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03 AUGUST 2013


03 AUGUST 2013


International Medical City in Salalah Apex Medical Group has concluded the final stages of planning for the proposed International Medical City project in Salalah.

The Domain Bahrain is set to welcome its first guests on the first day of Eid Al Fitr.

03 Royal Tulip Debuts in MENA Golden Tulip MENA has signed an agreement to manage Royal Tulip Alexandria Hotel, marking the brand’s foray into the MENA region.





















The Domain Bahrain to Open This Month





MEA: 120,000 Rooms in the Pipeline The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region’s hotel development pipeline comprises 491 hotels with a total of 120,795 rooms, according to STR Global’s Construction Pipeline Report for June.

Stefanie Saghbini SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli



ased on the study, which includes projects in the construction, final planning, and planning stages, Dubai currently has 10,391 rooms under development, the highest number among the

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

Nakheel: 57 Percent Profit Increase Nakheel has reported a net profit of AED1.2 billion (USD326.71 million) for the first half (H1) of the year, marking a 57 percent year-onyear surge. Meanwhile, revenues stood at AED4.23 billion (USD1.15 billion), up 36 percent, demonstrating the continued growth and strengthening of the real estate market in Dubai and the return of investor confidence and trust in the company and its projects. Nakheel continues to complete its near-term projects and has now delivered around 6,000 properties, including around 1,400 in H1 of this year alone, since having completed its restructuring in August 2011. Nakheel’s pipeline of projects under development include residential, retail, leisure, and hospitality ventures, such as the Nakheel Mall and Hotel, The Pointe at Palm Jumeirah, and the extension of Dragon Mart and Ibn Battuta Mall, among others.



02/08/2013 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)



region’s key markets, while five other destinations reported more than 1,000 rooms under construction, including Riyadh with 5,596 rooms, Abu Dhabi with 3,727 rooms, Jeddah with 2,213 rooms, Cairo with 1,744 rooms, and Amman with 1,547 rooms.

Etihad Airways: Record Financial Performances


tihad Airways registered its strongest second quarter (Q2) and half-year financial performances on record, demonstrating continued growth in its airline alliance strategy and global cargo operations. Passenger revenues for Q2 reached USD921 million, and USD1.8 million for the first half (H1) of the year, marking a 13 percent

increase, while turnover generated by codeshare and equity alliance airline partners totalled USD184 million for Q2, up 25 percent. Partnership revenue comprised 20 percent of the total passenger revenue in both Q2 and H1, reflecting, as James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, noted, the improved contribution of the airline’s equity alliance partners. 3 AUGUST 2013

WEEKLY NEWS Medical City Soon in Salalah Apex Medical Group (AMG) has concluded the final stages of planning for the International Medical City (IMC) project in Salalah, which is set to become a first-class healthcare hub both locally and internationally. The first phase of the 866,000m2 project, due for completion by 2016, will include a healthcare complex consisting of a 250-bed, multi-specialty tertiary care hospital with a number of specialised centres of excellence, while the second stage will witness the extension of the hospital to 430 beds. IMC is also set to encompass a Healthcare Resort featuring a wellness centre, a four-star hotel connected to the hospital, a conference hall, and accommodation, in addition to other amenities. Meanwhile, the educational complex will be completed in the third phase, when the multi-speciality hospital will be upgraded to 530 beds.

MSC Cruises Suspends Red Sea Voyages MSC Cruises has cancelled MSC Armonia’s 2013-2014 winter itineraries in the Red Sea, however now invites travellers to explore the Canary Isles and Morocco. Following the recent uncertainties in Egypt, the cruise company has decided to replace its voyages in the area with two new itineraries from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain; a volcanic island boasting picturesque, natural attractions as well as an intriguing history. With calls in Funchal, Santa Cruz de La Palma, San Sebastian, and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the first option entices travellers with vast shopping and beach opportunities in tourist towns and encounters with nature, while the second itinerary will take passengers to Casablanca, Agadir, Arrecife de Lanzarote, and Puerto del Rosario, showcasing the beauty of the Canary Isles and Morocco.

