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26 MAY 2012

ISSUE 133


Block this Space Contact us at sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

26 MAY 2012

ISSUE 133

Raviz to Open Second Dubai Hotel this Summer Raviz International Hotel Management is gearing up to open a 136-key property in Dubai.

Al Sharq Investment to launch a new W Hotel in Dubai, on the iconic The Palm Jumeirah, in 2016.

10 Sheraton Erbil Hotel to Open in 2015 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and BCD Travel to manage Sheraton hotel in Erbil, Iraq.

11 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE

04

WEEKLY NEWS

05

ACCOMMODATION

10

AIR NEWS

16

WHO'S MOVED

19

TRAVEL TALK

20

AGENT'S CORNER

21

TRAVEL CHANNELS

22

RENDEZVOUS

23

NEWS & EVENTS

24

W Dubai – The Palm to Open in 2016

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4

MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS

Sharjah: Visitor Volume on the Rise Sharjah’s tourism industry has continued its stellar performance after posting an 11 percent increase in tourist numbers for the first quarter of the year.

Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou

B

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess Katerina Dalal 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 210466 WEBSITE www.traveltradeweekly.travel EMAILS info@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel

MENA EXCHANGE RATES

ased on Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority’s (SCTDA) latest statistics report, hotel occupancy rates averaged at 78 percent, up three percent over the corresponding period in 2011, while guest numbers at hotels and hotel apartments stood at 466,218, and room nights reached 539,393. The emirate currently boasts 47 hotels with 5,191 rooms along with 53 hotel apartments featuring 3,825 rooms. According to SCTDA’s breakdown of figures, Western visitors continued to dominate the tourist flow into the emirate with European travellers making up 37 percent of the total foreign visitor number of 466,218, of which 166,525 visitors arrived from the GCC and 56,698 from other Arab countries. The impressive figures demonstrate the emirate’s ability to maintain steady growth

SCTDA at the Arabian Travel Market

while expanding to new markets, said H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, SCTDA. “We are trying to create an attractive tourist environment by pursuing a long term strategy and with the help of our various popular culture and tourism festivals. We are constantly trying to reach out to new markets around the world by presenting Sharjah at international exhibitions and events.”

Accurate as of

24/05/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.04

Saudi Arabia (SAR)

Riyal

3.75

Lebanon (LBP)

Pound

1,505.50

Bahrain (BHD)

Dinar

0.37

Jordan (JOD)

Dinar

0.71

Syria (SYP)

Pound

63.78

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.59

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.80

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,275.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.61

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

74.55

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.27

Air Arabia: Rising Net Profit Air Arabia closed the first quarter of the year with a net profit of AED49.2 million (USD13.4 million), equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 11 percent. For the three month period, the airline’s turnover stood at AED621 million (USD169.1 million), up 21 percent. Meanwhile, passenger volume rose seven percent and reached 1,230,807, resulting in an average seat load factor of 82 percent. The figures demonstrate the airline’s strong business model and market appeal, highlighted Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia. “Though political instability and sustained high fuel costs continue to challenge regional carriers, the appeal of air transport, and especially the low-cost model pioneered by Air Arabia in the region, remains strong. As these results make clear, Air Arabia remains on a path of steady upward growth,” he said, adding that the airline will continue to enter new markets providing passengers with wider options.

26 MAY 2012


WEEKLY NEWS Dubai Launches Safari and Dhow Wharfage Projects Dubai has unveiled plans to replace its ailing zoo with a safari project, covering 400 hectares, and embark on a dhow wharfage development. Dubai Municipality aims to establish a worldwide leading centre for wildlife with Dubai Safari, which will also feature a butterfly park and golf courses along with various entertainment and recreational facilities.

Construction at DWC’s Aviation District Underway Dubai World Central (DWC) has announced that construction is underway at DWC’s Aviation District, a purposebuilt area designed to meet the needs of aviation businesses, and leasing negotiations have commenced with fixed base operators (FBO) and other aviation businesses. DWC further revealed that Majestic Wings Private Airplane Charter is planning to move to the aviation district within 12 months, making it among the first high-profile aviation companies to set up operations. The company will occupy a plot measuring some 7,360m2. Majestic Wings Private Airplane Charter is also set to develop a class ‘A’ hangar facility within walking distance of the newly announced permanent venue of the Dubai Airshow, starting 2013. Furthermore, the air charter company will have direct access to both Jebel Ali Port and the components of DWC including Logistics District and Al Maktoum International Airport.

