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CYPRUS! Monthly

29 MARCH 2014


Ajman’s Hotel Industry on the Rise

Ajman Tourism Development Department revealed that revenues achieved by properties across the emirate grew by 38.4 percent in 2013.

After recording high occupancy rates at tower one during its inaugural year, the second tower of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has officially opened.

03 Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan Welcomes its First Guests

Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan opened its doors, with the connected Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan set to launch in the second quarter of the year.


02 03 06 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Launches Second Tower





MEA: Over 500 Hotels to Join Portfolio

The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region’s hotel development pipeline comprises 504 hotels with 123,019 rooms.


SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba JOURNALIST Maria Kazeli PRESS Andreas Mantis 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

hese latest figures were collected by the January STR Global Construction Pipeline report that includes all projects under development, as well as in the final planning and planning stages. Based on the numbers communicated in the study, the upper upscale segment continues to drive the regional accommodation sector’s growth, accounting for 34.4 percent of the total active pipeline with 42,329 units. Three other segments made up more than 15 percent of rooms in the report, including the luxury sector comprising 19.7 percent with 24,282 keys, the upscale subdivision, forming 18.4 percent with 22,654 rooms and

the unaffiliated portion accounting for 17.3 percent with 21,260 units.


Amadeus: Strong Performance in 2013 Amadeus IT Holding, the parent company of Amadeus Group, reported a profit of EUR619.5 million (USD852 million) for 2013, marking a year-on-year increase of 7.8 percent. The positive results were supported by a 6.6 percent surge in revenue to EUR3.1 billion (USD4.27 billion), and a 7.2 percent growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, to EUR1.19 billion (USD1.63 billion). As Luis Maroto, CEO, Amadeus IT Group, noted, the company has maintained its record of delivering success both in revenue and profitability.


28/03/2014 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)



RevPAR Drops in Kuwait


uwait hotels witnessed an eight percentage point drop in occupancy to 51.8 percent in January, the latest HotStats survey of TRI Hospitality Consulting shows. Despite a 10.3 percent rise in average room rate to USD315.63, the decrease in occupancy drove RevPAR down 4.4 percent to USD163.62. As Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI

Hospitality Consulting, explained, this decline in top revenues directly impacted profit levels, which dropped 7.7 percent compared to 2012. “Furthermore, food and beverage demand which is largely driven by the local residential population also fell, indicating a significant proportion of the local population travelling outside Kuwait during the month,” added Goddard. 29 MARCH 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Ajman’s Hotel Industry on the Rise According to statistics revealed by Ajman Tourism Development Department, the revenues achieved by hotels and hotel apartments across the emirate increased by 38.4 percent in 2013. Total income earned by all accommodation units reached over AED221 million (USD60 million) in the year under review, compared to more than AED159.5 million (USD43 million) in 2012. Notably, revenue at Ajman’s hotel apartments in particular skyrocketed in 2013, marking a huge difference of 78.2 percent in relation to 2012. Regarding occupancy figures, apartments were almost full, recording levels of 86 percent between the periods of January to November 2013, while the total number for the entire 12 months of 2012 reached just 60 percent.

The Ajman Palace

Greece Increases its Appeal A delegation from Greece visited Dubai for the first Deluxe Greek Travel Roadshow in the Middle East. Presenting the destination to over 100 UAE travel agents, the event was held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Tourism, and was opened by Dionyssios Zois, ambassador of Greece, UAE, who commented, “Since 2011 Greece has been playing a protagonist and actively supportive role in all relevant European Union institutions for the lifting of the Schengen visa for UAE citizens.” The country has seen strong growth in guests from the Middle East, with GCC arrivals posting a 43 percent increase in 2013, while the UAE alone witnessed a 21 percent surge for the same period. Of all GCC travellers to Greece, 44 percent come for leisure purposes and stay for an average length of 12 nights.

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EU Hubs Await Surge in UAE Corporate Travellers Business destinations in the European Union (EU) are predicted to receive an influx of corporate travellers from the UAE after the European Parliament voted for Emiratis to be exempt from obtaining visas to enter any of the 25 Schengen countries. The European pavilion at this year’s recently concluded Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings (GIBTM) exhibition, was set to benefit from the new ruling, hosting 19 companies and destinations, making it 66 percent larger than in 2013. Newcomers to the Abu Dhabi-based travel niche market included companies from Spain and the Czech Republic. Lois Hall, exhibition manager, GIBTM, commented, “Over 66 percent of the world’s population lies within an eight-hour flight of the UAE, giving the region unparalleled leverage to become the future global hub for business travellers.”



