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CYPRUS! Monthly

15 MARCH 2014


UAE: Visa on Arrival for 13 EU Countries

From March 22, citizens of 13 European Union (EU) member states will be able to obtain visas on arrival to the UAE.

Grand Millennium Hotel Sulaimani has opened its doors, marking the launch of the third Grand Millennium-branded property in the Middle East.

03 Cathay Pacific Airways and Qatar Airways: Tactical Deal

Cathay Pacific Airways and Qatar Airways announced a strategic agreement between Hong Kong and Doha, effective March 30.


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Grand Millennium Hotel Sulaimani Unveiled




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 WEBSITE

Traffic Soars in Abu Dhabi Passenger volumes continue to increase at Abu Dhabi International Airport at a double-digit rate.


anuary marked a 14.5 percent year-onyear rise in traffic with 1,564,266 travellers passing through the gates of the UAE capital’s hub. Aircraft movements also registered a surge of 7.7 percent after recording 11,972 movements. The top five routes from the airport proved to be Bangkok, Jeddah, Doha, Manila and London Heathrow. “Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger growth continues to display a positive trend for the international aviation industry,” highlighted Ahmed Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports. “With the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building underway, Abu Dhabi Airports will offer

additional world class aviation infrastructure to serve the emirate of Abu Dhabi by 2017,” concluded Al Haddabi.

Abu Dhabi International Airport EMAILS

MEA: RevPAR up 8.2 Percent The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region reported positive performance results during January, according to data compiled by STR Global. While occupancy rose 3.3 percent to 62 percent, average daily rate (ADR) jumped 4.8 percent to USD187.15 and RevPAR improved 8.2 percent to USD115.96. Four markets registered double-digit occupancy increases including Amman, Doha, Cape Town and Abu Dhabi, while Dubai came out as the only destination to achieve double-digit ADR growth. The largest increase in RevPAR has been reported from Amman, followed by Abu Dhabi.


14/03/2014 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar







Egypt (EGP)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



Al Bateen Executive Airport: Visitor Traffic Rises


l Bateen Executive Airport witnessed an 18 percent year-on-year increase in visiting aircraft traffic and a six percent surge in commercial aircraft volumes in 2013. According to Yousif Al Hammadi, general manager, Al Bateen Executive Airport, the positive results demonstrate Abu Dhabi’s

growing appeal as a destination for corporate and leisure travel, and the airport’s position as a turn-key solution for business aviation. Notable developments in 2013 included the introduction of new services, aircraft cleaning through Falcon Aviation Services, partnership with Emirates Transport Services and finally fuel uplift services. 15 MARCH 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Grand Millennium Hotel Sulaimani Unveiled Grand Millennium Hotel Sulaimani has opened its doors, marking the launch of the third Grand Millennium-branded property in the Middle East. Boasting 253 rooms and suites, the five-star hotel, hailed as the tallest standing structure in the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah, features nine meeting rooms and a ballroom, a variety of dining options, a spa and a range of leisure facilities such as tennis and squash courts, a fitness club and swimming pools. As Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, CEO, Middle East and Africa (MEA), Millennium & Copthorne, revealed, an additional 10 hotels should be opening across the region in the UAE, Kuwait, Muscat and Saudi Arabia, bringing the group closer to its goal of operating 50 properties across the MEA within the next three years.

UAE: Visa on Arrival for 13 EU Countries From March 22, citizens of 13 European Union (EU) member states will be able to obtain visas on arrival to the UAE. Under the new rules approved by the cabinet, visitors from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, will no longer require a pre-entry visa, meaning that all 28 EU countries will enjoy visa-free entry to the country. H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, commented, “European countries have traditionally featured prominently in our top 20 source markets for visitors and the lifting of visa restrictions provides for easier travel arrangements from across the continent.”

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Dubai: Over 11 Million Guests in 2013 Dubai’s hotels welcomed 11,012,487 guests in 2013, representing an increase of 10.6 percent over 2012’s figures, and bringing the destination closer to its target of attracting 20 million visitors by 2020. Based on the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)’s statistics, the top 10 source markets were Saudi Arabia, India, the UK, US, Russia, Kuwait, Germany, Oman, Iran and China, while the largest growth was experienced from Australia. Guest nights rose 11 percent to 41.57 million, and revenues grew 16.1 percent reaching AED21.84 billion (USD5.95 billion). Occupancy rates for hotels surged to 80 percent and for hotel apartments to 82 percent. According to DTCM, over the next years, 141 hotel establishments will be added to the market, bringing the total to 751 accommodation offerings and close to 114,000 units by 2016.



