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June 2017


Travel & Tourism SPECIAL REPORT

JUNE, 2017

CONTENTS 16 Qatar Rising Looking to generate over five percent of its GDP from tourism by 2025, Qatar’s ‘well-paced national tourism strategy’ is expected to steadily boost tourism numbers.

Asian Boom

31 Trendy Travels

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Understanding tourism trends at particular times is useful for both tourists and tour operators. A relevant, actionable report on all the vital trends for the global tourism industry during 2017.

Asians are travelling more than ever before, boosting tourism regionally and globally. As the largest continent’s economies steadily grow, the outlook for travel appears rather strong.

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Responsible is Sustainable

Being an essential element of the world economy and only increasing steadily thanks to improved transportation and communication, tourism must be responsible to be sustainable..

Ramadan in Qatar

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As the holiest month of Islam, Ramadan in Qatar is a unique time for all. While increased prayer, charity, reflection and strengthening of bonds are the focus, the occasion is celebrated for much more than that.

General Manager Mohd. Allam Ali Director – Marketing James John Editor Abdulwahid Mohammad Sr. Manager – Business Devlpt. Joseph D’Monte Layout & Design A.K. Vinay Kumar Advtg. Graphics Majeed Nadapuram

Circulation Manager Adel Hammam Printed by Raya Commercial Printing Press Advertising Office Gulf Times/Arrayah Building, C Ring Road, P.O. Box 533, Doha Qatar Tel: +974 44466620/21 Fax: +974 44360986 email: advr@gulf-times.com

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The Icon of Hospitality in Qatar

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heraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel has earned its place through time as an iconic destination and established a longlasting relationship with several generations of Qatar. Emerging from a complete renovation, this cultural symbol returns to its former glory, featuring extraordinary 1980s architecture highlighting the region’s exquisite designs, while catering to the needs of the modern social travellers.

Enrich your palate with the resort’s 9 celebrated restaurants, bars and lounges. La Veranda is the perfect place to relish authentic Italian cuisine, while Al Hubara offers an international experience. Visit the city’s original pub, Irish Harp to reconnect and reminisce. The hotel has a legacy of hosting royal family weddings and major regional conferences. Many generations of Doha residents have grown up and celebrated personal milestones at the Sheraton. It is home to the city’s biggest convention Saeid Heidari centre, with over 35,000 square feet of Complex General Manager space to host up to 9000 guests and is the only hotel in Doha to have a private Majlis and meeting area for the Royal Emir during government conventions. Whether it is business, a conference or a short getaway that brings you to Doha, the iconic Sheraton Grand offers the perfect social gathering ground to reconnect and create lasting memories.

An instantly recognisable landmark for over 3 decades in Doha, Sheraton Grand holds a special place in the hearts of Qataris and is located strategically on the crescent bay of the city’s corniche - considered a nexus between the old and the new Doha. The hotel’s pyramidal structure is highly visible and most areas in Doha, including the airport, are within an easy 15 minute reach. It is a true urban resort, offering a perfect mix of business and leisure facilities. At the Sheraton Grand Doha, enjoy the renowned Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience and comfortable work spaces. Activate your mind and body at one of the best health centres in the city – Sheraton Fitness - with an exclusive dynamic workout and daily variety of classes. Take a dip in the swimming pools, while maximizing your time at the extensive landscaped gardens and private beach. Elevate your stay at the hotel with rooms that offer fantastic sea views savored from the spatial balconies. Book a Sheraton Club room and experience the upside of everything, including complimentary Club Lounge and internet access.

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ouq Waqif Boutique Hotels, the five-star designer collection of boutique hotels has announced exquisite offers to celebrate the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan. Through delicious iftars and sohours, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels will offer authentic Qatari hospitality for individuals, families, friends and corporate guests who can also enjoy amazing rooms accompanied with five-stars services. The group’s luxury restaurants will offer iftars and sohour options in a modern and varied menu in an open buffet style. This will include oriental and western sweets in addition to Ramadan beverages in an amazing atmosphere and ambiance that is designed specifically to match with the spirit of the holy month.

Find your oasis this Holy Month at Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels. Retreat to the calm of your room or suite, celebrating the meeting point of Arabian heritage and Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels contemporary style. Night falls and flavors shine, treat yourself to Iftar bounty and Sohour delights to your choice of restaurant at Al Terrace located at Al Mirqab or Ramadan Special Buffet at Al Jasra. Price 610/- QR.

On this occasion Shan Marimutu, SWBH Executive Chef said: “The holy month of Ramadan is the most vibrant time of the year in Qatar, where families and friends get together during iftars and sohours and spend quality time together filled with tenderness and compassion. During this holy month, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels aims to be the desired destination to attract all guests to its restaurants which is considered the perfect place for having a relaxing time and enjoying high level five- star services.” “The hotels’ Iftar and Sohour meals have been carefully and luxuriously designed to cater to every taste and satisfy all segments of the society, where guest can choose from a wide range of options. We will provide the best hospitality to our guests and their families during the holy month in a unique environment and a wonderful Ramadan atmosphere,” he added. Al Jasra Boutique Hotel will greet guests with vivid colours and an exuberant buffet of delectable, traditional delicacies from diverse countries displayed in a delicious buffet prepared by the most renowned chefs. To be open from 6:00 – 8:00pm, the Iftar will feature live cooking stations, wide selection of local and international dishes, kids under 10 years old can enjoy complimentary Iftar, with the Sohour buffet available from 9:00pm – 2:00am. Al Jasra Boutique Hotel guests will also be able to enjoy the Ramadan souq exisiting inside the hotel and shop for perfumes, Oud, incense, spices, different types of dates, handicrafts, antiques or gifts for their loved ones during Ramadan. Further, Al Terrace Restaurant at Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel will offer a majestic menu of traditional Arabic dishes to be enjoyed either out in the open air or indoors decorated for the occasion. A wide variety of Arabic and Lebanese dishes awaits guests at the Iftar Buffet from 6:00 – 8:00pm and at Sohour a la carte from 9:30pm – 2:00am, indoor, outdoor and on the terrace where kids under 10 years can enjoy the iftars for free. In addition, Al Shurfa Arabic Lounge will offer Sohour meals from 6:00pm – 2:00am on its outdoor terrace with sweeping views of Doha skyline on top of Al Jomrok Boutique Hotel. The menu will include a wide variety of international dishes, appetisers and special selection of Ramadan sweets for its guests.

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A delectable Eid brunch buffet for QR 125 with mouth-watering Moroccan dishes and homemade desserts fused with contemporary techniques and flair for the unique flavor awaits at Argan located at Al Jasra Boutique Hotel. Serving from 12:00nn to 4:00 pm all throughout Eid Al fitr. Share the joy of Eid with your loved ones and enjoy family-friendly Eid dinner buffets in true Arabian style with live entertainment at Al Terrace located at Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel where kids eat for free 10 years old below. Buffet are available only for QR 125 per person inclusive of beverages, 6:00pm to 11:30pm.


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Create memorable Ramadan moments with The Westin Doha

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his Ramadan, step through the doors of The Westin Doha’s Ramadan tent and into an Arabian wonderland inspired by the colors and patterns of the desert night skies to create truly special Ramadan moments with your loved ones. Located in the Westin’s Grand Ballroom, the largest pillarless ballroom in Qatar, the Ramadan tent at Doha’s serene downtown sanctuary will be transformed with a stunning array of Arabic inspired interiors and exquisite furnishings, including striking centerpieces and the largest display of dates and chocolate in Doha. Open from sunset to 2am, The Westin Doha invites you take a gastronomic journey through our Arabian Food Bazaar and encounter a culinary crossroads where East meets West, featuring sumptuous treats from around the world, served in elegant surroundings in the heart of Qatar’s bustling capital. Start your journey with a selection of traditional mezze served directly to the table, including perennial favourites such as baba ghanoush, fattoush, tabbouleh, vine leaves, makdous, and muhamarah, served alongside a variety of fresh Ramadan juices including tamarind, laban, and jallab flavours. After your mezze, discover live food stations and stalls offering local delights such as traditional Ouzi and succulent lamb, kazu sarma, roast quzi, lentil soup, and chicken bil forn, as well as mouthwatering mougrabia, karniyarik, and tantuni. Follow the delicious aromas of spices

and grilled meat through the food market and uncover street food from Istanbul and authentic Turkish favourites such as kunrucu (spicy sausage and cheese stuffed pita), lokantaci, and delicious balik ekmekci (a tasty fried fish sandwich). Continue your taste journey further afield to explore international flavours, including pad thai noodles from Thailand, seafood tagine from Morocco and many more.

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Freshness and taste are guaranteed, with each ingredient specially selected to ensure the most authentic food experience. Our executive chef has personally traveled to Turkey to source original flavours and produce for the Westin’s Ramadan spread, delivering delicious flavours of the highest quality. To wrap it all up guests can indulge in a sumptuous selection of delectable desserts, featuring an extensive selection of dates and heavenly chocolates, plus an awe-inspiring chocolate fountain featuring sumptuous morsels ready to coat in the most luxurious chocolate. Finish your meal with a selection of traditional Turkish, Arabic and international desserts delivered to your table, including delicious mammoul, baklawa, umm Ali, cheesecake, crème caramel, and rose-scented rice pudding.

