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World’s Largest Holiday Inn to Open in Mecca InterContinental Hotels Group and Makkah Real Estate Company have signed an agreement to build the world’s largest Holiday Innbranded property in Mecca.

Abu Dhabi’s retail landscape has been enriched with the opening of The Galleria; a new 33,000m2 luxury shopping and dining destination.























The Galleria Opens on Al Maryah Island


WEEKLY NEWS Bahrain International Airport: High Traffic during Eid

The Galleria Opens on Al Maryah Island

Bahrain International Airport (BIA) witnessed strong passenger traffic during the Eid Al Fitr break, with 94,423 embarking, 67,940 disembarking, and 2,524 transit travellers, bringing the total passenger movement for the period between August 5 - 12 to 164,887. As Mohamed Thamir Al Kaabi, vice president, airport operations, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) revealed, the vast majority of passengers boarded on flights heading to Dubai, Doha, and Kuwait, while the Far East, Turkey, London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Washington, D.C., topped the list of the leading international routes.

Bahrain International Airport

New Football Complex in DUBAILAND DUBAILAND, the entertainment, retail, and residential destination managed by Dubai Properties Group, is set to further enhance its offerings with the launch of a new, FIFA approved football complex. The centre, which will be brought to Dubai by Corner General Trading, will comprise four airconditioned indoor football fields fully equipped with FIFA-approved artificial grass and fan seating, along with outdoor fields and game zones. A total of 10,000m2 has been allocated for the construction of the project, slated for completion by the end of 2015, and is set to further strengthen DUBAILAND’s existing sports portfolio, which currently includes world-class events and academies, including Dubai Sports City, and Arabian Ranches Polo Club.



Abu Dhabi’s retail landscape has been enriched with the opening of The Galleria; a new 33,000m2 luxury shopping and dining destination developed by Gulf Related and Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure (MREI). Featuring a collection of designer labels and high-end brands, as well as acclaimed dining concepts, The Galleria is situated on Al Maryah Island boasting waterfront views across the Abu Dhabi cityscape. Ali Eid AlMheiri, executive director, MREI, said, “Al Maryah Island was created to be the centre of business and commerce for the evolving Abu Dhabi. [...] The Galleria is a best-in-class showcase which will raise the standards in retail across the region, and have a positive impact on life in Abu Dhabi.” The Galleria forms part of Phase 1 of Al Maryah Island’s development on Sowwah Square, which is made up of four commercial towers, along with the iconic Exchange Building, Rosewood Abu Dhabi, and Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi.

International Tourism Demand Exceeds Expectations in H1 International tourist arrivals grew by five percent during the first half (H1) of the year compared to the same period of 2012, reaching almost 500 million, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s data. Destinations around the world welcomed an estimated 494 million overnight visitors in the first six months of the year, with stronger growth recorded in emerging economy markets. Asia Pacific and Europe performed better than expected, the latter which was driven by Central and Eastern Europe’s increase of 10 percent while southern and Mediterranean Europe surged six percent. Meanwhile, the Middle East rebounded following two years of negative growth with an estimated increase in international arrivals of 13 percent. Old Town Square, Prague




QAIA’s Numbers on the Rise Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) has recorded significant year-to-date (YTD) increases in passenger, aircraft, and cargo traffic, according to Airport International Group.


Stefanie Saghbini SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS 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

n June alone, 622,629 passengers passed through the Jordanian airport’s gates, marking a 0.5 percent year-onyear growth and bringing the YTD figure to over 3.1 million, up 4.73 percent. Meanwhile, aircraft movements (ACM) reached 6,020 ACM in June, pushing the YTD statistic to 33,196, representing a 1.17 percent rise, while YTD cargo traffic rose 2.19 percent by June to 46,475 tonnes. “While traffic at QAIA is sensitive to the region’s geopolitical developments, Jordan’s reputation as a secure haven has helped ensure steady month-over-month growth despite some noticeable fluctuation during the

Queen Alia International Airport

first quarter of [the year],” Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group, commented. EMAILS

IHG Records Strong Financial Results InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced a bumper shareholder payout as revenues, profits, and RevPAR showed significant rises in the first half of the year. Globally, IHG’s RevPAR rose 3.7 percent, supporting a seven percent increase in revenue and a 20 percent growth in operating profit which reached USD338 million. In Asia, Middle East, and Africa, RevPAR jumped 6.2 percent with a 1.6 percent rate growth, while the company added 2,000 rooms across six hotels to its network and signed 10 new properties with 3,000 rooms across the region.


