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CYPRUS! Monthly

15 FEBRUARY 2014


Expansion at Healthcare City Moafaq Al Gaddah Group has signed a joint venture agreement with Dubai Healthcare City to develop a mixed-use project.

The Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah has signed a strategic partnership with Air Arabia, enabling the airline to become the emirate’s designated carrier.

05 UAE to Welcome a Brand New Aloft Hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to open a new 172-room Aloft hotel in Abu Dhabi.


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Air Arabia Becomes Ras Al Khaimah’s Official Carrier




TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATIONS MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi COPY EDITOR Emily Millett SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia, 1308, Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103607

12 MENA Hot Spots in Top 100 Hong Kong is 2012’s most visited destination on Euromonitor International’s Top City Destinations Ranking


f the 100 most popular destinations on the list 32 are in Asia Pacific and 20 are in Western Europe. Singapore scooped the second place, followed by Bangkok, while the most visited MENA destination proved to be Dubai, ranking 13th with more than eight million visitors. Mecca came 16th with 6.85 million arrivals, and Cairo also made it to the top 50, taking up the 39th spot with 3.5 million tourists. Demonstrating the region’s rebound following 2011’s negative figures, Djerba, Tunisia; Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt; Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia; Marrakech, Morocco; Manama, Bahrain; Sousse, Tunisia; Amman, Jordan; Doha,

Qatar and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia were all listed in the top 100.



Dubai International: Over 66 Million Passengers Dubai International registered annual passenger numbers reaching 66,431,533 in 2013, following a record-breaking December 2013 when traffic eclipsed the six million mark for the first time. Network expansions played a significant role in allowing the airport to witness this 15.2 percent year-on-year rise. During the year under review, 28 new passenger destinations were added bringing the total passenger routes served by Dubai International to 239. India retained its position as Dubai’s single largest destination country, followed by the UK and Saudi Arabia. Doha remained the leading destination city, followed by London and Kuwait.


14/02/2014 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar







Egypt (EGP)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



Abu Dhabi: Record Passenger Numbers


bu Dhabi International Airport welcomed more than 16.5 million passengers in 2013, marking the airport’s busiest year to date. While passenger figures rose 12.4 percent year-on-year, aircraft movements jumped 11.2 percent to 135,213. The top five country destinations for 2013 were India,

Germany, the UK, Thailand and Saudi Arabia. Tony Douglas, CEO, Abu Dhabi Airports, commented, “We opened a new arrivals hall for Terminal 1 and 3 and we made significant progress on our Midfield Terminal [Complex] project, which is set to open for business in July 2017 and will increase the airport’s capacity to [...] handle 30 million passengers a year.” 15 FEBRUARY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Abercrombie & Kent Debuts in the UAE Luxury travel company, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) has launched its first travel boutique in the UAE, showcasing a range of travel experiences around the world using the latest digital technology. Located in Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, the 215m2 flagship office features VIP suites where clients can discuss their travel plans with experts. “Our boutique takes the concept of tailormade travel to an entirely new level by allowing prospective clients to work directly with a skilled A&K travel curator to design their trip, supplemented by the latest information from our local offices in destination,” explained Geoffrey Kent, CEO, A&K, adding that the Abu Dhabi opening marks the first step in the company’s expansion in the UAE and the wider GCC region.


Record Guest Numbers in Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi’s hotels had their best year yet in 2013 in terms of arrivals, guest nights, length of stay and revenues. Based on Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)’s figures, during the year under review 2,806,283 guests checked into the emirate’s 150 hotels and hotel apartments, marking a year-on-year increase of 18 percent and beating the annual target of 2.5 million. Guest nights rose 26 percent to 8.8 million, while revenues jumped 18 percent to AED5.48 billion (USD1.5 billion), and average-length-ofstay edged up seven percent to 3.13 nights. India became the emirate’s largest overseas source market, followed by the UK and Germany.

Al Jahili Fort, Abu Dhabi

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



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Pressure Mounts on Regional Skies As the Arabian Gulf states prepare to handle 450 million passengers by 2020, increasing emphasis is being placed on mitigating looming airspace bottlenecks and adopting innovative technology and solutions. The UAE airports are projected to record 1.62 million aircraft movements (ACM) by 2030, while the overall Middle East region is set to witness 2.3 million ACM by 2025. In addition, the International Civil Aviation Organization predicts a 5.2 percent annual growth in regional air traffic until 2030. A wide portfolio of the latest and most innovative air traffic control technology and solutions will be showcased at the upcoming Airport Show, held in May in Dubai.

