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CYPRUS! Monthly

01 MARCH 2014

DTCM and EMA to Boost Dubai’s Medical Credentials The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the Emirates Medical Association (EMA) signed a memorandum of understanding.


Rotana Hotel Management Corporation has opened its second five-star property in Al Ain, marking the Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana brand’s debut in the Garden City.

06 Six Bids for Nakheel Mall Nakheel has now assessed all tenders for the construction of Nakheel Mall.


02 03 07 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Rotana Debuts Alcohol-free Brand in Al Ain





Stronger Demand in Doha Despite the extent of new supply that came online in 2013, Doha’s hotels maintained occupancy levels consistent with 2012.


ccording to a recently released HotStats report by TRI Hospitality Consulting, occupancy at properties across the Gulf state remained stable at 64.3 percent in 2013. Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, Middle East, noted that the city attracted increasing numbers of leisure visitors; however the hotel sector felt a

SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou

slight decrease in rates. “The fall in RevPAR during 2013 was driven by a 5.4 percent decline in average rates, as four- and five-star hotels sought to maintain market share through rate competition,” explained Goddard, adding that a growth in non-room revenues positively impacted total RevPAR levels, although not enough to offset the decline in profitability.

DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi

At the Top, Burj Khalifa: 1.87 Million Visitors

HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103607 WEBSITE EMAILS


28/02/2014 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)



Hailed as the world’s highest observatory deck, At the Top, Burj Khalifa welcomed more than 1.87 million visitors in 2013, marking a 13 percent year-on-year increase. International tourists accounted for over 50 percent of footfall, with Germany leading the way, followed by Russia and India, and the US. Ahmad Al Falasi, executive director, property management, Emaar Properties, commented, “At the Top, Burj Khalifa is a key contributor to Dubai’s tourism sector and is not only a must-see attraction for tourists but also popular among UAE residents. The one-of-a-kind attraction offers unparalleled views across the city,

which inspires visitors to return time-andtime again.”

At the Top, Burj Khalifa

Mixed Results in Egypt


hile Sharm El Sheikh continued to see signs of recovery in 2013, Cairo’s hotel sector remained under pressure, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report showed. As Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, Middle East, pinpointed, even though occupancy levels in the Red Sea destination averaged at 56.9

percent, the capital city’s occupancy fell to 36.6 percent. Average room rate on the other hand stood at USD111.32 in Cairo and USD44.46 at the coastal hotspot, leading to RevPAR levels of USD40.74 and USD25.31 respectively. Gross operating profit per available room reached USD29.45 in the capital, whereas it remained relatively lowat USD16.18 in Sharm El Sheikh. 01 MARCH 2014



Oman to Fast-Track Industry Development The Omani government is working on a new strategy in a bid to further increase tourism’s contribution to the national GDP. To fast-track the industry’s development, top priorities include bringing new hotels and resorts to the market, while a number of large-scale transport infrastructure projects including airport and port developments will be coming to fruition over the next few years at a cost in excess of USD50 billion. “Oman is a country with a fine-tuned vision for its tourism industry and is forging ahead with plans to build a premium destination targeted at discerning travellers,” commented Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions. According to Maitha al Mahrouqiyah, undersecretary, Ministry of Tourism, Oman, hotels and restaurants are set to contribute five percent to the Sultanate’s GDP by 2020.


Korek Mountain Resort & Spa Attracts Ski Tourism Korek Mountain Resort & Spa, located just 100km from Erbil in Rwanduz, Kurdistan, is experiencing its first winter season since opening its doors in 2013. Hoping to attract visitors interested in skiing and winter games, the USD95 million property features 134 one-, two-, and tree-bedroom villas, all of which are fully-equipped with a fireplace and a large kitchen. Owned by Darin Group and operated by Dubai-based InnovationZ Hospitality Group, the resort offers views of the white-tipped surrounding mountains. Guests can enjoy a gym or massage session at the spa facility before gathering at the Chiah altitude restaurant for a traditional local grill and stew dinner. The snow-capped Korek Mountain area itself offers guests an array of activities such as a Teleferik cable-car ride from 700m to 1700m to reach the resort, a ski rental shop and school centres.

