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CYPRUS! Monthly

08 MARCH 2014


Warwick to Enter Qatar Warwick International Hotels and Al Madaen Group signed a new agreement to manage and operate the first Warwick branded hotel in Qatar.

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has established an industry development committee for Al Ain.

11 Emirates Says Hello Chicago From August 5, Emirates is launching a daily service to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport which will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR.


02 03 07 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

New Tourism Committee for Al Ain





Air Arabia: Net Profit Soars Air Arabia recorded a net profit of AED94 million (USD25.6 million) for the fourth quarter of 2013.


his figure marks a year-on-year increase of 12 percent and brings the year-end profit to AED435 million, up two percent. The airline’s turnover for the full year stood at AED3.2 billion (USD871.2 million), representing a 14 percent surge, while passenger numbers jumped 15 percent to 6.1

SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian

million, leading to a load factor of 80 percent. “We will continue to explore opportunities and enter into new ventures that will best serve the airline’s ambitious growth plans, and at the same time provide highest returns to our shareholders,” commented Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia.


Double-digit RevPAR Growth in Dubai

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


07/03/2014 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)



STR Global’s preliminary January data for Dubai indicates positive RevPAR increase. According to the report, during January supply rose 5.9 percent while demand surged 5.5 percent resulting in a slight, 0.4 percent decline in occupancy to 87.5 percent, and a 11.7 percent improvement in average daily rate (ADR) to

AED1,177.74 (USD320.64). As a result, hoteliers recorded a 11.2 percent rise in RevPAR to AED1,031.10 (USD280.72). Elizabeth Winkle, managing director, STR Global, noted that ADR achieved the highest levels of any January since 2008, and remains the main driver for the double-digit growth in RevPAR.

Top Year for Abu Dhabi Duty Free


ith retail revenues reaching AED912.7 million (USD248 million), up 13 percent yearon-year, Abu Dhabi Duty Free set a new milestone in 2013. The year ended on a high note with December 2013 proving to be the busiest month for Abu Dhabi International Airport, as sales figures reached AED92 million (USD25 million).

“Abu Dhabi Duty Free increased the choice of luxury brands and product offerings for customers, and together with some inspired promotional campaigns, it has seen the money spent on duty free products increase throughout the year,” explained Mohammed Al Bulooki, chief commercial officer, Abu Dhabi Airports, adding that the new terminal, which will open in 2017, will offer a total of 28,000m2 of retail space.

Abu Dhabi Duty Free

08 MARCH 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Middle East Leads the Superyacht Market According to Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss), the Middle East is amongst the most important superyacht marketing regions, exhibiting the highest growth, as owners of luxury vessels continue to increase. Robert van Tol, operational director, SYBAss, said, “While traditionally, Western Europe and North America are the major markets for superyachts of 40m and above in numbers, due to the many ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) in these regions, the penetration percentage of each area – the number of UHNWIs versus the number of superyacht owners – provides a much more interesting insight into the markets.” Aiming to capitalise on the Middle East’s position as one of the world’s leading luxury superyacht destinations, the 22nd edition of Dubai International Boat Show, organised by Dubai World Trade Centre, ran from March 4 - 8 at Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi, and attracted more than 26,000 visitors.

Dubai International Boat Show


New Tourism Committee for Al Ain Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) has established an industry development committee for Al Ain. According to Sultan Al Dhaheri, acting executive director, tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi, the new committee’s main objective will be to attract more visitors to Al Ain and the Eastern Region of Abu Dhabi, and encourage them to stay longer. “We have a task before us to boost awareness of the tourism offering in Al Ain and the Eastern Region both locally, regionally and internationally,” stressed Al Dhaheri, adding that the region is expected to see between 650 to 800 new hotel rooms come on line in the next 18 months. In 2013, some 311,640 guests checked into hotels and hotel apartments in Al Ain and the Eastern Region, delivering 640,957 room nights, marking a 12 percent year-on-year increase.

Emaar Jameel to Launch Integrated Property Projects Saudi business group, Abdul Latif Jameel, and Emaar Properties have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop integrated real estate projects under a new partnership entity, Emaar Jameel, in Saudi Arabia. As Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, explained, the Dubaibased company will leverage the experience of developing master-planned ‘downtown projects’ that have strong positive economic impacts on the destinations, and support job creation as well as youth entrepreneurship. “Our integrated community developments will meet the growing demand for high-end and affordable luxury homes in the Kingdom, in addition to driving the hospitality and retail sector growth and strengthening all-round infrastructure,” he said. The communities will draw on the latest technologies and offer smart connectivity. Featuring landscaped central parks, mosques, educational institutions, healthcare centres, children’s play areas and community centres, all the developments will be tailored to meet the lifestyle requirements of residents.