GTA Sourcing Conference Held in Morocco 140 buyers visited GTA’s third annual sourcing conference for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in Marrakech between January 28 – 31. The event aimed to give attendees a brief taste of the destination and the accommodation options and experiences it offers. James Phillips, vice president, Sourcing EMEA, GTA, said, “Taking our conference to a different part of the world every year can help a destination raise its profile on a global stage.” According to GTA’s bookings, Marrakech remains the most popular destination for fully independent travel to Morocco, followed by Casablanca and Tangier. In 2013 Rabat enjoyed the most significant growth, up 54 percent year-on-year. Based on the number of room nights booked with the global travel distributor in 2013, the UK retained its position as Morocco’s biggest source market, followed by France and Libya.

Dubai - Oman Pairing Proves Popular Incentive group trips combining two Gulf destinations are becoming increasingly popular with planners and participants eager to experience the region’s diverse tourism hotspots. The most sought-after destination pairing is Oman and Dubai, as the natural beauty, adventure tourism and cultural heritage of the Sultanate seemingly combines well with the metropolitan dynamism, shopping, sport and gastronomic options available in the emirate. Opportunities for Gulf destinations to leverage this twin-centre trend will be presented at this year’s Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition, which returns to Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from March 24 -26. Lois Hall, exhibition manager, GIBTM, commented, “Obviously the benefit for the destinations, ground handlers and hotels is that the average spend per capita on incentive trips, is one of the highest yielding segments in the industry.”

The Muttrah Souq in Muscat

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WEEKLY NEWS Expansion at Healthcare City

MBRC District One Inaugurated

Dubai-based Moafaq Al Gaddah Group (MAG Group) has signed a joint venture agreement with Dubai Healthcare City to develop a mixed-use project at an estimated cost of around AED800 million (USD218 million). Scheduled for completion by the end of 2016, the project is expected to comprise two hospitals, a clinic, a residential complex of four buildings, a hotel apartment, 9,300m2 of retail space and a mosque. “The healthcare sector in Dubai is on the cusp of a sustained period of growth and will need to build medical facilities for the future,” highlighted Moafaq Al Gaddah, chairman, MAG Group, adding that this expansion is being fuelled by Dubai’s rising status as a medical tourism hub for the Middle East. Moafaq Al Gaddah

Icon TTG 01 Half Page AD 155x220.pdf



H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has officially launched District One of the AED30 billion (USD8.2 billion) Mohammed Bin Rashid City (MBRC) project. The five million square metre mammoth development, slated for completion between 2018 and 2019, will feature a 350,000m2 waterpark, the largest crystal lagoon body of water in the world with seven kilometres of lagoon and man-made beaches, alongside retail zones, leisure and sports attractions. The project will also be surrounded by 1,500 premium luxury villas. District One, which is located adjacent to Meydan city, just four kilometres from Burj Khalifa, will cover an area of 372,000m2 and will offer 300 villas, scheduled to be delivered at the end of 2016. During the inauguration, Al Maktoum also inspected the 360m long and 50m wide lagoon which is now ready for use.

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Our meetings strive to capture a genuine sense of place and shared experience in order to inspire and truly engage delegates. With 6 meeting rooms we can cater to your every need. Our 35-acres of gardens offer stunning views for diners. We also cater for garden parties of up to 1,500 seated and events up to 4,000.

Situated 600kms from Muscat the hotel features unique decor inspired by Omani architecture, it offers expansive views of the coastline of Al Wusta Region from each of the 213 rooms. There are nine meeting rooms which include two ballrooms with the largest accommodating up to 400 people.



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Abu Dhabi: Another Maiden Call Abu Dhabi Ports Company has welcomed another first time visitor at Zayed Port with the arrival of MV Adonia, part of P&O Cruises’ fleet. The ship’s presence in the port marked the sixth of 10 scheduled maiden calls due to stop in the emirate during the current cruise season. This figure breaks previous records of first time cruise visitors to Abu Dhabi. The 180.45m long MV Adonia has eight passenger decks, and boasts a capacity of 1,083 passengers and crew members. ‘Adonia’s Asian Grand Adventure 2014’ is the name of the ship’s present world tour, which started at the beginning of January in Southampton in the UK, and covers 44 ports in 27 countries. Following its stop in Abu Dhabi, MV Adonia continued its journey via Fujairah, and is set to cover destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Athens and Lisbon.

Tourism Revenues Rise in Morocco The Ministry of Tourism in Morocco has announced that according to a report from the Expenditure Statistics Office, tourism revenues in the North African country touched MAD38.8 billion (USD4.69 billion) in the first eight months of 2013, marking an increase of 2.1 percent over the corresponding period in 2012. According to the Moroccan National Tourist Office, 96 percent of tourists rated their trip to the country higher than other destinations, and Morocco was also hailed as one of the best tourist-friendly countries on the African continent. Echoing these positive results, Mazagan Beach Resort, managed by Kerzner International, reported a significant increase in room occupancy and a notable rise in the number of GCC families and visitors; a trend, which according to the management, was also supported by the resort’s customised packages.