MSC Armonia

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UAE and Finland Sign Open Skies Agreement

H.wE. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general, GCAA (left) and Ilkka-Pekka Simila, ambassador of Finland to the UAE

The UAE, represented by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), has entered into an open skies agreement with the government of Finland. Under the deal, any number of designated airlines of both parties will have the right to perform scheduled air services between the two countries, and the UAE delegation has designated Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, RAK Airways, and flydubai as the national airlines. As Laila Ali Bin Hareb Al Muhairi, executive director, strategy and international affair, GCAA, noted, the UAE ranks second internationally in terms of open skies agreements. “UAE is driven more than ever to continue its international collaboration in air transport and shall continue its far-reaching and sound advances toward opening and liberating its skies with countries of the world,” Al Muhairi concluded.

Bahrain: Year of Art in 2014 H.E. Sheika Mai Bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa, minister of culture, Bahrain, met with the sponsors of the ‘Invest in Culture’ initiative and announced that 2014 will be celebrated as the ‘Year of Art’. The minister, who expressed her intention to support all arts and cultural manifestations, along with the Modern Art Museum Project, which will be launched in 2014, called for the development of museum exhibitions, and noted that today, greater mobility, migration, and digital networking are driving cultural diversity, interaction, momentum for charge, adaption and intermixing.



Passengers Splash out on Onboard Services Air travellers are becoming more and more inclined to splurge on extra onboard offerings and services, PhoCusWright’s ’Airline Ancillaries: The Captives Are Capitulating’ report revealed. Over the past years, passenger consumption of ancillary offerings has been rising significantly, not only contributing to revenues but also encouraging travellers to build out their very own flight experience. In 2012, four in 10 US leisure flyers purchased an in-flight meal or snack, up from just 28 percent in 2010, while 23 percent spent on movies and entertainment, 18 percent on onboard Wi-Fi, and 23 percent on priority boarding. Meanwhile, demand for preferred seating has been escalating at a rapid rate from 14 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2012. In addition, the study also found that frequent flyers, who travel more than five times per year for vacation, are more likely to spend money on extra services and offerings.

Alshamel Travel Launches Leisure Alshamel Travel has published Leisure, its first ever digital brochure, which features leisure packages for the summer season and marks the inauguration of the travel management company’s leisure offering. According to Yousef Al-Essa, chairman, Alshamel Travel, the brochure is the first of a number of upcoming seasonal catalogues and features exclusive leisure packages to cater to a full spectrum of leisure travel needs, from budget travel to luxury vacations, and from a dream honeymoon to a fun family vacation. “Today’s travellers need useful information, the security of reliable customer support, and control over the details that make a trip smooth, efficient and enjoyable and these are all services which Alshamel Travel is there to deliver,” stated Al-Essa. Yousef Al-Essa

Plus 12 Million International Travellers A total of 298 million international tourists travelled worldwide between January and April, equivalent to 12 million more than in the corresponding period in 2012, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s latest Tourism Barometer. The four percent year-on-year increase was driven by strong growth in the Asia and the Pacific (six percent), Europe (five percent), and the Middle East (five percent), as well as weaker increase in the Americas (one percent) and Africa (two percent). “International tourism continues to show an extraordinary dynamism,” commented Taleb Rifai, secretary-general, UNWTO, adding that the positive results confirm that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors of current times, contributing in a central manner to the economy of an increasing number of countries. For the full year, UNWTO expects a rise of three to four percent year-on-year.

Amadeus Partners with Munich and Copenhagen Airports Amadeus has announced that it has reached agreement with both Munich Airport and Copenhagen Airport to jointly work in the development and implementation of two new IT solutions which will form part of Amadeus’ new suite of solutions for airports. In collaboration with Munich Airport, which saw nearly 400,000 aircraft movements in 2012, Amadeus will launch its Airport Sequence Manager, aiming to produce accurate data, improved predictability, and on time performance, as it unlocks existing airport capacity and reduces slot wastage with an optimised departure sequence. Working with Copenhagen Airport, the technology provider will develop Amadeus Airport Fixed Resource Optimiser, designed to determine the best possible fixed resource allocation against the flight schedule and attributes based on an airport’s and the airlines’ business driver, including passengers. The solution is set to improve infrastructure utilisation through an optimised use of stands and gates leading to reduced costs.

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WEEKLY NEWS JTB Debuts New Website Jordan Tourism Board (JTB) has launched its updated website, reflecting JTB’s insistence on promoting more consumer-driven relationships. The new website, whose domain name remains the same, is said to offer an aesthetically-pleasing, easy-tonavigate, and more user-friendly and engaging experience. Expressing delight at the launch of the new platform, Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, managing director, JTB, said that the organisation aims to enhance its relationship with both Jordan’s current fan base as well as potential consumers. “Soon, we will also be launching other sites that will target various niche markets, such as gastronomy. By focusing these specialised interests, we hope to demonstrate how relevant Jordan is to these niches, and thus further foster tourism to Jordan,” concluded Arabiyat.