08 MARCH 2014



dnata Launches Line Maintenance Services

Rise in Islam-friendly MICE Destinations

dnata’s airport operations division has launched aircraft line maintenance to support passenger and cargo airline operators by providing technical assistance for aircraft landing at Dubai International and Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central. “With a highly-skilled team, the technology, and the expertise, our line maintenance services are a cost-effective solution for airlines of any size,” said Ali Al Banna, executive vice president, airport operations, dnata, adding that there is active interest from the airline community for line maintenance support in the emirate. “The demand for specialised aircraft maintenance services is significant. This new service will help Dubai continue its reputation as a leader in global aviation,” Al Banna concluded. dnata has been providing ground handling solutions at Dubai International since 1959. The company currently handles 345,000 aircraft movements at the facility and works with more than 145 airlines from the international hub.

Demand for Shariah-compliant MICE options is increasing, with many regional and international meeting and incentive groups, as well as corporate teams and business travellers looking for meetings facilities that embrace Islamic culture and comply with the Islamic law. The upcoming Gulf Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) expo aims to highlight the growth of this market with two seminar sessions which will look at the current MICE trends throughout the region, and offer trending insights and business forecasts. Sharjah is the ideal location for planners looking to book Shariah-abiding MICE activities for their Islamic clients, suggested Lois Hall, exhibition manager, GIBTM, adding, “Destination Sharjah proudly retains its Islamic culture and heritage. It has an abundance of museums, art galleries, mosques and other buildings which are considered fine examples of Islamic architecture.”

Businessmen Networking at GIBTM

Manama Teams Up with Nice

real family hospitality!

H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Hmood Al Khalifa, acting assistant undersecretary for tourism, Bahrain, recently signed a memorandum of understanding between Manama and the city of Nice, France. The agreement is aimed at enhancing coordination between the two destinations in order to devise an action plan to hold diverse functions and projects all year round, and boost the Kingdom’s economy through tourism. Al Khalifa also held a meeting with Olivier-Henri Sambucchi, culture director, City Hall, Nice, to discuss the possibility of hosting art works by French artists, and organising concerts in Manama which is celebrating the year of art. The two parties also examined the option of holding a French week in Bahrain and vice versa.

08 MARCH 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Qatar National Tourism Strategy Revealed

Positive Change in KPIs

Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) launched its new National Tourism Strategy during the ‘Tourism in Tomorrow’s World’ conference in Qatar. Underlining the need for a structured plan, H.E. Issa Al Mohannadi, chairman, QTA, said, “We must be well-prepared to develop a postcarbon economy. Tourism is an untapped resource. Turning Qatar towards a tourism economy is the first step after oil and gas. […] Tourism is the gateway to the world. Focusing on tourism will also enable us to improve our infrastructure and visitor facilities and services.” In his speech, Al Mohannadi also reinforced Qatar’s commitment to developing the niche in a sustainable way, and highlighted the target of welcoming seven million tourists per annum.

H.E. Issa Al Mohannadi at the Conference Icon TTG 01 Half Page AD 155x220.pdf



Several GCC destinations including Dubai, Manama, Jeddah and Kuwait City recorded notable year-on-year improvements in their key performance indicators (KPIs) in 2013, Ernst & Young’s latest Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey revealed. During the year under review, some 2,780 new hotel rooms within the four- and five-star segment were added to Dubai’s hotel supply, however the market has rapidly absorbed this influx and maintained an occupancy level of 80 percent, while average daily rate rose 6.4 percent, leading to a 5.9 percent year-on-year RevPAR surge. Both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain witnessed increases in RevPAR, while Manama recorded a 10.8 percent rise in the same metric, and Jeddah and Kuwait City registered 9.3 percent and 3.7 percent growth respectively.

4:06 PM



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08 MARCH 2014




Dubai and Hamburg Explore Synergies in Tourism On the occasion of the 4th Dubai Hamburg Business Forum, held in Hamburg in February, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry released reports focused on opportunities for cooperation between the emirate and the German city. According to the relevant findings, Dubai’s investment in multimodal logistics transport infrastructure has put the emirate in a leading position as a global logistics hub, while in light of Hamburg’s strong position as an aviation hub, there is significant potential for collaboration in areas such as the building of an aviation cluster in Dubai, for maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, and technical and vocational training. The study also pointed towards prospects for businesses in the environmental and sustainability sectors of both cities to collaborate on green technologies, especially in the areas of renewable energy, waste and water management and green building standards.

