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CYPRUS! Monthly

01 FEBRUARY 2014


Hong Kong Tourism Boosted by GCC Market The Hong Kong Tourism Board recorded double-digit growth from the GCC in 2013.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to further expand in the Middle East with The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa set to open in 2015.

03 Shurooq to Develop Waterpark Project The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has unveiled new details of the Al Montazah project, which will include a first of its kind water themed park in the emirate.


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The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa to Open in 2015




TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATIONS MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi COPY EDITOR Emily Millett 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 103607

MGT: Seven Million Visitors Muscat Grand Mall (MGT), home to over 130 outlets, welcomed almost seven million visitors during 2013.


assan Jaboub, general manager, MGT, described 2013 as a very exciting year for the centre, with more than 25 new openings, and the announcement of an extension which is expected to bring even more international and local brands to the mall. “With the second phase of MGT now underway, due to be completed by the last quarter of 2015, the numbers are only expected to be on the rise. In just two years of operations, we are proud to be one of the most visited shopping and entertainment destinations in the Sultanate. In the coming year, we will be

looking forward to doubling these numbers as well as welcoming more people,” added Jaboub.

Muscat Grand Mall


Turkish Airlines: Overall Growth in 2013 EMAILS


31/01/2014 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)



Turkish Airlines continues to sustain momentum having served 48.3 million passengers in 2013, a 23.6 percent increase compared to 2012. The carrier, which added 25 new destinations during the year under review, witnessed a 26.1 percent boost in passenger numbers on domestic routes, while international services contributed with a 21.9 percent surge. International business and comfort

class passengers also increased by 23.1 percent, while the international-to-international transfer figures rose 29.2 percent in 2013. Turkish Cargo also recorded growth with a total of 565,338 tonnes carried in 2013, representing a 20.1 percent rise copared to 470,636 tonnes in 2012. A new Dubai office was opened in 2013 to accommodate the increase in demand for cargo services from the UAE.

Over One Billion Travellers


ollowing record breaking figures in 2012, international tourist arrivals once again exceeded the one billion mark in 2013, as the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s latest World Tourism Barometer revealed. International arrivals grew five percent, with an additional 52 million travellers, reaching 1.087 billion arrivals for 2013. For the

current year, UNWTO forecasts a four to 4.5 percent rise in international tourism, with the Middle East achieving a zero to five percent increase. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO, commented, “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world.” 01 FEBRUARY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Hong Kong Tourism Boosted by GCC Market The Hong Kong Tourism Board has recorded double-digit growth from the GCC in 2013, with latest statistics revealing that between January – December 2013, 50,787 GCC-based visitors travelled to the destination, marking a year-on-year increase of 13.4 percent. Moreover the last month of 2013 witnessed a surge of 34.8 percent compared to the same month in 2012. Global arrival figures for Hong Kong were up by 11.7 percent in 2013 with 54,298,804 visitors recorded, of which almost 41 million came from mainland China. Notably the GCC market was the third highest performer within its category, following Russia, and narrowly missing second place behind Vietnam.

Hong Kong

Dubai: Highest RevPAR since 2009 Dubai’s hotel sector closed a successful year in 2013 after recording the highest RevPAR levels since 2009 for December 2013. Based on STR Global’s preliminary data for the month, a 6.6 percent increase in demand outpaced the 4.7 percent rise in supply, and led to a 1.7 percent growth in occupancy to 80 percent. As a result, average daily rate (ADR) jumped 7.7 percent to AED1,063.32 (USD289.50) and RevPAR surged 9.5 percent to AED850.50 (USD231.56). “December 2013 is in line with the previous months and closed another fabulous year for Dubai, achieving the highest RevPAR levels since 2009 for this month,” commented Elizabeth Winkle, managing director, STR Global. “While occupancy overall showed positive growth, ADR was the dominating force driving positive RevPAR performance in December and during the entire year 2013.”

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Expo 2020 to Spur Airport Investments Dubai’s hosting of Expo 2020 is set to give the UAE’s airport expansion projects a major boost. A significant portion of infrastructural investments planned for the emirate will support the aviation industry, which currently contributes more than 14.7 percent to the national GDP. According to H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, this figure is projected to grow further in the coming years, thus justifying the country’s huge investment in airports and airline networks. “Aviation and logistics have had a major impact on other economic sectors such as tourism, hospitality, trade and finance, and activity in one spurs growth in the others,” stressed Al Maktoum. Taking place in May in Dubai, Airport Show 2014 will highlight some of the business opportunities leading up to Expo 2020.



Nakheel Enhances its Portfolio Nakheel continues its investment in Dubai’s hospitality sector with more than 1,200 rooms in the pipeline, at an estimated investment of AED1.5 billion (USD408 million). The company’s plans for the current year also include the handover of around 1,600 units to customers, further enhancing its existing communities and continued investment in new projects. For the financial year ending December 31, 2013, Nakheel posted a profit of AED2.57 billion (USD699.7 million), marking a 27 percent year-on-year increase, while revenue rose 20 percent to AED9.4 billion (USD2.56 billion). According to Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman, Nakheel, the figures are firm evidence of the company’s sustainable, realistic long term business strategy.