Saudi Arabia: Over 17,300 Rooms Under Development According to a construction pipeline report conducted in February by STR Global, Saudi Arabia has emerged as the destination within the Middle East with the largest number of hotel rooms currently under construction. Among the countries surveyed in the region, Saudi Arabia reported a 17,135 units which are in the construction, final planning and planning stages at the moment. This figure does not include properties in the pre-planning phase of development. In addition, four other countries are expected to launch more than 2,500 keys in the near future, including the UAE that has 16,627 rooms in the pipeline at this time. Qatar has 5,633 units under development, and both Jordan and Egypt are expected to increase their room stock with 3,231 and 2,966 keys respectively.

Dubai Safari Appoints New Guides The Dubai Municipality (DM) has selected 20 Emiratis as tourist guides to work at the Dubai Safari project. The new employees will start in April as trainees, while DM will continue to interview applicants to fill some 320 additional positions, informed Khalid Abdul Rahim, director, human resources department, DM. ”Priority will be given to Emiratis in all positions, based on the strategic vision of DM regarding emiratisation. […] Extensive training will be given to the appointed guides in line with the international best practices in the field of tourism guidance, in collaboration with the different safari projects inside and outside the country,” Abdul Rahim further explained.

Dubai Safari Project

Industry on Track for Second Year of Improving Profits

real family hospitality!

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the airline business remains on course to deliver a second consecutive year of improved profitability. This is despite a slight downward revision to the projection for this year to an industry profit of USD18.7 billion from the previously forecast USD19.7 billion. “In general, the outlook is positive. The cyclical economic upturn is supporting a strong demand environment. And that is compensating for the challenges of higher fuel costs related to geo-political instability. Overall industry returns remain at an unsatisfactory level with a net profit margin of just 2.5 percent,” said Tony Tyler, director general, IATA. The aviation industry retains on average USD5.65 per passenger in net profit.

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WEEKLY NEWS RAK Properties Posts USD41.1 Million Net Profit RAK Properties has recorded a net profit of AED151 million (USD41.1 million) for the fiscal year of 2013 compared to AED147 million (USD40 million) registered in 2012. The annual general meeting endorsed the decision to distribute five percent of profits and transfer AED1 billion (USD272.3 million) of retained earnings to statutory and regular reserves. RAK Properties handed over 192 residential units in Mina Al Arab and Julphar Tower in Ras Al Khaimah, and the RAK Tower in Reem Island in Abu Dhabi in 2013. “Industry reports have shown that this year will be an even stronger year for the real estate segment, giving us more confidence to leverage our diverse portfolio of property offerings,” commented Mohammad Sultan Al Qadi, CEO, RAK Properties. Icon IHG F&B Ad.pdf



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New Leisure and Water-themed Park Opens in Sharjah Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has inaugurated the newly redeveloped Al Montazah Amusement and Waterpark in Sharjah, which is expected to attract over one million visitors in the first year of operation. Covering an area of over 126,000m2, the project includes a water-themed park, an amusement park, and a section designated for walking, children’s areas and other activities. As H.E. Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO, Shurooq, explained, the project is set to stimulate tourism by strengthening Sharjah’s standing as a family tourism destination. “It is the first venue to mix the concept of a public park with that of water themed park to attract a wider audience,” added Al Sarkal.

Al Montazah Amusement and Waterpark



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.

29 MARCH 2014





Accor Opens Three Properties in UAE Accor Middle East has unveiled a new development in Fujairah, comprising three hotels under the Novotel, ibis and Adagio brands. Located in the commercial business district the properties offer tourists and business travellers alike worldclass facilities, explained Karim Zaki, general manager, Novotel Fujairah, ibis Fujairah and Adagio Fujairah, saying that from conferences and meetings to private functions, the hotels provide ideal venues for various occasions, and guests can also benefit from restaurants, fitness facilities and outdoor swimming pools. Commenting on the news, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sharqi, vice president, Fujairah National Group, reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting and encouraging investment and tourism projects, aimed at further developing the emirate to keep pace with the rapid progress being witnessed in the country.