26 MAY 2012

Meanwhile, the 3km dhow wharfage development at Deira Corniche is set to add an integrated infrastructure to facilitate a surge in dhow trade, which will allow around 400 vessels of different sizes to berth at the same time. Construction works are due to commence in June with the completion and operations of the first phase scheduled by June 2013, while the second phase shall be completed by the end of 2013.

5


6

WEEKLY NEWS

Major Coastal Development in Morocco Ryder Cup legend Colin Montgomerie and European Golf Design (EGD) are to design a new golf course next to Morocco’s Plage des Nations near Rabat. The golf course will be the centre piece of a new 4.68km2 luxury resort and expansive residential community that will also feature a golf clubhouse, beach club, hotel, and shopping centre. Prestigia, part of the

Groupe Addoha, appointed Montgomerie and EGD following a successful collaboration of The Montgomerie Course at Marrakech Golf City. Jawad Ziyat, managing director, Prestigia, commented, “Our objective is to make the Plage des Nations Golf Resort an iconic venue in North Africa, and we know Colin and EGD will help us deliver this.”

Arrivals Increase, Spending Drops International arrivals into the UAE will grow over the next five years while average spending will decline, reveals a research presented by Euromonitor International entitled Travel Industry Global Overview Report, at the Arabian Travel Market. The research found that arrivals into the country will see a compound annual growth rate in excess of seven percent per annum over the next five years although, over the same period, average spend per visitor will decline by over three percent. Furthermore, hotel prices across budget, mid, and luxury hotels in the MENA region fell in 2010/11, with budget hotels seeing the biggest drop, and said to be the only region where hotel prices declined. The report further indicates that despite economic concerns, consumers will be looking at value for money options. Globally, arrivals growth will slow down to around four percent a year until 2016, and average spend is expected to grow by one percent this year.

26 MAY 2012


8

WEEKLY NEWS

Oman Expands Cruising Sector Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has underlined the need for an Arabian Gulf cruise ship strategy given the steady growth of the sector in the region in recent years. The Ministry pointed out that cruise shipping is a great success story throughout the Gulf, with a boom from the mid-1990s occuring as a result of high passenger exchanges made possible by the development of major aviation

hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Bahrain. Furthermore, the last three years have seen the entry of new cruise companies, including smaller expedition cruise ships, seeking to explore the coastline in closer detail, with 2011 concluding a record year in regards to cruise ship arrivals to Port Sultan Qaboos. Further growth is expected this year.

Oman to Witness Hotel Growth Oman’s resorts and hotels portfolio continues to expand with over 2,000 additional rooms scheduled for opening this year and in 2013. Muscat is to see the most growth with the addition of 726 rooms, while niche resorts are set to open in Salalah, Khasab, and in the Hajar Mountains. The coastal city of Duqm is to witness the launch of three hotels with a total of 391 rooms. The portfolio sees continued strengthening and diversification of Muscat’s room supply, and also increasing focus on regional projects from Khasab in the north to Oman’s southern gateway, Salalah. H.E. Maitha Al Mahrouqi, undersecretary, Ministry of Tourism, said, “Overall, our approach is to ensure five-star developments are located in five-star natural landscapes. This approach gives us a competitive edge and fuels investment demand.”

26 MAY 2012


10

WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

W Dubai – The Palm to Open in 2016 W Hotels Worldwide has signed an agreement with Al Sharq Investment to launch a new W Hotel in Dubai, on the iconic The Palm Jumeirah, in 2016. The new location will further strengthen the brand’s presence in the UAE and the region, according to Roeland Vos, president, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa, and Middle East, while Vincent Gillet, global brand leader, W Hotels and Le Méridien, said, “W will offer a completely new and distinctive experience to the hotel market in Dubai, providing a stylish escape and innovative design in one of the city’s most premier destinations.” W Dubai – The Palm will comprise 283 rooms and suites, a signature lounge, a pool, fitness centre and spa, eight food and beverage outlets, and approximately 2,500m2 of event space alongside a business centre.