01 MARCH 2014

DCTCM to Debut at ATM

Arabian Travel Market

The recently established Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM) will participate in this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), from May 5 – 8 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, exclaimed, “DCTCM has been established to promote brand Dubai around the world and is armed with a considerable budget. Hotels will pay a new ‘Tourism Tax’ of up to AED20 (USD5.4) per room per night, to fund the endeavours of the DCTCM, as Dubai focuses on its 20 million visitor target by 2020.” Standard Chartered Bank estimates that at least USD9 billion will be invested in the destination’s infrastructure ahead of Expo 2020.



Qatar to Promote its Cultural Credentials Qatar Museum Authority’s (QMA) cultural tourism unit presented its latest strategy at the recently concluded Tourism in Tomorrow’s World conference in Doha. The main focus of the plan remains to bolster growth by engaging visitors in the country’s traditions and history, and to promote Qatar as a truly cultural tourism destination. This goal is being attained through the development and promotion of the many cultural tourism sites the country has to offer through preserving and interpreting their history and heritage. Plans are also underway to restore many more architecturally significant buildings and sites, turning them into cultural centers and galleries for visitors to experience firsthand, the civilization in Qatar before the discovery of oil. To promote QMA’s museums and sites of interest, the cultural tourism unit has also created a series of tour packages allowing people to experience the art and culture of Qatar.

Lausanne Lures Emiratis More than 10 percent of tourists to Lausanne originated from the UAE in 2013, making the city a key tourism destination for Emiratis. As Walter Loser, adviser, Lausanne Tourism, pinpointed, the Swiss resort is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive locations for UAE and GCC travellers. In fact, in 2013, arrivals from the GCC rose almost 20 percent, while the UAE has become the second largest Middle Eastern market for the city. “We have worked hard to provide the best services to tourists in our country from the UAE and other Gulf states during summer,” stressed Loser, noting that over the coming months, a range of new facilities, including sports fields, are expected to be launched in Lausanne. Occupancy rates reached 86 percent in 2013, and the city currently offers 3,900 rooms across 67 hotels.


Saudi Arabia to Invest Billions into Tourism

real family hospitality!

The annual Arabian Travel Market roadshow has come to an end in Riyadh. Commenting on tourism investment in Saudi Arabia, Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, said, “The travel and tourism sector’s direct contribution to Saudi Arabian GDP is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of four percent to SAR83.7 billion (USD22.3 billion) by 2023. Put that into perspective, it is equivalent to about nine percent of current Saudi GDP.” According to research firm, aranca, investment in the Kingdom’s tourism sector is set to increase at a CAGR of four percent to SAR30.9 billion (USD8.2 billion) between 2013 and 2023 as the country prepares to welcome 21.3 million visitors by 2023.

01 MARCH 2014



Mixed-use Healthcare Project in Dubai

Hong Kong Property Group Acquires Assets at Dubai Pearl

Dubai-based Moafaq Al Gaddah Group (MAG Group) has signed a joint venture agreement with Dubai Healthcare City to develop a mixed-use project at an estimated cost of around AED800 million (USD218 million). The project, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, is expected to comprise two hospitals, a clinic, a residential complex, a hotel apartment, 9,300m2 of retail space and a mosque. “The healthcare sector in Dubai is on the cusp of a sustained period of growth and will need to build medical facilities for the future,” highlighted Moafaq Al Gaddah, chairman, MAG Group.

Pearl Dubai has confirmed the successful sale of AED6.8 billion (USD1.9 billion) worth of property assets within its Dubai Pearl project, to Hong Kongbased Chow Tai Fook Endowment Industry Investment Development (CTFE). The transaction, which is the largest bulk asset sale for the development, includes high-end residences and serviced apartments, as well as two five-star hotels, and represents a significant new milestone for the project which will ultimately deliver a fully-integrated, mixeduse development consisting of hotels, a shopping mall, offices, branded and serviced apartments and entertainment facilities. As Santosh Joseph, CEO, Pearl Dubai, noted, the deal marks a landmark step towards making Dubai Pearl a fully funded project. “This is a landmark transaction which brings quality international funds on board as our partners in the delivery of the Dubai Pearl vision,” added Joseph.

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01 MARCH 2014



Dubai to Become a Business Events Hub Dubai Convention Bureau (DCB) hosted the four-day International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA)’s executive committee in a bid to further bolster the emirate’s profile as a premier hub for global business events. Commenting on the initiative, Steen Jakobsen, director, DCB, said, “With ICCA being the world’s leading global meetings organisation, membership provides the kind of competitive advantage that DCB is actively leveraging. We are seeking to raise awareness of Dubai’s incredible events infrastructure as well as grow Dubai’s reputation as the best choice to host international business events of any size or scale.” Another key point raised at the event was that of changing value perception, especially with regards to the UAE and Gulf region, which is often regarded as a high-end, exclusive and expensive area when in reality it has good value propositions for a range of diverse budgets.