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai Launches Second Tower After recording high occupancy rates at tower one during its inaugural year, the second tower of JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai has officially opened. Once fully operational by the end of the year, tower two will comprise 804 keys, bringing the total room count to 1,608. Bill Keffer, hotel manager, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, commented, “We are confident our hotel is in a strong position to cater for the increased number of visitors, particularly because our conference and event facilities are equipped to host over 1,000 people to meet, dine and stay.” Officially recognised as the world’s tallest hotel at a height of 355m, the property features nine restaurants, six lounges, a spa and 8,500m2 of event space.

Bill Keffer

Coral Suites Hotel Fujairah Rebranded Armed Forces Officers Club & Hotel has taken over the management of Coral Suites Hotel Fujairah from Hospitality Management Holdings, which successfully run the property over the past seven years. In terms of the deal, the 172-room hotel will operate under the name East Coast Hotel Apartments, Fujairah. Commenting on the rebranding, Mudasser Raza Butt, acting general manager, East Coast Hotel Apartments, Fujairah, said, “We eagerly look forward to take the time tested relation to the next level of excellence.” According to Raza Butt, following the change of hands, the hotel’s management team is keen to continue all existing business relationships with its current vendors, suppliers, online travel agencies and trade partners.

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Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan Welcomes its First Guests Located just 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan has opened its doors, with the connected Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan set to launch in the second quarter of the year. The four-star Novotel-branded hotel features 361 rooms, six food and beverage outlets, seven meeting rooms, a ballroom, and recreation and wellness facilities. Commenting on the complex’s diverse offerings, Dominique Mercier, general manager, Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan and Adagio Abu Dhabi Al Bustan, noted, “Choice is also important, and guests can now choose based on the duration of their stay. The Novotel brand is synonymous with providing exemplary four-star, short-term accommodation, whilst for longer stays we will soon have the Adagio hotel apartments.”

Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan

Hilton Continues Growth in Saudi Arabia Hilton Worldwide has signed a management agreement with local Saudi investor Faisal Al-Ansari Contracting, to introduce a Hilton Garden Inn hotel to the industrial city of Al Jubail. Expected to open in 2016 on the Al Jubail Corniche, the 125-room Hilton Garden Inn Al Jubail will offer accessibility to the city’s commercial business district, industrial zones and King Fahd International Airport. “With an increasing number of new Hilton Garden Inn hotels planned in key cities across the Kingdom, the brand is gathering valuable momentum as Saudi Arabia proves particularly responsive to our dedicated quality service,” commented Adrian Kurre, global head, Hilton Garden Inn.

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Al-Fanar Launched at Venetian Village The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal is expanding its food and beverage offering as H.E. Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) officially opened AlFanar restaurant and café, bringing Emirati flavours to the property’s new Venetian Village. Themed in a bid to provide a nostalgic ambience recalling the UAE of days gone by, Al-Fanar serves authentic Emirati cuisine with fresh salads, fish, seafood and meats. Complete with outdoor booths, mud brick rooms and a mini souk, the outlet can seat 320 guests for lunch and dinner. According to Al Nahyan, the new dining outlet will fast evolve into the capital’s newest tourist attraction. “As I sat down for lunch, the memories came flooding back, there is so much here that evokes the best of the past,” said Al Nahyan.




Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts on a Development Roll Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is developing at a rapid pace with new properties in Morocco, Turkey, and Mongolia, the launch of a ‘hotel within a hotel’ in Egypt, and a debut in Pakistan. By summer, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts will take over the management of Hotel Casablanca Plaza. The 184-unit property, renamed Mövenpick Hotel Casablanca enjoys a rooftop pool, spa, three restaurants and six meeting rooms. The property was renovated in 2011, and is set to see further enhancements to its restaurants and bars. Moreover, the 374-key Mövenpick Hotel Marrakech, which is currently under construction, will be one of the city’s largest conference hotels and is to be launched at the end of this year. Mövenpick Hotel Cairo Pyramids also welcomed the addition of a 144-room, four-storey extension which offers an alternative to the existing garden village bungalow resort.

New Luxury Hotel Apartments by DAMAC Properties DAMAC Properties has launched its latest luxury serviced hotel apartments project next to the World Expo 2020 site in Dubai. Celestia, a ground plus seven floor complex comprising studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, will be managed by the company’s hospitality division, offering five-star hotel services and amenities. Commenting on the project, which is scheduled for completion by 2016, Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president, DAMAC Properties, said that it will be the shining light in the heart of the world’s first ‘aerotropolis’, a thriving new community in Dubai. Celestia features a gym, health and fitness club, a swimming pool, and a spa. In addition, it will have its own retail area, with designer boutiques, fine dining restaurants, and a retail avenue.


