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Middle East and North Africa Edition

RAFFLES MAKKAH Raffles’ much anticipated Saudi Arabian property has launched in Makkah, in time to host Ramadan visitors to the city. Raffles Makkah is located in the Abraj Al Bait complex, immediately adjacent to the Masjid Al Haram, which houses the Kaaba.

The Middle East can expect to experience a faster than average rebound in business travel, according to leading experts. A global study of corporate travel by the US National Association of Business Travellers (NBTA) found that emerging markets such as the Middle East, Latin America and Asia would grow much more rapidly than Europe or the US.

4 EMIRATES US BOOST Emirates has flagged will double its daily flights to Los Angeles and Houston, following a significant increase in revenue for the Americas throughout 2009 and 2010. With the new flights, Emirates will offer more than 15,000 seats on 98 return flights per week to the US.

In This Issue Market Update Accommodation News Air Travel News International News Agents’ Corner Travel Tips Travel Talk Who’s Moved Rendezvous Events AUGUST 21, 2010

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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Deputy Editor Laura Warne Journalist Louis Dillon Savage

Middle Eastern Corporate Travel to Recover Faster Than Old World Markets The Middle East can expect to experience a faster than average rebound in business travel, according to leading experts.

Design & Layout Elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Marianna Tsiamas Evelina Hadjigeorgiou


global study of corporate travel by the US National Association Directors Andreas Constantinides of Business Travellers (NBTA) Mary Kammitsi found that emerging markets Headquarters such as the Middle East, Latin P.O. Box 25255 America and Asia would grow much more Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 rapidly than Europe or the US. Fax: +35722318958 Some markets are expected to outperform their Website established rivals by as much as four times in 2010. One of the interesting findings of the study was Emails that while the recession of 2008-09 was the worst since World War Two, it did not produce the largest decrease in business travel. That dubious honour was claimed by the recession of 2001, according to the study. Craig Banikowski, CEO of NBTA, said the relative buoyancy of the segment had positioned the world for a faster than predicted recovery. “Surprisingly and thankfully, while much of the world has just weathered a devastating recession, declines in business MENA Exchange Rates travel last year were not as Accurate as of 18/8/2010 detrimental as expected, 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)


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

1USD= 3.69 5.69 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 46.85 0.29 3.64 0.38 1.46 8.62 10,003 238 74.9 1.28

positioning the industry to achieve a swifter recovery, which we are already seeing,” he said “Air traffic is rising, along with average fares: hotel occupancy, particularly in higher tiers, is also on the increase.” However, he warned that conditions were still unstable and storms would still need to be weathered. “While we believe recovery is sustainable, corporate travel managers and suppliers should be prepared for a bumpy ride,” he said. James Hogan, CEO of Etihad has also predicted a rebound in business travel in the Middle East. Hogan drew on his own airline’s performance indicators to support his view that corporate travel was on the mend. “The signs of recovery are there, with most of our markets - particularly Asia and the Middle East - showing clear signs of improvement across all cabins,” he said. Hogan said the rapid development of Abu Dhabi would help encourage business travel to the region.

Declines in business travel last year were not as detrimental as expected

NAS and Lufthansa Secure Long Term Technical Services Partnership Saudi Arabia’s National Air Service, the parent company of Nasair, has signed a partnership agreement with Lufthansa Technik, the technical division of Lufthansa. The agreement will see Lufthansa Technik maintaining NAS aircraft in Saudi Arabia for a period of 10 years, while supplying engineers and experts to oversee the growth of NAS’s own

technical division. The two plan to form a partnership to operate within the next three years, offering technical and maintenance services to third party airlines in Saudi Arabia. NAS is also instituting a recruitment drive for local engineering students, who will be sent to study in Germany with Lufthansa’s own trainees. AUGUST 21, 2010

Sharjah Rises to Global Benchmarks Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) will enhance its recently launched tour guide training and licensing programme by adopting the internationally recognised methods of World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA).