Raviz to Open Second Dubai Hotel Raviz International Hotel Management, the hospitality arm of RP Group of Companies, is to usher the Raviz brand into the UAE by opening a new property in Dubai. Upon opening, prior to Ramadan, the 126-key property will feature two restaurants, two nightclubs, two conference halls, and a state-of-the-art business centre. Introducing the concept, Manoj Padhi, general manager, Versailles Hotel, said, “The philosophy behind the Raviz brand is high quality services backed up with high-end technology in room infrastructure with the latest gadgetry. Design also plays a key element with our brand.” Padhi further revealed the hotel group’s efforts on increasing guest volume from Europe, Russia, Africa, and South America. Furthermore, in its endeavours to reach out to a broader audience, the company recently tied up with Utell Hotels & Resorts to market two Dubai properties.

26 MAY 2012


Accommodation

Sheraton Erbil Hotel to Open in 2015 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has signed an agreement with BCD Travel, a leading provider of global corporate travel management, to manage a new-build Sheraton hotel in Erbil, Iraq, scheduled to open in 2015. Located in the new part of the city, approximately 10 minutes from Erbil International Airport, Sheraton Erbil Hotel will be situated along the new ring road, offering guests 221 rooms and 39 suites, with extensive dining and leisure facilities as well as signature Sheraton amenities including a Sheraton Club Lounge and Sheraton Fitness programme. Guests may also benefit from the signature spa, including an indoor and outdoor pool, alongside corporate facilities which will feature a 720m2 ballroom, a conference centre, four meeting rooms, and a business centre including six private offices.

26 MAY 2012

WEEKLY NEWS

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Accor Brings Pullman to Mecca Accor and Munshaat Real Estate Projects Company are to launch the first upscale Pullmanbranded hotel in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Starting in May, Zamzam Pullman Makkah, formerly known Zamzan Grand, will undergo extensive renovations which will include the public areas, restaurants, and all its 1,315 suites and rooms. Part of Abraj Al Bait complex, the property, which has long been a distinctive landmark of the Holy City, is in close proximity to Al Haram Al Makki facing King Abdulaziz Gate. Commenting on the brand’s debut in Mecca, Christophe Landais, managing director, Accor Middle East, said, “With such a prestigious new address in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we welcome pilgrims from all over the world to experience the spiritual atmosphere close to the Haram.”


12

WEEKLY NEWS

Accommodation

Hilton to Add Two Hotels in Qatar Hilton Worldwide and Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company (ARTIC) are to launch two new DoubleTree by Hilton properties in Doha. The 145-key DoubleTree by Hilton Doha – Al Sadd, located in the Qatari capital’s main commercial and retail district, and the 240-unit DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Doha, situated within a 52-storey, high-rise complex in the city’s upscale financial and diplomatic area, are both scheduled to open in 2014, and are

dedicated to guests seeking mid- to long-term stays. The properties will further strengthen the company’s footprint in Qatar, highlighted Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide. “Our commitment in Doha, over the next three years, will see the opening of five new properties and the launch of three Hilton Worldwide brands including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Hilton Garden Inn.”

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts: Global Expansion Plans Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has announced plans to open 11 new hotels across nine countries over the next three years. France, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Thailand, are all gearing up for the upcoming properties. Towards the end of the year, Samoeng, Chiang Mai, Thailand, will be home to a 26-villa resort, while Tozeur and the island of Djerba, Tunisia, will be re-launching two newly-refurbished hotels in 2013. Furthermore, Neuilly, Paris, and Phoenix Island, Sanya, will also become home to new properties as of January 2013. In addition, Marrakech, Morocco, and Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, will both be opening new hotels under the brand in 2014, paving the way for Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China, to welcome guests to a newly-opened hotel in 2015, alongside Malaysia’s upcoming resort, which will be based on Pantai Pandak Beach. The company’s entry into Bangladesh will also soon be heralded by the opening of a resort on Cox’s Bazar.

26 MAY 2012


Accommodation

A Stylish Addition to Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi recently welcomed Privé, a stylish bar which, according to Ashwini Kumar, general manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, conveys a style that can best be described as ‘casual luxury’. “Privé complements the iconic design of Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, promising an experience like no other,” Kumar said. Serving premium drinks hailing from France, Italy, and South Africa, the venue is also offering Italian cuisine and a smoking and non-smoking section. Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is a landmark renowned for consistently delivering authentic hospitality and culinary expertise, as Kumar explained, “The opening of Privé reinforces this sentiment, offering sophistication and simple cuisine guests have come to expect.”

Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

IHG and Muscat Golf Course Projects Sign Deal Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and Muscat Golf Course Project have announced the signing of a 20-year management agreement for the luxury InterContinental Muscat Hills Golf Resort in Oman. The deal signed during this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, Dubai, validates the property's entry into Muscat Hills Golf and Country Club; a mixed-use 1.2 million m2 development boasting residential villas and apartments, an 18hole championship golf course, country club, and hotel, set in a hillside location boasting views over the Gulf of Oman. Upon completion in 2015, InterContinental Muscat Hills Golf Resort will have a total of 250 rooms, four food and beverage outlets, a fitness centre and spa, as well as a swimming pool. The team will also manage the golf club house located adjacent to the hotel. The project is expected to reach a total worth of USD90 million.

26 MAY 2012

WEEKLY NEWS

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Istithmar World Buys Atlantis The Palm Kerzner International has sold its 50 percent stake of Atlantis The Palm for USD250 million to co-owner Istithmar World, making the investment company, a subsidiary of Dubai World, the sole owner of the iconic resort. Under the terms of a multi-year management agreement, Kerzner International will continue to manage the flagship property whose interest was handed over as part of the company’s comprehensive restructuring aimed at improving its capital structure and positioning it for sustainable development, explained Sol Kerzner, chairman, Kerzner International, who further mentioned the selling of Bahamas-based Atlantis Paradise Island to Brookfield Asset Management. “Kerzner, Brookfield Fund, and Istithmar are aligned with regards to the best interests of the business moving forward, including: keeping future capital expenditures and maintenance levels consistent with years past; maintaining current employment levels; and investing the same level of resources into local and international marketing to support tourism in the Bahamas and Dubai.”

Baghdad Welcomes Coral Boutique Hotel Coral Hotels & Resorts has announced plans to open Coral Boutique Hotel Baghdad, Iraq, in June. The deluxe property will be operated by Coral Hotels & Resorts under a management agreement with United Iraqi Baghdad Trading Company. Situated in the heart of Baghdad, Coral Boutique Hotel Baghdad is conveniently located 30km from the capital’s international airport, and will feature 80 rooms and suites, in addition to meeting spaces and leisure amenities. Michel Noblet, CEO, Hospitality Management Holdings, and Khalid Al Yasiry, managing director, United Iraqi Trading Company, shared similar sentiments of confidence for the future of the new member to the hotel brand’s portfolio.


14

WEEKLY NEWS

Le Gray, Beirut, to Add Facilities In a bid to cater to the increasing demand for meeting and event spaces, Le Gray, Beirut, located in the heart of the Lebanese capital city, is to introduce new facilities. The boutique property experienced healthy performance levels throughout 2011, with strong contribution from the GCC and the European markets as well as from Latin America, explained Hilal Saadé, director of sales and marketing, Le Gray, Beirut. “60 percent of the hotel’s guests consist of leisurely visitors and the remaining 40 percent is from the business segment,” he added. “To meet the increasing demand for business meetings, we are now finalising our plans to add some conference facilities and a luxurious screening room to the property by the first quarter of 2013.”

Accommodation

Le Bristol Undergoes Room Renovation Hotel Le Bristol, Beirut, is to undergo a major room renovation project set to commence on June 8, this according to Maya Abi Karam, sales manager, Hotel Le Bristol.

Hotel Le Bristol, Beirut

“During this time the hotel will be closed but all food and beverage operation, including catering, evening events, and weddings will carry on as usual,” she concluded, adding that the process will require a few months and, upon completion, will further increase the hotel’s prestige and performance levels.

Keeping Up With The Tech Era In a bid to broaden its customer base, Coral Beach Resort – Sharjah is keen on keeping abreast with rapidly evolving technology within the travel industry. The property, which closed 2011 with a revenue increase of AED3 million (USD816,750), expects strong performance levels in the coming months, revealed Jean-Pierre Simon, regional general manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts. “We are looking to broaden our customer base in Europe and anticipate robust demand from both existing and emerging feeder markets,” said Simon, noting that utilising the latest technological innovations is pivotal in the region’s hospitality industry. “Rapid advancements in travel technological especially digital and mobile bookings, widespread growth of social media sites, and increasing demand for more budget hotels, owing to the expansion of budget airlines, such as Air Arabia, has compelled hoteliers to tailor their products and services to meet the needs of a new breed of travellers who are extremely tech savvy, informed, and connected,” he stressed.