Sheraton Luxor Resort Bidding for Growth Sheraton Luxor Resort is expecting to see guest numbers increasing in the coming months. Speaking about the hotel’s efforts to attract more arrivals from various markets, Atef Wilson, general manager, Sheraton Luxor Resort, explained that a group of Chinese media was welcomed in early March, adding “We expect to host an international conference meeting [for the] Arab Latin American Business Council in April.” The property is playing a significant role in the current drive to help ameliorate Egypt’s international image, as Wilson further commented, “Sheraton Luxor Resort’s management and associates are helping to spread the image of safety to all visiting guests and assist them spend a peaceful yet enjoyable stay.”

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Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road and Downtown Dubai: Green Key Certification Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road and Four Points by Sheraton Downtown Dubai have both received the Green Key certification renewal for the current year. Green Key is a global eco-label awarded to hotels that fulfill a host of environmental requirements, ranging from action plans to community involvement. As Green Key certified properties, the two hotels’ aim to incorporate green practices and concepts in all areas of their operations including encouraging guests to take part in the Make A Green Choice programme aimed at helping to further conserve natural resources during their stay. In addition, the hotels also offer sustainable meeting packages that involve energy efficient meeting rooms, controlled air-conditioning, sustainable supplies, recycled flip-charts and linen-less tables, among other initiatives.

Rotana Develops its Global Presence Rotana Hotel Management Corporation is expanding its outreach, debuting in Oman, Afghanistan and Turkey, and developing several new properties, totalling over 1,400 rooms. The 400-key Salalah Rotana Resort, Oman was unveiled on March 1, while Silk Arjaan by Rotana is the company’s first property to open in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. Marking the company’s entry into Istanbul, Burgu Kule Arjaan by Rotana and Tango Kule Arjaan by Rotana make up a two-tower property featuring 222 and 188 rooms respectively. Two more new-builds will add to the group’s expanding portfolio throughout the region this year, namely Boulevard Arjaan by Rotana, Amman, and Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana, Saudi Arabia.

One to One SPA Launched One to One Hotel & Resort – Ain Al Faida has unveiled One to One SPA on the top floor of the property. Predicted to become Al Ain’s ultimate retreat destination spa, the facility aims to combine purity with an authentic Arabic experience. A range of signature therapies are available in the eight treatment rooms, while guests can also enjoy two Jacuzzis, two private Moroccan baths and separate male and female salons. The spa concept has been designed in a bid to encompass the abundance of nature in Al Ain. “Our new spa brand, for One to One Hotels & Resorts will offer a range of signature and locally-inspired therapies in all UAE properties,” commented Philippe Harb, chief operating officer, One to One Hotels & Resorts.

One to One SPA

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Qatar Airways to Upgrade Business Class Seats Qatar Airways will revamp its business class seats and entertainment systems on select Airbus A330200 and A320 aircraft. Modifications to seven A330-200 and nine A320 vehicles have already commenced, and are expected to be completed by the third quarter of the year. Improvements include seats that recline into a 180-degree lie-flat position, six-way adjustable headrests, four-way adjustable lumbar supports, a variety of personal stowage compartments and privacy dividers. Business class on both types of aircraft will feature 39cm smart monitors and touch screen remote controlled handsets, which also allow dual screen mode. On A330 planes, the inflight entertainment system will be upgraded to the Panasonic eX2 platform.



Tunis Linked with Montreal Aéroports de Montréal confirmed that Tunisian carrier Syphax Airlines will launch regular direct services between Montréal–Trudeau and Tunis Carthage International Airport on April 25, making the Canadian destination the only North American city connected to Tunis by direct flight. The new weekly route will be operated by an Airbus A330-200 featuring a total of 277 seats. The Tunisian capital joins four other North African and Middle Eastern destinations running year-round from the country via Montréal– Trudeau, namely Casablanca, Algiers, Amman and Doha. Montréal–Trudeau serves some 130 locations via nonstop operations, ranking it second among Canadian airports in the area.

