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Online January 9 Middle East and North Africa Edition

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GREEN CONSULTANTS Sustainable hospitality company, Al Dhiafa Holdings, has launched a new hotel consultancy firm in Abu Dhabi.

Holiday home investors will be a key driver of tourism growth in Dubai, according to the developer of the Heart of Europe project on the World Islands. According to Josef Kleindienst, CEO of Kleindienst Group, Dubai could rival Miami in the US as a holiday home destination.

4 HOTEL SHOW Tamani Hotel Marina Dubai will be the official sponsor of The Hotel Show’s 2010 Seven Star Conference and Middle East Spa Summit.

10 In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News International News Air News Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events JANUARY 2, 2010

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Holiday HOMES

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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Deputy Editor Laura Warne Journalist Louis Dillon Savage

Restructure and Management Shakeup for Dubai Properties Group Dubai Properties Group (DPG) has announced a new corporate strategy and management team, designed to propel the group into a new phase of growth.

Design & Layout Elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Joy Hadjivarnava Jane Davidson Danielle Bragg

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website www.traveltradeweekly.travel Emails info@traveltradeweekly.travel editorial@traveltradeweekly.travel sales@traveltradeweekly.travel

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MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 28/12/2009 Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar COUNTRY UAE (AED) Egypt (EGP) Saudi Arabia (SAR) Lebanon (LBP) Bahrain (BHD) Jordan ( JOD) Syria (SYP) Kuwait (KWD) Qatar (QAR) Oman (OMR) Tunisia (TND) Morocco (MAD) Iran (IRR) Yemen (YER) Algeria (DZD) Libya (LYD)

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CURRENCY Dirham Pound Riyal Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar Riyal Rial Dinar Dirham Riyal Rial Dinar Dinar

1USD= 3.67 5.49 3.75 1501 0.37 0.7 45.5 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.32 7.86 9965 205.5 72.4 1.23

PG is a member of Dubai Holding, a government-owned holding company that also includes hospitality giant Jumeirah Group and Tatweer. DPG’s role within the holding company is to develop and manage properties, communities and destinations, including Jumeirah Beach Residences and Dubailand. The group’s new leadership team will be headed up by Khalid Al Malik, group CEO of DPG, who held a corporate briefing at Jumeirah Beach Hotel to outline the restructure. “Over the past few months, we have been working to strengthen our corporate structure and operations,” said Al Malik. “As a strongly focused organisation, we will continue to solidify our status amongst the most reliable real estate companies in the region.

“As we enter the next stage of growth, we will continue to expand the scope of business to help secure our status as a leading Middle East real estate and property group.” Among the new management appointments are Mohammed Al Habbai, who has been named CEO of Dubailand; David Anderson, chief financial officer for DPG; Jayne O’Brien, chief marketing officer for DPG; and Amjid Javaid Sheikh, senior manager for compliance and risk management. Billy Daly remains CEO of Dubai Asset Management and Saeed Bushalat continues as CEO of Salwan, DPG’s property management service company. “I am confident that our team of dedicated professionals will together lead this company through to its next phase of growth,” said Al Malik. “The calibre and experience of our new corporate team will play a critical role in our journey to becoming a world-class organisation.” JANUARY 2, 2010


Holiday Home Investors Drive Development on The World Islands Kleindienst Group has launched its Heart of Europe development; a six island, 12 site luxury holiday destination on The World islands project, Dubai.

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he first phase of the project, beginning in Q1 2010, will comprise 20 villas reserved for private holiday homes. According to Josef Kleindienst, CEO of Kleindienst Group, holiday home investors will be a key driver of tourism growth in Dubai. “We have interests in industrial, commercial, hospitality and residential real estate, but The World is where we now see the strongest market potential” , said Kleindienst. “Tourist arrivals to Dubai have increased despite the economic slowdown in 2009 and worldwide the market for property ownership abroad has shown resilience, particularly for luxury home destinations.” He added that Dubai represented an attractive alternative to Miami, US, for European holiday home investors. “It is a safe and sophisticated city, which is half the travel time so visitors avoid jet lag,” said Kleindienst. “We anticipate the Heart of Europe will attract interest from both offshore Europeans and residents of Dubai. “Investor enquiry levels are looking positive – we have already sold three villas ahead of our official launch to market.”

