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CYPRUS! Monthly

25 JANUARY 2014


DTCM Launches e-Museum The Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has created an online museum featuring images, videos and stories.

Development is on schedule as Hamad International Airport (HIA) prepares to support Qatar’s development and prosperity.

04 Royal Palm Marrakech Celebrates Opening Beachcomber Hotels has announced the launch of Royal Palm Marrakech which is now officially open for bookings.


02 03 07 10 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

HIA on Track to Open by Mid-year





Abu Dhabi: Profitability Soars Abu Dhabi’s accommodation sector experienced a surge in all major performance indicators in November 2013, driven by a number of prominent events.



RI Hospitality Consulting’s latest HotStats survey highlighted that November 2013 was the strongest month in 2013 for the UAE capital, with occupancy levels reaching 85 percent, marking a year-on-year increase of 7.8 percent. Average room rates climbed 0.8 percent to USD246.74, becoming the second highest

JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou DIRECTORS

rates in the region, while RevPAR rose 10.9 percent to USD209.71, driving profitability up 11.7 percent to USD188.44. “Momentum has rapidly picked up in Abu Dhabi’s hotel market that has seen consistent growth in demand in 2013, particularly from the leisure segment,” said Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting Middle East.

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


24/01/2014 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)



Middle East Fuels Global Passenger Growth The Middle East’s aviation sector continues to develop above the global average growth rate, Airports Council International (ACI)’s report revealed. According to the release, the world’s airports reported an overall passenger increase of 3.1 percent in November 2013, driven mainly by international traffic, which saw a rise of four percent, while domestic traffic climbed 2.2 percent. The Middle East once again outperformed the global average, recording a 6.1 percent increase in passenger volumes. Dubai International reported the high-

est year-on-year rise in passenger traffic at 9.5 percent, and with double-digit growth rates throughout the year, the airport is likely to become the seventh busiest hub in the world in 2013, according to Rafael Echevarne, economic director, ACI World.

Occupancy Increases in Riyadh


iyadh’s hotel sector recorded a 5.3 percent rise in occupancy, as levels reached 69.1 percent in November 2013, TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report revealed. Average room rate declined 6.7 percent to USD239.59, RevPAR however rose 1.1 percent to USD165.63. Increased food consumption coupled with double-digit growth in beverage and conferencing revenue boosted total RevPAR by

4.1 percent to USD277.66. All in all, the growth in top line revenues combined with decreased payroll costs resulted in gross operating profit per available room rising to USD158.22. “As the hotel market in Riyadh entered the high season, corporate and MICE activity resumed with the city hosting a number of trade shows and exhibitions,” commented Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, Middle East. 25 JANUARY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Abu Dhabi Cruise Numbers to Swell Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Port has celebrated the maiden call of boutique German cruise operator Phoenix Reisen and its MS Artania flagship. The arrival of the vessel launched a dual-season, two ship presence by Phoenix Reisen in the UAE-capital, and will be followed by MS Amadea in April, with the company’s MS Albatros joining for the October – April 2014/2015 season. “The number of maiden calls in the current cruise season has doubled compared to last season which is a clear indicator of the rapidly growing cruise business in Abu Dhabi,” highlighted Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC), adding that in order to accommodate the anticipated growth, ADPC has further enhanced its facilities and services for both passengers and cruise liners.

New Passenger Boarding Bridges at BIA Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has signed an agreement with Shenzhen CIMC TIANDA Airport Support to replace the existing passenger bridges at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) with new state-of-the-art ones. In terms of the USD3.2 million deal, seven new bridges will be installed, providing weather protection, comfort and a safe walkway between terminal and aircraft. As Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, BAC, noted, this step forms part of the company’s endeavours to enhance the airport’s infrastructure and services. Wei Long, senior area manager, Shenzen CIMC TIANDA Airport Support, further added, “Having served over 184 airports, we have vast experience in providing world-class equipment which we will bring to BIA.” Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah (left) and Wei Long

Russian Visitors in Ras Al Khaimah


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



25 JANUARY 2014




DTCM Launches e-Museum


FRHI Partners with Saudia FRHI Hotels & Resorts, the parent company of Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts, has signed an agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) to offer frequent flyer mile rewards to hotel guests. As part of the partnership, travellers staying at hotels within the FRHI Hotels & Resorts portfolio will have the opportunity to earn 500 Alfursan Reward Miles on qualifying stays. The deal also supports the hotel company’s recent growth in Saudi Arabia, with the opening of Makkah Clock Royal Tower by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Makkah Palace and Swissôtel Makkah. It also aligns with the group’s robust growth strategy, which is focused on expansion in key gateway cities and leading resort locales in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as strengthening its presence in North America. Saudia currently services over 90 destinations in these regions.

The overwhelming response to the launch of the #MyDubai initiative has prompted the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM) to create an online museum showcasing the lives of the emirate’s residents and visitors through images, videos and stories. The e-museum, which is available on Instagram and Twitter, is the first of a number of projects which will create a multimedia autobiography of the destination. According to Helal Saeed Almarri, director general, DTCM, more than 75,000 photo and video submissions were received in the first week of the MyDubai initiative, showing the passion that people have for the emirate and the very different ways people experience the city. “By launching the #MyDubai Twitter and Instagram pages, we will create an online museum that displays the best of the wide range of submissions and creates a permanent exhibition which residents and visitors have the opportunity to contribute to,” added Almarri.

