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24 MAY 2014

Nakheel Partners with Premier Inn Nakheel has signed a management agreement with UK-based Premier Inn to launch a 372-key hotel at Ibn Battuta Mall.


REVPAR GURU has partnered with BitPay to release GuestLeader, hailed as the world’s first and only Bitcoin compatible hotel booking engine.


02 03 06 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Bitcoin Compatible Booking Engine Launched





HMH Reports Strong Q1 Results Hospitality Management Holdings’ (HMH) hotels registered a 10 percent RevPAR increase in the first quarter (Q1) of the year.


ccording to Laurent Voivenel, CEO, HMH, steady growth has been witnessed across all segments, including a 7.2 percent year-on-year rise in average room rates. “Some destinations such as the UAE have done extremely well, averaging at 90 percent occupancy and above,” revealed Voivenel,

SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT

who attributed the positive improvements to an integrated sales and marketing approach. “Besides existing markets, inbound tourism to the Middle East from emewrging markets is growing rapidly and consistently […]. Aside from countries like Russia, China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil, we are tapping into the Nordic market,” he concluded.

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

Laurent Voivenel


Doha: Lower Rates Impact Bottom Line Properties across the Qatari capital witnessed a double-digit decline in average room rate (ARR) in March to USD22.17, as per data compiled for TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report. Although occupancy rose 5.9 percentage points to 75.2 percent, RevPAR still dropped 7.6 percent to USD380.91, and bottom line profits fell 10 percent to USD181.34. Year-to-date occupancy levels in the Gulf city show a 9.4 percent rise to 73.2 percent, ARR on the other hand is down 7.7 percent to USD222.67, meaning that RevPAR is up 5.8 percent to USD163.83, and profits have risen 6.9 percent to USD168.05.


21/05/2014 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: Guest Numbers up by a Third


bu Dhabi’s 152 hotels and serviced apartments welcomed 834,771 guests between January and March, marking a 32 percent year-on-year increase, making this the emirate’s most successful first quarter (Q1) to date. Guest nights delivered during the months

under review rose 22 percent to 2.6 million, with occupancy averaging at 79 percent, up eight percent. H.E. Jasem Al Darmaki, deputy director general, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, noted that the positive figures are particularly encouraging as the destination welcomed 11 new hotels since Q1 2013. 24 MAY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Saudi Arabia and Kuwait Boost Ties Saudi Arabia and Kuwait’s bilateral tourism is a key factor for the strong relations between the two countries, according to Abdulaziz bin Hamoud Al Fayez, ambassador of the custodian of the two Holy Mosques in Kuwait. Speaking at Kuwait Travel Market, Al Fayez highlighted the steady progress of the Kingdom’s tourism sector, expressing hopes for increased communication and tourism exchange between the nations. Currently over one million Kuwaitis visit the Kingdom annually while a similar number of Saudis travel to the neighbouring country, Al Fayez revealed. Led by the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, the delegation comprised some 30 tour operators and travel companies. Mecca

24 MAY 2014


Sir Bu Nuair Island to be Completed in 2017 Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq)’s Sir Bu Nuair Island project is set to be unveiled in 2017. The AED500 million (USD136 million) development, which seeks to recreate the vibrant social, commercial and community fabric of the island, will host a five-star resort, hotel apartments and villas, a village, an amphitheatre, a museum, mosque, education centre, harbor, airport, retail outlets and other leisure offerings. “The aim of this landmark project is to turn this vitally important island into a unique destination; one that offers a mix of high-end luxury and comfort, […] one that captures the region’s cultural heritage in its architecture and offerings,” explained H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq.



Dollar Rent a Car Continues to Tap Saudi Market The Dollar Rent A Car team have reported that the company’s participation at the sixth edition of Riyadh Travel Fair (RTF) was a success. “Saudi Arabia is our biggest market thus we strive to create more awareness of our brand by being present in exhibitions such as Riyadh Travel Fair. [...] We met with existing clients to strengthen the relations, and discussed possibilities of new partnerships with potential clients to get a bigger share of residents who frequently opt to rent cars for journeys to the UAE,” commented Marwan Al Mulla, general manager, Dollar Rent a Car UAE and Oman. With a fleet of over 5,000 vehicles across the two countries, the group aims to serve both local and international markets.