Nakheel’s Project on Palm Jumeirah


Oman Short Breaks Launched Oman’s Ministry of Tourism and Oman Air have joined forces to roll out a joint project, ‘Oman Short Breaks’, offering convenient and competitivelypriced holiday packages for customers from the GCC. Available for travel during the forthcoming spring and summer seasons, the packages include return flights with the Omani carrier, together with accommodation in deluxe hotels in Muscat and Salalah. Humaid Al Hashmi, deputy director general, tourism promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, commented, “The Ministry of Tourism is aggressively promoting the Sultanate as an attractive global tourist destination. Through our strategic partnership with Oman Air, we have been able to create tremendous awareness about tourism options in Oman, which has generated fruitful results.”

Conveniently located 10 minutes away from Dubai International Airport, offering views of the city landscape of Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay and the Burj Khalifa.



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WEEKLY NEWS High ROI Potential on Palm Jumeirah

Abdulla Bin Sulayem Icon TTG Half Page AD

Palm Jumeirah is likely to remain a prime location for luxury hotel and serviced apartments in Dubai according to Deloitte’s ‘Assessment of Luxury Serviced Apartment Provision for Palm Jumeirah Dubai’ report. “Palm Jumeirah currently has 950 luxury serviced apartments, and the Deloitte report confirms that the sector is continuing to mature and continues to attract a growing target market,” explained Abdulla Bin Sulayem, CEO, Seven Tides. According to Dubai Statistics Centre’s figures, the serviced apartment sector has witnessed steady growth over the last five years, while performance over the last 18 months at the nine high-end hotels on Palm Jumeirah also shows sustained improvement. 155x220.pdf



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New Hotel Incentives in Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, issued a series of directives designed to enhance and streamline hotel investment in the emirate, in line with the destination’s Tourism Vision for 2020. The hotel construction preapproval process period will be reduced to two months, and a onestop-shop for all sector approvals will be created to help reduce red tape for businesses, and ensure new timeframes are met. To spur development in the mid-range hotel segment, government land can now be allocated for three- and four-star hotel projects. No change-ofuse fee will apply for hotel developers who will also enjoy an additional year of exemption of the 10 percent Dubai Municipality fee for any three- and fourstar hotels which begin operating before June 2017.

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A 35-acre oasis nestled between the majestic Hajjar Mountains and Indian Ocean and ideally located in the heart of the city. The hotel’s Palm Beach Club offers 900 square metres of rest and relaxation, an Olympic pool and beautifully landscaped gardens leading to the beach.

600kms from Muscat, the hotel offers expansive views of the Al Wusta Region’s coastline with its 213 Rooms, Frontier Pub and Sports Bar, Al Safi Restaurant and SOUQ our all-day dining Restaurant.



Set in 10 acres of lush landscaped gardens within the prestigious "Qurum Heights" area of Muscat the hotel's Cliff Club offers the latest in leisure facilities. You will be able to unwind and reward yourself after a day at the office or simply lounge at the pool or private beach and completely rejuvenate yourself.

Situated in 45 acres of lush tropical garden, overlooking the Arabian Sea and on a long stretch of pristine white sandy beach. The Resort enjoys an ideal location for Business Travellers, Meetings and Events and for Families.



With 126 rooms and suites, and situated 9kms from Sohar's Economic Zone, Industrial Estate and Port. Whether it is for business or leisure, we are your definite partner for accommodation and events in Sohar.

One of the city’s newest hotels with 187 guest rooms including 11 apartments; this modern hotel is conveniently located approximately 8kms from Muscat Airport; its close to the city’s main shopping and historical sites and business hub.

For more information, please call the hotels directly on the following numbers: InterContinental Muscat +968 2468 0000. Crowne Plaza Muscat +968 2466 0660. Crowne Plaza Sohar +968 2685 0850. Crowne Plaza Salalah +968 2323 8000. Crowne Plaza Duqm +968 2521 4444. Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb +968 9444 9606.




Hill International Awarded BIA Contract Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation has signed a BHD6.9 million (USD18.3 million) contract with construction consulting firm Hill International, to provide project management consultancy services for a modernisation programme to be realised at Bahrain International Airport (BIA). The ministry and Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) have created the comprehensive development project in a bid to elevate BIA’s infrastructure and services to the next level. Once completed, the airport’s capacity is set to reach 13.5 million passengers per year. Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, BAC, described the contract as a key milestone in realising BAC’s plans for the airport. “Working in close partnership with the Ministry of Transportation in developing the Kingdom’s aviation capabilities, we strive to manage Bahrain’s gateway as a leading airport while serving the future needs of the aviation industry,” stressed Al Binfalah.

Troon Golf Abu Dhabi Partners with Infiniti Troon Golf Abu Dhabi has signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Infiniti, represented in the region by Al Masaood Automobiles. As per the agreement, Infiniti will provide five luxury cars at the golf course management company’s clubs in the UAE capital, including Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and Abu Dhabi Golf Club which recently hosted this year’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. According to Chris Card, group general manager, Troon Golf Abu Dhabi, the partnership is a much welcome fit for the management company. “We can now look forward to offering enhanced convenience and flexibility to our valued VIP guests through use of the on-site luxurious Infiniti vehicles, which is part of our continued efforts to provide a world-class golf experience in Abu Dhabi,” added Card.