Oman’s Tourism in Focus Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the first Tourism Investment Conference in December 2013. Aiming to highlight the potential of tourism as a source of increasing national GDP, the event called for a tourist map that highlights places of visitors’ interest and suggested the development of tourist places providing basic services and adopting strategies to promote tourism. Sessions included topics covering integration between tourism promotion and investment; Oman’s tourism climate from a regional perspective; and qualification, training and funding programmes supporting small and medium enterprises. The World Travel & Tourism Council predicts that Oman’s tourism sector is expected to contribute around six percent of the country’s total investment by 2021.

Wadi Shab

25 JANUARY 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Royal Palm Marrakech Celebrates Opening

HIA on Track to Open by Mid-year

Beachcomber Hotels has announced the launch of Royal Palm Marrakech which is now officially open for bookings. Conveniently located just 12km from the bustling centre of Marrakech, and eight kilometres from the airport, the luxurious brand’s new five-star property is situated within a vast 2.3 million m2 estate. Inspired by the traditional decoration and style of the authentic Moroccan Berber culture, the property features 135 suites, including junior and family suites, set over three floors. The guest rooms and public spaces within the hotel offer views over the gardens, the golf course and across to the snow-capped Atlas mountains. Royal Palm Marrakech promises to satisfy active guests, as the property boasts a wealth of sporting facilities including a Par 72 golf terrain, four tennis courts, two mini tennis courts, a squash court and a fully equipped sports centre offering specific fitness rooms. Icon TTG Half Page AD 155x220.pdf



Development is on schedule as Hamad International Airport (HIA) prepares to support the state’s development and prosperity welcoming its first aircraft by mid-year. Speaking at a press conference held under the theme “Runway to the Future, Gateway to the World”, Abdul Aziz Mohammed Al Noaimi, chairman, steering committee, New Doha International Airport, said, “The result is more than an airport; it is an international transport hub satisfying all the requirements of the fast-growing aviation sector in the region. This is needed in light of the growing traffic through and into the region.”

Press Conference at HIA

10:25 AM



A 35-acre oasis nestled between the majestic Hajjar Mountains and Indian Ocean and ideally located in the heart of the city. The hotel’s Palm Beach Club offers 900 square metres of rest and relaxation, an Olympic pool and beautifully landscaped gardens leading to the beach.

600kms from Muscat, the hotel offers expansive views of the Al Wusta Region’s coastline with its 213 Rooms, Frontier Pub and Sports Bar, Al Safi Restaurant and SOUQ our all-day dining Restaurant.



Set in 10 acres of lush landscaped gardens within the prestigious "Qurum Heights" area of Muscat the hotel's Cliff Club offers the latest in leisure facilities. You will be able to unwind and reward yourself after a day at the office or simply lounge at the pool or private beach and completely rejuvenate yourself.

Situated in 45 acres of lush tropical garden, overlooking the Arabian Sea and on a long stretch of pristine white sandy beach. The Resort enjoys an ideal location for Business Travellers, Meetings and Events and for Families.



With 126 rooms and suites, and situated 9kms from Sohar's Economic Zone, Industrial Estate and Port. Whether it is for business or leisure, we are your definite partner for accommodation and events in Sohar.

One of the city’s newest hotels with 187 guest rooms including 11 apartments; this modern hotel is conveniently located approximately 8kms from Muscat Airport; its close to the city’s main shopping and historical sites and business hub.

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.

25 JANUARY 2014




Tablet Bookings on the Rise in the US Tablet adoption is skyrocketing among US leisure travellers, triggering dramatic changes in online and travel shopping behaviour, PhoCusWright’s latest Innovation Edition report revealed. Based on the study, 44 percent of travellers now own a tablet and an additional four in 10 plan to purchase one by the end of the year. Marcello Gasdia, consumer research analyst, PhoCusWright, pinpointed, “Once a traveller purchases a tablet, we are seeing their mobile web usage nearly double, with the mobile web accounting for 50 percent of time spent online.” According to the report, seven in 10 tablet owners now rate planning a vacation online via tablet as ’somewhat or very easy,’ and although tablet owners also have a smartphone, they are more likely to rely on their tablet for destination selection, shopping, as well as booking.

SCTDA: Another Successful Water Festival The recently concluded annual Sharjah Water Festival (SWF) attracted thousands of families from across the country and the region according to Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, director general, SCTDA, noted that the success of the event establishes Sharjah’s place on the world tourism map as a leading destination for festivals and family entertainment. As Al Midfa further highlighted, the authority is now keen to take this journey of excellence forward by devoting itself to improving its tourism festivals and events year after year, making them truly world-class family events at a time when such happenings are increasingly becoming a global trend.