Marwan Al Qamzi, group managing director for Nakheel, developer of the islands, admitted The World was one of the company’s most ambitious projects. However, he added that The World was part of the company’s long term vision for Dubai. The Heart of Europe project will be spread over the islands of Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, St Petersburg and Sweden. These islands will also include a further six European destinations: Belgium, Geneva, Luxembourg, Monte Carlo, Poland and Sochi. When complete, The Heart of Europe will comprise 75 private holiday homes, six

apartment buildings, six hotels, six lighthouses and six floating palaces, plus a diverse range of retail, entertainment and dining outlets.

Sherien Hossny, head of sales at Kleindienst with Josef Kleindienst

UAE and Azerbaijan Boost Trade, Tourism Ties

(L-R) Shahin Mustafayev, Azerbaijan Minister of Economic Development with Bin Harmal, managing director of ADNEC JANUARY 2, 2010

The UAE is strengthening its ties with Azerbaijan to increase tourism, trade and investment. An official delegation led by Shahin Mustafayev, the Azerbaijan Minister of Economic Development, visited the UAE on December 21-22. Discussions involved a number of key institutions in the UAE, including the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).

Mustafayev expressed a keen interest in ongoing developments at ADNEC, describing the centre as a world class venue. “It is obvious that Abu Dhabi has the infrastructure and capabilities to organise all manner of events,” said Mustafayev. The minister added that he looked forward to returning for the World Future Energy Summit in January, 2010. 3


ACCOMMODATION NEWS

Green Developers Launch Consultancy Firm Sustainable hospitality company, Al Dhiafa Holdings, has launched a new hotel consultancy firm in Abu Dhabi.

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nternational Hotel Consultants (IHC) is Al Dhiafa’s second subsidiary, offering development, investment, management and promotional services to the hospitality industry.

Saeed Bin Butti

IHC will also offer technical and IT services for both developers and owners; hospitality consultancy; and engineering consultancy. Al Dhiafa already operates the Jinan Hotels and Resorts company, which has recently signed a management contract for the first hotel compliant with Abu Dhabi’s Estidama standards for environmentally friendly development. Al Dhiafa has emphasised the importance of sustainability to the company and announced that IHC will also be Estidama compliant. According to Noel Massoud, CEO of the new company, IHC has been launched to take advantage of renewed activity in the hospitality development sector. “We are confident of the path we drew for

this new company, especially considering that IHC is being established during a time when the hospitality sector is making a huge recovery from the global financial crisis,” he said. “IHC will play a vital part in the recovery process through solid strategies, an experienced team, and commitment towards supporting the hospitality sector.” Saeed Bin Butti, holding chairman for Al Dhiafa, said the launch of IHC would see Al Dhiafa take its place among the major players of the industry. “The launch of IHC is in line with the huge developments in the tourism and hospitality sectors in the country and represents Al Dhiafa’s ability to offer a product on par with products by well known international companies,” he said.

Sofitel Hotels to be Legends in Their Own Time Two historical MENA hotels will be among the first properties adopted into the new Sofitel Legend brand. Sofitel Legend is a collection of centennial hotels, chosen for their status as landmark attractions in their city or country. According to the company, Sofitel Legend properties will offer a combination of history, luxury and mythical heritage sites. Métropole Hanoi, Vietnam, has been named the world’s first Sofitel Legend hotel. Métropole Hanoi recently underwent four years of renovation work to preserve its French colonial style; the hotel was first opened in 1901. Three historical suites have been named for famous guests: William Somerset Maugham, Henry Graham Greene and Charlie Chaplin. Several other Sofitel properties will be inducted into the Legend brand after completion of current renovations. These properties include Sofitel Grand Amsterdam, Netherlands; Sofitel Old Cataract, Egypt; Sofitel Santa Clara, Columbia; and Sofitel Palais Jamaï, Morocco. 4

