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12 APRIL 2014

ISSUE 231

iMall Opens in Sharjah Nice Home Real Estate has unveiled iMall in Sharjah, offering the latest in electronics along with advanced information and communications technology.

Following a 17 percent rise witnessed in 2013, the first quarter of this year has once again marked record highs in tourist footfall at Fujairah City Centre.

04 Danat to Expand in Abu Dhabi Danat Hotels and Resorts is planning to open two new hotels in Abu Dhabi before the end of the year.

08 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION AIR INTERNATIONAL AGENT'S CORNER TRAVEL TALK WHO'S MOVED TRAVEL CHANNELS RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

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Record Tourist Numbers at Fujairah City Centre

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATIONS MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel COPY EDITOR Emily Millett

Air Arabia: 7.25 Percent Cash Dividend Approved

Air Arabia has agreed on the distribution of a 7.25 percent cash dividend for the year 2013.

S

SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba

peaking of his pleasure in being able to split the company’s success with shareholders, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, explained that the carrier’s evolution year after year can be attributed to a highly customer-centric business model, efficient operating systems, and a world-class team.

JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103607 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES

“Today, the Air Arabia growth story continues unabated as we expand our operations and fleet size, demonstrating our enormous confidence in the long-term fundamentals of the Middle East aviation sector,” added Al Thani. In 2013, the airline added eight destinations and served more than 6.1 million passengers, marking a 15 percent year-on-year increase.

Record Passenger Numbers at DIA Doha International Airport (DIA) welcomed a record 2,191,148 travellers in January, representing a 17.86 percent increase compared to the corresponding month in 2013. The announcement follows the airport’s recent report that showed a 10 percent yearon-year rise in traffic for 2013, with passenger numbers reaching 23.2 million. Abdulaziz Al-Mass, senior public relations and communication manager, DIA, commented, “We realise the importance of these growing numbers, and have taken the necessary measures to ensure passengers and clients are provided with a unique and convenient travel experience.” DIA has invested in infrastructural improvements including additional check-in gates, more aircraft parking bays and expanded terminal facilities.

Accurate as of

11/04/2014 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.98

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,508.63

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

147.10

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.58

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.10

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

25,520.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.81

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

78.58

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.24

Doha International Airport

Double-digit Occupancy Increase in Doha

D

oha hotels closed January with an average occupancy of 70.5 percent, up 10.9 percent year-on-year, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report revealed. Although average daily rate dropped 1.2 percent to USD225.37, RevPAR jumped 16.9 percent to USD158.91, driven by the doubledigit increase in occupancy.

Doha’s total RevPAR rose 14 percent and, coupled with a reduction in payroll costs, profitability surged 24.2 percent to USD156.21. As Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, pinpointed, rising competition in the city continues to impede further growth in profits as new entrants launch aggressive strategies to successfully penetrate the market. 12 APRIL 2014


WEEKLY NEWS Record Tourist Numbers at Fujairah City Centre Following a 17 percent rise witnessed in 2013, the first quarter of this year has once again marked record highs in tourist footfall at Fujairah City Centre. Since its opening in April 2012, the AED400 million (USD109 million) development, hailed as the first integrated shopping, leisure and entertainment destination of its kind in the emirate, created 1,200 jobs, stimulating economic growth. Majed Al Fahim, senior manager, Fujairah City Centre, explained, “We are continually reinventing ourselves and developing new strategies to sustain continued growth, while catering to the changing cultural landscape of the emirate.” Shuttles are available seven days a week from a number of hotels in the emirate, and in 2013 use of this service improved 87 percent year-on-year, while year-to-date figures show a further 248 percent rise in demand.

Dreamland Aqua Park to Add New Attraction

Dreamland Aqua Park

Dreamland Aqua Park in Umm Al Quwain is to introduce another attraction to its offering. The addition will be the longest water ride in the country according to Ghassan El Kesti, park manager, Dreamland Aqua Park, who explained, “Our main focus is to target UAE residents with tactical offers and create brand awareness among families. We also are planning to target more European and CIS markets. “The corporate segment is also one of our key business sectors, and we are focusing on group outings,” he added, revealing that in response to growing demand, the management is also considering adding more cabanas.

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Increase in Middle East MICE Bookings to Thailand Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) highlighted the importance of the Middle East during its participation at the Gulf Incentive Business Travel Meetings (GIBTM) held in Abu Dhabi. The presence of the authority at the event demonstrates the importance the Asian country places in the region as part of its international outreach programme, said Parichat Svetasreni, director of marketing and corporate image, TCEB, adding that, “In 2013 we welcomed more than one million MICE travellers from all over the world, including 15,000 from the Middle East, a number we expect to grow by five percent [this year].” To support the drive for increased MICE visitors, TCEB also introduced a special Thailand’s MICE Rewards package which will run until September. The company’s online marketing plan will include three key campaigns complementing the scheme.