Chris Card (left) and Irfan Tansel, CEO, Al Masaood Automobiles

Villa Cinema Inaugurated Ras Al Khaimah has officially launched Villa Cinema, an interactive platform for filmmakers to explore their potential. H.E. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman, Department of Civil Aviation, Ras Al Khaimah, was joined at the inaugural ceremony by Waleed Al Shehhi, the Emirati director who won the IWC Filmmaker Award at Dubai International Film Festival in December 2013 for his movie ‘Dolphins’. Al Qasimi is actively involved in the development of youth and society in Ras Al Khaimah, and thus welcomed this initiative for its aspirations to help promote and enhance local talent in filmmaking. Large numbers of Ras Al Khaimah-based university graduates from various media disciplines also attended the event to acknowledge the progress being made to support filmmakers in the emirate.

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WEEKLY NEWS Shurooq to Develop a Waterpark The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has unveiled new details of the Al Montazah project, which will include a first of its kind water themed park in the emirate. According to Sheika Bodour bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson, Shurooq, upon completion, the park will become a competitive regional tourist destination. Covering a total area of over 126,000m2, the project is set to soft-open in the first quarter of the year, and will boast three main sections, the first of which is a 26,000m2 water park, offering a wide range of aquatic amusement games. The second section will feature a picnic and event park, while the third part will be a leisure park with a variety of games, kart racing, football, sports and a venue for celebrations.

Al Montazah Project

10,970 Rooms Under Construction in Dubai Dubai’s hotel sector is set to experience a major boom over the coming months with 10,970 rooms currently under development. Based on STR Global’s latest Construction Pipeline Report for in December 2013, the Middle East and Africa region’s hotel development pipeline comprises 498 hotels with 120,119 units. Besides Dubai, five other markets reported more than 2,000 rooms under construction, including Mecca, Saudi Arabia with 6,927 keys; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with 5,804 units; Doha, Qatar with 4,944 rooms; Abu Dhabi, UAE with 3,036 keys; and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with 2,569 rooms. The total active pipeline data includes projects under construction and in the final planning and planning stages, but does not include projects in the pre-planning phase.

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Second Phase of QAIA Expansion Project Underway Airport International Group (AIG) held a cornerstone ceremony to mark the commencement of the second phase of the expansion at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA). Valued at over USD100 million, and scheduled for completion in 2017, this next stage will help raise the airport’s annual capacity to 12 million passengers, enabling it to fulfill its role in supporting Jordan’s national tourism strategy goals. As Nazem Al Kudsi, chairman, AIG, revealed, since the launch of the new terminal, QAIA has been ranked, in terms of quality, among the world’s top 50 airports for service levels and passenger satisfaction. H.E. Lina Shbeed, minister of transport, Jordan, added, “The enhancements that are currently being implemented should enable the airport to boost its capacity to 16 million passengers annually by the end of the concession timeframe in 2032.”




Al Khozama Expands Al Faisaliah Brand Al Khozama Management Company is set to manage two new upmarket hospitality properties in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Opening in 2016, the five-star Al Faisaliah Hotel & Spa, will cater for discerning business and leisure guests with 240 rooms and suites, two restaurants and extensive meeting facilities. The property boasts panoramic views of King Fahd Causeway and the wider Gulf Sea. Located adjacent to Al Shubaili Grand Mall, the fourstar deluxe Al Khozama Residence, will feature 150 serviced apartments with both short and long term availability. The property will also include an Italian restaurant, business centre and fitness centre. The company also manages Al Shohada Hotel in Mecca and Bay La Sun Hotel & Marina in King Abdullah Economic City, north of Jeddah, and owns its flagship Al Faisaliah Hotel and Al Faisaliah Suites, Riyadh.

Orascom Takes Over El Wekala Golf Resort Orascom Hotels Management (OHM) has assumed the management of the four-star El Wekala Golf Resort, following an agreement between The Three Corners Hotels & Resorts and Orascom Development. The resort is located in close proximity to Taba Heights’ 18hole championship golf course and features 215 guestrooms. Jens Freise, senior director of marketing and sales, Orascom Development, described the property as one of the group’s best performers in terms of repeat guests. Developed as an integral part of Taba Heights, El Wekala Golf Resort features four swimming pools, a gym, a kids club and two restaurants, and offers access to the town’s facilities and dine around privileges.

El Wekala Golf Resort

Hawar Island Resort to Reopen This Month Southern Area Development Company (SADC) is gearing up for the launch of the newly renovated Hawar Island Resort in Bahrain. The upcoming opening of the resort, which is now part of Best Western International’s portfolio, coincides with the completion of the first phase of the Hawar Islands redevelopment project. SADC has already undertaken extensive development and renovation works on the resort. The second phase of the programme will see the addition of a new hotel building with 100 extra units, bringing the total number of rooms available up to approximately 140 keys. In addition, the hotel’s beach chalets will be renovated, new restaurants will be added, and a number of meeting rooms and ballrooms will be launched along with entertainment facilities, such as gyms and cinemas.