Dollar Rent A Car at RTF

Bitcoin Compatible Booking Engine Launched REVPAR GURU has partnered with BitPay to release GuestLeader, hailed as the world’s first and only Bitcoin compatible hotel booking engine. With this new technology, hotels of any size now have the ability to accept payment in the digital Bitcoin currency, and attract a new and emerging customer base. Using REVPAR GURU’s GuestLeader booking application, guests can easily select the electronic money as their preferred method of payment during checkout and the currency will be automatically converted to cash and deposited into the hotel’s bank account. Because of the countless benefits of the Bitcoin system, an increasing number of hotels worldwide from Las Vegas to Denmark and Italy, are now accepting the online payment method.

24 MAY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Royal Caribbean Orders Oasis-class Vessel Royal Caribbean Cruises has agreed with STX France to move forward with the order of a fourth Oasis-class ship for delivery in 2018. Richard Fain, CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, explained, “Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas continue to be in a class by themselves both in terms of guest satisfaction and financial returns.” Fain also announced that the third Oasis-class ship is expected to be delivered in spring 2016. The third and fourth Oasis-class cruisers will join Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, sharing the title of the largest ships in the world. All these vessels feature a revolutionary design with a split superstructure and the neighbourhood concept of seven distinct themed areas.

24 MAY 2014


Oman: Hotel Guest Numbers Soar 22.7 Percent Total guest numbers at Oman’s four- and five-star hotels rose 22.7 percent to 198,383 during the first quarter of the year. As a result, hotel revenues improved 7.4 percent to OMR48.22 million (USD125.18 million), while occupancy levels jumped 3.2 percent to 71.4 percent. According to a report by the National Centre for Statistics and Information, Europe topped the list of hotel guests with 83,468 travellers, up 31.4 percent, followed by the domestic market which showed a 10.6 percent growth compared to the corresponding period in 2013. Guest volumes from the GCC countries rose 20.6 percent to 19,156, and Asia also remained a strong feeder market. Breaking down the numbers, guest volumes in January reached 57,814, while figures stood at 69,344 and 71,255 visitors in February and March respectively. Salalah




Taj Dubai to Open in Q4 Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces is to further strengthen its presence in the UAE with the launch of Taj Dubai scheduled for the fourth quarter (Q4) of the year. Located in the Burj Khalifa downtown area, the property will offer 296 rooms, a selection of food and beverage outlets, a kids’ club, fitness centre, spa and a members-only business club. The Asian hospitality company aims to establish the property as a leading luxury hotel for both business and leisure travellers. The upcoming launch of the project comes in line with the group’s endeavours to further expand its portfolio in the Middle East and around the globe. Taj Dubai

New Identity for Coral Hotels & Resorts Driven by rapid advances in technology, Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has unveiled the new corporate identity for Coral Hotels & Resorts. The new slogan – ‘You are unique for us’ – aims to place customers at the very heart of the brand, and according to Laurent Voivenel, CEO, HMH, the overhaul breaks away from tradition with a digital-friendly design and approach primarily aimed at leveraging the brand’s competitive advantage. “We are, no doubt, stepping into a ‘brand new era’. The new identity is going to be critical in gaining and retaining market share and will tremendously bolster the Coral brand. It is all very well researched and perfectly aligned with our business objectives,” Voivenel added.