UNWTO Endorses Qatar’s Tourism Strategy The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is helping Qatar to implement its tourism strategy through collaboration in various areas, including legislation, institutional strengthening, statistics, marketing and capacity building. “[Placing the tourism sector as a strategic pillar within its National Vision 2030] is a clear recognition of the role tourism can play in boosting the image of Qatar, diversifying its economic base and driving sustainable development in the country,” commented Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO. “With an investment portfolio of USD17 billion over the next five years, including 130 new hotels, resorts and leisure facilities, a new international airport, a new port […], sports stadiums and various cultural centres, Qatar is set to become a leading tourism destination and take full advantage of such growth,” concluded Rifai.

UAE Inks Open Skies Agreement with Hungary The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE has signed an open skies agreement with Hungary. The signing ceremony took place in the VIP Lounge of Al Bateen Executive Airport, which played host to the Abu Dhabi Air Expo at the end of February, in the presence of H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director general, GCAA, and Zoltan Jancsi, ambassador to the UAE, Hungary. Wizz Air launched services to Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central in October 2013, and to date, the low-cost carrier remains the only airline operating regular scheduled flights between the Hungarian capital city of Budapest and the UAE.

Zoltan Jancsi (left) abd H.E. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi

DPG Launches Park in Business Bay

real family hospitality!

Dubai Properties Group (DPG) has opened Bay Avenue Park, a new 9540m2 park in Bay Avenue, its flagship retail destination in the heart of Business Bay. One of the first parks in the area, the development will cater to Business Bay residents and neighbouring communities. Besides two children’s playgrounds, it also includes a jogging track, two outdoor gym areas, a skate park and an interactive water fountain. As Sahar Al Ansari, executive director, real estate management, DPG, noted, the company remains committed to enhancing its destinations and districts. “With the opening of this park we hope to turn this into a truly unique destination where visitors can relax and enjoy the outdoor space,” added Al Ansari.

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Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah’s Phase Two to Open in 2015 Works are well underway on Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah’s second phase, with the property’s extension expected to be unveiled in the last quarter of 2015. As Alessandro Redaelli, general manager, Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah, explained, once complete the hotel will boast 355 rooms, numerous bars and restaurants, including a concept restaurant by a Michelinstar chef, the largest covered indoor pool on Palm Jumeirah and a 3,000m2 spa. “We are excited about the project. The hotel will truly epitomise luxury and comfort staying true to Kempinski’s signature European identity,” added Redaelli.

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Alila Jabal Akhdar to Open in April Alila Jabal Akhdar, Alila Hotels and Resorts’ first project in Oman and the Middle East, is set to welcome its first guests on April 16. “The cool mountain top climate offers a welcome relief for visitors during the hot summer months, and provides travellers with the option of travelling to Oman - rather than further afield - for a cool summer break,” explained Jork Bosselaar, general manager, Alila Jabal Akhdar. “As a group, we have carved a niche for ourselves in line with the increasing demand in the luxury travel market for more thoughtful and adventurous experiences,” concluded Bosselaar.

Alila Jabal Akhdar

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With five venues to choose from, including our award winning Trader Vic’s to Mediterranean Tomato, from spicy Mexican Señor Pico to the lively British style Al Ghazal Pub and Musandam Café & Terrace restaurant also offers breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet and à la carte menu.

Indulge your epicurean cravings with our extensive selection of delicacies. Enjoy the international buffet and authentic local cuisine in our all day restaurant, Al Souq. Dine at the Al Safi Restaurant for a taste of seafood, enjoy a refreshing drink and a snack at The Frontier Restaurant or relax with our 24-hour room services.



Unwind in one of our award winning restaurants and bars offering a choice for every occasion: Shiraz Persian cuisine, Duke’s Bar traditional English Style Pub, Tropicana International all day dining restaurant, Come Prima an Italian experience, The Edge cliff top dining venue and a lively Pool Bar.

Enjoy sumptuous themed buffets at the Dolphin Beach Restaurant or join the Arabic singers and disco nights at Al-Luban Nightclub. Relax at the Al-Khareef Pub, a homey space with nightly live entertainment, dine al fresco on the Arabic-style terrace of Darbat restaurant or sip cocktails at the Splash Pool Bar.



Our expert Chefs deliver the finest cuisine at Crowne Plaza Sohar. Enjoy the delights of The Restaurant’s Buffet Theme Nights and the à la carte menu at the Mediterranean with its authentic Southern European dishes, or just relax and have fun at The Patisserie, The Bar or The Sports Bar.

Set amidst a picturesque landscape, Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb exudes serenity, comfort and convenience. The hotel offers dining venues that take guests on a sumptuous culinary journey serving Mediterranean and International cuisines.

For more information, please call the hotels directly on the following numbers: InterContinental Muscat +968 2468 0000. Crowne Plaza Muscat +968 2466 0660. Crowne Plaza Sohar +968 2685 0850. Crowne Plaza Salalah +968 2323 8000. Crowne Plaza Duqm +968 2521 4444. Holiday Inn Muscat Al Seeb +968 9444 9606.

