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08 FEBRUARY 2014
IHG Expands in Oman InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb, marking the companyâ€™s third property in the Omani capital and its sixth project in the Sultanate.
Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, a new affiliate tourism body of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, has been established.
07 Air Arabia to Fly to Antalya Air Arabia is to launch nonstop services to Antalya, its second destination in Turkey, after Istanbul.
11 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR INTERNATIONAL WHO'S MOVED TRAVEL TALK AGENT'S CORNER TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS
02 03 07 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
New Affiliate Tourism Body Set up in Dubai
TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATIONS MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi email@example.com COPY EDITOR Emily Millett
Milestone Achievement for QAIA Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) welcomed 6,502,323 passengers during 2013.
hile passenger numbers reached 478,245 in December 2013, aircraft movements (ACM) rose 5.6 percent, recording 5,455 flights and boosting annual figures by 1.1 percent to 67,959 ACM. Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group, described 2013 as a milestone year for
SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou
the airport in more ways than one. “Not only did it mark the launch of our new, state-of-the-art terminal which significantly boosted QAIA’s service levels and traffic capacity, but it also introduced a number of new international achievements and accolades,” commented Binger, noting that the figures also give a positive indicator of what can be expected this year.
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Bawadi Mall Welcomes 9.5 Million Visitors Bawadi Mall in Al Ain attracted 9,442,399 visitors in 2013, marking an increase of 6.3 percent over 2012’s figures. During the year under review, the highest footfall of 932,765 shoppers was registered in August 2013, followed by 882,500 visitors in December 2013. According to Khalid Shraim, senior marketing manager, Bawadi Mall, the growing numbers reflect the boom in the tourism industry in Al Ain. “Bawadi Mall achieved enormous success in Al Ain city being the largest mall, and driven by the activities organised during 2013, which included a 71-day shopping campaign and entertainment shows [...],” concluded Shraim.
MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of
07/02/2014 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar
Saudi Arabia (SAR)
Jazeera Airways: Best Year Ever
azeera Airways Group announced a net profit of KWD16.7 million (USD59.1 million) for the year 2013, beating previous years’ record earnings for the third consecutive year. While the company’s net profit jumped 19.6 percent year-on-year, its average yield improved 5.1 percent. Marwan Boodai, chairman, Jazeera Airways, commented, “We were able to secure our funding for three aircraft, essentially closing our lending requirements for two years [...] to close the year with the best performance in the group’s history.” Jazeera Airways Group expects another
profitable year and plans to place an aircraft order as part of a phased fleet modernisation programme.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
New Affiliate Tourism Body Set up in Dubai
Holy Qur’an Park Progresses to Third Phase The general projects department of Dubai Municipality (DM) has commenced the third phase of the Holy Qur’an Park development which is expected to be completed by September 2015 at an estimated cost of AED26 million (USD7.8 million). Hailed as one of the most prestigious projects to be undertaken by the civic body, the park is located in the Al Khawaneed area, and is being designed in the Islamic perspective, introducing the miracles of the Qur’an, as Hussain Nassar Lootah, director general, DM, explained. Spanning 64ha, the park will include plants mentioned in the Qur’an, along with facilities, such as an Islamic garden, children’s play areas, Umrah corner, an outdoor theatre, fountains, a desert garden, a palm oasis, a lake and sports areas. Commenting on the concluded phases of construction at the park, Lootah added, “The first stage of levelling was done using the construction wastes and other reusable waste materials saving AED12 million (USD3.4 million) of the cost. In the second stage, planting of 32ha and other facilities have been finished.”
08 FEBRUARY 2014
H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has established Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), a new affiliate tourism body of Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The new corporation will have a mandate which includes positioning the emirate as a prime destination for tourism, entertainment and events; promoting Dubai’s credentials for global business; and attracting regional and international businesses to set up offices in the emirate. DCTCM will also be responsible for establishing partnerships with both public and private sector organisations and for fostering trade relations with local, regional and international companies within relevant industries. The conglomerate will operate representative offices in several key markets around the world, and will also launch a tourist information centre in Dubai.
Expo 2020 Stimulates Digital Opportunities Following the announcement of Dubai’s World Expo 2020 win, global search engines and social media channels registered an unprecedented surge in Dubai-related keyword searches, heralding a new era for the local digital industry, and opening up opportunities to capitalise on this interest. According to Standard Chartered Bank, World Expo 2020 is expected to yield at least USD23 billion in revenue, a 5.5 percent GDP growth and the creation of 277,000 jobs. Andy Abbar, managing director, 7awi.com, commented, “Dubai World Expo 2020 will expose not only the UAE but also the MENA region, making way for impressive digital growth and innovation, and fostering inventiveness among MENA youth and businesses.”
S E A M L E S S LY B L E N D S W O R K A N D P L AY.