Seawings Launches Services from DWC Dubai-based seaplane tour operator Seawings has launched a new air taxi service from Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC). Working in collaboration with JETEX Flight Support, the new product offers clients a luxury private transfer in a nineseat Cessna 208 Caravan Seaplane, to various points in Dubai and beyond. Stuart Wheeler, CEO, Seawings, commented, “Passengers will benefit from this one-of-a-kind service offering a comfortable travel experience combined with incredible views of the UAE. Seawings seaplanes can take off and land on water or runways and thus offer easy connectivity to various locations around Dubai and the UAE.” JETEX will be offering the downtown air taxi flight as an added value to its existing services for its own private jet clients.

Ahmad Badreddine, station manager, Jetex (left) and Stuart Wheeler, CEO, Seawings

World-class Zoo Comes to Doha Qatar is set to welcome a new zoo by 2020 featuring drivethrough safaris, an elephant walk-way and various hotels, including a seven-star tree-top establishment. Spread over 71ha, the zoo will link with Aspire Park and Villagio Mall via a cable car, dedicated tram system and a custombuilt walk-way to create a ‘zoo within a park’. Gregory Clarkson, senior planner, Ashghal, Qatar’s public works authority, explained that the zoo will be split into zones, and will feature star animal attractions including gorillas, giraffes, lions, tigers, rhinos and elephants. The development will also include drive- and walk-through African and Asian safari zones, a mountain experience and a tropical rainforest environment. In addition, there are plans for an exclusive tree-house hotel as well as a five-star rainforest hotel and a four-star family resort.

08 MARCH 2014


The Chedi Muscat Records Great Year The Chedi Muscat enjoyed one of its most successful years since opening in 2003, with financial and operational results for 2013 exceeding expectations. As Markus Iseli, general manager, The Chedi Muscat, revealed, overall financial results for 2013 were close to those of 2008, when the 158-unit resort achieved its highest ever revenue. Despite the fast-growing supply in the GCC, the property managed to increase average daily rate and register higher occupancy levels and RevPAR. “Guest and employee satisfaction results also continue to soar,” added Iseli, further noting that the UK, German speaking markets, Italy, France and the Benelux states remain the resort’s main feeders. “The Italian and French markets, due to Oman Air’s offering of the direct routes to Milan and Paris respectively, have grown. The same goes for the GCC market as a result of a successful combination of increased sales, marketing and public relations initiatives there,” Iseli concluded.

The Chedi Muscat

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts Upgrade in Oman Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa closed a successful year in 2013, and in a bid to ensure the hotel’s continued success, the management has outlined plans to further enhance the guest experience. According to Mark Kirk, general manager, ShangriLa’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, the Middle East continues to demonstrate strong growth, while Germany and Switzerland have also emerged as promising markets for the property, which consists of three hotels. Speaking about the coming months, Kirk revealed that a new rooftop bar is set to be launched later this year, while plans are also underway to upgrade the resort’s leisure facilities.

08 MARCH 2014



Premier Inn to Expand Regional Portfolio Whitbread and Action Hotels have joined forces to further grow the Premier Inn footprint in the Middle East. Under the conditions of the agreement, Premier Inn will undertake long-term management contracts of four properties owned by Action Hotels. Upcoming openings include the 166-room Premier Inn Sharjah King Faisal Road due to be unveiled later this year, the 100-key Premier Inn Jeddah and a 119-unit property in Bahrain’s diplomatic area, both slated for completion in 2015, and finally the 245-room Premier Inn Dubai Healthcare City, scheduled to be launched in 2016. “The recent signing of two new hotels in Sharjah, UAE and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with Premier Inn, along with a further two Premier Inn hotels in the pipeline in Bahrain and Dubai will consolidate our regional presence. We intend to grow and continue to explore new opportunities with our preferred partners,” commented Darroch Crawford, managing director, Premier Inn Middle East and Africa.




Sol Y Mar Club Makadi Becomes Jaz Makadina Egyptian hospitality group, Jaz Hotels, Resorts & Cruises has announced the re-branding of the current Sol Y Mar Club Makadi which is set to undergo a comprehensive refurbishment and return as Jaz Makadina this May. The first phase of the renovation is already complete, and included the unveiling of newly redecorated rooms and suites, lobby and dining outlets. The 270 redesigned accommodation units are now equipped with new furniture, LCD screens and new bathrooms. Upgrades on the lobby include replacing all furnishings with more modern pieces, in addition to a new marble reception desk. Dining enhancements comprise the main restaurant’s floor and buffet and the introduction of a Greek tavernthemed beach restaurant and bar. Once open, guests will also enjoy a refreshed pool area featuring 250 supplementary sun beds as well as a new outdoor Jacuzzi.