06/09/2013 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)



Air Arabia’s Profit Soars 17 Percent


ir Arabia recorded a net profit of AED134 million (USD36.5 million) for the first half of the year, equivalent to a 17 percent yearon-year increase, highlighting the strength of the airline’s business model and demonstrating sustainable profitability. During the six-month period, the company’s turnover reached AED1.5 billion (USD408 million), up 19 percent, while passenger numbers

rose 16 percent to over three million, leading to an average load factor of 82 percent. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, was pleased to announce what he described as a strong and solid financial performance despite, as he further mentioned, the ongoing political turmoil in parts of the region which continue to impact the transport sector and the regional economic growth. 07 SEPTEMBER 2013


Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi Hosts Chinese Professionals Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi was selected as one of the host hotels at the second annual Chinese Visitor Summit, which ran in the capital between September 2 – 3. During the two-day event, 75 of China’s leading travel buyers with annual budgets of over USD5 million met with hoteliers, travel providers, and retailers from Abu Dhabi, Dubai, as well as Seychelles, Maldives, Mauritius, and Cyprus. Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi welcomed 30 professionals, who were greeted with unique Chinese amenities in their rooms and enjoyed VIP treatment from the hotel’s Chinese-speaking staff. Arbind K. Shrestha, general manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, pointed out that China has established itself as one of the property’s chief markets.

New Luxury Resort on Saadiyat Island Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) has sold a 91,000m2 land plot on Saadiyat Island to Bin Otaiba Investment Group for the development of a five-star luxury resort. Scheduled to open on the Saadiyat Beach District in 2015, the hotel will comprise 366 rooms and luxury beach villas, a number of restaurants, a spa centre with a gym, conference facilities that can cater to up to 800 guests, a sand-bottom swimming pool, gardens, water features, and various leisure facilities. UAE-based developer, Bin Otaiba Investment Group, is currently in the final stage of appointing a well-renowned operator for the property, which, according to H.E. Khalaf bin Ahmad Al Otaiba, chairman, Bin Otaiba Investment Group, will complement TDIC’s distinctive world-class cultural, leisure, hospitality, and residential developments on the island.

The Planned Luxury Resort




World’s Largest Holiday Inn to Open in Mecca InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Makkah Real Estate Company have signed an agreement to build the world’s largest Holiday Inn-branded property in Mecca. Due to open in 2016, Holiday Inn Makkah will be located in Al Azizyah area near the city’s business centre, and will feature 1,238 rooms in two towers, further to three food and beverage outlets, ballroom, health club, and a pool. Commenting on the development of the first Holiday Inn hotel on the pilgrimage route, Hani Hamad Al Ghammas, CEO, Makkah Real Estate Company, noted that the brand is all about great value, providing both comfort and quality, and will be the ideal offering for religious travellers bound for Mecca each year. Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, added, “Our Holiday Inn brand is one of the world’s most well-known brands so visitors from all corners of the global can book with us knowing they will get a consistent experience and level of comfort.”




Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide: Rapid Growth in Iraq Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Mase, a company managed by Brilliant Role Group, to open a new-build 202-room Sheraton hotel in Dohuk, northern Iraq. Expected to launch in early 2014, Sheraton Dohuk Hotel will be the first of four new Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide properties to open in the country after 20 years and the first internationally-branded property in the city. As Dohuk continues to grow as an emerging spot in the Middle East, there will be a strong demand for an international hotel brand such as Sheraton, stated Zakaria Abdulla, chairman, Brilliant Role Group, who added, “The signing of Sheraton Dohuk Hotel is in line with our vision to support the development of the Kurdistan region as a key business destination.” Located on top of a hill, the hotel will feature an all-day dining venue, a signature restaurant, and four lounges.