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WEEKLY NEWS

SMD: A Plethora of Events Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) is highlighting ArabIslamic culture in a series of events, including a collaboration between Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization and the Vatican Ethnological Museum to showcase the material traditions and arts of Muslim cultures around the world. Commenting on the activities due to be hosted in the emirate over the coming months, Aisha Deemas, director of executive affairs, SMD, explained, “The Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization will present another fascinating [Early Capitals of Islamic Culture] exhibition from October this year.” As Deemas revealed, cultural and artistic personality, Nour Ali Rashid will be featured at Sharjah Art Museum, which is also holding Sharjah Museum of Islamic a children’s biennial later this year. Civilization

iMall Opens in Sharjah Nice Home Real Estate has unveiled iMall in Sharjah, offering the latest in electronics along with advanced information and communications technology. Launched against the backdrop of rising demand for consumer technology gadgets in the UAE, the mall, covers an area of over 5,570m2 and features more than 100 shops, showrooms and business centres. As Mounir Lutfy, director, Nice Home Real Estate, explained, the mall is set to cater to the needs of consumers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as the Northern Emirates. “Our leisure and entertainment facilities are designed to make iMall a family destination where parents can indulge in retail therapy while the kids will be entertained and well taken care of. iMall is a friendly place where customers can shop, play and dine,” added Lutfy.

12 APRIL 2014


WEEKLY NEWS Sharjah Duty Free: 26 Years of Success Sharjah Duty Free has entered its 26th year of operation and, as Iain Forrest, deputy chief operating officer, Middle East and India, Dufry, revealed, the management is constantly looking for ways to further enhance the passenger experience. “During 2013, we saw the successful renovation of the arrival shop focusing on a greater selection of perfume brands. Dufry also installed three duty free kiosks at the departure gates for any last minute shopping […] and we also launched an hourly trolley service in the waiting areas,” explained Forrest. Plans have been drawn up to refurbish the entire duty free shop, while new brands are being continuously introduced.

12 APRIL 2014

Hertz UAE Opens New Branch in Dubai Hertz UAE has launched its 20th car rental location in the UAE at the Etihad Travel Mall in Dubai. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road, the new branch marks an important step in the company’s tactical growth in the country, according to Nigel Johnson, managing director, Hertz UAE. “This is our first travel mall outlet in the UAE, and establishing an early presence here is crucial as a booming regional aviation and travel sector underpins our expansion strategy,” he explained. Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, added, “The introduction of a Hertz car rental location will provide even more convenient options for guests and complements the existing retail mix at Etihad Travel Mall.” Hertz UAE

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WEEKLY NEWS

Seawings’ Sharjah Tour Proves a Success Since launching its seaplane operations in Sharjah in 2013, Seawings has received positive responses from tour operators and hoteliers. As Mithu Agarwal, commercial sales manager, Seawings, explained, the customised charter service departs from Al Majaz Waterfront to 25 destinations within the UAE including all major airports. “Residents can rediscover their city in a whole new way from the sky, while tourists can benefit from seeing the best sights of the city within a short time. The Seawings tour is a must-do UAE leisure activity. It is our endeavour to expand to various locations for better accessibility to our customers. We are also expanding our corporate base and have recently included Dubai World Central in our list of locations,” added Agarwal.

Tourism Contributes 2.6 Percent to the Saudi Economy Based on a recent report released by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), the tourism industry accounts for 2.6 percent of the Kingdom’s economy, and over the coming years, the sector is expected to provide 1.7 million jobs nationwide. Commenting on the findings, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group of Companies, noted that the country’s rapidly developing tourism business is on the right track, with the prospects of gaining even better results in the next few years. According to Bin Mahfouz, the positive statistics can be attributed to the ongoing efforts of relevant companies to contribute effectively to the development of the segment.

Abu Dhabi Air Expo Generates AED5 Billion

Abu Dhabi Air Expo

Abu Dhabi Airports reported that the total value of sales at Abu Dhabi Air Expo reached in excess of AED5 billion (USD1.4 billion), 35 percent higher than 2013’s event. The transactions which led to the improved figures included 10 sales by ultralight planes manufacturer Aeroprakt, the vending of three new SR22 Cirrus Aircraft with GCC specifications, over 10 deals announced by German gyro copter company, AutoGyro, and a deal for three aircraft (P2010 and P2008) by Tecnam. The show also saw a 30 percent increase in attendance, with 16,900 visitors and 175 exhibitors from local, regional and international companies. H.E. Ali Majed Al Mansoori, chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports, commented, “Abu Dhabi Air Expo’s status as the region’s only dedicated private airport is consistent with our broader objective to become a leading global transportation hub.”

12 APRIL 2014


Accommodation

Rotana Opens at KidZania Rotana Hotel Management Corporation has inaugurated an imitation hotel at KidZania, becoming the first and only hospitality brand to be present at The Dubai Mall’s interactive edutainment centre. The one-of-a-kind facility mimics the layout of a real Rotana-branded property with a dedicated space for a

Omer Kaddouri at KidZania

lobby, spa and restaurant lookalikes, offering children aged between four and 16 the opportunity to participate in roleplaying activities. Omer Kaddouri, CEO, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, commented, “Rotana has always invested in developing fresh talent and the new hotel in KidZania will offer a fun platform for kids interested in the hospitality industry. It will give them the opportunity to get a first taste of what it is like to work at a hotel and discover the various roles involved.”