JANUARY 2, 2010


INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Brazil’s Cup Runneth Over With Ten Year Plan The Brazil tourism board has revealed its 10 year plan for boosting tourism, seeking to capitalise on the nation’s stewardship of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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ccording to the Aqualera 2020 scheme, Brazil seeks a leadership position among South American destinations, aiming to achieve a 27 percent share of all visitors to the continent. Brazil intends to boost tourism by 113 percent by 2020, aiming for a total of 11 million inbound visitors. The plan also outlines intentions to increase per-capita returns, targeting an increase in tourism profits by 304 percent, with a USD17.6 billion target. The scheme focuses on the 2014 FIFA World Cup and outlines plans to increase tourism in that year by 500,000 visitors compared with 2013. Brazil will increase its destination marketing in the lead up to the event and will showcase the country’s attractions during the competition. Estimates have been drawn from studies of other large sporting events, such as the Olympics and prior World Cups. Brazil is South America’s richest and most populous nation and expects to leverage

its position to differentiate itself from previous hosts of such events. Points of difference identified by Embratur, Brazil’s tourism authority,

include the attraction of neighbouring countries; Brazil’s status as a destination prior to the World Cup; and its accessibility by both air and sea.

Security Tightened on US Bound Flights Following Failed Attack Increased security checks have been implemented on flights to the US, following an attempted bombing on North West Airlines flight 253 between Amsterdam and Detroit. The incident, which occurred on December 25,2009, involved a Nigerian national who had smuggled a small explosive device onto the flight. The passenger, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, failed to detonate the 6

device and was subdued by fellow passengers. The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has issued a directive to all international airports that serve as final departure points for flights to the country. According to the TSA, increased security measures including physical searches of passengers and bags should be expected at all such airports. Janet Nepolitano, Secretary of

Homeland Security for the US government, said that security measures would differ by location. “These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same thing everywhere,” she said. The TSA has advised that travellers should check in an hour earlier than usual to allow for delays resulting from heightened security. JANUARY 2, 2010


AIR TRAVEL NEWS

Emirates Sharjah Office Reopens The Emirates Sharjah office reopened for business on December 23, 2009, following an extensive refurbishment.

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he new space covers 700m² and features 11 customer service counters for flight bookings, Emirates Holidays’ reservations and customer enquiries. Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president of commercial operations for the Gulf, Middle East and Iran attended the official opening. “The renovation of our Sharjah office signifies our increasing need to expand our services within the emirate,” said Khoory. “Sharjah remains an important market for Emirates and we are dedicated to ensuring our customers have access to the best customer service amenities to help facilitate their bookings whether for business or leisure.” He added that staff in the new office reflected the broad mix of customers in the emirate, with multilingual services including Arabic, English, Urdu, Punjabi (Centre L-R) Khalid bel Jaflah, Emirates vice president commercial operations UAE with Ahmed Khoory, and Hindi. Emirates’ senior vice president commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Iran at the Sharjah Office reopening

Royal Jordanian Steps Up Revenue Focus Royal Jordanian Airlines is gearing up for continued growth with a new revenue management system to be implemented in late 2010. Hussein Dabbas, president of Royal Jordanian, said the recent focus on increasing revenue was a top priority for the company. “With our increasingly broad network, it is imperative that we employ sophisticated technology to make the most of our opportunities,” said Dabbas. Royal Jordanian currently has a 8

network of 57 direct international routes, plus membership of the Oneworld alliance that extends the airline’s network to more than 700 destinations globally. Guido Ruther, chief commercial officer for Royal Jordanian said the company’s business model required the support of state of the art technology to achieve its strategic initiatives. The airline will work with PROS Revenue Management to implement the new system. JANUARY 2, 2010


AIR TRAVEL NEWS

Saudi Arabia Joins Emirates’ A380 Club in 2010 Emirates will launch the first commercial A380 flight into Saudi Arabia, serving Jeddah four times weekly from February 1.

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he Emirates A380 currently serves Sydney, Auckland, Heathrow, Bangkok, Toronto, Seoul and Paris. Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president for Emirates’ commercial operations in the Gulf, Middle East and Iran said the introduction of the super jumbo was a reflection of increased demand for services in and out of Saudi Arabia.

“This service into Jeddah will mark Emirates’ first Middle Eastern A380 destination outside of Dubai, a significant milestone for both Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Adding an A380 onto this perpetually busy route will significantly increase our capacity, ensuring passengers have greater access to flights whilst enjoying the distinction of travelling on the world’s largest and most heralded aircraft.”