Mazagan Beach Resort

Messe Berlin Targets Record Turnover Messe Berlin has concluded its most successful odd-numbered financial year to date, with the company’s turnover reaching EUR190 million (USD258 million) in 2013. During the year under review, Messe Berlin’s 58 events attracted some 26,000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries, as well as over 1.5 million visitors, of which 550,000 were trade visitors. According to Christian Göke, CEO, Messe Berlin, the company’s turnover is expected to reach EUR250 million (USD339 million) in the current year, equalling the record of 2012, a year with a similar number of events. One of the main events in this year’s calendar is International Travel Bourse Berlin, hailed as one of the world’s leading travel trade shows, which will take place between March 5 - 9.

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WEEKLY NEWS Cook Islands Seek UAE Attention A series of meetings were held recently to introduce the Cook Islands to UAE-based travel agents and tour operators. Heading the mission, Julia Denny, business development manager, Cook Islands Tourism, commented, “There is currently very little awareness of this beautiful destination, primarily due to the challenges posed by air access. However, operators have been very receptive to hear what the islands have to offer. […] One of the highlights is meeting the incredibly friendly local people, and winding down to the Cook Islands slow and laid-back pace of life. […] There are no chain hotels in the Cook Islands but some excellent small and friendly owner-manager properties.”

Cook Islands

Dubai Aviation Safety Records Spotless Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) announced that the emirate’s aviation safety performance indicators have recorded zero air accident fatalities over the past 10 years. Commenting on the positive development, H.E. Mohammed Abdulla Ahli, director general, DCAA, said, “Safety is the number one priority for air transport and aviation is the safest means of transport. To continue this lead and ensure air transport continues to play a major role in driving sustainable economic and social development, collaboration and sharing of best practice, is required among all partners of the industry.” Along these lines the authority hosted the second Aviation Safety Culture Summit in Dubai between February 3 - 4, which aimed to bring together more than 250 local and international aviation industry leaders to discuss key strategies and challenges in improving safety culture across the industry.

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DPG Hosts Promotion Events Dubai Properties Group (DPG) has teamed up with Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, to host a series of DPG events at DFRE’s popular destinations, such as The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, Business Bay and Dubailand, with the aim of promoting the emirate as a must-visit city. The list of events includes the renowned Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Summer Surprises, Eid in Dubai and Modhesh World. “We believe that partnering with prominent companies such as DPG, will further enable us to achieve our goal, promoting the variety of attractions and tourist destinations the city has to offer, and positioning Dubai as the undisputed leading family destination in the world,” commented Laila Mohd Suhail, CEO, DFRE. According to Khalid Al Malik, group CEO, DPG, this year is expected to see an even greater increase in footfall during the festivals.




Ivory Grand Hotel Apartments Unveiled Ivory Grand Hotel Apartments, Dubai, the latest addition to the portfolio managed by HAS Hospitality, is now open for business. Located in the downtown area of Dubai, overlooking the Mall of the Emirates, the 14-storey hotel offers the comforts of a five-star resort, and the advantage of being in the heart of the city. The property, which boasts 360 degree access to Dubai, features a total of 215 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, a restaurant, café lounge, conference room, party hall and a spa. Demonstrating the growing appeal of hotel apartments for both business and leisure travellers, since the soft-opening in December 2013, the establishment has achieved an average occupancy of over 80 percent.

Rooms Enhances at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Following the refurbishment of its lobby, the opening of a new restaurant and the extension of the driveway in 2013, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is now set to embark on the third phase of its upgrade programme. As Konstantin Zeuke, general manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, revealed, April will mark the beginning of the enhancement of the rooms, giving them a new and fresh look and equipping them with the latest in-room technology including interactive television systems and iPads. “It is important to offer a fresh experience to your guests and to always make sure you offer the most comfortable hotel experience that responds to the guests’ ever-evolving needs and expectations,” concluded Zeuke.

Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates

Rotana Exits Syrian Contract Rotana Hotel Management Corporation has issued a statement, confirming that the company has decided to suspend its agreement with Afamia Tourist Resort Company for the management of Afamia Rotana Resort in Latakia, Syria. The hotel group cited the breakout of political unrest in Syria, which, according to the statement, placed severe restrictions on the company in respect to the operation of the property. Located at the crossroads of the Near East, the resort is two kilometres from the Latakia city centre and features 190 rooms and suites. Rotana Hotel Management Corporation also manages the 110-room Queen Centre Arjaan by Rotana in Damascus.

