Spa to Open in December Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, Orascom Hotels and Development, and Rotana have announced that Salalah Rotana Resort & Spa will soon join the list of premium hospitality destinations in the country. The five-star resort is being developed in line with the ministry’s strategy to strengthen the destination’s reputation as a luxury hospitality haven, as H.E. Maitha Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, highlighted. Selim El Zyr, president, Rotana, further added, “Oman has always been a key growth market for us and this is clearly reflected by our aggressive expansion plans in the country.”

ALJREIC Addresses Growing Demand As tourism companies in Saudi Arabia continue to invest in the local market to further consolidate the Kingdom’s footprint in the tourism landscape, Abdul Jameel Real Estate Investment Company (ALJREIC) is moving ahead with expansion projects in a strong attempt to attract a larger number of visitors to the country, according to Youssef Abdul Latif Jameel, Youssef Abdul Latif Jameel, chairman, ALJREIC. chairman, ALJREIC The SAR10 billion (USD2.67 billion) Jabal Al Ka’ba project is being developed to address the increasing demand for hotel rooms in Mecca, especially during the Hajj and Umrah seasons, while the expansion of King Abdul Aziz International Airport is poised to accommodate up to 80 million travellers by 2035. In addition, Anjum Hotels will add a total of 7,000 rooms in a cluster of new hotels over the coming years, with the flagship 1,743-unit Anjum Hotel, set to open in the third quarter of the year.

25 MAY 2013


14

WEEKLY NEWS

Etihad Airways and SAA Sign MoU Etihad Airways and South African Airways (SAA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) allowing the two airlines to introduce a comprehensive range of codeshare and interline air services as well as explore synergy and efficiency opportunities. Initially, Etihad Airways will place its EY code on flights from Johannesburg to 10 SAA destinations across South Africa and the African continent as well as South America. In turn, SAA will place its SA code on 12 of Etihad Airways’ routes flying from Abu Dhabi. The agreement also makes provision for passengers to earn and redeem miles through the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes.

Air

Gulf Air: New Office in Nicosia Bahrain-based, Gulf Air, recently celebrated the launch of its new office located on Griva Digeni Avenue, Nicosia, Cyprus. The modern and fully-equipped sales office was designed with the passengers’ experience in mind, offering a spacious waiting lounge, a number of help desks to easily serve walk-in customers, as well as free Wi-Fi service. Yousif Saeed, manager, offline sales, commercial division, Gulf Air, stated, “One of the key components of Gulf Air’s business strategy is to focus on improving our customer product and service offering. This conveniently located sales office is an example.”

Kenya Airways to Fly to Abu Dhabi Following a codeshare agreement with Etihad Airways, Kenya Airways is to commence services between Abu Dhabi International Airport and Nairobi. Effective from July 1, the national carrier of Kenya will offer three weekly flights between the capital cities using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with 145 seats. “Abu Dhabi International Airport’s new partnership with Kenya Airways will provide a vital connection between Abu Dhabi and Nairobi, allowing for increased trade, travel and connectivity between two growing economies in two important regions,” noted Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

25 MAY 2013


WHO'S MOVED

Jabier Cid Jabier Cid has taken on the position of residence manager at Ascott Park Palace Dubai. Cid has over 10 years of experience, having worked in Spain, Peru, Cuba, Maldives, and the UAE. He holds a master’s degree in tourism from the Uniactive in Spain and is a graduate of Escuela de Administración de Empresas.

At Ascott Park Palace Dubai, he aims to work in line with the vision and position of the property as a top serviced residence, not just along Sheikh Zayed Road, but throughout the emirate.

He aims to work in line with the vision and position of the property

Mahmoud El Keiy Mahmoud El Keiy has been named hotel manager at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza. The hotel veteran, who began his career with Hilton Worldwide in Egypt, has spent more than 11 years as part of the Four Seasons family, first with the preopening team at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh in 2002 as sales manager, followed by seven years at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza as director of

25 MAY 2013

sales, where he developed extensive leadership skills and managerial insight that made him perfect to take on the responsibilities of director of sales and marketing, before being promoted to hotel manager at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano in 2011.