Air France Flies into Abu Dhabi Air France has chosen Abu Dhabi as its only new destination for 2010, with flights to and from Paris scheduled to begin from May 3. Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) leveraged the success of the existing KLM flights between Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam to convince to Air France of the benefits of expanding its network into the UAE capital. Air France will connect Abu Dhabi International Airport with Paris’ Charles De Gaulle Aiport and will provide further connections to destinations in France, Europe and beyond. The five flights per week will be served by business and economy classes initially, with Air France’s new Premier Voyageur class coming online within a few months. JANUARY 2, 2010

The new route is expected to attract business and leisure travellers, Abu Dhabi’s expatriate population and French nationals residing in the UAE. Khalifa Al Mazrouei, chairman of ADAC said the move was a clear indication of the strength of the UAE

market to and from France. “In times where large carriers are consolidating, it is very positive to see that we continue attracting more airlines, especially Air France, which has chosen Abu Dhabi as its only new service for 2010,” he said. 9


Tamani Partners with Hotel Show Conference Tamani Hotel Marina Dubai has agreed to be the official sponsor of The Hotel Show’s 2010 Seven Star Conference and Middle East Spa Summit.

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he conference and summit will run alongside The Hotel Show, which will take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 18-20. Roddy Gordon, vice president of sales and marketing for Tamani, said that now was the time for the hospitality industry to collaborate. “We know from talking to Tamani customers that they are going through radical changes in their own business models and we are keen to be associated with partnership initiatives that bring hoteliers together with suppliers,” said Gordon. Maggie Moore, exhibition director of The Hotel Show, said the exhibition would feature four product sectors: operating

Tamani Hotel Marina Dubai

Maggie Moore

equipment and supplies; security and technology; the resort experience; and interiors and design. “We are delighted that a company which

sets high standards like Tamani Hotel and Resorts is partnering with us for the Seven Star Conference and Middle East Spa Summit,” said Moore.

Kotilaine said that further spending on economic and social stimuli would boost growth by attracting business to Saudi Arabia. “Outlays for both physical and social infrastructure development along with other diversification initiatives will likely ensure that the economy comes back to its historical growth trajectory,” he said. Allocations within the budget include SAR23.9 billion (USD6.3 billion) for transportation and infrastructure, as well as SAR48.3 billion (USD12.8 billion) flagged to be distributed as loans by various government development funds. According to Hamad Al Shaikh, director general of tourism programmes and products at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA),

infrastructure development is a key driver of business tourism in the country. “Appropriate infrastructure is contributing to the increase in the events and activities related to business tourism and the economy in general across the Kingdom,” he said. He pointed out that business tourism forms 19 percent of the total tourism expenditure in the Kingdom, with SAR14 billion (USD3.7 billion) of revenue generated by the five million business travellers that visited the country in 2008. Al Shaikh said that development relevant to the tourism sector was ongoing and that SCTA would capitalise on improved facilities by boosting its meetings industry activities in 2010.

The MICE Will Play Saudi Arabia’s public works programme is set to increase business tourism in 2010, according to a report by NCB Capital. According to Dr Jormo T Kotilaine, chief economist for the Saudi based capital management firm, increased government spending in the country’s 2010 budget will stimulate growth in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia experienced its first budget deficit for eight years in 2009, however the SAR45 billion (USD12 billion) deficit was a positive result compared to a projected loss of SAR65 billion (USD17 billion). According to Kotilaine, rebounding oil prices bolstered the economy and despite a budget deficit, the country’s economy grew in terms of real GDP. 10

JANUARY 2, 2010


Arab Tourism Ministers Council Tourism professionals from nine countries gathered for the Arab Tourism Ministers Council (ATMC) executive committee meeting in December, 2009.

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epresentatives of tourism ministries from Qatar, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and Oman were present for the meeting, which was held in Muscat, Oman. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Arab Tourism Organisation and Secretariat General of Arab League were also represented. The meeting’s agenda included discussions covering the Arab tourism strategy; the global financial crisis; the UNWTO’s roadmap for tourism; and outcomes of the recent Arab Tourism Forum on low cost airlines and pan-Arab tourism. A study on the creation of an Arab centre

JANUARY 2, 2010

Representatives at the Arab Tourism Ministers Council

for management of tourism crises was presented, along with recommendations from the Islam and Tourism Forum held in Sanaa, Yemen in October 2009. Finally, ATMC announced its Award for Quality Tourism, which it awarded to

Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi; Sultan Palace, Oman; and Shangri-La Bar Al Jessa, Oman. The next ministerial meeting will be held in Alexandria, Egypt in June, where the council will approve a new logo.