Limitless Opens New Venue in Dubai Limitless has launched The Galleries Business Lounge; an all new conference, meetings, and corporate events venue in the heart of New Dubai. Featuring boardrooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, and Internet stations, the 700m2 facility can accommodate up to 80 people and can offer a convenient and affordable alternative to hotel business venues. Alongside The Galleries Business Lounge is a separate lounge with refreshment and relaxation areas available for private hire for groups of up to 120 people. Commenting on the new facility, Jamal Almulla Alsuwaidi, deputy director, Limitless Asset Management, said, “The Starwood BusinessHotels Lounge & isResorts already Worldwide proving popular has signed with ouran agreementnumber growing with Jabal of Omar commercial Development tenants at Company The Galleries.toIt islaunch also three an idealnew venuehotels for busi-in Meccreligious nesses in surrounding tourism continue areas, suchtoasexpand Jafza, orin Saudicompanies for Arabia, we needbelieve the time ing a location is right that to is expand our portfolio convenient for peoin the country. ple coming ” from both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”

The Galleries Business Lounge

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GCC Hotel Revenues to Reach USD25 Billion by 2016 Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) expects room revenue in the GCC region to reach USD24.92 billion by 2016, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.93, up from an estimated USD17.83 billion in 2011. Meanwhile, average occupancy rate is set to rise to 73 percent over the next three years, as both business as well as leisure tourist demand continues to grow. According to Markaz’s study, international tourism remains the most significant driving force in the industry, as travellers continue to flock into the region to explore and experience its culture, sports events, and MICE facilities. In addition, in recent years serviced apartments have also grown in the GCC region in line with the rise of business travellers and expatriates who look for longer stays at reasonable prices.




The Domain Bahrain to Open This Month The Domain Bahrain is set to welcome its first guests on the first day of Eid Al Fitr. As part of the soft opening, the 36-storey, 131-key hotel will unveil most of its suites and rooms along with two of its social spaces. According to Patrick de Groot, managing director, The Do-

main Bahrain, the hotel’s team looks forward to introducing guests and members to a fresh and ground-breaking concept in the Middle East. “After our soft opening on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr, we expect to have all our social spaces as well as our Vie Spa and Vie Fitness floors open by September 15,” de Groot informed.

BWI Expands in Myanmar Best Western International (BWI) has signed a contract for its first hotel in the capital city of Myanmar. The 205-room BEST WESTERN PREMIER The Grand At Nay Pyi Taw will become one of the first internationally-branded hotels in the central city when it opens in the second quarter of 2014. “Myanmar has made great strides in recent years, opening up to the international community and allowing a new generation of visitors to see all the wonders this magical country has to offer,” noted Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI. “I have no doubt that Nay Pyi Taw will experience a surge in business and leisure tourism in the coming years,” he added.


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Dusit Makes its Mark on China Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts, the joint venture hotel management company between Thailand-based Dusit International and China-based Changzhou Qiao Yu Group, have announced the soft opening of dusitD2 Fudu Binhu Hotel Changzhou in Jiangsu Province, China. This property marks Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts’ first project in the country, as well as China’s first Dusitbranded hotel, as the management company expects to operate at least 30 such hotels throughout the country within the next three years. “We look forward to developing the Dusit brands here, bringing the gracious hospitality it is synonymous with to the Chinese market,” commented Chen Li Bin, chairman, Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts.



Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa Unveiled The luxury five-star Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa has welcomed its first guest bringing French Polynesia charm to Dubai’s hotel scene. Currently in its soft opening phase, the property is nestled within the groves of Palm Jumeirah and boasts 361 sophisticated island-inspired guests rooms and suites, along with 182 fully serviced residences, a private 500m stretch of beach, 14 food and beverage outlets, five meeting rooms, a ballroom, and the brand’s signature So SPA and So FIT gym. “We are undoubtedly excited to build on the favourable reputation the Sofitel brand has garnered in the region,” claimed Christophe Schnyder, general manager, Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa.