FTGA is a not-forprofit organisation, linked to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Recently, two SCTDA employees, including Majid A Al Qassimi, were chosen to participate in a WFTGA training programme, giving them the skills to train other tour operators. As a result, Al Qassimi will now be responsible for overseeing the Sharjah Tourist Guide Training and Licensing

Programme. Mohamed A Al Noman, director general of SCTDA, said the programme would also promote Emiratisation and advance the prospects of Emirati employees. “WFTGA accreditation is an important step for many trainers and we are delighted that Majid A Al Qassimi has become one of the few Emiratis to be recognised as a WFTGA accredited trainer,” he said. “We are aware of the critical role played by tourist guides in the tourism promotion process, and that is why we

are committed to providing Sharjah’s guides with the best possible training format through our Tourist Guide Training and Licensing Programme as well as our qualified WFTGA accredited trainers.”

We are aware of the critical role played by tourist guides in the tourism promotion process

Dubai Aquarium Targets Divers Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is capitalising on leisure tourists and seasoned divers, with new experiences that include underwater photography, shark feeding and diving certification. The aquarium’s new PADI certified specialty diving course offers three different dives, which count towards divers’ PADI Master Scuba Diver ratings. Damien Prendergast, general manager of Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo said the facility’s location within Dubai Mall was a unique selling point. “We are always finding ways to push the envelope in offering unprecedented adventures at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo,” he said. “For novice divers, our cage snorkelling experiences and shark dives are a great introduction to the underwater world. “We are now looking to enhance and improve the experiences for seasoned divers.”

We are always finding ways to push the envelope in offering unprecedented adventures AUGUST 21, 2010


- Accommodation

New Hotels in Lebanon Benefit from Upswing According to STR Global, newly opened hotels in Beirut are benefiting from the city’s recent and dramatic upswing in performance.


ccording to Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR, much of the newfound strength can be attributed to the industry’s stoicism throughout Lebanon’s recent political upheavals. RevPAR for the first six months of 2010 averaged USD149.79 compared with USD39.56 for the same period in 2007, which was the worst performance for a first half of a year in Beirut since 2005. STR reported that many other Middle Eastern hotel markets are still struggling in the wake of the global financial crisis, but that Beirut continues to flourish. The continued growth seen in Lebanon can be attributed to the newfound

political stability that followed from the 2008 Doha agreement which cemented peace between rival domestic factions. According to Randall, Lebanese hotels were strategically savvy throughout the worst of the country’s political crisis. Following the 2006 assassination of Rafik Hariri, then prime minister of Lebanon, and the ensuing unrest, hotels maintained high average daily rates. According to Randall, that decision put the local industry on a strong footing for recovery once peace returned to the country. “Hotel performance in Beirut at that time clearly demonstrates that when there is little demand to stimulate, there is no point in dropping rates,” she said.


When there is little demand to stimulate, there is no point in dropping rates

Oman Opens First Alcohol Free Hotel - The Platinum Oman Oman has become the latest Gulf country to host a hotel aimed specifically at the regional market, with the opening of its first alcohol free hotel. The Platinum Oman has opened its

doors in downtown Muscat, close to the Grand Mosque and commercial district. The five star hotel incorporates 85 rooms and suites, spa options and business facilities.

Alcohol free hotels have been gaining ground in the Middle East in recent times, catering to non-drinking regional citizens and travellers from dry countries.

El Seref Project Changes Direction Based on Local Market Conditions The development plan for the El Seref project in Sudan has been modified in response to the shifting local market. The multi-use hospitality and events facility has been forced to repurpose certain components in the face of softened local demand for events space. A building that was intended to serve as a ballroom for the five star hotel on site is being redeveloped as a food and beverage outlet. Daniel During, managing partner of Thomas Klein International, contractors for the renovation, explained. 4

“The site was originally planned to be the ballroom of a five star hotel, to be built by El Seref Tourism and Hospitality, however, the local market's needs shifted during the construction of the site, and the owner decided to revisit the usage of the building,” he said. “We definitely have a very large area to work with, and our initial task will be to

The local market's needs shifted during the construction of the site

study the location and the market, and to estimate the potential demand of the location. The biggest task now is to devise exciting concepts for such a big space.” Abdel Rahim El Sadig, the general manager of El Seref Tourism and Hospitality, developers of the project, said it was the first of its kind in Sudan. “The complexity of the project, the sheer size and uniqueness of the site, and the fact that it will be a first of its kind in the region, and a totally new concept to the Sudanese public, makes this a very special project,” he said. AUGUST 21, 2010

Raffles Opens Makkah Hotel in Abraj Al Bait Complex Raffles’ much anticipated Saudi Arabian property has launched in Makkah, in time to host Ramadan visitors to the city. Raffles Makkah is located in the Abraj Al Bait complex, immediately adjacent to the Masjid Al Haram, which houses the Kaaba. Mohammed Arkobi, vice president for Fairmont Raffles Hotels International Makkah, said the hotel was the first in the country with such a privileged location relative to the Haram.