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Millennium & Copthorne: Three New Brands in MEA Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East & Africa (MEA) has unveiled three new-to-region brands. Studio M, M Hotel and Millennium Executive Apartments will each address new and growing market segment needs. Mid-market brand Studio M will debut in Riyadh in the second quarter of 2015, with six properties set to be added in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Al Khobar and Jeddah by 2017. M Hotel is aimed at business travellers and is expected be rolled out into Dubai, Doha, Riyadh and Jeddah by 2017, while Millennium Executive Apartments will launch in Muscat in the fourth quarter of this year followed by another opening in Dubai. Ali Alzaabi

24 MAY 2014



New Five-star Hotel at Saraya Bandar Jissah Construction work has commenced on the second five-star hotel at Oman’s newest integrated tourism complex (ITC). Saraya Bandar Jissah, the company developing the ITC, has awarded a OMR30 million (USD77.9 million) contract to Leighton Middle East Contracting to build the property, which will be operated by Jumeirah Group. The hotel will feature 206 rooms and a variety of facilities and amenities, including a ballroom, spa, sports facilities, such as a dive centre, and specialty restaurants. Part of the first construction phase of the megaproject, the property will be joined by a boutique hotel, recreational facilities and residential neighbourhoods, all scheduled for completion in 2017. The two accommodation units will together form the major leisure components of the much-anticipated Saraya Bandar Jissah.




Super 8 Opens First Property in Middle East Wyndham Hotel Group has launched Super 8 Riyadh, the first of the economy hotel brand’s properties to open in the region. Situated minutes from King Khalid International Airport, the new 57-key hotel is part of a master development agreement with Saudi Automotive Services Company for 20

Super 8 hotels in the Kingdom over a period of five years. “Super 8 Riyadh will serve as a comfortable place to rest for road travellers, [...] ideal for the long highways and the growing number of car journeys in the market,” said Rui Barros, senior vice president and managing director, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean, Wyndham Hotel Group.

Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa Reveals Renovation Plans Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa on Jumeirah Beach is to undergo an extensive, six-month renovation. Set to begin on June 28, the lobby area and meeting rooms are scheduled for completion by the end of August, while the complete redesign of 104 rooms will be ready by October. The property’s gardens will also receive a new look, and a new exclusive club lounge will be launched.

DAMAC Hotels Launches Shariacompliant Hotel Project DAMAC Hotels, the hospitality arm of DAMAC Properties, has unveiled Constella, hailed as the first fully certified Sharia-compliant serviced hotel apartments in Dubai. Located in Jumeirah Village, Constella will offer an alcohol-free environment with separate swimming pools, gyms, saunas and restaurants for men and women.

24 MAY 2014


Marriott International Signs 14 MEA Hotels Marriott International has announced 14 new projects in the region, further expanding its footprint in the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well as Africa. In the UAE, a total of six new properties, comprising 2,738 rooms, are expected to be added, including the 312-room Renaissance Dubai Downtown Hotel, Dubai Marriott Hotel Citywalk and Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai City Walk. The expansion drive will also see a boost to Saudi Arabia’s extended stay segment with Courtyard by Marriott Al Khobar, Residence Inn by Marriott Al Khobar and Residence Inn by Marriott Jazan and the recently signed Jeddah Marriott Hotel. Plans are also in place to add eight hotels in Africa, a Residence Inn by Marriott in Kuwait, a Courtyard by Marriott in Abu Dhabi, and two properties in Iraq.

Jeddah Marriott Hotel

24 MAY 2014



FRHI Hotels & Resorts: Seven New Hotels in MEAI In line with its goal of doubling its regional footprint by 2020, FRHI Hotels & Resorts plans to add seven new properties to its Middle East, Africa and India (MEAI) portfolio. The hotel management company is targeting key strategic markets, such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Nigeria. The group will launch two projects in Jeddah, and in Egypt three new hotels are planned for Sharm El Sheikh along with a signature golf course. The company’s UAE development pipeline, which already covers Ajman, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi, will expand into Dubai, while Nigeria’s financial hub will soon welcome Fairmont Lagos.




HMH to Operate Hotels in Every GCC Country Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) is poised to further expand its footprint in the region, aiming to have a hotel in every GCC country by 2020. “The GCC’s hospitality market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 8.1 percent to USD28.3 billion by 2016 compared to USD19.2 billion in 2011,” highlighted Laurent Voivenel, CEO, HMH, confirming that five new properties are scheduled to open later this year or at the beginning of 2015 in Muscat, Dubai, Beirut and two in Sudan. “Building on our strong record, we are stepping into a new era and are ready to take up new challenges and opportunities be it in four- or five-star category or mid-market/ Coral Dubai Sports City Hotel & budget segment,” added Voivenel.