Treat yourself and your loved ones to the luxury of one The Westin’s private pool villas, providing the perfect escape from the arduous of city life in Doha in a modern downtown sanctuary devoted to your absolute relaxation. Perched in the gardens of the hotel, our villa provides utter privacy for your whole party and anticipates your every need and more with its decadent array of amenities and services.

After this culinary feast, guests taking souhour can unwind to the sounds of the oud, recharge with flavourful Shisha and enjoy games such as chess and backgammon with their loved ones as they socialize and rejoice during this holy month. Children aged 0-6 years old are complimentary, and families will receive a 50% discount for children aged 6 - 12 years old. Special packages are available on request, with private Iftar and Suhoor venues available for groups of 50 to 600 pax. Iftar is served from sunset until 8pm. Suhour is served from 9.30pm until 2am.

Create extra-special Ramadan moments with a private Majlis Dine, socialize and rejoice with your loved ones in the privacy of your own majlis. Treat your guests to specially designed menus and the finest 5-star hospitality as the Westin Doha’s banqueting team design your Ramadan event to the finest detail, ensuring a unique and memorable experience.

Guests choosing the Heavenly Summer Escape package can enjoy two 90 minute treatments of their choice from the Heavenly Spa’s fabulous treatment menu, relaxing massages, cleansing facials and invigorating body treatments. Then unwind in the seclusion of your private villa with an additional hour to delight in the refreshing haven of your own private pool and enjoy rejuvenating refreshments.

The Westin Doha June Pool Pass Residents of Doha can also escape from the frantic pace of the capital with an exclusive pool pass. Soak up the sun at the outdoor pool, create lasting family memories at the Wave pool and children’s pool, or relax and cool down at the hotel’s indoor pool from just QR 800 during Ramadan.

Ladies Only Pool Times Escape the summer city heat at The Westin’s indoor pool with exclusive Ladies only hours on Monday mornings from 8am until 12pm and Wednesday evenings from 5pm until 9pm. Relax and refresh with girlfriends and family while you reflect on this holy time together.

Squash Courts at The Westin Doha Hotel & Spa Where to Eat, Unwind and Refresh this Ramadan at the Westin Doha Ramadan Tent Open daily, Sunset – 2:00 am

Discover the facilities of Doha’s Downtown Sanctuary with access to the hotel Squash Court - perfect for those working or living in downtown Doha. Challenge your friends, colleagues and families to an exciting and invigorating game of squash, with the courts accessible from 7am until 11pm every day, excluding Fridays.

Luxe Lounge

Celebrate Eid with the Westin Doha

Modern lounge located in the hotel lobby, welcoming guests in a cozy atmosphere and a relaxing ambience. Enjoy a choice of pastries, petit fours, chocolate pralines and a unique selection of quality coffees and a variety of aromatic and herbal oriental teas. Open daily, Sunset – 2:00 am

Celebrate with your family at The Westin Doha during Eid and receive a 10% discount on a room of your choice. Ideally located at Doha’s residential district on Salwa Road, The Westin Doha offers a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city. So whether you are looking for a relaxing staycation or a five-star city break over the Eid festivities, the Westin Doha is the perfect base.

Seasonal Tastes Seasonal Tastes is fueled by international cuisine, showcasing the freshest produce and ingredients, all prepared fresh, a la minute, with an emphasis on healthy food with a modern approach to preparation and presentation. During Ramadan, the buffet will be inspired by Arabic signature dishes and international favorites. Open daily. Breakfast: 6:00 to 11:00 am. Lunch: 12:30 to 3:00 pm. Dinner: 6:30 to 11:00 pm.

Heavenly Summer Escape This June, spend more time with family and friends and enjoy a space to relax and cool down at Doha’s serene downtown sanctuary with The Westin Doha’s Heavenly Summer Escape package.

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Decorated with modern furnishings, warm colour schemes and understated decorative accents, The Westin Doha’s Deluxe Rooms provide every comfort. Experience the signature Westin Heavenly® Bed and luxurious bathroom with separate bathtub and rainforest shower, plus free wifi. Or splurge on an Executive Room to enjoy access to Westin Executive Club Lounge. Bookings for Eid will include breakfast at the Westin Doha’s international restaurant, Seasonal Tastes and guests can take advantage of late check out until 4:00 pm. This package is available from 23rd till 28th June and guests can avail this special package for bookings up to 24hrs prior. Once booked the reservation is non-refundable.


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erched between the majestic dunes of the Arabian Desert and the pristine Arabian Sea, the Sealine Beach, a Murwab Resort is a destination for families wanting a fun-packed break in beautiful surroundings.

With some of the country’s most scenic and natural beauty, our trademark hospitality services and a rich variety of leisure activities, Sealine Beach, a Murwab Resort has over the past 20 years been a cornerstone of the Qatari weekend escape for guests who seek a reclusive family-style resort accommodation. This is why many of our habitués come from GCC countries, who we present with exceptional offers, as the added privacy element is one of their top preferences in a five-star escapade. Sealine Beach, a Murwab Resort is also an ideal location for business meetings and events, with delegates attracted by the resort’s comfortable atmosphere and comprehensive leisure facilities. Our guest units have also proved popular with travelers and groups of friends aiming to spend a joyful vacation away from the city’s busy life. Following our recent full-scale renovation, our resort now serves as a premium holiday destination for local and international tourists. Besides swimming and relaxing by the seaside, this area of Mesaieed is known for sand dune bashing, Beach Buggy racing, and Safari trips. But those are just two of the activities our guests like to engage in, as they also enjoy water sports, culinary adventures, and quality family entertainment, all while basking in a lifestyle of luxury, privacy and comfort. Sealine, a Murwab resort, offers local vacationers and international tourists a one-of-a-kind leisure experience at one of the country’s most exclusive seaside locations.

In addition to Safari trips and desert-themed activities that we offer in partnership with first-class service providers, we also offer the best water sport facilities in the Mesaieed area – including several exclusive beach-sport adventures for the first time, and a myriad of recreational and adrenaline-pumping activities at the resort’s revamped facilities. Add to that our breathtaking panoramic sea views, world-class amenities and a beach-front food and beverage offering and mouth-watering signature menus that satisfy the most discerning of palettes, and you have everything guests are looking for in a seaside luxury resort. Treat yourself this Ramadan with the most appealing offers from Sealine Beach, A Murwab Resort for special summer memberships, loyal entrance fees to the resort facilities, exclusive offerings for the rooms and villas and not to forget the appealing packages for Iftar and Sohour.

Owned by Katara Hospitality and managed by Murwab Hotel Group, Sealine Beach Resort is located in the southern part of Qatar, a mere 30-minute drive from Doha’s city center. In recognition of the five-star resort’s service excellence, state-of-the-art facilities and trademark ‘escapade’ experience for its esteemed guests, Sealine Beach has recently been named Qatar’s Leading Luxury Hotel at the Leaders in Hospitality Awards 2017 by The Hotel News Middle East, as well as being recognized as Luxury Travel Guide’s 2017 ‘Luxury Beachfront Resort of the Year - Qatar’. The resort is considered one of Qatar’s leisure landmarks for being in operation for more than 20 years, and by providing amenities and facilities

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that satisfy its guests’ every need and demand, it has earned the position of being one of Qatar’s premier leisure destinations for travelers and local vacationers alike. Sealine Beach’s new extension, which hosts 18 additional villas each featuring 3 or 4 bedrooms with private swimming pools and a 24-hour inroom dining service, caters to the preferences of families and travelers who value the privacy element of a reclusive-style accommodation, while its 77 fully-refurbished guest units – all of which boast redesigned interiors, a complete range of amenities, and a private balcony or terrace – is perfect for couples looking for a romantic break as well as for groups of friends aiming to spend a joyful vacation away from the city’s busy life.


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In 2015, Qatar’s investment in travel and tourism activity comprised 2.2 per cent of the country’s total spending, which is expected to rise by 8.6 per year to 2026. The introduction of new demand drivers is seen as vital to supporting the continued rise in leisure spending, which is expected to reach 44.9bn riyals in 2026, while business travel spending is expected to rise to 17.5bn riyals in 2026.

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atar looks to generate 5.2 per cent of its GDP through tourism over the coming few years, creating 98,000 jobs and managing an inventory of 63,000 hotel rooms, according to research released ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, which took place at Dubai World Trade Centre in the last week of April. The country plans to almost double tourism income over the next few years as visitor numbers grow and the nation hosts FIFA 2022. Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) – the organization charged with taking the country’s tourism industry to the next level – predicts tourism sector’s total economic contribution will reach 81.2 billion Qatari riyals, or 7.3 per cent of GDP, by 2026, up from 48.5bn riyals in 2015, according to data released by the Authority.

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As Qatar works towards its 2030 ambitions to welcome 10 million visitors a year and generate US$17.8bn in tourism receipts, the country aims to focus on experiential travel as the primary driver of tourism growth in the country. The nation is also set to invest up to $45bn in new developments under the national tourism sector strategy 2030. These include $2.3bn earmarked for 2022 World Cup facilities and $6.9bn for transport infrastructure and associated projects.


