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DECEMBER 2012

ISSUE 38

EXCLUSIVE: CRUISING With global cruise passenger numbers forecast to hit 30 million by 2023, cruise tourism is considered one of the fastest growing sectors of the world’s travel industry.

Tourism in Egypt is not just one of the main economic driving forces. It is ‘the’ industry responsible for millions of jobs across the country, the nation’s socio-economic development, and its international image.

04 INVESTIGATION: SPA TOURISM Spa, a word which whispers tranquillity to the ears of people and triggers a sense of serenity to one’s very core, is a sector which has long claimed its permanence within the global tourism industry.

20 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Cruising VISIT: Egypt EXPLORE: Yemen ONSITE: Vietnam TOUR: Brunei LONG-HAUL: Senegal TRAVEL TALK TRAVEL CHANNELS INVESTIGATION: Spa Tourism WHO’S MOVED RENDEZVOUS NEWS & EVENTS

02 04 06 12 14 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24

VISIT: Egypt

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MARKET UPDATE

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi mary@traveltradeweekly.travel JOURNALISTS Stefanie Saghbini Rita Kasziba Dominique Christou Maria Kazeli

Air Arabia Beats Analysts’ Forecasts Air Arabia has closed the third quarter (Q3) of the year with a net profit of AED226 million (USD61.5 million), marking a year-on-year increase of 126 percent.

SALES & MARKETING Maria Demetriadou Derek Lainsbury 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 PRINTED IN CYPRUS Cyprint Plc P.O. Box 58300, CY-3732, Limassol, Cyprus Tel: +357 25 720035, Fax: +357 25 720123 Email: info@cyprint.com.cy

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eating analysts’ forecasts, the low-cost carrier’s turnover reached AED836 million (USD227.6 million), up 19 percent over the corresponding period in 2011, as a result of the airline’s strong business model, excellent cost control margins, and its prudent growth strategy, as Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, noted. “The sustained profitability and solid growth margins signal that Air Arabia is on a steady growth trajectory. The extremely positive financials further validates our concerted efforts to unlock opportunities for the low-cost model, which is pioneered by Air Arabia in the wider Arab region, while continuously making air travel accessible to millions of customers every year,” he further commented. During Q3, a total of 1,368,728 passengers travelled with the carrier, bringing average load factors to 82 percent and the year-to-date figure to over 3.9

Air Arabia

million. The airline’s net profit for the nine-month period stood at AED342 million (USD93 million), up 75 percent, while its turnover totalled AED2.19 billion, a year-on-year growth of 21 percent.

MENA EXCHANGE RATES Accurate as of

25/11/2012 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar

COUNTRY

CURRENCY

1USD=

UAE (AED)

Dirham

3.67

Egypt (EGP)

Pound

6.10

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

70.70

Kuwait (KWD)

Dinar

0.28

Qatar (QAR)

Riyal

3.64

Oman (OMR)

Rial

0.38

Tunisia (TND)

Dinar

1.57

Morocco (MAD)

Dirham

8.58

Iran (IRR)

Riyal

12,284.00

Yemen (YER)

Rial

214.72

Algeria (DZD)

Dinar

79.67

Libya (LYD)

Dinar

1.29

Emirates: Net Profit Doubles Emirates posted a net profit of AED1.7 billion (USD464 million) for the first half of the 2012-13 fiscal year ending September 30, marking a year-on-year increase of 104 percent. During the six-month period, the airline achieved strong business growth; capacity measured in available seat km rose 17.3 percent, whilst passenger traffic carried measured in revenue passengers km climbed 17.8 percent with passenger seat factor sustained at a high level, averaging at 80 percent. Commenting on the results, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, The Emirates Group, “Emirates remained focused on its growth and global expansion despite on-going fluctuating exchange rates and ever lingering high fuel prices which accounted for 39 percent of our expenditures, down two percentage points from [the 2011/2012 fiscal year].” Al Maktoum further noted that despite the instability in the market, which has put Emirates to the test, the airline has once again risen to the challenge. Speaking about the group’s performance, which posted a net profit of AED2.1 billion (USD575 million), up 68 percent, he added, “The Emirates Group half-year performance is the result of hard work and our drive to stay on course and continue to grow despite the precarious marketplace. We have continued to invest in the infrastructure of both Emirates and dnata and it continues to pay off.” Emirates

DECEMBER 2012


W O R L D W I D E LO C AT I O N S

:

AFRICA

ASIA

EUROPE

L AT I N A M E R I C A

MIDDLE EAST

NORTH AMERICA

Taking Luxury to new heights. Now open, this landmark hotel is set to become one of the region’s most desirable destinations, offering a spectrum of business facilities for the most discerning travellers. Elevated above Dubai’s skyline, on Sheikh Zayed Road, this landmark hotel spreads across two iconic towers, featuring an enticing array of 4 bars and 9 restaurants, 2 magnificent ballrooms and the sublime Saray Spa and Health Club. Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay PO Box 121000 Dubai, United Arab Emirates T +971 4 414 0000 F +971 4 414 0001 jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com jwmarquis.dubai@marriott.com


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EXCLUSIVE

Cruising

Sailing the Wave of Growth With global cruise passenger numbers forecast to hit 30 million by 2023, cruise tourism is considered one of the fastest growing sectors of the world’s travel industry, and the region’s governments and tourism bodies are certainly on board to ride the wave of this booming sector.

Serenade of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

 Rita Kasziba writes

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espite the tumultuous beginning to the year and the fluctuating oil prices, cruise tourism remains on the growth trajectory with new ships continuously being commissioned and passenger numbers soaring at an accelerated pace. Demonstrating the industry’s resilience, in 2011, global cruise passenger volume exceeded the 20 million mark for the first time, as shown in data compiled by the Cruise Lines International Association and the Passenger Shipping Association, making cruising a key growth segment and one which has the potential to bring extensive benefits to not only a single destination but to a whole region. “Cruise travel continues to outstrip other forms of recreational travel, especially in economic downturns; it has a strong value advantage that is attractive to those who wish to travel,” Bruce Good, director of public relations, Seabourn Cruise Line, pointed out. Cruising is growing at a tremendous rate, particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East region, where, as Vicky Lewis, managing director, Century Travel, explained, people are increasingly looking for ease of travel and great value for their money without compromising on the experience. Lubna Dahlan, outgoing manager, Dahlan Tours and Travel, Jordan, added, “People loved the idea of sailing with their home to many destinations in just a short time and being entertained all the time; it is value for money for them.” Francis Riley, vice president, international, Norwegian Cruise Line, also attributed the sector’s fastpaced growth to its value for money aspect, adding that the Middle East and Africa region is a fast growing market for the cruise line. “There is generally a great interest in the region and as these countries are

progressively becoming more politically stable, there is a possibility that North Africa may be featured more prominently,” he revealed. With travellers increasingly looking for new destinations and experiences off the beaten path, the region is gradually gaining prominence on the global scene, as Nathan Philpot, director of sales and marketing, Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, indicated, “Today’s cruise customers are increasingly more open-minded and have a desire to experience and discover the exotic and unusual. We have often found that, by adding ports from North and West Africa, such as Tangier, Casablanca, or Dakar, we are able to enhance and outsell a traditional Canary Island cruise itinerary.” Sharing similar views, Chris Hayman, chairman, Seatrade, added, “International cruise liners are looking for new destinations away from the traditional Caribbean and Mediterranean itineraries, and with its location between Asia and Europe, the Arabian Gulf is ideally positioned to capitalise on this requirement for the new and the exotic.” BRIDGING THE GAP In fact, the Middle East has long been a strategic hub for travel and trade, and as these oil rich nations actively seek ways to diversify their economies, cruise tourism is increasingly seen as a key pillar in the region’s governmental strategies, thus substantial amounts are being invested into new terminals, associated infrastructure, and marketing initiatives. Qatar has been heavily investing in its infrastructure, with a USD5.5 billion cruise ship terminal planned to be built in Doha, while in the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba, a USD10 billion marina is set to give a major boost to the cruise sector. In Lebanon, Abou Merhi Cruises this year launched its second vessel, Orient Queen II. The seven-day cruises onboard this ship have fast proven popular, as Hana Abou Mer-

hi, general manager, Abou Merhi Cruises, explained, shedding light on the great significance of such initiatives. “Orient Queen II has been aimed for the wellfair of the country before any commercial aims. […] Our next season will start in April 2013, and we are working on all the necessary preparations to have a successful season,” Abou Merhi said, further expressing his confidence in the sector’s future prospects in Lebanon. In Oman, following a 72 percent surge in cruise passenger volume during the 2010/11 season, with the number reaching 231,000, Mina Qaboos is to be transformed into a dedicated cruise terminal in a bid to accommodate to the anticipated demand which is projected to rise to 300 calls and 600,000 passengers by 2030. Meanwhile, Bahrain, where over 70,000 cruise passengers are expected during the season, is in the process to formulate a collective strategy aimed at enhancing the Kingdom’s position as an international cruise liner hub, while in Saudi Arabia, a USD27 million cruise and leisure vessel terminal is to be built at Yanbu Commercial Port. In the UAE, Dubai has witnessed substantial development since the opening of the first cruise terminal in 2011, and after receiving 135 vessels and 396,000 passengers in 2011, the emirate has now set the goal of welcoming 150 vessels and 425,000 travellers this year, and 180 ships and 625,000 passengers by 2015. Sharjah is also bound to experience another prosperous season with 40 international luxury cruise liners expected to call at Khorfakkan port, bringing some 130,000 passengers to the emirate; an increase of nearly 50 percent over previous figures. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is anticipating to see 88 vessels, with some 180,000 passengers, calling at Mina Zayed port during the current season, up from just 29 arrivals and 35,000 tourists in the 2006/2007 season, leaving the UAE capital on track to achieve its goal of 100 vessels and 250,000 passengers by 2014/15, and the prospect of cruise passengers entering the country on a multi-entry visa is set to give a major boost to the sector. “This new visa rule will provide opportunities for passengers to return and experience more of Abu Dhabi and has the potential to attract new cruise pasDECEMBER 2012