DMCA Promotes Sustained Growth Dubai Maritime City Authority (DMCA) has initiated the Dubai Maritime Sustainability Programme (MSP), extending the government’s vision for sustainable growth across all economic sectors. As H.E. Sultan Bin Sulayem, president, DMCA, explained the MSP initiative is targeted at strengthening the UAE’s maritime industry, and will also complement the larger Dubai Maritime Sector Strategy. By adopting practical steps to undertake some of the sector’s greatest challenges relating to social and environmental performance, DMCA’s new initiatives will promote sustained growth of the shipping industry and ensure that it continues to play a valuable role in the nation’s economy, Bin Sulayem further highlighted.
H.E. Sultan Bin Sulayem
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.
352 GUEST ROOMS, 7 DINING OUTLETS AN D 13 E XE M PL ARY M E ETI N G ROOMS NOW OPEN. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT WWW.DUBAIMARRIOTTALJADDAF.COM
DU BAI M ARRI OT T HOTE L AL JADDAF OUD METHA ROAD, AL JADDAF AREA PO BOX 122273, DUBAI, UAE T. 971.4.317.7777 DUBAIMARRIOTT.ALJADDAF@MARRIOTT.COM WWW.TRAVELBRILLIANTLY.COM
08 FEBRUARY 2014
WEEKLY NEWS BIA Gets New Prayer Room In a move to further enhance the facilities and services at Bahrain International Airport (BIA), Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has launched a new prayer room in the arrivals hall. The previously existing facility will now be allocated as a female prayer room, offering female passengers a separate area. The opening of the new praying room comes in line with BAC’s mission to ensure utmost passenger comfort and service excellence at the international hub. Through the provision of the airport’s world-class facilities, and operational and commercial excellence, BAC aims to attract and support airlines.
Bahrain International Airport 1 1/7/14
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Breakthrough in Aviation Biofuel Development Boeing and its research partners in the UAE have made a breakthrough in sustainable aviation biofuel development after finding that desert plants fed by seawater produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks. The next step in this advancement is for the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), affiliated with Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, to test these findings in a project that is hoped to support biofuel crop production in arid countries, including the UAE. As Dr. Alejandro Rios, director, SBRC, noted, the UAE has become a leader in researching desert land and seawater to grow sustainable biofuel feedstocks, which has potential applications in other parts of the world. Commenting on the recent findings, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, added, “This is real progress in developing a truly sustainable aviation biofuel from a renewable plant source, appropriate to our environment.”
CROWNE PLAZA DUQM
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.
CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT
CROWNE PLAZA SALALAH
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.
CROWNE PLAZA SOHAR
HOLIDAY INN MUSCAT AL SEEB
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.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Winning the Next Billion Asian Travellers TripAdvisor and The Boston Consulting Group have released a report titled Winning the Next Billion Asian Travellers – Starting with China, showing that by 2030, more than 50 percent of the growth in global traffic will originate from Asia Pacific, and 49 percent of all passenger traffic will be within Asia Pacific, or between this region and the rest of the world. Travellers from China will account for the lion’s share of this growth, and by 2030 the Asian country is likely to overtake the US as the world’s largest domestic travel market. A growing number of Chinese travellers are also planning to take long-haul trips this year. “China’s fast-growing outbound tourism market represents significant and unprecedented opportunities for businesses around the world,” stressed Lily Cheng, managing director, TripAdvisor China.
Al Ain Zoo Leopard Finds Soulmate Al Ain Zoo has introduced a critically endangered Arabian leopard named Qais, to Lubna, a female Arabian leopard from Al Bustan Zoological Centre in Sharjah. The Al Ain-based facility adopted Qais in 2008 at the age of four. The move played a significant role in the zoo’s commitment to conserving arid land species, providing them with an environment similar to that of their natural habitat. After intense research and several tests to ensure compatibility, Lubna travelled to the Garden City and the two leopards now live together and are looked after by the conservation department of endangered species. Arabian leopards are categorised as critically endangered with less than 200 individuals remaining in the mountains of Yemen and Oman. The species’ dwindling population is a result of habitat deterioration, urban expansion, hunting and a lack of prey.
Qais, the Arabian Leopard
SCTA Holds Tourism Workshop The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has conducted a workshop on its educational efforts in the field of tourism, with participants including officials from public departments relevant to the tourism sector across the GCC. The workshop focused on the Smile programme, one of the major SCTA initiatives carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Education since 2005. The project aims at raising tourism culture among the educational community and highlighting tourism attractive elements in the Kingdom. The event’s schedule included a detailed presentation about the programme delivered by Abdul Mohsin Al Dowaisi, director of community relations, SCTA, and a documentary on SCTA’s initiatives.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
City Seasons Hotels Reveals New Identity In a move to better reflect the company’s ambitious growth plans, City Seasons Group of Hotels introduced its new, refreshed logo as City Seasons Hotels. Over the past nine years, the company has experienced tremendous development, growing from a single hotel apartment property to six hotels in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Muscat. In light of the upcoming launch of Royal Rose Hotel, Abu Dhabi, and another new property in Dubai, the group decided it was the right time to debut a new identity that effectively showcases the different groupings within its portfolio, and paves the path for future expansion that will also include the introduction of two new categories.
