Issuu on Google+

Travel Trade Weekly proudly enjoys readers on average per day

06 APRIL 2013

ISSUE 178

The Ascott Limited Partners with Katara Hospitality The Ascott Limited was recently awarded a contract by Katara Hospitality to manage the 200-unit Somerset West Bay Doha.

Jordan’s tourism industry has entered a new chapter with the official opening of the new Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) terminal.

08 ibis and Novotel Open in Abu Dhabi Accor Middle East has opened its first clustered property, the 294-room ibis Abu Dhabi Gate and the 224-room Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate.

08 IN THIS ISSUE WEEKLY NEWS MARKET UPDATE ACCOMMODATION AIR INTERNATIONAL WHO’S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT’S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

03 04 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

New QAIA Opens in Jordan

3


WEEKLY NEWS New QAIA Opens in Jordan Jordan’s tourism industry has entered a new chapter with the official opening of the new Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) terminal, considered one of the most significant air transport gateways in the region. The state-of-the-art terminal, measuring over 100,000m2, is expected to foster the kingdom’s tourism, trade, and economic growth, and is envisaged to position the capital, Amman, as a key stop-over point and destination in the region for global traffic, opening new route expansion opportunities for mediumand long-haul flights from Europe and the rest of the world. Divided into three floors, the new building’s annual capacity is expected to rise six percent for the next 25 years, from three million to 12.8 million by 2030.

06 APRIL 2013

3

Jordan to Benefit from Istanbul – Aqaba Flights Jordan’s tourism industry is expecting a boost from Turkish Airlines’ new direct flights between Istanbul and Aqaba, providing millions of Turkish travellers access to the kingdom. The new thrice-weekly service comes as a result of the joint efforts of Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, Jordan Tourism Board, and the USAID Jordan Tourism Development Project in cooperation with the Turkish carrier. “The launch of Turkish Airlines’ Aqaba flights marks a historic moment for Aqaba; the first foreign international network carrier to make scheduled flights to Aqaba airport,” commented on the new service Sedat Orman, general manager, Aqaba, Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines


4

MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY

MENA EXCHANGE RATES

MANAGING EDITOR

Accurate as of

Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel

05/04/2013

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian 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 www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY 1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.84

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

70.50

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.29

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.60

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.58

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,283.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.31

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

79.38

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.29

HotStats MENA: Stellar Performance Dubai’s hotel market grew from strength to strength in 2012, as TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats 2013: UK, Europe & MENA Hotel Industry Report revealed. Room occupancy at Dubai’s four- and five-star hotels rose 2.4 percentage points to 79.7 percent, and despite the increase in supply, average room rate (ARR) improved four percent to USD304.60, while RevPAR was up 7.3 percent to USD242.77. Cairo’s hotel market witnessed a return to positive performance in 2012, with occupancy levels reaching 48.2 percent, and RevPAR climbing 13.7 percent to USD55.06, ARR, however, dropped to USD114.26. In Saudi Arabia, Jeddah reported growth in ARR of 10.9 percent to USD227.39 and room occupancy of 5.2 percentage points to 79.4 percent, resulting in a RevPAR improvement of 18.7 percent to USD180.54. According to the report, in Riyadh, 2012 proved to be a more challenging year.

06 APRIL 2013


6

WEEKLY NEWS

UAE Tops Tourism Competitiveness Index The UAE continues to lead the MENA region in terms of tourism competitiveness, ranking 28th globally in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013. According to the study, the most important competitive advantage of the UAE relates to its world-class international hubs for global air travel, the country’s effective marketing campaigns, and rules and regulations that are conductive to the development of the sector. WEF ranked Qatar as the second most competitive destination in the region, with Bahrain, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Egypt, also among the top 10. Globally, Switzerland remained the most competitive destination, followed by Germany and Austria.