Coral Hotels & Resorts to Reveal New Look Currently undergoing a major brand overhaul Coral Hotels & Resorts is gearing up to unveil its new corporate identity at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. Speaking about changing market conditions, Laurent Voivenel, CEO, Hospitality Management Holdings, said, “Having been 10 years in operation, we felt it was time to refresh the identity of Coral Hotels & Resorts because of the challenges and opportunities we see as we expand. The overhaul was driven by an acknowledgement that given the highly digital environment today, guests want to be simply more engaged. Therefore, it was both necessary from a technological standpoint […] to leverage Coral Hotels & Resorts for competitive advantage.”

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WEEKLY NEWS

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Al Nahda Resort & Spa to Embark on Renovation Al Nahda Resort & Spa in Oman is set to undergo a phased renovation project starting May 1. Over the following three months, all 109 guest rooms will receive a makeover, the public areas are also due to be refreshed and general maintenance works will take place. During this time, a limited number of units will be available for booking and certain facilities and services will operate at a reduced level. However the food and beverage outlets and the gym will be open as normal. “We are excited to be going through this renovation period as we make upgrades and developments to all areas of the resort,” explained Krishna Suri, resort manager, Al Nahda Resort & Spa. The property is expected to commence full operations before the end of Ramadan, just in time for the Eid Al Fitr holidays.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Nakheel to Add 23,000 Hotel Keys to Dubai’s Room Stock Nakheel has launched more than 1.15 million m2 of prime land at Deira Islands; its new, 15.3km² waterfront city. The development company released the first phase of plots for hotel and resort construction on two of the four islands, which are set to ultimately add over 23,000 hotel keys and 31,000 apartments to the destination’s hospitality and residential landscape. Deira Islands paves the way for the incorporation of a number of hotels and serviced apartments, mixeduse buildings and residential waterside developments. It is hoped that the project will become a new cultural, residential and commercial hub for the emirate. All four Deira Islands will feature accommodation, residential, commercial and retail units, and the developer also plans to build five hotels of its own in the destination.

Danat to Expand in Abu Dhabi Danat Hotels and Resorts is planning to open two new hotels in Abu Dhabi before the end of the year. According to Walid Nicholas Harouni, manager, hotel division, Danat Hotels and Resorts, the Century-branded property will include 60 luxury apartments, while Danat Residence will comprise 190 flats. “We have many other hotel projects in the emirate, including one to add 30 villas and 100 apartments to our Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort,” added Harouni, noting that nearly 70 percent of all units are designed to meet the needs of the corporate and conference segment, which accounts for 30 percent of the group’s business. Average occupancy at the properties reached 83 percent in 2013, a rate which is set to increase in the coming months.

Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort

Hotel Holiday International Plans Soft Renovation Hotel Holiday International, located on the edge of Khaled lagoon in Sharjah, is to embark on a soft renovation. The project, which will incorporate the property’s guest rooms and outlets, is set for completion by August, as Nasser Nasef, general manager, Hotel Holiday International, explained. In addition, a new gym will be set up near the pool area, and the spa facilities are also due to be upgraded. Speaking about the destination’s fast-paced development, Nasef praised the government’s efforts that have helped earn the emirate the title of The Capital of Islamic Culture for the current year, a distinction which is set to give a major boost to all sectors, including hospitality, retail and development.

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Accommodation

Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah Focuses on 4D Strategy Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah recorded positive results in the first quarter of the year following improvements to the hotel’s services and facilities. As Kamal Rijhwani, executive assistant manager, Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah, explained, the past months have showed a notable growth in revenue, driven by increased demand from Chinese groups and tourists from the CIS countries. In order to ensure high guest satisfaction, plans are in place to upgrade the free Wi-Fi systems, offering better and faster connectivity. In addition, as Rijhwani explained, the focus remains on the brand’s 4D strategy which concentrates on four key dimensions, including developing talents, delighting guests, driving business and delivering results. Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah

12 APRIL 2014

WEEKLY NEWS

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TIME Ruby Hotel Apartments Improves Services TIME Ruby Hotel Apartments, the 145-unit property in the Al Khan neighbourhood of Sharjah, is planning various enhancements and service improvements over the coming months. As Mohamed Eldeeb, hotel manager, TIME Ruby Hotel Apartments, revealed, the existing green areas surrounding the property will be extended, and advanced lighting systems are due to be installed in the building. Adding to the current entertainment options, a number of new TV channels will be available, while the guest rooms and corridors are soon set to be redecorated. As Eldeeb further uncovered, the management places great emphasis on capturing a bigger share of the Russian market.