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The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa to Open in 2015 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to further expand in the Middle East with The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa set to open in 2015. Located in the Central Business District, just 15 minutes from the airport, the 372-room hotel will comprise a spa, three swimming pools, five restaurants and 10 meeting rooms. “We are pleased to be growing Starwood’s presence in the Middle East and Qatar specifically as we sign our first Westin property in Doha,” commented Michael Wale, president, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, adding that Doha offers vast potential. The signing of The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa is part of the company’s expansion plans in the Middle East with further openings planned in Sharjah, UAE and Erbil, Iraq.

Marriott to Acquire Protea Hospitality Holdings Marriott International and Protea Hospitality Holdings have signed definitive agreements for the purchase of the South African group’s three brands and management company. Under the terms of the agreements, Marriott International will pay approximately USD186 million. The deal is subject to receipt of certain third-party and governmental consents, however, the arrangement is expected to be finalised by April 1. Protea Hospitality Holdings’ portfolio includes 116 hotels with 10,148 rooms in seven African countries. At closing, Marriott International is expected to become the largest hotel company in the Middle East and Africa region, nearly doubling its distribution to more than 23,000 rooms.

Protea Hospitality Holdings

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Arabtec to Build Theme Park in Aqaba Arabtec Holding announced that its subsidiary, Arabtec Construction, is set to develop the AED5.7 billion (USD1.55 billion) Red Sea Astrarium, a themed entertainment resort in Aqaba, Jordan. The integrated entertainment, hospitality and leisure development will provide a significant boost to the tourism industry in the Kingdom, in addition to economic benefits for nearby communities and businesses. The park will be home to four leading international luxury hotels offering over 2,000 rooms, and will feature retail, dining and entertainment waterfronts overlooking a man-made lagoon. Additional attractions include a 4D cinema, adventure centre, theatre, waterpark and a signature Star Trek immersive experience.




Sofitel Cecil Alexandria Embraces Sustainability Sofitel Cecil Alexandria, an active participant of the Sustainable Tourism for the Mediterranean project, continues to be a prime example of sustainable tourism in Egypt. The global objective of the initiative is to contribute to sustainable development by reducing environmental risks in the Mediterranean region through the promotion of sustainable practices. To achieve these objectives, 11 organisations from six countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Greece, Italy and France are working together to implement a set of activities. “Environmental measures are a marketing tool for our hotel in the long term because all over the world, customers are increasingly opting for environment-friendly hotels. Very soon, the eco-label will be a selection criterion for guests,” stressed Nabil Kahil, general manager, Sofitel Cecil Alexandria.

Sofitel Alexandria Cecil

IHG Cairo Backs Tourism Campaign InterContinental Cairo Citystars recently hosted a special conference to launch the Nawart Masr campaign which aims to promote tourism in Egypt and encourage Arab travellers to enjoy their vacations in the North African country. The event was attended by a number of high-profile guests, including Hisham Zaazou, minister of tourism, Egypt, who was welcomed by Ibrahim Nashaat, hotel manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars, and heads of the hotel departments. “It was of course an honour for us to host such a distinctive conference which aims to attract Arab tourism and encourage one of Egypt’s most important sources of income,” said Nashaat, highlighting the initiative’s significance.

Ramada Downtown Dubai Supports the Community Ramada Downtown Dubai has organised a series of activities and programmes as part of ongoing efforts to give back to the community. Lead by the Heroes Club, a committee of hotel associates entrusted with the task of overseeing staff and corporate social responsibility initiatives, the property organised three different projects. The first aimed to provide aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines by donating linen and household items. In addition selected members of staff paid a visit to an elderly home to share stories and gifts with the residents, and a blood donation drive was also organised. According to Samir Arora, general manager, Ramada Downtown Dubai, the hotel staff members are keen to continue these initiatives in the future, in order to help even more people and charitable institutions. Elderly Home Visit

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Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait Awarded the Green Key

Philippe Pellaud with the Green Key Award

Elaf Group Supports SCTA in Developing Tourism Saudi Arabia is expecting its tourism industry to achieve robust growth as a result of active governmental support in the development of 34,800 new hotel rooms in the next five years. As per the directions of the Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), Elaf Group is actively contributing to the enhancement of the country’s travel and tourism sector. Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group, said, “Elaf Group is keen to make contributions towards the development of the tourism industry as well as various travel and tourism initiatives planned by SCTA. Elaf Group is also helping position Saudi Arabia as a priority destination for travellers eyeing tourism options in Arab countries.”

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Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait has received the Green Key certificate, becoming one of the only two properties in Kuwait to hold the international environmental accolade. “Kuwait is going green and I am glad we are one of the first. We will continue with our efforts to make Radisson Blu as green as possible,” stated Philippe Pellaud, general manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait, underlining that responsible business practices still remain high on the management’s priority list. The global eco-label aims to raise awareness of the significance of sustainable methods. In order to obtain the certification, hotels must fulfill a list of environmental requirements, covering a range of criteria such as environmental demands, availability of action plans, team and client education on sustainable development and environmental awareness and communication.