SCTDA’s Team

Tourism College Officially Inaugurated in Riyadh The Laureate Tourism and Hotels College in Riyadh has been unveiled, asserting the importance of tourism as a promising sector generating new career opportunities in Saudi Arabia. H.R.H. Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, prince of Riyadh region, commented, “This is the first of seven colleges, with an option to add three more. We will open two new colleges [this] year while work is currently underway to open two colleges in Assir and Najran.” The new facility spans an area of 36,000m² and comprises three main buildings which house 48 classrooms, three English labs, five computer labs, a sports club, several restaurants, as well as a hotel. Upon completion of the programme, graduates receive a diploma that entails one preparatory year and two years of specialised study.

25 JANUARY 2014


Ayla Hotel: Occupancy Levels above 85 Percent Ayla Hotel, Al Ain, closed 2013 with occupancy levels averaging above 85 percent, exceeding all targets set by owning company, Nael & Bin Harmal Group. “It is not easy to achieve great success as we did in the first operating years, but it is even harder to maintain it and raise the bar higher,” stressed Mohamed Soussan, general manager, Ayla Hotel, Al Ain, saying that the results reflect the property’s teamwork. “This is confirmation that we are ready for new projects and new challenges that are waiting for us in the upcoming months,” added Soussan.

New Five-Star Hotel on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island Arabtec Construction has been awarded a USD705 million contract to build a mixed-use development on Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, which will feature a variety of facilities, including a luxury hotel. Constructed on a plot area of 32,000m2 and a built up area of around 350,000m2, the project will house a 61-storey residential tower, featuring 613 furnished apartments, and another 15-storey C-shaped tower that will host a fivestar hotel offering 400 guest rooms and 200 serviced apartments. The two towers will be connected by a ballroom and retail block, and the development will also boast 3,275m2 of food and beverage space and 3,795m2 of function space. Construction work on the project is due to begin in the first quarter of the year, and is set to take 36 months to complete.

25 JANUARY 2014



TAMANI Marina Hotel Continues Emiratisation In line with its endeavours to employ more Emiratis, TAMANI Marina Hotel, Dubai, has appointed a young UAE national as a concierge. Mallallah Atiq Mallallah is responsible for guiding hotel guests to touristic attractions and events, and assisting them in their queries on a variety of topics ranging from shopping malls to nightlife, heritage sites and cultural programmes. According to Walid Al Awa, general manager, TAMANI Marina Hotel, the decision to hire an Emirati was taken during the five-star hotel’s participation at the hospitality industry training programme, START, conducted by the Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing. The tourism industry regulatory body, in association with tourism and hospitality industry players, provides a training and employment advisory service to UAE national job seekers and the industry on Emirati recruitment issues.




Environmental Recognition for Hilton Hurghada Plaza

Marriott Adds Two Dubai Properties

Hilton Hurghada Plaza in Egypt has become the first Hilton Worldwide property across Europe, the Middle East and Africa to receive a Green Globe Certification. The coveted recognition, which is based on a structured assessment of sustainability practices, honours the achievement of significant environmentally responsible standards. “At Hilton Worldwide, sustainability is one of the pillars to the success of our ‘travel with purpose’ business approach, and we have adapted standards for measuring sustainable practices just like in any other area of our business,” explained Christian Muhr, vice president of operations, Egypt and Levant, Hilton Worldwide. Referring to the dedication of the hotel staff, Mehdi Othmani, general manager, Hilton Hurghada Plaza, added, “Sustainability and conservation is embedded into the fabric of Hilton Worldwide, and my team at Hilton Hurghada Plaza proves its commitment to essential green methods each and every day.”

Marriott International has launched two new properties in Dubai as part of its MENA expansion drive. Dubai Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf and Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Al Jaddaf are the first of many upcoming properties aligned with the brand’s new positioning and strategic direction, as Alex Kyriakidis, president, Middle East and Africa (MEA), Marriott International, explained. Dubai Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf is the first MEA property to open as per the new brand transformation. The property features 352 guestrooms, 14 meeting rooms, a ballroom and seven restaurants, lounges and bars. Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Al Jaddaf comprises 128 fully furnished apartments.

Dubai Marriott Al Jaddaf

DoubleTree by Hilton Debuts in Saudi Arabia DoubleTree by Hilton Dhahran has opened its doors, marking the brand’s entry into Saudi Arabia and answering a much needed market demand for a full-service hotel in the city. Located at the commercial heartland of Al Khobar, the 153-room property features a range of amenities designed for both business and leisure guests, including three restaurants, a large ballroom, four meeting rooms, business centre, fitness centre, and an indoor swimming pool and spa area. Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, commented, “With 21 properties in our Saudi pipeline, we now have the largest development programme in the region. […] We now have four diverse hotel brands open in Saudi Arabia ranging from top luxury to full service hotels. Our presence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province contributes to leverage the international hospitality services standards in the area.”

25 JANUARY 2014


Starwood to Debut in Ajman Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to make its foray into Ajman with the launch of Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort on February 1. The beachside retreat will feature 205 rooms and suites, a selection of food and beverage outlets and nearly 1,000m2 of meeting and event space. Leisure facilities will include a spa and swimming pool. Guido de Wilde, regional director, Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said, “Ajman has positioned itself as a must-see destination in the UAE, and this resort truly celebrates the emirate’s beauty and culture through its spectacular design and impeccable service.” According to H.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, crown prince, Ajman, the opening of the new resort aligns perfectly with the overall vision for Ajman to be a key player within the UAE’s tourism sector.