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WEEKLY NEWS

Coral Beach Resort to Embark on Renovation Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah will soon welcome visitors with newly refreshed facilities. With renovation works due to commence this summer, Ghulam Sajjad, head of sales, Coral Beach Resort, Sharjah, explained that the development plans will not interfere with the overall operation of the hotel, allowing guests to enjoy their holidays in the emirate. Speaking about the past months’ performance, Sajjad admitted that the political situation in Ukraine has had a negative impact on arrivals, while the amount of tourists from Russia and Kazakhstan has been affected by the devaluation of their respective currencies. Nevertheless, according to Sajjad, occupancy levels remained high during the first quarter of the year, and management predicts positive improvements for the coming months.

Accommodation

Umm Al Quwain Beach Hotel Plans to Refresh Product Offering Umm Al Quwain Beach Hotel has unveiled plans to enhance the property’s offering. Speaking about the development project currently underway at the resort, Kamal Afana, general manager, Umm Al Quwain Beach Hotel, revealed that work is focusing on upgrading the guest rooms and the management hopes that this will help to provide clients with an even more memorable stay. As Afana noted, the emirate has now become known as an ideal destination for relaxation and leisure activities. This rise in popularity has led to a growing demand for accommodation from various markets, which according to Afana drove the 10 percent improvement in business results at the hotel over the past months. Taking advantage of its close proximity to Dubai, Umm Al Quwain is set to also benefit from the lead up to the much-anticipated Expo 2020, added Afana.

Virtual Concierge at Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan has introduced a virtual hotel concierge. Located in the lobby of the newly-opened property, the touch screen allows guests to access information in 15 languages, and can also be downloaded as an application free of charge. Users can choose from six different categories, including hotel information, recommendations, maps and directions, flight details, weather and social postcards. As Dominique Mercier, general manager, Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan, revealed, the first-of-its-kind project is already proving popular with visitors. “We welcomed our first tourist group on our opening day and the virtual concierge was an instant success, with the entire group engaging in the service. It is in keeping with the techsavvy traveller that we usually receive at our property.”

Virtual Concierge

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WEEKLY NEWS

Air

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Gulf Air Celebrates New Sales Office in Manila Gulf Air officially inaugurated its new sales office in Manila, Philippines with a ceremony attended by Mohammed Hulaiwah, director of corporate affairs and communications, Gulf Air, and Adel Al Saleem, country manager, Philippines, Gulf Air, as well as business executives, travel agents and local media representatives. The space is centrally located in Paranaque City and offers a waiting lounge, complimentary Wi-Fi and a number of helpdesks. Commenting on the event, Al Saleem said, “The opening of our new office in Manila is a reflection of Gulf Air’s focus on, and commitment to, serving the marketplace and airline customers here. This office is dedicated to catering to the travel needs of Gulf Air passengers in Manila, who represent an important market segment for us.”

Gulf Air's New Office in Manila

Etihad Airways Lands in Jaipur Etihad Airways has launched daily services between the northern Indian city of Jaipur and Abu Dhabi. As Craig Thomas, regional general manager Asia Pacific North and Indian subcontinent, Etihad Airways, noted, the new service, which will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft, reinforces the airline’s commitment to the Indian subcontinent and is expected to meet strong demand. Neerja Bhatia, general manager, India, Etihad Airways, added, “Jaipur is the perfect addition to our growing network of destinations. Jaipur is a widely recognised premium destination attracting leisure and business travellers from around the world, it is also known for hosting many international cultural events.” With the unveiling of the new route, Etihad Airways now flies to a total of 10 Indian cities, including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Trivandrum.

12 APRIL 2014

Qantas Airways Improves UAE Tourism Landscape Since launching services from Dubai to Australia and Dubai to London in 2013, Qantas Airways has carried more than one million passengers through the emirate, boosting the destination’s tourism industry. According to recent statistics from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, visitor numbers from Australia have grown 39 percent. “Since Qantas began flying through Dubai, there has been increased interest from Australians in Dubai as a holiday destination with travellers now staying on average between two and seven nights,” noted Simon Hickey, CEO, Qantas International. Thierry Antinori, chief commercial officer, Emirates, added, “Tourism to the city of Dubai has benefitted strongly with increased passenger traffic to our hub.”

Simon Hickey


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WEEKLY NEWS

MEA to Fly Twice Daily to London As of April 17, Middle East Airlines (MEA) will operate a second frequency to London on an Airbus 320. Flight ME203 will depart from Beirut at 17:25, to arrive at London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 3 at 20:35, while the inbound journey will leave the UK capital later the same night. The service is scheduled to connect passengers with a variety of destinations in the region such as Dubai, Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Amman, Cairo, Baghdad, Najaf and Basra. MEA was first established in 1945 and launched its debut services from Beirut to the neighbouring countries of Syria, Cyprus, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other destinations in the Gulf.

Air

New Airline to Be Launched in Syria Private aviation company, Kinda Airlines is gearing up to commence operations from its Damascus hub as a full service scheduled carrier. Initially, the airline will fly to select points in the Middle East and the Gulf region using two aircraft, while 10 additional international destinations are set to be added to the network as well as four new aircraft, in the second phase of opening. Besides penetrating the Middle East market, Kinda Airlines aspires to gain significant regional market share, giving a boost to the Syrian aviation sector. Kinda Airlines aims to provide high standard services at competitive prices in order to establish its reputation, ensure customer satisfaction and become the leading air carrier in Syria.