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Tips and tricks from industry experts, bringing you the latest in emerging destinations, technology, marketing and travel trends.

X-Factor Destinations Destined for Greatness The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has released its 2010 travel trends report and says that consumers will be looking for holidays offering unique experiences: x-factor destinations and once in a lifetime opportunities. “2009 was been remarkably resilient for the travel industry and prospects are looking good for 2010, with the trend to more adventurous destinations continuing,” said Frances Tuke of the ABTA. The South African FIFA World Cup is high on ABTA’s list for popular holidays and a number of other destinations are set to experience newfound popularity, according to the report. After losing tourists due to social upheaval, a stabilised Thailand is expected to reclaim its place as a tourism hotspot, while Sri Lanka’s long civil war is over and tourists are already returning to the country. With Colombo resuming operations as a major cruise stopover, the island nation is expected to be popular in the coming year. Similarly, ABTA reports that Mexico will benefit from increased social stability, while Egypt, Turkey and Morocco are attracting attention for their rapidly developing luxury hotel sectors and relative affordability. Development is not the only thing that tourists will be watching this year; ABTA

South Africa

reported that value would be a key driver of consumer demand. The hunt for a good deal would likely draw attention to less stable economies such as Ireland and Dubai, according to the report. Dubai in particular has been picked out as a focus for bargain hunters and will also benefit from stop over tourism, acting as a major hub for South Africa bound World Cup travel. According to the report, the travel patterns of British tourists, a major source market for MENA tourism, are expected to change with the introduction of higher departure taxes in 2010. The ABTA says that long haul destinations will experience a short term spike in popularity, with tourists maximising long haul trips before the new taxes are enacted.

However, destinations such as Kenya, Australia and the Caribbean will ultimately suffer due to increased expense. Short to mid haul destinations, such as Europe and the Middle East can thus expect to see an increased share of outbound British tourists. Cruises are also expected to increase in popularity in 2010, with new routes opening and a variety of innovative attractions designed to attract fresh attention to the cruise industry.

Independent Thinking The Association of Independent Travel Operators (AITO) has picked its top destinations for upcoming years. Scandinavian countries, Burma and the south eastern Mediterranean have been flagged as tourism hotspots in the immediate future, with Colombia 12

and Zimbabwe expected to benefit from increased stability over the next decade. According to Chris McIntyre, managing director of Expert Africa and AITO member, eased political tensions will benefit Zimbabwe, as the country

remains relatively untouched as a tourist destination. “With the Mugabe era likely to end in the next few years, Zimbabwe's tourism industry is poised to bounce back and the good news is that its environments are generally in great shape,” he said. JANUARY 2, 2010


The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) held a joint side event during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, 2009. Here, Travel Trade Weekly brings you comments from tourism figures around the world.

Predrag Nenezić Minister of Tourism of Montenegro “In Montenegro, we believe that we must test and measure everything we do in tourism against its impact on the environment. This commitment is reflected in the very constitution of our nation, in our National Sustainable Tourism Strategy, in our tourism laws, building design regulations and emission limiting initiatives. But we must all translate these requirements into action every single day, because climate change knows no borders, sees no political boundaries. To do any less is to violate our responsibility as stewards of our land for our children, and our children’s children.  Our commitment, simply put, must be complete and unwavering.”

Mari Snyder Vice President Social Responsibility and Community Engagement, Marriott International “At Marriott International, we agree that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a major challenge, not only for governments, but for individuals and businesses too.  We have set aggressive energy and waste reduction goals, are partnering to build sustainable hotels, and have invested in saving more than one million acres of rainforest in Brazil.  We will continue to do our part by working with our stakeholders, NGOs and governments to ensure a sustainable future for travel and tourism.”

Thomas Brühl

Jonathon Counsell

CEO, VisitSweden “The tourism industry must have as little environmental impact as possible, so that we can feel good about what we leave to the next generation. VisitSweden will encourage and inspire foreign visitors to travel responsibly and motivate the Swedish tourism industry to develop more environmentally sustainable experiences in Sweden.”

Head of Environment, British Airways “Copenhagen is a unique opportunity for a breakthrough on reducing aviation’s global impact on climate change. Our industry is united in calling for an ambitious deal in Copenhagen, which must include robust targets for reducing emissions.”