Art Inspired Boutique Hotel in Dubai Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments, hailed as Dubai’s first completely art inspired hotel and gallery, is set to be unveiled on February 10. Located in Al Barsha, the hotel comprises 45 apartments displaying the works of acclaimed Arabic artists, as well as an art gallery which will also be open to the public. Sami Kriaa, general manager, Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments, commented, “Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments and gallery is a refreshing concept that will encapsulate the importance of art and culture in this ever-expanding city. We have created a beautiful refuge for like-minded people to come together, and by doing so we are supporting and nurturing the existing artistic heritage of Dubai.”

Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments

A WEEKEND GETAWAY IN ABU DHABI CITY Sands Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city within easy reach to all land marks and shopping malls, prides itself on personalized service and exceptional restaurants including La Piazza for International specialties, live entertainment at Chequers Bar & Restaurant and Harvesters Pub. With a rooftop swimming pool, health club fitness & facilities with sauna that would make your stay a relaxing one. Stay in a superior room at the rate of AED 333* including buffet breakfast. Feel at home, experience tranquility and comfort during your weekend overlooking the city skyline view.

Call +971 2 615 6666 for reservations or more information. *Rate is for single or double occupancy. Free high speed internet access. Rate is subject to 10% service charge & 6% tourism fee. Rate is applicable during weekends (Friday and Saturday). Complimentary shuttle bus service to the public beach. Payment is by credit card or cash only. Rate is valid until 31 March 2014. Subject to availability. Terms & Conditions apply.

Managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, a Division of National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels PO Box 32430, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T. +971 2 615 6666 | F. +971 2 633 5766 E: |

25 JANUARY 2014




Etihad Airways and airberlin Enhance Partnership

Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO, airberlin (fourth from left) and James Hogan

Emirates Launches Daily A380 Service to Switzerland Zurich has become Emirates’ 25th destination to be serviced by the Airbus A380 aircraft. The airline has carried 3.4 million passengers on the route since 1992, according to Thierry Aucoc, senior vice president, commercial operations, Europe and the Russian Federation, Emirates. “Deploying the A380, which allows us to bring 163 more passengers every day into Zurich - a 21.8 percent increase - is central to helping us meet growing passenger demand in the market,” highlighted Aucoc, further revealing that in just over five years of A380 operations, Emirates has carried 21.8 million passengers to numerous global destinations. According to Stefan Conrad, chief operations officer, Zurich Airport, the airline’s decision to operate its flagship aircraft on one of its two daily flights to Zurich represents another milestone for the airport, and demonstrates the strong demand from travellers for the Emirates product. “The upgrade from a Boeing 777 operation to an A380 on the afternoon flight from Zurich is a significant capacity increase and a clear commitment to the Swiss market,” added Conrad.

Etihad Airways and airberlin have unveiled an Airbus A320 aircraft in specially designed joint livery, symbolising the close ties between the two airlines, and marking the launch of a new media campaign. Following the implementation of joint codesharing across their networks, both carriers will strengthen the commercial partnership by expanding shared sales operations, and a new media campaign will see the partnership logo advertised across Germany. The upcoming developments are set to further increase the number of passengers who fly on the airberlin and Etihad Airways network, which currently serves 228 destinations. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “This [partnership] has increased the destinations and flight options for guests, and enabled both airlines to carry nearly 900,000 guests across the two networks.”

flynas Introduces Business Class on UAE Flights flynas has responded to high demand, introducing business class services on all flights between the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Wael Al Sarhan, director of marketing and communications, flynas, confirmed that the airline’s business class service has consistently topped the list of customer requests. The carrier’s business class cabin comprises eight premium seats with a pitch of 122cm and extra-wide arm space of 102cm. In addition, flynas business class guests can enjoy a variety of free pre-booked hot meals and snacks, and an allowance of two pieces of baggage weighing 25kg each. Other benefits include free access to executive lounges at airports, and greater flexibility in last minute cancellations or flight changes.

flynas 25 JANUARY 2014




Saudia Inaugurates Abha – Cairo

Saudia Boeing B777-300ER

Etihad Regional Debuts in Switzerland Swiss-based airline, Etihad Regional, has been launched in Zurich, offering travellers in Europe improved regional and international connections. Established in partnership with Etihad Airways, the new carrier will be operated by Darwin Airline. The strategy behind Etihad Regional was to build strong regional airline partnerships around the globe, according to James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, who said, “Etihad Regional will provide a unique opportunity to strengthen vitally important regional networks and connect them to the rapidly expanding global network of Etihad Airways. We will choose partners, as we have done with Darwin Airline, which share our passion for delivering an outstanding service to travellers, with greater choice and more convenience.” Initially, Etihad Regional will offer year-round flights to 15 destinations in Europe using a fleet of 10 50-seat Saab 2000 turboprop aircraft. By mid-year this number is expected to more than double to 34 destinations.

