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31 MARCH 2012


31 MARCH 2012


Pullman Debuts in Marrakech Pullman Marrakech Palmeraie Resort and Spa has welcomed its first guests.

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche has opened its doors, marking Sofitel Luxury Hotel’s entry in the capital city.

10 Emirates to Fly to Washington Starting September, Emirates will launch nonstop services to Washington Dulles International Airport.


02 04 05 09 11 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Sofitel Debuts in Abu Dhabi




Q & A with Simon Stamper By sticking to solid company strategies and staying loyal to InterContinental Hotels Group’s core purpose, Simon Stamper, general manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars, tells Travel Trade Weekly how determination, readiness, flexibility, team-work, and leadership, are some of the keys to success.

Travel Trade Weekly: How well did InterContinental Cairo Citystars perform in 2011 with reference to occupancy levels and reaching its targets? Simon Stamper: In 2011, tourism showed a noteworthy decline because of the political unrest at the beginning of the year but the sector slowly experienced signs of recovery towards the end of the year. Overall, InterContinental Cairo Citystars did very well compared to other hotels, following our solid plans and the company strategy, reallocating our resources to pursue the best possible results, and achieve higher occupancy than forecasted followed by higher average daily rates.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are in the plans for this year with reference to additions, target markets, and overall developments throughout the hotel?

Simon Stamper General manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars

Travel Trade Weekly: Who were your main feeder markets for 2011 in terms of nationality and niche segments? Simon Stamper: Our most popular guests came through our corporate accounts. We launched an ‘extras on us’ campaign providing benefits for our corporate travellers which proved to be a great success. Libyan guests were also one of our most important guests who stayed for long periods at InterContinental Residence Suites, as well as the local market. Travel Trade Weekly: How does InterContinental Cairo Citystars cater to its chief clientele to guarantee them the perfect stay? Simon Stamper: At InterContinental Cairo Citystars, we put our guests at the very heart of everything and we choose our vendors and partners very carefully to ensure that our guests have a perfect experience during their stay.

Simon Stamper: We are adding 42 new luxurious rooms and suites with areas ranging from 40m2 to 240m2 spread over two floors, designed to feel more like an opulent residence than a temporary getaway. All suites will have a Jacuzzi, rain showers, lighting control system through a wireless moveable touch screen, and a fully-stocked mini bar, just to name a few. We have also recently refurbished the Club InterContinental floors and unveiled the hotel’s newest dining addition, 'Al Bustan Grill'. We are also in the process of re-launching ‘The Arcade’ restaurant. Travel Trade Weekly: InterContinental Cairo Citystars is famed for its corporate

social responsibility programme. With regards to this, how well did the hotel do in 2011 and what are in the plans for this year? Simon Stamper: In 2011, InterContinental Cairo Citystars joined forces with Resalet Nour Ala Nour Charity association and visited three underprivileged villages in Sakkara district to distribute bags of basic food supplies during the month of Ramadan. We also held two blood donation campaigns with Resala Charity Organization and the National Center for Blood Donation. The staff also supports the Hope Village Society shelter – which teaches girls to acquire baking skills and to support themselves through micro business, by buying their baked goods on a weekly basis. Moreover, 100 staff members organised a clean-up day for Wadi Degla national protectorate. Travel Trade Weekly: What would your encouraging words of advice be to fellow professionals in the travel industry to survive these difficult times? Simon Stamper: Problems are part of the parcel of life. But as they say, ‘where there is a will there is a way’. We work in a fragile industry and it is important to have the right mindset, be flexible, and always be ready with plan B. When you have a broader vision and unique ideas, you have more tools at your disposal which helps fix the problem better. I have discovered that so long as you ask the right question to the right people, and together with team work, you can get through any challenges with a smile. I am a strong believer that leadership is the key to success through role modelling.

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Abu Dhabi: Double Digit Passenger Volume Growth Abu Dhabi International Airport witnessed double digit passenger traffic increase for the month of February, based on the latest monthly report released by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC).

JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou


SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Brighite Ess 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 EMAILS


29/03/2012 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)



he total number of 1,080,457 passengers represents a robust increase of 24.5 percent over the corresponding month in 2011, marking the eighth consecutive month with over one million passengers passing though the airport. Meanwhile, aircraft movements totalled 9,263, up 3.8 percent. Besides Etihad Airways’ new routes, the arrival of a number of new carriers, including Safi Airways, has also significantly contributed to the increase, highlighted Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operating officer, ADAC. “As Etihad Airways adds new routes to its network and more airlines launch services from the airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport will continue to provide convenient and efficient travel

Abu Dhabi International Airport

choices, along with award-winning worldclass services to all passengers.” Doha topped the list of the most popular routes, gaining 33 percent, leaving Bangkok in second position, followed by Manila, London and Jeddah.

Amadeus: Growing Distribution and IT Solutions Businesses Amadeus Group closed 2011 with strong results as both distribution and IT solutions businesses continued to grow, based on figures released by Amadeus IT Holding, the parent company of the group. Adjusted profit amounted to EUR487.2 million (USD653.3 million), up 20.7 percent, backed by growth in like-for-like revenue of 5.8 percent to EUR2.71 billion (USD3.64 billion) and a 6.4 percent rise in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation to EUR1.04 billion (USD1.39 billion). Luis Maroto, CEO, Amadeus, indicated that with reference to distribution, the global market share of travel agency air bookings increased by 1.0 percentage point and overall total bookings rose five percent, while in IT solutions, the passengers-boarded total grew by 17.9 percent. In addition, Amadeus signed eight content agreements with airlines during the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011, and low-cost carriers continued to be an area of growth for the company, with bookings from travel agencies using Amadeus in Q4 increasing by 19.6 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, Amadeus also continued to improve its hotel content, by signing agreements with Hotel Reservations Service as well as Travelodge.

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WEEKLY NEWS RAK Airways Partners with Excel Travels

We are optimistic that we will meet the increasing demands of travel from the city giving Egyptian expatriates the much needed travel privilege and destinations in the GCC

RAK Airways has appointed Excel Travels as its exclusive general sales agent (GSA) in Cairo to reiterate and increase passenger outbound from the capital to the UAE and the rest of the GCC, complementing the airline's success on its Cairo route, since its launch in 2010. Speaking on the success of the service, Omar Jahameh, CEO, RAK Airways, commented, “We have successfully operated this route for over one year and three months. RAK Airways is now reiterating its position in the Cairo market, by joining hands with a strong GSA in the captial, and we are optimistic that we will meet the increasing demands of travel from the city giving Egyptian expatriates the much needed travel privilege and destinations in the GCC.” Further commenting on the collaboration, George Fawzi, CEO, Excel Travel, noted, “We are proud to partner with RAK Airways and will focus on promoting the airline through three different approaches: our excellent relationship with travel peers in the Egyptian travel industry; aggressive marketing campaigns to promote Ras Al Khaimah, the rising emirate of the UAE; and its prime location adjacent for travel out of Egypt. These are our key unique selling propositions to increase outbound travel from Egypt to the UAE and beyond through travel on RAK Airways. “We have a parallel vision with the airline; we are determined to concentrate on creating the appropriate customer awareness for RAK Airways and to the destination Ras Al Khaimah,” he concluded.

Etihad Airways Partners with Century Travel Etihad Airways has signed a deal with cruise specialist Century Travel, whereby members of the airline’s frequent flyer programme, Etihad Guest, are able to earn points when booking luxury cruises with any of the cruise operators represented by the company. “Etihad Guest is always looking for new and innovative ways for our loyalty programme members to earn or burn Etihad Guest Miles,” Peter Baumgartner, chief operating officer, Etihad Airways, commented. Etihad Guest, which has more than 1.4 million members, rewards travellers for their loyalty with miles, redeemable for more than 2,900 products in the Etihad Airways Reward Shop and convertible to make cash payments. Daniel Essex, CEO, Century Travel, added, “Partnering with Etihad Airways is excellent news for Century Travel as we continue to work to deliver a truly premium cruise experience.”

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Budget Conscious Meetings Planning Since the recent financial downturn, meeting planners and organisations have become much more budget conscious and as a result are tending to choose hotels that can be flexible on rates, according to Hosni Hadi, general manager, Carlton Tower Hotel Dubai, who elaborted, “They want value for money and want charges for equipment, such as audio-visual devices, to be included in the rate.” Hadi further expects demand for the hotel’s meeting space, which includes a large banquet venue divisible into three function rooms, to remain a significant contributor to the total revenue with average daily delegate rate increasing 15 percent over 2011. “Meeting planners and organisations want to make sure that the venue they choose for meetings is somewhere that is accessible to all the delegates and has adequate parking facilities; a major consideration here in Dubai,” added Hadi. “We are fortunate that our location in the heart of Deira is close to the metro with the city’s major attractions and business areas easily accessible.”