Cruising sengers from strong emerging markets such as Russia, China and India,” noted Noura Al Dhaheri, leisure product development manager, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES Visa regulations have long hampered the sector’s growth in the region, as Fabiana Maeran, sales and product development director, Mediterranean, new markets, India, Africa, and the Middle East, Costa Crociere, highlighted. “The main challenge in these regions is especially related to visa issues. Having to buy at least three visas to be able to sail on a cruise becomes very costly, very time consuming, and a limit to the growth of the region.” Achille Staiano, corporate commercial manager, MSC Cruises, concurred, that the region, and the UAE in particular, has great potential as a destination for cruise calls. “The growth of the cruise industry in recent years combined with the region’s commitment to encouraging future growth are significant evidence of such,” he stressed, noting that for the longterm success of cruising in the region, new ports of call need to be developed, terminal facilities must be upgraded, and there must be an increased focus on sourcing from local and regional markets. MSC Cruises continues to serve the MENA region, with calls in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, and Staiano expressed his hopes that the cruise company will soon return to the Arabian Gulf, following its suspension of routes to/from Abu Dhabi. “When the developments we suggested are implemented, MSC Cruises is confident that the region will maximise its potential and that many more cruise passengers will discover this truly unique destination.” Praising the region’s overall commitment to its continuous development, Hansjörg Kunze, vice president, public relations and communications, AIDA Cruises, said, “AIDA has been operating in the Arabian Gulf since 2006. Therefore we can say that the region has constantly improved its services and facilities and has set up standards that are in line with the worldwide cruise industry, such as good infrastructure and air connectivity.” The developments have paid rich dividends, as Najeeb Mithvani, second assistant vice president, Star Cruises, clarified. “Cruising itself has seen a double digit growth year-on-year in the region, it has been gaining a lot of popularity. [...] The passenger thinking that cruising was an expensive affair and only for the rich and famous is now diminishing and we see a growth in passenger numbers from all segment of the society.” Along parallel lines, Thomas Harrison, director of sales, Nordic, Benelux, South Africa and Middle East, Silversea Cruises, who described the MENA region as an important market for the company, added, “We are servicing more and more demand from travel professionals and individual customers in the region.” Lakshmi Durai, executive director, Middle East, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises, shared similar sentiments, commending DECEMBER 2012

Belevari Marine catamaran

the region’s unique ambience in luring in tourists from all over the world. “Destinations that feature in Serenade of the Seas’ itinerary, such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Muscat, have a lot to offer to cruise enthusiasts. [...] We have guests from all over the world sailing on our cruise ships. The volume of guests from the UK, Germany, and other mainland European countries such as Belgium and Netherlands, is increasing. The interest from Australia, China, and other Asian countries and the US is continuing as well.” Likewise, over the past few years, yachting has also significantly grown in popularity in the region, as Piers LunnonWood, brokerage manager, Belevari Marine, highlighted, “We have grown 100 percent year-on-year since our conception in 2009. We have recently purchased a catamaran and are now the top cruising company in the UAE.” He further praised the company’s tailor-made packages which have fast become popular among both individual travellers and companies. “In the future Belevari Marine hopes to own more catamarans and eventually have a larger team of managers focusing on the different sectors of marine business. […] Our aim is to generate a more open

EXCLUSIVE

5

approach to sailing and offer people the chance to enjoy the waters of Abu Dhabi while imparting some knowledge of how sailing boats work.” With its exceptional growth rate, cruising has become one of the catalysts of the region’s tourism industry, boosting tourism expenditure significantly and, in turn, benefitting a variety of associated companies, including those which provide services on board, such as Cruiseinc, a third party supplier of caterings services on (river) cruise vessels and yachts. “We make sure that the vessel is regularly supplied so that the guest aboard will have an unforgettable experience,” commented Gerard de Graaf, CEO, Cruiseinc. “Our river clients mainly sail on the Rhine, Danube, and Elba in Europe. For the seagoing vessels, it depends on the wishes of the guests as these vessels sail everywhere around the planet,” he further revealed. With regards to super yachts, which are normally found in the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Caribbean, the Middle East, in particular, is a highly important area, according to de Graaf. “For 2013, we expect to welcome more guests on board yachts, river, and seagoing cruise vessels despite the economic downturn. As a company, we strive for perfection and customer friendliness. In the end, the one thing that counts is a happy guest who we hope to welcome again on board,” he concluded. 


6

VISIT

Egypt

NATIONAL PRIDE,

NATIONAL PRIORITY Tourism in Egypt is not just one of the main economic driving forces. It is ‘the’ industry responsible for millions of jobs across the country, the nation’s socio-economic development, and its international image. Tourism in Egypt is a national priority and a matter of national pride. Sphinxes

Red Sea

EGYPT IN BRIEF

 Rita Kasziba writes

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n 2010, 14 million international travellers enjoyed Egyptian hospitality, generating USD13 billion in revenue and accounting for 11.5 percent of the country’s GDP, as data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism has shown. In 2011, however, events took a dramatic turn, sending figures into freefall, resulting in a 32 percent drop in visitor volume. Nevertheless, the industry’s strength and resilience alongside the international community’s deep-rooted confidence in the nation have been verified through the healthy rise in figures being witnessed since the beginning of the year. “When we go back to Egyptian history, we can easily see that over the years Egypt suffered many times from ups and downs, but in the end, it has always succeeded to turn each deterioration to improvement and success,” Ahmed Diab, director of sales and marketing, Radisson Blu Hotel, Alexandria. Amr Badr, managing director, Egypt and the Middle East, Abercrombie & Kent, described the current

Capital: Cairo Currency: Egyptian Pound (EGP) year as an intense period for the travel business in the country, with its ups and downs. “This year witnessed a number of events; some of them very tragic and some of them with important steps leading us towards Egypt’s future as a peaceful, democratic state. However, the destination remains resilient and popular in the international tourism market. […] Egypt, as a destination, will never wane nor fade. If anything, it may suffer from time to time but the recovery is always guaranteed.” Over the past months, visitor volumes have risen sharply, totalling, for the period between January to September, 8,287,872 versus 6,895,083 in the corresponding months in 2011, as statistics released by the Egyptian Tourist Authority (ETA) have revealed. Accordingly, hotel performance indicators across the country have been showing ongoing signs of recovery with occupancy rates in Cairo reaching 55.4 percent in September, according to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats survey, which also revealed that both the cor-

Language: Arabic

porate and leisure sectors seem to have restored their confidence in the destination, a progress, which Nihal Zamzam, marketing communications and public relations manager, Le Méridien Heliopolis, described as a ‘rocky road’ with results picking up. Speaking about the primary drivers behind the recent gains, Simon Stamper, area general manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars, said, “After the presidential elections, there was a certain amount of stability and it has been really good to be able to see things slowly return to normality. We have seen a noteworthy growth versus 2011 [and] the hotel industry showed signs of recovery as well.” Lars Geweyer, resort general manager, Steigenberger Al Dau Resort, reported similar positive results with hotel occupancy year-to-date averaging at 80 DECEMBER 2012


Egypt percent and the number of repeat guests surging significantly. “Our performance is not yet as stable as it was prior the revolution but we are definitely on the right track,” he said, emphasising that Egypt is a destination which cannot be replaced with any other. Describing the figures as positive indicators of the country’s long-awaited recovery, Noha Mansour, director of marketing and public relations, Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, Cairo, added, “This appears to be a promising year for Egypt’s struggling tourism industry. [The hotel] has progressed slowly, and the occupancy rate increased five percent in average versus 2011.” Praising the people of Cairo’s strength and revealing the shifting patterns in the capital city’s hotel sector, Eman Yasaky, director of public relations, Kempinski Nile Hotel, said, “While travellers were rescheduling their trips, hotels relied on local business to bolster revenues. Kempinski Nile Hotel has become the centre of Cairo’s social scene, hosting monthly art exhibitions, as well as Habanos Cigar Nights, which draw a loyal crowd of ambassadors, bankers, and business and community leaders. A lobby that is full of life in the evenings is a great boost of confidence for our out-of-town guests and helps to build confidence in the destination as a whole as well as a hotel located so close to Tahrir Square.” Nevine Nader, director of public relations and communications, Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis, further noted, “This year in general has been better compared to 2011, although Cairo was affected due to the situation in Egypt. [The capital’s] business is mainly generated though business travellers, while some resorts were performing well due to rate decrease.” Sharing similar views, Magdi Gamil, director of sales and marketing, Fairmont Nile City, added, “The increase [in the country’s overall results] mainly came from the demand on the safe resorts, such as Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, or Luxor, supported by reinstating of charter flights from key destinations including Eastern Europe and Russia.” Consequently, performance metrics across the country have shown a great contrast, explained Fathy Abaza, regional director of sales and marketing, Azur Hotels & Resorts. “Our hotels differ from destination to destination. While in Alexandria [performance] was great, in Hurghada there was a minor decrease, in Marsa Alam some increase, and in Lahmy Bay we witnessed big decrease from 2011.”