City Seasons Suites Dubai
FRHI to Grow Further in MENA FRHI Hotels & Resorts (FRHI), the parent company of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, is planning to open a large collection of properties in various international destinations, including MENA, in the coming months. Aside from its five new hotels in Russia, Turkey and Indonesia, the company aims to launch one property in Saudi Arabia and one in the UAE. The 287-room Fairmont Riyadh, Business Gate will be part of a mixed-use development project that will also include a convention centre and commercial real estate space. Guests will enjoy a selection of dining venues, as well as spa and fitness facilities. Fairmont Ajman will be situated on the corniche and will feature 252 rooms and suites. It will also offer 2,000m² of indoor function space as well as outdoor meeting facilities.
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IHG Expands in Oman InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb, marking the company’s third property in the Omani capital and its sixth project in the Sultanate. Located just 10 minutes from Muscat International Airport, the hotel features 185 rooms, food and beverage outlets, an outdoor pool, ballroom, boardroom and meeting rooms catering for up to 250 people. “The hotel is a great place to stay whether you are here for business or leisure,” commented Oppenheimer Pinto, general manager, Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb. Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, added, “With tourist numbers to Oman on the increase, we are confident that Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb will offer a comfortable and quality option for visitors to Muscat, and play a key role in the city’s future too.”
InterContinental Muscat: Golf Market Emerging InterContinental Muscat is ready to capture a portion of the emerging markets showing an interest in the Sultanate, which, according to Dorien Smit, director of sales and marketing, InterContinental Muscat, are Italy, Spain, and certain Asian nations. The hotel’s current major feeder segments remain GCC residents, the UK, France and Germany, Smit added. “We have a close relationship with the three golf courses in Muscat. We offer special packages [which include] stay and play in cooperation with Muscat Hills, overnight stay, breakfast, access to the golf courses and the equipment and of course a golf amenity in the room,” said Smit. She also revealed that the property targets the leisure market, as golf tourism is already well-known in Europe and is showing growth in Oman as well. “Golf tourism is an upcoming segment in Oman, but it will expand over the coming years,” Smit concluded.
HMH Adds to Dubai Portfolio Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has signed a management agreement to operate Corp Al Khoory Hotel in Al Barsha, Dubai, further strengthening the company’s position in the UAE. The 228-key hotel is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2016, and will feature multiple food and beverage outlets, a conference hall, spa and swimming pool. Commenting on the deal, Laurent Voivenel, CEO, HMH, said, “The hotel enjoys a prime location and is being designed to provide customers with a value proposition they have come to expect from the Corp brand. The hotel’s contemporary style and mix of leisure and business services and amenities will serve to attract both families and corporate guests.”
Laurent Voivenel (left) and Mohammed Tayyeb Khoory, chairman, Mohammed Tayyeb Khoory and Sons
Chinese Funding Secured for SKAI Holdings Dubai-based real estate investment company, SKAI Holdings has secured AED737.6 million (USD201 million) of financing for its AED3.75 billion (USD1.02 billion) Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah project. As Khalid Obaid Al Mutaiwei, senior director, real estate development, trust account development, Real Estate Regulatory Authority, pinpointed, the total construction funds for the project have now been fully secured. “An increasing number of Chinese investors are looking to the Middle East and the UAE in particular as they seek to diversify their assets and investment portfolio,” explained Yu Tao, CEO, China State Construction Engineering Corporation. The main structural works of the luxury residential and hospitality project, which will feature 479 rooms and suites and 222 residences, are already underway and the venture is due for completion in 2016.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Marriott Owns Fastest-Growing New-Construction Pipeline Based on information published by Smith Travel Research, Marriott International had the fastest-growing new-construction pipeline in the industry, worldwide, in 2013. The group reported that it signed more than one project per day in 2013, totalling a record 387 hotels and 67,000 rooms. Marriott International is rapidly growing new brands such as EDITION, which is set to expand into Abu Dhabi by 2015. “Staying focused on our strategy of global growth and brand differentiation has paid off for Marriott and its owners and franchisees. We look forward to opening even more hotels [this year] and beyond, introducing Marriott and its brands to new guests and welcoming loyal customers to new and exciting locations across the globe,” said Arne Sorenson, president, Marriott International.
The London EDITION
Grand Millennium Dubai Unveils Refurbished Apartments Grand Millennium Dubai has completed a refurbishment project on its apartment tower. The extensive development venture included the full revamp of 81 one-bedroom, 35 two-bedroom and 20 studio apartments, further enhancing guest experience at the hotel, according to Peter Mansourian, general manager, Grand Millennium Dubai. “Our objective is to always offer the best in terms of comfort and value to our guests and we are confident that they will appreciate and enjoy the improved facilities. There has been tremendous enhancement in terms of soft furnishings including carpets, curtains and upholstery, among others. In addition we have also made upgrades in terms of technology and connectivity,” said Mansourian, further noting that the serviced apartment concept is rapidly gaining popularity among both leisure and corporate GCC travellers.