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Al Jawhara Group of Hotels to Debut in Bahrain Al Jawhara Group of Hotels is to make its foray into Bahrain with the launch of a new property under the Al Jawhara brand in Manama. Hani Lashin, group general manager, Al Jawhara Group of Hotels, described the company’s first venture into Bahrain as a fantastic property offering 215 luxurious rooms and suites, a relaxing spa, outdoor swimming pool, two separate recreation centres with male and female saunas and gyms, and a wide range of events facilities and restaurants. According to Lashin, the group, which currently operates three hotels in Dubai, also plans to further consolidate its presence in the UAE. “Our company owns land in a prime location on Palm Island and we are considering developing a resort project with a spa centre there,” revealed Lashin, adding that the feasibility studies are expected to be completed by mid-year.

Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road Unveils New Gym Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road has announced the reopening of its fitness centre following a full refurbishment. Located on the 41st floor of the building, the newly renovated, state-of-the-art gym is flooded in natural light, with windows that open to spectacular views of Sheikh Zayed Road and the surrounding area. Guests at the hotel can now avail of new cardiovascular and weight-training equipment, as well as recumbent and upright bikes. Additional work done on the sports hub includes new flooring. To unwind after a gruelling session, five relaxation rooms and a sauna are also available for visitors. Located just steps away from Dubai’s downtown and financial centre, Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road comprises 384 rooms and suites.

Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road

Emirates Palace: Surge in Chinese Visitors Emirates Palace recorded an increase of more than 200 percent in Chinese visitors during the month of January, compared to the same period in 2013. The property’s results indicate that travellers from the Asian country are flying more to the UAE, and choosing Abu Dhabi as their holiday destination, while the Chinese New Year saw many guests from the country visiting Emirates Palace. “Our figures in [2013] show that the Chinese are definitely travelling, and they are stopping by Emirates Palace. It is great to see that Abu Dhabi increasingly appeals to the Chinese market. In the spirit of the Year of the Horse, I am sure we will welcome many more Chinese guests through our doors as they continue to explore and travel in the region,” confirmed Holger Schroth, general manager, Emirates Palace.

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Starwood to Debut Westin Hotels in Egypt Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to introduce its Westin Hotels & Resorts brand to Egypt with the opening of The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes in early 2015. The 128-room resort will be located within the Katameya Dunes development, a 1.8 million m² luxury residential compound in the New Cairo City District. The property will be the project’s flagship resort offering golf enthusiasts, business and leisure travellers a retreat just 20 minutes from Cairo International Airport. Spanning 12,500m², The Westin Cairo Golf Resort & Spa Katameya Dunes is set to host four dining venues, a spacious ballroom, The Heavenly Spa by Westin, a Nick Faldo & Brian Curley designed golf course, a pool, fitness centre and a 24-hour business hub.

Four Seasons Resort Marrakech Hosts Art Exhibition In collaboration with the Moroccan Fine Art Gallery, and for the duration of the fifth edition of the Marrakech Biennale, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech is exhibiting original works by the artist Hassan Boukhari. Boukhari was born in 1965 in Rabat, where he has been living and working as a painter since 1987. He has become well-known in the North African country through his distinct canvases focusing on ethnic tradition. On display from February 26 to April 30, his compositions appear like photographs, however, it is through the medium of paint and embroidered textiles that he depicts his subjects, including local crafts, portraits, interiors and picturesque villages.

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Al Tayyar Group Acquires Elegant Resorts Al Tayyar Travel Group (ATG) has taken over luxury travel company, Elegant Resorts. Speaking of the acquisition, Michelle Sephton, managing director, Elegant Resorts, described the Saudi company as an ideal partner with whom the UK-based group shares the same vision. “We are committed to providing a world-class service through the excellence of our people, and this partnership will greatly assist in developing our strategy while remaining true to our vision,” asserted Sephton. Elegant Resorts will continue to operate as a stand-alone organisation, its management will also remain in place, and the dedicated team of staff will be on hand as always to provide bespoke luxury holiday experiences for its clients. Founded in 1979 , ATG has over 35 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry and is considered one of the leading providers in Saudi Arabia with 20 international offices.




Ramada Downtown Dubai Supports Green Initiatives Ramada Downtown Dubai’s team continues to work towards environmental sustainability. Commenting on the property’s commitment to operating in a way that will not harm the planet, Samir Arora, general manager, Ramada Downtown Dubai, said, “We will make sure that we adhere to eco-friendly habits in order to support our environment. As and when we decide on the specifications of a product, we ensure that we choose an eco-friendly item. We are in the process of transforming our hotel and practices into eco-friendly ones.” As part of its corporate social responsibility endeavours, the hotel is also dedicated to supporting the ‘Cause of Cancer’ initiative, Arora added. Speaking about the current business trends, Arora revealed that demand for the hotel is on the rise and in the past few months, the number of honeymoon guests has also significantly increased.

Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi Introduces Le Méridien Hub Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi has unveiled the Le Méridien Hub, its newly transformed lobby, which aims to re-interpret the traditional hotel lobby idea into a social gathering place for creative minds to converse, debate and exchange ideas. Originally launched in June 2011, the Hub concept is currently being introduced in Le Méridien properties around the world, in a bid to offer both guests and locals a unique atmosphere which promotes dialogue, awakens curiosity and stimulates thinking. The Hub is divided into three experience zones, namely arrival experience, interaction zone and Latitude Bar.

Le Méridien Hub

Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa to Add Facilities Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa is to open another restaurant and a spa later this year. According to Jean-Francois Laurent, general manager, Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, the fourth outlet will be an Australian restaurant and bar, serving grills and seafood in rustic and ‘outback-themed’ surroundings. “There is nothing like it in Dubai, so we are expecting to make some interesting waves across the culinary scene,” asserted Laurent, revealing that the brand’s signature spa will also be launching this year. “In-house guests, as well as residents of Dubai, will be able to experience Thai and Arabian beauty and wellness traditions, as well as ancient therapeutic treatments from across Asia,” concluded Laurent.

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Saudi Firm Invests in the Maldives Newly established Saudi Arabian investment and development company, Best Choice Real Estate Development is to build up the USD100 million Vadinolhu Island in Laamu Atoll in the Maldives as a private resort. Set for completion in 2017, the five-star, ecofriendly holiday haven spans 7ha and will feature 100 beach villas, including water bungalows and luxury suites, along with dining services, wellness facilities and leisure activities. As Mohamad Rahib Itani, CEO, Best Choice Real Estate Development, pinpointed, the Maldives offers tremendous investment opportunities, especially in the hospitality sector as it has rapidly emerged as a destination of choice for international visitors. “Our aim is to develop Vadinolhu Island as a highend resort with world-class facilities to promote it as a complete family destination,” explained Itani.

Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Hotel Unveiled After a three-year, AED135 million (USD36.8 million) renovation project, Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Hotel is now open for business. The five-star property features 317 rooms, four restaurants and bars and a fitness and spa lounge. The hotel has also recently launched new business facilities that include nine meeting rooms with the latest in connectivity technology. Commenting on the corporate offering, Laurent Chaudet, general manager, Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Hotel, said, “The coffee breaks bring leisure to business ranging from a 15-minute massage, to playing a friendly game of Wii. […] At Pullman it is not only business or leisure, it is both.”

Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre

Tee Time with Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre has teamed up with Riyadh Golf Courses to offer guests a new way to unwind and socialise. All guests can now enjoy complimentary access to the golf club, while the partnership also aims to make it easy for individuals, incentive groups and companies to organise private events on the golf course premises, catered for by the hotel. “Golf is one of a small but growing number of leisure experiences that visitors to Riyadh are keen on engaging in during their stay,” stated Greg Pirkle, general manager, Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre. “Offering access to this golf course is just another example of our continuing commitment to bringing our guests closer to the best leisure experiences Riyadh has to offer.”

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Meydan Grandstand Proves a Success Overlooking Dubai’s famous racecourse, Meydan Grandstand continues to attract both sports enthusiasts and groups. As Craig Senior, head of sales and marketing, Meydan Hotels & Hospitality, explained, the grandstand, which boasts various outdoor locations, provides an ideal location for concerts, live events, sporting and other functions. “It offers 72 interconnected suites hosting from 20 to 250 guests. The famous sky bubble can cater for over 4,500 people with the rooftop terraces providing unique and multifunctional outdoor areas [...], In addition, the IMAX theatre can be utilised for exclusive screenings for 500 guests,” noted Senior.



Crowne Plaza Beirut Debuts New Ballroom Crowne Plaza Beirut has unveiled its newly renovated ballroom, offering a unique atmosphere for corporate gatherings, weddings and social occasions. Located on the first floor of the hotel, the grand ballroom can accommodate up to 300 guests and can easily be divided into three smaller function rooms, each offering capacity for between 50 – 150 attendees. Intended to exude a contemporary architectural feeling, featuring wooden doors and Zaha Hadiddesigned wallpaper with purple toned motifs and linear patterns, the ballroom aims to fuse elegance with a vibrant ambience. The hotel also offers customised event planning and creative, high-quality banqueting services via its dedicated Crowne Plaza Beirut planning director and banquets team, whose goal is to ensure that all events hosted in the facility will be memorable ones. The updated facility complements the property’s 190 guestrooms, the Top 21 Lounge, and the recently revamped all-day-dining Vivaldi restaurant. Crowne Plaza Beirut