hind the destination’s success are its safe image and sunny weather, tourists transferring a positive image upon their return to the country, the choice of Egypt as partner country of this year’s ITB Berlin, and the extended promotional rates which have, in turn, given a major boost to the occupancy levels. “At Royal Savoy Sharm El Sheikh, the occupancy is between 60 and 70 percent year-to-date,” she revealed. In general, the country’s traditional holiday destinations have witnessed significant improvements, Ahmed El Meligui, director of sales and marketing, Marriott Red Sea Resorts Egypt, also noted, placing reference to all three of the company’s Red Sea properties having witnessed robust increases in guest volumes. “Sharm El Sheikh has seen a rise in tourism levels overall and Hurghada continued to be a popular destination for the Russian and Egyptian market. [...] There is now an increased sense of security and travellers’ confidence has continued to grow since theappointment of the new president. Taba has also seen encouraging news with the reopening of the Taba Height Marina, connecting Egypt and Jordan, allowing more flow through from countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia,” he commented. Adapting to the shifting market conditions has been crucial, reiterated Amer Barakat, director of

DECEMBER 2012

7

operations, Xperience Hospitality Management, a new brand which currently manages three resorts in Sharm El Sheikh, namely Xperience Sea Breeze Resort, Xperience Kiroseiz Parkland and Xperience St. George Homestay. “The company has dealt with so many challenges and difficulties during 2011 like the whole Egyptian tourism industry trying to maintain its level and standards and it has actually succeeded in accomplishing that by changing its strategies to stay in acquaintance with the Egyptian tourism industry’s situation and customised rates accordingly with and efficient, personalised, hassle-free with guest recognition as a key and a ‘can do’ attitude,” Barakat continued. Similarly, Sherine Emara, marketing and communications manager, La Residence des Cascades Golf, Spa & Thalasso Resort, Soma Bay, Red Sea, reported a 10 - 20 percent increase versus 2011, emphasising that these results are yet to reach 2010 levels. “We are working on different special offers to all markets and attending most of the international fairs to expand the geography of our clientele,” revealed Emara, adding that currently the German market represents the property’s main source market, with the local market and Eastern Europe also holding great potential.

QUANTITY VS. QUALITY

BACK ON TRACK As a matter of fact, the country’s popular resort destinations have bounced back at a much faster pace, with occupancy levels towering by nearly 20 percent over that of Cairo, albeit with the sector having been forced to compromise on fees thus diminishing profit margins. “Seeing that the Red Sea area was to no extent influenced by the revolution, the demand was still there and airlines increased their flight capacities again,” Geweyer pointed out. According to Nevine Adel, marketing department, Savoy Sharm El Sheikh Hotel, the main elements be-

VISIT

Red Sea

If Egypt is to restore not only its visitor numbers but also tourism expenditure, broadening the country’s clientele base and its appeal beyond mass tourism is of great importance, Tarek Mousa, CEO, Egypt and Beyond Travel, explained, pointing out that ‘classic tourism’ is yet to come into full swing. “Tourist volume visiting historical sites in Egypt is down by more than 70 percent for this season. Resort tourism is satisfactory, but this is not the type of tourism that brings profits to the industry,” he clarified, indicating that budget-conscious holidaymakers opting for inexpensive packages are unlikely to spend large amounts in the country. “The classic tourism for travellers visiting the Pyramids and doing cruises on the Nile; this is what makes Egypt different from any other tourist destination, not just the beach resort holidays which many other countries also offer.” 


8

VISIT

Remarking on the shifting trends, Badr added, “Our main feeder markets are Americans and Europeans; these are a great clientele although we have seen a change in travel patterns, most notably a shortening in lead time for bookings, an increase in last minute booking, shorter stays, and price comparisons looking at competitive offers to get the best value for money.” In a quest to attract high-value tourists, the country is intensively looking to tap into new markets, as Riham Wahid, director, international public relations department, ETA, explained, “The main markets for Egypt are Russia, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and among the Arab countries, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait. According to the Egyptian Tourism Ministry’s strategy, we are going to attract new markets that have potentiality like for example, China, Turkey, South and Central America, and Japan.” The promotional activities have already started paying off, noted Diab. “In general, Egypt is now facing high demand from Japan, especially after Tutankhamen exhibitions that were recently organised by the Ministry of Tourism in Osaka. As well as the Eastern Europe market in general, and especially Russia and Poland.” Also commenting on the anticipated increase in the markets targeted, mainly attributed to the increase in flight options and ease in visa restrictions, Adel said, “In addition, Egypt hopes to attract 160,000 Chinese tourists in 2013, compared to 110,000 visitors in 2011.” Remarking on the traditional source markets’ return, Yasaky said, “Although we have witnessed a drop in the overall number of visitors, these key markets such as the GCC, UK, and US, have been recovering recently. In October, we also saw the return of GCC visitors celebrating their Eid break. “Additionally, the business segment has been booming and we have attracted an increased flow of business visitors from Turkey and Korea. On the leisure front, we are seeing an increased number of visitors from the UK, a traditional feeder market, which signals positive growth for 2013.” The UK has long been a significant feeder market for Egypt, and hoteliers, such as Adel, are keen to attract even more travellers. “We did huge campaigns in the UK market in different radio stations,” Adel commented, adding that it sparked a major reaction as holidaymakers took to the social media to share their positive experience and snaps, creating a word-ofmouth marketing. In addition, the hotel has also embarked on a campaign in Russia, another promising market for the Egyptian tourism industry. Also looking to attract emerging markets, Stamper added, “We are planning to attract more business from different newly emerging markets in the Far East and Latin America for leisure and MICE of course as it is the fastest growing section of the international tourism market.” Tapping into new markets is indeed pivotal, added Nihal Seif, marketing communications manager, Sunrise Resorts & Cruises, Sentido Hotels & Resorts Egypt and UAE, Festival Hotels & Resorts, who expects rates to gradually bounce back to 2010 levels. “By venturing into

Egypt

new markets, mainly the Turkish, and acquiring the Latin American market, and positioning our grand select resorts as a luxury brand, we expect tourist rates to go back to pre-revolution levels.” Nonetheless, diversifying into new markets will also help restore the county’s image abroad, according to Ghada Beshr, director of public relations,

When there is a will there is a way. Egypt is our jewel and we will always find a way to keep it shining

customers around the globe, is doing its part to help revive the country’s tourism industry. “Being the national carrier of Egypt and the gateway to the Middle East and Africa, EGYPTAIR played a main role in restoring the previous average of visitors of the touristic sites especially in the Eid season,” commented Roshdy Zakaria, chairman, EGYPTAIR. Over the past few months, the airline has witnessed a number of developments and has implemented various improvements in terms of both fleet modernisation and customer service, noted Zakaria. “With [the] new deliveries, EGYPTAIR now has one of the youngest fleets in the region. On the other hand, EGYPTAIR transported about two million customers in July and August,” he elaborated, adding that in all, in the period between January and August, EGYPTAIR, excluding its other subsidiaries and affiliates, transported more than five million passengers leading to escalating load factors, with the Middle East, Europe and Africa routes recording the highest levels in terms of average passenger km. In a bid to attract more passengers, EGYPTAIR has extended its winter timetable, which runs until the end of March 2013, by nine percent, operating a total of 566 flights versus 531 in the previous season. “In the winter schedule, we enhanced the frequencies to the Middle Eastern cities to 228 weekly flights. Additionally, the company will focus on the frequencies to the European cities as the weekly flights to Europe will increase to 138. Moreover, EGYPTAIR’s flights to the Far East increased to 30 weekly services as we recently announced the reoperation of the direct service to Osaka in Japan after about two years of suspending this route.” TAKING THE PLUNGE

Sharm El Sheikh Crystal Lagoon

Sheraton Dreamland Hotel & Conference Center, who noted, “We can improve the tourism infrastructure by maintaining a good base of tourists from different nationalities around the world and search and explore different tourist needs and requirements, because this will reflect positively on each market seasonality around the year, which will end up [with us being] operational during the whole year, not just during specific periods.” TAKING TO THE SKIES Opening up new markets largely depends on the national carrier, and EGYPTAIR, which this year celebrates its 80th anniversary of serving the Egyptian national economy and providing premium services to

The soaring visitor numbers are set to generate a new wave of business for cruise liners as well. According to Heba Amer, director of sales and marketing, Sonesta Nile Cruises, which offers daily guided excursions to historic sites, despite the cruise business in Egypt being fragile due to its strong dependence on leisure tourism, over the past few years, the sector has experienced massive growth. “We anticipate good demand in 2013, as we now have a stable government after the slowdown of business since the uprising in 2011,” indicated Amer, stressing that receiving business from niche markets, free independent travellers, as well as incentive groups has been vital to reviving growth prospects as these segments traditionally recover faster. “[In addition] the Ministry of Tourism is offering various incentives such as tax benefits, marking assistance schemes, business financing, cash subsidies, land concessions, and skills development programmes to attract foreign investment in tourismrelated businesses,” pinpointed Amer. Underscoring the growing demand for excursions on the majestic river, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has recently announced the addition of five new cruisers to its fleet. With its total of eight boats, the company  DECEMBER 2012