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Parts Ways with Missoni Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Italian fashion house Missoni have agreed to terminate the license agreement for the development and operation of the Hotel Missoni brand, effective from December 31, 2013. The existing properties, namely Hotel Missoni Edinburgh and Hotel Missoni Kuwait, will cease to operate under the brand by June 30 at the latest, however both hotels will remain in The Rezidor Hotel Group portfolio. The agreements for the projects under development in Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Brazil and Mauritius have been terminated or are under negation for a potential conversion to other brands under the company. As Wolfgang Neumann, CEO, The Rezidor Hotel Group, explained, the decision is in line with the company’s focus on its core brands, and it is equally aligned with the redefinition of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s global brand portfolio.

Hotel Missoni Kuwait

Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square Dubai Starts Year Well Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square Dubai’s first quarter results are showing notable improvements. Chadi Gedeon, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square Dubai, revealed, “We have high expectations for the season, however the summer is always challenging due to the rate competition,” stated Gedeon, adding that in light of growing demand from the corporate sector, the management might consider adding extra meeting rooms. Speaking about the emirate’s rapid growth he said, “Significant investment into infrastructure is making Dubai an enjoyable place to live and visit. The aviation connectivity across more than 200 cities is also increasing its appeal. The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing is confidently promoting Dubai as a very attractive destination.”

08 MARCH 2014




Sofitel Dubai Downtown to Open on May 1 Located in the heart of downtown Dubai, just a stone’s throw away from the Dubai International Financial Centre and a few minutes’ walk to The Dubai Mall via skywalk, Sofitel Dubai Downtown is set to welcome its first guests on May 1. The five-star hotel will feature 350 rooms and 76 suites, offering views of Burj Khalifa and the coastline. Guest will also enjoy various food and beverage outlets, including a rooftop bar and lounge, as well as the brand’s signature So Spa and So Fitness Centre, and 1,350m2 of meeting space comprising a ballroom and 12 breakout rooms. Aliya Qassim, director of sales and marketing, Sofitel Dubai Downtown, commented, “Sofitel Dubai Downtown is addressed to both business and leisure guests. Our target market is the discerning traveller who wishes to enjoy luxury, comfort, exquisite tastes and top-of-the-line service.”

Asiana Outlines Expansion Plans Following positive operational and financial results recorded by Asiana Hotel Dubai in 2013, the company is now looking at the option of opening a second property in the emirate. As Cahal Altman, assistant marketing communications manager, Asiana Hotel Dubai, explained, the five-star Asian-influenced property in the city’s historical and financial centre Deira, witnessed strong business from both Europe and China as the brand’s recognition continues to increase on a global scale. Since the hotel’s debut almost three years ago, a number of new dining concepts have been introduced, including a recently launched Las Vegas- and Asian-inspired dining show performed at the property twice a week.

Asiana Hotel, Dubai

Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Adds Two Brands Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group is to launch two new global hotel concepts, namely Radisson Red and Quorvus Collection. As Trudy Rutio, CEO, Carlson, explained, the new brands are inspired by Vision 20/20, an evolution of the company’s growth strategy. The group aims to operate 60 Radisson Red hotels and 20 properties in the Quorvus Collection by 2020. With the debut of Radisson Red, the company seeks to create a new upscale, select service lifestyle concept. The brand will launch simultaneously in 2015 in urban centres in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, Quorvus Collection is a new generation of luxury, five-star hotels, focusing on wellness, replenishment, style, inspiration, entertainment and connectivity. The first members of the brand are expected to be announced in the second quarter of the year.

08 MARCH 2014


Centara to Open in Doha’s West Bay Thai hotel operator Centara Hotels & Resorts is to debut in the Middle East with the launch of the five-star Centara Grand West Bay Hotel Doha. Scheduled to open in 2016, the property will feature 264 rooms and 96 residences, food and beverage outlets, a spa and fitness centre and a plethora of meeting facilities. Commenting on the development, Chris Bailey, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Centara Hotels & Resorts, revealed, “This neighbourhood is emerging as a prime business and shopping area, and with Qatar growing as a business and leisure destination we are in a very strong marketing position.”