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Rezidor: 19,500 Rooms Under Development The Rezidor Hotel Group ended 2013 with a total of 32 project signings with 6,400 rooms, and 14 hotel openings with 3,300 units. Commenting on the past months’ developments, Wolfgang Neumann, CEO, The Rezidor Hotel Group, said, “We have achieved our signings target, and remained concentrated on asset-light, non-represent projects in our key development regions and destinations, and are well balanced between our core brands, Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson.“ The group’s current pipeline features 19,500 rooms under development, and as Elie Younes, head of group development, The Rezidor Hotel Group, explained, the company has made deliberate adjustments in line with its strategy. Radisson Blu Resort, El Quseir, Egypt

TAMANI Hotel Marina Backs Health Awareness Initiative As part of its social and community service endeavours, TAMANI Hotel Marina, Dubai, in collaboration with Lifeline Hospital, has organised a health awareness programme for staff members and guests. The initiative highlighted the importance of maintaining healthy weight levels in order to prevent diseases such as obesity, in which the UAE ranks fifth worldwide. Commenting on the programme, Walid Al-Awa, general manager, TAMANI Hotel Marina, said, “We are keen to organise an event every month to discuss and create awareness about community issues which will benefit not just our staff members but also guests. The lecture on weight reduction for a healthy life was chosen given the prevalence of obesity in the UAE and encourages people to adopt healthy lifestyle.”

TAMANI Hotel Marina’s Team

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Meliá Hotels International to Debut in Morocco Meliá Hotels International has signed an agreement with Saidia Development to manage three new hotels under the Meliá Hotels & Resorts brand in the tourist destination of Saidia Med in Morocco. The three projects will add a total of 736 new units to the destination’s room stock and will mark the company’s debut in the country. Scheduled to open in 2016, the beach front property will feature 396 rooms. Due to be unveiled in the same year, the second property is being designed for families and international guests, and will offer access to the destination’s golf course. Finally, the 190 fully-equipped holiday apartments are slated for opening in 2017.




UAE to Welcome New Aloft Hotel

Ramzy Fenianos, director of acquisitions and development, Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (left), Kareem Nagy Hassan, CEO, Al Ain Club Investment Company (middle), and Neil George, senior vice president, acquisitions and development, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with Al Ain Club Investment Company to open a new 172-room Aloft hotel in Abu Dhabi. Scheduled to debut in 2016, the mid-market hotel will be part of the 500,000m² mixed-use Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium development, which will include office space, residential units, sports, family, retail and entertainment areas, and food and beverage venues. “We see great opportunities to grow our Aloft portfolio in established and emerging markets across the Middle East, where there is a strong demand for affordable yet stylish and cuttingedge hotel brands,” said Bart Carnahan, senior vice president, acquisitions and development, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa Set For Refurbishment Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa, Dubai is to embark on a AED55 million (USD15 million) refurbishment programme. The first phase of the project will focus on the 108 rooms of Tower One, the restoration of public areas and the introduction of two new internationally branded food and beverage concepts. Pam Wilby, complex general manager, Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa and Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai, commented, “Le Royal Méridien is investing in recruiting a vibrant team of fresh thinking and energised associates. Together these developments mark a significant milestone in the property’s history in Dubai.”

Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort & Spa

Hilton Al Hamra Opens Hilton Al Hamra Beach & Golf Resort has reopened in Ras Al Khaimah following a two-year refurbishment. With direct access to an 18-hole championship golf course, the hotel features 181 villas and suites, two swimming pools, a children’s club, a fitness centre, a convention centre and 500m of private beach. “Hilton Worldwide has enjoyed a presence in Ras Al Khaimah for over 12 years and that [...] has served us well in establishing a strong and growing portfolio,” said Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide.

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Emirates to Launch Linked Service to Abuja and Kano

Abuja National Mosque

Etihad Airways Announces New Sales Region Etihad Airways is increasing its commitment to Africa with the establishment of a new sales region, namely sub-Saharan Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI). Bringing the number of geographical regions that make up the global sales structure to seven, the new AFI region currently covers six countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, the Seychelles and the Maldives. Commenting on the decision, Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, said that Africa is quickly developing into the next big investment destination, with business growth on the rise and African economies amongst the fastest growing in the world. “We are experiencing strong passenger loads right across the continent, with passengers travelling through our hub in Abu Dhabi to the key commercial and tourism destinations in the Middle East, and further afield, to Europe, North America, the Indian subcontinent, North Asia, Southeast Asia and Australia,” he added.

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Emirates is set to expand its presence in Nigeria, with the start of daily linked flights to Abuja and Kano from August 1, operated by an Airbus A340500 offering a total of 258 seats. The airline launched services to Africa’s most populous country in 2004, with flights from Dubai to Lagos, linked with Accra, Ghana. A year later operations increased and finally the Nigerian city became a direct destination, while in February 2009 a second daily route was introduced. “[Nigeria] is strategic to Emirates’ global expansion, as is Africa. With a daily linked service to Abuja and Kano, we will offer from three major cities in the country, very convenient and comfortable access to Dubai,” explained Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, Emirates.