25 JANUARY 2014

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has started operating direct daily flights between Abha Regional Airport, in Abha, the capital of Asir Province in the Kingdom, and Egypt’s Cairo International Airport. News of the new schedule, which was launched at the beginning of the year, was disclosed by Saeed Al-Qahtani, acting general manager, passenger services and sales, southern region, Saudia, who said that the new operations would meet the travel requirements of many passengers in the region, including expatriate workers. The service is also set to have a significant impact, supporting the Kingdom’s tourism industry. Al-Qahtani added that the inaugural flight was operated by an Airbus 320 and carried 132 passengers. “Saudia’s top management is committed to providing the best possible services to our passengers,” he concluded.




Malaysia Airlines Introduces A330-300 on Dubai - Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Airlines has launched its new fleet of Airbus 330-300 for the Dubai - Kuala Lumpur route, replacing the Boeing 777 previously used. It is hoped that the new aircraft will bring enhanced comfort, convenience and performance with its state-of-the-art design cabin equipped with mood lighting. Seating capacity can reach up to 283 passengers, with 36 business class and 245 economy class seats. “Our resolution for the new year is to make flying with Malaysia Airlines a truly enjoyable experience from take-off to landing,” commented Azahar Hamid, regional senior vice president, South Asia and Middle East, Malaysia Airlines. The upgraded service began on January 5, and will operate daily between the two cities.

Austrian Airlines Set to Reopen Tehran Route Austrian Airlines is planning to relaunch services to Tehran, from March 11, for the whole duration of the company’s summer schedule, depending on final regulatory approval. Flights to the Iranian capital will be operated five times a week, using an Airbus A320 or A319. The carrier has been flying to Tehran since 1984, but removed the destination from its schedule in January 2013 for commercial reasons. These included the strong inflation of the Iranian Rial and the effects of the economic and political sanctions in the country. As per the airline’s statement however, now thanks to the current stability in Iran, the Austrian national carrier is pleased to be able to offer its passengers the service once again. Austrian Airlines currently operates a global route network of around 130 destinations from its hub at Vienna International Airport.

Malaysia Airlines A330-300

Etihad Airways Steps Up New York Operations Etihad Airways will double services between Abu Dhabi and New York, introducing a second daily flight on the route from March 1. The two tri-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft operating on the route will be leased from Jet Airways, who will take over the services from May 1. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “These services will provide greater access to New York City for travellers from Abu Dhabi, and are further evidence of the importance of Abu Dhabi as a global air transport hub. The flights also will open fresh opportunities for tourism to the UAE, and beyond to destinations throughout the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Africa, and the island nations of the Indian Ocean.”

New York City

25 JANUARY 2014




Saudia Returns to Manchester with Jeddah Route


Emirates to Increase Frequency to Dublin Acknowledging the growing demand for travel to Ireland, Emirates is set to double capacity on its Dubai - Dublin route, reaching 14 flights a week by September. Visitor numbers to Ireland have risen steadily in recent months, with more than 45,000 travellers from the Middle East visiting the island in 2013, signalling a year-on-year growth of seven percent. According to Amanda Burns, general manager, Asia hub, Tourism Ireland, the Gulf market is of growing strategic importance to Tourism Ireland, and holds plenty of opportunities to grow tourism further. “Delivering twice as many seats vastly improves access and significantly increases the opportunity for Gulf visitors to experience all that the beautiful island of Ireland has to offer,” Burns commented.

Emirates' First Class

25 JANUARY 2014

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has announced the reintroduction of its Manchester – Jeddah route starting in April. The three weekly flights are expected to attract a range of leisure and business passengers. Rashid Alajmi, general manager, passenger sales and services, European region, Saudia, commented, “We are very happy that our plans to return to Manchester have now come to fruition, and that we are now able to offer North Western customers a nonstop service to Saudi Arabia.” Ken O’Toole, chief commercial officer, Manchester Airports Group, said that the return of operations will further strengthen the Middle East connections from Manchester, and sees another direct long-haul route added to the airports network of connections.

BAC Enhances Safety Measures Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has obtained additional aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicles from AMA Motors Group in a bid to further enhance the safety of operations and passengers at Bahrain International Airport. As per the BHD1.3 million (USD3.4 million) agreement, Rosenbauer, represented locally by AMA Motors Group, will provide two 8x8 rapid intervention vehicles, and will also ensure technical support, repair and maintenance services. “As we strive to manage Bahrain International Airport as a leading airport, elevating the aviation security is among our core objectives,” stressed Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, CEO, BAC, adding that the deal reinforces the company’s commitment to equipping the airport with cutting-edge security solutions and implementing the globally required measures. Tawfiq Al-A’ali, vice chairman, AMA Group, added, “AMA Motors has been associated with BAC since 2003, since the first Rosenbauer crash tender was supplied by us followed by additional units in 2007.”