Starwood Sells Miami Hotel to Qatari Company Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company (ARTIC) has acquired The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami, US, from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, for USD213 million. The property will continue to be managed under a long-term agreement by the American hotel company. According to H.E. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani, chairman, ARTIC, the acquisition complements the Qatari company’s investment focus on worldclass assets in prime locations. Simon Turner, president, global development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, added, “The sale of this trophy asset marks another step forward in Starwood’s pursuit of an asset-light strategy as we look to sell owned real estate at the right time to the right owners to create value for our shareholders.” The St. Regis Bal Habtour Resort




Etihad Airways Inks Deal with Air Europa

Alvaro Middelmann, advisor to the chairman, Air Europa (left), and Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways, signing the deal.

Massive Expansion Plans For flynas hajj & umrah flynas hajj & umraj, part of Saudi carrier, flynas, has kicked off a major expansion project with the inauguration of three weekly services from Jeddah to Jakarta. According to Abdulnasser Abu Kassim, CEO, flynas hajj & umrah, Indonesia is a highly important destination for the company as it is home to more than 209 million Muslims. “It is a strategic start for our expansion plans, and in the very near future we shall be announcing more flights to serve more markets,” added Abu Kassim. As Ahmed Sultan, deputy CEO, flynas hajj & umrah, revealed, the company has received a large number of requests from travel agents around the world showing interest in becoming passenger sales agents. “We are currently evaluating the applications and we are aiming to finalise the appointment procedures by end of the first quarter of this year,” he said. flynas hajj & umrah’s expansion is a key part of flynas’ 20x20 strategy, targeting 20 million passengers per annum by 2020.

Etihad Airways and Spanish carrier, Air Europa, have signed a codeshare agreement to enhance access between the UAE, Europe and beyond. Air Europa will also commence a three-weekly service between Madrid and Abu Dhabi later this year. Etihad Airways will place its EY flight code on the Spanish airline’s new Airbus A330 services, while Air Europa-operated flights to Madrid from Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan Malpensa and onwards to Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca will also bear the EY code. “We have been keen to offer our customers direct access to the Spanish capital for a number of years, and doing this now in partnership with Air Europa makes perfect business sense,” remarked James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways.

JetBlue and Etihad Airways to Codeshare JetBlue Airways, New York’s hometown airline, and Etihad Airways announced plans to begin codeshare operations in a bid to offer customer enhanced travel options. The agreement will see the UAE carrier place its EY code on flights operated by the American airline, initially facilitating connections between the two companies at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. In the first stage, Etihad Airways will codeshare on 40 JetBlue Airways routes within the US and further codeshare services are planned once the Abu Dhabi-based airline commences daily flights to Los Angeles in June. Etihad Airways also plans to codeshare on services between New York and select destinations in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Colombia.

Washington Dulles International Airport

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AirSERBIA to Fly to Beirut


Qatar Airways Boost Frequency to Khartoum Qatar Airways has added three extra flights per week between its Doha hub and Khartoum, bringing the total number of services to Sudan to 17 per week. According to Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, the increased capacity will further improve the connections from Khartoum to over 130 destinations across the airline’s global network. “As part of Qatar Airways’ ever-expanding route map, a key pillar is to also evaluate existing routes and increase capacity where there is passenger demand,” stressed Al Baker. “Qatar Airways can seamlessly connect travellers from Khartoum via our Doha hub to diverse cities […]. At the same time, with our new additional services, we offer travellers from around the world increased connectivity to access Khartoum.” Qatar Airways began operations to the Sudanese capital in 1994.

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AirSERBIA is to commence direct services between Belgrade and Beirut, from March 30. The national airline of Serbia will deploy an Airbus A319 aircraft on the route, featuring a total of eight business class seats and 120 economy class seats. The service between the two capitals will operate three times per week, increasing to daily frequencies from June. Passengers will also be able to take advantage of connections through AirSERBIA’s hub at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, to numerous destinations across Europe. Dane Kondić, CEO, AirSERBIA, commented, “These new services are part of our strategy to expand into key international markets, offer more travel options to passengers, and help to increase Serbia’s tourism, trade and investment links with other countries.“

Gulf Air Expands Reach to Pakistan Gulf Air has further extended its network to Pakistan with the launch of two weekly services to Sialkot. The new service to Sialkot International Airport will provide passengers, travelling to the export triangle of Pakistan, with an alternative travel proposition. The flight is being operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft. Ahmed Janahi, acting chief commercial officer, Gulf Air, described Pakistan as a long-standing key market for the airline, and one of its most successful destinations. “The recent 30 percent frequency increase in our flights to Pakistan has been positively received by our passengers. Therefore, the decision was taken to further strengthen our operations to the country by the addition of a fifth destination,” added Janahi.