The Abraj Al Bait complex, which will also incorporate the Fairmont Clock Royal Tower hotel, is comprised of seven towers overlooking the Haram. Although the complex is still incomplete, the Raffles Makkah Palace has opened its 213 suites within one of the towers. Khaled Yamak, director of business development for the hotel, said Raffles Makkah Palace marked the introduction of a hitherto unseen level of service into

Saudi Arabia. The property is Raffles’ second within the Middle East and one of only eight Raffles branded hotels in the world. The others are located in Dubai, UAE; Singapore; Phnom Pen and Siem Reap, Cambodia; Beijing and Tianjin, China; and Paris, France. Future hotels are planned in Seychelles, the Phillipines, Maldives, China and Indonesia.

Jaz Hotels Opens Latest Sharm Property with Iberotel Il Mercator Hotel Jaz Hotels, Resorts and Cruises has opened its sixteenth hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt: Iberotel Il Mercato Hotel. The property is located on the Il Mercato promenade in the Om El Seed Hill area. The promenade is a part of the Il Mercato shopping complex in Sharm, which Jaz described as a centre for international brand shopping. The hotel features 276 guest rooms, a spa, four swimming pools and a variety of restaurants and bars. The property also includes a fully equipped meeting and conference facilities. Iberotel Il Mercato was designed by well known Italian architect Danielle Morelli, who was also responsible for designing the Mercato Mall in Dubai. Iberotel Il Mercator Hotel

AUGUST 21, 2010


- Air Travel

US Profits Prompt Emirates to Boost Services Emirates will double its daily flights to Los Angeles and Houston, following a significant increase in revenue for the Americas throughout 2009 and 2010.


ith the new flights, Emirates will offer more than 15,000 seats on 98 return flights per week to the US. Additional services for Los Angeles will begin on October 31, with Houston’s added flights launching on November 1. Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, said Emirates had experienced very strong demand across all of its US gateways in the past year, including healthy premium

and business traffic. “The additional services will provide customers in the Middle East and Asia with even easier access to the largest cities in Texas and California, supporting the burgeoning business and leisure traffic between these markets and the US,” said Clark. He pointed out that more than 750 US firms have opened offices in Dubai and in 2009 more than 400,000 business and leisure travellers visited the emirate from the US, signifying a 23 percent increase since 2007-08.

Los Angeles

Emirates currently flies to New York, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline’s flagship A380 aircraft will be reinstated on one of the double-daily JFK airport New York services from October 31.

The additional services will provide customers in the Middle East and Asia with even easier access to the largest cities in Texas and California

Wataniya Partners with Sixt Car Rental Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways has boosted its customer loyalty programme, Wataniya Airways Diwan, by signing an agreement with Sixt Car Rental. Lee Shave, chief commercial officer for Wataniya, said the partnership would give members an average of 500 to 1,000 miles for every car rental or limousine service used in selected Middle East and European countries. “We are committed to giving our guests levels of service and benefits that are unique, innovative and attractive,” said Shave. “Today’s agreement means that our 6

Wataniya Diwan members can now gain additional rewards from their membership by renting cars or hiring limousine service through Sixt Car Rental in a number of our destinations, including Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Austria and Italy.”