flynas Spreads its Wings flynas has rolled out its Global Flight Routes programme, launching a number of new long-haul routes from its hub in Jeddah. Starting this April, the programme will offer travellers access to new destinations including London and Manchester, UK; Paris, France; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jakarta, Indonesia and Casablanca, Morocco. “flynas is expanding its horizons to operate as a truly international carrier with the launch of our Global Flight Routes programme,” commented Raja Azmi, CEO, flynas, saying that the expansion is a key element of the airline’s strategy to enter a new chapter in its growth. “Our customers have responded very positively to our low-cost high service model of operations and the launch of the Global Flight Routes programme aims to develop this successful approach to our international operations. The expansion of our route network beyond the Middle East is a decisive step leading us towards fulfilling our goal of carrying 20 million passengers yearly by 2020,” concluded Azmi. Raja Azmi




Gulf Air Sponsors Ceremony for Bahraini Students Gulf Air, alongside the embassy of Bahrain in Qatar, sponsored the annual orientation ceremony for new Bahraini students studying in Doha. The celebration, held at The Diplomatic Club in Qatar was hosted under the patronage of Wahid Mubarak Sayar, ambassador of Bahrain, Qatar, and was attended by Wael Mattar, country manager, Qatar, Gulf Air, who welcomed the new students and wished them a happy and successful year ahead. Commenting on the event, Mattar said, “Gulf Air is committed to supporting the communities in which it operates and in supporting Bahraini nationals living abroad. As the national carrier we are involved in several corporate social responsibility initiatives not only in Bahrain but across our global network”. This event was part of a series of activities underway by the embassy to help support Bahraini students in Doha.

Gulf Air

Saudia Launches Self-Service Machine Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has introduced a brand new self-service machine at the Red Sea Mall in Jeddah. The move, which marks the first time that the Saudi national carrier set up such a facility at a shopping centre, comes in line with the airline’s endeavours to provide the best possible services to all of its customers. The installation of self-service machines at shopping malls and other public places is set to help travellers save time and energy. Passengers can easily print their own boarding passes, without the assistance of travel agents or Saudia officials, 24 hours before their journey.

Emirates Partners with Proflight Zambia Emirates and Proflight Zambia have signed an interline deal which aims to facilitate international passengers reaching domestic destinations throughout the African country. Under the new agreement, customers will be able to purchase joint itineraries and will be issued with a single combined ticket, which will entail seamless connections to and from the African carrier’s eight domestic destinations and two international routes. According to Orhan Abbas, senior vice president, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates, the new partnership opens up a wide range of Zambian destinations for Emirates’ customers, making exploring the country more convenient than ever before. “Customers will enjoy even better value for money when they purchase their Emirates and Proflight Zambia flights together,” he said. Philip Lemba, director of government and industry affairs, Proflight Zambia added, “This agreement will undoubtedly provide new travel opportunities for [Emirates] customers, as well as put Proflight and Zambia firmly on Philip Lemba (left), and Husain Alsafi, the international aviation map.” country manager, Zambia, Emirates.

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Air Arabia Becomes Ras Al Khaimah’s Official Carrier

Adel Ali (centre) with Rrepresentatives of DCA Ras Al Khaimah

Jazeera Airways Returns to Istanbul Jazeera Airways announced the relaunch of scheduled flights between Kuwait and Istanbul. Operations to the popular city are set to resume on February 21, with two weekly services on Wednesdays and Fridays. Rafik Boghdady, vice president, sales, Jazeera Airways, said, “Istanbul has become one of the most visited cities by travellers from Kuwait. With its rich history reflecting on its monuments, streets, shopping bazaars and districts, restaurants, and its beautiful nature and sceneries, it is no surprise that travellers go back to Istanbul for more indulging times with family or friends.” He added that the airline’s schedule is ideal to spend at least three days enjoying Turkish culinary delicacies over the Bosphorus, or for more than six days discovering the thousands of vibrant streets of the city.

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The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), Ras Al Khaimah has signed a strategic partnership with Air Arabia, enabling the airline to become the emirate’s designated carrier operating from Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. “As Ras Al Khaimah continues to position itself as an attractive tourist destination, we are confident that this partnership will help us achieve our long-term goals, benefiting from Air Arabia’s operational track record, impressive network and management expertise,” commented H.E. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman, DCA, Ras Al Khaimah. Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, added, “We are extremely confident that the launch of Air Arabia’s operations […] will further transform the travel and tourism sectors in the emirate as well as provide customers with great accessibility and value for money air travel.”

Etihad Airways Closer to Alitalia Deal Etihad Airways and Alitalia have entered the final phase of a due diligence process about the potential investment by the Abu Dhabi-based airline in the Italian carrier, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, and Gabriele Del Torchio, CEO, Alitalia, confirmed. The two parties are expected to reach a final agreement by the beginning of March. During the coming weeks, the companies and their advisors will determine how a common strategy can be developed which meets the objectives of both parties. Any issues that may prevent the establishment of an appropriate business plan will have to be resolved in the meantime in order to ensure that the plan can be implemented to move Alitalia to sustainable profitability.