“Qatar’s well-paced national tourism sector strategy 2030 will steadily boost tourism numbers over the coming decade, with the first milestone of four million visitors a year by 2020, well on track,” said Simon Press, the ATM senior exhibition director. “The government, hotel operators, airlines and other stakeholders are now beginning to see a return on their investment into the country’s tourism sector,” he concluded.

million in 2016. The total contribution of the tourism sector to Qatar’s GDP increased from 3.6 percent in 2013 to 4.4 percent in 2015. Qatar’s main tourism products are conference and exhibition activities, arts and culture, family entertainment products and sports tourism. The secondary products are marine tourism, educational tourism and medical tourism.

QTA also opened a number of representative offices in key cities around the world and launched a series of destination and business events branding campaigns and more than 200 international media and promotion campaigns for tourism in Qatar. In addition, the authority in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior and other concerned authorities introduced a new free transit visa and simplified the entry procedures for cruise passengers, in addition to entering into a partnership with visa processing services provider VFS Global.

Easing access to Qatar through visa facilitation is one of the crucial elements in achieving growth in the tourism industry These measures are expected to triple the number of cruise ships visits over the next three years and bring the number of cruise tourists to nearly 300,000 during the 2019-2020 season.

Fastest Growing Regional Destination Qatar is among the fastest-growing destinations in the region in terms of visitor arrivals, averaging 11.5 per cent growth over the past five years, according to QTA. The authority recorded arrivals of 2.18 million visitors in the first nine months of 2016, including more than one million GCC nationals.

QTA is the authority responsible for planning, regulating and promoting a sustainable tourism sector in Qatar with the aim of achieving economic growth and social development. In 2016, the authority hosted three editions of Qatar Summer Festival, which contributed QR630m to the economy in addition to the first edition of the Qatar Shopping Festival contributing QR1.06bn to the country’s GDP.

It is as a result of such measures that the city of Doha was ranked 64th in Euromonitor International’s annual Top City Destinations Ranking covering 100 of the world’s leading cities, and Qatar’s hospitality sector was ranked at the top of GCC destinations in the “Guest Experience in the Middle East (ME)” report released by hospitality and travel data providers Olery. With QTA set to launch the next phase of the National Tourism Sector Strategy in September aiming to promote Qatar as a world-class tourist destination characterized by its deep historical and cultural roots, it is relevant to note some of its key achievements, which were achieved in close cooperation with concerned government institutions and stakeholders:

The country’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) saw passenger traffic jump 20 per cent in 2016, handling some 37.3 million passengers – a rise of 7.3 million from the previous year. The surge is partly attributed to Qatar Airways’ addition of 14 new destinations last year. The airline has now begun the world’s longest flight by duration – a 17-plus hour route from Auckland to Doha. Arrivals in 2017 received a further boost from the cruise season, running from October 2016 to April 2017, during which some 30 ships were expected to dock in Doha, generating another 55,000 visitors. This is forecast to reach as many as 250,000 passengers by the 2018/19 season. To deal with the expected demand, Qatar currently has 22,921 hotel rooms with a further 15,956 rooms under contract, representing a 69 per cent increase in total stock in the current pipeline. Since the launch of the current phase of the tourism strategy, the number of tourists has increased from about 2 million in 2011 to 2.9

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Policy Developments to Boost Tourism Easing access to Qatar through visa facilitation is one of the crucial elements in achieving growth in the tourism industry, making a positive impact on the economy and enriching the society. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) completed a study on Visa Facilitation in Qatar, and in the fourth quarter of 2016, QTA announced three key related developments that will greatly facilitate entry to Qatar, raising its attractiveness as a tourist destination: Partnership with VFS Global for

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Efficient Tourist Visa Application System

In August 2016, QTA and Qatar Airways entered into a partnership with VFS Global – the leading provider of visa processing services – with the support of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MOI). The agreement paves the way for a new tourist visa application system that will be: Digital – applications will be online and will produce E-visas; More accessible – visitors can apply at Qatar Airways offices around the world; Faster – applicants can expect a response within 48 hours; More transparent – visitors will be able to track the status of their application online. Introduction of New Transit Visa

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In September 2016, QTA, Qatar Airways and the Ministry of Interior announced a revised transit visa scheme available to passengers transiting through Doha in a move to promote Qatar as a world-class stopover destination. The new transit visa structure allows passengers with a minimum transit time of five

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hours in Hamad International Airport, to stay in Qatar for up to 96 hours (four days). This is a significant increase from the previous transit visa scheme, which allowed travellers with a minimum layover of eight hours to spend a maximum of 48 hours (two days) in Qatar. The new transit visa is set to raise Qatar’s attractiveness as a stopover destination, particularly as it is free of charge and available to passengers of all nationalities, provided they have a confirmed onward journey and apply through Qatar Airways at least seven days in advance of their trip. All visas are approved and issued at the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior. “Promoting visa facilitation is a priority for tourism development worldwide and a key element in the competitiveness of tourism destinations. We are very pleased to see that the work conducted by UNWTO with Qatar on visa facilitation is yielding results and trust that these will certainly result in an increase of visitors to Qatar.” – Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General

Facilitating Disembarkation for Cruise

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Passengers

As cruise passengers currently spend less than 24 hours in Qatar, it was important to ensure that they could maximize on their time in Qatar with a swift and smooth disembarkation process. Thanks to enhanced technology and close collaboration between cruise operators, security officials, and its partners at Ministry of Interior and Mwani – Qatar Ports Authority, QTA provided cruise liners in 2016 with a new procedure that allows cruise passengers to disembark within minutes and begin enjoying their on-shore excursions. As part of the new operating procedure, a passenger manifest containing passport details of passengers and crew is shared with immigration officials 48 hours in advance of the ship’s arrival in Qatar. This allows immigration officials to process all relevant information and clear passengers for entry before the ship berths. Cruise passengers then leave the ship and return to it with their ship IDs.


The announcement was made in late September 2016, just before the first cruise ship of the season docked in Doha. In addition, the Ministry of Interior confirmed that cruise passengers, due to the short duration of the stay, are eligible for transit visas, which further eased their entry into the country.

QTA worked with industry partners as they prepared to cater to cruise passengers, who have specific requirements due to their large numbers and short stays. In a series of training courses organised by QTA, tour guides sharpened their communication and commentary skills, their knowledge of Qatar’s tourist sites, and practiced

historical areas, in preparation for presenting them as investment opportunities. Each of these projects comprises development plans that include visitor centres, outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, camel caravans, kayaking and more. In addition, investors have been invited to transform the Doha Exhibition Centre into a Family Entertainment Centre, and QTA is in the process of reviewing proposals in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. The Tourism Products currently under development include: Developing Khor Al Adaid (Inland Sea) into a hub for organised desert activities;

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Developing Al Thakhira and Bin Ghannam Island into a sports and leisure destination;

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Converting Doha Exhibition Centre into a Family Entertainment Centre;

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Developing Mas’habiyya stone quarry into a desert-themed luxury resort;

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Promoting Al Zubarah Fort as a culture and heritage destination in collaboration with Qatar Museums; and

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Developing and promoting Qatar’s Northern Villages as authentic tourism destinations in association with Qatar Museums.

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Growing Entrepreneur Participation

how to build relationships with their tour groups to ensure a wholesome and unique experience.

The Emergence of Cruise as a Sub-Sector Developing Tourism Cruise tourism is one of QTA’s stand-out success stories of 2016. The new disembarkation and visa facilitation measures were introduced in time to support the exponential growth experienced during the 2016/2017 season. With projections showing a three-fold increase in the number of port calls over the next three years, cruise tourism is set to bring approximately 300,000 visitors to Qatar by the 2019/2020 season.

Products

QTA sees the involvement of the private sector as critical to the development of a tourism industry that celebrates Qatar’s culture and benefits its people. In 2016 the authority completed the concept plans and feasibility studies of several major nature reserve and

QTA’s efforts to engage the private sector in the development of the tourism industry are not limited to established investors. Work continued throughout 2016 to attract Qatari entrepreneurs to QBIC Tourism, a specialised business incubator within Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), established through a partnership between QBIC, Qatar Development Bank and QTA. At the end of 2016, two innovative business ideas including the first spear fishing academy in Qatar and an app for personalised limousine services were accepted as incubatees in QBIC Tourism, bringing the total number of incubatees to 7.

In collaboration with its partners at Mwani – Qatar Ports Authority, QTA has ensured preparations are underway to meet this growth with a QAR2 billion project to upgrade Doha Port, which began in April 2017. Once complete, the Port will be a world-class cruise ship hub and a tourism destination in the heart of Doha, helping to position the country as a turnaround port by the 2018/19 cruise season. Becoming a turnaround port means that in the near future, international cruise passengers could fly to Qatar, enter using a transit visa, and begin and end their cruise in Doha. This will increase the length of stay in Qatar of a growing segment of visitors, and allow them to further explore the country’s tourism offering, while increasing the economic impact of cruise tourism. In addition to creating infrastructural and policy frameworks to support cruise tourism,

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management and operators equally accountable for the property’s classification. The new system aims to strengthen and maintain Qatar’s well-deserved reputation for excellence in hospitality through closer grading and inspection. Hotel grading now for the first time includes evaluation of a hotel’s reflection of the local Qatari culture in its service – strengthening the country’s unique positioning and cultural offering as a destination. Hotels are also graded on their sustainability measures, accessibility, and overall guest experience. Inspection of all 4- and 5-star hotels was completed in 2016 and hotels are working towards making the changes needed in order to maintain or boost their grading. In 2017, QTA will focus on inspecting 3-, 2- and 1-star hotels.