DTCM and EMA to Boost Dubai’s Medical Credentials The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the Emirates Medical Association (EMA) signed a memorandum of understanding aimed to further increase the number of international medical conferences held in Dubai, and extend educational opportunities for medical practitioners across the UAE. The agreement is set to capitalise on the destination’s growing reputation as a medical knowledge hub by unifying efforts to attract health conferences and business events to the emirate. The reinforced cooperation will see the two organisations working closely to identify key topics that are crucial to Dubai’s medical sector and jointly bidding for international events to be hosted in the emirate. At present the Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, a division of DTCM, runs the Al Safeer Congress Ambassadors Programme which, as Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director, business tourism, DTCM, noted, has played a vital role in attracting prestigious meetings.

Signing Ceremony

Six Bids for Nakheel Mall Nakheel has now assessed all tenders for the construction of Nakheel Mall, the company’s AED2.5 billion (USD680.6 million) retail, dining and entertainment complex on Palm Jumeirah. Six proposals were received for the 418,000m2 project, with bids starting at AED1.185 billion (USD322.6 million). The construction contract is expected to be awarded within the next three months. Built at the heart of Palm Jumeirah, at the northern end of the island’s trunk, the mall will feature 200 shops, 4,000 parking bays, two anchor department stores, a nine-screen cinema and six medical clinics. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a roof plaza with 12 fine dining restaurants and a host of cafes, once the mall opens in 2016.

01 MARCH 2014


JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai: BRIC Markets on the Rise While current feeder markets for JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai are the UAE and the GCC in general, the property has witnessed growth from the emerging BRIC countries, according to Rupprecht Queitsch, general manager, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai. Speaking about marketing strategies in place to further encourage various markets, Queitsch said, “In the groups segment the highest source markets are the UAE, Asia and Western Europe. We do a lot to cater to these markets, producing Mandarin brochures and Russian dialect marketing materials. “We are delighted to welcome these nationalities and are catering to guests from all time zones, from a smooth check in at one of our 15 check in desks, to 24-hour fitness, business and restaurant options,” he added.

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

The Domain Bahrain: Good Omens Following an official launch in September 2013, The Domain Bahrain has registered a steady increase in occupancy, and the management is positive about gaining more traction in the market. “It is tough to establish a new hotel brand, especially in a competitive market place like Bahrain. On top of this we are not supported by an established hotel company with existing market relationships,” remarked Patrick de Groot, managing director, The Domain Bahrain. “However, we are consistently receiving excellent feedback from our guests, and I am confident that this will ultimately result in return business and further increased occupancy. Our strategy is to focus on excellence, rather than price. This may take a little longer, but it will establish The Domain as a quality hotel brand,” he added.

01 MARCH 2014



Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai: Loyal Clients Remain Susanne Stier, director of sales and marketing, Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai has revealed that the faithful Middle East market offers great support to the property in both the corporate and leisure segments. Expressing optimism for this year’s occupancy rates, Stier commented, “Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai opened 10 years ago and we have maintained a loyal client base particularly from our guests living and working in the GCC, which continues to grow year on year. We are also strongly supported by the Australian and European market [...]. “The Asian market also remains faithful to us as an Asian brand; the strength of the Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts’ name in the region continues to be a key-influencing factor for guests choosing to stay with us,” she added.




Sofitel Merged back to Accor’s Luxury Segment

Staybridge Suites to Debut in Al Khobar

Sofitel Luxury Hotels has been reintegrated back into Accor’s portfolio in a bid to further support the brand’s luxury approach, and enable the group to leverage its expertise and best practices. Formerly a standalone brand, Sofitel Luxury Hotels is now part of a newly created upscale luxury segment which includes Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure and The Sebel. The reorganisation follows the recent announcement by Sebastian Bazin, CEO, Accor, outlining a new strategy for the group, focused on enhanced growth and sustained value creation, with the main goal of transforming the company into the world’s most valued and best-performing hotel group. “This year Sofitel celebrates its 50th anniversary, and moving forward, the new organisation will help share the excellence and expertise in luxury that Sofitel has so strongly developed,” added Rick Harvey Lam, senior vice president, global marketing, luxury and upscale brands, Accor.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has signed a 20-year management agreement with Al Khorayef & Sons for a 189-key Staybridge Suites hotel in Al Khobar. Located on King Fahd Road, the hotel will form part of a larger mixed-use development which will also include multiple retail and food and beverage outlets. As Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, Middle East, India and Africa, IHG, noted, with five properties currently in Al Khobar, the company has a strong presence and in-depth knowledge of the area. “Through the years we have observed its growth potential as a hub for both business and leisure travellers. This is our third Staybridge Suites to be announced in Saudi Arabia, in response to a growing demand for extended stay properties and we predict a strong future for the brand across the Kingdom,” added Gauvin.