Phoenicia Beirut to Explore New Markets The historic Phoenicia Beirut closed the first quarter of the year with encouraging results and is poised to further expand its target markets, according to Christian Madsen, general manager, Phoenicia Beirut. “Our main feeder markets have not changed too much over the last few years. The Gulf and near East remain key markets for Beirut. We are, however, very keen to further grow the interest in Beirut and are exploring new potential markets,” he said, adding that the performance levels of the first quarter of the year met prior expectations. “We are positive that this will be a good year for Lebanon as we are seeing positive indicators and the market sentiment is encouraging.”

Hyatt Regency Riyadh Under New Management Agreement Mohammed A. Al-Swailem for Commercial Investment has signed a management agreement with Hyatt International for its new hotel in Saudi Arabia, namely Hyatt Regency Riyadh. The 257-key property is part of Al-Swailem Tower comprising of an upscale shopping arcade and a commercial complex. Owned by Mohammed A. Al-Swailem for Commercial Investment, the 32-storey project is spread over an area of 7,000m2 and is expected to welcome its first guests by the last quarter of 2013. Conveniently located 30 minutes from King Khaled International Airport, Hyatt Regency Riyadh is to cater to meeting planners, business travellers, and leisure guests. The hotel will provide clientele with a speciality restaurant, fully-equipped health centre, as well as a state-of-the-art business centre, and a multi-function hall for 300 people.

26 MAY 2012


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WEEKLY NEWS

Air News

Qatar Airways Partners with Flexjet Qatar Airways has entered into a strategic alliance with fractional jet programme provider Flexjet, to offer passengers convenient premium connections to over 5,000 destinations beyond the Doha-based airline’s four North American gateways. The new premium service, managed by Qatar Executive, enables customers travelling on Qatar Airways’ routes to New York, Washington, Houston, and Montreal, to continue their journey on premium jet services, offering them seamless connections to onward destinations in North America and its surrounding neighbours. Fred Reid, president, Flexjet, commented, “With a growing focus on the international business market, we have seen an increase in demand for travel to the Middle East and the surrounding regions.” Furthermore, Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, ensured customers the ability to book their entire journey with a single phone call.

Royal Jordanian and Gulf Air Collaborate Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) and Gulf Air have signed a full codeshare agreement to offer passengers 11 weekly flights between Amman, Jordan, and Manama, Bahrain. The flights will be operated by Gulf Air however marketed by both carriers. According to Hussein Dabbas, CEO, RJ, the new deal is concluded in the best economic interest for both carriers and passengers from Jordan and Bahrain, and will result in reducing the operational expenses, needed in the light of the regress in demand due to the regional unrest. Similarly, Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, said, “The new agreement facilitates both airlines to streamline operations in the interest of serving our passengers as well as the carriers in response to market demand. We will ensure Royal Jordanian passengers get the same consistent and high-quality service and products when they travel with Gulf Air.”

26 MAY 2012


Air News

Garuda Indonesia to Increase Fleet Size Garuda Indonesia has firmed up plans to increase its fleet size to 194 aircraft by 2015, as it races ahead to implement its ambitious ‘Quantum Leap’ programme. To facilitate market demand and as a part of its fleet development and expansion programme, Garuda Indonesia will have 20 Boeing 737-800NG, 10 units of Boeing 777-300ER, 24 A330-200s or other types of the Airbus family, 25 narrow body aircraft for Citilink, and 18 sub-100 Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft. During this year, Garuda Indonesia will receive 21 new additions to its fleet, including four B737800NGs, two A330-200s, 10 A320s for Citilink, and five sub-100 Bombardier CRJ1000 NextGen aircraft. With these new aircraft, Garuda Indonesia’s fleet will reach a total of 105, all aged an average 5.8 years.