Hilton Hurghada Resort Reveals Renovation Plans Hilton Hurghada Resort is focusing on creating rewarding experiences for guests, as Soha El Torgoman, general manager, Hilton Hurghada Resort, revealed. The property plans to embark on the first phase of room renovations later this year, and will also soon add a new swimming pool. Meanwhile, the management remains committed to its energy consumption reduction programme. “We have concluded an agreement to implement natural gas as an alternative power/energy supply for kitchen equipment and boilers. Hilton Hurghada Resort was one of the first properties on the Hurghada touristic promenade to commit to, and support the implementation of the project in an effort to further support the Red Sea governorate’s environmental sustainability objectives,” added El Torgoman.


Hilton Hurghada Resort

First Wyndham Garden to Open in the Middle East Wyndham Hotel Group has revealed plans to launch the Middle East’s first Wyndham Garden branded hotel in Qatar in 2017. As the company’s second hotel in Qatar, the newly constructed four-star Wyndham Garden Doha will feature 153 rooms, flexible meeting space, a fitness centre and a pool. According to Rui Barross, senior vice president, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean, Wyndham Hotel Group, the property will be a strategic addition to the company’s regional portfolio. “With its bustling business district and nearby airport contributing to a significant increase in travellers, Doha is the ideal market for the region’s first Wyndham Garden hotel,” added Barros.

24 MAY 2014


Symphony Style Hotel Kuwait Retains Six Senses Spa

Six Senses Spa

While a plethora of changes are currently underway at Symphony Style Hotel in Kuwait as Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group rebrands the former Hotel Missoni Kuwait as a Quorvus Collection property, one element to remain the same is the Six Senses Spa, which continues to operate. Conveniently located on the second floor of the hotel, the 1,500m2 spa features 13 treatment rooms, including two Hammams for men and women, and a celebration room that comprises a beauty salon plus pedicure and manicure areas. In addition, a fitness centre with a mixed and ladiesonly gym, a yoga studio, experience shower, sauna, steam rooms and luxurious relaxation areas are also available. “Six Senses Spas offer a layered approach that unites a pioneering spirit with treatments that go beyond ordinary,” explained Anchen Els, spa manager, Six Senses Spa Kuwait, adding that the brand prides itself on offering an intuitive mix of science and human awareness, where a high-tech and high-touch approach defines a service that is crafted around the individual.

24 MAY 2014



Nakheel Partners with Premier Inn Nakheel has signed a management agreement with UK-based Premier Inn to launch a 372-key hotel at Ibn Battuta Mall. The new property will form part of the Dubaibased developer’s 28,000m2 expansion of the complex, which will also see the addition of 150 shops. Scheduled to open in 2016, Premier Inn at Ibn Battuta Mall will offer a restaurant, coffee shop, swimming pool and gym and will be directly linked by a pedestrian bridge to the metro station and the mall. Nakheel is planning nine hotels across Dubai over the next five years. In April, the developer confirmed that Accor will manage its 250-room Dragon Mart Hotel, currently under construction and due to open this year. In February, Nakheel launched more than 500 luxury serviced apartments at The Palm Tower, its 50-storey, five-star hotel and residential complex on Palm Jumeirah, and the company is also planning hotels at Deira Islands and International City.




Monarch Airlines Grows Presence in North Africa Monarch Airlines has celebrated the launch of its summer schedule with the introduction of new routes to various tourist hotspots in North Africa. Enfidha in Tunisia will be served twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays from both Manchester and London Gatwick airports, while Agadir will become the airline’s first destination in Morocco, offering convenient travel options to the coastal city from Manchester two times a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Giving a major boost to the Red Sea region, Monarch Airlines will also operate twice weekly flights to Hurghada on Tuesdays and Fridays from Birmingham, London Gatwick as well as Manchester airports. “Monarch Airlines is very much celebrating a new summer this year with the addition of new routes and new aircraft,” commented Tim Williamson, director of customer experience and marketing, Monarch Airlines.