New Hotel at Cairo International Airport In line with the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation’s endeavours, a number of major projects are nearing completion, including a new Le Méridien hotel of Airotel, which is slated to be unveiled in November. Connected to Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 at Cairo International Airport, the new property will feature 349 rooms, including 18 suites and one presidential suite, along with four main restaurants, a wedding and meeting hall, and various recreational sites. Looking towards a positive future amid the current situation, Abdel Aziz Fadel, minister of civil aviation, Egypt, stressed that the country will continue planning and executing large projects for the welfare of the civil aviation sector.

The Team at the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation

Majid Al Futtaim to Open Two New Hotels Majid Al Futtaim has outlined plans to invest AED3 billion (USD816.77 million) in extending and enhancing its Dubai business over the next five years. The group’s upcoming projects include two new hotel developments, the upgrading of two existing hotels, enhancements to its flagship Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre shopping malls, the launch of new supermarkets and hypermarkets, and the construction of a new cinema complex. The company is also evaluating options for the development of a new community mall. Among others, Kempinski Mall of The Emirates is undergoing a major hotel upgrade programme due for completion in 2015, while plans are being discussed to develop a new 200-room ultraluxury branded hotel within Mall of The Emirates’ precinct, and a 272-room luxury branded hotel in Deira City Centre. Meanwhile, Pullman Deira City Centre is undergoing a rebranding and refurbishment programme that will be completed later this year, while the 133 luxury serviced residential apartments at Pullman Deira City Centre will also be part of the refurbishment project.





Dubai: 665,000 ACM by 2020 Following a 7.4 percent increase registered in the first half of the year, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) projects 375,000 aircraft movements (ACM) for Dubai International and Dubai World Central (DWC) by the end of this year. According to Mohammed Ahli, director general, DCAA, a growth rate

of 8.6 percent in ACM clearly suggests that the two airports are on a curve of exponential growth which will lead to a robust surge in ACM in the already-crowded skies, set to reach some 665,000 by 2020. The authority expects to see 20 new destinations from Dubai International this year, 22 in 2014,

Qatar Airways to Launch Ta’if

Al Shafa, Ta'if

Continuing its Middle East expansion, Qatar Airways has announced that it will begin flights to Ta’if, Saudi Arabia, beginning October 2, with nonstop services from Doha operating four times a week. The route will be served onboard an Airbus A320 with an average travel duration time of just over two hours, while the aircraft will feature 144 seats in a two-class configuration with 12 seats in business class and 132 seats in economy. The launch marks the continued expansion of services by Qatar Airways to Saudi Arabia since it began in 1997, with nonstop flights to Jeddah, to later add Riyadh, Dammam, Medina, and Gassim.

Gulf Air: Consultative Role in Saudi Arabia Gulf Air has issued a statement clarifying the recent awarding of two licenses by the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia (GACA) to operate domestic services within the Kingdom. Based on this statement, Bahrain’s national carrier did not bid and has not been awarded domestic traffic rights to operate in Saudi Arabia, and the airline’s involvement is restricted to a consultative capacity only to Al Qahtani Group. Gulf Air also confirmed that an initial contract signed in 2012 appointing the carrier to an advisory role to support the group’s bid for national traffic rights in the Kingdom, has concluded with the consortium being awarded one of the two licenses, while the second consulting agreement between the airline and the group is currently being negotiated whereby Gulf Air will support the consortium in obtaining its Saudi Arabian Air Operator’s Certificate.

and 24 in 2015, and in order to accommodate the projected growth, DCAA has outlined plans to work on several new initiatives, which, according to H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president, DCAA, will eventually lead Dubai to more success and achieve its goals in the challenging race.

Oman Air Boosts Salalah Services In response to the growing passenger demand during the Khareef season and the Salalah Tourism Festival, Oman Air has introduced additional flights between Muscat and Salalah. Between June 1 - August 19, the national carrier operated nine to 11 daily services between the destinations, while between August 20 - September 15, 11 to 13 flights a day are being offered to passengers planning to visit the governorate of Dhofar, thus adding 306 services between the two cities over this period, bringing the total number of flights during this timeline to 1,054. According to Ahmed Alamri, country manager, Oman, Oman Air, the extra flights are being provided largely for Omani visitors as well as visitors from GCC countries and beyond.