Hosni Hadi




Etihad Airways Extends Agreement to airberlin Etihad Airways has announced that it will offer partner airline airberlin a range of benefits from its own billion dollar deal with travel technology provider Sabre Airline Solutions.


nder the agreement, signed between Etihad Airways and Sabre Airline Solutions in December 2011, Etihad Airways gains access to cutting edge, integrated software across its reservations, inventory, marketing, planning, eCommerce, distribution, and departure control operations. Therefore, as part of its strategic equity partnership with airberlin and its approach to identify synergies that could benefit both airlines, Etihad Airways will offer the German carrier access to some of these benefits. Commenting on the collaboration, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “Since we announced our equity partnership with airberlin in December 2011, we have been actively looking for ways the two airlines can work together, and also for benefits each airline already has, which could be extended to the other airline. The deal between Etihad Airways and Sabre is a terrific opportunity for airberlin, and will support their drive for growth.” In addition, working with Sabre Airline Solutions can provide potential benefits which include distribution improvement, joint market share, and preferential partner access to specialised and highly-skilled consulting resources, which could lead to process enhancements across a broad range of business areas. In turn, this could result in better schedule connectivity and inventory control, improved distribution channel mix, more competitive revenue management, and optimised crew utilisation. According to Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO, airberlin, this collaboration is evidence of the wide range of opportunities for enhancing the synergies and optimising cost efficiency within the two airlines. Sam Gilliland, CEO, Sabre Holdings, concluded, “Our primary goal is to provide our airline partners with flexible technology that helps reduce costs and increase revenue and profits.” 31 MARCH 2012



EDMC Launches in the UK Emirates Destination Management Company (EDMC) has opened its headquarters and first international office in the UK, now offering destination management services in the UAE for international corporate clients. “We have strategically located ourselves in the UK to allow us to engage with our clients on a face to face basis,” explained Tim Silvey, director, EDMC. “We are predominately working with European-based corporate, and by placing ourselves in London we have direct access to our market and can offer an extremely personalised service backed up by our UAE expertise and up-tothe-minute knowledge.” Headed by Silvey, who is also the co-founder of the company, alongside its director, Robert Jackson, EDMC boasts a wide range of services, including creation and delivery of bespoke programmes, VIP handling, hotel findings and bookings, transportation logistics, group activities and corporate hospitality, just to name a few.

Monarch of the Seas to Join Pullmantur Royal Caribbean International is set to hand over Monarch of the Seas to its sister cruise brand, Pullmantur, on April 1, 2013. After its last excursion for Royal Caribbean International, which departs on March 29, 2013, Monarch of the Seas will be relocated to Spain to start sailing for Pullmantur. According to Adam Goldstein, CEO, Royal Caribbean International, Monarch of the Seas has delivered great services and outstanding destinations, since her maiden voyage in 1991, creating wonderful travel memories, and will continue do so for Pullmantur’s vacationers. The addition of Monarch of the Seas to Pullmantur is set to increase the total capacity of the Madrid-based cruise and tour operator by nearly 25 percent, to meet the soaring demand for all inclusive-style cruise holidays, and will reinforce it in its Latin American growth strategy.

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Sofitel Debuts in Abu Dhabi

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

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Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche has opened its doors, marking Sofitel Luxury Hotel’s first property in the capital city and second in the UAE. Located at the eastern tip of Abu Dhabi’s corniche, the hotel is ideally situated close to the capital’s business and financial centre, simultaneously offering easy access to the seafront. As part of the new Capital Plaza Complex, it is also within close proximity to an array of favoured tourist attractions. Offering 282 rooms and suites, of which 105 offer access to the Club Millesime Lounge located on the property’s top floors, guests may also enjoy a selection of six food and beverage outlets as well as Sofitel’s first signature So Spa in the GCC region. In addition, the corporate guest can benefit from 10 conference and meeting rooms, amassing some 2,600m2. Moreover, Robert Gaymer-Jones, CEO, Sofitel Worldwide, assures that the establishment’s contemporary design is completely in line with the country’s strategic positioning.