Staybridge Suites Al Khobar

Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a Kuwait Continues Upgrade After an extensive renovation which included the introduction of nine new meeting rooms, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a Kuwait continues to enhance the guest experience with the refurbishment of the sea view rooms. Khadija Meftah, marketing and communications manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a Kuwait, revealed that the project is slated for completion by the end of the month. This follows a highly successful 2013, which, according to Meftah, proved to be the 280-room hotel’s best year yet. “The 2013 financial results show a very positive growth in both business and leisure segments, with an improvement of 10.5 percent in RevPAR, which was mainly achieved through increasing our rates,” added Meftah.

01 MARCH 2014




Golden Sands Hotel Apartments’ Success in India

Rotana Debuts Alcohol-free Brand in Al Ain

Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, Dubai concluded its participation at South Asia Travel and Tourism Exhibition (SATTE) India. The stand formed part of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing’s pavilion and the team held a number of important meetings with travel agents and tour operators. According to Nives Deininger, director of sales, Golden Sands Hotel Apartments, based on the feedback, the hotel remains a popular address for Indian travellers. “A majority of our guests are Indian nationals and we have created a brand loyalty from this region, as guests from the subcontinent enjoy staying in hotel apartments when visiting Dubai,” added Deininger. Currently 15 – 20 percent of guests are from India, and the number expected to further grow in the future.

Rotana Hotel Management Corporation has opened its second fivestar property in Al Ain, marking the Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana brand’s debut in the Garden City. Located in the north of Al Ain, Hili Rayhaan by Rotana, Al Ain, is connected to the new Wahat Hili Mall and features 254 rooms and suites, various dining options, a fitness club, kids’ playground and pool, and meeting and conference facilities. Commenting on the launch, Greg Allan, area vice president, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, said, “The extensive market research we conducted over the past couple of years shows that there is a strong demand for a five-star facility that is alcohol-free, so we have incorporated this as an integral aspect of our new offering.” Hili Rayhaan by Rotana, Al Ain

Accor to Expand ibis Network in Saudi Arabia Accor Middle East has forged a strategic alliance with Saudi conglomerate, Alesayi Group, to develop a minimum of 10 new hotels across the Kingdom by 2018. The initial agreement was signed in late October 2013, and was followed by plans for the development of the first three ibis projects, including two hotels with 200 and 300 rooms in Jeddah, and a 194-unit property in Riyadh. Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East, described the Middle East, and specifically Saudi Arabia, as a prominent market for the company’s growth. ibis Yanbu is due to be unveiled in the second quarter of the current year and in the long-term, the company aims to operate 30 – 40 ibis-branded properties in the country.

Sheikh Mohammed Omar Kassem Alesayi, CEO, Alesayi Group, (left) and Sebastien Bazin, CEO, Accor

01 MARCH 2014


Guests Rising at Hotel Missoni Kuwait Hotel Missoni Kuwait has managed to increase its occupancy by 20 percent year-on-year, with this trend proving steady in the past two years since the hotel officially opened in March 2011, according to Wassim Tarabay, director of sales and marketing, Hotel Missoni Kuwait. Further commenting on the hotel’s overall performance, Tarabay, added that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the property’s main key feeders but the local market represents the biggest portion of business, with 56 percent of guests coming from Kuwait followed by 19 percent from Saudi Arabia and 12 percent from the UAE. “The increase from the Saudi Arabian market has been very positive; we successfully grew this market by 53 percent year-on-year, while the increase in the local market represented 13 percent,” Tarabay concluded.

Hotel Missoni Kuwait


WEEKLY NEWS Personal Service at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah

Having been open for the past six months, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has recorded a pickup from the GCC market since January, with Russia and the UK proving the fastest growing consumers. This was revealed by Andre Herrenschmidt, general manager, Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah, who attributed the results to the personal touches provided that customise the guest experience. “The True Waldorf Service concept is an extension of the personal service principles that were first introduced at the legendary Waldorf Astoria property in New York. Under this service initiative, a personal concierge is assigned to each qualified guest [...] to guarantee every requirement and request is met,” Herrenschmidt explained.