First-class shopping in a central location, Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel Directly connected to Dubai’s premier shopping destination - the Mall of the Emirates, the Sheraton offers comfortable suites in a prime location. Combine business with leisure and book our amazing family suite offers including sumptious breakfast buffet and Wii/PlayStation entertainment systems for kids. For more information and reservations please call +971 4 377 2005 or visit

©2013 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, Sheraton and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. For full terms and conditions, visit

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Royal Jet New Base to be Ready Soon Royal Jet, in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Airports, announced that the planning and development of its integrated base at Al Bateen Executive Airport is well underway, with the first phase of completion targeted for the fourth quarter of 2015. Shane O’Hare, president, Royal Jet, commented that the luxury carrier’s operational base at Al Bateen Executive Airport is a reflection of the consistent and continuous upward growth that the private jet industry has experienced in the last few years. “This move to a new facility, along with the UAE’s overall aviation strategy, is in line with Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Vision. Additionally, it also complements our fixed-base operator facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, customer demand and industry needs,” he said.

Royal Jet

flynas Targets Malaysia and Indonesia flynas concluded a Southeast Asia tour targeting Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, two of the recently launched Global Flight Routes programme destinations. According to Raja Azmi, CEO, flynas, the expansion into destinations that are seen as high-growth markets is a key element of the airline’s strategy to move into a new chapter of aggressive development. “Malaysia is popular as an inbound and outbound destination for Saudi Arabia and the broader Middle East region, and Indonesia is considered as the most populous Muslim country in the world and is therefore a key growth market for all inbound tourism into Saudi Arabia,” Azmi concluded.

Next-generation Air Cargo Electronic Messaging Standards The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released the second edition of the Cargo-XML Manual and Toolkit, providing cargo-extensible markup language (XML) standards for the electronic exchange of information that replace traditional cargo-interchange message procedures for the industry. The new standards ensure uniformity, clarity, accuracy and economy in electronic data exchanges. According to Des Vertannes, global head of cargo, IATA, as a replacement to legacy standards, Cargo-XML is set to revolutionise air cargo electronic messaging, brining sustained benefits to the industry. The new standards are facilitating the implementation of the e-Air Waybill, e-Freight, Electronic Cargo Security Declaration and Advance Electronic Information and provide business rules that improve efficiency and compliance with regulations.

Etihad Cargo

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Cathay Pacific Airways and Qatar Airways: Tactical Deal Cathay Pacific Airways and Qatar Airways announced a strategic agreement on the route between Hong Kong and Doha operated by both airlines, effective March 30. The new deal will see the two companies each running one flight between Hong Kong and Qatar every day. Cathay Pacific Airways is set to make its debut in Doha on March 30, launching a daily service using Airbus A330-300 aircraft. John Slosar, CEO, Cathay Pacific Airways, commented that the Asian carrier has a strong commitment to serving the Middle East, and expressed satisfaction over the launch of the network expansion into Doha. “This exciting business opportunity will help us maximise the potential of the market between Qatar and Hong Kong, and enable both airlines to create synergies that will improve the overall travel experience for our customers,” he concluded.

Cathay Pacific

Etihad Airways to fly to Phuket Daily

RJ Suspends Operations to Three Destinations

Expanding its network in Southeast Asia, Etihad Airways is to launch a nonstop daily service between Abu Dhabi and Phuket. Effective October 26, the new route will be operated by a two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft. James Hogan, group president, Etihad Aviation Group, commented that the airline boasts a very successful track record in Thailand, as Bangkok ranked as its most popular route for the past four years, with 742,759 passengers flown in 2013 alone. “Expanding our reach in the country with a daily service to Phuket is therefore natural progression. The island is a strong addition to Etihad Airways’ leisure portfolio and we will offer attractive arrival and departure times,” he added. Phuket is the carrier’s second destination in Thailand, and the seventh in Southeast Asia, alongside Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.

Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has decided to discontinue running flights to a number of cities due to the decline in passenger numbers as shown in the company’s 2013 operating results. The airline will suspend operations to Alexandria starting in April, and to Colombo and Milan in May. In a statement issued by RJ, the carrier announced that it constantly reviews its route network and studies the stations in order to assess the economic feasibility of each destination. At the forefront of the set criteria that determine route profitability are traffic, operating expenses and the required fleet used on these routes. In addition, market share plays a significant role in such decisions, especially in light of the fierce competition witnessed by the air transport industry on a regional and international level.

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Royal Jordanian Airlines Crew



Six Senses to Open in the Seychelles Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas announced its first property in the Seychelles located on the private island of Félicité, after the company was selected as the resort operator by Félicité Island Development. Scheduled to open in 2015, Six Senses Zil Pasyon will cover 264ha, and aims to create a personal destination that embraces nature whilst offering comfort. With just 28 one-bedroom villas, two two-bedroom villas and 17 private residences, all with pools, the resort will include two restaurants, a bar, retail outlets, a recreation centre and a Six Senses Spa, in addition to a gym and swimming pool. It will also provide function space for board meetings, weddings and special celebrations.