New Website for Meeting Planners Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced the global launch of StarwoodMeetings. com; a new website delivering relevant and comprehensive content for all phases of the meeting planning process. This virtual platform is said to be the result of an extensive research effort that included seeking today’s best practices and interviewing customers to determine how best to bridge Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’ s online resources with on-site services provided by over 1,000 of the hotel group’s properties. offers meeting planners an easy-to-navigate site, with meeting management tools, full property details complete with hotel features, integrated maps with points of interest, photos, and floor plans, on-site meeting services, and a special tool to compare hotels and promotional offers. In addition, the new site also includes information on the hotel group's signature services.

Pullman Debuts in Marrakech Pullman has officially opened its first hotel in Marrakech, namely Pullman Marrakech Palmeraie Resort and Spa, located in the heart of the palm grove, just 30 minutes from the airport. “This hotel, which has been entirely refurbished, is part of our strategy of expansion in the world’s key business and tourism hubs. Our aim is to offer our clientele of seasoned travellers even greater choice,” commented Xavier Louyot, senior vice president, global marketing, Pullman. Boasting 252 keys, including 76 luxury rooms and 16 suites, each with its own balcony or terrace, Pullman Marrakech Palmeraie Resort and Spa offers guests a variety of dining options, a 535m2 congress room, nine meeting rooms, a swimming pool, tennis courts, mini football field, and kids club. Furthermore, a fitness and spa lounge is available , featuring a traditional hammam and a relaxation room, as well as a wide range of treatments.

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Air News

Emirates to Take on Washington Travellers will soon be able to benefit from Emirates’ nonstop link to Washington Dulles International Airport, set to take off on September 12. Commenting on the upcoming route, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Emirates Airline & Group, said, “As Emirates’ seventh US gateway and our third new American route to launch this year, Washington DC is a significant next step as we continue to expand our services across the country. From opening new gateways and creating thousands of US export-related jobs in the country, through our aircraft orders, as well as boosting trade, and bridging the US with key markets across the world, Emirates is a committed supporter of US industry.” Furthermore, John Potter, CEO, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, noted, “The arrival of Emirates to Washington Dulles International Airport will provide an important economic boost by introducing the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to more markets for business, trade, and tourism.”

Royal Jet Improvements Royal Jet has commissioned a USD9 million upgrade for one if its six-strong fleet of Boeing Business Jets (BBJs), said to be the group’s second such aircraft enhancement. Sabena Technics will be Royal Jet carrying out an in-depth cabin refurbishment, livery painting, aircraft maintenance, and a systems upgrade including state-of-the-art inflight entertainment, live TV, SATCOM, Wi-Fi, and global mobile systems set to improve passenger relaxation and connectivity. Commenting on the upgrade, Shane O’Hare, CEO, Royal Jet, said, “Our commitment is to provide our guests with the most luxurious in-flight experience possible and so it’s important that our jet interiors and systems are up to date and of the highest quality. At this end of the market, we must always keep up with customer expectations and offer the very best in cutting-edge technology and luxury in line with the brand promise.” Upon her return to service, this particular BBJ will be the pride of the fleet, according to O’Hare.

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Qatar Airways Expands in Africa Qatar Airways has begun daily flights to Rwanda’s Kigali International Airport, marking the airline’s 17th route in Africa. Commenting on the new service, Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “We are pleased to be reinforcing our presence in Africa with the addition of scheduled flights to Rwanda, allowing us to further expand our business on the African continent. There is clearly demand and huge potential to and from Rwanda, one of many underserved markets across Africa.” Additionally, passengers travelling on Qatar Airways will have convenient access from the airline’s expansive route network to Rwanda, via its strategically positioned Doha hub. Offering the country global exposure is set to lure in more tourists, as Al Baker confirmed, “As a network global carrier we are able to fulfill the needs of the travelling public from such markets and for those wanting to travel there from destinations we serve around the world.”