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01 MARCH 2014

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23/2/14 5:56 PM




Air Arabia Touched down in Cairo

Air Arabia

Emirates Heads to Taipei Taipei became Emirates’ newest passenger destination with the inaugural flight touching down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on February 10. The daily nonstop service from Dubai International Airport will be served by a Boeing 777-300ER, equipped with eight private suites in first class, 42 lie-flat seats in business class, and space for 304 passengers in economy. “Dubai and Taipei are very similar, both are important trading hubs and [this] link will help to build on bilateral trade. We have been working hard to promote Taipei across our network and I am confident that the influx of business and leisure passengers will continue to grow,” remarked H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Emirates, sharing his pride in the carrier’s increased commitment to the Asian destination.

Air Arabia has further strengthened its connectivity with Egypt with the launch of nonstop operations to Cairo. Effective since February 27, the low-cost carrier operates three weekly flights from its primary hub in Sharjah to the North African capital city. Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, described Egypt as a key market for the airline and expressed his hope that the new route would further contribute to the growing bilateral ties between the two countries. “With tourism and trade in Egypt gathering momentum and led by the strong population of Egyptians who work and live in the UAE, our new service to Cairo will only add value to both nations,” added Ali. Air Arabia also connects passengers from Sharjah to Alexandria, Assuit, Luxor and Suhag in Egypt.

Ryanair Launches New Route to Rabat Ryanair recently celebrated its maiden services from London Stansted to Bordeaux, France and Rabat, Morocco. Lisa Cashin, sales and marketing executive, Ryanair, said, “Ryanair is delighted to celebrate its inaugural flight from London Stansted to Bordeaux in a week that also saw the launch of a new route to Rabat in Morocco. Ryanair will operate three weekly flights to Bordeaux on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays offering passengers in the East of England area even more choice for [this year].” Rabat is home to a dozen or so international cultural institutes, a wide variety of museums and the legendary Mohammed V National Theatre.

Rabat, Morocco

01 MARCH 2014




flynas Adds Third Destination in Sudan


Oman Air: Increase in In-flight Connectivity Usage The number of passengers using inflight connectivity on Oman Air’s seven OnAir-equipped Airbus A330s has improved 45 percent year-on-year in 2013, as has the volume of data exchanged which registered a surge of 85 percent. The carrier has worked on increasing usage by implementing a series of new marketing initiatives, which included a promotion allowing passengers to use frequent flyer miles to purchase Wi-Fi codes, as well as offering free vouchers to first and business class passengers. “Oman Air has now been providing Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir for over four years. We also have plans to add the services to more aircraft, as our fleet grows over the next few years,” said Andrew Walsh, chief officer, service delivery, Oman Air.

01 MARCH 2014

flynas is to launch a third route between Saudi Arabia and Sudan with the commencement of three weekly journeys from Medina to Khartoum from April 2. “We already operate flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Khartoum and now we are very pleased to add the Medina Khartoum route to our services between Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Coming as part of our promise to make flying more convenient, comfortable and cost-effective, this latest destination will be of great advantage to business and domestic passengers as well benefitting pilgrims visiting the holy city,” said Raja Azmi, CEO, flynas. With a fleet consisting of 27 aircraft, the recent re-branding and developments have given flynas the capability for further growth as the airline continues to grow its local, regional and international route map.

Qatar Airways to Employ Dreamliner on Singapore Route Qatar Airways announced that starting March 31 it will operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner alongside its existing fleet of Boeing 777s on flights between Singapore and Doha. The carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner boasts features such as improved cabin pressure, dimmable windows and a more spacious seating configuration with 254 seats, 22 in business class that convert into fully flat horizontal beds and a 232 capacity in economy class. “The introduction of the 787 aircraft to the Singapore - Doha sector, which is an important and strategic route for Qatar Airways, will redefine the in-flight experience for our Singapore-based passengers who travel to Doha and onwards to key destinations in western Europe and the Americas,” said Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

Singapore Airshow 2014



New InterContinental Hotel in Indonesia InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and PT Hotel Dago Pakar have signed a management agreement for the 204-room and 19-villa InterContinental Bandung Dago Pakar in the Dago neighbourhood, northeast of the city centre in Bandung, Indonesia. Located 7km from Husein Sastranegara International Airport, the property is set to open this year, and will feature views over the 18-hole Mountain View Golf Course, one of the largest ballrooms in Bandung, an all-day dining and a specialty restaurant, a health club and a spa. Speaking of the importance of Indonesia as a key market for the group, Clarence Tan, chief operating officer, Southeast Asia and resorts, IHG, added, “The new Indonesian property is a strategic part of our expansion plans for the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts brand, which will more than double in the country during the same period.”