Best Western Expands in Indonesia BEST WESTERN Grand Palace Kemayoran has welcomed its first guests, adding to Best Western International (BWI)’s growing Jakarta portfolio that already includes four hotels. Located in the heart of the capital, the property features 156 rooms, including 13 suites, an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, various food and beverage outlets, a ballroom, five meeting rooms and outdoor function space. According to Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, the new property marks a real milestone in the company’s rapid recent Indonesian expansion. “With an ideal central location and incredible array of facilities for both business and leisure guests, I am confident this grand hotel will be a fantastic addition to Best Western’s portfolio in Jakarta,” he said.

BEST WESTERN Grand Palace Kemayoran

Starwood Marks 74 Global Hotel Openings in 2013 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide launched 74 new hotels in 2013, representing approximately 16,200 rooms in 22 countries. Aiming to strengthen its global lead and expand its footprint, the company signed 152 new hotel agreements in 2013, and predicts that this year will signal even greater growth. Over the past six years, the hotel group has doubled its luxury portfolio, with more than 160 luxury hotels operational worldwide under its St. Regis, The Luxury Collection and W brands. “As the largest high-end hotel company in the world, with a penchant for innovation, an unmatched portfolio of design-led brands, global properties, and a valuable pipeline, Starwood is well positioned to benefit disproportionately from the seemingly unstoppable growth trends,” said Frits van Paasschen, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

IHG Unveils New Holiday Inn Express in Colorado InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has opened Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Denver East – Peoria Street, in Colorado. The five-storey hotel is located near a variety of sites, museums and entertainment options, and features 81 rooms all equipped with refrigerators and microwave ovens. Additional amenities include a 24-hour fitness centre, complimentary highspeed Internet access and a business centre. Caleb Brooks, general manager, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Denver East – Peoria Street, commented that Denver is a vibrant city with a plethora of activities for tourists. “With more than 2,200 properties worldwide and 450 more in the pipeline, the Holiday Inn Express portfolio continues to provide our guests with an enhanced-stay experience at a great value,” added Heather Balsley, senior vice president, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Denver Americas, Holiday Inn. East – Peoria Street

25 JANUARY 2014


Alper Can Bulcum

Amina Taher Amina Taher has undertaken the role of head of media relations at Etihad Airways. Taher joins the corporate affairs department with more than 10 years of experience, and will be responsible for all aspects of the carrier’s expanding media relations programme. Most recently she worked

as head of social development and sponsoring in the group communications unit of Mubadala Development Company. Prior to that, she served as executive director of corporate communications at Zabeel Investments. Her career highlights also include mentoring Emirati entrepreneurs.

Alper Can Bulcum has taken over the reins at Ramada Plaza Jumeirah Beach Residence and Ramada Sharjah as properties’ new general manager. Having begun his career in 1991, Bulcum brings a wealth of international experience and leadership skills to the role, where he will be in charge

Ahmad Al Araj Ahmad Al Araj has been named hotel manager at Ayla Hotel, Al Ain. He will now be responsible for the overall processes and day-to-day operation of the property, while Mohamed Soussan, general manager, Ayla Hotel, Al Ain, will focus on the further growth and expansion of Ayla Hotels and Resorts. Al Araj began his career in the industry 15 years ago in Al Ain and has worked in the UAE,

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Iraq and Sudan. Prior to joining Ayla Hotels & Resorts, Al Araj gained vast experience in director of sales and marketing positions with various international hotel chains, including InterContinental Hotels Group, Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels and Cristal Hotels & Resorts. Most recently he served as hotel manager in Iraq for Cristal Hotels & Resorts.


of the daily operations of the two hotels. Over the past years, he has held various management positions in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Dubai, and joins the properties after serving as general manager at Wyndham Istanbul Kalamis Marina.

Aaishah Bohari Aaishah Bohari has joined Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi as director of sales and marketing. Having served a number of renowned hotel companies in four different countries, Bohari brings over 20 years of international sales and marketing experience and an impressive track record to her new role. With extensive pre-opening experience at Park Hyatt Saigon, the first Hyatt-branded property in Vietnam, and Ang-

sana Laguna Phuket in Thailand, Bohari’s senior management knowledge, analytical skills and strong international network of contacts will be fully utilised in correctly positioning Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi in both the local and international markets. In her new capacity, Bohari’s main goal is to help establish the hotel as a serious contender in the highly competitive hospitality market of the UAE capital.

travel talk is your space



Karim Nahas

Prime minister, Ireland.

General manager, Rose Rayhaan by Rotana, Dubai.

“[Visiting Etihad Airways’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi] gives me a very welcome opportunity to publicly acknowledge the strong commercial and cultural ties that Etihad Airways has developed with Ireland. This is something we greatly value and I am confident we will see this relationship develop further over the coming years to our mutual benefit.”

Mark Edleson President, Alila Hotels & Resorts.

“Alila Jabal Akhdar will deliver the brand promise in Oman. At Alila, we are strongly committed to social, cultural and environmental responsibilities, which we regard as essential for sustainable business practice. In all activities, we aim to respect and preserve the way of life and traditions of the local community and endeavour to minimise our impact on the environment by adhering to a policy of sustainable operating procedures and standards.”