Oman Air



EGYPTAIR Express: New service to Kuwait EGYPTAIR Express has launched a new international operation between Sohag, the Egyptian city on the west bank of the Nile, and Kuwait. The airline now offers three flights a week with departure from the Egyptian hub at 09:25 to arrive in Kuwait at 13:05, whereas the return service departs at 13:50 to arrive in Sohag at 15:30 on same day. EGYPTAIR Express is the domestic and regional arm of EGYPTAIR Holding established in May 2006, launched to enhance the carrier’s domestic product and expand in the regional shorthaul markets.


Emirates to Introduce Passenger Services to Taipei Emirates has announced the launch of nonstop passenger services to Taipei, its 16th destination in the Far East, which will commence on February 10, 2014, initially with six flights per week. The route between Dubai and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport will be operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER equipped with eight private suites in first class, 42 seats in business class, and 304 seats in economy class, along with gourmet cuisine in all classes. “Emirates SkyCargo has operated a dedicated freighter service to Taipei since 2003. Given its status as a global trading hub and the demand, it is a natural progression for Emirates to launch passenger services to Taipei,” said Barry Brown, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations, East, Emirates.

Etihad Holidays to Launch UK Operation The tour operating division of Etihad Airways, Etihad Holidays, is launching services in the UK, aimed to cater to growing demand from one of the airline’s key global markets. Etihad Holidays offers an extensive range of packages in the UAE, supporting the airline’s aim to bring business and leisure travellers to Abu Dhabi and the other emirates, since UK travellers can now purchase vacations at hotels in Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, and Yas Island, including a full range of tours and excursions such as desert safaris, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, as well as boat and ferry trips. The UK is Etihad Holidays’ first venture outside the Middle East with Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, describing this move as a proud decision to take the established holidays brand internationally, which, he assured, will further boost the growing tourism numbers into Abu Dhabi and the UAE.




Qatar Airways Increases Baggage Allowance Passengers flying on Qatar Airways routes worldwide are now benefitting from enhanced baggage allowances, effective September 1. Economy weight allowances have increased from 23kg to 30kg, while business and first class have each increased from 30kg and 40kg to 40kg and 50kg, respectively. The number of bags remains the same and dependent on the type of ticket purchased. Additionally, the company published new excess baggage rates which have also seen an increase, while passengers are able to purchase the ancillary service at discounted rates of up to 20 percent online. “The number of customers we see travelling for longer periods of time, whether for business or on holiday, reflects the necessity for increased baggage allowance no matter their destination,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.



Marriott to Sell Three EDITION Hotels Marriott International has entered into a non-binding letter of intent for the sale of three EDITION hotels subject to long-term management agreements. The three properties located in London, Miami Beach, and Manhattan, are currently owned by the company and are under construction. The letter of intent contemplates a fixed sales price of some USD800 million for the three hotels, with the price approximately equal to Marriott International’s expected total acquisition and development cost, keeping in mind that increase in estimated development expenses would not result in higher hotel sales prices. In addition, once the transaction is finalised, the company expects each hotel sale to occur after construction is complete, which is anticipated to take place in midSeptember for the London EDITION, while Miami Beach EDITION is slated to finish in the second half of 2014, and the New York EDITION in early 2015.


The Rezidor Hotel Group Reaches 220 Eco-labelled Hotels

One of the Latest Hotels to be Eco-labelled is Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel, Poland

The Rezidor Hotel Group, member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, continues to go green, since the brand counts more than 220 eco-labelled hotels across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, while it remains on track to become the first international hotel group to acquire the sustainability honour for all its properties by 2015. The group features an industry-leading and award-winning Responsible Business Programme built on three pillars; Think Planet, for minimising the environmental footprint; Think People, for caring about the health and safety of guests and employees; and Think Together, for taking responsibility for business ethics and the local communities.