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VISIT

Egypt

“Citystars Sharm El Sheikh will feature a series of 10 saltwater lagoons, covering a combined area of 100ha and including the world’s largest lagoon, to create a unique desert oasis and new tourism landmark for the region,” revealed Kevin Morgan, CEO, Crystal Lagoons Corporation, adding that the development will offer 1.2 million m2 of residential units, hotels, golf courses, marinas, a museum, and a commercial centre. THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Pyramids

is now considered the largest international operator on River Nile. “It is not just about adding more boats, it is about providing more choices to our guests,” commented Roger Kacou, senior vice president, Africa, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts. REMAINING CONFIDENT Investors and hotel companies are also gradually overcoming their concerns, and one example is Marriott International’s latest project, Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel, for instance, which is scheduled to welcome its first guests on December 12, while Sunrise Resorts & Cruises has already ventured into new projects, as Seif explained. “We launched the 420-room Sunrise Grand Select Arabian Beach in Sharm El Sheikh and have Sunrise Grand Select Montemare, also in Sharm El Sheikh, in the final phases, to be unveiled early 2013, as well as Sunrise Grand Select Crystal Bay in Hurghada, formerly known as a Sentido property. Furthermore, we have also acquired Sunrise Mamlouk Palace in Hurghada, which will become Sentido Mamlouk Palace.” Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is to debut its ultra-luxury brand in the country with the launch of St. Regis Cairo in 2014. Another hotel giant, Hilton Worldwide, more than 50 years after its debut in the country, now offers over 7,000 bedrooms and 18 hotels in nine different resorts with some 8,000 team members. In fact, the company has more hotels in Egypt than in any other country in the Middle East and Asia region and its confidence in the country remains as strong as ever. Over the next two years, Hilton Worldwide expects to add some 2,000 rooms to its Egyptian portfolio. The 660-key Hilton Makadi will become the company’s fourth property in Hurghada once it opens in 2013; the 195-room Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch is due to be launched at the end of the same year. Hilton Heliopolis, a 635-room hotel near Cairo International Airport, is projected to be unveiled in 2014, and the 390-unit Hil-

EGYPTAIR

ton Giza Pyramids is slated for completion in 2016. Demonstrating the company’s commitment to country, Kempinski is to also extend its presence, as Yasaky revealed. “Kempinski remains confident in Egypt as a destination for both business and leisure travel [...]. Kempinski Hotel Royal Maxim, our second hotel in Cairo and third in Egypt, is due to open in the beginning of 2014 and will feature 275 rooms, six restaurants, and the largest banquet space in Egypt.” In addition, the deluxe four-star TIME Tut Hotel Luxor is set to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2013, while Baron Hotels & Resorts’ latest venture is due to open in May 2013. The 650-unit property located in the heart of Sahl Hasheesh Bay will cover a total land area of 100,000m2 and will join Baron Hotel Heliopolis, Cairo, Baron Resort Sharm El Sheikh, and Baron Palms Resort Sharm El Sheikh, in the company’s growing portfolio. In addition, one of the mega projects in the country, Citystars Sharm El Sheikh development, is to soon unveil what is being heralded as the world’s largest crystal lagoon. Crystal Lagoons Corporation and Grand Pyramids Plaza have been working on the project since 2008, and this month will see the inauguration of a 12ha lagoon as part of the USD5.5 billion luxury development.

Regarding the country’s future prospect, the industry seems to be on the same page, with Moussa capturing the essence of the anticipation in two words: security and stability. While 2013 looks promising, Nader expects more prominent improvements from the fourth quarter of 2013 onward. In fact, in the long-term, with travel and tourism related investments set to reach EGP52.1 billion (USD8.5 billion) by 2022 from EGP31.4 billion (USD5.1 billion) in 2011, the industry’s future looks somewhat brighter than its immediate past. Besides the pivotal role of the country’s world image, Mansour also remarked on the great importance of giving priority to the industry by the government. “We expect tourism to regain its previous position. Egypt was known throughout its history as a destination for tourists and travellers,” added Mansour further revealing the ministry’s goal of achieving USD25 billion in tourism revenues by 2017, more than double the amount recorded prior to the uprising in 2010. “Egypt’s future all lies in tourism [and] Egypt’s economy also depends on tourism,” stressed Ibrahim Mohamed, managing director, Perfect Tours, adding that the country has already witnessed a number of challenging periods; tourism, however, remained strong. Badr further highlighted, “Egypt is proactive in terms of tourism strategy. The Egyptian people believe in the industry and we follow a clear strategy of pulling people to Egypt and pushing Egypt to the people. [...] We also believe that there is a good potential for growth in the education travel, cruise ship, and incentive markets for Egypt in the short to mid-term.” Expressing similar confidence, Barakat said, “The hospitality industry is currently going on the right track and its curve is rising up and we believe that during the next few years it will retrieve its position in the tourism market.” Stamper added, “Egypt is a destination that has a lot to offer and we just need to start promoting that again. [...] Business opportunities will never stop, it just depends on the way you see them and the strategies and tactics you use to attract new segments and create new channels. For us, it is not how much you spend but how you spend it.” Zamzam concluded, “Tourism-generated revenue in Egypt does not only go to hotels and travel agencies. This income feeds the country’s entire economy. It is like a chain reaction. One thing leads to another. When there is a will there is a way. Egypt is our jewel and we will always find a way to keep it shining.”  DECEMBER 2012


12

EXPLORE

Yemen

Authentically Yours YEMEN IN BRIEF Capital: Sana’a Currency: Yemeni rial (YER) Language: Arabic

source before the crisis. [We also hope to progress with] our plan to promote our hotel, Aden city, and the whole of Yemen through many tourist companies and travel agencies who are working very hard, with the help of Ministry of Tourism, to activate the country’s tourism sector,” he clarified. BUSINESS AS USUAL

Sana’a

Engraved in the depths of history and bestowed with unique sites which show off its rich cultural heritage and complement its natural surroundings, Yemen has come a very long way to earn its privilege as a true Arabian treasure, as it marches on to welcome even better days ahead.  Stefanie Saghbini

Y

writes

emen, as a tourist destination, has several strong points such as amazing landscapes, impressive history, and several unique monuments, all recognised by UNESCO, just to name a few, this according to Tina Zorman, founder, Eternal Yemen, not excluding, of course, Socotra island, a place she describes as the pearl of the Indian Ocean, due to its authentic flora and fauna. Commenting on the country’s gradually improving tourism industry in line with its current political situation, Zorman said, “As in 2011 and first months of this year, Yemen has been experiencing several problems in many of its regions. Tourism has just started to awaken and we are getting many requests about tours around the country at the moment, which have lifted the spirits as we can see Yemen is, again, becoming interesting for foreigners. I am positive that

if the security situation in the country would stay like it is, or would improve, Yemen will get a new wave of tourists.“ Zorman further indicated that it is difficult to post predicted figures at this point, with regards to the country’s inbound tourism for 2013, yet she expressed that she would certainly be satisifed if the number of total visitors for 2013 were to reach 2010 levels. Along parallel lines, Fadel Al Hilali, general manager, Mercure Aden Hotel, stated that business for the hotel is improving this year, in comparison to 2011, announcing an increase of 70 percent in revenue and occupancy levels. “As still, we have problems to attract the tourist sectors from abroad, due the security reason. We hope for 2013, especially after the improvement of the political situation and security stability, to attract the tourist sector, which was a very good

Hilali attributed the improving business results to the domestic market through local companies as well as to international organisations situated in the country such as the UN Refugee Agency, UNICEF, Danish Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, airlines, and some from the governmental sector. The hotel is in the process of upgrading some of its outlets such as the new beach MOOD corner and its banquet rooms to meet the increasing demand for seminars and meetings, Hilali further indicated. “We, at Mercure Aden, are preparing a lot of printed materials like brochures, fact sheets, and leaflets about the hotel, as well as the city of Aden and the whole of Yemen. We also organise many activities for environmental and sport purposes,” he added, also mentioning plans to participate in Arabian Travel Market (ATM), Dubai, and World Travel Market, London, 2013.

Despite the obstacles and challenges being faced by Yemen as a whole, five governorates across the country managed to pluck up the courage and confidence to attend the celebrations of this year’s World Tourism Day, which officially took place in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain, on September 27 A large number of airlines across the region have remained loyal to Yemen’s tourism sector, overlooking the current situation and continuing on improving network connections to and from the country. Without a doubt, Yemen’s national carrier, Yemenia, has its legacy as the first operator in the region, according to Mohsein Ali Haidarah, deputy managing director, commercial affairs, Yemenia, and ensuring to remain ahead of the game, its soon-to-launch website is currently under construction. Further commenting on future plans to enhance DECEMBER 2012


Yemen business performance, which has seen, this year so far, a 15 percent surge in traffic, particularly to and from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Jakarta, Indonesia, Ali Haidarah said, “Yemenia is on the verge of introducing a new corporate identity and visual identity in order to approach more passengers, both locally and at an international level. This will be a long-term process aimed at presenting the new Yemenia in concept, service, quality, style, and safety.” Furthermore, Emirates introduced an additional weekly flight to Sana’a on October 28, marking 16 years since it first launched a twice-weekly operation on the day in 1996. The airline now serves the capital daily, supported with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a three-class configuration. Commenting on the new operations, Husain Bani Hashem, country manager, Yemen, Emirates, said, “It is with great pride that we are strengthening our commitment to Yemen at the same time as we celebrate our 16th anniversary. Now, with the daily service, Yemen can look forward to trade and tourism being further stimulated between destinations across our vast network via Dubai.” The additional frequency also provides more flexibility for passengers travelling from Yemen to Dubai and onwards to popular destinations such as China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, France, the UK, and the US. Additionally, the seven weekly flights enables Emirates SkyCargo to offer additional capacity in the belly-hold of the aircraft, good news for the company following reported results by Dubai Chamber of Commerce of the total volume of trade, between Yemen and the UAE, reaching USD687 million in 2011. Further improving connections between the two countries and beyond, flydubai also chose October 28 this year to launch two additional flights to Sana’a, increasing the previous four weekly services to six, while the low-cost carrier’s cargo operations to the capital is also set to play an integral role in the growing multi-billion dollar trade relationship. Turkish Airlines is yet another carrier adamant to improve its air ties with Yemen, having launched its non-stop flights between Istanbul and Aden on October 2. The air company is now offering four frequencies a week to the city which, according to Ouz Kahraman, director, Yemen, Turkish Airlines, boasts attractive tourist components and will enhance the strong Yemeni-Turkish relations and widen the tourist, commercial, and investment exchange between the two destinations.