Egypt’s Hotel Market Rises Latest data published by Colliers International reveal that leisure markets in Egypt made a strong recovery in 2012, with positive performance indicators in Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, and Alexandria. Leisure spending is estimated to have risen 1.1 percent, while, contrarily, business spending has fallen 4.5 percent in 2012. Moreover, occupancy rates increased year-on-year with the top three figures recorded in Cairo Downtown, climbing 30.1 percent, Sharm el Sheikh rising 27.1 percent, and Heliopolis up 21.4 percent, with the latter having boasted the strongest occupancy rates throughout 2012. Meanwhile, Cairo Downtown witnessed the highest average daily rate in 2012 when compared to Giza and Heliopolis. Hurghada

Dusit International’s Vast Expansion Plans Dusit International has more than seven properties scheduled to open over the next 12 months and a further 16 projects in the development pipeline. The world-renowned Thai hotel company is already gearing up to open Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi in the second quarter of the year while dusitD2 nairobi, Kenya, is slated to be unveiled in the third quarter. Meanwhile, a joint venture agreement in China will see a minimum of 10 properties developed over the next five years. Domestically, the company announced the signing of a 79-key dusitD2 hotel in Khao Yai, scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2014.

Artist Impression of Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi

06 APRIL 2013


8

WEEKLY NEWS

ibis and Novotel Open in Abu Dhabi Accor Middle East has opened its first clustered property, the 294-room ibis Abu Dhabi Gate and the 224-room Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate. Strategically located in close proximity to the Abu Dhabi National Centre as well as Yas Island, the hotels are well-positioned to cater to both leisure and business travellers. The inauguration of the property also marks the first economy lodging hotel with international standards in the capital, with ibis Abu Dhabi Gate, while the midscale Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate offers meeting facilities, dedicated children’s areas, and rejuvenating wellness facilities, just to mention a few. The company’s expansion drive in the UAE will continue later this year with the opening of the 279-room Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan and the 361-room Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan.

Accommodation

Donatello Italian Restaurant and Lounge Debuts New Offering Donatello Italian Restaurant and Lounge, Donatello Group’s luxurious dining destination in Dubai, has introduced a new business lunch menu. Located on the Convention Tower’s ground floor at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the authentic Italian restaurant now offers a three-course set, ’45-minutes-and-gone’ menu for its busy clientele, prepared by the chef and his team using only high-quality ingredients. Commenting on the new menu, Santino Cicciari, director of food and beverage, Donatello Italian Restaurant and Lounge, said, “Our aim is to introduce a regional Italian cuisine, honest and authentic where courtesy and passion alternates with a warm and friendly atmosphere. The well-being of Donatello Italian Restaurant our guests is the creed of our work.” and Lounge

The Ascott Limited Partners with Katara Hospitality Following Qatar-based Katara Hospitality’s acquisition of the serviced residence from Barwa Real Estate, The Ascott Limited was recently awarded a contract by the hospitality company to manage the 200-unit Somerset West Bay Doha. Set in the heart of the capital city’s business and diplomatic district, Somerset West Bay Doha features two- and three-bedroom apartments with separate dining and living areas, further to extensive business and leisure facilities, such as a swimming pool, a gym, a children’s playroom, recreational area, a restaurant, and meeting rooms. “There is an increasing demand for serviced residences from expatriates and travellers on extended stay as Qatar’s travel and hospitality segment continues to expand in tandem with its growing economy,” highlighted Vincent Wee, managing director, India and GCC, The Ascott Limited. The company is also gearing up to open Somerset Panorama Muscat and Sohar Garden Residences in Oman by 2014.

06 APRIL 2013


Air

Mövenpick Air Arabia Begins Hotel Qassim Operations Collaborates to Sri Lanka with Qatar Airways Air Arabia touched down at Sri Lanka’s second largest gateway, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, on March 18. “Since inception about a decade ago, Air Arabia has prided itself on being an airline of firsts. Today, we are extremely delighted to become the first international carrier to arrive in Mattala, further reinforcing our commitment to expand our presence in Sri Lanka,” said Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. The low-cost pioneer currently operates two weekly services between Sharjah and Mattala, to be increased to four times weekly starting May 19. Ali further believes that operations to Mattala will bring great benefits to the tourism ties between the UAE and Sri Lanka, and will support Air Arabia’s rapidly expanding network in the Indian subcontinent.