We are committed to giving our guests levels of service and benefits that are unique, innovative and attractive

Wataniya Airways AUGUST 21, 2010

- International

Latin American Airline Alliance – LAN and TAM LAN Airlines SA and TAM SA intend to combine their holdings under a single parent entity, creating a new Latin American airlines group known as LATAM Airlines Group.


he two airlines expect the deal to enable new growth, foster economic development and aid job creation. Furthermore, the airlines have flagged USD400 million in annual expected synergies. Under the deal, TAM would continue to operate as a Brazilian company with its own structure and the current holdings of LAN Airlines would also operate as an independent business unit within the group. Each airline would maintain its current headquarters and governance structure. Maco Bologna, CEO of TAM, said the

move would allow LATAM to compete with foreign carriers, many of whom are increasing services to the region. “This is the completion of the vision of our founder, Captain Rolim, who believed that in an open skies market, a large Latin American airline group would provide much more competitive services to our passengers and cargo customers,” said Bologna. “Together, LAN and TAM will be able to offer new destinations that neither company could have supported on its own.” The combined airline group will provide passenger services to more than 115 destinations in 23 countries, operating a

fleet of more than 220 aircraft and employing more than 40,000 people. Having signed a memorandum of understanding, the two companies will now negotiate towards a binding definitive agreement, subject to due diligence, regulatory approvals, and corporate and shareholder approvals.

In an open skies market, a large Latin American airline group would provide much more competitive service

Hilton’s Flagship Hotel Arm Rebrands to Highlight Resorts Hilton Worldwide has rebranded its hotel brand, introducing a new logo and changing the name from Hilton Hotels to Hilton Hotels and Resorts. The change has been designed to emphasise the brand’s leisure marketing strategy and highlight Hilton’s resort properties, which

now number more than 70 worldwide. Dave Horton, global head of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, said market research had shown positive responses to the changes; this is the first time the logo has been updated since 1998. “Generations of global travellers share a

strong connection with our brand identity,” said Horton. “Our name and core mark are both recognisable and incredibly powerful. “This evolution reflects the modern style and world-class resorts that define our brand today.”

Our name and core mark are both recognisable and incredibly powerful

Cathay Pacific Signs with Travelport Travelport and Cathay Pacific Airways have inked a five year deal that will make the airline’s fares and content available to Travelport’s network of travel agency customers. Rabi Saab, Travelport’s vice president for the Middle East, said new deal comes as part of Travelport’s strategy to secure content agreements; Emirates, British Airways and Etihad have all recently renewed their agreements with the company. Clarence Tai, general manager of sales and distribution for Cathay Pacific, was positive about the Travelport deal. “Both parties have been focused in finding a cost-effective arrangement that provides the greatest benefit for our travel agency partners,” he said. “The latest deal offers comprehensive access to Cathay Pacific’s fares, functionality and content available to travel agents today.” 8

AUGUST 21, 2010

Sambre is Iraq’s First GDS

Agent’s Insight

Sabre Travel Network Middle East (STNME) has partnered with Kanoo Travel to enter the Iraq market. The partnership represents the first global distribution system (GDS) operating within Iraq. Kanoo will distribute Sabre’s travel technology products via a general sales agent structure, giving agencies in Iraq access to global content from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines and tour operators. Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO of STNME, said Iraq was experiencing significant growth. Mubarak Kanoo, deputy group chairman for Kanoo Travel, said the new partnership would join Kanoo’s 180 IATA locations in the region. “Kanoo Travel and Sabre Travel Network Middle East have had a longstanding partnership based on mutual trust and progressive business focus,” said Kanoo. “This is yet another feather in our caps, reinforcing the long term partnerships as well as reflecting our commitment to growth and development of new regions within the Middle East.”

Name: Thelma V Dinoy Position: Senior Travel Consultant Company: Prime Travel and Tourism Location: Dubai Who are your best customers/biggest client market? Our office is located at one of the prime residential areas in Dubai, and I would say that mostly we cater to family holidays/vacations. I have dealt with quite a lot of best customers – and they are actually a mixture of nationalities – Europeans, Americans, South Africans, Arabs.

What advice would you give to a young travel agent beginning their career? For young travel agent beginning their career, I would advise to know and master geography and it is important that you have a passion for travel. When you have passion, you will always find ways to learn - read travel gazettes or magazines, watch travel shows, update yourself on new travel trends. Your customers can also be a good source of learning, as they could be more well-travelled than we are as agents. Always ask questions; in travel every day you learn something new.