ONYX Signs Two Amari Deals in China Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group is set to open two Amari resorts in China by 2016, with Amari Huidong in Guangdong and Amari Dali in Yunnan, offering resort-style accommodation in two of the country’s key cities. The two new signings further cement the hotel group’s position in what is being described as a crucial market, according to Peter Henley, president, ONYX Hospitality Group, who further explained, “We already have a presence in the region through our Shama brand of serviced apartments and the introduction of our hotel brand Amari, will develop ONYX’s China footprint even further.“ Amari Huidong will be located within the Xun Liao Bay Resort Area and will feature 150 rooms, two restaurants, meeting rooms, and Breeze Spa, among others, while the 260-room Amari Dali, located in the mountainous region in the province of Yunnan, will offer views of the renowned Erhai Lake and will also boast its own lakewater feature within the resort.

Raffles Hainan to Open This Month

Raffles Hainan Entrance

Raffles Hotels & Resorts expands its collection to 10 hotels with the opening of Raffles Hainan, its second property in China. Situated in Clearwater Bay, the new hotspot on the southeast coast of Hainan Island and a rising star in the luxury tourism market, Raffles Hainan enjoys a prime beachfront location with 299 rooms, starting at 80m2, and 32 villas all with private balconies and scenic views of the ocean or golf course. Other features include a large Raffles Spa offering both Asian and Western treatments, seven restaurants and bars, and private events spaces. “Raffles Hainan will be one of the most prestigious addresses on China’s popular holiday island as the first luxury opening on Clearwater Bay, the only resort adjoining championship golf courses and with Sanya’s largest guestrooms, all with sea-view balconies,” said Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, general manager, Raffles Hainan.



Imane Zebrini

Salem Al Mesmari Salem Al Mesmari has been appointed by Etihad Airways as the new airport manager at Seychelles International Airport. Based in Mahé, Al Mesmari is responsible for overseeing the airline’s operations at the airport as well as the service between the Seychelles and Abu Dhabi. As part of Etihad Airways’ alliance with Air Seychelles, Al

Mesmari and his colleagues will also work closely with the Seychellois airline’s team, providing support and assistance to ensure guest satisfaction. Having joined the Abu Dhabi-based carrier in 2008 under the Graduate Management Development Program, Al Mesmari spent two years in various roles at the airline’s headquarters and at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Imane Zebrini has been appointed senior sales and marketing manager at MonteCarlo Beach Club, Saadiyat. With over six years of sales and marketing experience, Zebrini has held various managerial positions at a series of premier members clubs, including Capital Club Dubai. Prior to landing her role at Saadiyat Island’s first private beach club, Zebrini worked

Naaz Tabassum Naaz Tabassum has assumed the position of marketing manager at Amlak Hotels & Tourism Investment Company. In her new role, Tabassum will be handling the marketing activities of Belle Vue Hotels in Dubai, Amman, and Dammam. Prior to shifting to the hospitality industry, Tabassum served Dubai-based Tharaa Holding as marketing manager and she also worked with


sports retailer, Decathlon. Having worked in India, China, as well as the UAE, with colleagues hailing from more than 50 countries, she brings a wealth of experience to the role.

Tabassum will be handling the marketing activities of Belle Vue Hotels in Dubai, Amman, and Dammam.


as sales and marketing manager at Dubai Marina Yacht Club, a subsidiary of Emaar Hospitality.

Zebrini has held various managerial positions at a series of premier members clubs including Capital Club Dubai

Marie-Charlotte Rossignol Marie-Charlotte Rossignol has joined Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat, as public relations and marketing manager. Rossignol, who has been in the public relations, marketing, and events sector for over five years, previously worked in some of the world’s leading hotels, including Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Johannesburg, Tamarina Hotel, Golf, Beach & Spa in Mauritius, as well as in globally

renowned events such as Mobile World Congress, Barcelona; Cannes International Film Festival; and Jaeger-Lecoultre International Cannes Jumping. She most recently served as cluster public relations and marketing manager at Radisson Blu Hotel and Park Inn by Radisson, Abu Dhabi Yas Island, where she also spearheaded various charity events and exhibitions.


travel talk is your space


Ayman Ashor

H.E. Ali Majed Al Mansouri

General manager, Tilal Liwa Hotel.

Chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC).

“We are pleased to host the stay of the participating teams competing in this year’s [Al Dhafra Second International Tournament], to show our support in the government’s efforts to develop various aspects of sports in the region. Since the event was held during the Holy Month of Ramadan, it was also our way of sharing our blessings by providing them relaxation and comfort during their stay. [...] We plan to accommodate them again [in 2014].”

“ADAC is committed to enhancing Abu Dhabi’s aviation sector in line with the government’s 2030 strategy and vision, by developing the capital’s various airports as well as its workforce, to operate at the latest international standards, and ensuring they are equipped to manage the anticipated passenger growth, in order to meet the growing needs of the business and tourism sectors of the emirate.“

Scott Butcher General manager, Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai.

“CIS is a key source market for Dubai and we are eager to get a bigger share of the business. Otdykh Leisure offers us the perfect platform to showcase our product and facilities to leading travel trade professionals as well as understand their requirements. flydubai has added four more destinations in Russia [...] and we believe there is more business to be done to attract not only high-end tourists but also families and business travellers.”

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



AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Mohamed Islam POSITION: Director, supplier and business development

COMPANY: Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) LOCATION: Egypt WEB: Who are you? I am Mohamed Islam, an Egyptian citizen working in the travel management sector for 14 years. I am the director of supplier, and [head] business development of CWT, the only multinational travel management company (TMC) nowadays in Egypt. CWT has been in Egypt since 1935 and was the third company to operate in Egypt. CWT had been doing this business for 78 years. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Interaction, exposure, challenge, networking, dynamic technology; you can find all this in the travel industry, a very rich environment in the world of services. I enjoy interacting with people from all around the world and being a part of developing their journeys around the globe. It is a great feeling. When is the best time to visit Egypt? Egypt is a nice place all-year-round, especially when you can find something to do going north, south, east, or west. But to avoid peak periods and public holidays, and to enjoy, in the meantime, our unique weather, the best months to come are April, May, September, October, and November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would go to Australia to see this marvellous continent and live the experience of summer in Christmas! Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because CWT is ranked number one in the world and is considered the leader in business travel management. We know how to manage, enhance, develop, and create travel programmes for corporate, governmental, non-governmental organisations, and small and medium enterprises, boasting unique tools, products, experience, and technology to provide best in-class services on a local, regional, or global level. CWT operates the largest TMC network in the world, by existing in 159 countries with 3,000-plus branches.



Travelport Renews Partnership with Kenyan Operator Travelport has announced the strengthening of its partnership with Uniglobe Let’s Go Travel, Kenya, one of East Africa’s best -known and longest-established tour operators. Under the new agreement, the company will continue to benefit from Travelport’s products and gain access to its latest technology solutions. The news follows Travelport’s recent announcement of investment in East Africa, while this new three-year contract is a testament to the confidence the local industry continues to have in the technology provider. “Travelport understands our

business, their technology solutions remain ahead of the industry curve, and they can provide critical, hands-on support. We look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship over the coming years,” said Allan Dixson, managing director, Uniglobe Let’s Go Travel.

Allan Dixson

Sabre Renews Agreement with Mosaid Travels and Tourism Travel technology company, Sabre Travel Network Middle East, has renewed its long-term agreement with Mosaid Travel and Tourism, one of the fastest growing travel agencies in Saudi Arabia and the region. The exclusive agreement will enable the operator to continue using Sabre’s wide ranging portfolio, which provides agents with the latest technology capabilities to shop, book, and manage travel. Ramzi Al-Qassab, regional commercial director, Sabre Travel Network Middle East, pointed out that Mosaid Travel and Tourism is experiencing strong growth and through this partnership, the technology expert will equip them with the very latest products and services to help them rapidly scale and expand their business. “In a dynamic marketplace, we strive to provide technological advantage to our customers to accelerate their business growth. We have had a long relationship with Mosaid Travel and Tourism and remain dedicated to delivering our best to them,” he added. Moreover, Nadir Kazalbash, general manager, Mosaid Travel and Tourism, said, “Sabre has consistently shown their commitment to our business and our customers, and provided hands-on support and counsel that has helped shape our success.”