Gulf Air’s Team




Emirates Arrives to Ukraine Emirates has launched daily services to Kiev, marking the airline’s first route to Ukraine. According to Thierry Antinori, chief commercial officer, Emirates, the new daily link will further stimulate growing business and tourism opportunities between Dubai and Kiev. “Over 150,000 Ukrainians a year visit the UAE. Now they will have access to Emirate’s award-winning service and gourmet food and for the first time on this route, a first-class cabin option,” Antinori said. Operating the daily service with an Airbus A340-500, Emirates’ new route will also help support vital trade between the two countries, that increased 27 percent in the first half of 2013.


flydubai to Commence Hofuf Flights Extending its reach into the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, flydubai will launch scheduled services to Hofuf in the Al-Ahsa governorate. Starting February 6, the low-cost carrier will operate twice-weekly flights to the city, bringing the number of destinations served by the airline in the Kingdom to 11. Thanking the Saudi authorities for their cooperation, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, said, “We appreciate the continuous support we receive from the Saudi authorities and are honoured to have the opportunity to further expand our network in Saudi Arabia. The new service, the first direct air link between Dubai and Hofuf, will further strengthen the strong cultural and trade ties between the two nations.“


Etihad Holidays Enters Germany Etihad Holidays has launched services in Germany to cater for the growing outbound leisure travel demand to Abu Dhabi. Germany is considered Europe’s largest outbound travel market and through Etihad Holidays, these travellers can take advantage of more than 300 packages to the UAE, Oman, Seychelles, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and China, with options set to expand even further in the coming months. Travellers living in Austria can also benefit from Etihad Holidays’ products with airberlin operating from Vienna and Salzburg.

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Hanif Zakaria

Omer Kaddouri Omer Kaddouri will take the helm at Rotana Hotel Management Corporation as the new president and CEO. Kaddouri has been part of the Rotana family for over 15 years. One of the key figures spearheading the company’s expansion in recent years beyond the Middle East, he has been cred-

ited with creating greater synergy among the chain’s properties in all aspects of operations. Kaddouri, the former executive vice president and chief operating officer, will be supported by co-founder Selim El Zyr, who after stepping down from his role as CEO will still serve as vice chairman of the board.

Hanif Zakaria has been appointed general manager for Bangladesh at Etihad Airways. Zakaria joins the UAE carrier from Afghanistan’s Safi Airways, where he held various senior sales positions in the Gulf region. Zakaria started his career with British Airways, and went on to

Asser Samy Asser Samy has returned to TAJ Palace Hotel Dubai as director of sales and marketing. A 23-year veteran of the Dubai hospitality sector, Egyptian national Samy began his career at Sheraton Nile Cruises at the front office. He moved to Dubai in 1991 to join Hyatt Regency Dubai at the front office and stayed with the hotel for 11 years, progressing to shift leader, assistant manager, night manager and assistant front office

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manager, overseeing a team of 30 people. Samy then spent four years at Renaissance Dubai, becoming senior sales manager, before transferring to TAJ Palace Hotel Dubai as assistant director of sales, rising to the position of director of sales. After three years at Dusit Residence Dubai Marina as director of sales and marketing, he is now looking forward to returning to TAJ Palace Hotel Dubai.


become the brand manager of Saudi Tourist and Travel Bureau before moving on to Emirates where he spent 20 years working mainly in the field of airline trade management. All in all, Zakaria has more than 30 years of aviation and commercial management experience.

Shadi Karameh Shadi Karameh has been named director of sales at Grand Millennium Dubai. Karameh joins the property’s team from the Dubai sales office of Raffles Praslin, Seychelles, where he worked as assistant director of sales for two years. Prior to that, he served as director of business development at Bon Tours, a destination management company, and spent two years at JA Resorts & Hotels overseeing

international sales. After having graduated in marketing at a institute for hotel management studies in Lebanon, he moved to the UAE to further enhance his career in hospitality, starting as a front desk shift leader at Al Sondos Suites by Le Méridien and Dar Al Sondos Hotel Apartments by Le Méridien before moving to the sales department where he specialised in corporate account development.

travel talk is your space



Mallallah Atiq Mallallah

General manager, The Capital Club, Dubai.

Congierge, TAMANI Marina Hotel, Dubai.

“A robust small and medium enterprises sector is one of the most important elements in a healthy and sustainable economy. [The panel discussion at The Capital Club] shed light on the many ways that technology can positively impact funding and create new avenues for financing. The Capital Club takes great pride in organising and hosting events, forums, and discussions that promote Dubai’s thriving business climate.”

“I feel it is a great responsibility to provide all required information to the tourists and guests in order to make their stay memorable and enjoyable. At TAMANI Marina Hotel, I am looking forward to providing information, guidance and assistance to our guests. I know the queries may vary from the routine to the strange.”

It is a great responsibility to provide all required information to the tourists

Tim Clark

Maher Salman Al Musallam

President, Emirates.

Acting CEO, Gulf Air.

“As an airline that gives the highest priority to standards of service to our customers, it is fitting that we should support [the Government Summit 2014]. We connect people, thinking and ideas in many different ways every day and this event is another good example.”

We connect people, thinking and ideas in many different ways every day

“JorAMCo’s vast experience and high quality technical expertise is the primary reason we selected the company as Gulf Air’s heavy maintenance and ‘C’ check maintenance, repair and overhaul provider. Their close proximity to Bahrain has the added benefit that our aircraft will no longer have to leave the region for maintenance, improving efficiency, decreasing turnaround time, reducing ferry charges and lowering Gulf Air’s operational costs.”