Syphax Airlines


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©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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Qatar Airways: Doha City Tours for Passengers Qatar Airways’ passengers in transit can explore some of Doha’s tourist attractions on a free tour of the city, since the airline and Qatar Tourism Authority started a joint initiative to give travellers a brief taste of the popular hotspot. Commenting on the project, Nigel Burnell Stoker, acting head, Qatar Airways Holidays, stated, “Our aim is to promote Qatar as a tourism destination, and to provide Qatar Airways’ passengers with a unique experience of Doha, free of charge. Based on the feedback we have received since February 1, it is clear that passengers transiting in Doha genuinely enjoy the city tour. We currently operate four daily tours, running at full capacity.”


Etihad Airways Steps up Moscow Operations Effective from June 1, Etihad Airways will increase its Abu Dhabi – Moscow services from seven weekly flights to double daily, while from October 1, the airline will offer three daily frequencies between the two capital cities. Since commencing in December 2008, Etihad Airways has carried more than 400,000 travellers on the Moscow route, and in 2013 alone, passenger volumes rose 36 percent year-on-year, achieving doubledigit growth for the fourth consecutive year. As James Hogan, group president, Etihad Aviation Group, pinpointed, the UAE is home to almost 25,000 Russians and 400 Russia-UAE joint venture companies, and this move will provide more direct flights than any other carrier. As a result, a total of 5,712 seats a week will be offered to passengers.

Air Arabia Expands in Kazakhstan Air Arabia has launched twice weekly services to Shymkent, the third most populous city in Kazakhstan. With the addition of the cultural and historical locality, the low-cost carrier became the only operator in the UAE to fly to three destinations in Kazakhstan including Astana and Almaty. Commenting on the growing significance of the country, Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, said, “Kazakhstan is a rapidly emerging economy with a very bright future, and we have accordingly prioritised building our route network in the country. As two major oil producers, there are obvious links between the UAE and Kazakhstan, and we also see real potential for broader trade and tourism ties, which makes us confident of the success of this new service to Shymkent.”

Air Arabia

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Qatar Airways Cargo: New Freighter Routes Qatar Airways Cargo announced it will begin scheduled freighter services to two new destinations, namely Hyderabad, India and London Stansted, UK, while operations to Zaragoza, Spain restarted in March. Launching on April 1, Hyderabad will be a twice weekly route using an Airbus A330 Freighter, while effective May 2, the company will begin five weekly Boeing 777 cargo flights to London Stansted. The company’s goal is to be a worldclass air cargo service provider and in order to achieve that, it needs to constantly increase frequencies and expand to new destinations explained Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer, cargo, Qatar Airways. “The addition of these new freighter routes clearly represents yet another milestone in Qatar Airways’ growth strategy,” he added.

Qatar Airways Cargo

SaudiGulf Orders Four Airbus A320ceo aircraft SaudiGulf, the newest Saudi Arabian airline wholly owned by Abdul Hadi Al Qahtani Group of Companies, has signed a contract with Airbus for four A320ceo aircraft, to be delivered early 2015. As one of the two aviation companies to obtain carrier licenses to operate domestic and international flights from the Kingdom’s airports, SaudiGulf is set to significantly increase the country’s air transport links with the region and the rest of the world. The airline plans to launch its operations out of Dammam in the first quarter of 2015, later offering services from Riyadh and Jeddah as well. “It is an incredibly exciting time for us, as we work to launch SaudiGulf in 2015,” said Tariq Abdel Hadi Al Qahtani, chairman, Abdul Hadi Al Qahtani Group of Companies.

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Etihad Cargo Boosts China Operations Etihad Cargo is to enhance its Chinese services by increasing bellyhold cargo capacity between Abu Dhabi and Chengdu by 40 percent. Effective from March 30, the airline will operate daily Airbus A330 passenger flights on the route, and, as a result, offer space for a total 930 tonnes of cargo per month. Etihad Cargo carried more than 73,000 tonnes of goods to and from China in 2013, up 33 percent over 2012. Kevin Knight, chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways, noted, “As a direct result of increased demand for our cargo services, tonnage carried between our Chinese destinations and the rest of our global network has grown significantly over the past 12 months, and our forward projections for the year are looking positive.” Etihad Cargo



Wyndham Hotel Group Expands in Turkey Wyndham Hotel Group is to launch the company’s first property in Ankara. Anticipated to open this summer, the 138-room Wyndham Ankara has undergone extensive renovations to align its offerings with the upper-upscale Wyndham Hotels and Resorts brand, including an upgrade to the lobby and ballroom, as well as guestroom enhancements to be completed later this year. The hotel features extensive meeting space including a ballroom, terrace and meeting rooms, two restaurants, and spa and fitness facilities. Wyndham Ankara will join three Wyndham Hotels and Resorts branded properties already open in Turkey since 2012, including the upscale Wyndham Istanbul Kalamis Marina and Wyndham Istanbul Petek in Istanbul and the five-star, 219-room Wyndham Izmir Özdilek in Izmir.