Kinda Airlines

Qatar Airways Upgrades Melbourne Route

Twelve Apostles Coastline, Melbourne

Qatar Airways is to boost capacity by 30 percent on its Melbourne route, with the introduction of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft. All flights between Doha and the Australian city will be operated with the new aircraft, which features a two-class configuration with up to 42 seats in business class and some 293 seats in economy class. Seatback TV screens providing next generation interactive on-board entertainment, and a choice of more than 1,000 audio and video on-demand options are also available. “We are pleased that we are able to meet the needs of our passengers and build on our current offerings by providing extra capacity along with our five-star service,” commented Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways.

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Air

flynas: Extra Flights to Dubai flynas operated additional services to Dubai during the school holidays. The two extra flights between Riyadh and Dubai ran from March 18 - 29, while the boosted route linking Jeddah with the emirate was operational between March 23 - 30. Commenting on the enhanced services, Wael Al Sarhan, director of marketing and communications, flynas, said, “Dubai is a strategically important market for flynas, especially during the school holidays when there is a large number of Saudis flying to the hugely popular emirate for the annual spring break. Accordingly, we [have added] the extra flights in response to strong demand from our customers at this peak time of the year.”

WEEKLY NEWS

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Qatar Airways to Employ Dreamliner on Edinburgh Route Set to launch on May 28, Qatar Airways’ new Doha - Edinburgh route marks the first ever service between the Scottish city and the Middle East region. Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, commented that the start of the flights between the two destinations not only offers travellers from the European capital access to the Middle East in under seven hours, but also a quicker total journey time to other popular destinations in Asia, India and Australasia. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft being deployed on the route has a two-cabin configuration, with 22 seats in business class and 232 in economy. “The Boeing 787 will operate on this important new route and [we] are sure that not only will this benefit the local market in Scotland, but also attract a significant amount of business and trade links for those wishing to From left: Paul Johannes, vice president, commercial, travel to Edinburgh from all corners of North, South and Western Europe, Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, and Richard Oliver, country manager, the world,” added Al Baker. UK and Ireland, Qatar Airways

Etihad Airways – Air Serbia Partnership Gets Green Light

flynas

In addition, flynas is due to operate extra daily flights between Riyadh and Gizan between April 15 and October 25. The service will depart Riyadh at 17:10, arriving in Gizan at 19:05. The return journey will take off from Gizan at 19:40, landing in Riyadh at 21:25.

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Etihad Airways has obtained the requisite approvals sanctioning its partnership with Air Serbia. The government of the Balkan country signed a strategic, long-term agreement with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier in August 2013, while also unveiling a USD200 million revitalisation plan. According to James Hogan, group president, Etihad Aviation Group, the initial loan to the airline of USD40 million will be converted to equity, making Etihad Airways the 49 percent shareholder of Air Serbia. “This investment represents an important partnership with the government of Serbia, as we work together to build Air Serbia into the leading airline in the region,” added Hogan.

Air Serbia


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WEEKLY NEWS

International

Fairmont Chengdu Residences Opens

Fairmont Chengdu Residences

Dusit to Launch First Deluxe Hotel in Jiangsu Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts signed an agreement with Jiangsu Renda International Hotel to manage Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu in China. The 160-room deluxe property will be located in the city’s newest economic development zone, two hours from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of the year, the hotel will offer a complete conference centre, including a 600m² pillarless ballroom that can accommodate events for up to 700 guests, and 11 meetings rooms boasting state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities. Additional offering include a Devarana Spa, an all-day dining outlet and a Chinese restaurant comprising 11 private rooms, as well as a lobby lounge. “With its outstanding facilities and personalised service based on gracious Thai hospitality, we are confident that Dusit Thani Dongtai, Jiangsu will become Dongtai’s premier hotel,” suggested Lim Boon Kwee, president, Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts announced the launch of Fairmont Chengdu Residences, marking its first housing project in China. The initiative forms part of a mixed-use development that will also include Fairmont Chengdu, a new luxury hotel scheduled to open in 2015. Located in the capital of the Sichuan province, the property is the first branded residential offering in Chengdu, combining privately owned, upscale apartments with the five-star services of a luxury hotel company. Located in two 36-storey towers featuring 382 units, the Fairmont Chengdu Residences development offers a choice of three designs including two-bedroom suites providing over 89m² of living space and luxurious three-bedroom suites offering over 129m². Privileges for inhabitants include a dedicated owner services team, 24-hour concierge, doormen and security as well as an exclusive resident’s lounge, private gym and a children’s club.