The hotel veteran has spent more than 11 years as part of the Four Seasons family

15

Vanessa Waldow Vanessa Waldow has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Grand Millennium Dubai. She joins the team from Meliá Dubai where she spent two years managing the sales and marketing department. She started her career at InterContinental Berlin before moving to the Middle East to

join Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. She later held various sales positions at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort and Four Points by Sheraton Hotels in Dubai before taking on the position of cluster director of sales for Hotel JAL Tower Dubai and Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort &Spa.


16

TRAVEL TALK Wayne Pearce

travel talk is your space

CEO, Oman Air.

“Our sponsorship of the [Oman Sail, Multi One Design 70 (MOD 70)] will provide invaluable support for Oman Sail’s mission of encouraging participation in sailing within the Sultanate by showcasing the accomplishments of Omani sailors on the world stage. We are confident that the outstanding skills and experience of the MOD 70’s crew will result in major success and help to further raise awareness of the Oman Air brand across Europe and South America.”

Rami Mashini Vice president, sales and marketing, Middle East and Africa, Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA).

“As a company, GTA leaps and bounds ahead of the competition and [we are] constantly striving to improve our technology and, in fact, are pioneering the way business is done now. GTA exists in a ‘now’ environment and people are living more and more in a ‘need-it-now’ lifestyle. People want things now and GTA is proud to be able to make that a reality with booking online, or via an agent that has XML [Extensible Markup Language] access to inventory.”

25 MAY 2013


AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Rana El Shabrawy POSITION: Ticketing and reservation agent COMPANY: El Eman Tours LOCATION: Egypt WEB: www.elemantours.com Who are you? My name is Rana El Shabrawy and I graduated from the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels Alexandria University in the Guidance Department. I have been working here, at El Eman Tours, for about eight months. About our company, we arrange Omra trips every, at least, four days, differentiating between short trips or long trips during the high season and, for sure, during Ramadan. This is besides our outstanding services for Hajj season with high quality hotels and tents. Beside religious tourism, in which we are great leaders, we arrange internal trips to many cities across Egypt, in addition to external tourism with the availability of reserving tickets to anywhere around the world from our branches. Our main branch is located in Damanhour, and we also have offices in Alexandria and a new one in Tanta. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Dealing with different kinds of people […] of different social levels, face to face; to fulfil their needs and make them feel satisfied. When is the best time to visit Egypt? From December to May because of its moderate weather. In addition, most of the festivals that are held in Egypt take place during these months. Also, to enjoy visiting Egypt’s archaeological monuments. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? If it is a long holiday, I dream to travel to Peru. If it is a short one, I want to travel to Greece or Spain. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because of our good reputation in the industry that comes from some essential facts that make our work almost perfect, like the choice of hotels, which fulfils the needs of the clients, the good services, the attitude of the employees, and most of all, our credibility, which is the key.

25 MAY 2013

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Planet Travels & Tours Completes B2B Online Reservation System At this year’s Arabian Travel Market, Planet Travels & Tours, one of the leading destination management companies in the UAE, highlighted the completion of its business-to-business (B2B) online reservation system for independent travellers and presented new features that allowed smaller agents to benefit from the product. The reservations system which was introduced in 2012, is now ready to accommodate bookings for independent travellers, and features customer XML (Extensible Markup Language) for key accounts and secure payment gateway for credit card payments, which allows even smaller agents to ben-

efit from the company’s products, such as sightseeing tours and safaris. Georges Moussa, chairman, Planet Group, said, “Planet Travels & Tours will promote its quality services for free independent travellers, leisure groups, and MICE, and focuses on quality in a very competitive market. The message will be optimistic; that we are back on track but with a significant shift in the source markets since the recession. We will target emerging new markets such as Latin America, especially Brazil, and new markets in China after the opening of the Beijing office, and of course, the GCC market.”


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Contributing to Morocco’s Socioeconomic Development World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the government of Morocco, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recently signed an agreement to support Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism.