In further support of local business talent, QTA involved 60 entrepreneurs as well as the Bedaya Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development in the plans for Qatar’s inaugural shopping festival – Shop Qatar. Festival plans incorporated pop-up shops throughout participating malls to showcase locally made products and designs, in addition to being involved in outdoor festival activities.

Developing Qatar’s First Shopping Festival The addition of Shop Qatar to Qatar’s calendar of festivals and events marked a “Brand New Tradition.” The festival forms part of QTA’s strategy to grow and diversify Qatar’s tourism offering, particularly in the area of family and urban entertainment. Plans for the new festival were drawn up with a focus on Qatar’s burgeoning retail sector, which has proven to be an important part of tourism spending in Qatar. According to figures from Qatar’s draft Tourism Satellite Account – a system approved by the United Nations for establishing the impact of tourism on a country’s economy – shopping represented a bigger portion of tourism spending in 2014 than hotel bookings or food and beverage, contributing QAR 6 billion to the country’s economy.

business events companies to the list of entities that can be licensed and incorporated in to QFC’s regulatory framework. This makes it significantly easier for international exhibition and event organising companies to establish a presence in Qatar, in turn helping to contribute to the growth of business events, a priority sub-sector of Qatar’s tourism industry.

Launch of ‘Medyaf’ Ambassador Programme QTA also intensified efforts to involve local organisations in efforts to attract global events to Qatar. By the end of 2016, QTA had partnered with 27 entities in Qatar to bid for international conferences, meetings and exhibitions across various sectors. 2016 also saw the launch of the Medyaf Programme, an initiative that empowers professionals in Qatar to act as ambassadors for the country as a business events destination.

Offering the ‘Complete Qatar’ Experience

The festival also aims to capitalise on the country’s wonderful winter weather and is timed to coincide with school holidays in neighbouring countries, from 7 January to 7 February.

QTA hosted numerous familiarisation trips throughout the year to allow event planners to experience Qatar’s offering first hand. In November 2016, QTA hosted the four-day Complete Qatar familiarisation and educational trip. The trip presented the group with a rich opportunity to sample Qatar’s business tourism highlights before meeting with local suppliers one-on-one. Activities included a tour of the Qatar National Convention Centre’s facilities and the Museum of Islamic Art, a desert safari and a visit to Souq Waqif.

Developing the Business Events SubSector

New Hotel Grading and Classification System

In addition to cruise tourism and tourism festivals, the business events sub-sector saw important developments in 2016, some of which are as follows:

QTA ensures tourism establishments, including hotels, tour operators, and providers of tourism products and services, operate at the highest standards and are reflective of Qatar’s culture.

Partnership with QFC to facilitate establishment of event organising companies In order to expand the range of events management services in the country, QTA signed a partnership with Qatar Financial Centre to facilitate the establishment of business events companies. Through the agreement, QFC added

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In 2017, QTA introduced new systems for regulating the sector, as well as measures to streamline licensing and lessen the bureaucratic burden for those wishing to invest in the sector.

The authority does this through setting rules and regulations that help establishments follow industry best practices. In January 2016, QTA introduced a grading and classification system for hospitality establishments which holds developers, owners,

Laying the Groundwork for Tour Guide Licensing As part of its efforts to ensure providers of tourism products and services operate at the highest standards and are reflective of Qatar’s culture, QTA introduced in 2016 a new code of standards for tour guides across the country, based on international best practices and in consultation with the UNWTO. Moving forward, tour guides must be able to demonstrate their ability to meet these standards in order to receive a new Tour Guide License, which will be issued by QTA. The license will act as a critical seal of approval on tour guides as Qatar welcomes a growing number of tourists, especially given the crucial role tour guides play in shaping a tourist’s experience of a destination. The Tour Guide License will officially come into effect in October 2017, and guides who do not hold a license will not be able to operate in Qatar. To ensure tour guides are equipped with the tools to receive the license, QTA entered into a new partnership with Stenden University Qatar to provide guides with the training needed to achieve the standards required for licensing. Various courses have been tailored to suit different levels of expertise, and will launch this year. (Information Credit: www.qatartourism.gov.qa and other online sources.)


By Annie Fitzsimmons

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very December, top hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, travel agents, and members of the media descend upon Cannes, France, for the annual International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), the travel industry’s version of the Cannes Film Festival. The gorgeous hotels there—the Hotel Barrière le Majestic, the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, and more—feel like movie sets, their lobbies bubbling with travel gossip and champagne. Each time I walked into the lobby of the InterContinental’s Carlton, I imagined bumping into Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, who filmed the great French Riviera caper To Catch a Thief there. Here, plucked from Cannes’ sands like so many rare shells, are seven luxurious finds to inspire your 2017 travel plans:

Backlash against Luxury Luxury, one of travel’s most overused declarations, can feel like a dirty word. (I stayed at a hotel once where my shower cap was labeled as luxury.)

But 2017’s not about solid marble suites or gold-leaf interiors. Many at Cannes talked about returning luxury to its roots—something precious, rare, and most important, invested in emotional value. Defining your own luxury, says Gary Murphy of AmaWaterways, could be a surfing camp with no electricity or a five-star river cruise with plenty of bikes onboard for shore excursions. Grace Hotels takes personalization even further; with Bespoke by Grace, guests can pick their room fragrance and bath products but also choose from insider experiences like blending your own wine in Argentina or a guided hike in Connecticut.

Experience over ownership Luxurians no longer want souvenirs. The elite traveler now thirsts for access over acquisition, and experiences over owning stuff. This is “good news for travel, bad news for handbags,” Chris Sanderson, co-founder of the Future Laboratory, a trend-forecasting agency, said at a Ritz-Carlton hotels breakfast. Owning specific, expensive products like the Hermès Kelly bag doesn’t mean as much anymore. Travel experiences—and posting about them—matter more.

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The next travel buzz word: Simplicity Words like “curated,” “artisanal,” and “authentic” fill press releases, but at ILTM, the bonniest bon mot was “simplicity.” True luxury is slowing down—that moment of decompression when you see a phenomenal view— and feeling completely unburdened. “[There are] too many options,” says Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations. “People are overwhelmed with apps, blogs, reviews, aggregator sites, social media channels, and news feeds.” Travel advisors are now information navigators and matchmakers, pairing people with experiences. For Ezon, the right answer is not which is better, but which is best for them. “Computers cannot yet dig beneath the surface,” Ezon explains. “We don’t take orders for destinations. We listen and give them what they perhaps had not considered. One client spent hours deciding if they should go to the Four Seasons or the St. Regis in Bora Bora for Christmas. But they didn’t know it was monsoon season and when they called us, we asked why they wanted to go and learned they wanted cultural immersion with a beach and some nightlife. Bora Bora wasn’t a great match. They ended up going to Phuket, which was exactly what they wanted, but didn’t know it.” Phuket, a beautiful island in the Andaman Sea off of the coast of Thailand, is a popular choice for beach lovers. Anne Scully, president at McCabe World Travel, recently posted about her adventures in Paris and booked several clients because of it. “It’s all about being a storyteller,” she says. “We are all storytellers and we trust other travelers. I plan to tell the story of Istanbul this year—I will visit and help promote one of my favorite cities.”

Other hotels are also serving this trend. The Park Hyatt St. Kitts (opening summer 2017) will offer personalized experiences focusing on the island’s adventure, cultural, and historic offerings.

There’s an app for that I consider most apps to be like vitamins -- they’re nice to have but not life-changing. The technology is easier, but it doesn’t replace personal service. The Four Seasons Hotels And Resorts app is different. Guests use it

Hotel Finca Romelia in Manizales, Colombia, is a small family-operated hotel and farmhouse. The owners, the Londono Arango family, boast over 6,000 orchid plants and a hundred species of bird on their land.

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primarily for two reasons: to check-in on the way to the hotel and to order room service. I recently used the app at Four Seasons properties in Geneva and Cairo, and loved it. I ordered dessert to my room without talking to anyone, and even retrieved a forgotten razor from housekeeping. TripIt is a stand-out travel app, where you can manage your travel plans, points, mileage, and reservations seamlessly—though the best benefits come when you pay $49 annually for TripIt Pro. But many travel and hotel apps still need work—and I expect by year’s end we’ll have many new ones to love.