WIH Takes Over Chicago Hotel Warwick International Hotels (WIH) has completed the acquisition of Allerton Hotel, Chicago, US. The property is considered one of the best located hotels in the ‘windy city’, offering easy access to the downtown area and various touristic attractions. Under the deal, the 443-key product will be renamed Warwick Allerton Hotel, expanding the company’s North American portfolio to six hotels. “Allerton is close to being a perfect acquisition for WIH. She nicely complements its collection of landmark hotels, each one of which has its own particular history and story to tell,” highlighted Richard Chiu, president, WIH.

Warwick Allerton Hotel

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Michael Kuhn

James Mueller James Mueller has taken on the position of senior vice president of sales at Etihad Airways. With more than 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, Mueller joins the Abu Dhabi-based airline from United Airlines, where he worked for five years in various roles, including vice president of Asia

Pacific, and vice president of Atlantic and Pacific sales. Prior to this, he served Northwest Airlines / Delta Air Lines for more than 15 years where his final position was vice president of cargo sales.

Mueller joins Etihad Airways from United Airlines

Michael Kuhn has been promoted to executive assistant manager at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa, in Bahrain. Since starting his career, already 15 years ago, Kuhn has gained experience in the hospitality industry in various countries including the UAE

Ivan Jovalekic Ivan Jovalekic has joined the management team at Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel Dubai as the new senior business development manager. Jovalekic moves to Dubai from Abu Dhabi where he spent two years in a similar position at Insights Management Consultancy, representing international hotels and tourist boards in the region. Jovalekic started his career after graduating in Belgrade with a degree in finance and

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accounting. He moved to Dubai and entered the hospitality industry with a post at Jumeirah Group, looking after global and corporate sales. In 2006, he joined JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa in its preopening phase, spending three years further strengthening his expertise to attain the post of leisure sales manager, before moving back to Dubai to work at Dusit Princess City Centre Hotel in a similar position.


and Oman. Most recently he served as director of sales and marketing at The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa. In his new role he will remain in charge of sales and marketing in addition to his responsibilities as executive assistant manager.

Mahmoud El Keiy Mahmoud El Keiy has assumed the position of general manager at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at The First Residence in Egypt. The Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts veteran moves to the West bank of the Nile from sister property Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza where he served as hotel manager since March 2013. El Keiy has been part of the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts family for more than

12 years, having first joined the pre-opening team at Four Seasons Resort Sharm El Sheikh as sales manager. He then spent seven years at Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza as director of sales and marketing, before being promoted to hotel manager at Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano. Prior to joining Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in 2002, El Keiy worked at Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

travel talk is your space


TRAVEL TALK Andreas Mueller

Peter Baumgartner

General manager, The Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah.

Chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways.

“Earth Hour is a great example of how tiny, simple steps like turning off lights can engage a worldwide community and help create a green, sustainable future. We will continue to implement sustainability programmes, to increase the awareness amongst our guests and staff.”

Simple steps like turning off lights can engage a worldwide community

“A good night’s sleep is scientifically proven to benefit one’s health and nowhere is this more important than on a long-haul flight. [...] For this reason, we will continue ensuring greater levels of comfort and wellbeing on our flights. The research we have carried out [...] will allow us to significantly improve the cabin environment for our guests and to provide targeted investment in our on-board experience for tangible customer benefits.”

Mohamed Alabbar

Amer Ali

Chairman, Emaar Properties.

Executive director, Dubai Maritime City Authority.

“Dubai Opera, which is central to the new arts and lifestyle district, will be a spectacular addition to Downtown Dubai […]. The state-of-the-art opera house and the varied lifestyle components of The Opera District will energise Dubai’s events and tourism sectors. With the city establishing its global reputation as an arts hub, the new development will also strengthen the ‘Dubai Art Season’, which brings together the city’s vibrant arts initiatives.”

“Dubai is taking proactive steps to reach a globally leading position in […] the maritime sector. We are very pleased to [have welcomed] the visiting Maltese delegation and share with them our success in strengthening the competitiveness of the maritime sector and creating an integrated, secure and sustainable maritime environment which would respond effectively to the changes in the market, keep up with emerging trends and attract regional and international investors.”