Connectivity in the Air Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced that it is to become the first British airline to provide passengers with a service to make and receive phone calls in the air, in addition to being able to send and receive text messages, emails, and have web access via GPRS. The announcement comes as Virgin Atlantic Airways officially unveils its new aircraft, the Airbus A330-300, which is part of a GBP100 million (USD160.98 million) investment, and features a redesigned upper class cabin with a ‘technology hub’ to connect a smart phone, USB, or tablet devices. The new mobile phone system will be available throughout the aircraft in all cabins on the new A330 aircraft currently flying from London to New York. It is also set to be featured on the airline’s B747 aircraft, which are currently going through a GBP50 million (USD80.49 million) refurbishment. By the end of the year, some 20 aircraft will provide the service. Virgin Atlantic Airways

26 MAY 2012

WEEKLY NEWS

17

Safi Airways Passes IOSA Safi Airways, the leading international airline of Afghanistan, has passed the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). The IOSA programme is recognised worldwide and accepted as the main evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. The audit itself determines the level of conformity that an airline has with IOSA standards, and permits an airline, that meets all standards, to become registered with IATA as an IOSA Operator. Safi Airways is currently the only full-service IATA scheduled carrier operating from Afghanistan. Commenting on this recognition, Hamid Safi, CEO, Safi Airways, said, “We are extremely pleased and terribly proud that our efforts to be fully compliant with these international safety standards have been recognised. Passenger safety is, of course, a top priority for Safi Airways.”


WHO'S MOVED

Emmanuel Vallée Emmanuel Vallée has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, Dubai. Vallée has worked in the hospitality industry for over 15 years, holding various roles at brands such as Le Méridien, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and Accor in the US, France, UK, as well as Moroc-

26 MAY 2012

co. Most recently, he worked as director of sales and marketing at The Ritz-Carlton in Dubai. Besides his solid industry background and education, his passion for culture and arts will also be a valuable asset at the hotel, which is scheduled to welcome its first guests this summer.

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Mohammad Zein Mohammad Zein has been appointed director of sales and marketing at Golden Tulip Galleria Hotel, Beirut. Zein started his career with Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, gaining valuable experience within marketing and sales. He later went on to hold various positions with in-

ternational hotel chains, including Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Coral Hotels & Resorts. Zein, who also worked as a consultant for a number of hotels in Lebanon, moves to Golden Tulip Galleria Hotel from Riviera Hotel where he served as director of sales.


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

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Jean-Pierre Simon

Richard Gosling

Regional general manager, Northern Emirates, Coral Hotels & Resorts.

General manager, Corniche Al Buhaira.

“Quality and delivery of the finest resort service is a hallmark of the Coral Beach Resort – Sharjah. While we enjoy an excellent location on one of Sharjah’s finest beaches, it is the warmth of welcome and genuine enjoyment of the work displayed by our team that is often noted in guest reviews, as well as their commitment to guest satisfaction. An occupancy rate averaging 85 percent for 2011 speaks volumes for the viability of the resort.”

“We are delighted to have been recognised as the best [in ‘UAE Northern Emirates for Rate and Inventory Competitiveness category by Expedia]. This award is a significant acknowledgement of our endeavours to solicit valuable business to our hotel and to Sharjah in general. With its numerous attractions, cultural wealth, and unique charm, Sharjah deserves an ever-increasing amount of domestic and international travellers.”

26 MAY 2012


AGENT'S CORNER

AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Sherif Fathi Attia POSITION: President COMPANY: Travelbook LOCATION: Lebanon WEB: www.travelbooklb.com Who are you? My name is Sherif Fathi Attia and I am the president and managing director of Travelbook. I have occupied several executive positions with a number of regional and international organisations, namely; CEO and managing director of Air Cairo and Air Arabia; regional director of International Air Transport Association in the Middle East and North Africa; and several country and regional management positions with KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines. Travelbook is a holidays and destination management company, and additionally we have a corporate travel management division. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It is so dynamic and challenging, and an industry where personalised services and a human touch will always remain a customer need. When is the best time to visit the Lebanon? Lebanon is a four-seasons destination. Even in winter you can enjoy skiing on mountains and simultaneously benefit from the moderate weather on the coast. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to take a Nile cruise in Egypt. It is something I have wanted to do for a long time and have missed it several times. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are simply a serious team with the right approach and structure. We invest time in understanding customers’ needs. We offer value for money products and services, personal care and eye on details, timely response and clear communication, and 24/7 support and advice.