Mercure Aden Hotel

DECEMBER 2012

Aden

I am positive that if the security situation in the country would stay like it is, or would improve, Yemen will get a new wave of tourists FACING UP TO CHALLENGING TIMES Despite the obstacles and challenges being faced by Yemen as a whole, five governorates across the country managed to pluck up the courage and confidence to attend the celebrations of this year’s World Tourism Day, which officially took place in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, Spain, on September 27. The event, which was celebrated under the theme Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development, saw the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, alongside Taiz, Aden, Ibb, and Sae’on-Hadramout, honour this day. Discussions to work towards improving overall inbound tourism figures to Yemen took place during workshops, which were organised throughout the five governorates during the World Tourism Day celebrations. These were forked out across three main

EXPLORE

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Sana’a

branches, namely tourism policies in the direction of the use of renewable energy technology; trends towards substitution of renewable energy in hotel establishments; and, the economic impact of alternative energy sources, according to Ahmed Al-Beel, general manager, programmes and activities, Ministry of Tourism, Yemen. Looking positively ahead with no plans to give up just yet, regardless of the ongoing severe political situation which continues to rip throughout the country, Yemen, earlier this year, also partook in the World Tourism Organization’s and ATM’s The Future of Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa: Ensuring sustainable growth in challenging times; an industry forum which debated short- and long-term prospects for tourism in the region, stressing the encouraging signs emerging from destinations affected by the political changes of 2011, as well as the ongoing strong expansion plans of tourism infrastructure in the countries of the Gulf. According to a report released by Euromonitor International, two key areas in Yemen’s travel and tourism industry are ecotourism and adventure tourism, thanks to the country’s rich nature, biodiversity, and geography. One of the country’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites is the archipelago of Socotra, a natural World Heritage Site where a number of species endemic to the area can be found. According to Zorman, most of the packages nowadays include tours around Socotra because it is perfectly safe. She also brought to surface the importance of accommodating tourists in the more remote areas of the country, which would allow them to visit a much wider spectrum of Yemen and experience the real beauty of the country. “Such places are of real value. To our customers, we try to show the beauty of these regions with a focus on the traditional way of life, distinctive culture, and unique architecture,” she expressed. “In that way, they can feel the country and get the insight into the everyday life of the average Yemeni, into its tribal life and rules. We believe that such experiences are unique in this region, as such parts of Yemen are the rare pockets of the Arab World, where the globalisation ‘tsunami’ still hasn’t overflown the country’s authenticity.” 


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ONSITE

Vietnam

One of a Kind

Southeast Asia, allocating large amounts of tourism budgets to this highly lucrative segment. “In Vietnam, we recognise the need to attract this market and of course realise that we need to be very pro-active in our efforts to promote the country and its many attractions,” he continued.

 Dominique Christou writes

O

n its way to achieving its target of welcoming 6.5 million international arrivals by the end of the year, Vietnam already recorded 5.3 million visitors in the first 10 months, according to statistics revealed by Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, reporting an 11.2 percent growth over the same period in 2011. Illustrating its devotion to achieving sustainable growth in the tourism sector, Vietnam hosted the Annual Conference on Responsible Tourism on November 2 in its capital Hanoi, under the theme Enhancing Responsibility in Tourism Development: Chances and Challenges for Responsible Tourism Development in Vietnam. Having brought together some 200 delegates from across the country’s private, public, and nongovernment sectors, the conference focused on developing responsible tourism in Vietnam on the basis of environmental and social principles. Nguyen Van Tuan, head, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, who spoke at the event, addressed its significance, with the aim of raising awareness on responsible tourism development in the country. The core aim of the conference was to bring the sector together in a bid to formulate a development pathway that is led by responsible objectives which do not compromise the country’s sensitive and unique environment and cultural integrity. Topics which were covered at the event included the challenges of balancing the emergence of mass tourism in Vietnam while minimising the potential negative effects and enhancing its positive impacts on the local social, environmental, and economic situation. In addition, the Environmental & Social Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programme, hailed as the largest project supporting the tourism sector in Vietnam worth some EUR12 million (USD15.5 million), and is still in working progress until 2015. Launched in 2011, the five-year plan is set to assist Vietnam to mainstream responsible tourism principles into its tourism sector as a way of enhancing competitiveness and contributing to the achievement of the Socio Economic Development Plan for 2011 - 2020. More specifically, the programme has been designed to integrate environmentally and socially responsible practices into all of the country’s tourism aspects of policy, planning, destination management, business operations, education, and awareness-raising at national, regional, and provincial levels. A NETWORKING VILLAGE Strong emphasis is also being placed on Vietnam’s

PRIMARY POSITION

Halong Bay, Hanoi

Home to some of the world’s most dramatic and picturesque backdrops, Vietnam remains absolutely dedicated in maintaining its splendour, as it clears the negative to lure in the positive and induce travellers worldwide to come and experience Southeast Asia in all its glory. VIETNAM IN BRIEF Capital: Hanoi Currency: Vietnamese dong (VND) Language: Vietnamese

MICE segment, thanks to the efforts being made by Vietnam MICE Club and its construction of the ‘Vietnam Village’, which is being transported to various trade shows around the world, providing the country’s hotels, resorts, and tour operators with a platform from which to market their particular product. “Our objective is to give Vietnam a more professional and coordinated approach to the marketing, promotion, and sale of the various components that make up the hospitality industry within Vietnam with a strong emphasis on the MICE market,” commented Gilbert Whelan, president, Vietnam MICE Club, who further noted that MICE tourism is a highly sought after sector with national tourism offices worldwide, particularly in Asia and

Vietnam takes the lead in the growth of the Asian hotel sector with a forecast annual rate of 15 percent for the 2012 - 2016 period, according to the World Travel Market's Global Trend Report 2012 compiled in association with Euromonitor International. Boasting positive results for this year, Nguyen Thanh Sang, chairman, Palm Garden Resort, Hoi An, stated that the hotel has already reached its targets for the year and is aiming for even better results for the remaining month, by implementing specific measures such as the adjusting pricing strategy, upgrading equipment and accommodation, setting the service quality on the top, and launching packages with diversity and abundance for all kinds of customers including, families, golfers, and couples, to name a few. Another property boasting positive results in guest volume, since its soft launch in June, is InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, which is gearing up for its grand opening in the first quarter of 2013. Gerd Kotlorz, director of sales and marketing, Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, who described the hotel as a truly unique heaven on Earth, indicated that the market and guest feedback has been phenomenal. Commenting on 2013, he said, “I am very excited as booking pace and business outlook remains strong and positive, both from the local market as well from key international source markets. [With regards to guests from MENA] we developed a unique spa treatment. Additionally, catering to guests from this region, the hotel offers prayer mats, halal and vegetarian dishes, a private butler, and many other amenities.” Patrick Gauthier, director of sales, Six Senses Con Dao, also predicts a bright horizon ahead, with bookings already full for New Year. “The hotel is doing very well. Six Senses Con Dao has a great mix of [clientele] from Europe, Asia, and America. Depending on the nationality, guests travel at different times of the year, helping us to have [occupancy] all year round.” According to Gauthier, this is good news for the property however it is excellent news for Con Dao, as a growing tourism hub. “Six Senses Con Dao is a great example of how a hotel can boost tourism. We have developed a resort in a unique location that was not open for tourism before. We have put the island of Con Dao on the map, and since we opened, we have had a lot of international press coming to the resort and making great public relations for the hotel but also for the country.”  DECEMBER 2012


16

TOUR

Brunei

Demonstrating Leadership in Tourism Brunei may be small in size but it is certainly big on the global tourism map as it grasps hold of its responsibility to the world’s economic development and environmental sustainability, paving its own path and joining the big players on their way to mainstreaming the world of travel.

 Dominique Christou writes

T

he strength of Brunei’s tourism lies in its uniqueness, stated Taleb Rifai, secretary general, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who praises the ongoing efforts placed by the country’s tourism authorities in protecting and preserving the Sultanate’s vast natural environment. “Brunei is carving its own model of responsible tourism which will no doubt serve as an example to the rest of the world,” he added. At the core of these endeavours is H.M. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’Izzaddin Waddualah, Sultan of Brunei, who ensures that the country will do its best to support tourism, based on two principal resources: its pristine rainforest in the heart of Borneo and its spiritual and cultural heritage. “Environmental protection and conservation must, therefore, lie at the heart of any tourism development,” Waddualah explained. In light of this, Brunei continues to prove its responsibility to the world of travel and tourism, having recently signed the UNWTO/World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Open Letter at the Global Leaders for Tourism Campaign; a joint effort by the two organisations in their common goal of mainstreaming travel and tourism in the global agenda with the objective to position the industry as a driver of economic growth and development. This deal saw Brunei join hands with other world leaders, as well as with UNWTO and WTTC, to add a voice to the efforts in positioning travel and tourism higher on the global agenda. “Signing the Open Letter reiterates Brunei’s commitment to tourism and demonstrates the country’s leadership role in the travel and tourism industry. This underlines that the government truly understands the impact on job creation and the positive economic impact that travel and tourism brings to global GDP,” commented David Scowsill, president, WTTC. Meanwhile, direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP is forecast to rise by 2.3 percent by the end of this year, over 2011 levels where a total of BND346.9 million (USD283.4 million) was generated, thanks to the country’s burgeoning sector, according to figures released in the WTTC Economic Impact Report for the Sultanate. These figures are set to increase by 2.1 percent per annum over the next decade to reach BND437.0 million (USD356.9 million) in 2022. A PERFECT INSIGHT Brunei’s travel agents have also been actively promoting the country’s tourism products and services by attending international travel trade fairs alongside Brunei Tourism, as well as with overseas travel agents,