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his deal is being introduced in line with a new classification system which is being brought out for tourism accommodation establishments and UNWTO will provide technical assistance to the ministry in order to build capacity to set up the new classification system. “This initiative will contribute to the economic and social development of Morocco as it creates opportunities to advance the quality of its tourism sector”, commented Fréderic Pierret, executive director, programme and coordination, UNWTO. The project, which is set to elevate the competitiveness of the hotel industry as it complies with international standards, is being financed by the government of Morocco and will be implemented by UNWTO between this year and 2018.

JA Resorts & Hotels: 10 Years of Emiratisation JA Resorts & Hotels celebrated the 10th anniversary of the JA Emiratisation department, with a special event held at the company’s flagship property, JA Jebel Ali Golf Resort. A decade ago, JA Resorts & Hotels was one of the three founding members of the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing’s Emiratisation Task Force, and the company pioneered a dedicated department in order to develop sustainable, long-term employment of nationals within its growing portfolio. Ghanim Almarri, director of Emiratisation, JA Resorts & Hotels added, “JA Resorts & Hotels is an industry leader and our approach to Emiratisation is highly regarded as a ‘best practice’ example.”

Shurooq Promotes Sharjah’s Investment Potential The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) participated in the eighth World Chambers Congress, organised by International Chamber of Commerce’s World Chambers Federation and hosted by Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry on April 22-25 at Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha. Held every two years in a different region of the world, the World Chambers Congress is a leading international forum for chamber leaders to share best-practice experiences, exchange insights, develop networks, address the latest business issues affecting their communities, and learn about new areas of innovation from chambers around the world. Assembling a global community of more than 12,000 chambers of commerce, their leading business members, and influential world leaders, the congress addresses how chambers can serve, strengthen, and support their member companies at a practical level and provides a unique opportunity for interaction between delegates from more than 100 countries.

25 MAY 2013


RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Mehdi Aliyari With an ever-expanding route destination network and currently boasting a fleet of 26 aircraft, Mahan Air places safety, accessibility, and protection of the environment among three of its top priorities, as Mehdi Aliyari, director, public relations and international affairs, Mahan Air, unveils.

Travel Trade Weekly: According to Tony Tyler, director general, International Air Transport Association, safety evidently always comes first. How is the team at Mahan Air persistently implementing measures and procedures to enhance safety across and throughout its fleet on the ground as well as up in the air? Mehdi Aliyari: Mahan Air’s first priority is safety; we pride ourselves in adopting the latest technology across our fleet and operations to reach the highest possible level of standards, according to International Civil Aviation Organization’s 9859 article. The airline takes all the necessary steps possible to enhance safety measures throughout its operations, whether in the air or on the ground. I am pleased to inform you of the results of our various programmes and systems, and even the mindset we have developed over the years; Mahan Air has one of the best aviation safety records in Iran and the region. Travel Trade Weekly: A recent ITB World Travel Trends Report states that there is a rapidly increasing demand for the elderly and physically disabled to travel, thus travel needs to be much more barrier-free for these tourists. How does Mahan Air continuously cater to this market and ensure that the provision of easily accessible services and facilities remain among the airline's top priorities? Mehdi Aliyari: Mahan Air provides particular and thoughtful services for special passengers; all of these notify their disability or need for assistance at the airport and/or on

25 MAY 2013

Mehdi Aliyari Director, public relations and international affairs, Mahan Air.