When is the best time to visit your destination? Originally I came from the Philippines – the best time to go to the Philippines is between November and May. Between November and January the weather is nice and cool, March to April is summer and we boast quite a lot of good destinations to go to, including Boracay, El Nido and Amanpulo in Palawan, plus good diving destinations like Bohol.

Where is your most popular/highest selling destination? Here in the office, we sell a lot of Indian Ocean destinations (i.e. Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles) and next is Southeast Asia (i.e. Thailand and Malaysia). Indian Ocean destinations are popular because it’s only four to five hours flight from Dubai and the beach is really awesome!

Why is travel important? Travel is important because it enhances your knowledge, lets you experience the culture of other countries and broadens your perspectives.

(L-R) Daniel Naoumovitch with Mubarak Kanoo 10

Always ask questions; in travel every day you learn something new AUGUST 21, 2010

Top Four Green Targets The green credentials of enterprises and destinations are becoming an increasingly important factor for consumers and businesses alike.


anagement consultancy firm Booz and Company has identified four key areas of reform to be targeted by tourism businesses and destinations. George Atalla, a partner at Booz and Company, said that green initiatives would soon become vital to future success. “Tourism destinations are realising that in order to stay competitive, becoming green must be a principal element of their branding and marketing policies," he said. According to Booz and Company, the four main areas of focus for a green destination are as follows.

In order to stay competitive, becoming green must be a principal element

Corporate Travel – Target the Winning Industries Corporate travel contracts are some of the most lucrative money spinners for travel professionals of all types. With a consumer market shifting towards a self service aesthetic, they are also widely predicted to become the bread and butter of travel agents in the near future. However, not all industries travel equally, as shown by the US National Business Traveller Association’s recent study on the global corporate travel sector. For instance, travel from the utilities industry was hit particularly hard by the recent recession, declining by almost 14 percent in 2009. However, this sector is expected to bounce back rapidly as the world recovers. By comparison, real estate, one of the drivers of the economic misfortune, is predicted to continue its decline until sometime later this year, then recover slowly afterwards. The government sector was the strongest throughout the crisis, kept in the air due to fiscal stimulus packages. For those scouting for potential corporate clients, the five industries whose travel spend was predicted to grow most over the next five years were: utilities (to grow by USD38.2 billion); food processing and services (USD32.2 billion); real estate (USD23.2 billion); rubber and plastic manufacturing (USD18.2 billion); and social and personal services (USD17.9 billion).

1. Carbon Emissions: The tourism industry is currently responsible for around five percent of global carbon emissions, largely a result of air travel and accommodations. A recent global study from the World Economic Forum and Booz and Company estimates that these emissions will double by 2035 if left unchecked. Carbon mitigation efforts, therefore, are key to green policy. These efforts should include eliminating and reducing emissions, substituting environmentally harmful practices with more sustainable ones and offsetting remaining emissions. 2. Biodiversity Conservation: A location's unique natural assets are key to its value as a tourist destination. Preservation of these assets is therefore a critical component of sustainable tourism. Over the past two decades, tourism in biodiversity hot spots has increased more than 100 percent, making conservation all the more urgent. 3. Waste Management: Effective liquid and solid waste management is key to the clean perception of a destination. As a major pollutant, waste affects the entire ecosystem, including land degradation, water quality and health and hygiene. Cutting-edge waste management methods such as waste-to-energy conversion can enhance a destination's reputation in the green playing field. 4. Water Supply: Water is an increasingly scarce resource, with many countries facing severe shortages. An adequate and healthy water supply is crucial to a destination's long-term environmental sustainability. Because water provision and desalination are typically significant sources of energy usage and emissions, conservative water policy is doubly important. AUGUST 21, 2010


Charm Lee

Taleb Rifai

President, Korea Tourism Office “We are fully aware that increasing mutual understanding and having healthy discourse regarding culture and religion are key components to serving the medical [tourism] industry. Medical skills and technologies constitute aspects where understanding and co-operation between Korea and the Middle East can be encouraged. The sharing of medical knowledge and technology is yet another opportunity for co-operation between us.”