Grand Millennium Dubai
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Rosewood Sanya to Open in 2017 Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been appointed to manage the upcoming Rosewood Sanya in China. Scheduled to open in 2017, the property will be located in Haitang Bay in southern Hainan Island, and is being designed as an integrated resort surrounding the International Finance Forum convention centre, which is due to be launched in 2015. Occupying 14 floors, the hotel will feature 229 rooms, while 61 residential villas will be also available. Rosewood Sanya is the third property to be announced by the group in mainland China, following Rosewood Beijing, and Rosewood Chongqing.
Emiratisation a Key Focus in Dubai’s Hospitality
Participants at START
Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) organised the latest edition of a vocational training programme named START, which was aimed at providing young professionals with the knowledge and skills required for long-term careers in the hospitality and tourism industry. An award ceremony was recently held to honour more than 40 UAE nationals who took part in the initiative. “Over the last decade, Emiratisation has been a key focus for governmental entities across the UAE. We launched the START vocational programme in 2011, with the objective of providing intensive training for UAE nationals, and consequently helping to increase the number of UAE nationals working in the hospitality and tourism sectors,” explained Ibrahim Yaqoot, executive director, corporate support, DTCM. The number of UAE nationals currently working in the sector has reached 2,000, with an aim to increase the number by 15 percent every year until 2020.
Zubarah Boutique Hotel Launched Zubarah Boutique Hotel, The Classical Palace Group’s latest project in Doha, is now open for business. Featuring 45 rooms and suites, the hotel offers accommodation for both business and leisure travellers. Guests can also take advantage of various food and beverage outlets, including a contemporary Arabic-fusion all-day dining restaurant and an Argentinean restaurant. A gym, spa and a 36m2 meeting room is also available along with catering services. The launch of the hotel marks the Zubarah Hotels & Resorts brand’s debut, and is set to introduce a new hospitality concept, defined by the Qatari culture, to the city.
Zubarah Boutique Hotel
Concorde Conducts Trainings Concorde by Mourouj Fujairah organised two workshops on effective communication and handling guest complaints. Trainings included lectures on understanding body language, effective listening skills, and pointers on how to improve critical thinking, identify and deal with challenging customer behaviour, and achieve customer retention. “These [activities] are beneficial for both the individuals and for the property, as they equate to better customer service and create a positive impact on the organisation as a whole,” said Mohamed Fekry, general manager, Concorde by Mourouj Fujairah.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Air Arabia to Fly to Antalya Air Arabia is to launch nonstop services to Antalya, its second destination in Turkey, after Istanbul. Starting July 29, the low-cost carrier will operate three weekly flights between its primary hub in Sharjah and the popular tourism hotspot. According to Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, the new route is a testament to the airline’s commitment to providing affordable holiday options. “Antalya, our second Turkish destination, is one of the most visited cities in terms of international arrivals, [...] and this route provides a great opportunity for visitors to experience the rich culture and beauty of the Turkish Riviera,” Ali further added.
EGYPTAIR to Operate Nonstop to Paris and London In light of the cooperation between Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Tourism for the restoration of tourism traffic, EGYPTAIR plans to start nonstop flights from Luxor to London and Paris this month. Luxor operations to the French capital are set to launch on February 15 using a 145-seat Airbus 320-200. Meanwhile, the London route is due to start on February 17 and will be served by a Boeing 737-800 aircraft accommodating 160 passengers. The two new destinations join EGYPTAIR’s portfolio of daily direct flights to many other European cities. The national carrier also runs nostop flights between Luxor and Kuwait, while EGYPTAIR EXPRESS operates direct services from Sharm El Sheikh to Kuwait, Jeddah and Riyadh; Alexandria to Beirut and Athens; and from Sohag to Kuwait.
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flynas Expands in Egypt flynas has announced the launch of two weekly flights between Jeddah and Aswan, further growing the carrier’s Egyptian operations. The south Egyptian city has become the Saudi airline’s sixth destination in the North African country after Alexandria, Assiut, Sohag, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh. “The service connecting Aswan and Jeddah is an integral part of our ambitious plan to expand our network in Egypt, and we hope to announce another major destination in Egypt in the near future to be added to our comprehensive network in this country,” commented Raja Azmi, CEO, flynas, adding that the expansion forms part of the carrier’s 20x20 strategy targeting 20 million passengers per annum by 2020.