‘Small has never been bigger’ Small Luxury Hotels of the World coined this phrase, perhaps fighting back at large chain hotels and resorts. The average size across the brand is 48 rooms. InterContinental Hotels will open a hotel in Venice in 2018 with just 55 rooms, unusual for a larger luxury chain. Guests staying in small hotels tend to want ultra-immersive experiences. “Clients are asking us to create experiences for them that will help them grow as people and as a family,” Ezon says of the trend. “A beach resort is no longer just about pampering yourself; it’s about connecting.”

Family-owned properties Family-owned properties, capitalizing on the travelers’ desire to make deep, local connections, will become an even bigger draw in the upcoming year. In Alaska, Winterlake and Tutka Bay Lodges (both are National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World) are owned and operated by renowned chef Kirsten Dixon, her outdoorsman husband Carl, and their grown children. In Sorrento, Italy, the beloved Grand Excelsior Vittoria, surrounded by lush gardens and Bay of Naples views, has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834. The Beau-Rivage in Geneva is adding 17 show-stopping top-floor suites to its historic building this spring, and is still run by the Mayer family as it has for the past five generations.

Destinations to watch

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ TripIt is a stand-out travel app, where you can manage your travel plans, points, mileage, and reservations.

Yes, Cuba still sizzles, and Rwanda might just be Africa’s next hot destination, but look out for these destinations, too. InterContinental Hotels announced 2017 openings in Sofia, Bulgaria; Ljubljana, Slovenia (Melania Trump’s old stomping grounds); and Tbilisi, Georgia. Eastern Europe, with underrated cities and good value for the money, will continue to grow in popularity. Courtesy: http://www.nationalgeographic.com

Situated on a working tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda, One&Only Nyungwe House will be the first of the two new resorts to open this July.

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Asia Travel boom to continue in 2017

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sians travelled more than ever last year, with a surge in trips to destinations within the region and including many more beach holidays. China was once again the growth driver. After a double-digit rise in international trips last year, the outlook remains strong for 2017. The Asian economy continued to grow well in 2016 and is expected to maintain on a solid growth path, according to figures from the ifo Institute for Economic Research in Munich. After GDP growth of 4.8% in 2015, the region was forecast to grow by 4.6% in 2016 and also in 2017, slowing to a 4.4% increase in 2018. In China, fiscal impulses will continue to generate annual economic growth rates of about 6%, but Japan and South Korea will be held back by low growth in international trade, according to the ifo experts.

Dynamic double-digit growth in outbound travel Against this positive economic background, outbound travel by Asians grew by a dynamic 11% in the first eight months of 2016, according to World Travel Monitor® figures. There was a very strong 14% rise in trips to destinations within Asia and also a high 11% increase in travel to the Americas. But the number of trips to Europe dropped by 1% between January and August 2016. Once again, China was the driving force for growth with an 18% rise in outbound trips (excluding to Hong Kong and Macao). But the Republic of Korea also performed very well this year with an 11% rise in international travel. Holidays, which account for an overwhelming 81% of all outbound trips by

Asians, increased by 11% over the first eight months of 2016. There was a healthy 7% increase in international business trips, and a strong 12% rise in the number of visits to family and friends (VFR) and other leisure trips abroad. Asians are clearly going on more sun & beach holidays, which grew by 20% between January and August 2016. There was also good growth for countryside trips (+15%) and city trips (+8%) but the number of touring holidays increased by only 2%. As a result, the average length of stay fell slightly to around 6 nights and average spending per trip dropped by 2% (in euro terms). Rolf Freitag, IPK International founder and president, commented: “This year’s boom in Asian outbound travel, especially by the Chinese, is remarkable. Moreover, we can observe an important long-term trend. Asians are starting to go on fewer sightseeing trips taking in several countries. Instead, many of them dream of relaxing on sun & beach holidays. In other words, they are gradually becoming ‘normal holidaymakers’ like in Western countries.” The social-demographic profile of Asian outbound travellers reflects this trend towards more short-haul holidays within Asia. They are mostly relatively young. About 38% of Asians taking international trips are aged between 1534 while a further 49% are aged 35-54, and only 13% are aged over 55. The proportion of older international travellers is much higher in Europe and North America. Asian outbound travellers

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are on average also slightly better educated and better off than their counterparts in Europe and North America.

Good outlook for 2017 Against this very positive background, the outlook for Asian outbound travel remains good. IPK International predicts a 6% rise in Asian outbound trips in 2017, based on its Travel Confidence Index which measures travel intentions for the next year.

Strong year for Asian tourism Meanwhile, this year’s positive trends in Asian outbound travel are also reflected in international arrivals figures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which show strong growth for many destinations in Asia and the Pacific this year. The region is leading worldwide inbound growth, with international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) up 9% through September, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was well ahead of the 6% growth achieved in 2015. Asia “is the star performer this year” among the world’s tourism regions, Michel Julian, Technical Coordinator of the UNWTO Tourism Market Trends Programme, commented at the Pisa forum. All four sub-regions shared in this growth, led by Oceania (+10%) and followed closely by North-East Asia, South-East Asia (both +9%) and South Asia (+8%). Many destinations reported double-digit growth, with Vietnam (+36%), the Republic of Korea (+34%), Japan (+24%) and Sri Lanka (+15%) in the lead.

Mekong emerges as boom tourism region The ‘Greater Mekong sub-region’ is emerging as a popular new tourism destination in Asia, Jens Thraenhart, executive director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, told the Pisa forum. The sub-region, covering

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi, welcomed 58.7 million international visitors in 2015 compared to 51.9 million the previous year and 31.1 million in 2010. Myanmar has led the way with a 490% rise in international arrivals between 2010 and 2015, followed by Cambodia (+91.5%), Thailand (+87%), Laos (+72%) and Vietnam (+52%). Drivers enabling this dynamic growth include the dramatic increase in low-cost flights in South-East Asia, the rise of Asian intra-regional travel, travellers looking for authentic experiences with local cultures, and niche segments such as Muslim halal travel and LGBT travellers, Thraenhart explained. Mekong Tourism has a wide range of activities designed

to develop sustainable tourism in the region. For example, the Mekong Moments social media campaign is planned to be launched in early 2017 and has great potential to build capacity and engage the industry in promoting the region in collaboration, Thraenhart told the forum. Through the Mekong Tourism Experts programme, individuals are encouraged to contribute content related to their expertise. This ranges from writers, photographers and videographers with unique and unusual Mekong travel experiences, as well as operators offering multi-destination tours and cruises, through to tourism success stories, reports, and case studies from economic development agencies and non-government organisations. Courtesy: ITB World Travel Trends Report 2017-1017

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Asia’s Top 10 Backpacking Destinations

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outheast Asia’s lush tropical landscape and patchwork of ancient civilizations, combined with relatively low prices for western travelers, has drawn a steady stream of backpackers since the counter-cultural movement of the sixties. The current flows as strongly today as ever before and, as this list of the region’s gems attest, it’s easy to understand why. Climbing limestone cliffs from the soft sand of pristine beaches, diving into emerald waters to explore submarine worlds of colorful coral, and weaving handicrafts with a cosmopolitan population of ragged travelers are among the experiences these ten destinations have to offer.

10. Climb or recline on West Railay Beach, Thailand Located on the tropical shores of the Railay peninsula, this stunning setting is among Thailand’s most picturesque white sand beaches, lapped by emerald tides and enclosed by towering limestone cliffs. These cliffs cut the peninsula off from the mainland, so it can only be reached by boat, which enhances its atmosphere of isle-like seclusion. Rock climbing up these jagged sentinels above the soft-sanded beach draws enthusiasts from around the world. And there are also plenty of bars and restaurants, at astonishingly low prices, for the more indolent to indulge in their own brand of pleasure. The accommodation is cheap too, and ranges from bamboo bungalows on the adjacent East Railay Beach, to the affordable and secluded Tonsai Bay Resort on neighboring Tonsai Beach.

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The stunning Railay Beach is a true backpacker hot spot.


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9

Experience the ancient Buddhist culture of Luang Prabang, Laos

A small town in northern Laos, Luang Prabang weaves together natural and man-made beauty. It sits at the confluence of two rivers which girdle the town, beneath forest-swathed hills rising to rugged mountains. The town’s skyline is dominated by one steep hill topped with the gleaming spires of Wat Chom Si, one of many gold-hued wats sprinkled through the town, decorated with intricate mosaics depicting the life of Buddha. Each morning brings the sight of hundreds of monks wandering the town’s streets collecting alms. The town also has a long tradition of handicrafts, sold at the night market which runs until 10 at night. Luang Prabang is sure to be a highlight of any Southeast Asian adventure.

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Lose yourself in Bangkok, Thailand

A global backpacker Mecca, Bangkok’s budget travelers orbit around the hippie haven of Khao San Road, designated by one writer as “the place to disappear”. Handicrafts, food and fruit, pirated CDs and DVDs, and regional barbequed snacks join the jumble of bars and clubs that are filled with lounging travelers at any time of the day or night. Elsewhere in this buzzing, relentlessly eventful metropolis, travelers can step into relative peace in Buddhist temples such as Wat Pho, with its huge golden statue of a reclining Buddha, or explore the vast and labyrinthine Chatuchak Weekend Market. If Bangkok has one truly must-see attraction, it’s the Grand Palace.