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

BRUNEI IN BRIEF Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan Currency: Brunei Dollar (BND) Language: Malay

ing MENA market, with successful results. “We have appointed Aviareps for almost two years now as our representative office from the Middle East, and since then, we have seen an increase of Middle Eastern visitors to Brunei,” she said. According to Mohamad, it is Brunei’s comfortable, safe, and fresh environment which appeals to this segment, especially between the months of July to September. In order to further boost occupancy levels, the hotel began a number of renovation works earlier this year, including face-lifting areas of the property and boosting its facilities. “We had completed the room renovations in the Atrium building in April, and now we are renovating our Pantai restaurant, which is expected to be completed in February,” Mohamad explained. REDEFINING THE FLYING EXPERIENCE

following an increase in interest witnessed in Brunei, this according to Foo Chuan Pyng, general manager, Century Travel Center. Peter Feran, general manager, Radisson Hotel Brunei Darussalam, lays great emphasis on the vital role which the hotel sector plays, in collaboration with the rest of the country’s tourism professionals, in showcasing Brunei’s full potential. “Hotel operators must always ensure that their product and service standards are the highest possible and must be maintained at all times. Hotel operators must also work closely with local tour operators and agents, and government authorities to [confirm] that they support each others’ objectives [in a bid] to ensure that all travellers are well catered for, leave with a good impression, and spread the word when they go home,” he explained. Feran further noted that for the MENA traveller’s interest, Brunei offers key natural areas such as the beautiful Temburong area, areas and attractions such as the Water Village, as well as mosques, and museums, giving a perfect insight to the country’s culture and history. Hafiza Mohamad, manager, public relations and marketing communications, The Empire Hotel & Country Spa, Brunei Darussalam, also mentioned that a lot of focus has recently been placed on the increas-

The Sultante’s national carrier, Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA), recently announced a one-year partnership with SimpliFlying, an aviation strategy firm, to provide strategic consulting for its customer engagement, marketing and social media strategy. Commenting on the partnership, Dermot Mannion, deputy chairman, RBA, said, “The airline recognises the importance of engaging travellers via social media. SimpliFlying is the leading consulting firm in this area and our partnership is a measure of our determination to be at the ‘cutting edge’ of this technology.” Furthermore, RBA revealed its new livery and logo, which was revealed on an Airbus A319, which was painted by RBA’s own in-house engineering team. “Over the next year (2013), we will be redefining the RBA flying experience, starting with our classic styled new livery and logo. This redefinition is not merely an ad campaign, but rather a long-term commitment to our passengers to create a familylike, peaceful, and tranquil atmosphere with highclass customer service,” commented Mannion, who further informed of the new website experience, new uniforms, and new lounge and ticket office environments.  DECEMBER 2012


Senegal

LONG-HAUL

17

Investing in Tourism Senegal, famous for its mild climate, attractive beaches, and nature parks, continues to invest on developing its tourism offerings and amenities, with the aim of satisfying the expected influx of arrivals to the region over the next decade. SENEGAL IN BRIEF Capital: Dakar Currency: West African Franc (XOF) Language: French

SERVING THE REGION Emirates provides non-stop services from the UAE to Senegal, with direct flights from Dubai to Dakar, while a large number of airlines operate non-directly between Senegal and the MENA, namely Royal Air Maroc, South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and Kenya Airlines.

 Dominique Christou writes

A

ccording to the World Travel & Tourism Council Economic Impact report, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Senegal’s GDP in 2011 was XOF383.4 billion (USD757.8 million), accounting for 5.6 percent of total GDP, with figures forecasted to rise by 1.9 percent by the end of this year These numbers are expected to further increase by 4.7 percent per annum until 2022, where direct contribution is projected to reach XOF616.5 billion (USD1.2 billion).

GROWING CONTRIBUTION In line with this anticipated boost in tourism volumes, Oliver Singer, director of sales and development, Europe and Africa, Royal Decameron Baobab, has revealed heavy investments in renovation and expansion plans for the property, with other hotels following to improve standards. “We bought a 118-room hotel and have been building and renovating since then. We will reach 256 rooms on December 22, along with new pools, sports facilities, restaurants, and new convention centre,” he said, adding that during the first months of the year, the hotel was running at an average of 75 percent occupancy, with the expectancy for 100 percent occupancy by December 31. Additionally, The Rezidor Hotel Group recently announced the very first Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Senegal, The Park Inn by Radisson Dakar, featurDECEMBER 2012

ing 122 guest rooms scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2014. “Park Inn by Radisson is our young and dynamic mid-market brand, and we are delighted to introduce the brand to Senegal”, commented Kurt Ritter, president, The Rezidor Hotel Group. The new build Park Inn by Radisson Dakar will enjoy a premium location between Dakar’s International Airport and the city’s main highway. It will be part of the capital’s most exclusive mixed-use development, Cité Tobago, which includes retail and offices. Further commenting on the upcoming development in this promising location, Andrew McLachlan, vice president, business development, Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, The Rezidor Hotel Group, said, “Senegal is part of the Economic Community of West African States where Rezidor follows a development cluster strategy. The capital city, Dakar, acts as a forerunner to this development plan. The city is attractive to both business and leisure travellers, and national and international organisations have been relocating from neighbouring cities to Dakar. The city also features a rich UNESCO heritage.“ Further building on the accommodation sector in Senegal is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which is gearing up to open Sheraton Dakar Hotel in the first quarter of 2014. Additionally, Senegal recently welcomed Warwick International Hotels with Hotel Jardin Savana Dakar, the four-star property offering 100 rooms, becoming the fifth Warwick International Hotels establishment on the African continent.

The Senegalese government has recognised that increasing air transport capacity and lowering ticket prices are critical to the effort to boost the country’s tourism industry and access the economic potential of extra-isolated regions

Moreover, set to boost tourism to the region, work is underway on several projects, which will certainly strengthen Senegal’s air transport sector. These include an ongoing initiative to refurbish the local airport infrastructure and an effort to launch operations at the perishable goods freight terminal of the Dakar airport, which should open up new opportunities in agriculture and foreign trade. In addition, the delivery of the sector’s largest infrastructure project, the new Blaise Diagne International Airport, has been slated for opening at the end of 2014 which will significantly increase Senegal’s capacity for both freight and passenger transport. Furthermore, the Senegalese government has recognised that increasing air transport capacity and lowering ticket prices are critical to the effort to boost the country’s tourism industry and access the economic potential of extra isolated regions. 


TRAVEL TALK

travel talk is your space

18

SIMON STAMPER

ALI KASAPBASHI

Area general manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars.

Group general manager, Bin Majid Group.

“For Egypt, I think the future is very promising because this country has all the historical places any tourist would love to see. The new international airport is also a plus to cope with the demand and there are many hotels which were not here before, as well as developments on the Red Sea, especially in Sharm El Sheikh, in addition to the advertising [by] the Ministry of Tourism. By increasing foreign investment and increasing the popularity of Egypt as a tourism destination, especially among European tourists, international tourist arrivals in Egypt will be expected to increase at a healthy rate in the coming years.”

“Ras Al Khaimah offers a luxurious yet reasonably-priced getaway for both leisure and business travellers. Tourism in the emirate is in full swing as it looks forward to exciting projects and developments. “Its tourism industry will continue to develop over the next few years as the emirate is working on marketing itself as a tourist and business destination. The infrastructure in Ras Al Khaimah is all in place and with several properties opening soon, more tourists will be accommodated so the coming years will be healthy and positive for the tourism industry.”

STUART DEESON General manager, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas.

“Abu Dhabi is a growing market and with Etihad Airways opening up new routes and tying up with airlines such as airberlin, new markets have opened up and create new opportunities. Moreover, Saadiyat Island has one of the most beautiful beaches in the region, so why should guests travel further than Abu Dhabi? Guests feel like they not only have plenty of leisure and business opportunities but also are well taken care of by the hospitality industry.”

Saadiyat Island has one of the most beautiful beaches in the region

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, frustrations and observations to editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel DECEMBER 2012


TRAVEL CHANNELS SCTA and SCSB Ink Finance Deal for SMEs Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) and Saudi Credit and Saving Bank (SCSB) have concluded an agreement devoted to financially supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in tourism and antiquities, supplementing the former deal agreed by both parties. According to the partnership, SCTA is considered a key sponsor for SMEs which request financing and intend to engage in the tourism and antiquities business, as the existence of a sponsor is a pre-requisite in SCSB’s new mechanisms for financing. H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president, SCTA, expressed his appreciation to the role SCSB plays in financing tourism and heritage SMEs.

DECEMBER 2012

19

Changing Times in Tourism and Hospitality Education The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, a leading business hospitality management school and a part of Jumeirah Group, successfully hosted the sixth International Panel of Experts (IPoE) Forum 2012.

T

his annual forum, which took place on November 18 - 20, is the signature event of The International Centre of Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality Education, an Australianbased international accreditation body. A total of four key panel presentations, two workshops, and a number of discussion groups addressed various issues within the industry in line with the forum theme, Changing Times in Tourism and Hospitality Education. Close to 80 attendees from 20 different countries and five continents were present throughout the three days, as well as students from the academy.

Badr Aboul-Ela, executive director, Commission for Academic Accreditation, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAE, stated that the IPoE is a rare occasion where accreditors, faculty, and students have the opportunity to come together and interact with one another. Participants also had the opportunity to experience true Arabian hospitality in various locations throughout Dubai, while the student-managed restaurant, The Paddy Hat, a Southeast Asian concept, also served guests a meal, showcasing the talents and skills of the academy trainees with all proceedings going to charity.