Etihad Airways Goes Double Daily to Dublin Etihad Airways plans to increase its operations between Abu Dhabi and Dublin from 10 flights per week to double daily, effective from July 15. The 10 percent frequency boost will provide 8,988 seats each week between the capital cities. The UAE carrier will deploy a Boeing 777-300 ER and an Airbus A330-200 on the route. According to James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, since the inauguration of the Abu Dhabi – Dublin service in July 2007, it has been one of the airline’s most successful routes and the frequency increase is expected to benefit both leisure and business travellers. The boost by Etihad Airways supports the pledge made by Hogan to Enda Kenny, prime minister, Ireland, to continue to play a key role in enhancing UAE - Irish ties. Welcoming the decision, Kevin Toland, CEO, Dublin Airport Authority, said, “Dublin has long been one of Etihad Airways’ busiest routes and the airline has steadily expanded capacity on the service over the past six years.”
EGYPTAIR Launches Office in Khartoum In a bid to provide the best services to its customers worldwide, EGYPTAIR has recently opened a new sales office in Khartoum, Sudan. The facility has been provided with the latest service amenities and premium waiting areas that aim to give a unique experience to the airline’s customers visiting the newly launched office. The new sales bureau will be open between Saturday and Thursday from 09:00 to 16:00.
Safi Airways Launches Loyalty Programme Safi Airways, the international airline of Afghanistan, launched its customer loyalty programme ‘Saffron Rewards’ at a gala function held in Kabul. The new initiative took effect from February 1, and all tickets issued after that date are entitled to rewards. Naeem Mahamoor, marketing manager, Safi Airways, explained, “Our main focus is to deliver a simple effective rewards programme to our customers. Seven boarding pass stubs will earn a one-way ticket and eleven boarding pass stubs will earn a return ticket to any Safi Airways destination. The class of travel will be determined as per the flown boarding stub class of travel.” Safi Airways currently operates to three popular international destinations including Dubai, New Delhi and Islamabad. Safi Airways
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Emirates to Upgrade Moscow Service
Emirates A380 First Class Private Suite
Etihad Regional Takes to the Skies Etihad Regional, the latest member of Etihad Airways’ equity alliance inaugurated its first commercial route at the end of January. The maiden flight, operated by a newly branded 50-seat Saad 2000 aircraft, departed from the airline’s hub in Geneva, Switzerland and landed at Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport, Fiumicino, in Rome, Italy. Maurizio Merlo, CEO, Darwin Airline, the operator of the new brand, described the launch of the new service as the beginning of a very successful collaboration, which will benefit the customers of both airlines. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, added, “Integrating Etihad Regional into our equity alliance is consistent with our approach to expansion, which relies on the strength of strategic partnerships across the globe. This partnership will have a positive impact, stimulating regional competition in Europe and ultimately benefiting travellers across the globe.”
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Emirates is to boost its Moscow route with a double daily A380 service from August 1, increasing passenger capacity by 15 percent. The two-deck Airbus A380 will offer 399 places in economy class, 76 lie-flat business class seats as well as 14 first class private suites. Confirming the route’s popularity, especially since the introduction of the first A380 in 2012, Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, Emirates, said, “Since launching services between Dubai and Moscow in July 2003, we have received a very positive response from Russian customers and trade partners. […] This second aircraft upgrade will help us meet the ever increasing demand, giving many more travellers the chance to experience our flagship A380 aircraft and all its comforts and features.”
Air Malta to Return to Algeria Air Malta will relaunch its regular services to Algiers on March 19. The European carrier’s decision to return to the North African country follows the encouraging results of the 2013 summer season’s venture to the Algerian capital. The airline will operate twice weekly flights, on Wednesdays and Sundays, and later on Mondays and Thursdays, throughout summer up until October 23. It is hoped that the operations will help support and promote commercial links between the two countries and stimulate tourism movement in both directions. The schedule has been designed to offer connectivity to and from Air Malta’s destinations, providing passengers with convenient connections. Algeria will soon have a Maltese consulate general which will offer visa facilities.
Marriott International Unveils North America’s Tallest Hotel
Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Expands in Switzerland Having launched in the country more than 40 years ago, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has recently announced the opening of Sheraton Zurich Hotel, marking the brand’s second hotel in the financial capital of Switzerland. “The opening of Sheraton Zurich allows us to meet the growing demand for internationally-branded hotel accommodations in the city while offering a new gathering place for the local community,” commented Michael Wale, president, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Sheraton Zurich Hotel comprises 197 guest rooms, including 32 suites. The property features the Sheraton Club Lounge on the 10th floor, more than 600m² of meeting and event space, and a Swiss grill restaurant. The group currently operates six hotels in Switzerland under four of its lifestyle brands. This includes the recently opened W Verbier, as well as Sheraton Zurich, Sheraton Neues Schloss and Four Points by Sheraton Sihlcity in Zurich.