Amari Buriram United Kicks Off Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group announced the official opening of the first football-themed hotel in Thailand. The 60-room Amari Buriram United is located in the northeastern province of Buriram, adjacent to Thunder Castle Stadium, home to local team, Buriram United. Owned by Buriram United Sport Hotel and operated by ONYX Hospitality Group, the property’s design is modelled on a sports stadium, and most rooms look onto a central area which includes a minifootball field and swimming pool. Featuring 44 superior rooms, 14 deluxe rooms as well as two suites ranging between 36m² – 118m², additional highlights at the property include two bars, a themed all day dining restaurant, and a wide range of recreational facilities, such as tennis courts, a jogging track, a basketball court, and a fully equipped gym. Amari Buriram United

01 MARCH 2014


Judith Pasztor-Duffy

Philippe Harb Philippe Harb has been promoted to chief operating officer at One to One Hotels and Resorts. In his new role, Harb will oversee the asset management of the company, implementing new management contracts for the group’s portfolio of properties. He will also be in charge of the

operations and development of the brand to new markets, reaching new destinations and taking responsibility for the vision and future direction of the company. Harb’s prior experience includes positions with Swiss-Belhotel International and Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.

Judith Pasztor-Duffy has been appointed director of marketing at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort. Pasztor-Duffy, who started her career as a journalist in Hungary, worked previously at The House Hotel as front office manager and revenue manager, before joining The

Gary Lemke Gary Lemke has joined Abu Dhabi Ports Company as the new executive vice president of ports. Lemke has more than 20 years of global port, terminal, shipping and transportation experience and has managed terminal expansions, and secured new shipping lines in different locations such as the UK, the Bahamas, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and Mexico. He first moved to the Middle East in 2005, working as chief

01 MARCH 2014

operating officer and later CEO at the Port of Salalah in Oman. He also served as executive director of port development in Saudi Arabia and general manager at Ports Development Company in King Abdullah Economic City. In Abu Dhabi, Lemke will oversee Khalifa Port, Zayed Port, the Free Port and Musaffah Port. He will also be in charge of the ports in the Al Gharbia region.


g Hotel in Galway in Ireland as marketing and media relations manager. Prior to relocating to the Middle East, Pasztor-Duffy worked with a digital marketing agency, looking after online marketing strategy for a number of four- and five-star hotels in the UK and Ireland.

Bassam Abu Hassan Bassam Abu Hassan is taking over the helm as the new hotel manager at Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea in Jordan. Abu Hassan, who already has over 20 years of industry experience under his belt, joined InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) at InterContinental Jordan in Amman, and has since held various positions at a number of IHG properties across the Kingdom, including at InterContinental Aqaba Resort and

Crowne Plaza Amman. During his many years with the company, Abu Hassan has learned and developed various skills and implemented numerous plans and actions related to the food and beverage sector, as well as other hotel operations. In his new role at Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, Abu Hassan is looking forward to working hand in hand with colleagues in order to provide an even better experience to guests.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Saif Mohammed Al Midfa

Ali Rashid Lootah

CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.

Chairman, Nakheel.

“The UFI [The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry] Global CEO Forum was a strategic event for Expo Centre Sharjah. The UAE and the rest of the region are once again hogging the limelight with back to back successes in bringing world events like […] World Expo 2020 to the region. By taking part in the event, we were able to underscore the importance of the exhibitions industry in the region.”

“The Palm Tower Residences [Nakheel’s recently launched development] combines luxury living with comfort and convenience, and brings yet more amenities to Palm Jumeirah. This is the perfect investment opportunity for people who want to be part of the vibrant community and diverse lifestyle that has turned Palm Jumeirah into one of the world’s most sought after places to live and visit.”

Thomas Leisten

Maher Salman Al Musallam

Chief archaeology, architectural conservation and cultural tourism officer, Qatar Museums Authority.

Acting CEO, Gulf Air.