Etihad Airways Redefines First Class Experience Etihad Airways aims to set a new industry standard with the launch its new First Apartments and First Suites. Featured on the airline’s A380 fleet, nine First Apartments located in the aircraft’s upper deck will offer a complete living space with a reclining lounge chair and an ottoman which converts to become a separate fully-flat bed. Eight First Suites on the Etihad Airways’ B787 Dreamliner will offer guests an enhanced suite with mini-bar, complete privacy and centre seats which can be joined to create a double bed. “The final product is far superior to anything available in the market today and more akin to the offerings of the world’s top five-star hotels,” said Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways.

flynas: Direct Flights to Cairo


flynas is further expanding its Global Flight Routes programme with the launch of daily nonstop services from Jeddah to Cairo starting in June. The airline has also signed a strategic agreement with Egyptian carrier Nesma Airlines which aims to further solidify its presence and reach within Egypt and North Africa. “In the past year, flynas has pioneered an innovative business model – the Low Cost Carrier Plus – which is set to change the image of the traditional Middle Eastern carrier. We have upgraded our inflight offering to include a 12-seat business class cabin and invested in smarter onboard entertainment technologies and comfort-boosting services, all of which are poised to see flynas soar to new heights,” said Wael Al Sarhan, director, marketing and communication, flynas.

24 MAY 2014




Dusit Announces Luxury All-Villa Resort

Dusit Thani Resort Panzhihua, Sichuan

Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts have signed a management agreement with Panzhihua Sunshine Joyhome Tourism Investment to operate a deluxe all-villa resort in Sichuan province, China. Set to open in 2016, Dusit Thani Resort Panzhihua, Sichuan, will feature 200 villas and is to be the first internationally-branded hotel in the city of Panzhihua. The hotel will feature a spa with a full range of lifestyle and wellness programmes, while food and beverage outlets will include an all-day dining restaurant and a Chinese restaurant. Guests can also enjoy a complete range of recreational facilities including an indoor swimming pool, a well-equipped gym and a golf driving range. An expansive function room and several meeting spaces featuring the latest audio-visual facilities will also be available at the resort. “The success of this new management bid by Dusit Fudu has been spurred by our confidence both in the property and the potential of Panzhihua as a growing leisure destination,” said Lim Boon Kwee, president, Dusit Fudu Hotels and Resorts.

BWI Unveils Second Tokyo Hotel Best Western International (BWI) has unveiled its second hotel in the Japanese capital, Tokyo. The contemporary midscale BEST WESTERN Tokyo Nishikasai offers 184 guest rooms, a restaurant, and meeting space for up to 80 delegates. Located in the city’s eastern Edogawa Ward, the property is geared towards both business and leisure travellers, offering easy access to commercial, retail and entertainment areas. “With convenient links to Tokyo’s main business district and excellent facilities for the corporate market, we expected this superb hotel to be extremely popular with Japanese business travellers,” commented Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI.

BEST WESTERN Tokyo Nishikasai

24 MAY 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Abbas Tolouee POSITION: International business development manager

COMPANY: Incredible Iran LOCATION: Iran WEB:

Who are you? I am a self-described Marco Polo and travelling has been my passion from a very young age. I grew up loving to travel and have been to nearly 80 countries so far. I have studied business in the US and am very active in the tourism industry. Incredible Iran is an active member of Gardeshgaran Group, our parent company. The company has been operating outbound and inbound tours for the past 17 years and is very well-known regionally. I also teach at the group’s tourism academy where we have courses from hotel and agency management to training flight attendants. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? When people go on a holiday and everything works smoothly, a very fond memory of that trip/tour is created in people’s minds. I love to be a part of that. When is the best time to visit Iran? March is the absolute high season. Late April and May are good months to travel. Another pleasant period is from late August to mid-November. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? South Sudan. Having been to most of the safe and touristy places in the world, I am now an adrenaline junky when it comes to travelling. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We pride ourselves in our customer service and customer care teams. Most of our employees are Western-educated and have studied tourism management. We are a brick and mortar company with several branches. We are not just a faceless website. We answer your queries very quickly and are always happy to speak to you on the phone.