Warwick to Enter Qatar Warwick International Hotels (WIH) and Al Madaen Group signed a new agreement to manage and operate the first Warwick branded hotel in Qatar. The first phase of the luxury boutique hotel will be open this year and comprises 164 rooms and suites. By the end of 2017, the property’s capacity will reach 250 units, while meeting and function space, an executive lounge, a variety of dining outlets, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool will also be available. The total investment of the project is around QAR400 million (USD110 million). “This is the eighth hotel that will embrace the Warwick brand name in the Middle East region, all under management contracts, in less than three years,” highlighted Jamal Serhan, chief operating officer, MENA, WIH.

Signing Ceremony


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08 MARCH 2014

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23/2/14 5:56 PM




Kuwait Airways Orders 25 Airbus Aircraft

Kuwait Airways

Mahan Air Launches New Services to Bahrain As a part of Mahan Air’s strategy to expand its regional network, the Iran-based airline has begun new flights to Bahrain. Having started on January 18, the carrier operates a return route between Mashhad, Iran and Bahrain twice-weekly, on Thursdays and Fridays onboard an Airbus A310-300. Moreover the new linked service of Mashhad - Kish - Bahrain runs onceweekly every Friday with an Airbus A300-600. Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran, and is the capital of the Razavi Khorasan province. It is located in the northeast of the country close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

In line with Kuwait Airways’ fleet renewal strategy, the airline has signed a deal with Airbus for 25 new aircraft, including 10 A350-900 and 15 A320neo Family aircraft. Rasha Al Roumi, chairperson, Kuwait Airways, pinpointed, “The A350-900 will strengthen our long-haul route development, whilst the A320neo will further boost our regional route network. These aircraft are an essential part of our ambitious growth plans.” Noting that the airline has opted for the newest, most efficient aircraft families, John Leahy, chief operation officer, customers, Airbus, said, “By choosing the A320neo and A350 XWB, Kuwait Airways will offer its passengers the industry’s bestin-class cabin experience on both longand short-haul routes, flying them comfortably in the widest seats in all classes.”

Qatar Airways: All Premium Business Class Option Qatar Airways is to launch new daily all premium business class flights from its hub in Doha to London Heathrow. Commencing on May 15, the new operation will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and will be served by an Airbus A319 aircraft fitted with single aisle seating configuration accommodating 40 passengers. “The Doha – London Heathrow route is one of Qatar Airways’ most popular international routes and it was only fitting that we introduce an all business class service on this key route, where customers will also be able to benefit from our new Qatar Airways premium lounge in London Heathrow’s Terminal 4, and of course the Premium Terminal in Doha,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways Airbus A319

08 MARCH 2014




Emirates Says Hello Chicago

Chicago Skyline

Turkish Airlines to Boost Services to Tehran In response to growing customer demand between Istanbul and Tehran, Turkish Airlines is set to introduce seven additional weekly flights on the route. The carrier, which currently offers 21 weekly services between the Turkish city and the Iranian capital, will, as of March 30, operate 28 weekly flights, providing passengers with greater flexibility and added convenience. Depending on the purpose of their journey and their schedule, travellers will be able to choose from a host of options from Monday to Sunday.

08 MARCH 2014

From August 5, Emirates is launching a daily service to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport which will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR. Like Dubai, Chicago is a major global trade and transportation hub with great cultural diversity and is an economic engine for its region, remarked Tim Clark, president, Emirates, adding, “We welcome the chance to establish a nonstop trade bridge between these two great cities and, via our Dubai hub, to more efficiently link Chicago area passengers and shippers with our international network beyond Dubai to over 140 destinations spanning six continents.” Such air transport links are important for trade and tourism and the route will boost the North American city’s global connectivity and further its goal to host 55 million visitors by 2020, according to Rahm Emanuel, mayor, Chicago.

Qatar Executive at Abu Dhabi Air Expo Qatar Executive was exhibited at Abu Dhabi Air Expo in February, in a bid to strengthen its position as a leader for ad-hoc charters, with one of the youngest private jet fleets in the Middle East region. The company showcased the interior of its Bombardier Global 5000, which features one of the widest and most spacious cabins among super-large business jets. “Knowing that the business aviation sector in the Middle East is continuing to show strong demand for private jet travel, the Abu Dhabi Air Expo is a great opportunity to present Qatar Executive’s top-end service for individual, and flexible air travel to our clients in the region,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

Qatar Executive Global 5000 interior



Starwood Brings Luxury to South Korea Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Parnas Hotel company have signed an agreement to open The Parnas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Seoul. Located in the upscale district of Gangnam, the property will debut The Luxury Collection into South Korea. “The captivating brand proposition of The Luxury Collection coupled with the most sought-after address in Gangnam creates an incredible opportunity to showcase the strength of Starwood’s luxury brands and grow in the upper tier of this market,” commented Matthew Fry, senior vice president, acquisition and development, Asia Pacific, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Slated to open in 2016, the hotel will feature 138 guest rooms, 24 suites, a restaurant, specialty bar and lobby lounge, a spa and a gym.