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

01 FEBRUARY 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Khaled El Manawi POSITION: Chairman and managing director


Who are you? I am Dr. Khaled El Manawi, chairman and managing director of National Travel Service (NTS) Group. I am also a member of the Egyptian Tourism Federation’s board and ex-chairman of the Egyptian Travel Agents Association. I have been working in the tourism field for almost 30 years. Our group owns and manages NTS Nile Cruises, transport fleet and a resort in Sharm El Sheikh. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? We, Egyptians, have been lucky and blessed by the amazing Egypt. Therefore, my favourite thing about working in the travel industry is the chance to show others how beautiful my country is, and to make sure they enjoy their time here. When is the best time to visit Egypt? The lovely thing about Egypt is that you can visit anytime and enjoy the weather. We generally have a moderate climate all over the year, meaning you can surenjoy sunny beaches all year round. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I am actually planning my next beach holiday to the Egyptian north coast, in Marsa Matrouh, famous for its sandy beaches, crystal water and warm sun. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because at NTS you get the personalised service, even if you are travelling in a big group. Our goal is ultimate customer satisfaction. We want our client to enjoy his/her whole experience and to leave Egypt happy and satisfied. At NTS, we always put customer first, we are available 24/7 for any matters and we spare no effort in providing the client with all the services he/she might need.

01 FEBRUARY 2014


Travelport Renews Long-term Pakistan Operator Agreement Travelport and Travel Solutions renewed their distributor deal in Pakistan. The multi-year agreement cements the long-standing relationship between the two companies and will see Travel Solutions continue to distribute Travelport’s Galileo and Worldspan products and services in the country. Ali Naqi Taqi, CEO, Travel Solutions, commented, “As Travelport’s distributor in Pakistan, our focus has always been on maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction by offering the highest quality services and innovative technology. We very much look forward to continuing

our successful relationship with Travelport and the agent community in Pakistan.” Rabih Saab, president, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, Travelport, also appeared satisfied with the deal. “Travelport has always maintained a strong position in Pakistan and we are delighted to continue our mutually beneficial relationship with Travel Solutions. During its time as Travelport’s distributor, Travel Solutions has built a solid track record in Pakistan, effectively delivering our products to the travel agent community, and growing our footprint across the country,” he concluded.


TRAVEL CHANNELS SMD Organises Educational Programmes

Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) kicked off the year with educational workshops, inviting children of all ages to explore Al Mahatta Museum.

O Kids at the Museum

rganised by the interpretation and education department at SMD, the programme formed part of the ‘Our Museums under the Light’ campaign, which aims to highlight one of the emirate’s museums each month. The activities offered children the chance to learn about different planes through a string of games, such as jigsaw puzzles, scavenger hunts and crossword puzzles. They also had the opportunity to create a personal rubber stamp and their own passports. The programme continued at Sharjah Archaeology Museum with a presentation under the theme “A Journey through History” and a spring camp named ‘Our Heritage Spring’, showcasing traditional UAE crafts.

Paris to Host Hoteliers Marketplace The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), in partnership with the Paris Region Tourist Board, will be hosting the Hoteliers European Marketplace in Paris on February 17. Over 200 delegates representing European hotels, chains and qualified accommodation buyers will participate in the business-to-business workshop. Tom Jenkins, CEO, ETOA, commented, “We are delighted that the decision to move this event to Paris has proved so successful. We already have 21 percent more delegates than in [2013].” François Navarro, communication director, Paris Region Tourist Board, added that the destination is proud to welcome an event which reinforces the board’s partnership with ETOA.

New BIOjet Abu Dhabi Initiative Etihad Airways, Boeing, Takreer, Total and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have joined forces to support a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in the UAE through the ’BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability’ project. Commenting on the initiative, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “In collaboration with our key partners, our goal is to support and help drive the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi, the region and also globally. We have made some important first steps in this process and our continued focus will be to develop further initiatives such as this which will facilitate the availability of sustainable aviation biofuels for Etihad Airways in the coming years.”

MSC Cruises Renews Successful UNIFEC Initiative MSC Cruises’ and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have gathered more than EUR2.8 million (USD3.8 million) since 2009 for their joint ‘Get on Board for Children’ campaign to combat poverty in Brazil. This year saw the start of a new partnership between the two companies, which aims to provide assistance to malnourished children. “MSC Cruises believes that global leadership brings increased responsibility towards the physical and human environments in which it operates, and as such we are proud to have strengthened our partnership with UNICEF. Together, we can make a difference,” commented Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises. On behalf of the charity fund, Elisbeth Müller, executive director, UNICEF Switzerland, said that the long-standing partnership with MSC Cruises makes a significant contribution to improving living conditions for thousands of children.

01 FEBRUARY 2014



Q & A with Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla Travellers to Qatar are becoming increasingly demanding in their search for authenticity and bespoke luxury experiences. Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality, explains how the home-grown company is responding to this trend, further developing its competitive advantage with a plethora of openings this year.