Gulf Air to Increase Flights to Copenhagen Gulf Air is to increase its Copenhagen frequency from five-weekly flights to daily services, as of June 1, in a bid to accommodate soaring passenger numbers. Samer Majali, CEO, Gulf Air, noted, “We have seen tremendous response from our customers not only from Bahrain, the GCC, Indian subcontinent, and Far East, but also from Denmark and the wider Scandinavian market, which has encouraged us to increase frequency to daily flights. We will also be upgrading the flight capacity to a 110-seater Airbus A320ER from October 1.”

Air News

Etihad Airways Sets Up in Germany On June 1, Berlin will become home to Etihad Airways’ new German headquarters. Commenting on the move, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “Germany is the largest outbound travel market in Europe and a critically important part of our global network so it makes good business sense to be based in the country’s capital. This will also enable us to better leverage the benefits of our strategic partnership with airberlin.” Etihad Airways currently operates 25 flights a week between Germany and Abu Dhabi, serving Munich, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf, where the airline is set to operate its three sales offices.

Bahrain Air Focuses on India Bahrain Air has reinforced its commitment to India by announcing four weekly flights to Thiruvananthapuram, with plans to increase to seven services a week by the summer. Remaining positive for the future regarding the Indian market, Ibrahim Al Hamer, managing director, Bahrain Air, commented, “With the historic milestone of seven flights a week to Thiruvananthapuram, the state of Kerala will constitute 80 percent of Bahrain Air India’s capacity, with 17 flights a week across Kochi, Kozhikode, and Thiruvananthapuram.”

RJ Continues Munich Services Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) has reversed its intention to stop operating to Munich, after the pattern of its operation to Frankfurt and Munich was restudied and the assistance provided by Munich Airport was considered, explained Husseim Dabbas, president, RJ. The carrier’s operation will consist of two Munich frequencies, including one weekly direct flight from Amman and another service combined with the Amman – Frankfurt route. Owing to a significant drop of tourists, mainly from Europe, and soaring fuel prices, RJ had earlier decided to cease operations to five destinations, including Munich, however reserves the chance to resume operations once conditions improve.

Royal Jordanian Airlines

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Air News


Air Seychelles’ Business Plan Air Seychelles has unveiled a two year business plan to establish itself as a premium carrier of choice in the Indian Ocean region and beyond, this according to Cramer Ball, CEO, Air Seychelles.


he new strategy will also open up a potential network of 73 destinations in 49 countries and further see Air Seychelles renew its fleet, take advantage of its equity partner’s, Etihad Airways’, extensive global route network, maximise efficiencies, boost sales opportunities, and launch a scholarship training programme for Seychelles. Moreover, alongside close cooperation with Etihad Airways, the carrier will be identifying economies of scale and synergies in staff training, procurement, and product development, in the coming months. Staff members will have the opportunity to undergo training courses at Etihad Airways Training Academy, Abu Dhabi,

Air Seychelles

where considerable focus will be placed on leveraging the UAE national carrier’s expertise in strengthening Air Seychelles’ overall guest experience and service delivery standards. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “When we partnered with Air Seychelles, we made a commitment to support it’s quest

Lufthansa Expands Connections Lufthansa’s summer timetable, which came into effect on March 25, now includes a total of 216 destinations in 83 countries. “From June onwards, Lufthansa will increase its offer of non-stop connections to more than one thousand take-offs and landings per week, according to Jens Bischof, member, Board of Directors, Lufthansa. In addition, the opening of Germany’s largest airport, Berlin Brandenburg (BER), on June 3, will mark a new chapter for the airline where it will provide 28 new non-stop connections, thus expanding its services to and from the German capital from 11 to 39. Also, flights will be resumed to Shenyang, China, which will continue on to Qingdao, linking the city for the first time to Lufthansa’s route network. Furthermore, strong focus is being placed on connections to popular holiday resorts, with Knock, Ireland; Montpellier, France; Odessa, Ukraine; and Pula, Croatia, being added to its routemap, while 17 new seasonal destinations will be available from Düsseldorf, six from Hamburg, 18 from Munich, and 16 from Frankfurt.

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to emerge as a viable airline offering world class service commensurate with that being offered by Etihad Airways. The business plan we presented, is the tangible result of that commitment and the resulting synergies will bring about significant efficiency benefits for both Etihad Airways and Air Seychelles.”