IHG Sells InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced the sale of the 383-room InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco for USD120 million. The group will continue to manage the hotel under a long-term contract. The sale is a continuation of IHG’s strategy to reduce the capital intensity of the business. Over the last 12 months the company sold three owned properties, with total gross proceeds of almost USD830 million. “[The announcement] demonstrates our ability to execute major asset deals and the enduring attractiveness of the InterContinental brand,” said Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson, chief financial officer, IHG.

InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

08 MARCH 2014


Bana Toukan Bana Toukan has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. With over 12 years experience in the industry, Toukan will be responsible for the planning and implementation of sales and marketing strategies, and also in charge of tapping into

relevant local and international market segments for business opportunities. After gaining skills in the US, Toukan began her career in the hospitality industry at Grand Hyatt Amman in 2002 where she grew steadily from the role of sales executive to director of sales and marketing.

Ayman Rasheed Ayman Rasheed has taken on the position of executive assistant manager at Crowne Plaza Amman in Jordan. Rasheed has been with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) since 2003 and has a wealth of experience in the field of engineering. His previous responsibilities included maintaining the performance of the engineering department, implementing energy saving plans and performing quality audits.

08 MARCH 2014

Rasheed was also a vital member of the opening team at Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea and Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa. His passion and eagerness to learn and develop his skills has enabled him to grow with the IHG team, especially in the risk management field, rising to area chief engineer. Rasheed is now looking forward to working with his new team at Crowne Plaza Amman.


Salman Ansari Salman Ansari has been named assistant director of sales at Ramada Downtown Dubai. In his new role, Ansari will be in charge of strengthening business ties with existing clients and stakeholders, and generating leads for new accounts. He will also add support in the

development of strategies and carrying out various sales activities to maximise revenue. Ansari has more than two decades of hospitality industry experience, and previously worked as business development manager and senior sales manager at other hotels in Dubai.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Craig Senior

Mark Descrozaille

Head of sales and marketing, Meydan Hotels & Hospitality.

Regional director UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, The Rezidor Hotel Group.

“The booking window is very last minute [in Dubai] from the international and GCC markets. We have seen positive growth strongly supported by the GCC travellers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar. The UAE provides a wealth of vacation options for the luxury traveller. Leading shopping malls, worldwide recognised sporting events, along with a multi choice of top class hotels and fine dining options position the destination very well.”

“Our hotels across the MENA region performed very well [in 2013] with almost four percent market share growth year-on-year. The meetings and events [segment] was particularly strong across the region and an important source of business for our Dubai properties. [...] Our goals this year are to continue to grow the brands, both Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson, increasing our footprint and adding to our positive portfolio in the region.”

Konstantin Zeuke

Wael El Behi

General manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.

General manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham.

“Winning the Expo2020 is a wonderful achievement for Dubai and very exciting for all of us who live and work in this amazing city. It will undoubtedly have a positive impact on Dubai, the UAE and this region. We have a new airport opening, new and bigger exhibition venues coming up, and even better infrastructure on the way. Expo2020 will […] be a valuable asset for many years to come.”

“Expo 2020 is an excellent marketing platform for Dubai and the UAE. Mega projects are already in the pipeline to complement the destination’s excellent infrastructure. Expo 2020 will have a direct impact on the economy including the tourism sector, as all expected visitors will definitely need hotel accommodation – the reason why there will be another 400 hotels added to the existing hotel inventory.”