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

29 MARCH 2014


AGENT’S INSIGHT NAME: Magdy Help POSITION: Operation director COMPANY: Traveline Egypt LOCATION: Egypt WEB:

Who are you? My name is Magdy Help. I am the operation director and one of the board members at Traveline Egypt. Traveline is an inbound and outbound tour operator. Our main office is in Cairo and we have branches in Luxor, Aswan, Hurghda and Sharm El Sheikh. We own four large cruise boats on the river Nile and one luxury small sail boat. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? What I really like about the travel industry is that it is very challenging as you need to create something new every day in order to keep your customers happy and entertained but before we think of anything new we always look at the safety issue first as our guests’ safety is a fundamental issue for us. When is the best time to visit Egypt? Egypt is one of those unique countries which you can visit allyear-round and enjoy the climate and great history in addition to lovely beaches. The best time to visit Egypt is during fall and winter where the sun is still shining with a lovely warm climate. Summer and spring are fine too but can be hot for some people. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? For my next holiday I may travel to Paris as my kids always wanted to see Disneyland. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Firstly, our staff is very highly trained and very well qualified and speak many languages. Additionally, Traveline’s main policy is transparency and trust. We care more for the good standard of services and we always treat our guests with silk gloves and offer red carpet treatment. Our aim is for all guests to depart Egypt with good memories.

29 MARCH 2014


Disneyland Paris Partners with Gulf Agencies Jumbo Travel has announced its association with Disneyland Paris, in a bid to make the Disney parks and resorts more accessible to families in Kuwait and the Gulf countries. “For more than 20 years Disneyland Paris has been a top attraction in Europe for travellers from Kuwait, and while cruising demand is at its peak, we will continue to offer Disney Cruise Line packages. Jumbo Travel provides easy access to Disney products for consumers and travel agents in Kuwait confirming its commitment to promoting these amazing family Disney destinations,” commented Marie-Anne Bene-

detti, managing director, Jumbo Travel. Speaking at a roadshow conducted to showcase Disney’s portfolio of products to travel agents and media in Kuwait, Mansoor Pasha, business development manager, holiday and retail, Jumbo Travel, said, “A range of attractive holiday options perfect for families planning their summer travel are available with Jumbo Travel this year.” Travellers can have an unforgettable holiday in one of the Disney parks and resorts, or sail on a Disney Cruise Line in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and the Bahamas, concluded Pasha.


TRAVEL CHANNELS The Cove Rotana Resort Goes Green

The Cove Rotana Resort has reinforced its commitment to a sustainable future by participating in the month-long countrywide UAE Green Festival.


he resort has planned a number of programmes to create memorable experiences for guests while highlighting pressing global issues. All day dining restaurant, Cinnamon is presenting a menu focused on healthy and organic ingredients, Basilico planned to host a candlelight dinner, while the property’s fitness club is offering free sport activities. As Andreas Mueller, general manager, The Cove Rotana Resort, underlined, community engagement is an important part of the resort’s activities. “Greening efforts move people and will eventually lead to positive changes in the environment and our larger society. We have dedicated ourselves tirelessly to environmental causes for the betterment of our resort and it’s surrounding,” added Mueller.

The Cove Rotana Resort, Ras Al Khaimah

OCEC: Three Million Man-Hours Omran has clocked three million man-hours at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) project site. Scheduled for completion in 2016, OCEC will allow the Sultanate to capture a larger market share from the lucrative events and conferencing segment, as Wael bin Ahmed Al Lawati, CEO, Omran, explained. Spanning two million square meters, the OCEC precinct is expected to draw more than 600,000 visitors per year by 2018 and create approximately 15,000-18,000 employment opportunities by 2030.

SCTDA Praised for Rehabilitation Works

Inspection in Al Una

A number of Majlis Ash-Shura advisory council members have expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) in the rehabilitation and preservation of heritage and archeological sites in the Al Una municipality. In a letter addressed to H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president, SCTA, they emphasised that the commission’s initiatives are distinguished, deliberate and of high quality, both in the preservation and excavation of antiquities.

flynas Supports Medical Conference flynas sponsored the recently concluded Spinal Cord Injury Conference in Kharj. The sponsorship came in line with the airline’s continuous support of scientific research projects which contribute to advancing treatments and supporting the Saudi community with humanitarian programmes. As Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al Hamdan, CEO, NAS Holding, explained, supporting the conference was part of the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, which is committed to helping the community. These endeavours, as Al Hamdan, explained, include a diverse support base to cover charity organisations, and awareness campaigns, all of which contribute to the Kingdom’s future development.