Jumeirah Group to Extend Presence in Guangzhou Jumeirah Group has signed a management agreement with GT Land Holdings to operate a 207-room five-star luxury hotel as well as 169 luxury serviced residences in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Set in a prime site on the intersection of Hua Cheng Avenue and in the centre of New Pearl City Tian He District, East Guangzhou, the apartment and hotel complex is due to benefit from its location in a rapidly growing commercial centre and upscale hotel district. The area boasts excellent transport links enabling guests to reach Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Pearl River Delta within 30 minutes. The previously announced Jumeirah Guangzhou Hotel will host the 169 serviced residences which will be located in a separate low-rise West Tower. Both are set to launch in 2015. Su Meng, chairman, GT Land Holdings, commented, “Jumeirah’s arrival in Guangzhou will help satisfy the demand for luxury accommodation in Guangzhou’s developing upscale hotel district.”

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AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Mohammed Abdulla Abdul Jalil Al Fahim

POSITION: General manager, products and services

COMPANY: Safar Travel & Tourism LOCATION: UAE WEB: www.safar.ae

Who are you? My name is Mohammed Abdulla Abdul Jalil Al Fahim and I am the third generation of the Al Fahim family, one of the most successful families in an array of businesses from travel and hospitality to automotive, real estate and industrial development in the region. Safar Travel & Tourism is under my responsibilities as general manager of the products and services division in Al Fahim Group. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Travel is an exciting field for business and leisure. Tourists are individuals who are open to learn about your culture. Even when you are on a business trip outside your country of residence, you become more approachable and humanitarian as you are exposed to different ways of living and start seeing matters and decisions you make from a different perspective. When is the best time to visit the UAE? The latter part of the year is good, from November to March as the weather is pleasant, usually during this time the festivities are happening and the general feel is that the country is on one big holiday. The rest of the time it is fine but gets quite warm and humid. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to travel to China, Japan and India. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Safar is a unique travel company as it was established years before the union of the UAE, in 1966. Our agency has a deep understanding of the nature of business and we were among the first to bring in airlines as agents in the country, giving us direct access to suppliers for better services to our clients. With a multitude of divisions targeting all kinds of people from tourists and residents to corporations we provide 24/7 support.

Amadeus Launches New Platform for Future Airports Amadeus has introduced Amadeus Airport Common Use Service (ACUS), a next generation platform capable of carrying out all passenger processing functions. The cloud-based software as a service solution has been developed to allow airlines and ground handlers to share the physical space and the IT resources of airports, eliminating hosting and development burdens. By adopting Amadeus ACUS, airports can avoid costly on-site systems, lowering operational expenses while also minimising environmental impact.

“The airport industry has advanced tremendously from the days of dedicated airline check-in desks towards a much more flexible and shared environment. It is now ready to embrace more change in order to maximise commercial and operational performance,” explained John Jarrell, head of airport IT, Amadeus. The new platform will enable airport ecosystems to use resources much more intelligently, ultimately improving the passenger experience and taking the next step towards becoming airports of the future, Jarrell added.

Travelport and AirAsia Sign Breakthrough Deal AirAsia announced a new partnership with Travelport which will see the low cost airline dispense all of its fares and ancillary services through the provider’s global distribution channel for the first time. As part of the agreement, the carrier has also signed up for Travelport’s merchandising technology including its aggregated shopping functionality which will enable travel agents to shop, compare and book AirAsia and AirAsia X flights. “I am delighted that [AirAsia] is fully embracing what we can uniquely offer through our industry-leading merchandising technology. We look forward to helping AirAsia extend its distribution channel whilst providing more in-demand, low cost air content to our 67,000 travel agency subscribers worldwide,” added Derek Sharp, managing director, global distribution, sales and serDerek Sharp (left) and Rayner Teo, group vices, Travelport. head of sales and distribution, AirAsia

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TRAVEL TALK Iftikhar Hamdani

travel talk is your space

General manager, Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman.

“We would like to thank Tez Tour [one of the largest tour operators in CIS and Eastern Europe] for acknowledging our valuable partnership [with the Tez Worldberry Award]. Guests from Russia and the CIS region have been our main source markets in the past year and we aim to strengthen our business ties with Tez Tour to ensure topquality services to tourists from the region.”

Peter Mansourian General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

“Saudi Arabia, UK, US, Russia, Germany, Oman, and China were our top visitor generators in 2013. Our sales team is working continuously on new markets, targeting Spain and Latin American countries for instance, while we will also attend a roadshow in Azerbaijan and host familiarisation trips for countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. In addition, we are focusing on the Indonesian and Malaysian markets to boost summer occupancies.”

Prakash Bang Managing director, roomsXML Solutions.

“[By assuring that all duplicates are removed from roomsXML’s system ] we have resolved the issue for 999 out of 1,000 hotels and hotel apartments. And we do reward the travel agent by crediting their account by USD5 for every duplicate hotel that they find in our system. As per our market intelligence and client feedback, we are the only multiple-supplier system which has been successful in addressing the issue of de-duplication.”

Kevin Knight Chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways.

“Etihad Cargo and Etihad Guest have come together again for the benefit of individual cargo customers [who can now earn Etihad Guest Miles and Tier Miles for personal cargo shipment bookings]. This simple, smart and rewarding loyalty scheme is another excellent example of how Etihad Cargo continues to innovate, reward, and drive added value.”