“[Receiving the ‘Top Hotel 2014 award from German tourism-oriented website, HolidayCheck] is a fantastic accolade for our hotel. It reinstates our commitment to deliver the best service for our guests and an added incentive for us to continuously improve the quality of the guest experience. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our valued guests who recommended Rose Rayhaan by Rotana on HolidayCheck.”

Saleem Bin Amanullah Bin Abdul Hussain General manager, airport services, Oman Air.

“I am delighted that Oman Air has been placed [second] in December 2013’s Heathrow Punctuality League Table. It is a clear indication that the extensive planning, organisation and logistical resources that we have put into ensuring that the highest service standards are consistently maintained is paying off. This outstanding result has been achieved at the end of a year that has seen Oman Air achieve unprecedented on-time performance.”

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

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Who are you? World Net Hotels is a wholesale travel company dealing on a business-to-business basis. [The company] has over 22 offices in the following countries; Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Bulgaria, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Switzerland, Armenia, and Libya. I am the company CEO.


Travelport Cements Kuwait Operator Partnership Travelport has renewed its long-term distribution agreement with Travel Technology Systems, Kuwait affirming that the operator will remain its distributor of Galileo technology, extensive content and services to travel agencies countrywide. “We have enjoyed a highly successful partnership with Travelport and continue to see a strong future for Galileo in Kuwait. We now look forward to working closely with Travelport to take their business to the next stage through the winning combination of cutting edge technology, unrivalled content and customer support,” commented Raj Krishnan, general manager, Kuwait, Travel Technology Systems. Rabih Saab, president, Middle East and Africa, Travelport, added that the recently-signed deal with Jazeera Airways, coupled with the new distributor agreement in Kuwait, will ensure that the local travel industry continues to benefit from Travelport’s cutting edge solutions.

What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Dealing with people around the world. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? The Maldives islands. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are not a retail agency but a wholesale company dealing only with travel agencies. All aspects of travel including transfers, sightseeing tours, hotel accommodation, meetings and conferences, leisure groups, incentive groups and package tours are provided and supervised by highly qualified and experienced managers who fully understand the needs of its customer travel agents.

Beirut Corniche

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Raj Krishnan (left) and Rabih Saab

Austrian Visa Application Centre Launched in Iraq VFS Global, one of the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialists for diplomatic missions and governments, has set up a new Austrian Visa Application Centre in Erbil, Iraq in cooperation with the Embassy of Austria in Jordan. In a move aimed at providing customer-oriented services to applicants for their visa application process, the centre is to cater to the growing demands of Europebound travellers in the region, offering a rnage of new services and

facilities for applicants. Speaking on the occasion, Karl-August Lux, senior expert, visa matters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Austria, said, “VFS Global and the Austrian Embassy in Amman can now provide a better service to the applicants in the region. Furthermore, we are proud to continue our cooperation with Slovenia. This common visa application centre shows that European cooperation and cooperation with external partners like VFS Global go perfectly together,” he concluded.


TRAVEL CHANNELS MSC Cruises Works to Protect Local Marine Life

MSC Cruises has helped to release Selso, a 22-month old Southern Elephant Seal back into his natural environment in South Africa.

T The Selso Project

he animal was stranded in June 2013 on a beach in KwaZulu Natal, and has since undergone extensive rehabilitation in Durban. After fitting Selso with a satellite tag, which will allow scientists to monitor his whereabouts for up to a year, the seal travelled onboard MSC Sinfonia from the port of Durban in January, and was released off the coast of Port Elisabeth two days later. MSC Cruises’ team members consider themselves ‘guardians of the seas’ and treat the oceans with respect, believing that by acting green and protecting the biodiversity, they can all help keep the waters blue.

Ireland Drives Online Learning Tool Tourism Ireland has launched its first Ireland Specialists eLearning platform in the region, designed to assist travel agents and tour operators in promoting Ireland as an attractive tourism destination. The UAE is the first of eight global markets to introduce the programme, which is free to use and aims to equip the local travel trade with extensive knowledge of the European destination, in an engaging and easy-to-digest online format. Over the course of this year, the tourism organisation hopes to recruit some 500 travel agents to sign up to the programme. According to Niall Gibbons, CEO, Tourism Ireland, the introduction of the new initiative demonstrates the tourism body’s commitment to the GCC.

Seychelles: Another Record Year in 2013 Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that as of December 31, 2013, visitor arrival figures for the year were 230,272, representing a yearon-year increase of 10.7 percent. Estimates for tourism earnings in the year under review are set to have reached USD343.6 million, growing 11 percent over 2012’s figures. According to Alain St. Ange, minister of tourism and culture, Seychelles, the destination’s markeing startegy proved to be successful. “We have to work to reinvest, to upgrade so as to get a better rate, but at the same time we need to think outside the box and get more activities and facilities for our visitors to use and appreciate,” added St. Ange.