board the aircraft. For the convenience of physically challenged passengers, their needs are fully considered and monitored during check-in, passport control, security check, and boarding process. Meanwhile, low-positioned telephones, handicapped user-friendly seats and restrooms, and handicapped user-friendly elevators are available in all sections of the terminal buildings at most of the airports to which we fly. Travel Trade Weekly: With regards to the environment, Tyler continuously reminds professionals across the airline industry that air transport needs to be sustainable. What is Mahan Air doing to shrink its environmental footprint? Mehdi Aliyari: We will consistently induce our carrier to reduce the use of greenhouse

gas emissions. Currently, our technical teams are working on new methods and packages which lead to improved fuel efficiency and reduced net emissions. In addition, our Mahan Air expert team has been assigned to study and implement the procedures to help the environment by reducing fuel burn-off to [reduce] air pollution. To reach this important concern, our expert team at the flight operations engineering department made a proper study and introduced cost-index factors for each and every aircraft and route, and are also responsible to fulfil the European Emission Trading Scheme requirement. Travel Trade Weekly: In your opinion, what are the obstacles and threats being faced by the airline industry today, and what is being done to overcome these? Mehdi Aliyari: I believe today’s airline industry involves security issues, rising cost of fuel, and the new worldwide concerns on climate change. So, the airline industry needs a way to pay for all of these new extra costs, which have been absorbed by airline passengers through extra fees and other charges, something which is not pleasing at all. Referring to all difficulties, I am pleased to announce that we, at Mahan Air, continue to invest strongly in the quality of our products, equipping the fleet with the best aircraft, and expanding our current network to new key business and leisure destinations around the world, to ensure a unique service that is personalised and tailored to everyone’s needs, and at a lower price to our customers.


20

NEWS & EVENTS ATM: Hungary for MICE

Air Traffic Issues Highlighted The serious issues of air traffic control (ATC) and maintenance of efficiency of operations in the skies and on the ground to cut aircraft hovering time and aviation fuel consumption is not being given the attention it requires, experts at the first Global Airport Leaders’ Forum, collocated with 13th Airport Show, Dubai, asserted. Speaking at a panel discussion, aviation professionals voiced concerns that congestion in the air and lack of effective coordination between ATCs and airport administrators often lead to flight delays and tremendous increases in fuel costs, which could easily be eliminated, with strong political will and efforts by airlines around the world. Paul Griffiths, CEO, Dubai Airports, reiterated that the biggest problem in the Middle East, in the decades to come, was congestion in the air, adding that while there was enough capacity on the ground, not enough was being done to increase air traffic management capacity. “The waiting time for planes hovering in the air over the runway, wasting precious aviation fuel is scandalous, and ATCs and airports across the world need to work harmoniously across national boundaries to resolve this pressing problem,” he stressed.

Hungarian Tourism used Arabian Travel Market (ATM) as a platform to launch a focused marketing drive for its unique health products in the Middle East markets, as well as meetings and events packages to Budapest and the area surrounding the famed Lake Balaton. Marianna Dené, CEO, Hungarian Tourism, said the region had become an increasingly important source market in the past two years. “We see positive signs to suggest that this trend will continue and expect a further increase in visitors from the region this year.” As part of the latest promotion, cosmetic procedures and spas at the country’s specialised clinics and hospitals are being promoted as well as Hungary’s traditional medicinal water therapies, while MICE clients have been targeted with value-for-money, efficient infrastructure and services, and warm Hungarian hospitality.

EVENTS Korea World Travel Fair Seoul, Korea, May 30 – June 2, 2013 (utilty.danah.kr) Korea’s largest world travel fair with national tourism organisations, local governments, regional tourism associations, and many more taking part.

The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (AIBTM) Chicago, US, June 11 – 13, 2013 (www.aibtm.com) A three-day event focusing on the Americas’ meetings and events sector, where no time is wasted and where deals get done.

International Luxury Travel Market Asia (ILTM Asia) Shanghai, China, June 3 – 6, 2013 (www.iltm.net/asia) A leading ‘by invitation only’ event for the luxury travel community of the Asia Pacific, presenting the world’s most sought after collection of luxury experiences.

International Travel Expo (ITE) Hong Kong, June 13 – 16, 2013 www.itehk.com The event is set to welcome some 50 countries and regions from different continents and over 600 exhibitors presenting the latest trends and ideas.

Euroal 2013 Torremolinos, Spain, June 6 – 8, 2013 www.euroal.net A meeting point for business contact and professional deals, presenting new markets and new opportunities.

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

25 MAY 2013


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 185