26 MAY 2012

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Global Holidays and Virgin Atlantic Airways Join Hands Global Holidays has signed a general sales agent agreement with Virgin Atlantic Airways for Lebanon, whereby the sales shop of the airline will be functional in Beirut by the end of May. Georges Moussa, chairman, Global Holidays, expressed optimism, regarding the future and positioning of Virgin Atlantic Airways from Lebanon, and confidence paritcularly in the Caribbean region which can be promoted among affluent class and honeymoon seekers. According to Moussa, the Lebanese are known globally for their flamboyant lifestyle and Virgin Atlantic Airways will give them all the avenues and opportunities to experience something new and Georges Moussa different.


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TRAVEL CHANNELS

A Bright Future Ahead According to a consensus of delegates at the first UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Arabian Travel Market (ATM) industry forum, a bright future lies ahead for tourism in the MENA region.

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peaking at the forum, Taleb Rifai secretary general, UNWTO, called the MENA region a ‘tourism success story in the first decade of the 21st century’, with the majority of markets already showing strong rebound following the challenges of the last 12 months. He also shared some insight into the regional situation and gave a positive prognosis for the future. “We are very impressed by the rate of recovery of some of the most affected countries in the region,”

Rifai said. “Countries that were directly affected, like Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Yemen, saw a downturn of 80 to 85 percent as political events unfolded, but minimised their losses considerably in 2011, closing the year down by 25 to 30 percent.”

UNWTO is projecting a seven percent annual growth rate over the next 20 years, with visitor totals hitting 195 million by 2030

While UNWTO statistics recorded the loss of an estimated seven million tourists across the region in 2011, the organisation is projecting a seven percent annual growth rate over the next 20 years, with visitor totals hitting 195 million by 2030, up from 79 million in 2010. The summit, which took place at the ATM, is now set to become an annual fixture that brings together high-ranking officials to seek common goals and benefits from the promotion of travel into the region.

26 MAY 2012


RENDEZVOUS

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Q & A with Peter Henley ONYX Hospitality Group is a leading hotel management company and provides a variety of offerings to the MENA traveller. Speaking to Travel Trade Weekly, Peter Henley, CEO, ONYX Hospitality Group, touches upon the importance of the MENA clientele and how each property provides for every individual guest.

Travel Trade Weekly: How would you summarise the past 12 months? Peter Henley: The ONYX Hospitality Group continues to grow year on year, both in terms of hotels being managed by the ONYX group and the number of guests choosing to stay at our properties. This year will see another four new ONYX properties open their doors to the public, so we expect these trends to continue. Travel Trade Weekly: How important is the Middle East to the group's properties?

Mohamed Al Azzam. Moreover, we have a public relations representative to ensure that we have a constant presence and connection with all in the Middle East at the grass-roots level. Arabic speaking staff and chefs are present at a select number of our properties, and Arabic collaterals and menu selectors are widely available at most of our properties.

Peter Henley CEO, ONYX Hospitality Group

Peter Henley: With visitor numbers from across the Middle East increasing to more than 140,000 in 2011, the Middle East region is a key market for ONYX properties. The figures released for 2011 show the total number of Middle East guests staying at ONYX portfolio properties reached 145,971; an increase of 47 percent when compared to the 99,201 received in 2010. 2011 guest numbers from the UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar have all shown significant growth of 28 percent, 69 percent, and 143 percent respectively when compared to 2010. Travel Trade Weekly: How does the group cater to MENA travellers? Peter Henley: The MENA region ranks within the top five of our guest mix, so much so that for over a year now we have appointed a director of sales exclusively for the development of this market in order strengthen our business ties with Middle East travel partners. Additionally, in 2011 we opened a Middle East regional office in Dubai, which is headed by

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Moreover, at present in Bangkok, we offer serviced accommodation in prime locations such as Amari Residences Bangkok and Amari Residences Sukhumvit, which heavily target Middle Eastern guests, specifically GCC clientele due to the number of medical tourists from these regions seeking treatment. Furthermore, the Amari Residences Sukhumvit is located just off Nana Street, Bangkok's own little ‘Middle East’, which has