WEEKLY NEWS

9

Qatar Airways Adds Two New Iraqi Routes Qatar Airways has announced plans to launch scheduled flights to Iraq’s southern port city of Basra, and the country’s northern city of Sulaymaniyah, this summer, bringing the number of destinations served by the airline across Iraq to five. Flights to Basra are due to begin on June 3 with operations to Sulaymaniyah starting on August 20. Both destinations will be served four times a week non-stop from the airline’s hub in Doha, Qatar, onboard an Airbus A320 featuring 144 seats in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in business class and 132 in economy. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “Qatar Airways has been working with the authorities to open up services and we are delighted to have expanded our operations there in such a short space of time, doing our bit in the country’s rebuilding efforts.”

flydubai Touches Down in Sri Lanka flydubai made a special touch down at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport, Sri Lanka, on March 18, with the announcement by a delegation headed by Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer, flydubai, that the carrier will begin operations to the airport on May 21. “We are grateful to the authorities for their continued support and for giving flydubai the opportunity to serve the Sri Lankan market. We launched flights to Colombo in July 2010 with a four-times weekly service. Following increased demand, this rose to five times a week two months later, before daily operations began in March 2012. We are delighted to start operations to the new Mattala Airport, which will help to increase the accessibility and drive the development of the eastern and southern coasts,” commented Obaidalla.

Colombo, Sri Lanka

06 APRIL 2013

Qatar Airways

Saudi Arabian Airlines Increases Services As part of Saudi Arabian Airlines’ efforts to restructure its flights for the summer season, to meet the requirements of people living in the region and support growing travel needs of travellers between Saudi cities, the national carrier is set to commence two weekly flights between Riyadh and Hofuf in May. This move follows the arrival of new aircraft ordered by the airline, from Airbus and Boeing, to provide more seats to different domestic and international destinations, and comes in line with the carrier’s plan to strengthen its presence in the Al-Ahsa region. Plans are also underway to operate a third flight between Jeddah and Hofuf this summer, bringing the total number of weekly flights to the city to five.


10

WEEKLY NEWS

International

Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum to Launch in 2014 Nikki Beach Hotels & Resorts, a division of Nikki Beach Worldwide, has announced the 2014 opening of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Bodrum in Turkey, a luxury lifestyle beach front boutique hotel. Spanning over 40,000m2, the property will offer views of Torba Bay, the Mediterranean Sea, and nearby islands, and will feature 57 suites and villas, with private pools and decks; a large infinity edge pool with unobstructed views of the bay; Café Nikki, a bistro; and the Sunset Lounge. The property will also include 350m2 of indoor and outdoor conference space featuring a terrace boasting views of the sea. In addition, both the Nikki Spa by ESPA and Tone Fitness, the on-site fitness facility, will boast over 1,000m2 of space filled with state-of-the-art equipment and treatments.

BWI Opens Resort in Malaysia Best Western International (BWI) continues its expansion with a new resort in the coastal town of Port Dickson, Malaysia. The latest property, BEST WESTERN Prima Inland Sea Resort, is located 40 minutes from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and 90 minutes from the city centre. Featuring 300 rooms, the resort is set upon Malaysia’s largest manmade beach and centred on a lagoonstyle swimming pool. Additionally, the hotel offers an array of leisure facilities, including a steam room, massage services, fitness centre, kids’ club, karaoke room, bicycle hire, games room, and an open-air theatre for live performances. BEST WESTERN Prima Inland Sea Resort is also an ideal destination for corporate groups, with 16 multi-purpose function rooms catering for events, and the 875m2 Grand Prima Ballroom, able to accommodate up to 1,500 guests, and complementary Wi-Fi available throughout the resort.

Starwood Adds Second Westin in Panama Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the opening of its second Westin hotel in Panama, bringing the company’s total number of properties in the country to seven. The Westin Panama, located in Costa del Este, is the third Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide property to be developed and operated by Bern Hotels & Resorts. Boasting 218 rooms, including 45 suites, alongside world-class dining and 1,343m2 of state-of-the-art meeting and function space, the hotel is ideally located 15 minutes from the capital, Panama City, and 30 minutes from Tocumen International Airport. “Global travellers now have the option of staying with Westin in more than one great location within Panama, as we continue to aggressively expand the brand throughout Latin America,” said Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s portfolio in Latin America continues to grow with more than 2,500 rooms added in the past two years, representing an increase of 20 percent after the opening of The Westin Panama.

06 APRIL 2013


WHO'S MOVED

Svetozar Kujic Svetozar Kujic has joined TI’ME Hotels Management as marketing and communications manager. Having held various roles with global companies, Kujic brings extensive international strategic brand, digital marketing, and social media expertise from the tourism, fast-moving consumer goods, automotive, and media

sectors, to the role. His previous work experience includes positions with Open Southeast Europe, MTV, the United Nations, as well as Kon Tiki Travel. He has now been tasked with expanding promotional- and marketing-related efforts in the Middle East and driving international awareness to the company’s growing global audience.