Westin Brand to Debut in Mauritius

The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa

Protea Hotel Lusaka Tower to Open in April Protea Hotels is to launch its fourth property in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, in April with the introduction of the new Protea Hotel Lusaka Tower. The nine-storey property is situated in the Arcades Shopping and Entertainment lifestyle hub opposite the Mulungushi Conference Centre and will feature 137 rooms, a swimming pool and a ninth floor restaurant and bar. “Lusaka is a vibrant capital from which much of the country’s economic growth prediction of more than six percent for [this year] will stem. It has become one of Africa’s top business centres and the investment in hospitality infrastructure reflects that,” commented Danny Bryer, director of sales, marketing and revenue, Protea Hotels, who revealed that the company expects to expand its Lusaka and Zambian footprint significantly in the next five years.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced that it will soon introduce its Westin Hotels & Resorts brand to Mauritius. The Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, Mauritius is scheduled to open this spring, and will offer 190 guest rooms, five dining venues, 340m² of event space, featuring a ballroom, two meeting rooms and a fully-equipped business centre, and a spa. “We believe that our Westin brand is the ideal fit for this destination thanks to its signature programmes and amenities, which are designed to help guests recharge and revitalise so when they return home they feel better than when they arrived,” said Michael Wale, president, Europe, Africa and Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

BWI Adds to Asian Portfolio Best Western International (BWI) continues its fast-paced Asian expansion with new properties in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Slated to open within the next few months, the 60-room BEST WESTERN midscale hotel in Colombo will mark the company’s debut in Sri Lanka, while in Bangladesh, a multi-brand expansion is planned with new midscale, upscale and luxury hotels set to open in Dhaka and the popular coastal resort town of Cox’s Bazar. First to open will be two BEST WESTERN PLUS upscale hotels; a 232-unit property in Cox’s Bazar and a 56-room hotel at Dhaka’s international airport. BWI also outlined plans to launch a 448-key BEST WESTERN and a 720-room BEST WESTERN PREMIER hotel in Cox’s Bazar in 2015.

BEST WESTERN PREMIER Fort Marino, Bangladesh

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Kerstin Pundt

Rashed Saif Al Shabi Rashed Saif Al Shabi has been appointed area general manager for Saudi Arabia at Etihad Airways. Al Shabi has served in a number of roles at the airline, including general manager in Cyprus, and business development manager in Jordan. He also helped establish the car-

rier’s station in the Seychelles and was involved in developing Etihad Airways’ partnership with Air Seychelles. Based in Riyadh, Al Shabi will be in charge of the airline’s commercial activities in Saudi Arabia and his main goal will be to further develop the carrier’s presence in the Kingdom.

Kerstin Pundt has joined the team at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai as the new director of revenue management. Pundt has over 24 years of hospitality industry experience and is skilled in tactical and strategic revenue management and pricing analytics. She is fully engaged in room and

Markus Iseli Markus Iseli has become the new general manager at The Chedi Muscat, a General Hotel Management (GHM) property. Iseli moves to Oman from Italy where he most recently managed the pre-opening and soft-opening of Palazzo Parigi Hotel & Grand Spa, a Leading Hotels of the World member in Milan. The Muscat posting marks his return to the MENA region, having previously worked in

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the UAE, as well as in Turkey, where he served as hotel manager of Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet between 2000 and 2004. In Syria he held the general manager position at Four Seasons Damascus between 2004 and 2008.

Iseli has become the new general manager at The Chedi Muscat


non-room revenues targets. Prior to joining Jumeirah Group, she spent several years as the area director of revenue for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in both the UAE and Africa. Most recently she served as director of reservations and revenue management in Australia and Germany.

Vivek Badrinath Vivek Badrinath has taken on the role as new deputy CEO at Accor, effective from March 1. In his new capacity, he will be responsible for marketing, digital solutions, distributions and information systems and will also be a member of the group’s executive committee. Badrinath, who is a graduate of École Polytechnique and École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications, has started his career in 1992 at

the French Ministry of Industry. In 1996, he joined French multinational telecommunications corporation, Orange, working in various technical positions, before becoming the CEO of Thomson India in 2000. He returned to Orange in 2004 as technical director in charge of mobile activities, before later being appointed as deputy CEO responsible for innovation, marketing and technologies in May 2013.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Heinrich Morio

DJ Flanders

General manager, Burj Al Arab.

General manager, The Royal Golf Club, Bahrain.

“We are delighted to receive [the Green Globe Certicifation] that reinforces our commitment to sustainable practices. The certificate is a testament to Burj Al Arab’s dedication to ensuring that green policies are at the heart of our business and that they are an essential part of our longterm business strategy”.

Wael El Behi General manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham.