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Al Tayyar Travel Group and Travelport Enhance Partnership Al Tayyar Travel Group and Travelport have strengthened their partnership with the signing of a new multiyear agreement which will see both companies significantly enhance their business. As part of the renewed three-year partnership, Al Tayyar Travel Group will take advantage of Travelport’s new generation technology to expand their online business. A key part of the deal is that the Saudi-based travel group will adopt Travelport Universal API, the cutting-edge technology that enables travel agencies to streamline the booking process

by re-aggregating currently fragmented content from the global distribution system as well as other online sources. Travelport Universal API also enables full access to Travelport’s air, hotel and car content, as well as high speed rail suppliers and low cost carriers. In addition, the two entities will continue to work closely to develop the expertise of travel professionals in the Kingdom, drive the recruitment of young Saudis in the field of travel and tourism and promote tourism initiatives in the country on a global level.


travel talk is your space


Stuart Wheeler

Marwan Koleilat

CEO, Air Charter International (ACI).

Chief commercial officer, Qatar Airways.

“At ACI we have a team of dedicated professionals who can provide bespoke air charter solutions to a varied client base including executive travel, cargo transport and emergency services. Our private jet clients have discovered the numerous advantages and values of private jet travel that commercial airlines simply cannot duplicate. […] We foresee an upturn in the requirement for chartered aircraft due to the opening up of regions to which there is an insufficient number of scheduled flights.”

“[The Doha – Larnaca] route will promote Cyprus as a tourist destination to travellers from the Middle East, Asia Pacific and beyond. We are confident that Cyprus will attract Qataris as it offers several advantages. […] For Qataris, there are also many investment opportunities in Cyprus, especially in the real estate field. We recognise this potential and look forward to enhancing such opportunities with this new route. […] Our investment in Cyprus is long-term and multi-leveled.”

Ihab Kanawati General manager, Staybridge Suites Beirut.

“Bring us more stability, security and safety as we are in a similar situation of an old man sitting on his chair at the doorsteps of his porch, reminiscing his golden days back when he had the power, youth and charisma, for that is all he got left to brag about. Future can have either sides, but Europe was destroyed, brought down to ashes and look at it raised back in no time.”

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

24 MAY 2014


Patrick Both Patrick Both has been named as the new general manager at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Abu Dhabi. Both was recruited for his new role from Anantara Rasananda Koh Rhangan Villa Resort & Spa in Thailand. Overseeing the management of the 206-key resort, his re-

sponsibilities will include motivating the 600-strong team to position the property as one of the world’s most iconic hotels. Both will work closely with Wael Soueid who has recently been appointed as area general manager for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas Abu Dhabi properties.

Bill Keffer Bill Keffer has taken over at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai as the new general manager, leading a team of 1,200 associates. Keffer has held various managerial positions with Marriott International over the past 25 years. He began his career in Los Angeles and later served Marriott International in several states in the US before moving to Asia to work first in Japan and then South Korea. In 2005, Keffer assumed the position of area director

24 MAY 2014

of operations in the UK and Ireland, a role that he held until he moved to the UAE as general manager of Marriott Dubai Harbour Hotel and Suites in 2009. Having spent the last two years as hotel manager, Keffer is already familiar with JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai’s team and strategic goals.

Keffer has held various managerial positions with Marriott International


Abdelrahman Abdullah Al Madhloum Al Suwaidi Abdelrahman Abdullah Al Madhloum Al Suwaidi has assumed the position of general manager for Cyprus at Etihad Airways. Al Suwadi joined the carrier as a sales manager in 2013, after gaining experience in sales positions with property and travel companies across the UAE.