M&C to Open Resort in China Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C) will soon launch Millennium Resort Hangzhou, the group’s first resort in China. The property’s opening marks a new milestone in M&C’s expansion on the Chinese mainland, bringing the total number of properties in the country to 11. Millennium Resort Hangzhou, which is only a 35-minute drive from Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, features 151 rooms and suites with private balconies and views over the natural surroundings and tea plantations. Moreover guests and visitors alike can enjoy the resort’s three dining outlets as well as its fitness centre, indoor pool, sauna and steam room.

Millennium Resort Hangzhou

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Wassim Tarabay

Steven Rice Steven Rice has been appointed CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. Overseeing all areas pertaining to the promotion and development of the emirate’s tourism infrastructure, Rice will also be responsible for positioning Ras Al Khaimah as a premier affordable luxury and outdoor ad-

venture destination. Additional duties range from the management of the organisation’s strategy to the implementation of marketing solutions. He is competent in specialist areas, such as online travel, online and offline marketing, and customer relationship management and strategy and vision.

Wassim Tarabay has moved from his previous role as director of sales and marketing to become the new executive assistant manager at Hotel Missoni Kuwait. In addition to managing the sales and marketing team of the property, Tarabay will now also have extra areas of

Ramzy Andrew Faris Ramzy Andrew Faris has taken on the position of general manager at Majestic Hotel Tower Dubai. With almost 20 years of experience working with leading hotels, Faris brings a wealth of skills, ideas and plans to his new role. He moved to the UAE in 1995, joining Forte Grand Jumeirah Beach Hotel as a restaurant manager before becoming the sales manager at another Dubai property, namely Sofi-

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tel City Centre Hotel. Since then he has built his career with global brands such as Kempinski Hotels and JA Resorts & Hotels. He joined Majestic Hotel Tower in 2013 as hotel manager from the position of director of sales and marketing at Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort. Faris’ grasp of the UAE market will be a valuable asset to the team as they strive to grow the brand.


responsibility within the hotel operations. A hospitality graduate, Tarabay has more than 24 years of industry experience. Having worked with leading brands in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, he has a solid background and a proven track record.

Kamal Rijhwani Kamal Rijhwani has been promoted to executive assistant manager in charge of sales and marketing, at Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah. In his new role, Rijhwani will be responsible for the strategic, commercial and day-today operational aspects of the beachfront hotel. He started his career in the hotel industry in 1998 and has since worked in several properties in various destinations around the globe in-

cluding India, Bulgaria, Tanzania as well as the UK. Prior to joining Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in the Middle East, Rijhwani gained valuable experience in sales and marketing, and food and beverage, with Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces and Kempinski Hotels. He joined Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah in 2009 as director of sales and marketing and took over the hotel’s recreation department in 2013.

travel talk is your space



Peter Mansourian

Group president, Etihad Aviation Group.

General manager, Grand Millennium Dubai.

“In each category [of the Air Transport World Awards], you know that you are up against the world’s best and that you are being judged by a panel unmatched in its industry expertise. That is why we are so proud to be named Airline Market Leader [...] and why I am delighted to be accepting this award on behalf of our 17,600 people worldwide.”

“We believe that this year will surely be another year of accomplishments and successes, especially that Dubai will be the host city of Expo2020. Moreover having the FIFA World Cup [in Brazil] this year will generate a massive turnover for stopovers for Dubai especially and the UAE in general as football fans will be travelling from one end of the world to the other.”

Shane Jameson

George Demitry

Director of sales and marketing, Crowne Plaza Dubai – Deira.

General manager City Seasons Muscat.

“We have gone to great lengths to promote cultural tourism and fun ‘outside’ of shopping malls. Although still a lot of stopover traffic, I do think that the Dubai appeal, to stop for one-two days, has definitely grown and we are seeing this from Australia as well as other long-haul markets that use Dubai en route to Europe and beyond. China is a major player, and is continuing to grow.”

“[At City Seasons Hotels] we are certainly looking at expanding our operations in Oman through our hotel management services and new acquisitions. We will also continue to upgrade and expand our services and facilities at City Seasons Muscat; an addition of a themed Italian restaurant and the rooftop Tapas lounge as well as new design of our business floor is planned to be concluded during the summer months.”