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Hit the beautiful beaches of Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville’s latest incarnation as a budget traveler hub marks a fresh twist in its tragically eventful history. It is named after Norodom Sihanouk, a former King of Cambodia, under whom the town became a booming and glamorous port in the 1950s. But after the Khmer Rouge seized power the city was symbolically desecrated; the walls of its luxury Independence Hotel peppered with bullets. Through the past few decades, the town has been traveling the slow road to regeneration, helped in large part by intrepid backpackers who braved the journey’s dangerous reputation and brought back word of the area’s sublime beaches, such as the stunning 4km stretch of white sand, Otres Beach. The town is now the hub of Cambodia’s most vibrant backpacker scene, a chilled-out stretch of bars, restaurants, cheap lodging and tropical coastline, lively but relatively unswamped with travelers. The beach is at the center of the low-key lifestyle of Sihanoukville.

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Get yourself along to the classic hippy hangout of Goa, India

There’s no denying that Goa’s soul has changed since it was first chosen by the hippies of the sixties as an exotic backdrop for exploration of self and consciousness, distanced from the psychic chains of western civilization and conveniently situated in lush tropical surroundings. There are still strong hippy communities in the area, and ragged westerners travel here to make and sell handicrafts. But these days they share the tourist space – including iconic beaches such as Calangute and Baga – with charter holidaymakers, a creeping quantity of upscale resorts, and Catholic and Hindu pilgrims. But a great backpacker scene cuts through all this, feasting on the fantastic cheap food and cavorting in the bars and on the beaches, and in many ways the area’s increasing diversity makes it all the more interesting to visit. Many budget airlines fly direct to Goa’s airport. One of the many beautiful beaches in Goa.

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Encounter the flora and fauna of Cat Ba Island in Vietnam

The jagged archipelago of limestone islands that compose Halong Bay off Vietnam’s north coast have long been one of the country’s top backpacker attractions. As well as the ocean and beaches, there are mangrove forests, craggy peaks and enchanting caverns such as Song Sôt for tourists to explore. This environment is home to a unique world of flora and fauna, including some of the world’s rarest flowers as well as the golden Cat Ba langur. This endangered creature inhabits Cat Ba Island, one of the archipelago’s best stop-offs, an island of breathtaking beauty which packs the best of Halong Bay into one place and is a great base for kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and water sports. Cat Ba Island is one of Vietnam’s up-and-coming destinations.

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Spend time on the island of Bali, Indonesia

Bali’s volcanic landscape, fringed with world famous beaches and alternating barren and forest covered hillsides, attracts millions of tourists from all over the world, traveling on the whole spectrum of budgets. Famous backpacker sites such as Kuta Beach have now been infiltrated with wealthy resorts, top-end restaurants, and private developers who have chomped chunks of the white sand beach. But there is still a terrific budget scene and plenty of cheap and laid-back bars and cafes in which to meet locals and travelers alike. And you can meditate on the island’s spirituality at Tanah Lot Temple, spectacularly situated on a headland jutting out into the ocean. There aren’t many places in the world better for relaxation than Bali.

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Drift among the beautiful Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands make up a small archipelago just north of Lombok in Indonesia. They became popular with backpackers in the ‘80s, looking for a remote experience of the Pacific isles that didn’t require a super-expensive flight to reach. Even two decades after the first intrepid budget travelers set foot on the island’s powdery sand, it remains relatively undeveloped – there’s no automated traffic, and people travel primarily by horse and cart. But there are a few indulgences to choose between, including a Japanese restaurant, good backpacker accommodation, and, inevitably, a lively Irish bar. The island is also famous for its hatching sea turtles, and there is a sanctuary which buys the eggs from the local population to prevent them being sold in the market. And there are some world-class, uncrowded dive sites, such as the ominously named Shark Point. Just next to Bali, the Gili Islands offer a bit more serenity and just as much natural beauty.

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See a different side of China in Yangshuo

Backpackers first flocked to Yangshuo in the ‘80s, set on the trail by a gushing recommendation in Lonely Planet. They discovered an entirely different China to the rapidly industrializing country depicted in the western press, a quiet, picturesque region spread from the banks of two great rivers, Li and Yulong. Strung between these rivers is a rolling landscape of bare karst peaks, green hills, deep sharp-sided caves and unique sights such as Yangshuo Moon Hill, a limestone pinnacle with a moon-shaped hole reached by over 800 marble stairs. The Karst Mountains of Yangshuo are one of China’s most iconic sights.

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Escape the Traveler crowds in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Thailand’s rural north is far less infested with hordes of tourists than the resort-ridden south, and it makes a great escape from the crazy crowds that swarm Bangkok and Phuket during peak season. Chiang Mai is the region’s hub – founded in 1296, it was the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom and designed as the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand. This ancient heritage can be experienced at sites such as Wat Chedi Luang, a towering ruined temple in the center of the city, and the Bhubing Palace, surrounded by colorful gardens a few kilometers out of town. And the city’s cosmopolitan ex-pat population has given rise to a vibrant scene of restaurants, bars and nightlife. look at some golden statues in front of a temple in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.

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By Sara Napier Burkhard 

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our and activity providers are used to spotting trends. It’s a natural part of the trade in an industry that changes globally. What was successful one year might not work as well in the next one. That’s why we’ve put together a relevant, actionable report on all the vital trends of 2017 for the global tourism industry. Here are seven to watch this year.

1. Millennials Millennials are officially the largest generation in history, beating out Baby Boomers. As the youngest generation with disposable income, they have secured their status as leaders in travel and tourism.  They also lead in decision making. They are helping to decide what the major trends and tastes of the New Year will be and are not shy about getting exactly what they want, how they want it. When planning travel, Millennials are used to having their options conveniently available to them. They want to be able to research and book their trips and tours online. As the largest generation to date, this is a vital portion of your clientele base. They will also be the largest market in travel in the next several years.

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2 . Active & Adventure Trips According to Virtuoso, the #2 trend for 2017 is active and adventure travel. These experiences include things like “an African safari, swimming with whale sharks in Mexico or Australia, or hiking the Swiss Alps” Customer demographics for adventure travel lean in the direction of ladies (53% to 47%), especially in Africa (57%). North and South America are the top adventure destinations for customers. There is a rising interest among clients for a more customized experience and a falling interest in hard adventure.  For 2017, adventure activities such as safaris, hiking and cycling are expected to be the stand out choices.

3 . Female Solo Travel Today, 80% of travel decisions are made by women. Whether married, single or divorced, women are leading the way and the travel industry is taking notice. Today’s female travelers are bold, independent and looking to explore new and raw experiences. They have their own say of where to take a vacation, how to get there, and many are choosing to go solo.  In 2014, 72% of American women took a solo adventure. That number is only set to increase in the next few years, as more and more women are taking trips designed to their needs. And it doesn’t look like you would expect. Women aren’t looking for the gender stereotypes that are often marketed to them. Forget the 5-star hotel and spa days, they want real adventure.  Tour companies simply can’t ignore this market. It makes up a massive portion of potential clientele, especially when it comes to Millennials and Baby Boomers. Tour and activity providers will most benefit from ensuring safety for solo female travelers, but there are a few more vital tips that our own Nicole Kow wrote about in our Trends Report 2017.

4 . Food Tourism When it comes to travel it always comes down to food at some point, doesn’t it? Food tourism has become an emerging trend among travelers everywhere and tourism experts have taken notice. According to Skift UK Editor Patrick Whyte at TouRRoir 2016, food experiences are not limited to simply dining out. It includes cooking courses, farm tours and the classic food markets, which make up about 95% of these experiences. These experiences are closely tied to the culture of the location. Many travelers consider it to be one of the best ways to get to know the story of the place they’re traveling to and it works as a valuable resource for tourism companies.  Operators who are providing a food experience can benefit by ensuring it connects products with people and the traditions of a destination. With this in mind, every stage of the customer journey can be actively reinforced.

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5. Responsible Tourism Global changes affect us all. More travelers are aware of the impact their experiences have on the planet and as a result, more are opting for sustainable measures in their travel. “2017 has been appointed The International Year of Sustainable Tourism by the UN “as a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued”-UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai  Global campaigns have been set in place to promote more sustainable forms of travel and industry professionals should expect a shift in the mindset of travelers everywhere. They will be more interested in the environmental, economic and social impact they’re making at the destination they visit and are likely to support companies that embody these values. There will likely be many mindful changes ahead for the modern traveler, like staying closer to home to reduce their carbon footprint. Tour businesses with a strong awareness of the impact they’re making will benefit greatly from their already established ecotourism practices. However that’s not to say that businesses who are just waking up to this trend will be far behind! Companies will need to develop a strong social focus.