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INVESTIGATION

Spa Tourism

Luxuriating in Health and Wellness manager, Beautyworld Middle East, where the number of exhibitors and visitors over 2011’s edition grew by 10 percent and 22 percent respectively. COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Spa InterContinental at InterContinental Dubai Festival City (DFC)

Spa, a word which whispers tranquillity to the ears of people and triggers a sense of serenity to one’s very core, is a sector which has long claimed its permanence within the global tourism industry, as it continues to flourish into a world made up of pure health, holistic wellbeing, and paramount medicinal treatments, all rolled into one.  Stefanie Saghbini

G

writes

lobal Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS), an international organisation founded in 2006 and a world leader in spa industry research, which hosts the annual invitation-only GSWS, this year witnessed the gathering of top industry leaders and visionaries in Aspen, Colorado, US, to exchange ideas and advance industry goals in a bid to positively impact and shape the future of the global spa and wellness sector. According to a review of global growth trends since the release of the GSWS/SRI International Global Spa Economy 2007 report, the global spa industry has been on an upward trajectory over the past five years, growing from USD60 billion in 2007 to an estimated USD73 billion by the end of this year, with fastgrowing markets, including parts of Asia, currently clocking an increase in annual revenues of up to 20 percent per annum. According to Steve Harvey, wellness manager, Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman, a large number of tourists from the GCC have the misconception that Asia has a monopoly on wellness and still travel long-haul to the region for detoxing-purposes and holistic treatments, something which he believes does exist across the Middle East itself, albeit with

space for development and improvement. “Spas are plentiful, but truly devoted holistic programmes are still hard to come by,” he said. “There are excellent programmes right here in our back yard, and certainly through dedicated work and a targeted social media push […], we will be able to get the word out that our three-, five-, and seven-day wellness programmes will give guests the same results without the long travel and expense of airfare. We will continue to evolve these offerings in conjunction with our holistic calendar,” Harvey continued. At this year’s GSWS, the organisation further cited an estimated 22 percent increase in the number of spas worldwide during the five-year period, from 71,600 in 2007 to an estimated 87,000-plus by the end of this year. The MENA region is certainly one which is seeing an ever-increasing upward trend in its spa sector, according to figures released by Euromonitor International, where the market value for spas in Saudi Arabia alone was estimated to be worth USD541.5 million in 2011 while the UAE’s market value was reported at approximately USD305.4 million in the same year, reflecting a 31 percent growth since 2006. “These trends are set to continue and I believe the spa sector in the region holds immense potential for international manufacturers looking to enter this market,” commented Elaine O’Connell, senior show

According to Harvey, as the tourism industry booms in Dubai and the rest of the MENA region, several hotel operators are planning to expand their luxury offerings to take advantage of the growing tourist traffic. “Having a spa within a property offers a distinctive competitive advantage in driving revenue and attracting local customers beyond the overnight guest,” he added. Likewise, Parudee Pattaradirek, director, CHI The Spa, Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, Oman, commented, “The number of spas in the GCC is directly proportionate to the growth of the hotel industry in the region. There is a multitude of hotel and resort developments in the region which indicates that luxury spa facilities will also be introduced. In addition, there are day spas that are available in the market; some are equally luxurious.” Showing faith in the region’s burgeoning spa industry is Thai-based Six Senses Spas, whose regional pipeline comprises six upcoming spas, all of which are gearing up to launch in 2013. Six Senses Spa at Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel, will be joining its sister establishment in Oman, Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Zighy Bay, in mid-2013, while Morocco will be also be welcoming four Six Senses Spas throughout the same year, with the inauguration of Six Senses Spa at Essaouira, Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Ouarzazate, Six Senses Spa at The Baglioni Marrakech, and Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Imlil, while the UAE is gearing up to launch Six Senses Spa at Pentominium. Meanwhile in the UAE, Spa InterContinental at InterContinental Dubai Festival City recently launched ESPA as its leading international spa brand, one which already boasts a solid presence across five continents. SPA AND MEDICINE AS ONE Qatar’s capital, Doha, is also preparing for the grand opening of B/ATTITUDE Spa, which is slated to take place on December 15. According to Tajana Trtanj, spa manager, B/ATTITUDE Spa, the new facility will embrace the holistic approach inspired by natural elements of life, paying tribute to the Buddha Bar lifestyle, with a very cool and chic atmosphere offering treats which have been inspired through traditions. “This spa concept brings together the elements necessary for pure rejuvenation and revitalisation through oriental modernity; a fusion of East meets West; a spiritual spa experience; mind and body working in harmony; and local cultures and traditions integrated into the spa DECEMBER 2012


Spa Tourism concept,” Trtanj explained. Moreover, Doha is soon set to witness the launch of a medical spa hotel on the outskirts of the city, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabia’s Hala Group Enterprises and Vichy Spa International, a partner company of cosmetic giant L’Oreal. Upon opening in 2013, the new development promises to bring a unique experience to the country, as Ijaz Malik, general manager, Hala Group Enterprises, said, “The resort is eloquently designed by experts to offer the customers a tranquil experience by examining the aesthetics.” Peter van de Bunt, hotel advisor, Hala Group Enterprises, also described the upcoming project as one which is an entirely new hospitality and medical spa concept to Qatar and the region; one which combines hospitality and healthcare and one which the team at Hala Group Enterprises believes is a mega-trend for the industry in the future. Sharing similar sentiments, Ewan Madac, CEO, Vichy Spa International, expressed great pleasure in having signed with the group for the first project in

the Gulf market; one he feels will be truly unique and add significant value to the investment. “The Vichy method mixes the medical spa, health, prevention, and wellness spa experience. We are targeting the whole Gulf region to benefit from our products and services,” Madac stated. Another destination in the region with tremendous opportunities within the spa industry, particularly in medical spa, is Jordan, especially across the Dead Sea region, which, according to Warwick Janes, general manager, Dead Sea Spa Hotel, Amman, offers a complete wellness experience that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Having witnessed an excellent year so far, in comparison to 2010 and 2011, Janes boasted the ability to make use of the natural mud from the Dead Sea and, of course, Dead Sea waters in many of the hotel’s treatments, which are applied as remedies for skin and joint disorders. Catering to the majority of guests coming in from Europe, especially Germany, Austria, and the UK, Dead Sea Spa Hotel has recently been receiving many enquiries from Russia as well as the Far East, two marDECEMBER 2012

INVESTIGATION

21

A WAKE-UP CALL

B/ATTITUDE Spa Treatment Room

kets which Janes believes have high growth potentials. He further attributed the success of luring in these promising markets due the uniqueness of the destination, and explained, “We can combine many elements to our packages including sightseeing and cultural activities within the country that is a totally new experience for the guest who chooses to stay here, at the lowest point on Earth, and experience the rejuvenating low UV sunlight and high percentage of Oxygen.” Jumana Al Hussein, personal assistant to general manager, Evason Ma'In Hot Springs & Six Senses Spa, concurred, “The location of Ma’In itself, between mineral volcanic waterfalls, gives the guest a special feel of being back to nature. Our Six Senses Spa is located 250m below sea level which allows Oxygen to be concentrated at higher levels than the rest of the region.” Another wellness resort which is progressing in its offers of medical treatments alongside the wonders of spa therapies is the Six Senses Spa at Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman, whose saltwater pool, upon completion, will be the first in a GCC resort, according to Harvey, who further commented, “Measuring 25m by 35m, with a salt concentration of 50 parts per million, approximately 15 percent, this is a great therapy for guests with skin problems such as psoriasis or eczema,” Harvey further commented. Al Nahda Resort & Spa, nestled in some 120,000m2 of gardens in Barka, approximately one hour by car from Muscat, also recorded growth in the demand for stress release, wellness, and healing spa packages, according to Mary Ann Roberta, director, spa and recreation, Al Nahda Resort & Spa, who further announced the recently-introduced special packages. “Being a special wellness, healing, and beautification spa, we are equipped to handle and satisfy every need, with special wellness, healing, and body designing spa packages and the support of exclusive high performance holistic equipment,” she clarified.

In spite of these increasingly healthy figures across the region, high demand for talent across the global industry is constantly on the rise accelerated by a sector which is escalating at a rapid pace, thus following GSWS’ 2011 edition, where 95 percent of the delegates reported that lack of training and education was the greatest challenge facing the industry, while hiring qualified spa managers and directors remains the largest obstacle to the continued growth of their own businesses, an extensive study exploring these challenges was released at this year’s event. This research, developed and prepared by SRI International in June this year, entitled Spa Management Workforce & Education: Addressing Market Gaps, confronted the gap existent between expansive job opportunities and qualified candidates and offered recommendations to increase the management talent pool. According to Katherine Johnston, senior economist, SRI International, these findings are a wakeup call to an industry dependent on providing the highest personal service and professional standards, and one where people are its greatest asset. “It is clear that the number of spa management-related degree programmes is not meeting industry needs,” she said. “While the growth in our industry is clearly good news, we must work together to meet the challenges created by this increasing demand and shortage of supply,” commented Susie Ellis, chairman, GSWS. “And lack of qualified spa managers is just the tip of the iceberg; we are also seeing a tremendous need for trained therapists and technicians.” Ellis brought to surface the vital requirements essential to pursue a career in spa management, which she described as especially challenging. “Many managers and directors may have a passion for spa, but passion is not enough. They need business, entrepreneurial, financial, and superb communication skills, and they must be flexible, often willing to move and work long hours. On the other hand, it is one of the most enjoyable and personally rewarding careers in the world.” 


22

WHO'S MOVED

FIRAS BASHIR Firas Bashir has been named general manager of Lagoon Hotel & Resort Dead Sea in Jordan. Bashir brings over 20 years of hospitality and hotel management experience to the role, having previously served a number of internationally-recognised companies including Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Regency

Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his appointment, he worked as general manager of Le Royal Amman Hotel. In his new position, he aims to work collectively with his team in order to further boost tourism in Jordan.