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 JANUARY 2, 2010

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Atieh Hamarneh Atieh Hamarneh has been appointed as general manager by hospitality and entertainment provider, ATICO Fakhreldin Group. Hamarneh will focus on operations and business development across the group’s range of hotels and restaurants. He was previously a regional vice president and director of operations for InterContinental Hotels Group in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He has also worked for Marriott.

Hector Mendonca JW Marriott Dubai has appointed Hector Mendonca, director of events management, as the new food and beverage manager. Mendonca will continue to oversee the Events by JW department. He has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and has worked at internationally branded hotels in India, Sharjah, Bahrain and Dubai. In his new role, Mendonca will be responsible for managing the JW Marriott Dubai’s 12 food and beverage outlets, as well as events, weddings and banquets.

Hector Mendonca

Graham Allan

Atieh Hamarneh

Sheikh Ahmed Himyar Al Nabhani Oman Air has appointed Sheikh Ahmed Himyar Al Nabhani as chief officer support services. The appointment is aimed at furthering Oman Air’s Omanisation programme for management positions. Al Nabhani has worked with Oman Air for 15 years, rising through the HR department to reach his current position. There are currently 2757 Omani staff working within the company.

Graham Allan has been appointed as an independent non-executive director of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Allen joined the board on January 1. He is currently president of Yum! Restaurants International, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc, with responsibility for more than 13,000 restaurants outside the US and China. David Webster, non-executive chairman for IHG, said Allen’s experience in brand management, marketing and franchising would be of significant benefit to IHG.

Basel Talal Radisson Blu Resort Sharjah has appointed Basel Talal as general manager. Talal succeeds previous general manager Guy Chidiac. Talal began his hospitality career in 1994 at the Holiday International Hotel in Aqaba, Jordan. He joined Rezidor in 1996 at the Radisson SAS in Aqaba and went on to work in Muscat, Oman and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. His previous position was general manager of Radisson Blu Jeddah. Basel Talal

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Q& A with Simon Woodroffe Yotel hotels are a recent development in the world of hospitality, offering hourly rates and four star accommodation to the red-eyed masses that populate long-haul passenger terminals. Simon Woodroffe, the entrepreneur behind the concept, shared his thoughts with Travel Trade Weekly. Travel Trade Weekly: Tell me a little about the Yotel concept: how did you get the idea? Simon Woodroffe: Yotel was conceived six or seven years ago, when I was thinking of what do after the Yo Sushi restaurants. I was looking at Japanese capsule hotels; I realised that I couldn’t market the same model outside of Japan, so I also drew inspiration from the kind of luxury travel offered by airlines. I had the good luck of being upgraded to first class by British Airways and as I was lying in one of their first class beds, I thought that this could be used as a model for a limited-space luxury hotel. So, when I got off the plane I looked up the person that designed the interiors of the BA first class cabins and got to work designing Yotel. Yotel is based on the concept of offering four star rooms in a space as small as seven square metres and charging by blocks of hours. We basically started with an A3 piece of paper and a pencil and drew up literally hundreds of designs, and the one that you see in our hotels is the one that made it!

Travel Trade Weekly: How successful has the concept been? Simon Woodroffe: Yotel has been highly successful since launch, as the way we have designed the rooms allows us to go into spaces that traditional hotels cannot, which allows us to offer a good price to the customer and make more money ourselves. Every hotel in the world is looking to get 100 percent occupancy and since we have opened Yotel has been seeing 150 to 200 percent demand. JANUARY 2, 2010

Travel Trade Weekly: Who are Yotel’s customers? Simon Woodroffe: I’ve always thought that the beauty of Yotel has been that it is very egalitarian. We have businessmen staying at Yotel, but also families and holiday makers. To me, the brand stands for egalitarianism and we have marketed in very broad strokes, so that everyone feels welcome. If you look at market research, what you will see is that what people want is what rich people have, but at an affordable price. This is why things like luxury train carriages and things like that are becoming more accessible. People are reading gossip magazines and seeing the way rich people live and wanting to have those things themselves. Yotel offers a good product at a good price, which is something that everybody wants: even the rich want a good price.

Travel Trade Weekly: What are your plans for future growth? Simon Woodroffe: We are growing quite slowly; we have opened three sites in the seven years since we started, which means three in the two years since we opened our first Yotel. We are definitely looking at expanding and not just in airports. We have plans to open Yotels in various city centres worldwide, but we also have to grow the organisation in order to manage the new properties. We are looking to go in to America soon and will continue to open properties worldwide at a pace that we feel is sustainable.