Royal Tulip Debuts in MENA Golden Tulip MENA has signed an agreement to manage Royal Tulip Alexandria Hotel, marking the brand’s foray into the MENA region. With 477 guestrooms, suites, and villas, the hotel represents one of the company’s largest properties under the luxury brand. Guests will also benefit from 10 dining outlets, five fully-equipped meeting rooms, two conference halls, a movie theatre, fitness centre, spa, outdoor swimming pool, and a gym. Amine Moukarzel, president, Golden Tulip MENA, described the launch of the hotel as a signature milestone for the company, which also highlights its commitment to the MENA region. “Alexandria connects Mediterranean, North Africa and Middle East which is a city of commercial, arts and leisure,” he added.

Royal Tulip Alexandria Hotel

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Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa

Best Western Expands in Indonesia Best Western International (BWI) continues its rapid growth in Indonesia with BEST WESTERN Serpong set to open in the fourth quarter of the year. Located in the bustling business hub of Tangerang, West Java, the seven-storey hotel will feature 196 rooms, including 12 suites, and is set to appeal to the increasing number of travellers looking for quality, internationalstandard accommodation in the Greater Jakarta area. “West Java is booming. Jakarta and its fast-emerging satellite cities, such as Tangerang and Bogor, are becoming key business hubs in Southeast Asia,” highlighted Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, who noted that BWI aims to more than quadruple its collection of hotels in the country over the next few years.




Qatar Airways Boosts Capacity to Kochi Qatar Airways has announced a significant increase in capacity on its Doha-Kochi route which is now being operated onboard a wide-body Airbus A330. The decision coincides with the airline’s 10th anniversary of operation to Kochi.

“There are a significant number of Indian expatriates from Kochi who are working in Qatar and the GCC. The increase in capacity will enable us to quickly meet the growing demand of these passengers,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

Emirates to Commence Daily A380 Service to Mauritius Emirates plans to launch a daily Airbus A380 flight from Dubai to Mauritius on December 16, following the special one-off Airbus A380 service that the airline operated to the destination in March to celebrate the island’s 45 years of independence. The new flight is to replace one of the existing Boeing 777-300 services the airline currently offers to the Indian Ocean island, meaning that Emirates will continue to serve the country on a double-daily basis with an additional 153 seats on the route each day across first class, business class, and economy class.

flydubai Lands in Medina flydubai has commenced operations to Medina, bringing the number of destinations in the airline’s network to 65. Flights to the Saudi city will operate between Dubai International’s Terminal 2 and Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina seven days a week. “The new route will benefit Medina residents who may wish to visit friends and family during the [last weeks of ] Ramadan or spend Eid Al-Fitr in the UAE,” added Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai. The Dubai-based carrier already offers services to Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Abha, Qassim, Ha’il, Tabuk, Yanbu and Taif.

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Emirates to Join Conakry and Dakar service Emirates has announced a linked service to Conakry, capital city of Guinea, set to commence on October 27, as the connection of Conakry to the fourweekly Dubai-Dakar flight is set to provide new opportunities for business and leisure travellers in the West African country. Hubert Frach, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations west, Emirates, commented, “The linking of Conakry takes the number of Emirates destinations in Africa to 24, which is a firm demonstration of our commitment to Africa and helping unlock its enormous potential as one of the fastest growing economic regions of the world.”

Oman Air has launched a new weekly service between Muscat and Medina, marking the airline’s fourth route to Saudi Arabia, complementing its existing operations to Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam, and its 43rd destination worldwide. In addition to travelling to and from Medina, passengers using the new service are also able to fly in one direction to or from the Holy City and return to or from Jeddah in the other direction, offering them greater flexibility. As H.E. Salim bin Nasser al-Aufi, chairman, executive committee, Oman Air, highlighted, the new route further strengthen links between the Sultanate and the Kingdom and underlins the airline’s commitment to supporting not only the growth of Oman’s tourism sector but also the trade and commerce opportunities.

Wayne Pearce, CEO, Oman Air (right)

Qatar Airways is set to commence three weekly flights to the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa, on September 18. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, described the African country as a fast emerging economic centre which is forming strong trade links with Europe, US and Asia Pacific. “As a route, the country has great potential when linked up with key markets in Europe, Americas and other parts of the world. We are pleased to be reinforcing our presence in Africa with the addition of scheduled flights to Addis Ababa, allowing us to further expand our business on the African continent,” he further commented, adding that there is clearly demand and huge potential to and from Ethiopia.