Travel Trade Weekly: This year looks set to be an interesting one for the travel and tourism industry in the MENA region. What is the latest news from Katara Hospitality and what is in the pipeline for the company? Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla: Since announcing its rebrand in May 2012, Katara Hospitality has continued its journey of expansion, not only internationally but also in Qatar. Currently, we have 23 properties in operation or under development, with more than 5,500 rooms. During the past year, the company has accomplished significant milestones in acquisition, investment, development and operations and remains on track for its goal of 30 properties by 2016. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Barwa Real Estate, Katara Hospitality completed the acquisition of Somerset West Bay Doha in 2013. This is the first operational property out of three assets to be acquired under the agreement. Somerset West Bay Doha represents the company’s first venture into the niche market of serviced residences and is Katara Hospitality‘s first partnership with Singapore-based The Ascott Limited, one of the world’s largest international serviced residence operators. We have also signed a memorandum of understanding to manage a new hotel in Doha under the umbrella of our home grown Merweb brand. Currently under construction, Merweb Plaza Hotel is expected to open [late in the year], and will cater to travellers who seek a high-quality business hotel in the very heart of Doha. Travel Trade Weekly: Tourism markets across Qatar are broadening their hori-

01 FEBRUARY 2014

Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla CEO, Katara Hospitality

zons. What specific tourism trends have you noticed in the destination, and how is Katara Hospitality responding to them? Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla: The hospitality sector is one of the most dynamic and competitive industries as new concepts are continuously developed to meet increasing guest demands. Travellers looking for luxury accommodation have become more sophisticated, looking for genuine luxury hospitality experiences that go beyond recognition and personalised service. Travel Trade Weekly: In your opinion, what can be done to further improve Qatar’s tourism product and what does the future hold for the destination? Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla: Qatar is one of

the fastest-growing economies in the world. The strong economic and demographic growth requires infrastructure development. Spurred by the shared 2030 National Vision and the hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Qatar’s tourism and hospitality organisations are participating together in the development and growth of the country’s tourism infrastructure. We believe that a strong hotel network is ultimately the backbone vitally needed to support development at different levels. Thirty percent growth for Qatar’s travel market is foreseen over the coming two years. The hospitality industry plans to add 85,000 new hotels over the next decade. Qatar has the potential to become a leading global hospitality destination for luxury and business travel. Offering a wide variety of hotels and resorts, Qatar can develop on its existing competitive advantage of delivering the winning combination of world-class hospitality facilities along with a rich cultural heritage. Tourism development in Qatar is already well under way. More and more tourists visit Qatar every year, charmed by the country’s hospitality attractions offering upscale facilities, grand leisure amenities and award-winning spas. Doha has already developed into a multi-faceted destination for global travellers offering cultural, historical, shopping and sporting attractions, and an increasingly wide range of leisure facilities.



TAT Rolls out Middle East Roadshow In a bid to build confidence amongst Middle Eastern travellers and industry players, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s Dubai office has conducted various marketing activities in the region. Throughout January, the TAT Dubai office, along with the European, African and Middle Eastern market division, organised a roadshow in Tehran and Isfaha, Iran, and later on in Manama, Bahrain to provide travel agents and members of the media with up-to-date information about the current situation in the southeast Asian country. Besides the launch of the “Amazing Thailand: It Begins with the People” advertising campaign, TAT also plans to embark on a range of new activities in the coming months, including a pre-Arabian Travel Market roadshow, a Thai food festival and joint promotions with Gulf Air. As Thawatchai Arunyik, governor, TAT, explained, these activities are key tools in conveying the message that Bangkok remains a welcoming tourist destination with most major attractions and activities open and operating normally.


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January 2014

EVENTS SATTE India Mumbai, India, February 3 – 4, 2014 ( Hailed as the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia, with the participation of more than 600 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) Melbourne, Australia, February 18 – 19, 2014 ( A two-day exhibition for those involved in organising business travel, meetings, incentives and events.

Business Travel Show London, UK, February 4 – 5, 2014 ( The 20th edition is expected to attract more than 200 exhibiting companies and over 6,000 travel professionals from all over the world.

Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) Guangzhou, China, February 27 – March 1, 2014 ( A business-to-business fair focused on outbound and inbound travel and MICE.

Borsa International Tourism Exchange (BIT) Milano, Italy, February 13 – 15, 2014 ( An international business-to-business event, which has been present on the market since 1980.

Ace of MICE Exhibition (AME Istanbul) Istanbul, Turkey, February 27 – March 1, 2014 ( Aimed to become one of the greatest gatherings of the Turkish and global MICE sector.

Perth Holiday & Travel Expo Perth, Australia, February 15 – 16, 2014 ( An annual event presenting a wide range of destinations, products and holiday specials on offer.

International tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin, Germany, March 5 – 9, 2014 ( One of the world’s biggest travel trade shows; a leading business-to-business platform for trade visitors.

SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event


INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition


World Future Energy Summit


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit


Eco Waste Summit


Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


February 2014 Tawdheef Recruitment Show


The Bride Show


Abu Dhabi Electronics Shopper & IT

26-1 Mar

March 2014 International Jewellery & Watch Show


GIBTM - The Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition

24-26 Information correct at time of publication. Please check for alterations.

01 FEBRUARY 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 221  

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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