His career spans almost two decades and includes leadership roles in sales, marketing and airline operations. In Cyprus, he will lead the further development of Etihad Airways’ commercial strategy, ensuring the continued success of the airline’s business in the eastern Mediterranean region.


TRAVEL CHANNELS TAMANI Hotel Marina Acquires Quality Certification

TAMANI Hotel Marina, Dubai has received an ISO 9001 certification, following the satisfactory completion of all the required assessments, procedures and processes.


s Walid Al-Awa, general manager, TAMANI Marina Hotel, Dubai, explained, the acquisition of the certificate will enable the hotel to become a more consistent competitor in the marketplace. “It will also help improve operational performance and motivate and engage staff with more efficient internal processes and win more customers with better service. The certification reflects our commitment to quality and high standards,” added Al-Awa. ISO 9001 is an international quality standard developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a worldwide federation of national standards bodies representing some 130 countries.

DTCM Encourages Youth to Join the Tourism Industry The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), along with 40 of the emirate’s hotels, recently participated in the Careers UAE Fair, in order to promote tourism as one of the most important and fastest growing industries. Ibrahim Yaqoot, executive director, human resources and training solutions, DTCM, noted that the number of UAE nationals working in the hospitality sector currently stands at 3,160, with this figure set to increase by 15 percent on an annual basis. The fair, as Yaqoot explained, represented a unique opportunity to promote the authority’s START programme which prepares Emiratis to work in the sector. Mariam Al Maeeni, director of human resources, DTCM, added, “Through this annual event we aim to attract local talent to work at DTCM.”

Medical Tourism Flourishes in India The Indian Ministry of Tourism has taken several steps to promote the country as a medical and health tourism destination, with traditional systems, such as Ayurveda, Yoga, Panchakarma, and rejuvenation therapy, becoming increasing popular with foreigners and hoteliers. Irv Rao, assistant director, Dubai, India Tourism, commented, “Medical treatments are carried out in state-of-the-art facilities that have been accredited to conform to international standards. Hence, the high quality in medical treatments is thus maintained at the technology, as well as at the professional levels.” He further added that the current scenario on the international medical industry scene, whereby the cost of medical treatments is skyrocketing in the US and Europe, means that the affordable price of India’s healthcare services come as a relief to patients.

24 MAY 2014



Q & A with Chetan Sethi Since easyHotel Dubai’s opening in May 2010, the emirate’s accommodation sector has experienced tremendous growth. Here Chetan Sethi, general manager, easyHotel Dubai, talks about the destination’s everevolving hospitality scene and the change in the supply and demand equation.

Travel Trade Weekly: Based on your experience and in light of the latest figures, how has demand for value-for-money accommodation options grown in Dubai over the past years? Chetan Sethi: Dubai’s hotel sector has seen an increase in value-for-money accommodation options resulting in a rise in the number of budget hotels which are targeting the UAE in hopes of attracting business travellers who have been trading down to less expensive accommodation as a result of corporate belt tightening brought on by the financial crisis. The positive upswing in tourism volumes in Dubai has raised confidence levels and following a slowdown witnessed in the last couple of years, there has been an increase in the number of budget hotels in the city. Over the past decade, the UAE has positioned itself as a luxury destination with the launch of some of the most expensive hotels in the world. In 2008, the average daily room rate in Dubai was an eye-popping AED1,200 (USD326.7) due partly to the fact that hotel supply in the emirate was relatively small and low-cost accommodation was scarce. However, in the past years a number of budget hotels have entered the country looking to address this gap in the market. These hotels are looking to attract a large number of business travellers, as many companies have instructed their employees to trade down from five-star hotels when taking business trips. Travel Trade Weekly: How would you describe your clientele? In other words, what are travellers staying at easyHotel Dubai looking for?