Missions to Explore KSA’s Archaeology Some 15 international exploration missions from the world over are to collaborate with Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) in 15 different archaeological projects across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).


eams from France, Italy, Britain, Germany, Japan, and Belgium are to carry out excavations which, in fact, began in the country in 1976, through several seasons over five-year plans. These projects were undertaken by Saudi teams in collaboration with a number of international researchers, during which some archaeological sites were surveyed, recorded, and subjected to extensive exploration, which took a variety of historical periods into account, including different ages from the prehistoric times to the Islamic periods. Heading the Saudi side of the SaudiFrench team in Madain Saleh is Daif Allah Al Talahi, chief, tourism and antiquities department, Hail University, who said, “Arabia was home to many major ancient civilisations and as yet many sides of this history have not been discovered to this date. What is done by SCTA in this regard will lead to a broader understanding of the history of both Arab and Islamic nations in particular and human history in general.” Missions Working on a Project

Marriott Foundation to Support Youth Employment Marriott Foundation for people with disabilities, Bridges from School to Work (Bridges), recently received a USD150,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, to support a three-year pilot of the Bridges programme in Baltimore City public schools. For more than 20 years, the programme has worked to reduce the career gap for youth ages 17 - 22 with mental, physical, and cognitive disabilities, and since its establishment has placed 13,500 young adults with more than 3,500 employers across the country.

Germans vs. Britons: Travel Preferences of Young and Old With Germany and the UK representing Europe’s largest travel source market, ITB Berlin commissioned IPK International to examine the travel preferences of both younger and older holidaymakers of both nationalities. Findings unveiled that at 19 percent, Germans occupy close to one fifth of Europe’s entire holiday travel market for young people. Moreover, Europeans between the ages of 15 - 29 years old took a total of 69 million holidays abroad in 2012, six million of which were taken by Britons of this age range. By contrast, UK’s older generation is ahead in the travel statistics, having taken a total of 15 million trips. In addition, older Britons enjoy beach holidays (40 percent), as opposed to just 29 percent of young people. German preferences are exactly the opposite, with young travellers (40 percent) preferring to lie on the beach, in contrast to the older generation (29 percent).

Florida Tourism on Pace for Third Consecutive Record Year According to preliminary estimates released by VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, 23.4 million visitors travelled to Florida during the year’s second quarter (Q2), an increase of 2.6 percent over the same period in 2012, making it the most successful Q2 in the state’s history. In the first half (H1) of the year, Florida welcomed 49.6 million visitors, an increase of 4.2 percent, while visitor spending in Florida for January-May was USD33.2 billion, representing a year-on-year increase of 5.5 percent. Moreover, direct travel-related employment in Florida for H1 rose 2.8 percent, adding 30,200 jobs since H1 2012. Each of these results marks a record, making H1 the most successful six-month period in the history of Florida’s tourism industry, in terms of visitation figures.




Q & A with Raul Salcido Over the past 13 years, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, has established itself as an iconic beachfront retreat, and following its recently-unveiled new wing, has become, as Raul Salcido, general manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, depicts, an intimate oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Dubai.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the main values that make The Ritz-Carlton a leading brand both regionally and globally?

Raul Salcido General manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai

Raul Salcido: The Ritz-Carlton, as a brand, has a very strong focus on service and passion for excellence. The ladies and gentlemen of The Ritz-Carlton are committed to creating a memorable guest experience, which, in turn, ensures that we are top of mind for our guests when it comes to the luxury lifestyle. We also offer a holistic experience and channel the local culture to create a guest experience that is representative of the brand as well as the location. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, we bring together eastern and western influences tastefully, allowing our guests to partake in The Ritz-Carlton hospitality with the essence of the Middle Eastern traditions. Travel Trade Weekly: Since the opening of the hotel, Dubai’s hotel sector has experienced exponential growth. How do you differentiate yourself from the rest of the hotels, especially from those in the area? Raul Salcido: Dubai is the ultimate luxury destination and there is no denying that the competition in this market is fierce. However, there is a growing demand for luxury propositions and with The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, we have been able to leverage our global and historical legacy to establish our position as the foremost luxury hotel. In contrast to the other hotels in town, with only 148 guest rooms, The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai is a boutique property that provides travellers an intimate oasis overlooking the Arabian Gulf. We were also one of the first hotels to arrive in this