“The future belongs to cultural tourism. It is central to Qatar’s tourism plans, as the country appeals to its visitors through showing off its historical sites and archaeological gems in the best light. […] Qatar already has places of interest where visitors can soak up its culture and history. Many more exciting restoration projects are on the horizon, like the old fish souq and four villages including an old pearldiving village.”

“We are delighted to be recognised as a global leader in on-time-punctuality and ranked as the region’s most punctual airline for 2013 [by FlightStats]. Despite implementing an aggressive restructuring strategy in 2013, our focus remained set on improving all aspects of our product and service including on-time-punctuality […]. Gulf Air’s achievement is a testament to [our] hard work to deliver on the promise to get passengers to their destinations in a timely manner.”

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 MARCH 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Thomais Tsolomiti POSITION: Owner COMPANY: Thomais Travel Agency LOCATION: Greece WEB:

Who are you? My name is Thomais Tsolomiti. I am the owner and the general manager of Thomais Travel Agency. The business has been established in the last two years, but I have been in the travel industry since I got my degree in 2002. My agency covers all tourism fields; incoming, outgoing, transportation, tailormade programmes, excursions and cruises via Greece and the Greek islands. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is exciting to do this job because I meet new people, make arrangements for them and see them being satisfied and happy. When is the best time to visit Greece? Greece is an all time classic destination, like good old wine, whenever you taste it you need more and more. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? My favourite destination is Kamena Vourla for the seaside, viewing the sea and the mountain, central Greece which provides spas, and also Thessaloniki. Out of Greece, I am thrilled by the Middle East. Why should people come to you for travel advice? I am a traditional travel agent with fresh suggestions, new blood, willing to work hard to service my clients with reliability and sincerity. I treat them as my personal guests. I personally believe in the best high quality service and in politeness combined with the best travel value.

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos

01 MARCH 2014


Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines Partner with Amadeus Lufthansa and Amadeus signed a new agreement that will see the airline sell advance seat reservation as an ancillary product in the travel agency channel using Amadeus Airline Ancillary Services. The deal, which also applies to Lufthansa’s subsidiary Austrian Airlines, means that travel agents using Amadeus in 63 markets worldwide will be able to book advance seat reservations in economy class for travellers flying on domestic and European routes. Additionally passengers will be able to purchase seats offering extra leg room. The two carriers will also adopt Amadeus Airline Ancillary Services, a multi-channel solution

that is compliant with industry standards, to distribute ancillary services through their website in the first half of this year. Günter Friedrich, vice president, IT development, commercial, Lufthansa, commented, “We know that comfort is important to travellers, and this new product will offer our customers greater flexibility and choice to personalise their journey.” Merchandising ancillaries using Amadeus Airline Ancillary Services is designed to help increase both the number of bookings the airline receives through the travel agency channel, and the revenue generated per passenger.


TRAVEL CHANNELS Hotel Occupancy Soars During Sharjah Light Festival

Sharjah Light Festival saw occupancy rates touch up to 90 percent.


his year the event celebrated the theme of Sharjah as the Capital of Islamic Culture in its presentations featuring historic buildings and landmarks. H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Authority, emphasised that since its debut in 2011, Sharjah Light Festival has been able to establish itself as one of the most popular events in the emirate. He further stressed that Sharjah is keen to offer a world-class touristic experience and service to international visitors to the destination that boasts more than 9,000 hotel rooms catering to all groups and tastes of tourists.

Sharjah Light Festival

Dubai Museum: Over One Million Visitors in 2013 Hailed as one of the city’s foremost heritage sites, Dubai Museum welcomed an average of 85,000 tourists per month in 2013, recording over one million visitors for the year, a 12 percent increase compared to 2012. According to Aisha Mubarak Abdullah Obaid, director, Dubai Museum, Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, in just over 40 years, Dubai Museum has become a regional touristic and cultural landmark.

New Dhow Procedures in Qatar Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced new procedures for the licensing of dhows used for tourism purposes. The new regulations go into effect as of April 1, and are set to enhance and specify passenger safety and ensure that visitors are treated according to international standards. The move comes in line with QTA’s endeavours to encourage tourists to Qatar to take dhow trips and stimulate the country’s marine tourism sector.

01 MARCH 2014


Q & A with


Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi

Building on the foundations of existing destination success, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) is looking to new channels in its continued drive to promote and develop a sustainable tourism sector in the country, as Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, chairman, QTA, explains.