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 MARCH 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Sushan Peiris POSITION: Managing director COMPANY: Modern Voyages LOCATION: Sri Lanka WEB:

Who are you? Modern Voyages [...] is a travel company fully geared to meet the challenge of the ever-growing demands of global tourism, and exploits the great potential and magnificence Sri Lanka can offer. I, Sushan Peiris, managing director of Modern Voyages, am a young entrepreneur who [...] took over the expansion of the organisation, whilst completing my postgraduate degree in business administration. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Sri Lanka offers the most gorgeous sunny beaches, and [...] can offer a heritage and a culture of over 2,500 years. Combining all of this and in turn seeing the happiness on [the faces of our valuable customers] after the completion of the tour, gives me no greater pleasure. When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka is an exotic country and can be visited any time. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? A European tour would be nice! Why should people come to you for travel advice? What makes Modern Voyages special is the ability of its staff to understand the requirements of the customers and to provide a service that will not merely satisfy each and every need, but give much more than that. We make it our priority to ensure that travel enthusiasts get the holiday they have always wanted, while enjoying and blending into a truly Sri Lankan environment. Reliability, efficiency, commitment and customer centricity are strict areas that Modern Voyages adheres to. Better understanding the diverse needs and requirements of the customer [...] helps us deliver accordingly and continue being a reliable and consistent travel guide.

15 MARCH 2014


IAG Inks Deal with Travelport International Airlines Group (IAG) has renewed its multiyear, full-content agreements for British Airways and Iberia with Travelport. Effective immediately, Travelport-connected agents around the world gain access to published fares and inventory on all British Airways, Iberia and Iberia Express flights, while the carriers will continue to work with the technology provider to add ancillary content. The two airlines are also working with Travelport to trial its Rich Content and Branding technology, a component of the Travelport Merchandising Platform. The technology allows airlines to control how their content and ancillaries are visually presented and described to travel agents.

“Both British Airways and Iberia are important, long-standing strategic airline partners and I am delighted that we are announcing these agreements [...]. We have made significant progress delivering a unique merchandising offering and this, combined with our extensive global network of connected travel agents, enables us to offer extraordinary value to our airline partners,” said Robin Ranken, head of airline relationships, Europe, Travelport. “We are wholly committed to supporting the travel agency channel and we are pleased to have reached a multiyear agreement with Travelport,” added Silvia Cairo, head of group, commercial planning and policy, IAG.


TRAVEL CHANNELS SCTA to Explore University’s Potential for Exhibitions

Representatives of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) and the National Convention and Exhibition Program (NCEP) recently visited Princess Norah bint Abdul Rahman University in Riyadh, to identify the available potential of the facility’s conventions and exhibitions centre.


he joint team held a meeting and delivered a presentation on the National Program of Conventions and Exhibitions entitled ‘Reality and aspirations of conventions and exhibitions sector in the Kingdom’. The two parties further discussed aspects of cooperation and means of developing the professional capabilities of Saudi nationals to meet the sector’s needs through the participation of the university in conducting professional training courses, and setting academic subjects relevant to the convention and exhibition niche.

World’s First Time Based Separation System Unveiled UK-based air traffic management service provider, NATS, has introduced a system that will separate arriving aircraft at London Heathrow by time instead of distance. By cutting delays and reducing cancellations due to high headwinds, the system is set to bring benefits and save time for travellers flying into London from the GCC. “The number of travellers from the region is expected to continue increasing over the coming years, following the launch of the visa waiver initiative for UAE, Oman and Qatar nationals. It is therefore paramount that we work on helping to make travel as smooth and efficient as possible,” emphasised John Swift, director, Middle East, NATS.

Princess Norah bint Abdul Rahman University

UNWTO Contributes to Korea’s Tourism Plans Chairing the Tourism Promotion Meeting in Seoul, Park Geun-hye, president, Korea, unveiled plans to advance tourism promotion by boosting ‘smart tourism’, encouraging more nationals to travel. Taleb Rifai, secretary general, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), commended the decision of the country to place tourism as a driving force of the nation’s economy and further highlighted the role of Korea in international cooperation stressing that it can make a difference by sharing knowledge on economic development, especially through tourism.

RJ Cooperates with Charity Clothing Bank

Amer Hadidi, CEO, RJ (left), and AymanMifleh

Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) started distributing containers of the Charity Clothing Bank at its headquarters in Amman, at Queen Alia International Airport and at the City Terminal, enabling its employees to donate clothes, shoes and toys to underprivileged families from across the Kingdom. Ayman Mifleh, secretary general, Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation (JHCO), said that the Charity Clothing Bank has managed, since its inception in the fourth quarter of 2013, to clothe around 11,000 people in need.