area and hence our location is unparalleled. We have the double advantage of being in the thick of the action at [Jumeirah Beach Residence] Walk, whilst our setting and expansive layout ensure that our guests feel secluded and removed from the city. Travel Trade Weekly: What were the main reasons behind the decision to further increase the hotel’s inventory and offerings? Raul Salcido: A number of factors came into play while we were deciding on the new wing but the most prominent factor was the strong growth of the luxury market in Dubai. In parallel, Dubai has established itself as one of the major aviation hubs of the Middle East, allowing new and emerging source markets easy access to the city and its world class hospitality industry.

Travel Trade Weekly: Tell us a little about this new wing. Raul Salcido: The new wing of The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, has 148 new guestrooms and suites, including 115 deluxe rooms, 13 junior suites, 18 executive suites, and two opulent royal suites. Each room is orientated to the sea with private balconies, enabling guests to experience an intimate escape in the heart of Dubai Marina. A new suite category, which is the junior suite, has also been added as part of the overall room inventory due to high demand from valued repeat guests. For added luxury within a relaxing and refined setting, The RitzCarlton Club Lounge offers the highest personalised service through an exclusive Club Concierge team [...]. The new facility also incorporates sophisticated dining venues; Blue Jade - whereby diners are taken into an enchanting journey to sample authentic dishes from the east and La Baie Lounge, an outdoor chill-out venue that sets the scene for stylish evening gatherings. The brand new Ritz-Carlton Spa complements the whole resort experience with its new concept offering tailor-made and holistic spa experiences. Completing the whole resort indulgence are additional swimming pools and new landscaped lawns and lush gardens that overlook the white sandy beach of the Arabian Gulf. A new grand ballroom, which can accommodate up to 500 people, has also been added along with a collection of well-designed daylight meeting rooms, a Majlis, and outdoor pavilions to provide magnificent backdrops for any kind of event from weddings to highpowered business meetings.



Summer Festival Concludes in Sana’a Following 15 days of fun, thrill and cultural showcase, the sixth edition of Sana’a Summer Tourism Festival concluded on September 1. Held under the theme ‘Towards a modern, civil, safe and stable Yemen’, the fair attracted over 1,000 exhibitors from Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and reflected, as Yahya Ali al-Ra’ee, house speaker, Yemen, noted, the national consensus and the status of security and stability that has prevailed in the country. Yemeni families from all over the country headed to the capital city to enjoy a wide variety of performances, including live musical acts and parachute jumps, and to participate in exciting heritage, tourism, cultural, and intellectual activities. Praising the joint cooperation between the Ministry of Tourism and the secretariat of Sana’a, al-Ra’ee expressed his hope to see many similar initiatives in the future.

Green Middle East in Sharjah Expo Centre Sharjah is set to play host to the third edition of environmental management and technology exhibition and conference, Green Middle East, hailed as the only carbon-neutral event of its kind in the region, which will run between October 28 - 30. Dedicated to businesses that are looking for innovative green technology and eco-friendly products, the event will provide a variety of technological solutions to reduce and reuse solid waste, waste water, and other rubbish, while at the same time help to save energy, lessen pollution, and build greener structures. Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the show, the Green Products Middle East event will focus on residents and businesses that are keen on utilising eco-friendly alternatives in their homes or offices. “Environmentalism used to be a fringe issue, confined to a few countries and a limited spectrum of society. Not any more. Today, the urge to adopt green products and processes is practically universal,” commented Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, director general, Expo Centre Sharjah.

EVENTS International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, September 12 – 14, 2013 ( Now in its ninth year, the show is hailed as the most established travel event in Vietnam and Mekong.

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.

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

Saudi Conventions & Exhibitions Forum Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, November 3 – 4, 2013 ( The Kingdom’s leading conference and exhibition for the MICE industry with over 700 stakeholders of the Saudi and regional sector.


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 200  

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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