Biju Palet Biju Palet has taken on the position of general manager at Eastin Residences Muscat, Oman. Palet’s career in the industry spans over 14 years, during which he has gained valuable expertise in various fields including sales and marketing operations. Prior to moving to the Sultanate, he served a number of established hotel companies and properties in India, such as The Chancery Pavilion, Bangalore; The Park,

06 APRIL 2013

Chennai; and Taj Majarun Hotel, Mangalore. Prior to joining Absolute Hotel Services, he worked as general manager of Keys Hotel, Bangalore. With his vast experience in front office operations as well as sales and marketing, Palet is expected to be a great asset to Eastin Residences Muscat and the fast growing hotels under the management of Absolute Hotel Services both in Middle East and India.

11

Asad Ahmed Asad Ahmed has been promoted to vice president of sales for Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ Europe, Africa, and Middle East division. Ahmed joined the company in 2005, and prior to his new role he worked as regional director of sales for Italy and the Central Mediterranean region where he was responsible for the sales

teams across more than 40 hotels in seven countries. In his new position, Ahmed will oversee the division’s strategic sales efforts.

Ahmed joined the company in 2005 and prior to his new role, he worked as regional director of sales for Italy and the Central Mediterranean region


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

12

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa

Chairman, Al Habtoor Group.

Director general, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).

“We want to recruit Emiratis. The UAE has grown at an exemplary rate and compares and competes with first world nations. The UAE was built by nationals, and we should remember that. At the Al Habtoor Group, we want to find the best people for the right job. We will provide them with a welcoming environment, nurture them, coach them, and we will help them grow and be empowered. We want people who are willing to work hard and committed to a long-term career at the group.”

“All our efforts, strategies, and activities are […] aimed at protecting the environment and promoting awareness about a responsible use of energy resources. The Sharjah Light Festival, hosted by the SCTDA in February every year, is a good example. While illuminating the emirate, the Light Festival actually brings down the consumption of electricity by 50 percent, as certified by the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority.”

06 APRIL 2013


AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Isaac Mathew POSITION: CEO COMPANY: Algosaibi Travel LOCATION: Bahrain WEB: www.algosaibitravel.com Who are you? I am the CEO and have been with the company for two decades. Algosaibi Travel has a track record of over 60 years and is the first ISO 9001-certified travel service provider in Bahrain. Corporate travel is our core business and we also have leisure departments, both outbound and inbound. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is a challenge to work in the travel industry since customers nowadays are very knowledgeable, well-travelled, and highly demanding. But it is hugely satisfying and rewarding once you are able to cater to their requirements. As a part of the job, there is a need to attend various exhibitions in different parts of the world where I get the opportunity to network with key players in the industry and to attend various educational seminars. This helps in keeping abreast with the latest developments in the travel and hospitality industry. When is the best time to visit Bahrain? From October till April. From May onwards it starts getting warmer. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? South Africa and an Alaskan cruise are on the cards. South Africa has lots to offer and the people are well-known for their hospitality. Alaska is charming and magnificent. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We all sell more or less the same product, however, the difference is in the service level. People are our greatest assets and this is the unique point that makes us stand apart. Our company takes excellent care of the staff. They are given regular internal and external training in products and services and the majority are given the opportunity to travel and get a first-hand experience of the product. Over the years, we have developed a culture which cannot be easily emulated. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. One has to experience our service levels. Our repeat customers will vouch for that!

06 APRIL 2013

13

Sabre Signs with Dadabhai Travel Bahrain-headquartered Sabre Travel Network Middle East has extended its long-term relationship with Dadabhai Group, a diversified conglomerate in the country, by signing a new multiyear agreement. Under the deal, Dadabhai Travel, one of the group’s subsidiary companies, will exclusively use Sabre Travel Network travel technology solutions to book travel packages for its customers across the region, while those technological products are expected to support the agency in expanding its regional reach and increasing its portfolio of corporate accounts. According to Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre Travel

Network Middle East, both organisations have been successful business partners for over a decade. “And as they continue to grow and expand operations well beyond their base in Bahrain, it makes sense for Dadabhai to broaden its partnership with Sabre and take advantage of our reach into every GCC country,” he continued, ensuring that this e-commerce solution with help the agency break into a growing market segment. “With Sabre’s web booking engine, Dadabhai Travel customers will have access to real-time fares allowing them to book air travel, hotel and car hire,” Naoumovitch further explained.