6. Mobile Photography It shouldn’t be surprising that tourists in 2017 are looking for ways to document their travels. Given the brilliance of modern mobile phone cameras, it’s only natural that more and more travelers are using their devices to capture these notable moments. Tour operators and activity providers can benefit from tapping into this trend, as it will add to their marketing efforts. It’s the perfect social media marketing tool as it helps to build up user-generated content. On a recent trip to Antelope Canyon in Arizona, I signed up for a guided tour that knew the value this trend could bring to their customers. While we passed through the iconic canyon, light streaming in at various portions, the tour guide offered us several opportunities to stop and take photos. Everyone set out to take photos, most of them on mobile phones. The guide even offered to help those who didn’t have much photography experience. When asked, he explained that he had taken a course in nature photography so he could help lead a better tour of the canyon. This point is even highlighted on their website and it helps to drive in tourists that might not have felt confident enough to take these photos otherwise. It builds an additional layer for an already stunning nature tour.  Look for areas within your tour that would make similar memories for your customers. But remember, many of the travelers want to see both iconic and unique photo prompts. Look for opportunities to capture both.

7. Business and Leisure Travel Business and leisure travel or (as it’s affectionately known around here) “bleisure” is a favorite topic among tourism experts this year. It’s predicted to be a very lucrative trend for tour and activity providers in 2017 and some project that it will rise in popularity. However, we’re not so convinced.  Bleisure has been presented as a rising trend for several years, but there is more data suggesting its static in the past five years than its rise. It would suggest that this isn’t as much a trend as it is an observation of the latest traveler needs. For generations, people have been extending their business trips into leisure travel, so we can’t exactly say that this is an emerging trend. Credit: www.trekksoft.com

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ourism is an essential segment of the world’s economy and many countries and cities around the world depend directly on tourism as the main driver of their economies.

With significant improvement in transportation and communication along with the knowledge about previously unheard-of destinations, global tourism is only expected to maintain its upward trajectory. With international tourism receipts growing to an unprecedented US$1.03 trillion in 2011 and the number of international tourists surpassing the milestone of 1 billion globally for the first time in 2012, there is a great need for making the industry sustainable. As the term ‘sustainable’ is overused to the point of meaninglessness, terms that better define and highlight the importance and urgency of putting in place practices and measures that contribute to the betterment of all stakeholders of the tourism industry are being increasingly used.

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Responsible Tourism “Responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justice and exerts full respect towards the environment and its cultures. It recognises the centrality of the local host community and its right to act as a protagonist in developing a sustainable and responsible tourism. Responsible tourism actuates to foster a positive interaction between the tourist industry, the local communities and the travelers”, defined by AITR (Italian Responsible Tourism Association) in 2005. Responsible tourism is any form of tourism that can be consumed in a more responsible way. Responsible tourism thus is tourism which: minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts

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generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities

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improves working conditions and access to the industry

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involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and life chances

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makes positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage embracing diversity

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provides more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaninful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues

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provides access for physically challenged people

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is culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence

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In practice, this statement reflects the tendency of tour operators, aware of these issues, within their corporate social responsibility to maintain environmental sustainability, gender equality and good practices in general. They are attentive to the fact that responsible tourism is developed, designed and totally managed in such a way as not to generate social and economic inequities, especially regarding the people of the host territories. 

as “responsible tourism“, “ecotourism“, “cultural tourism“, “community tourism“, “sustainable tourism” and ” fair tourism.” In fact, Responsible Tourism can be implemented through the addition of these practices in the creation of trips, properly applied and non conflictual.  For each of these practices, we must recognise the true concept of “responsible tourism”.  At the same time though none of them, if you want to translate them into an authentic example of responsible tourism, can claim to lack regard and respect towards the principles of responsible tourism. In practice … Ecotourism is most definitely a good practice to focus on. Respecting our ecosystem as we respect our home. If we reduce this only to the environmental aspect and do not include the basic respect towards the social aspect, then the concept is incomplete. For example, according to the principles of responsible tourism, the rights of the workers involved in the elaboration of the eco-tourism package has to be inclusive and fair, otherwise, it would not be an authentic example of responsible tourism. The risk is that this practice hides the vices and celebrates only some virtues and good practices as does the phenomenon of Green Washing.

How do you do it? Before the trip, getting informed is key to a responsible experience! We should find out about the destination so as to choose it carefully, being aware therefore of the local political, economic and historical situation. We should be actors of the travel conception and should learn as much as possible before travelling. In that way once we have arrived, it will be easier to create relationships.  Experiencing cultural exchanges with the local population will also be facilitated, as much as having a moment’s relaxation and some fun. During the trip, we should acknowledge and respect the manners, customs, rights and beliefs of all the peoples who are hosting us, recognising their centrality in our experience.

This means that all the “actors” involved in Responsible Tourism, (the tourist, the tour organiser and the local host community) should be aware (and if they are not, we must work to ensure that they become so) and involved in a logical process that should not focus only on the needs of one actor.  One in which the needs of one does not prevail over the others. It should be sustained in a dynamic in which all must respect and preserve the balance to a healthy, sustainable and profitable survival of all the protagonists of the tourism experience. It is clear for all tourist operators that there is not a single definition of Responsible Tourism, and that it is not possible (or rather, it would be unreasonable) to give an acceptable explanation of this practice.  Rather we should strive to identify it from time to time with other practices such

After the journey, we should go deeper into the topics discovered during the responsible touristic experience. We should inform the relied upon organisations so that “our responsible travel” experience does not remain “private” but influences our social networks, spreading the idea that “Travelling Responsibly” is better!

Where and Who? In your country, in the World… wherever there is a human, a cultural, a social and natural aspect to learn, enhance and preserve! No place is better than another to establish responsible tourism because “in” responsible tourism there are values, ideas and practices of respect, sharing and preservation. There are no geographical barriers or limitations to responsible tourism practices as they can be used in any place or nation. That means it they can be applied in developing or already economically advanced places, in big cities or in a small town, in a hotel, hostel or in a local family’s home! Responsible Tourism can be practiced either alone or

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together with specialist organisations who are used to applying and using its values and practices, which actually undertake to disseminate and implement. European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (EARTH) represents and coordinates many actors of responsible tourism working directly or indirectly as organisers of responsible travels. EARTH’s role is: To coordinate NGOs involved in cooperative projects dedicated to tourism

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To communicate with the conventional tourism industry

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To collaborate with government and European organizations aware of the issues of sustainability, responsibility and ethics

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To collaborate with universities and research institutes

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To conduct raise travel awareness and education

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Why? Because today tourism is one of the main economic activities and its impact on the hosting territories cannot be ignored.

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Because there are more than one billion tourists travelling every year in the world.

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Because tourism provides 200 million direct jobs which represent 8% of global employment.

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Because it is 9% of the global GDP.

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Because tourism is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades, supported by the development of transport and communication.

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Because tourism implemented without the compliance of the principles of sustainability, solidarity and social responsibility (especially with concerns to mass tourism) has often had very negative effects on the environment, the cultures, the societies and the local economies in hosting countries.

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It is therefore necessary for tourism development to establish specific limits and conditions for its development. Responsible tourism proposes concrete solutions and alternatives to this situation keeping in mind the interests of the tourist, the local population and the tourism operators. Credit: EARTH and other online sources.


How does

Airbnb

impact cities?

T

he so-called ‘sharing’ economy has boomed in recent years with the rise of firms such as Airbnb, which has disrupted the accommodation sector and is now expanding into new business areas. Despite dramatic growth, Airbnb and other ‘sharing’ accommodation providers remain a relatively small part of the travel industry, experts said at the Pisa forum. Nevertheless, there was criticism of their outsized impact in some destinations around the world.

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Only 3% market share for ‘sharing’ accommodation

Airbnb expands beyond homes into destinations

Europeans booked so-called ‘sharing’ accommodation for 14 million outbound trips in 2015, according to figures from the World Travel Monitor®. This was a mere 3% of all their international trips. In comparison, they stayed in hotels on 57% of their outbound trips and in other paid accommodation (such as apartments, holiday homes and B&B) for 24% of their trips.

Despite these apparently low market share numbers for ‘sharing’ accommodation providers, the dominant platform Airbnb has grown dramatically in recent years by offering an attractive alternative concept for overnight stays in cities and destinations around the world. Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, the company describes its mission as “to create a world where people can belong when they travel by being connected to local cultures and having unique travel experiences”. Airbnb says that it now has about 3 million accommodation listings in more than 34,000 cities and other location in more than 190 countries around the world. The privately owned US company does not publish detailed booking and revenue figures but according to diverse media reports is believed in early 2016 to have passed the $1 billion net annual revenue figure, which is earned from commissions charged to hosts and guests. In mid-November, Airbnb announced a headline-making move to “expand beyond the home” with the launch of ‘Trips’, a new platform combining Homes (accommodation), Places (destination information) and Experiences (local activities), and with the promise that Flights and Services will be added in the future. “With Trips, Airbnb aims to make it easy with one app to book most of your travel needs,” the company stated. The launch was seen as a clear sign of the company’s wider ambitions in the travel industry.