Bashir previously served a number of internationallyrecognised companies

STEFAN VIARD Stefan Viard has been appointed by Emaar Hospitality Group as general manager of Al Manzil Hotel and Qamardeen Hotel. Viard brings 14 years of international experience to the role in the service and hospitality industry, having previously worked for leading international hotel and resort properties in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In 2008, he joined

Emaar Hospitality Group as executive assistant manager of food and beverage at The Address Dubai Marina, where he was later promoted to hotel manager and acting general manager. In his new role, Viard will be responsible for the overall operation of the two properties, in addition to implementing and driving marketing goals.

AHMAD SHABAN Ahmad Shaban has been appointed cluster director of sales and marketing at Kuwait Marriott Hotels. Shaban previously served as director of sales for two years at Marriott Executive Apartment in Dubai Creek before moving to Jordan to take on the position of cluster director of sales for InterContinental Hotels Group’s portfolio in the Kingdom, spearheading the sales efforts for the group’s four properties in the country. Renowned for his management and leadership skills, he has successfully grown his teams, from professional sales people to work

with the understanding of real businessmen. In his new role, his ambitious plans involve building on the strengths of the Kuwait sales departments with the aim of developing a solid platform to its highest potential across three units in the country, namely JW Marriott Hotel Kuwait City, Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait, and the Arraya Ballroom. Shaban believes that Kuwait’s Marriott Hotels has maintained a prestigious image in the country, due to the consistent training sessions for all of the employees and its uniquely designed ‘spirit to serve’ global corporate social responsibility programmes.

DECEMBER 2012


RENDEZVOUS

23

Q & A with Arbind K. Shrestha As Abu Dhabi continues to evolve as a burgeoning business, leisure, and aviation hub, Arbind K. Shrestha, general manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi, looks at the reasons behind this phenomenon and shares his views on the double-edged sword of social media.

Travel Trade Monthly: Conveniently located near the airport and the city centre, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, offers an ideal place for both businessmen and holidaymakers. How would you summarise this year so far, in terms of performance? Arbind K. Shrestha: This year has been quite exciting due to the opening of at least half a dozen new hotels all over the capital. This has actually motivated us to work harder in keeping our loyal customers happy and acquire new ones to be able to retain our status as the leading hotel in Abu Dhabi. The main highlight for the year would be the hotel’s fifth year anniversary. We celebrated five years of established dining experiences with exceptional anniversary offers in our award-winning restaurants. We have also recently launched a Shangri-La signature trademark, our very own Horizon Club, in celebration of five years of established personalised service; an exclusive executive retreat providing personalised service, individual recognition, and special privileges. It is based on the ‘hotel within a hotel’ concept with the primary objective to cater to the special needs of frequent business travellers and leisure guests seeking a higher standard of personalised services. Travel Trade Monthly: With five restaurants and three bars, the hotel is a place where one can explore all gastronomical experiences. How important are the food and beverage revenues to your operation? Arbind K. Shrestha: Food and beverage services are important to our operations as it accounts for a significant percentage of the total hotel revenue. Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi presents diverse awardwinning culinary offers, taking our discerning diners to various parts of the globe with authentic international flavours and distinct overall dining experience. For example, our signature Cantonese restaurant, Shang Palace, showcases a Kung Fu tea master and ancient Chinese zither music performances that are matchless in style and concept. With these exceptional and diverse concepts, our restaurants offer not only delectable cuisine but also the distinctive Shangri-La experience. Travel Trade Monthly: Over the past few months, Etihad Airways has launched a number of new services, linking Abu Dhabi with new markets. How do you think these segments will shape the industry’s future?

DECEMBER 2012

Arbind K. Shrestha: We are delighted that Etihad Airways will have new flight routes in 2013. This would mean more exposure for Abu Dhabi as a destination to these new markets as well as the convenience for them to visit the capital.

Arbind K. Shrestha General manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

With the daily non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and São Paulo, Brazil, in June 2013, the South American market can easily travel directly to Abu Dhabi as well as Etihad’s global network offering connectivity to markets in GCC, Indian subcontinent, and Asia. Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies, and some Brazilian companies have even set up offices in Abu Dhabi. It is also promising as it will be the central hub for South America, thus we expect a significant influx of visitors from the region, increasing our leisure and MICE segment. With the recent expansion in North Asia, including Chengdu and Shanghai, and the upcoming increased Tokyo services with connections to Nagoya, this would greatly benefit our Shangri-La property, given our established brand presence in Asia. With Etihad Airways providing vital air links between the world’s emerging markets, we intend to strengthen our partnership even more as they can introduce us as the airline’s preferred Abu Dhabi hotel partner. We would also promote our hotel and Abu Dhabi as a destination through road shows and sales

missions in these new markets. Travel Trade Monthly: Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector has been experiencing tremendous growth, prompting hoteliers to turn to social media. How do these new ways of marketing communication challenge and benefit your business? Arbind K. Shrestha: Social media is very useful for us as a marketing tool. Facebook, for example, in which Shangri-La Abu Dhabi currently has 10,032 fans, provides us a new channel to engage with our customers to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty. It also helps us establish strong relationships with influencers or brand evangelists that will market our brand to other customers. We also use Facebook to promote our offers which drive traffic to our reservations team for rooms, food and beverage, and spa. However, social media is like a double-edged knife wherein it can be used for sharing positive and negative feedback. Negative comments are difficult to control or to censor in social media thus we need to be careful in what we post and any guest problems that may be shared must be resolved urgently.

Social media is like a doubleedged knife wherein it can be used for sharing positive and negative feedback Travel Trade Monthly: How do you think Abu Dhabi’s hotel sector will change over the next few years? Arbind K. Shrestha: We have seen remarkable growth and great potential in Abu Dhabi especially in the leisure segment. The emirate has set itself as an art and cultural hub and by bringing in world famous museums [...], Abu Dhabi is targeting a different type of market; those with high spending power and who would travel to appreciate art and culture.


24

NEWS & EVENTS

Developing MENA Aviation Speaking at the Arab Air Carriers Organization Annual General Meeting in Algiers, Tony Tyler, CEO, International Air Transport Association (IATA), underlined that over the last decade, the Middle East’s share of global international traffic has risen from about five percent to about 11.5 percent. Tyler further identified opportunities to build a stronger industry in the MENA region, outlining five areas in which opportunities exist to further develop aviation in the area to benefit the countries’ economies. The first was safety, a top priority for IATA, whereby MENA airlines can fly safer by adopting standards such as IATA Operational Safety Audit. Aviation’s role in economic development and GDP growth is another area which Tyler pinpointed, giving the UAE as an example where aviation represents 15 percent of the country’s GDP and 14 percent of total employment. Air traffic management is yet another important topic, according to Tyler who reiterated that congestion problems must be avoided to allow aviation’s progress. In addition, he highlighted the importance of the protection of the environment and sustainability, which should be high up the priorities list the for global aviation industry.

EVENTS Monte Carlo Travel Market (MCTM) Monte Carlo, France, December 2, 2012 (www.monte-carlo-travel-market.com) Running for the seventh time at Le Méridien Beah Plaza, Monte Carlo, this is an event enabling participants to make a maximum number of contacts in a minimum amount of time. Food & Hotel Oman Muscat, Oman, December 3 – 5, 2012 (www.foodandhoteloman.com) Formerly known as Food Expo, the event has been re-branded to reflect the emerging hospitality and tourism market in the Sultanate and the region. Travel Turkey Izmir Tourism Fair & Conference Izmir, Turkey, December 6 – 9, 2012 (www.travelturkey-expo.com) One of the leading tourism shows in Turkey, focusing on all kinds of travel services, destinations and holidays.

Global Tourism Defies Numerous Crises The global economic crisis does not seem to have influenced people’s desire to travel following an increase in recorded as well as predicted figures released by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and IPK International. According to the data, 170 million more trips will be taken by year end, compared to 2011, with a 12-month total of 6.8 billion trips forecasted, equivalent to a 2.5 percent growth. Domestic travel is expected to surge by two percent, reaching 5.77 billion, while travel abroad is set to rise by four percent, to 1.03 billion trips. A breakdown in figures has shown that travel activity is increasing in practically every world region with South America up 12 percent, Africa increasing nine percent, Asia and Oceania rising seven percent, Japan surging 13 percent, the US up three percent, and Europe growing two percent. These figures have been forecasted to further rise in 2013 by two to four percent and Rolf Freitag, CEO, IPK International, has attributed this upward trend to the economic boom of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) as well as of other developing countries. Agreeing with this view is Michel Julian, senior programme officer, tourism trends and marketing strategies programme, UNWTO, who added that the global tourism industry has proven resilient to the economic situation and that apart from Asia and the Americas, growth in Europe and North America is expected to continue as well. Freitag concluded that besides the European debt crisis, rises in energy and food costs will make their impact on the travel industry in 2013, however only 31 percent of the participants in the IPK International study said that this would affect their travel plans.

Sponsored by

Garuda Indonesia International Islamic Expo 2012 Jakarta, Indonesia, December 14 – 16, 2012 (www.aliaconvex.com) A meeting point where tourism practitioners, policy makers, hoteliers, investors, and sellers and buyers gather together. Ferien – Messe Wien Vienna, Austria, January 10 – 13, 2013 (www.ferien-messe.at) The leading public access tourism trade fair in Austria with over 100,000 consumers and thousands of experts from within the sector. SATTE New Delhi, India, January 16 – 18, 2013 Mumbai, India, January 21 – 22, 2013 (www.satte.in) Hailed as South Asia’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event serving the inbound, domestic and outbound markets.

DECEMBER 2012


Travel Trade Monthly December 2012