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

08 MARCH 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Rym Selwan POSITION: Sales manager COMPANY: BELAIR Travel & Tourism LOCATION: Lebanon WEB:

Who are you? BELAIR Travel & Tourism is a leading agency established in 1980 and an International Air Transport Association agent since 1981. Our agency is still young and dynamic, and yet made sage through the work of its senior staff totalling well over 70 years of experience in travel and tourism related fields. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Our favourite part is when we rise to the challenge facing demanding clients and receive the positive feedback that tastes sweeter than the usual ones. This is why we are a leading travel agency having its own solid address book in the competitive Lebanese market. Moreover, we never get enough of our foreign incomers whom we help discover Lebanon in the best way possible. When is the best time to visit Lebanon? Lebanon is small in size but a very resourceful country blessed with a great climate, numerous touristic sites, and the hospitability of its people. Therefore, the best time to visit it would be the whole year. Lebanon has four seasons in which every season has its own charms and touristic attractions; the snowy mountains (The Cedars, Sannine, Faraya, Laqlouq), the heat of summer (Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, Byblos), the bronze nature of autumn (Baalbeck, Anjar, Zahle), and the flourishing spring (hiking trails, spring rivers, saint valleys) all guarantee an around-the-year travelling window. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? The UK. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Because of the top-notch personalised service and custommade packages that respond to each and every single need. We ensure our clients receive the services they deserve to make them enjoy their new discovery.

08 MARCH 2014


ECAir Appoints Planet Travels & Tours as its GSA Planet Travels & Tours has been selected by Equatorial Congo Airlines (ECAir) as its general sales agent (GSA) in the UAE. Under the agreement signed recently between Fatima BeyinaMoussa, CEO, ECAir, and Georges Moussa, chairman, Planet Group, the agency is to provide full sales and marketing services as well as customer support, ticketing and administrative facilities. ECAir’s regular flights to Dubai are due to launch on March 31, and Mokoki Gilbert, minister of transport and mari-

time, Congo, said, “Our delegation [visited] Dubai to strengthen economic ties with the UAE and we hope with the announcement of ECAir’s direct flights to Dubai will open new doors for more trade tie ups. We also met with H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, minister of economy of the UAE to further discuss more collaboration between the two countries. We will also work on making Brazzaville the hub for Central Africa and we invite investors to visit Brazzaville and see its potential.”

Georges Moussa (left) and Fatima Beyina-Moussa

Travelport Console Launches in EMEA Travelport recently introduced Travelport Queue Control Console, a web-based product that automates ticketing operations through its ability to create rules for how and when tickets are issued. The product allows agents to set up schedules that ensure tasks run on specific days, intervals, and times. It can monitor one or more queues for booking files to action and enables tickets to be booked in one location and issued in another, or booked by one agent and issued by another. Reginald Warlop, vice president, product portfolio, Travelport, said, “Both online and offline travel agents tell us they want to work as efficiently as possible and Travelport Queue Control Console delivers an automated process that takes care of routine, repetitive tasks enabling agents to concentrate on other, more profitable activities.”


TRAVEL CHANNELS Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa Celebrates National Days

Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa joined in celebrations across Kuwait to mark National and Liberation Days on February 25 and 26.


taff at the hotel prepared various activities and packages in a bid to help residents and visitors spend quality time with family and friends. Part of these festivities included a 30-minute firework display held in the grounds of the property, which also boasts 316 rooms and suites, 80 serviced apartments and 12 villas. Moreover, to mark the occasion, the lobby was adorned with flowers, Kuwaiti flags were draped at the entrance, and the exterior was lit by red, green and white lights. Children were invited for entertainment at the dedicated Sinbad Kids’ Club, while the property’s eight restaurants and bars were offering dining options to suit a variety of tastes.

Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa

TAMANI Hotel Marina Supports Walk for Education

Sharjah Aquarium Experience up-close encounters with over 150 marine species native to the region’s waters. Take an underwater journey and discover everything from large ocean creatures to the small aquatic life that can be found in the UAE’s rock pools, coral reefs, lagoons and mangroves.

Visiting Hours: Monday to Thursday 8 AM - 8 PM | Friday 4 PM - 10 PM Saturday 8 AM - 8 PM | Closed on Sunday Enquiries: 06 5285288





TAMANI Hotel Marina’s employees participated in the Walk for Education organised by Dubai Cares for the fifth successive year. Over 8,000 people from various nationalities and all ages took part in the 3km-walk. “Walk for Education will help Dubai Cares’ commitment to build public support for millions of school children in developing countries who walk long distances on a daily basis to pursue their education,” commented Walid Al-Awa, general manager, TAMANI Hotel Marina.

BAC Wraps up Internship Programme Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) hosted a ceremony for a group of university graduates who took part in a two-month internship at the company’s headquarters in Muharraq. The initiative offered students an opportunity to further develop their skills and combine theoretical knowledge with practical work experience. BAC is committed to giving back to the community and supporting the development of the local workforce.