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Oman Air Touches Down in Medina

Qatar Airways Gears Up for Ethiopia



Etihad Airways Teams up with South African Airways Etihad Airways has began codeshare flights with South African Airways (SAA) following regulatory approval, which enables both carriers to offer codeshare and interline services to key destinations on each others’ networks. Under the first phase of the agreement, Etihad Airways passengers can now travel on the airline’s marketed flights from Johannesburg to four destinations on the SAA network, including Cape Town, Durban, East London, and Port Elizabeth, while codesharing on scheduled services on the routes to Livingston, Lusaka, Ndola, Harare, and Victoria Falls is currently pending subject to local government approval. In turn, passengers departing from Johannesburg are now able to benefit from flights on the UAE airline’s network to Abu Dhabi and onwards across the carrier’s global network to Bahrain, Kuwait, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur, while Shanghai, Singapore, and Jeddah are subject to regulatory approval. Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways described the move as critical so as to meet the demand from growing numbers of leisure and business passengers travelling between Africa and MENA as well as beyond.




Qatar Airways Upgrades Istanbul Route Qatar Airways has increased capacity on its Doha-Istanbul service by nearly 50 percent after introducing an Airbus A330 aircraft featuring a two-class configuration on the route and adding 166 extra seats per day to the flight. “After more than 10 successful years of operations in Turkey, we are absolutely delighted to introduce a wide body aircraft on our Istanbul route, which will provide our passengers extra capacity and an optimised level of service and comfort,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways. Ian Lovelock, senior manager, Eastern Europe, Qatar Airways, further noted, “The route to Istanbul was initially introduced with three weekly flights and has now increased to a 10 weekly flights due to strong passenger demand from the Turkish market.”

Etihad Airways and Korean Air Partner Etihad Aiways has signed a codeshare agreement with Korean Air, bringing the number of codeshare services operated by the Abu Dhabi-based carrier to 46. In the first phase of cooperation, the South Korean airline will place its ‘KE’ code on Etihad Airways’ daily flights between Seoul and the UAE-capital. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, described the partnership as a significant development for the airline in both strategic and commercial terms, which will also enable the carriers to leverage the strength of their respective brands and distribution channels for mutual commercial and customer benefit.

EGYPTAIR Suspends Tokyo Flights Emirates Boosts Thai Services Emirates plans to introduce a sixth daily operation on its Dubai-Bangkok route, effective from October 27. “Emirates’ sixth daily flight to Bangkok launches on the same day as the start of our second daily Airbus A380 service to the city, demonstrating the importance of Thailand to the airline,” noted Barry Brown, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations, East, Emirates, adding that due to passenger demand the airline has seen a steady increase in terms of services and capacity on its Southeast Asian routes. “In addition to the Bangkok sixth daily, Emirates is also increasing its Hong Kong services to four daily from October 27 and will be launching a daily, non-stop service to Clark in the Philippines from October 1,” Brown further revealed.


EGYPTAIR has withdrawn all of its flights to and from Tokyo until further notice. As of July 14, the airline discontinued its operations to the Japanese capital city due to the current devaluation of traffic to and from the destination. On the other hand, flights to and from Osaka, EGYPTAIR’s other Japanese destination, continue to operate as scheduled. EGYPTAIR is cooperating with Star Alliance partner airlines to accommodate passengers on the most convenient services to Tokyo.

Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo Lands in Abu Dhabi Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo has launched two new Boeing 747 full freighter frequencies to Abu Dhabi International Airport as the intermediate stop on the Asia and India routes. The new flights complement the airline’s daily Airbus A330 passenger operation with belly capacity between Amsterdam and the UAE capital, while a second daily passenger service is operated by codeshare partner Etihad Airways. Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports Company, said, “The additional flights demonstrate the confidence leading cargo operators have in the potential of the emirate of Abu Dhabi as an international business and trade hub.”

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Khader Qasem Khader Qasem has been ap- Prior to that, Qasem was the pointed general manager at director of finance at Golden Royal Tulip Alexandria Hotel. Tulip Khasab Dibba in Oman. Qasem has been working in the hospitality industry for over 12 years, nine of which Qasem has been he spent with Golden Tulip. working in the hospitality industry He moves to Egypt from Jorfor over 12 years, dan where he most recently nine of which he spent served as general manager of with Golden Tulip Golden Tulip Airport Amman.