Jumeirah to Operate Iconic Istanbul Hotel Jumeirah Group is to manage Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul after entering into an agreement with Demsa Group, a leading Turkish company specialising in the luxury and fashion retail industry. The landmark property, considered the longest established luxury address in the Turkish city, having inaugurated in 1892, underwent major refurbishment in 2010. Located in the Beyoğlu district, the 99-room and 16-suite hotel boasts easy access to the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the city’s international airport. Pera Palace Hotel, which is set to join Jumeirah’s collection of luxury properties on May 1, will bring the number of hotels, resorts, and residences currently operated by the group to 19, with Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel and Spa, Kuwait, and Jumeirah Creekside, Dubai, slated to open in the coming months.

Viceroy Hotel Group to Expand in Maldives Viceroy Hotel Group will be adding Viceroy Maldives Resort to its portfolio as of April 2. Located on Vagaru Island, Maldives, the property consists of 61 villas featuring private plunge pools, en-suite baths, and exclusive outdoor areas. Viceroy Maldives Resort will also be offering, among others, five different dining options, a kids’ zone, and over-water spa villas comprising seven treatment suites for individuals or couples. Guests will be able to arrive to the island by seaplane and be transferred to their villas by golf cart. “We look forward to welcoming our clientele to this breathtaking resort,” indicated Nicholas Clayton, president, Viceroy Hotel Group.

The 8 Point Promise The rooms of the Super 8 brand under the Wyndham Hotel Group family, in Europe and the Middle East, have been redesigned under a new modern concept. Using modular construction, this new model combines simplicity with comfort, guaranteeing the modern day traveller the ‘8 Point Promise’, which comprises, free in-room high-speed Internet access; free SuperStart continental breakfast; free stays for kids who share an adult family member’s room; cable or satellite TV with free premium channels; best available rates on the hotel’s website; and access to Wyndham Rewards, the group's loyalty programme.

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Fady Sawaya Fady Sawaya has been appointed general manager of Crowne Plaza Beirut. Having joined InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in 1996 as assistant banquet manager of InterContinental Hotel, Riyadh, he has been with the company for 16 years. During his tenure with IHG, he has held a number of significant positions at

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various properties, including InterContinental Phoenicia, Beirut, followed by InterContinental Hotel Abu Dhabi, which led him to his most recent position as hotel manager for Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island. At his first general manager role at Crowne Plaza Beirut, he will lead the hotel’s team.


Mayda Solatre Mayda Solatre has been promoted to director of sales and marketing at Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman. Solatre, who brings with her more than a decade of experience, joined the property in 2010 as assistant sales manager. She initially started in the industry as a waitress, working her way up to receptionist, reser-

vations officer, and sales coordinator at Coral International Group before moving to Ramada Hotel & Suites Ajman. In her new position, she will be implementing and maximising the property’s sales and marketing objectives and strategies, and promoting the brand to new and emerging markets.


travel talk is your space


Mohamed Ali Al Noman

Betsy O’Rourke

Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).

Senior vice president, marketing, Royal Caribbean International.

“We have to keep our knowledge base current and continuously invest in it, if we are to meet the challenges of the next decade. Sharjah is operating in an increasingly competitive international market place and I firmly believe that this new development with the American University of Sharjah [to offer a new innovative course in tourism management to senior SCTDA employees] will enable us to professionally capitalise on international opportunities as they present themselves to us.”

“[With Royal Caribbean’s newly launched global brand campaign ’The Sea is Calling‘] we are tapping into the sea’s powerful, emotional force, to reframe the context of cruising for consumers who do not understand what a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation offers. We want vacationers everywhere to know that Royal Caribbean’s distinctive and innovative ships, personal service, and breadth of destination experiences, is how we 'Answer it with Royal Caribbean’.”

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AGENT'S INSIGHT NAME: Claire Careil POSITION: General manager COMPANY: Razan Travel LOCATION: Oman WEB: Who are you? I am the general manager of Razan Travel in Oman. A strong love for the beautiful country resulted in a natural choice to live and work here to promote this amazing destination. I joined the company after having gained seven years experience in both the UAE and Oman. What is your favourite thing about working in this industry? I think I especially love working in the travel industry because of the diversity of the work and the variety of contacts made with people of various nationalities, backgrounds, and so on. When is the best time to visit the Oman? The best time to travel is between October and April. For those that are less bothered by the heat, during the summer months is also a great time to come to Oman. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? I would like to try out the ski options in Lebanon. With the numerous flight options to Lebanon, a few days skiing there would be easy to plan. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Razan Travel is a very dynamic and energetic company, as we are dedicated to give our full attention to the requests of our partners.