Marriott International and G Holdings have launched a combined 378-room Courtyard and 261-suite Residence Inn hotel in Midtown Manhattan, which is hailed as the tallest single-use hotel in North America. The USD320 million, 68-storey property, which encompasses Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park and Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park, is owned by G Holdings and managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts. “This opening is a prime example of an ideal dual-branded hotel. Thanks to our long-time partner, Harry Gross [CEO of G Holdings] and his family, this will surely be both brands’ crown jewel,” said Janis Milham, senior vice president, modern essentials and extended stay, Marriott International. The hotels’ contemporary design, stunning views and friendly staff will make the property a great ambassador for the city, she added.
IHG Opens First Holiday Inn Express in Jakarta InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has launched the first Holiday Inn Express hotel in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta. The 101-room Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Thamrin is situated in the heart of the city’s central business district, close to shopping and entertainment precincts, and one hour drive from Soekarno Hatta International Airport. The hotel offers queen and twin guestrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and a self-service business centre. Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Thamrin is the fifth Holiday Inn Express hotel in Southeast Asia. In the coming months, Indonesia will welcome three more Holiday Inn Express hotels; Holiday Inn Express Bali Kuta Square, Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta, and Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Pluit Citygate.
Holiday Inn Express Jakarta Thamrin
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Michele Frignani Michele Frignani has taken over at Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort as general manager With over three decades of experience, Frignani started his career as a front office clerk and went on to specialise in the food and beverage field. He joined Starwood Hotels &
Resorts Worldwide in 1997 and first became a general manager in 2002 at The Westin Excelsior and Grand Hotel in Rome. Over the past years, he also held various senior management positions with some leading world brands, including Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide.
Ziad Fostuq Ziad Fostuq has been named as the new general manager at Amlak Hotels & Tourism Investment Company’s Belle Vue Hotel, Amman. With over 19 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, Fostuq’s previous appointments include various roles with InterContinental Hotels Group, such as director of sales and marketing at Crowne Plaza Amman and Le Méridien Amman. Most recently he led the
08 FEBRUARY 2014
team at Bristol Amman as the property’s general manager. Fostuq holds a bachelors degree in hotel and restaurant management from the US and has gained a wealth of knowledge from multiple business courses over the years. His main priorities at Belle Vue, Amman, include bringing the hotel to the next level in terms of marketing exposure and service aspects, while ensuring utmost guest satisfaction.
Sayyora Asatova Sayyora Asatova has returned to Jumeirah Group as the new director of sales at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai. Asatova, who has over 15 years of experience in the industry, had previously worked at Burj al Arab as business development manager. She left this position in 2007 to become
the associate director of business development at a tourism company. Following this, Asatova spent four years at Atlantis, The Palm, where she most recently worked as director of international leisure sales before taking on this new challenge with Jumeirah Group.
Manoj Papa Manoj Papa has been announced as the new CEO of Air Seychelles, Etihad Airways’ strategic partner, effective from March 1. Papa joins the carrier from South African Airways (SAA), where he most renecntly served as acting general manager, commercial. In this role he was also instrumental in developing the Long Term Turnaround Strategy for SAA. He started his career with
SAA, working across different functions, including finance, sales and distribution, sales strategy, the frequent flyer programme as well as e-commerce. His time with the company also saw him take on the responsibilities of regional general manager for Asia and Australasia. He joined Etihad Airways in 2007, later serving as vice president of corporate strategy before moving back to SAA in 2012.
travel talk is your space
TRAVEL TALK Taleb Rifai
Ali Hassan Sulaiman
Secretary general, World Tourism Organization.
Chief officer flight operations, Oman Air.
“The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions. The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement this year, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth.”
“I am delighted to welcome the trainee pilots and congratulate all those who have successfully completed their demanding training courses. I would like to offer a special welcome to the many Omani graduates who have joined Oman Air. The posts within flight operations are very challenging and it is encouraging to see many Omanis opting to undergo their rigorous training before ‘taking their wings’ with their national carrier.”
Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah
Chairman, Gulf Hotels Group.
CEO, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC).
“The decision [to appoint Aqeel Raees as a member of the board of directors] is in recognition of his dedication and continued efforts to develop the group’s business since his appointment as CEO in 2002, where he has successfully led the management team of all divisions of the group to achieving unprecedented results and doubling the income and net profits several times.”
“BAC is heading steadily toward realising its goals of improving the airport’s infrastructure while diversifying its revenue streams. Following the agreements signing with United Commercial Agencies [to provide an advanced digital mobile radio solution to be used across the stakeholder groups operating in the airport] and Universal Enterprises [for replacing the flooring at Bahrain International Airport], we are keeping our promise to provide a secure and efficient travel experience.”