Secretary General, UNWTO “Despite the extremely challenging economic conditions of recent times, Jordan received 3.8 million international tourist arrivals and nearly USD3 billion in tourism receipts in 2009. These impressive figures can be attributed, in no small part, to the political recognition afforded to the sector in Jordan.”

Understanding and co-operation between Korea and the Middle East can be encouraged

Jordan received 3.8 million international tourist arrivals and nearly USD3 billion in tourism receipts in 2009

Taleb Rifai

Adrian Rudin General Manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi "The Abu Dhabi Dragon Boat Festival (part of Adrenaline Sports Live presented by RANI) is a great success every year and our involvement again for 2010 is important as an Asian hospitality company. We see dragon boating as the perfect sporting activity to sponsor and we are delighted to be holding the third festival at our hotel again this year." Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi

Charm Lee

We see dragon boating as the perfect sporting activity to sponsor

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 12

AUGUST 21, 2010

Jason Geideman

Ivon Prestwood

Dollar Rent A Car has appointed Jason Geideman as branch manager of Dollar Rent A Car in Abu Dhabi. Geideman has more than 10 years of business management experience, including seven years within the car rental industry in the UAE and US. His focus is on competitive market expansion and customer relationship development. Geideman will oversee all of the marketing and sales activities in the Dollar Abu Dhabi branch.

Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi has appointed Ivor Prestwood as general manager. Prestwood has more than 38 years of global experience in the hotel industry, including 31 years with InterContinental Hotels Group. He previously spent two years as general manager at Crowne Plaza Bahrain and was also hotel manager at Crowne Plaza Dubai.

Ahmad Shaban InterContinental Hotels Group Jordan has appointed Ahmad Shaban as cluster director of sales for a range of hotels, including Crowne Plaza Amman, InterContinental Aqaba Resort, Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, Crowne Plaza Petra Resort and the upcoming Crowne Plaza Resort Dead Sea. Shaban has spent several years in the industry, working across Jordan and the UAE.

Edwin Fuller

Rogier van der Werf

Rogier van der Werf

In line with Marriott International’s global strategy to establish dedicated continental divisions, Edwin D Fuller has been appointed to lead the company’s development in the Middle East and Africa. Fuller will take on this responsibility in addition to his continued role as president and managing director of lodging international. Fuller has 38 years of experience with Marriott and was recently named a commissioner of travel and tourism for the state of California, US. He is a graduate of Boston University and the Harvard Graduate School of Business advanced management programme.

Rogier van der Werf has returned to his previous role as director of employee development at Al Bustan Rotana Dubai. He first joined the hotel in 2006 and was promoted to assistant director of employee development, before moving to Towers Rotana as director. Ahmad Shaban

Khaled Nabil Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel has appointed Khaled Nabil as director of sales and marketing. Nabil has more than 22 years of experience within the hospitality industry, most recently working at Sheraton Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Before joining Sheraton in 2005, he also worked with Le Méridien and InterContinental Hotels Group in various sales and marketing roles. Nabil holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel management. 14

Edwin Fuller AUGUST 21, 2010

Q&A with Baeho Kim Family friendly, rich in theme parks and with a solid luxury sector, Korea is a destination seemingly tailored to Middle Eastern holiday habits. However, it has traditionally remained a niche destination for Middle Eastern travellers. As connectivity increases Korea has undertaken a concerted drive to attract more tourists from the Gulf. Baeho Kim, regional director for the Korean Tourism Office (KTO), gave Travel Trade Weekly an insight into his country’s strategy. Travel Trade Weekly: How important is the Middle East as a source market for Korea? Baeho Kim: The Middle East contributes less than two percent of global arrivals. However, the numbers are growing fast in terms of arrivals, room nights and average spend per person. The numbers are expected to grow significantly in the coming years due to increased awareness of the destination as a result of our marketing activities in the region.

Travel Trade Weekly: Is the Middle Eastern market being targeted by Korea? If so, why? Baeho Kim: Korean Tourism Office opened its Dubai office in 2004 to target the Middle East, North Africa and Commonwealth of Independent States countries. Since opening our office, the market has grown significantly with double digit growth on a year to year basis. Gulf tourists to Korea have a high potential, with an average spend of USD400 to USD500 per day and a minimum stay of seven nights or above while on holiday.