also resulted in a large demand from Middle Eastern visitors. Indeed, even the general manager at this property is Arabic speaking. Travel Trade Weekly: What makes ONYX's properties and services unique? Peter Henley: ONYX Hospitality operates four diverse yet complementary hotel brands; Saffron, Amari, Shama, and OZO, each catering to the distinctive requirements of today’s business and leisure travellers. The centrepiece of the ONYX portfolio of brands, Amari, reflects modern hospitality embodying an Asian flair, a modern perspective, and a down-to-earth vibe, while Shama, a leading provider of luxury boutique serviced apartments in Asia, operates a variety of properties across prime commercial and residential districts in gateway cities in the region. OZO offers a fresh take on select services for both business and leisure travellers and its core component of a stay will be the haven of peace within the guestroom, embodied in the OZO promise – SLEEP. DREAM. Travel Trade Weekly: What are the highlights of ONYX's development plans for the remainder year? Peter Henley: Following the launch of Oriental Residence Bangkok in January, which was a significant step towards ONYX’s strategic vision in becoming one of Asia’s leading hospitality providers by 2018, this year will also witness the debut of Amari properties in Doha, Qatar; Dragon Bay on Hainan Island, China; Ludhiana, India; and Hua Hin, Thailand.


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NEWS & EVENTS

The Booming Golf Travel Industry Golf tourism is on the increase, bouncing back from the economic downturn, a new survey by KPMG has revealed. According to the Golf Travel Insights report, 60 percent of golf tour operators experienced an increase in the number of golf breaks booked in 2011, compared to 38 percent in 2010. The survey, published by KPMG’s Golf Advisory Practice, included the feedback of 90 golf tour operators in 35 countries, the majority of which are based in Europe and the results are seen as an indicator of the golf travel industry’s performance and outlook. Spain and Portugal remained the most popular destinations, ahead of the UK and Ireland, while Turkey, as well as Thailand and Vietnam, continued to gain popularity for golf holidays, according to the report. In addition, Italy and Bulgaria, considered upcoming golf travel destinations, also proved increasingly preferred among golf tour operators.

‘Going Green’ is Not Enough Sustainability is no longer an option but an obligation with manifest benefits for the hospitality industry, as it has been brought to the fore by Green Globe Certificate (GGC), at high profile seminars in Dubai such as the Arabian Travel Market and The Hotel Show. Besides outlining the latest trends and the gains of investing in sustainable practices such as better management and more efficient use of existing resources, Bradley Cox, communications director, GGC, noted, “More than 75 per cent of potential hotel guests simply do not believe ‘green’ claims posted on hotel websites. We always hear the slogan ‘going green’ implying the next step towards a better future. Now it is time to ‘be green’. And it is by ‘being green’ when others are ‘going green’ that will give you that competitive edge.”

EVENTS International Luxury Travel Market, Asia (ILTM Asia) Shanghai, China, June 4 – 7, 2012 (www.iltm.net/asia) ILTM Asia showcases the world’s most sought after destinations and ultra-unique travel experiences to the most discerning luxury travel buyers from across the Asia Pacific. International Travel Expo (ITE) Hong Kong, June 14 – 17, 2012 (www.itehk.com) A travel fair with impressive profiles of international exhibitors, buyers, and regional trade visitors. Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) Beijing, China, June 15 – 17, 2012 (www.bitechina.com.cn) A tourism event that showcases destinations, tourism attractions, travel packages, products, and services. The Americas Meetings & Events Exhibitions (AIBTM) Baltimore, US, June 19 – 21, 2012 (www.aibtm.com) A leading exhibition for the meetings and events industry, bringing together professionals from all around the world.

China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (CIBTM) Beijing, China, September 12 – 14, 2012 (www.cibtm.com) China’s leading meetings, incentives, and business travel show providing the ultimate platform for the world’s top suppliers to the MICE industry. Africa Hotel Investment Forum Nairobi, Kenya, September 25 – 26, 2012 (www.africa-conference.com) An event showcasing the potential Kenya and other high-growth destinations across the continent have to offer. PATA Travel Mart Manila, Philippines, September 25 – 28, 2012 (www.pata.org/events/pata-travel-mart-2012) Asia Pacific’s premier travel trade show offering networking and contracting opportunities for hundreds of international buyers and sellers. Asia Pacific Tourism Destination Investment Conference Singapore, October 15 – 17 , 2012 (www.tdiasia.questexevents.net) Consisting of an array of networking opportunities, business meetings, and a thought-provoking conference programme, the event will focus on hotel investments and tourism infrastructure developments.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 133