Holger Schroth Holger Schroth has been named general manager of Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi. Having spent almost three decades in the hospitality industry, Schroth brings a wealth of international experience to the role. Previously, he held various executive positions at Kempinski hotels in Germany, China, Hong Kong, Spain, Thailand, as well as the UAE. Prior to his recent appointment, he spent three years with Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok, Thailand, serving as

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general manager and area director of Southeast Asia. Schroth’s new role marks his return to the UAE, having earlier worked as general manager at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates between 2008 and 2010.

Having spent almost three decades in the hospitality industry, Schroth brings a wealth of international experience to the role


Emmanuel Comble Emmanuel Comble has been named director of sales and marketing at Sofitel The Palm Dubai. Resort & Spa. With over 10 years of sales and marketing experience, Comble has gained strong knowledge in both MICE and leisure sales. Having served various premium hotels, including Hilton

London Metropole, as well as covering the position of regional director of sales and marketing for Concorde Hotels and Resorts in Paris, and most recently the Mazagan Beach Resort by Kerzner International in Morocco, Comble brings with him a wealth of experience in Europe as well as the Middle East region.



travel talk is your space

Vice president, brand management, Rixos Hotels.

“Rixos Fluela Davos will be our first property in Western Europe and will be launched at the end of the year. Rixos Quba, Azerbaijan, will be opened during the second half of the year as well. Rixos Bab Al Bahr [Ras Al Khaimah] is expected to open in the last quarter of the year. We are talking to a number of investors and developers to increase the pipeline. On the construction site, we have a presence in the UAE and we plan to build on our business gradually.”

Iftikhar Hamdani General manager, Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman.

“We are very pleased with the commendation given by the Dubai Municipality for our Zero Landfill project [now in its first year and which has achieved more than 90 percent waste diversion from the landfill]. We thank them for this visit which only shows that the public has [now] started to recognise our environmentally-friendly programmes that benefit both our property and our country.”

Simon Stamper Regional general manager, Egypt and Lebanon, InterContinental Hotels Group.

“These awards [such as the seven Business Traveller accolades] are monitors for what we have to offer our guests; they tell us where we really stand among our competitors, not only in Egypt, but in the Middle East Region.”

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: Maggi Mikhail POSITION: Travel consultant COMPANY: Pearl Travel LOCATION: Egypt WEB: Who are you? I am Maggi Mikhail, travel consultant at Pearl Travel, Alexandria. I have been working in the travel industry for little over a year. Ever since I started working for Pearl Travel, I specialise in honeymoon and holiday packages with a taste for beauty and exclusivity. Pearl Travel has been in the business for 27 years. Established since 1985, we represent most international airlines, while our specialty and primary destinations include Morocco, Asia, Maldives, Mauritius, and US. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? People. I have grown to be a people person throughout my experience in the travel industry, so much that people became my passion. However, the dynamic and roofless potential of the industry has attracted me the most. When is the best time to visit Egypt? Egypt is outstanding in winter. It has this warmth of a pleasant winter. I strongly recommend visiting Egypt between October and May with a suggestion to avoid it during July and August. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Bora Bora. As long as there are no flights to ‘La-La land’, Bora Bora is the alternative. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our company’s edge over the market is our collective experienced consultants. Our consultants hold a variety of university degrees from all walks of life and different backgrounds such as history, philosophy, sociology. It contributes towards our customer service and understanding having studied human science topics. Also, our personal travels serve our clients’ needs to make their ultimate choices.

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Travelport Cements Partnership with UST&T Travelport has announced the renewal of its 15-year partnership with Uniglobe Skylink Travel & Tours (UST&T), hailed as one of the most established corporate travel management companies in Tanzania as well as the East African region. Under the new agreement, UST&T will gain access to Travelport’s latest technology solutions including Agentivity, Travelport’s business intelligence suite for travel agents, and Travelport Mobile Agent, the unique mobile global distribution system application that enables agents to access Travelport content from their iPad or iPhone device anytime,

anywhere. “Tanzania and the wider East Africa region remains an important focus for Travelport, and our hands-on, customer-centric approach is clearly paying off,” confirmed Mark Meehan, managing director, Africa, Travelport.