14

TRAVEL CHANNELS

Middle East Premium Traffic on the Rise Global premium traffic expanded 4.8 percent in 2012, bolstered by strong results in the Middle East, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s latest Premium Traffic Monitor revealed.

D

uring December, expansion in air travel continued at a more moderate pace, having grown 4.5 percent over the corresponding month in 2011, in line with the solid November 2012 result of 4.4 percent. Meanwhile, economy travel increased 5.9 percent in 2012, up from 4.7 percent registered in 2011, suggesting some shift by business travellers to cheaper seats. “Routes to and from the Middle East were consistently among the best performing in terms of premium traffic demand in 2012,” explained Hussein Dabbas, regional vice president, Middle East and North Africa, IATA. “The outstanding performer was Africa – Middle East which grew 15.7 percent, the strongest growth of any major route anywhere in the world. The Middle East – Far East route also grew strongly, by 13 percent. Looking forward to [the current year], global business indicators show signs of strengthening, which should lead to continued growth in demand for business-related premium travel,” he added.

Diplomats Visit Sharjah Archaeology Museum The Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) recently received 80 diplomats who were invited to visit the Sharjah Archaeology Museum. Organised in collaboration with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the event gave the diplomats and their spouses the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the museum’s collections and masterpieces, which narrate the archaeological history of Sharjah. The guests, who included heads and members of Gulf, Arab, and foreign diplomatic missions to the UAE, were received by Nasir Al Darmaki, curator, Sharjah Archaeology Museum, and a number of SMD officials and administrators, who provided them with a tour of the museum.

Positive Outlook for Saudi Arabia A rise in the number of pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for Hajj and Umrah are boosting domestic tourism growth, with Saudi residents making 22.5 million overnight trips per annum. Tourism receipts for Hajj and Umrah currently account for around three percent of GDP and, according to tourism officials, the country gained a reported USD16.5 billion from tourism in 2012, representing a 10 percent increase over 2011. The largest hospitality market in the GCC, Saudi Arabia also accounts for the bulk of international tourist arrivals, at 46 percent, according to an October 2012 GCC Hospitality Industry Report from Alpen Capital, marking a 50 percent year-onyear increase against 2011 figures. “The Kingdom is investing heavily in its infrastructure as expansion plans for the new USD7 billion Jeddah airport project move ahead, with the airport projecting annual passenger volume of up to 80 million passengers within the next two decades,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions. The Red Sea port of Jeddah is the gateway to Mecca and Medina, a favoured destination for domestic tourism in the summer, as well as a commercial trading hub for the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

06 APRIL 2013


RENDEZVOUS

15

Q & A with Patrick Antaki With sustainability becoming a watchword in the hospitality sector, and online channels increasingly seen as vital tools in engaging with guests, Patrick Antaki, complex general manager, Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, shares his views on the changing dynamics of the industry.

Travel Trade Weekly: Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa has recently been named one of the top 25 hotels in the world. What does this award mean to you? Patrick Antaki: To be a part of such a powerful list is not just a matter of great pride for us but brings great accolades to the UAE and the region as a whole. It underscores the exceptional levels of service and hospitality that has been the hallmark of Al Maha. We understand the power of feedback received on sites such as TripAdvisor and ensure that we are in constant touch with our guests in between their visits so that every stay at Al Maha is marked by the personal touch. This award is a testament to the team’s hard work and constant strive for excellence over the years. […] Every such recognition only gives us the incentive to try that much harder. Travel Trade Weekly: How can hotels turn online review sites and social media into profitable tools for their businesses? Patrick Antaki: Our number one ranking on the world’s largest hotel review website, TripAdvisor, is not an accolade we take for granted. Online review sites and social media are a key source of customer insight, a tool to achieve operational and service excellence, and a way to drive revenue growth. We use online feedback and review analytics to guide operations and management decision-making. Social media has become one of the most efficient ways of marketing our resorts and attracting potential guests as it attracts such a diverse audience and speaks articulately to each demographic. In order to be effective, we tend to be quite visual with our marketing strate-