15 MARCH 2014


Q & A with


Nael El Wary

Located just a short drive from Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche has established itself as a popular choice for both business and leisure travellers. Here, Nael El Wary, general manager, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, shares his views on the UAE capital’s evolving hospitality scene.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are the hotel’s unique selling points? Nael El Wary: Our location is a key selling point as we are based on the famous Abu Dhabi Corniche. Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche manages to blend modern architecture with French elegance throughout its design and architecture from interior to exterior. [...] This attention to French culture gives Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche a unique guest experience which runs through the hotel from our rooms to the restaurants and the spa. We are one of the few hotels on the Corniche able to offer our guests a real full sea view. For our leisure guests, we are in close proximity to the city’s major attractions including Yas Island, Ferrari World, Heritage Village and Saadiyat Beach. For our corporate guests, we are in close proximity to Sheikh Khalifa Energy Complex for oil and gas trade, Sowwah Square and Al Maryah Island with convenient access to major banking and stock market districts. The hotel features state-of-the-art meeting rooms […] with banqueting facilities, private offices, and board room services suitable for both corporate and private functions. We have six outlets including three restaurants offering fine dining, French, Asian and international cuisine, high tea lounge and café as well as an outdoor pool and grill with two independent bars. Travel Trade Weekly: How has competition changed since the opening of the hotel in 2012? Nael El Wary: Between 2012 and 2013 we noticed a dramatic increase in market competition with the emergence of several five15 MARCH 2014

Nael El Wary General manager, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

strategy, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche was acknowledged in the market by several awarding bodies. We are motivated by our dedication to customer satisfaction and a continued commitment to success and excellence. Travel Trade Weekly: According to TCA Abu Dhabi, average length of stay continues its upward trend in the emirate. To what do you attribute this positive development?

star luxury properties [...] This resulted in a drop in average rate across the board as our competitors prepared to adjust the volume in comparison to market share with the addition of nearly 3,000 rooms. In the second half of 2013, we witnessed a growth in inbound tourism mainly from Europe, Australia, Russia and North America which contributed to the occupancy in the city. This was due to the strategic leisure marketing efforts by the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) aimed at promoting inbound tourism to Abu Dhabi. We also noticed more corporate events and a significant growth in conventions related to the oil and gas, banking, construction, pharmaceutical and medical sectors. In response to the changing climate, Sofitel differentiated itself by further adhering to a high quality of service and recruiting more experienced ambassadors from within the Sofitel family to support this flagship property. As a result of the new internal

Nael El Wary: More extensive marketing of the UAE by the local government with the focus on growing the leisure tourism market in Abu Dhabi. This has resulted in an increase in leisure travellers who tend to stay longer than business or corporate travellers and as a result, we have higher occupancy on weekends rather than just week day bookings. More local projects in the city have also attracted long-stay corporate travellers with extended business interests. Travel Trade Weekly: Please tell us about your plans for the coming months. Nael El Wary: We intend to continue establishing the brand and its precision by launching new marketing campaigns in order to engage with the local community. We have a fine product and we believe that there is much scoop to be innovative in the way we use our outlets and facilities to appeal to guest as well as the local market. We are focused on building the UK, German, Australian and North American markets. As a predominantly corporate focused property these are our key markets for business travel, in addition to France.



EMITT Promotes Turkish Tourism The East Mediterranean International Tourism and Travel Exhibition (EMITT) took place between January 30 - February 2 in Istanbul, Turkey, and registered new exhibition records, hosting 136,730 visitors, 63,230 of whom were professional guests. Hacer Aydın, fair director, EMITT, called attention to the event’s role in promoting the country’s tourism and stated that the exhibition has been hosting tourism sector professionals and contributing to the industry’s growth for the last 18 years. She added that this year’s event placed intensive efforts in upgrading the destination’s position in terms of tourism income and had assigned private lounges for both health and winter tourism sectors in order to attract international professionals specifically interested in these niche areas. Turkey welcomed more than 35 million visitors in 2013, and according to Aydın, the increase in tourism in the country runs parallel to the rise in business hotel capacity and air transportation figures.


Sponsored by


January 2014


SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event


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

INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition


World Future Energy Summit


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit


Eco Waste Summit


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

Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


The Bride Show

Azerbaijan International Travel & Tourism Fair (AITF) Baku, Azerbaijan, April 3 – 5, 2014 ( The main event in Azerbaijan’s fast growing tourism market, attracting a large number of international participants and trade visitors.

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

China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market (COTTM) Beijing, China, April 9 – 11, 2014 ( Now entering its 10th year, COTTM focuses purely on the burgeoning outbound market.

Airport Show Dubai, UAE, May 11 – 13, 2014 ( Benchmarked as one of the world’s leading industry events and a vital link to the MENA region’s airport industry.

Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (GIBTM) Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 24 – 26, 2014 ( Middle East’s dedicated business platform which connects the region’s business travel industry through face-to-face meetings and pre-scheduled appointments. Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 30 – April 3, 2014 ( One of the most prestigious shows dedicated to the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia.

February 2014 Tawdheef Recruitment Show

3-5 12-15

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.

15 MARCH 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 227  

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...