“We are thankful to InterNations Socialize Without Alcohol group for choosing our hotel as the venue for their event. It is a good start for us and we hope to host many such events this year. Though our property is finishing the minor construction work for the grand opening, we are happy that our guests are appreciating our facilities and services.”

“[The Troon Golf Facility of the Year 2013] award is a huge accolade and a tribute to the hard work of our dedicated team […]. This is the first time a club has received the award in the first year of coming under Troon’s management. Receiving such a prestigious award will bring the club and Bahrain as a whole to the attention of the world’s golfing community.”

Paul Johannes Vice president, commercial, North, South and Western Europe, Qatar Airways.

“We are delighted to have been recognised in two categories [at the UK Business Travel Awards 2014] for our high-quality product and business class offering. This award reiterates Qatar Airways’ commitment to providing excellent customer service […]. Over the next few months we look forward to giving our customers increased options when they travel with the […] launch of services from Edinburgh to Doha in May.”

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

15 FEBRUARY 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: June Perbillo POSITION: MICE coordinator COMPANY: Qatar International Adventures


Who are you? I am June Perbillo and I am working as MICE coordinator for Qatar International Adventures. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? I own a bachelor of arts major in mass communication, so basically I love to communicate and interact with people from all over the world. Working with the company gives me opportune time to do this and I am happy therefore. When is the best time to visit Qatar? Between October through to March the weather is good. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? The US. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We can provide our best services trips and packages as well as best accommodation especially in Doha, Qatar.

Qatar International Adventures Boat Trip

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Amadeus Unveils Baggage Reconciliation System Amadeus announced an agreement with Icelandair to develop Amadeus Airport BRS, a baggage reconciliation system (BRS) which is capable of offering real-time, automated loading, tracking and management of baggage. Under the terms of the agreement, the airline, as the launch partner, will deploy this solution from the middle of the year, on all its worldwide flights handled from its hub at Keflavik International Airport. The new solution which is fully integrated into the Amadeus Airport IT portfolio and the Altéa departure control system platform, aims to simplify existing baggage

processes, as all data required to manage luggage will be available via a user-friendly application interface which will improve accuracy and speed, ensuring faster turn-around and departure times for all handled flights. “Our BRS solution will offer key baggage functionalities in a simple, plug-and-play application, enabling visible cost and time savings not just to Icelandair, but to the whole airport ecosystem. We are confident this will only be the beginning of the solution’s success and we look forward to developing it further [...],” said John Jarrell, head of airport IT, Amadeus.


TRAVEL CHANNELS RJ Sponsors 50 Orphans Through Zakat Fund Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has signed an agreement with the National Zakat Fund to sponsor 50 orphans.


Mohammed Lozi, acting general manager, Zakat Fund (left) and Amer Hadidi

ased on the terms of the deal, RJ is to provide financial support, which will ensure that the children get monthly aid. In light of this agreement, RJ will also launch an advertising campaign urging the local community, institutions and citizens, to lend support to more orphans, helping them to be able to afford the cost of living, studying, healthcare and various other necessities of life. Amer Hadidi, president, RJ, stressed that this step embodies the actual meaning of the carrier’s responsibility towards the community and strengthens its interaction with the local society as part of its strategic vision.

IATA and Open Allies Agree on Conditions for Resolution 787 The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Open Allies for Airfare Transparency filed a joint proposal concerning IATA’s Resolution 787, the foundation document for the New Distribution Capability (NDC). The proposal includes conditions to which both organisations agreed, and which are intended to add clarity to the letter and spirit of Resolution 787. Open Allies has contracted to withdraw its opposition to Resolution 787 subject to the implementation of said conditions. Tony Tyler, director general, IATA, commented, “We urge the US Department of Transportation to approve Resolution 787 in a timely manner so that consumers may benefit from the greater choice and transparency in air travel shopping that the NDC standard will enable.”

Africa to Benefit from Visa and Airlift Boost Names Top 10 Safest Airlines

The recently-held Investment and Tourism Business Forum for Africa suggested that visa facilitation and air connectivity are key areas to address in order to fully seize Africa’s steadily growing tourism performance and foster sustainable development. A number of African tourism ministers attended, while a record of 134 tourism stakeholders gathered at the event. Tourism is of rising importance to the African economies, said Taleb Rifai, secretary general, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Between 2000 and 2013, international visitor arrivals on the continent more than doubled - from 26 million to 56 million. UNWTO forecasts this figure to reach 134 million by 2030.

The safety and product rating website, has announced its top 10 most secure airlines for 2013 out of the 448 it monitors. Topping the list is Australian carrier Qantas which boasts a fatality-free record since 1951. Making up the rest of the top 10 list, all with seven stars for safety and in-flight product were Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The website’s ranking system takes into account a number of different factors related to audits from aviation’s governing bodies and lead associations as well as government audits and the carriers’ fatality record.