Mark Meehan, managing director, Africa, Travelport

Abu Dhabi to Welcome Japanese Businessmen The Japanese arm of Amway, the global health and beauty company, has chosen Abu Dhabi for a megaincentive trip to reward 100 of its top seller agents. “With direct flights to Abu Dhabi and an intriguing mix of culture and modern-day attractions, the destination fulfilled our requirements of an exciting adventure to recognise and further incentivise our agents,” noted Yoshiro Nihei, manager, company event department, Amway Japan. The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority received the confirmation of the incentive, which will take place in 2015, during its recent road show in Japan, when over 100 tour operators turned out to hear the delegation’s briefing on the latest developments and opportunities in the UAE capital. As Abu Dhabi looks to push the destination further up the Far Eastern traveller’s agenda, professionals are working to tailor their products to suit the sector’s specific needs. Destination management company, Arabian Adventures, for example, will offer Abu Dhabi city tours in Japanese, five days a week, instead of three, as of October.



QTA Partners with UNWTO Qatar Tourism Authority has signed a 17-month agreement with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to develop strategies needed to ensure the Qatari tourism industry’s long-term and sustainable growth.


ased on international benchmarked standards, the two organisations will develop a consistent and locally relevant monitoring and quality control system across a wide range of tourism activities. The phased approach includes creating a policy framework for the institution of regulations, standards, and codes of conduct for all activities and businesses related to tourism; creating a policy framework, sustainability indicator instruments, and tourism environmental impact assessments; and implementing guidelines for the creation of foreign and direct financial investment codes and policies for tourism in Qatar. The initial phase will cover five major areas of tourist activities, such as desert safaris and camps; tour guides; tourism investment; event management companies; retail; wholesale; destination management companies and both inbound and outbound travel agencies; and theme or amusement parks. Phase two will include destination marketing themes, hotel energy systems, and related sustainability areas.

UAE: 1.63 Million Aircraft Movements by 2030 The UAE Flight Information Region recorded a total of 741,450 aircraft movements in 2012, up 6.7 percent year-on-year, and this figure is set to reach 1.63 million by 2030. To tackle the anticipated challenges, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority has recently signed an agreement with Airbus ProSky to restructure the UAE airspace, while the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) unveiled an all-encompassing, five-pillar strategy plan, titled ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s Aviation (2013-2015)’ which is envisaged to trigger the growth of passenger and cargo volumes, facilitate the expansion of the designated airlines of the emirate, and ultimately enhance Dubai’s competitiveness, as H.E. Mohammed Ahli, director general, DCAA, explained. Moreover, the plan is set to support Dubai’s vision of becoming the global aviation capital, contribute to prosperity, and enable further development for the destination. Dubai International

Gulf Air Hosts Anti-smoking Road Show Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, recently organised an anti-smoking road show, in collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Health, Gulf Air Medical Clinic, and the National Labour Union of the airline. The road show included a lecture by Kathem Jaffar Al Halwachi, coordinator, Smoking Cessation Programme, on the dangers of smoking and information on how to quit; a host of medical practitioners on hand to test employees for various respiratory and smoking-related conditions; and advice on what methods are best-suited to quit smoking. In June, Gulf Air launched the Smoking Cessation Programme through the airline’s medical clinic to further support those individuals who wish to quit smoking and raise awareness of its dangers.

Global Passenger Traffic up 4.7 Percent May proved to be a banner month for the world’s top airports, based on Airports Council International’s latest report, which highlights the Middle East aviation sector’s enduring growth. Overall passenger traffic rose 4.7 percent in May with international passenger volumes up 6.9 percent and domestic figures up 2.8 percent. Meanwhile, passenger traffic remains buoyant in the Middle East with the region’s airports handling over 52.1 million travellers between January and May, marking an 11.5 percent year-on-year improvement, the strongest growth reported from any region. Air freight, on the other hand, continues to maintain a sluggish pace with virtually no growth in the volume of traffic worldwide and with Dubai and Jakarta as the only hubs among the world’s top airports to experience notable gains of 11.9 percent and 18.3 percent, respectively.

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Q & A with Paul Hawco Spa offerings in the Middle East are continuously raising the bar with new treatments and healthy living suggestions. Paul Hawco, director, Talise Spa operations, Jumeirah Group, analyses the company’s philosophy concerning wellness and reveals the Talise Spa brand’s unique characteristics.