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 editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

12 APRIL 2014


WHO'S MOVED

Samer Hanna Samer Hanna has joined Ayla Hotel, Al Ain as food and beverage manager. In his new role, he will be in charge of all outlets and banquet operations at Ayla Hotel, Al Ain, as well as the soon-toopen Ayla Bawadi Hotel. Since starting his career in the industry two decades ago, he

has held various positions with well-respected global brands. His first role in Al Ain was 15 years ago, and he spent the last three years with SD Global Group as director of operations, food and beverage.

He has held positions with well-respected brands

Christopher Norton Christopher Norton has taken on the position of executive vice president of global product and operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Based in Toronto, Norton will be responsible for worldwide hotel operations, product, design, construction and procurement. Under his oversight, product and service delivery will be further integrated to increase opportunities for differentiation. Norton has been part of the

12 APRIL 2014

Four Seasons family since 1989 when he joined as executive assistant manager in Montréal. Since then, he has managed properties in Bali, before becoming regional vice president for Indonesia, the Maldives and Singapore. He then led the team as general manager at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris for five years. Most recently he worked as president of hotel operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

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Jayne O’Brien Jayne O’Brien has been appointed senior vice president of global brands at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). O’Brien will be responsible for overseeing brand vision and strategy across the company’s global portfolio of nine brands. During her 18-year career at British Airways, O’Brien served in a

number of senior brand marketing and commercial roles. Prior to joining IHG, O’Brien worked as chief marketing officer for Dubai Properties Group, where she was responsible for all group marketing activities, including brand management, public relations and customer relations.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

Museum Spring Programme Draws Visitors The Museum Spring initiative which was organised recently by the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh has seen a remarkable visitor turnout.

T

he project’s significant footfall has been attributed to the fact that it involved a number of activities and events which took place during schools’ mid-term break, both at the museum as well as the Hayat Mall in the capital city. The programme at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia featured a number of cultural, entertainment and heritage activities including technical workshops. These specially organised tutorials covered a range of topics such as painting and drawing for children and school students, pottery decoration and photo mixture. Special corners were also dedicated to photography for younger visitors, as well as handicrafts. Through this variety of cultural and entertainment activities, the initiative aims to engage children in order to develop their talents, and encourage them to connect with their grandparents’ heritage and realise its value.

Ramada Sharjah Enhances Guest Experience With a view to continuously exceeding guest expectations, Ramada Sharjah has introduced new facilities and services at the hotel. As Mohammed Saad, assistant director of sales, Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence and Ramada Sharjah, explained, the property has recently unveiled its new pool terrace, and guests are now also able to avail of a new Ayurveda massage facility, introduced in a bid to make their stay more relaxing. The management at Ramada Sharjah also outlined plans to refurbish a number of two-bedroom apartments, transforming them into premier units to cater to high-profile guests. As Saad noted, Sharjah’s continuous drive to create unique attractions has been crucial to the emirate’s development, and with an increasing number of airlines flying to Sharjah International Airport, the destination is set to experience future growth. Ramada Sharjah

SITA: Airline Bag Delivery Hits All-Time High According to air transport information technology specialist, SITA, airline baggage delivery reached record figures in 2013, with the mishandling rate dropping more than 21 percent from 2012, and the total annual cost of mishandled luggage falling 19.9 percent. The report revealed that the rate of mishandled baggage in 2013 was 6.96 bags per 1,000 passengers, which is half the rate reported 10 years ago, despite a 65.6 percent increase in passenger numbers over the same time period. Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said, “The industry has joined together to tackle the problem of mishandled bags, and we have seen great results. There is still more work to do, but 2013 was the best year ever.”

Iraqi Airways Transports Toys for Charity Aiming to bring joy to underprivileged children in Iraqi orphanages, Boeing partnered with Iraqi Airways and US-based nonprofit organisation Another Joy Foundation to transport toys, on board the airline’s newly delivered Next-Generation 737-800. Elizabeth Warman, director, global corporate citizenship, Northwest region, Boeing, commented, “Boeing, through its Global Corporate Citizenship organisation, supports relief efforts around the world in partnership with airline customers and non-governmental agencies such as Another Joy Foundation. These collaborative efforts bring relief and hope to people in need. With this consignment of toys, we look forward to bringing some happiness to orphans in Iraq.” Bangen Rekani, deputy minister of transportation, Iraq, added that it is a pleasure to participate in the relief effort that is part of Iraqi Airways’ celebration of adding another Boeing airplane to its fleet.

12 APRIL 2014


RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Jonathan Pace As one of the most popular cities in Europe, Prague continues to attract an increasing number of business and leisure travellers, and as Jonathan Pace, general manager, Corinthia Prague Hotel, explains, the importance of the MENA market prevails as a significant feeder for the country’s tourism industry.