Travel Trade Weekly: Are there any plans to open hotels in the Middle East? Simon Woodroffe: I am absolutely sure that we will take Yotel there; we will

Simon Woodroffe

eventually be opening in all major airports and in all the major cities in the region. Apart from anything else, IFA Hotels and Resorts, which is our controlling shareholder, is a Kuwait based family fund. So you could say that Yotel is really a Middle Eastern brand. We are working on a long timeline though, so I can say that we will not be opening in the area for at least two years.

Travel Trade Weekly: What has it been like working with Middle Eastern investors? Simon Woodroffe: IFA have been our partners since day one. I’ve worked with various venture capitalists and I have to say that IFA have been an absolute delight; having worked with them, I am very pro Middle Eastern investors. They take a long term view and they have faith in the quality and in the brand. Because it is family money, they are happy to stay involved and be proud of the brand. You can no longer invent a brand in an advertising agency; people will see through it. 15


Al Ain Airshow Takes Off in January The upcoming Al Ain Aerobatics Show is expected to overshadow its predecessors and attract record numbers. The event will be held in Al Ain from January 27 to 30 and will feature participants from around the world. For the first time the show will include flights by Italy’s Wefly team; the world’s only aerobatic team comprised entirely of wheelchair-bound pilots. Faisal Al Sheikh, head of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s major events division, said that the show’s unique combination of attractions would

draw large numbers of visitors to the event. According to the ADTA, the Al Ain Air Show is the only air show worldwide to showcase military and civil aircraft, aerobatics and competitions together. “If previous years are anything to go by, there are likely to be huge crowds flocking to Al Ain for what will be an amazing spectacle for the entire family,” Al Sheikh said. "We fully expect the 2010 event to eclipse

previous years' records in terms of size, aircraft on display and spectator numbers." Al Sheikh said he expected the show to play a role in boosting Abu Dhabi’s international profile as a tourism destination. “The forthcoming Al Ain Aerobatic Show will play a pivotal role in bringing the emirate to a wider audience and positioning it as a world-class destination for leisure, business and tourism,” he announced.

Events Food and Hospitality Expo Manama, Bahrain, January 12-14 (www.foodexpbh.com) Hospitality technology, systems and equipment, along with exhibitors from international food companies.

EMITT Istanbul Istanbul, Turkey, Feb 11-14 (www.emittistanbul.com) Exhibition for travel professionals in the east Mediterranean and Eurasia.

Moroccan Travel Market Marrakech, Morocco Jan 14-17 (www.mtm.ma) International fair for tourism professionals.

Gulfood Exhibition 2010 Dubai, UAE, Feb 21-24 (www.gulfood.com) Food and beverage exhibition.

FITUR Madrid, Spain, Jan 28 - Feb 2 Spanish travel show targeted to the business travel market.

Jordan Travel Mart ( JTM) Dead Sea, Jordan, February 21-23 (www.jordantravelmart.com) Showcase of the Jordanian tourism industry.

Middle East Exclusive 2010 Dubai, UAE, Feb 2-4 (www.middleeastexclusive.com) Luxury brand and travel retail exhibition. SME Expo and Conference 2010 Dubai, UAE, Feb 2-4 (www.smeexpo.com) Exhibition and conference for small and medium enterprises.

Meetings Africa 2010 Johannesburg, South Africa, February 24-26 (www.meetingsafrica.co.za) Business tourism exhibition showcasing meeting venues, destinations and industry support services.

Business Travel and Meetings Show 2010 London, UK, February 9-10 (www.businesstravelshow.com) Formerly the Business Travel Show, this event caters to consumers and suppliers of corporate travel services.

ITB Berlin Berlin, Germany, March 10-14 (www.itb-berlin.com) A combination of trade exhibition, public exhibition and professional convention for the travel trade industry.

Travel Technology Europe London, UK, February 9-10 (www.traveltechnologyshow.com) Educational and trade event centered on sales, operational, and marketing technology.

GIBTM Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 29-31 (www.gibtm.com) International event for the business travel and meetings industry in the Gulf and Middle East region.

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Travel Trade Weekly Issue 8