24 MAY 2014

Chetan Sethi General manager, easyHotel, Dubai

Chetan Sethi: Our clientele is looking for exceptional value-for-money and they are from different walks of life, including corporate and individual travellers, as well as families. We offer ‘no frills’ approach services, purpose-built hotel rooms at affordable rates and leave the decision on additional services solely in the hands of our guests. Travel Trade Weekly: In order to prepare for the anticipated 20 million visitors by 2020, Dubai’s room stock is set to almost double over the coming years to 140,000160,000 hotel and hotel apartment units. In your opinion, what role will the budget accommodation sector play in this development? Chetan Sethi: The budget accommodation sector has been playing a very significant role in the recent developments and the ex-

pansion happening all over Dubai, and as the emirate looks for significant increases in tourist numbers, more budget and mid-market hotel brands are expected to arrive in Dubai. Currently nearly 40 percent of Dubai’s existing room supply is in luxury or upperupscale hotels with only 10 percent in the upper-midscale and midscale segments. Dubai’s hotel offering will also become more specialised and the increasing numbers of visitors will definitely see a proliferation of new mid-market and budget arrivals, something that the market has been talking about for a long time. Travel Trade Weekly: The fast-growing supply is set to further increase competition in Dubai’s hotel sector. What will be those attributes that will make a difference? Chetan Sethi: In my opinion the two main attributes will be continually raising the bar in terms of delivery and evolving the product frequently in order to match the needs of the customers who are becoming increasingly demanding. We will be looking at these two main factors in order to successfully compete in the market and continuously excel. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your plans for the coming months? Chetan Sethi: Following the lucrative months of April and May when the hospitality industry in Dubai tends to dip because tourists are dissuaded by the emirate’s soaring temperatures, we are planning to add on extras in the room rates giving more value-for-money to our guests and offering further discounts on the tours and excursions booked at the hotel.



Oman to Lead Middle East’s Tourism Sector


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According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)’s annual economic impact report, Oman’s travel and tourism industry directly contributed OMR982.8 million (USD2.6 billion) in 2013 to the economy, with this figure forecast to rise by 10.2 percent this year. The sector’s total contribution to the country’s GDP was OMR2.08 billion (USD5.40 billion) in 2013, which is expected to grow by 9.4 percent this year. Ghasi Humaid Al Hashmi, deputy director general, tourism promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism, commented, “The construction of world-class hotels and resorts along with the development of a number of infrastructure projects in the aviation, road, rail and maritime sectors, including a passenger terminal at the Muscat International Airport and transformation of the Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat into a tourism and cruise ship precinct, are part of the government’s strategy to target more global targeted tourists.”

EVENTS Iran Food + Hospitality Tehran, Iran, May 30 – June 2, 2014 ( In 2013, 419 exhibitors and 32,000 visitors attended the event, which focuses on the country’s food and beverage and hospitality sectors. Arab Luxury World Dubai, UAE, June 2 – 3, 2014 ( The conference will focus on opportunities and challenges in travel and hospitality, and art and cultures, amongst others. International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Asia Shanghai, China, June 2 – 5, 2014 ( An invitation-only event where travel agents and advisors from across Asia meet global luxury travel experiences. Connect Marrakech, Morocco, June 3 – 6, 2014 ( The event will bring together airports, airlines, suppliers and tourist industry professionals from around the world.

Turkey & Neighbours Hotel Investment Conference (CATHIC) Istanbul, Turkey, June 9 – 10, 2014 ( One of the region’s premier meeting places with more than 300 companies. Kingdom Business & Luxury Travel Congress Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, June 9 – 10, 2014 ( A unique business platform that will bring Saudi corporate travel buyers and outbound travel agents under one roof. Americas Incentives, Business, Travel & Meetings Expo (AIBTM) Orlando, US, June 10 – 12, 2014 ( A leading global exhibition for the US meetings and events industry. Routes Africa Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, June 22 – 24, 2014 ( An event for aviation based companies who wish to conduct business to, from and within the African region. 24 MAY 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 237  

Travel Trade Weekly Middle East & North Africa is the first and only weekly virtual publication of its kind in the MENA region. It is distri...

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