08 MARCH 2014


Q & A with


Susan Adelman

Airlines want to support greater value, by showing additional passenger amenities that are included in their bundled fares or by promoting a-la-carte ancillary services that can enhance the travel experience. Susan Adelman, director of marketing, Navitaire, explains this can be done using the company’s technology services.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the latest trends regarding global distribution models, and how does Navitaire make sure to follow these pattens? Susan Adelman: Based on our experience, we believe that airlines are looking for more ways to show customers more about their products and to show added value during the shopping process. They also want to offer more direct connections to agencies that are equipped to embrace the direct channel. These direct connections are often able to provide greater support to show and sell product aspects to agencies, and in turn, make it easier for them to sell these features. [...] These ancillaries can help influence a traveller’s buying decision while helping to boost the airline’s bottom line. Direct connections to agencies can enable airlines to trim distribution costs and use newer technologies such as web services, extensible markup language (XML), and mobile platforms offering greater flexibility to display, promote and sell the additional ancillary content plus the individual fare. To support these trends, Navitaire’s New Skies passenger services system provides a broad suite of web services that span the travel experience, as well as a new, integrated mobile and e-commerce platform, Navitaire dotREZ. Both of these options let our clients tap these direct sales opportunities with their business partners that are ready to adopt them. Also, Navitaire solutions have been developed as a true merchandising platform right from the beginning, and can support a diverse set of airline-supplied ancillary offers, as well as external travel supplier connec-

08 MARCH 2014

tions, including activities, travel insurance, car, hotel, parking, and more. We believe that airlines are anxious to tap into this capability. Travel Trade Weekly: Is there a shifting pattern in the way airline and travel products are distributed? What are your airline customers’ major concerns in this aspect?

Navitaire Kiosks

Susan Adelman: We have seen that carriers are looking to sell via direct channels wherever possible while avoiding the loss of potential sales. We believe that many carriers are making significant progress is shifting leisure travel to the direct channel and to a slightly lesser extent, small and mid-size business travel. Large, managed corporate travel continues to be sold predominantly via the traditional global distribution system (GDS) channels and larger agencies, yet there are changes emerging within this segment as

well. For example, agencies of all sizes are looking for the ability to sell hybrid and lowcost carrier (LCC) seats and their amenities more easily, ideally via a common integrated desktop solution to let them service clients more easily. This is driving an increase in GDS platforms using XML and other new technologies which are more attractive to LCC and hybrid carriers. The XML and other new technology options can often provide more flexibility in terms of conveying the products offered and contribute to potential cost savings. Our clients are always watching the bottom line, and compare the cost versus benefit of embracing any new distribution channel. The ability to connect to GDS using newer technology helps support this goal. Travel Trade Weekly: According to some recent surveys, the ability to present competitive fares on GDS including those of LCC was seen as vital to the offering. How important is the distribution of LCC products nowadays, and how does Navitaire seek to take advantage? Susan Adelman: We agree that the interest in LCC content is growing, and believe that the recent new distribution capability initiative being promoted by the International Air Transport Association confirms this interest. We believe that each carrier is seeking greater choice by selecting the distribution channels that best fit their needs, and then using these channels in the way they deem best. However, they must also consider the business practices of their agency business partners in areas of strategic growth. One example of this is the use of GDS outside their home market to drive incremental sales.



Oman: Saudi Visitor Numbers on the Rise Oman continues to draw an increasing number of visitors from Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring territories. Reaffirming the Sultanate’s status as a preferred destination for residents of the Kingdom, the last edition of the Salalah festival, which takes place every year during the Khareef monsoon season, attracted some 17,000 Saudi guests. Keen on maintaining these numbers, the Ministry of Tourism recently participated at the annual Jeddah International Travel & Tourism Exhibition. “Oman has embarked on a vast development of its infrastructure, services and financial incentives to enhance our tourism offerings and capabilities,” noted Ghasi Humaid Al Hashmi, deputy director general, tourism promotion, Ministry of Tourism, Oman. “Saudi Arabia has been especially appreciative of what we have to offer,” he said.


Sponsored by



January 2014


SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event


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.

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.

INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition


World Future Energy Summit


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit


Eco Waste Summit


Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (GIBTM) Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 24 – 26, 2014 ( Middle East’s dedicated business platform which connects the region’s business travel industry through face-to-face meetings and pre-scheduled appointments.

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.

Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


Tawdheef Recruitment Show

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.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, May 5 – 8, 2014 ( A leading international travel and tourism event for inbound and outbound tourism professionals from across the globe. ATM attracts high level decision-makers and buyers representing every aspect of the leisure travel industry.

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.

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.

February 2014 3-5

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.

08 MARCH 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 226  

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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