Our vision is to target 100,000 [GCC] visitors before the end of this year Moreover, the families are large and take more than two or three rooms per family. The majority of the Arab families prefer to stay in apartments rather than hotels due to the relaxed home-like atmosphere and AUGUST 21, 2010

the fact that they can cook for themselves. Therefore, we work closely with leading apartment chains in introducing exclusive offers for Middle Eastern clientele in order to attract more tourists from this region.

Travel Trade Weekly: What is being done to promote Korea to Middle Eastern travellers? Baeho Kim: Since opening our office in 2004, we have undertaken a multitude of activities targeting Arab tourists ranging from online marketing to promotional offers, consumer exhibitions, trade exhibitions, food festival, cultural shows, print media campaign and many other activities. Apart from the above marketing activities, we also have an Arabic tourism website, tourism brochures tailor-made in Arabic and a food guide for Muslim visitors. The KTO Dubai office promotes Korea as a new family destination that is safe, clean and friendly. Our vision is to target 100,000 [GCC] visitors before the end of this year. To achieve this, we will focus on developing a stronger image of Korea in the minds of GCC nationals by different marketing strategies. The KTO will also provide more opportunities to media and travel agencies to experience Korea through familiarisation trips, and it will also create a unique image of Korean tourism to help GCC nationals better understand the country. In addition to this, we will continue to welcome Muslim visitors to Korea by designating restaurants that serve halal food and creating further guidebooks for Muslims in co-operation with the Korea Muslim Federation.

Baeho Kim

Travel Trade Weekly: Can you tell me about any recent or upcoming developments for tourism in Korea? Baeho Kim: Paramount Pictures will open a theme park and resort complex in South Korea in 2011. Paramount Movie Park Korea will have more than 30 attractions and is expected to attract more than five million visitors during its first year of operation. Paramount Movie Park Korea's USD1.5 billion development is a joint venture led by South Korea's Daewoo Motor Sales Corp. Also, MGM plans to build a theme park to be named MGM studio city. This park is to be built close to the Incheon International Airport. Universal Studios also has plans to open a theme park in South Korea in 2012. 15

WTM Unveils New Technology Theatre for Upcoming 2010 Event World Travel Market (WTM) will expand its technology seminar programme for the 2010 event, to be held in London from November 8 to 11. For the first time in the event’s 31 year history, a conference venue will be positioned on the WTM exhibition floor; a presentation theatre will be erected within the technology and online travel section of WTM. The new theatre is designed as a platform for exhibitors to promote their products and services in 45 minute slots to technology and online travel buyers, as well as other exhibitors and visitors. The 80 seat theatre is just one part of

WTM’s expanded technology and online travel conference and events programme, which will feature names such as British Airways,, Google and Yahoo!, according to Simon Press, exhibition director for WTM. “The new Technology and Online Travel Theatre is a great initiative to help exhibitors communicate the benefits of their products and services to the global travel and tourism industry,” said Press. “World Travel Market is a leader in innovation in the exhibition industry and I’m delighted to be launching such an innovation to the travel and tourism industry in 2010.”

WTM 2009

Events Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress Los Angeles, US, September 22-24 ( Forum for the global medical and wellbeing tourism industry. Outdoor Adventure Dubai Dubai, UAE, October 8-10 ( Adventure sports, outdoor clubs, equipment specialists and holiday destinations. GITEX Technology Week Dubai, UAE, October 17-21 ( Technology solutions for hotels, businesses and consumers. Hotex Fair Syria Damascus, Syria, October 19-22 ( Fair for Arabic and foreign companies in tourism and travel, including hotels, restaurants and equipment suppliers.


World Travel Market London, UK, November 8-11 ( Global event for the travel industry – four day business to business event promoting a range of destinations and industry sectors to international travel professionals. World Green Tourism Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, UAE, November 22-24 ( Inaugural eco-tourism exhibition, featuring tourism authorities, urban city planners, hotels and resorts, property developers, airlines, tour operators, green product suppliers, universities, museums and heritage site organisations. Blossom Japan Tokyo, Japan, January 18-21,2011 ( A new invitation-only luxury travel exhibition focusing on the Japanese market.

AUGUST 21, 2010

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 41  

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

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