Travel Trade Weekly: What is the latest news and developments with regards to Qatar Tourism Authority and Qatar's tourism industry in general? Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi: The tourism industry in Qatar is developing rapidly. From exciting cultural attractions to new policies and guidance for the industry, QTA is working hard to put in place the foundations for a growing, mature and sustainable tourism sector in Qatar. QTA has recently launched ‘OnQatar’, a new online platform that will serve as the most comprehensive source of information for all events and activities taking place in Qatar. The bilingual and user-friendly website, along with its interactive smart phone application will provide users with up-to-date information of all types of events happening in the country. We have also recently concluded ‘My Qatar’, an exciting public initiative to involve all residents of Qatar in the development of a new destination tourism brand. [The project] asked participants to share one simple idea – “What would you like to tell visitors about Qatar?” The scene is set for continued growth, as new infrastructure readies to accelerate the growth of the sector. Doha Exhibition and Conference Center is under construction, and Hamad International Airport is set to open this year. QTA is readying for the launch of a new phase in Qatar’s tourism industry with the release of the National Tourism Strategy which will serve as the road map for the sector’s development in the coming years. QTA has a key role to play in coordinating the development of a sustainable tourism sector in

01 MARCH 2014

Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority

Qatar, and growing tourism’s contribution to a diversified national economy. Travel Trade Weekly: What trends are currently being noted as influencing the travel and tourism industry in Qatar and how is the QTA responding to them?

tention to improve the product offered to visitors to the destination? Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi: We are working hard with stakeholders to continually assess and improve the tourism products on offer in Qatar. Earlier this year, QTA signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to develop Qatar’s tourism policies and procedures in line with international best practises. The agreement will also see UNWTO update and create benchmarked processes within QTA. Based on international benchmark standards, the UNWTO and QTA shall develop a consistent and locally relevant monitoring and quality control system across the wide range of tourism activities. We are also working to increase the availability of information about the great events and activities already on offer in Qatar. Working together with the tourism sector stakeholders we continue to improve upon the base of success that has been built in Qatar.

Issa Bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi: We are seeing and responding to many trends in tourism. One area in particular that QTA has focused on is the growth of family tourism. Our Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha festivals, the region’s first-ever performances of Disney on Ice, the return of Cirque du Soleil and more are catering to this segment of the tourist population. Travel Trade Weekly: Qatar is already pulling out the stops across the board to further enhance its tourism potential. Are there any areas that need particular at-

Doha skyline by night



Expo Centre Sharjah Launches Mobile Application Expo Centre Sharjah (ECS) has introduced its free-to-download, multi-platform mobile application, offering real-time show alerts and interactive floor maps among a host of other key features. Available on both Android and Apple operating platforms, the app provides full details of all business-to-business and business-to-consumer events at the centre in both English and Arabic. As Ahmed Mohammed al Midfa, CEO, ECS, noted, mobile applications offer a new platform of engagement with customers. “With the launch of the app, ECS is now always connected with exhibitors, visitors as well as service providers, creating added value to all parties involved,” he said, explaining that the app will load fast, and integrate social media access. Additional features include information on ECS’s history, facilities and services, Sharjah city and its main attractions and hotels. The new technology is set to help ECS enhance brand awareness, increase visibility and boost traffic.

Luxury Travel Mart (LTM) Russia Moscow, Russia, March 13, 2014 ( The event will give luxury travel service providers a unique opportunity to get their products to their target market. Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (GIBTM) Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 24 – 26, 2014 ( The Middle East’s dedicated business platform connecting the region’s inbound and outbound business travel industry through face-to-face meetings and prescheduled appointments. Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 31 – April 4, 2014 ( One of the most prestigious shows dedicated to the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.

Sponsored by


January 2014

EVENTS 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.


Azerbaijan International Travel & Tourism Fair (AITF) Baku, Azerbaijan, April 3 – 5, 2014 ( The main event in Azerbaijan’s fast growing tourism market, attracting a large number of international participants and trade visitors. China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market (COTTM) Beijing, China, April 9 – 11, 2014 ( Now entering its 10th year, COTTM focuses purely on the burgeoning outbound market. The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, April 22 – 24, 2014 ( A premier event where suppliers to the hotel, hospitality, food and restaurant sector can meet with key buyers and decision-markers. Airport Show Dubai, UAE, May 11 – 13, 2014 ( Benchmarked as one of the world’s leading industry events and a vital link to the MENA region and the Indian subcontinent’s airport industry.

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 MARCH 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 225  

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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