Travel Trade Weekly: Located just minutes from some of the Czech capital’s main cultural and business highlights, Corinthia Prague Hotel offers an ideal destination for both business and leisure travellers. How important is the MENA region to your business? Jonathan Pace: Prague is one of the top 10 most visited cities in Europe with circa 5.5 million visitors per year, and numbers continue to grow year-on-year. A great factor on that sustained growth is the opening of new air routes that allow travellers from new feeder markets the possibility to discover the beautiful Golden City. Over the previous years, the MENA region has gained a lot of relevance for our business thanks to the establishment of daily air routes between Prague and Dubai which allow Middle Eastern travellers to reach the heart of Central Europe in a convenient and efficient manner. Although at this stage, the destination is more known as a leisure destination, more and more we are seeing an increase in the requests for business related travel for groups and individuals who are interested in Prague not only as a sightseeing cultural destination but also as a destination for corporate activities.

Jonathan Pace General manager, Corinthia Prague Hotel

Jonathan Pace: Business from the MENA region is at a very early stage for the Czech Republic in general and Prague in particular, but we do believe strongly it will become stronger and stronger as the destination becomes more known across the different countries. Corinthia Hotels is committed to trying to facilitate that process and has a team of sales, marketing and public relations professionals based in Dubai whose job is to promote the different destinations and hotels within the portfolio to both the leisure and business community. which, by definition, matches the target audience for our products and services, therefore we value customers from this region as key in our long-term development plans. Some of our hotels in more widely known and visited destinations, like London for example, already enjoy a great share of success within this region, and we hope to use this to trampoline and grow market share as both the destination and the brand become more known in the MENA region.

Travel Trade Weekly: What makes the MENA region an important market for you? Jonathan Pace: At Corinthia Hotels, our main goal is to craft unique experiences for our guests and provide a world-class service to exceed the highest customer expectations. The profile of the MENA traveller is usually that of quality driven customer with very high service demands and high spending power

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Travel Trade Weekly: How do you see the MENA region developing in the Czech tourism market?

The profile of the MENA traveller is usually that of quality driven customer

Travel Trade Weekly: At 27, you became the youngest ever hotel general manager at CHI Hotels & Resorts. What is your message to tomorrow’s hoteliers who are looking to pursue a career in the hospitality industry? Jonathan Pace: This is a challenging yet great industry to work in. Continuously adopting and adapting to the ever-changing market trends is a must to remain competitive. Creating value remains a priority to maintain a leading edge over your competitors, and to do so management teams need to continuously challenge themselves, and continue striving for excellence. I consider myself lucky to be working with a company that promotes initiatives, and even luckier to have a great team of colleagues who assist me in delivering the best every day. Last but not least the key to success is to enjoy what you do and make the best out of every opportunity that comes around.


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NEWS & EVENTS

SCTA Shows Support to STTIM

EVENTS PAGE

Sponsored by

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities recently concluded the seventh edition of the Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM), which took place between March 30 – April 3. Attendees at the exhibition represented various companies from both the public and private sectors, while firsttime participants reflected the event’s ability to draw new elements each year in its aim to create excellence, distinction, diversity and creativity. In addition, STTIM served as an opportunity to participants to gain access to the Saudi market, and to communicate with investors and operators of facilities, services, tourist agencies, and developers of travel destinations. The event also held a range of lectures, workshops and seminars to discuss topics of interest to the tourism industry in the Kingdom, conducted by a plethora of local and international specialists and experts.

EVENTS The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, April 22 – 24, 2014 (www.thehotelshowsaudiarabia.com) A premier event where suppliers to the hotel, hospitality, food and restaurant sector can meet with key buyers and decision-makers.

World Travel Market (WTM) Africa Cape Town, South Africa, May 2 – 3, 2014 (www.wtmafrica.com) WTM Africa is set to become a leading business exhibition for the inbound and outbound African travel markets.

World Travel Market (WTM) Latin America São Paulo, Brazil, April 23 – 25, 2014 (www.wtmlatinamerica.com) A three-day global event for the Latin American travel industry, which brings the world to Latin America and promotes Latin America to the world.

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) Dubai, UAE, May 4 – 5, 2014 (www.arabianconference.com) Over the past 10 years, AHIC has proven to be the Middle East’s annual meeting place for the region’s senior hotel investors, developers, operators and advisors, attracting over 600 attendees.

Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings Expo (IBTM) Africa Cape Town, South Africa, April 28 – 30, 2014 (www.ibtmevents.com/ibtm-africa) A new invitation-only event for Africa’s incentives, meetings and business travel industry. International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Africa Cape Town, South Africa, April 28 – 30, 2014 (www.iltm.com/africa) A specialist invitation-only event where travel agents and advisors meet Africa’s most spectacular luxury travel experiences.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, May 5 – 8, 2014 (www.arabiantravelmarket.com) A leading international travel and tourism event for inbound and outbound tourism professionals from across the globe. Travel Catering Expo Dubai, UAE, May 11 – 13, 2014 (www.travelcateringexpo.com) Hailed as the Middle East’s dedicated exhibition for the products, services and technologies required for the airport catering industry.

12 APRIL 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 231  

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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