06 APRIL 2013

Patrick Antaki Complex general manager, Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort and Spa, Le Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort

gies, therefore we try to always post pictures to show potential customers what they can expect from us. We encourage guests to regularly visit our websites and social media outlets, such as our Facebook page and Twitter feed using special promotions and competitions to entice them. Our main focus when it comes to social media marketing strategies is to approach every supporter in an individualistic manner so as to connect with them one on one. It is a two-way interaction and we place great emphasis on ensuring that we remain engaged with reviewers and bloggers by sharing pertinent information, listening to what they have to say, and using constructive feedback to enhance our offering. Travel Trade Weekly: Located in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, the resort plays a vital role in the conservation of the

area. How do you foresee the future of ecotourism? Patrick Antaki: Very bright, in my opinion, especially at home in the UAE. The capital, Abu Dhabi, remains an innovator in renewable energy technology. It played host to the World Future Energy Summit in 2009 and houses the headquarters of IRENA [International Renewable Energy Agency], the world’s first multilateral renewable energy agency. I have heard wonderful things about Masdar City, the world’s first carbon neutral, zero waste city, an inspiration for us all. […] Eco-friendly outdoor activities, including hiking and camping in the Hajjar Mountains, scuba and snorkelling on the East Coast, nature walks and even bird watching are becoming increasingly popular and we are proud to be at the forefront of this. Conservation of a major land area set aside to preserve the ecology of the desert is the foundation of the Al Maha ecotourism project, together with the reintroduction of indigenous wildlife and flora. Careful assessment of typical desert settings and Bedouin lifestyles formed the core of the architectural design concepts and layouts are based on the principle of careful research throughout the Gulf region. […] Al Maha was the first-ever attempt to create a concept encapsulating the history of Dubai; historical influences which have shaped the area, and the heritage, culture, and the desert as an environment. With a strong emphasis on traditional Bedu styles, tented roof structures are used over all individual suites and the central reception building. Al Maha’s layout minimises its impact on its natural surroundings, and special care was taken to ensure that its man-made structures blend in sympathetically with the environment.


16

NEWS & EVENTS

Egypt: Promising Trend Hotels across Egypt started the year on a positive note after recording significant year-on-year improvements in January, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s latest HotStats report revealed. In Sharm El Sheikh, occupancy levels reached 57.2 percent while average rooms rate (ARR) increased 9.8 percent to USD49.11, boosting RevPAR up by 31.1 percent to USD28.10. Nevertheless, the destination’s dependence on charter and tour groups resulted in subdued rates even during the high season. In Cairo, occupancy levels averaged at 43.7 percent, ARR improved 4.3 percent to USD110.75, and RevPAR was up by 20.7 percent reaching USD48.41. “International tourists are benefitting from reduced rates and bargain packages on offer in both Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh,” explained Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, adding that as the Egyptian Pound continues to weaken, destinations have become affordable to international holiday seekers strengthening demand and allowing hotel operators to register higher profit margins.

10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show to Take Place The 10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show, one of the emirate’s longest running and established family events, returns to the oasis city’s skies this year from November 30 - December 2. Aligned to this year’s 42nd UAE National Day celebrations, the show, taking place at Al Ain International Airport, will pay tribute to the country’s rich culture and heritage with a series of UAE-themed aerial displays and onground attractions, performances, and activities.

Al Ain Aerobatic Show

EVENTS Saudi Travel & Tourism Investment Market (STTIM) Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 31 – April 4, 2013 (www.sttim.com.sa) This event covers all travel and tourism investments aspects in the Kingdom through a combined conference and exhibition.

IMEX 2013 Frankfurt, Germany, May 21 – 23, 2013 (www.imex-frankfurt.com) A show that innovates, inspires, and presents new opportunities for the global meetings industry.

International Destination Expo (IDE) Dubai, UAE, April 4 – 7, 2013 (www.asta.org/events) A destination training programme where participants can meet local suppliers and build profitable long-lasting relationships.

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.

World Travel Market Latin America (WTM Latin America) São Paulo, Brazil, April 23 – 25, 2013 (www.wtmlatinamerica.com) A leading global event which brings the world to Latin America and promotes Latin America to the world. Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, May 6 – 9, 2013 (www.arabiantravelmarket.com) A prestigious travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals.

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. 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.

06 APRIL 2013


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 178