29 MARCH 2014


Q & A with


Debrah Pascoe

Thailand remains an unquestionable force having welcomed 26.7 million visitors in 2013. Here Debrah Pascoe, senior vice president, sales and marketing, ONYX Hospitality Group, comments on the destination’s strengths and subsequently the company’s successful year.

Travel Trade Weekly: What percentage of your guests came from the Middle East and North Africa region in 2013, and did you notice an increase in Arabian travellers over 2012?

Debrah Pascoe Senior vice president, sales and marketing, ONYX Hospitality Group

Debrah Pascoe: The total number of room nights from January through to November 2013 globally increased by seven percent compared to the same period [in 2012], with Middle Eastern guests accounting for an impressive 11 percent of that global total. Travel Trade Weekly: According to STR Global, the Thai hospitality market experienced double-digit RevPAR growth of 12.7 percent to THB 2,323.25 (USD71.60) in October 2013. To what do you own these positive developments? Debrah Pascoe: Thailand continues to be a world-class destination for visitors from around the world offering exceptional cultural experiences, gourmet and resort getaways, savvy urban adventures and genuine heartfelt hospitality. The breadth of attractions for families, couples and groups of friends is unsurpassed, and it is all provided with incredible value. By having a welcoming, professional hospitality industry that understands the needs of international guests, while providing a myriad of outdoor adventures, relaxation, rejuvenation and special cultural experiences, Thailand is an obvious holiday choice not only for first time visitors, but also for those who have visited before and then wish to return to discover more. Travel Trade Weekly: The country is facing challenges at a political level, however 29 MARCH 2014

tourism seems to be withstanding. What are your predictions for Thailand’s hospitality industry in the future? Debrah Pascoe: The Thai hospitality industry’s breadth, value, warmth and quality will continue to see its prominence as a hospitality international benchmark grow well into the future. An increasing number of hospitality brands from around the

world will look to establish a presence within Thailand as Thai hospitality is a market leader due to its excellence in customer care, gourmet experiences, spa and wellness expertise, and design. Fortunately ONYX Hospitality Group originates from Thailand so these hallmarks for success are already in our DNA, and like our own development, I see Thai hospitality brands continuing to increasingly expand their influence and presence internationally. Domestically, the industry will continue to develop, expand and evolve as an international market leader. Challenges will no doubt be met as they always have, whether they arise from natural calamities, political incidents or international economic slowdowns. As in the past however, Thailand is resilient, with the tourism and hospitality industry extremely well-rehearsed, developed and prepared for such challenges to ensure the safety and comfort of visiting travellers. In an uncertain world, visitors know that they will be well taken care of in Thailand. It is this peace of mind, confidence, and the Kingdom’s touristic excitement that it offers that will see Thailand hospitality continue its international rise in the future.

Amari Boulevard Bangkok



Oman Air Hails Success of Muscat Festival As the official airline of the 13th Muscat Festival, Oman Air joined organisers, officials and visitors in praising the success of the annual event, which ran between January 23 and February 22. The month-long festival saw more than 1,400 artists, musicians and performers from 83 countries showcase their skills and talents to extensive crowds. As Usama Karim Al Haremi, head, corporate communications and media, Oman Air, noted, the event shines a spotlight on the culture of the Sultanate, and contributes to the country’s growth. “As an international airline and the national carrier of Oman, we were particularly pleased that this year’s Muscat Festival has played a part in boosting the national economy and generating increased international awareness of Oman and its people,” Al Haremi commented, adding that Muscat’s hotels reported 100 percent occupancy at the time of the celebrations.

Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) Goa, India, April 2 – 4, 2014 ( GITM aims to stimulate travel, tourism hospitality, leisure and other related industries. 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. 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.

Sponsored by


January 2014

EVENTS 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.


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-makers.

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 promotes Latin America to the world.

Technical, Occupational and Further Education


Education 2020


Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings Expo (IBTM) Africa Cape Town, South Africa, April 28 – 30, 2014 ( A new invitation-only event for Africa’s incentives, meetings and business travel industry which will bring together buyers and suppliers.

The Bride Show

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.

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.

29 MARCH 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 229  

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...