Travel Trade Weekly: How does being in a brand hotel helps the spa’s image and enhance its customer database? Paul Hawco: Talise is the flagship wellness brand of Jumeirah Group and Talise Spa is Jumeirah’s signature spa brand. The combination and brand strength behind Talise and Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts enhances our offering on all levels. Jumeirah Group is a global luxury hotel company; both the hotel and spa are committed to being the industry leader in all of our activities through dedication to our stakeholders, colleagues, customers, business partners, and owners. We are able to leverage our customer database and drive loyalty from hotel to spa and spa to hotel. [...] Furthermore, Talise holds the DNA of Jumeirah’s established service culture, fostered and built upon our hallmarks and guiding principles which combines with our ‘Stay Different’ brand proposition. From this combination, our points of differentiation ‘Stay Different’ brand proposition is active within each property and spa and yet remains adaptable and inter-changeable based on trends, guest feedback, and business mix, creatively woven into all dimensions of the operation ultimately providing a competitive advantage for the business and most certainly for our guests. [...] Travel Trade Weekly: Have you witnessed increasing popularity for the spa’s services this year? Paul Hawco: Talise Spa and its services are amongst the most popular in the region; worldwide, the brand is gaining presence and recognition and in Dubai we are performing

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Paul Hawco Director, Talise Spa operations, Jumeirah Group

lers are deciding they simply cannot afford exhausting, unhealthy vacations and have become increasingly more aware of long-term wellness and how they wish to spend their time and money to invest in it. Travel Trade Weekly: How important is the Middle Eastern guest for Talise Spa? Paul Hawco: Our Middle Eastern guests are amongst our most cherished and appreciated guests; they are the perfect spa-goer [and have] a high appreciation for wellness and spa services that are provided in luxurious surrounding with five-star service. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the latest developments and future plans for the spa?

and catering to growth at each location with loyal guests as well as attracting new guests. [...] We feel the year-on-year growth in guest visits to Talise is also attributed to our unique menus that harness the power of nature, providing luxurious treatments that are indigenous and results-orientated and within facilities that are unsurpassed and unique destinations where you can soothe mind, body, and soul. Our success and popularity with treatments can also be attributed to our embracing Jumeirah Hallmarks and delivering spa experiences that are culturally connected, thoughtful and generous, imaginative and exhilarating, and to discover your inner self. Specifically, our guests are seeking programmes for stress-reduction, fitness, and weight loss; this trend or shift from pampering and nurturing spas are a clear result and indication that more customers and travel-

Paul Hawco: Talise Ottoman Spa as well as the Talise brand are highly focused on ensuring we continue to deliver a high-end spa experience that epitomises Jumeirah culture and guest expectations by performing experiences that are consistent, clearly branded, and that exceed our guests’ expectations by providing customised, unique experiences they will return for. Wellness is our priority and Talise is working towards becoming a fully integrated holistic wellness brand that offers our guests a seamless experience that motivates them to integrate their wellness aspirations into their daily lifestyle. We are also guided by our brand proposition ‘Stay Different’ which allows us to remain consistent and clearly branded while also ensuring we are innovative and ahead of trends while meeting our guests expectations - we can ensure we will always stay ahead of the curve and be providing exciting, exhilarating, and relevant experiences.



New Terminal for Emirates SkyCargo Construction works have begun on Emirates SkyCargo’s new state-of-the-art cargo terminal and supporting facilities at Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport, which is set to become the home of the airline’s freighter operations from May 2014. The terminal will have an initial capacity to manage 700,000 tonnes of cargo per annum, which can be expanded to meet demand. The completion of the first phase of the development is scheduled for December, while the first section is due to be delivered to Emirates SkyCargo by the beginning of April 2014 with full completion expected by mid-September 2014.

World’s First National Geographic Interactive Screen in Abu Dhabi As part of the Live Augmented Reality campaign for National Geographic, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) hosted a large augmented and interactive reality screen in the Terminal 1 transit area. For four days, travellers enjoyed creative works of art in a neverseen-before way allowing them to experience near-live visuals and the opportunity to interact with different types of animals and creatures. “ADAC is honoured to have been given the opportunity to host a first in the world augmented reality screen for National Geographic,” expressed Ahmed Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC.

National Geographic Interactive Screen

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

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

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

World Tourism Day (WTD) 2013 Maldives, September 27, 2013 ( This year, WTD is being held under the theme ‘Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future’.

International Meetings Industry and Business Travel Exhibition & Conference (MIBEXPO) Moscow, Russia, September 17 – 20, 2013 ( Dedicated to the most important issues of the business travel industry.

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

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 195  

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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