15 FEBRUARY 2014



Q & A with Axel Harmand One of the many international brands that are increasing their presence in Malaysia, DoubleTree by Hilton is to open two more properties in Johor Bahru and Malacca, according to Axel Harmand, director of business development, DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur.

Travel Trade Weekly: What percentage of your guests came from MENA in 2013? Was there an increase in MENA travellers over 2012?

Axel Harmand Director of business development, DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur

Axel Harmand: The Middle East is definitely a potential key source market for our business. [In 2012] Tourism Malaysia reported a 29 percent year-on-year growth, attracting 356,674 tourists from the Middle East. The increased arrivals of the Middle Eastern tourists reflect Malaysia’s popularity as a preferred tourist destination for the Middle Eastern segment. Through Tourism Malaysia’s [participation at] the Arabian Travel Market in May [2013], tourist arrivals from the Middle East have definitely boosted. Travel Trade Weekly: How does the tourism industry, and your hotel in particular, cater for the needs of Middle Eastern customers? Axel Harmand: The arrival experience at Kuala Lumpur International Airport is very welcoming as announcements at the airport are also made in Arabic, in addition to English and our national language, which is Bahasa Malaysia. Over and above making Halal-certified food and alcohol-free beverages available, and providing a Muslim-friendly and familyfocused environment for our guests, we made it convenient for our Muslim guests to break their fast by providing Halal food in our Makan Kitchen all-day dining restaurant, providing the Ramadhan Sahur in-room meal options, as well as providing separate prayer rooms for male and female [guests]. In all of our rooms, the Qiblah directional arrow is placed with prayer mats for their

15 FEBRUARY 2014

convenience. Furthermore we have Arabspeaking guest relations officers to attend to their needs. Our Muslim guests appreciate that we have taken the initiative to appreciate their culture and understand their unique needs. Travel Trade Weekly: What are Malaysia’s unique selling points and what are the weaknesses the country’s hospitality sector presents? Axel Harmand: According to the Malaysian tourism board, there were 2,724 hotels in the country in 2012, running at an average of 66 percent occupancy at an average room rate of USD110 per night. Key source markets for both business and leisure segments included domestic travellers, regional visitors from Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East. As competition for Muslim tourist dollars intensifies, Malaysia is able to claim the

top spot by attracting the most Muslim tourists because of the sense of belonging and comfort being in Malaysia, which is a Muslimmajority country. In addition, most food is Halal and tourists wearing Muslim attire fit in easily with the locals. With the expanding business of regional carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, the choice of gateway locations for the Middle East traveller has increased significantly. Malaysia has been branded as a tourist destination in Asia, where the theme of ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’ has worked for Malaysia and it is seeing growing numbers of Muslim travellers continuing to flourish this market segment. Most of these visitors choose Malaysia as their destination because of the Islamic identity of Malaysia and Muslim-friendly services are widely available in the country. This is also known as Halal tourism, where special areas like the abundance of prayer facilities throughout the country, Halal food and beverages and even the Islamic banking services for business transactions – are provided to encompass the important aspects of Middle East tourism that has significantly positioned Malaysia’s tourism economy. Couple this with DoubleTree by Hilton’s unique approach to hospitality, our warm and caring services, our legendary warm chocolate chip cookie welcome and care culture brings a refreshing and connected experience for both Muslim business and vacation travellers alike. We will be investing heavily in our people to have them trained to deliver service excellence. In this labour-intensive industry, we are constantly on a lookout for people with the passion for service and hospitality to join us.



Gulf States Inspire Sustainability Globally The latest edition of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, anchored by the seventh World Future Energy Summit and the second International Water Summit, concluded recently, after having established the belief that the Gulf states can use their prosperity and sustainable technologies to accelerate the adoption of renewable energies and green development internationally. Thani Al Zeyoudi, director of energy and climate change, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UAE, remarked that a significant increase in the price of natural gas in the GCC had made water more expensive, which could limit economic growth if left unchecked. Overcoming technical constraints, Gulf states should think about how to develop and capture the benefits of being among the first places in the world to introduce sustainable solutions on a large scale, concluded Samantha Smith, leader, global climate and energy initiative, WWF International.


Sponsored by


January 2014


SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event


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

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

INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition


World Future Energy Summit


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit


Eco Waste Summit


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

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.

Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (GIBTM) Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 24 – 26, 2014 ( The Middle East’s dedicated business platform connecting the region’s inbound and outbound MICE and business travel industry.

Tawdheef Recruitment Show

Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) Guangzhou, China, February 27 – March 1, 2014 ( A business-to-business fair focused on outbound and inbound travel and MICE. Ace of MICE Exhibition (AME Istanbul) Istanbul, Turkey, February 27 – March 1, 2014 ( Aimed to become one of the greatest gatherings of the Turkish and global MICE sector.

Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 31 – April 4, 2014 ( One of the most prestigious shows dedicated to the travel and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.

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.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 223  

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...