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 email@example.com
08 FEBRUARY 2014
AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Chaminda Dias POSITION: CEO COMPANY: Luxe Asia LOCATION: Sri Lanka/Maldives WEB: www.luxeasia.lk
Who are you? I am the founder of Luxe Asia which commenced operations in 2009. A destination management company specialising in luxury holidays, Luxe Asia has operations set up in Sri Lanka and the Maldives. I have 15 years of industry experience as I commenced my career as a management trainee for Hilton Worldwide. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is a vast and diverse industry with some of the most fascinating people you are ever likely to meet which makes it interesting and challenging at the same time. Meeting and dealing with people would be one of my favourite things about this trade. When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka and the Maldives? Sri Lanka and Maldives are year-round destinations but if I had to give an answer it would be from November to March when the weather is at its most clement. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I rarely have time for holidays and even less time now that I have a toddler at home, but I have always wanted to go on safari in Tanzania, or possibly go to Brazil for the football world cup. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Luxe Asia specialises in individual travellers and as such we are geared to meet the very special requirements of high-end travellers and tour operators. The knowledgeable team here, with firsthand experience of the product, can advise on the best possible options depending on the available time and budget.
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Queensland Promoted to GCC Agents in Series of Roadshows Global travel distributor, Gullivers Travel Associates (GTA), has participated in roadshows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai which were organised by Tourism and Events Queensland. The two companies also launched a four-page flyer with a series of special offers for Middle Eastern travellers. Around 120 GCC travel agents arrived in the UAE to learn more about some of Australia’s accommodation providers, service and experience suppliers and airlines. During the roadshows they could attend a series of presentations to increase their familiarity with destinations such as Cairns, Brisbane, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts,
and the Whitsunday Islands. Commenting on the initiative, Rami Mashini, vice president, sales, Middle East and Africa, GTA, said, “Middle Eastern travel agents know that they can rely on our thorough understanding of the world’s destinations and this is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the best of Queensland. “Our worldwide reach and decades of travel expertise means we can act quickly to secure allocations throughout the year, and negotiate attractive – and free – cancellation terms, special offers and competitive rates that wereincluded in the promotions we launched during the trade shows.”
TRAVEL CHANNELS Oman Air Backs Maktabati Reading Project
Saudia’s Loyalty Scheme Reaches Three Million
Oman Air has showed its support to Maktabati, a mobile literacy project which encourages Omani children to improve their reading skills, by using a large number of donated Arabic and English books.
C Khalid Abdul Wahab Al Balushi (left) and Jean Jafar, representative, Dar Al Atta Charity Association
ommenting on the initiative, Khalid Abdul Wahab Al Balushi, senior manager, government relations and sustainability, Oman Air, said, “Children throughout Oman are finding, through the work of the Maktabati project, that the famous Arab poet Al Mutanabi spoke wisely when he said ‘the book is the best companion’, and the resulting increase in reading skills within the Sultanate has the potential to make an important contribution to the lives and well-being of future generations, and of the nation as a whole.”
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) announced that the number of Alfursan members, the airline’s frequent flyers, reached three million by the end of 2013, while the number of reward tickets issued totalled at 48,643. Abdul Aziz Khayyat, director, Alfursan programme, Saudia, said, “We have developed the website, offering a lot of incentives to passengers, including management of accounts, special facilities for making bookings and purchasing tickets, adding unregistered flights and purchasing reward miles.” Efforts are underway to set up special platforms at airports for Alfursan members to upgrade their class, considering the miles they have crossed, and to provide them with seat priorities on domestic and international flights, according to Khayyat.
SCTA to Enhance Museum Culture
IHG Report Reveals Desire for Personalised Services
In a bid to strengthen the role of museums in the development of the tourism industry, Saudi Commission of Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) launched a set of programmes aiming to create a cultural shift in the society’s opinion towards museums and national heritage. One of these initiatives, organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, is called ‘Smile’ and aims to enroot tourism culture among school students. ‘Smile’ activities include museum visits to learn about the importance of their role in culture and education. SCTA also seeks to update these cultural centres by linking them to tourism activities and developing staff and human resources. The authority is currently responsible for 29 museums and is working on the establishment of five more in Dammam, Al Baha, Abha, Hail, and Tabuk.
According to new research published by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), modern travellers want hotel brands that are three-dimensional, entailing global, local, and personal aspects, mainly due to the rapid rise of technology-enabled personalisation. Entitled Creating Moments of Trust: The key to building successful brand relationships in the Kinship Economy, the report reveals that hotel guests are now increasingly looking for properties that not only deliver consistently high quality service and reflect local trends and customs, but also tailor their stays to meet each individual’s personal preferences. Richard Solomons, CEO, IHG, pinpointed, guests increasingly expect brands to deliver localised and personalised experiences, whether they are travelling for business or leisure. Crowne Plaza Manama
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Q & A with Cyril Mouawad Following the completion of a major refurbishment project, InterContinental Doha is now hoping to draw an even greater number of both business and leisure tourism guests who, according to Cyril Mouawad, director of sales and marketing, InterContinental Doha, are attracted by the propertyâ€™s unique features.