KAIA to be Completed on Schedule H.H. Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah, president, General Authority for Civil Aviation, Saudi Arabia, recently received Ibrahim Bin Hassan Al-Assaf, minister of finance, Saudi Arabia, who paid a visit to the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, and enjoyed a tour of the project site. On the occasion, Al-Assaf commented, “I am really impressed. What I have seen is a great achievement. The new airport is almost there and will be delivered on time, in accordance with the proposed timeline.” The KAIA project’s master plan encompasses three phases of development until 2035, when ultimate capacity is set to reach 70 - 80 million annual passengers. Main features include a passenger terminal complex, 46 contact gates and 94 boarding bridges including double deck A380 access.

King Abdulaziz International Airport

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Q & A with Wael El Behi As Wyndham Hotel Group continues to strengthen its footprint in the MENA region with the introduction of the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham brand, Wael El Behi, general manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai, talks about the 25-storey property’s most distinguishing features.

Travel Trade Weekly: As the new general manager of Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai, what are your main priorities at the moment? How do you plan to position the hotel in order to capture a larger market share and how would you describe your target market?

Wael El Behi General manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai

Wael El Behi: Our main priorities are to get the full product ready shortly as some areas are shaping up like the speciality restaurant, the gym and the spa. We need to position the product right and target our key potential markets, maximise awareness through different business channels and get the best out of the winter season and the coming events. Travel Trade Weekly: Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai marks the brand’s debut in the region. In your opinion, what makes Dubai the perfect fit for the brand, and what factors are helping to set Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham apart from its peers? Wael El Behi: Dubai is the home of many international hotel groups. Wyndham Hotel Group, the largest hotel company with over 7,900 hotels worldwide and 15 different hotel brands, found it the right time and opportunity to present a fresh brand to complement its presence in the region through Ramada Hotels, Howard Johnson and TRYP Hotels. Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham is a midscale brand for both short and long stay experiences, presenting a good value for money opportunity for leisure and business travellers alike. Travel Trade Weekly: You have recently

25 JANUARY 2014

joined Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Dubai from Ramada Downtown Dubai, another R Hotels property. How does your current role differ from your previous assignments? What are the main challenges that you face in your new role?

am expecting consistent growth. Travel Trade Weekly: Expo 2020 is expected to have both immediate and long-term impacts on Dubai’s tourism industry. What are your own personal expectations and in your opinion, how will this global event support the destination’s growth? Wael El Behi: What an amazing success achieved for winning the Expo 2020! The first and most immediate impact will be the new mega projects that are to be launched shortly and that will benefit all major business sectors including infrastructure. I would like to thank the government of Dubai, Emirates, the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and all contributors to the success of this amazing destination and wish them continuous prosperity and growth for the many years to come.

Wael El Behi: My role at Ramada Downtown Dubai was to re-position the hotel and capitalise on its location to maximise revenue and profitability, while for now I am in the process of taking the property from the project to operation phase . Travel Trade Weekly: What are your expectations for the current year and how do you think supply and demand will change over the coming months? Wael El Behi: Dubai is a very mature market and there are a lot of happenings this year. I

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndam Dubai



Abu Dhabi Air Expo Returns Following the success of Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2013, Abu Dhabi Airports will be hosting one of the busiest general aviation events in the world for the third consecutive year between February 25 - 27 at Al Bateen Executive Airport. To date, 70 percent of the exhibitor space has been booked with all of the last edition’s exhibitors returning for this year’s event. In addition, participation has risen by more than 20 percent. The organisers anticipate a display of over 100 aircraft that will feature a wide range of models from ultra light to heavy business jets. According to Yousif Hassan Al Hammadi, chairman, organising committee, Abu Dhabi Air Expo, the size of the event in 2013 compared to the 2012 edition demonstrates the significant growth in the general aviation industry in Abu Dhabi.


Sponsored by


Abu Dhabi Air Expo

January 2014

EVENTS International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) Madrid, Spain, January 22 – 26, 2014 ( A global meeting point for tourism professionals, with some 10,000 exhibiting companies. SATTE India New Delhi, India, January 29 – 31, 2014 Mumbai, India, February 3 – 4, 2014 ( Hailed as the biggest networking forum for the travel and tourism industry in South Asia, with more than 600 exhibitors from over 50 countries. East Mediterranean International Tourism & Travel Exhibition (EMITT) Istanbul, Turkey, January 30 – February 2, 2014 ( Already over 4,000 travel companies from 67 countries have applied for the 18th edition of the event. Business Travel Show London, UK, February 4 – 5, 2014 ( The 20th edition is expected to attract more than 200 exhibiting companies and over 6,000 travel professionals.

Borsa International Tourism Exchange (BIT) Milano, Italy, February 13 – 15, 2014 ( An international business-to-business event, which has been present on the market since 1980. Perth Holiday & Travel Expo Perth, Australia, February 15 – 16, 2014 ( An annual event presenting various destinations, products and holiday specials. 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. Guangzhou International Travel Fair (GITF) Guangzhou, China, February 27 – March 1, 2014 ( An influential business-to-business fair focused on outbound travel, inbound travel and MICE.

SMAP Moroccan Real Estate and Lifestyle Event


INTERMAT and World EcoConstruct Exhibition


World Future Energy Summit


Abu Dhabi International Water Summit


Eco Waste Summit


Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


February 2014 Tawdheef Recruitment Show


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 220  

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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