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Sabre Serves the Middle East Sabre Travel Network Middle East has announced the launch of an online booking engine in conjunction with UK-based Billian IT Solutions, set to provide agencies in the Middle East and Africa with advanced online website capabilities. Including features such as quick search, calendar shopping, branding options, and access to the company’s popular low-fare search Bargain Finder Max, the result is a modern website offering consumers the opportunity to view realtime fares, thus allowing them to book flights, hotels, and car hire. Darren Wickham, managing director, Sabre Holdings, commented, “Online travel accounts for around one fifth of all travel bookings in the EMEA, and is forecast to grow to a quarter of all bookings in the next four years. Travel agencies, who want to increase revenue, need to have a clear online strategy and the technology to convert online shoppers into bookers. We have done the hard work and developed the Sabre web booking engine with Arabic language support specifically for Middle East agencies, highlighting the commitment we have to serve this region.”



Meeting Organisers Eye MENA Region The MENA region is expected to play host to an increasing number of high-profile conferences and exhibitions in the coming months, as a Global Meetings Industry Research report for the Gulf, Middle East and North Africa, launched at the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings exhibition, revealed.


rawn out of a survey of 1,063 buyer-respondents, 143 of whom are based in the Middle East, the result of the report indicates that 48.2 percent of the Middle East buyers and 47.2 percent of global buyers organised more events in the past 12 months, when compared to the corresponding period during 2010/2011, and this number is set to further increase in the coming months, according to the respondents. Based on the report, the UAE (Abu Dhabi

and Dubai) topped the list for Middle East buyers over the past 12 months, followed by Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, Jordan, India and Malaysia. For global buyers, the top ten countries included the UAE, US, China, Italy, France, UK, Spain, India, and Germany. For the next 12 months, buyers from the region predict significant growth in India, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, France, Japan, and the UK, while global buyers are expecting further

improvement in India, US, Singapore, Thailand, Italy, UK, France, China, Germany, and Macau. According to the recent report, the leading industry sectors for MENA events include oil and gas; pharmaceutical; finance and banking; training and education; electronics and communications; construction and engineering; hospitality; food and tobacco; IT and computing; manufacturing; transport; furthermore retail, automotive and cosmetics.

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Q & A with Nigel Johnson With UAE airlines rapidly spreading their wings all over the globe, luring an increasing number of businessmen and holidaymakers alike to the emirates, car rental has evolved into a burgeoning business. Nigel Johnson, managing director, Hertz UAE, talks about the company and the sector’s continuous development.

Travel Trade Weekly: How did Hertz UAE perform in 2011 amid the ongoing unrest in parts of the region? Nigel Johnson: Overall in 2011, we saw a big increase in short rental bookings and in monthly rental bookings. A good deal of this can be attributed to the upheavals in the Middle East which led to business people relocating to Dubai or setting up regional head offices here. In addition, we were also able to take market share from competitors so it was a very good year for us. During the year we made a major investment in the people of our business through the implementation of both employee- and customer-engagement programmes. This is part of a major culture change in the way that we both engage and incentivise people, and the results have been very encouraging. Naturally, this is something we will be building on in the current year and in the years ahead. Travel Trade Weekly: How has your fleet developed over the past months? Nigel Johnson: We now operate from 15 locations across the UAE and have one of the largest, and youngest, short term hire fleets in the country, with full national coverage, consisting of a range of compact, medium-sized cars, as well as a variety of vans, mini buses, and coaches. Hertz UAE rotates its rental fleet of vehicles every 12 months to ensure customers receive new, reliable vehicles, with each rental a commitment particularly attractive to business travellers. In addition, all Hertz vehicles are fully