Travel Trade Weekly: What is the latest news and developments from InterContinental Doha? Cyril Mouawad: In July 2013 we completed a multi-million dollar renovation that tackled all rooms, suites and main all-day dining areas; we also made sure that other areas were refreshed to represent and offer a true InterContinental experience. We will continue the development within the property, and are currently finalising the plans for an additional executive wing of 120 rooms and an additional 76 luxurious apartments, 18 beach chalets, and also a new beach restaurant and bar which will add a fantastic dining partying experience to Doha. We plan to position this outlet as the leading place to see and be seen in Qatar. Furthermore, a new Asian seafood restaurant will be added in 2015, offering guests a variation of specialties from Japanese to Thai, Chinese and Singaporean. Travel Trade Weekly: Where do the majority of your guests arrive from and why? Cyril Mouawad: 80 percent of the travellers to Qatar are business travellers at this time and the rest are leisure travellers. This is a representative distribution, with a slight variation from one hotel to another; we do have an advantage to attract more leisure travellers being on the beach. The country is being developed now, and the 20 percent leisure travellers have developed in the last five to six years, when the destination started to open up more to other parts of the world. Our main geographic sources of travellers are the UAE, Saudi Arabia,
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Cyril Mouawad Director of sales and marketing, InterContinental Doha
There are a lot of extended-stay guests who come for two- or three-month projects, and in some cases even as long as six months. We have a lot of extended-stay guests that stay with us and they favour our hotel because during an extended stay you have to spend weekends in the country. When you spend the weekend here you will need additional facilities and your family may want to fly over from your home country, and you will want a place which they can explore and enjoy. We also have short-term guests that spend, on average, three nights in the hotel. Travel Trade Weekly: What needs to be done to further improve Qatar's tourism product?
the UK, France and the US. Travel Trade Weekly: What latest tourism trends are you witnessing in Qatar, and how is InterContinental Doha responding to them? Cyril Mouawad: It is very important to remember that tourists are always looking for new destinations to explore and discover; Qatar is a perfect blend between ancient traditions and evolution. Having said this, we have made sure to offer our guests the local Arabic hospitality in a modern and new setting. InterContinental Doha offers an excellent location where you will benefit from a beach resort in the middle of downtown, away from the congestion, moreover the hotel is considered a hub for indoor and outdoor sports lovers, diverse cuisines, nightlife and sparkling events.
Cyril Mouawad: The most important thing to bear in mind is that Qatar has all the components to become a bigger tourist destination. It has beaches, with InterContinental Doha itself having the longest ocean frontage of 500m Qatar is also an adventure destination, running international adventure sports events. The countryâ€™s infrastructure is being developed to be able to cater to more tourists. The airport is going to be able to receive more aircraft and flights. Similarly, Qatar Airways has been expanding its destinations and Qatar has become a hub for the travel sector in the region, with Doha receiving many 48hour stopovers. We believe the tourism segment will continue to grow. Currently, a big proportion of visitors to Doha are business travellers, creating a lot of opportunities for the leisure segment, especially with all the ongoing developments.
NEWS & EVENTS
Local Hotel Brands Grow Steadily
Homegrown hotel brands from the Middle East will have significant presence at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) according to Reed Travel Exhibitions’ report. Even if international hotel management companies operate over 174 fourand five-star properties accounting for 22 percent of the 802 total regional hotel stock, there is an emerging trend whereby the creation of stand alone local brands provide owners with an added competitive edge. “Some of the more established homegrown hotel brands from the Middle East are not only on the rise throughout the region, but are also expanding into other western markets [...],” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions. According to Walsh, exhibiting at ATM allows independent local companies to showcase their brand attributes directly to industry stakeholders.
ABU DHABI NATIONAL EXHIBITION CENTRE
MEETING POINT OF WORLD-CLASS EVENTS
Borsa International Tourism Exchange (BIT) Milano, Italy, February 13 – 15, 2014 (www.bit.fieramilano.it) 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 (www.ameistanbul.com) 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 (www.holidayexpo.com.au) 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 (www.itb-berlin.de) One of the world’s biggest travel trade shows; a leading business-to-business platform for trade visitors.
Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) Melbourne, Australia, February 18 – 19, 2014 (www.aime.com.au) A two-day exhibition for those involved in organising business travel, meetings, incentives and events.
Luxury Travel Mart (LTM) Russia Moscow, Russia, March 13, 2014 (www.luxurytravelmart.ru) The 10th edition of this business-tobusiness event will give luxury travel service providers a unique opportunity to get their products to their target market.
Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) Guangzhou, China, February 27 – March 1, 2014 (www.gitf.com.cn) A business-to-business fair focused on outbound and inbound travel and MICE.
Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 31 – April 4, 2014 (www.sttim.com.sa) One of the most prestigious shows dedicated to the travel and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.
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
February 2014 Tawdheef Recruitment Show
The Bride Show
Abu Dhabi Electronics Shopper & IT
March 2014 International Jewellery & Watch Show
GIBTM - The Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition
adnec.ae Information correct at time of publication. Please check www.adnec.ae/whatson for alterations.
08 FEBRUARY 2014
Published on Feb 7, 2014
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...