31 MARCH 2012

Nigel Johnson Managing director, Hertz UAE

insured and undergo a 40-point quality check-up prior to handover, and customers can also rely on the Hertz 24-hour back up service breakdown cover which includes a replacement vehicle, full maintenance and repair, and around the clock roadside assistance. Travel Trade Weekly: What were the company’s highlights throughout 2011? Nigel Johnson: Our highlights included the launch of the Hertz #1 Club Gold service programme at our locations at Abu Dhabi International Airport and Dubai International Airport in a move to provide travellers with the quickest possible service. The Hertz #1 Club Gold service at both airports offer customers exclusive benefits including faster reservations, a speedy vehicle pick up process, and VIP treatment every time they

rent a Hertz car. Club Gold members flying into Abu Dhabi and Dubai need only to produce their driver’s license to process their reservation before going straight to their vehicle, which is parked in a designated ‘gold’ parking area near the counter. We were proud to be the first car rental company in the Middle East to introduce a loyalty programme of this kind in the region. We also lead in terms of overall brand awareness, as emphasised by the fact that for the third consecutive year in 2011, Hertz UAE was recognised as a Superbrand by a panel of top UAE business leaders and more than 2,500 marketing professionals following a rigorous selection process. Our receipt of this prestigious award for a third year in succession, recognises our continuous efforts to provide exceptional customer service, and this is a key factor behind our market leading position. Travel Trade Weekly: What are your plans and expectations for this year? Nigel Johnson: We have ambitious targets in the corporate sector and will add around 4,000 vehicles to our fleet this year to serve these customers. We are seeing a big increase in the demand for our chauffeur services, a lot of which comes from hotels, showing signs of tourism market recovery. Another increase is being witnessed in the events management sector, and these will continue to rise in the current year. We are also very active in the areas of corporate and social responsibility and will be looking to do even more this year for local communities across the UAE.



Sharjah Eyes Russian and CIS Markets Sharjah’s popularity in the Russian and CIS markets has grown exponentially over the past few years, with nearly 400,000 travellers visiting the emirate from these nations in 2011. Based on Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority’s (SCTDA) data, every year more than 200,000 Russian travellers head to the emirate, making the country the largest single tourism market for Sharjah. Moreover, the emirate welcomed a total of 397,606 tourists from Russia and the CIS in 2011, representing a sharp 14 percent year-on-year increase and forming the biggest chunk of Sharjah’s tourist arrivals. According to H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Noman, chairman, SCTDA, the authority is pursuing a well thought out strategy to build on its strengths and the growing Russian and CIS interest in the emirate.

ATM Promotes Middle East Cruise Tourism The upcoming Arabian Travel Market will be featuring a pavilion dedicated to cruise tourism, introducing regional port operators, tourism service providers, and international cruise lines, both onshore and offshore. Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises have already booked their spots, showing serious regional commitment. Meanwhile, heavy investments are being placed to develop this sector across the region, as major cruise projects progress rapidly, such as the upcoming USD5.5 billion cruise ship terminal, scheduled to open soon in Doha. Jordan is also slated to welcome a USD10 billion marina community in Marsa Zayed, Aqaba, in 2017, which will provide 300 yacht berths and a cruise ship terminal, while Mina Qaboos, Oman, is soon to be transformed into a dedicated cruise port.

EVENTS Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM) Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, April 2 – 5, 2012 ( An event that covers all travel and tourism investment aspects in a combined conference and exhibition.

GTM Germany Travel Mart (GTM) Leipzig, Germany, May 13 – 15, 2012 ( The largest incoming workshop in Germany where German providers can meet key buyers from the international travel industry.

China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market (COTTM) Beijing, China, April 18 – 20, 2012 ( A business-to-business exhibition, which provides a platform for international tourism boards and travel services.

The Hotel Show Dubai, UAE, May 15 – 17, 2012 ( An exhibition providing a unique networking and sourcing platform within the region with over 14,800 professionals.

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Dubai, UAE, April 28 – 30, 2012 ( Bringing together regional leaders, this event includes discussions of key topics and challenges of the coming months.

IMEX Frankfurt, Germany, May 22 – 24, 2012 ( The show where the global meetings industry continues to do business while maximising connections and networking opportunities.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Dubai, UAE, April 30 – May 2, 2012 ( An event which unlocks business potential for tourism professionals, where worlwide destinations showcase their range of tourism products.

International Travel Expo (ITE) Hong Kong, June 14 – 17, 2012 ( A travel fair with impressive profiles of international exhibitors, buyers, and regional trade visitors.

31 MARCH 2012

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 125  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 125  

Travel Trade Weekly is a leading news provider for travel industry professionals in the Middle East and North Africa, delivered every Saturd...

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