Phuket, a beautiful island in the Andaman Sea off of the coast of Thailand, is a popular choice for beach lovers. Apartments came to nearly half (43%) of the ‘sharing’ accommodation that Europeans booked in 2015, while every fifth such rental was a holiday home or villa, and private rooms/ B&B represented about one in seven ‘sharing accommodation’ bookings, IPK International marketing consultant Madeleine Bullinger told the forum. Europeans who booked ‘sharing’ accommodation mostly did so for city trips and touring holidays but less so for beach holidays. On average, they tended to be younger and had lower incomes but were well-educated. There was a broad geographic spread across Europe in terms of which source markets booked more or less ‘sharing’ accommodation. Among others, the proportion was above average in Hungary, France, Italy, Spain and Croatia, and below average, for example, in Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Greece and the Czech Republic, World Travel Monitor® data showed. Destinations with above average proportions of ‘sharing’ accommodation bookings (4.5% and more) included, for instance, Australia, the USA and the Netherlands, along with Italy, France and Germany between 3 and 4.5%. The lowest shares (up to 1.5%) were in Poland, Turkey and China, among others.

Is Airbnb good or bad for tourism? But Airbnb has also faced widespread criticism that it is negatively impacting on city centres and neighbourhoods by bringing in excessive numbers of visitors and effectively taking apartments out of the commercial rental sector by driving up prices. There have been wellpublicised protests in cities in the USA and Europe, and diverse city administrations have imposed new rules on commercial rental of private apartments to try to stop propertyowners from renting to Airbnb customers instead of local people or students. Against this background, a European tourism expert took a closer look at the impact of Airbnb on hotels and cities at the Pisa forum. Jeroen Oskam, research centre director at the Hotelschool The Hague, presented in-depth research analysing Airbnb’s impact in four European cities: Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Madrid. In Amsterdam, according to his estimates based on ‘scraping’ data from the Airbnb website, Airbnb sold up to 736,000 nights in about 18,500 accommodation units in 2015. Rentals increased by 474% in 2015 and are likely to double again this year, he said. About 500,000 – 600,000 visitors, nearly all of them international, booked accommodation in Amsterdam through Airbnb, giving the company a 10% share of the 5.5 million international visitors in the Dutch metropolis last year. Airbnb generated revenues of $110 million from rentals in Amsterdam, according to his calculations.

Hotel Finca Romelia in Manizales, Colombia, is a small family-operated hotel and farmhouse. The owners, the Londono Arango family, boast over 6,000 orchid plants and a hundred species of bird on their land.

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Hosts are mostly commercial operators, not private people The Dutch hotel expert was critical of Airbnb’s marketing claims that ‘sharing’ accommodation improves use of ‘under-utilised assets’, benefits less well-off homeowners while creating a community feeling among users. His research in the four European cities showed that more than 82% of Airbnb accommodation is rented as the entire property, and less than 18% as a private room or a sharing room. Similarly, more than 80% of the accommodation is available for rent for more than 31 days a year, although only 14.5% is available for more than 300 days. Moreover, there is a near-halfway split in terms of how many properties an Airbnb host lists. In London, about half (49.4%) of all Airbnb units are offered by hosts with multiple properties, who are responsible for 61.5% of Airbnb revenue; the other half, offered by hosts with one single unit, accounts for just 38.5% of the revenue. Geographically, a high proportion of available accommodation is located in city centres.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts’ TripIt is a stand-out travel app, where you can manage your travel plans, points, mileage, and reservations. In London, about 1.2 million – 1.4 million visitors booked about 2 million overnight stays from Airbnb’s portfolio of over 90,000 apartments and other accommodation in the British capital in 2015, according to Oskam. These bookings generated estimated revenues of $448 million and have given Airbnb a fast-rising 7.6% share of tourism accommodation rental in London (December 2015), he said. In Berlin, where Airbnb offered about 40,000

apartments, it generated estimated revenues of $114 million last year, according to Oskam’s figures. However, the company now faces an effective ban in the city due to new regulations on commercial letting of private accommodation introduced in spring 2016. In Madrid, Airbnb generated revenues of some $68 million from rentals involving more than 20,000 properties in 2015, according to Oskam’s research.

Overall, Oskam concluded, “Airbnb combines a substantial part of commercial activities with a minority of authentic ‘sharers’. This means residents are displaced by tourists. So it’s ‘unsharing’. You reserve assets for tourists.” In contrast, the impact on the traditional hotel sector seems to be relatively limited to date, he said. “Airbnb can generate additional incremental volumes. They do not take much business from hotels. For example, we do not see much damage to the hotel market in Amsterdam.” Oskam concluded: “In general, Airbnb is more damaging for cities and residents than for hotels. London is the first destination in our study where they are taking market share from hotels.” Courtesy: ITB World Travel Trends Report 2016-1017

Situated on a working tea plantation on the edge of Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda, One&Only Nyungwe House will be the first of the two new resorts to open this July.

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S

o many destinations, so little time. For most travellers, it’s not a case of if you’ll go next year; it’s not a case of when you’ll go; it’s only a question of: where?

Where do you choose for that dream holiday? Where do you select for that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, that relaxing getaway, that road trip, the culinary tour de force? For 2017, we have put together a few answers. It is expected to be all about great experiences, all about immersing yourself in a destination, living like a local, of “doing” rather than just seeing. And we have started with the closest and more affordable destinations to the more distant and costlier ones. So, here they are:

Jebel Akhdar, Oman A two-hour drive from Muscat, in the rocky contours of Oman’s Al-Hajar Mountains, is Jebel Akhdar, an area beloved for its astounding views, craggy wadis, and natural terraces. Come spring, a blanket of velvety pink damask rose blossoms shroud the hills with their romantic scent. From these blossoms, distillers produce soothing rosewater potions that are used in both spa treatments and cocktail menus. To best experience Jebel Akhdar, head to the recently opened Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar. The magnificent property is giving the region’s reigning boutique hotel, the Alila Jabal Akhdar, a run for its money. While both promise canyonview infinity pools and post-hike pampering treatments, the Anantara’s splashy suites, six restaurants, and amenities (like a cliff-side private meal), are unbeatable. —Dylan Essertier

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Jordan Outdoor lovers, trekking enthusiasts, and pilgrims looking for an alternative to Spain’s legendary Camino de Santiago should consider a trip to Jordan. After five years of work by 40 volunteers, the 370-plus-mile Jordan Trail was recently completed, connecting the country’s very diverse landscapes, from the Mediterranean-feeling villages of the north to the dramatic Jordan Rift Valley and the Red Sea. Lodging options along the trail range from cushy lodges like Feynan Ecolodge to homestays and camping. Three Jordanian women recently completed the entire trek in 33 days. If you don’t have time to walk the entire route, which spans the length of the country, choose one section, like a seven-day one from Petra to Wadi Rum

Hampi, India One of India’s most spectacular monuments will become newly accessible this year with the launch of a high-end resort in Hampi. When the 14th-century capital of the Vijayanagara Empire was constructed, in what is now the southwestern state of Karnataka, it was one of the largest cities in the world. The ruined settlement’s dazzling temples, monuments, and public buildings—strewn across a landscape of giant boulders, banana groves, and rice paddies—have long been a must-visit for dedicated Indophiles. But the town of Hampi has lacked world-class accommodation and infrastructure, making a visit less than luxurious. Now the new Orange County, Hampi offers a solution: 46 rooms spread across a palatial, Vijayanagara-inspired estate less than three miles from the UNESCO World Heritage site area. As Lucy Davis, director of India tour operator Banyan Tours, puts it, “the property is a game-changer for visitors to Hampi.” —Flora Stubbs

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Sri Lanka We’ve been calling Sri Lanka the next It destination for the past five years, however, tourists have always flocked to the coast (and with good reason). Sun and surf will remain a big draw, especially with new beach retreats, like the recently opened KK Beach on the south coast near Galle. But in 2017, we’ll also see Sri Lanka emerge as the next hot wellness escape, ranking up there with India, California, and Thailand, thanks to forward-thinking retreats like Santani and Tri. The country’s wildlife and interiors will also become a draw, particularly when Resplendent Ceylon’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge opens at the edge of Yala National Park next October.

Uganda Dubbed the “pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill in 1908, the small but incredibly diverse nation of Uganda remains a fascinating yet vastly underexplored destination. The country’s commitment to heavy investment in its tourism infrastructure looks set to change this, though, and in 2017 expect Uganda to vie with Kenya and Tanzania for international visitors, drawing more and more travellers with its astonishing wildlife. Find everything from three-horned chameleons to the iconic mountain gorilla – now more accessible than ever thanks to a recent gorilla-tracking initiative that allows trekkers to spend more time in the presence of these beautiful creatures. Where else can you canoe past crocodiles on the Nile, track gorillas in dense jungles, soak in hot springs, scale snowy mountain peaks or visit a traditional Batwa village – all within a single day’s journey? Only in Uganda.

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Rwanda Of the 800 or so mountain gorillas left in East Africa, more than half live in the forested foothills of the Virungas, a chain of 12,000-foot volcanoes stretching through Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo. Rwanda is by far the safest and most reliable (in terms of infrastructure) of the three, and this summer it will become even more enticing when Wilderness Safaris’ first Rwandan property, the upscale, six-villa Bisate Lodge, opens near Volcanoes National Park. With dramatic views of the forested volcanic peaks, this new base—close to park headquarters, the departure point for daily treks— exists to fund conservation projects, including a reforestation program. In addition to spotting silverbacks, guests can see Buhondo and Burera lakes, the lava tunnels of the Musanze Caves, and the golden monkeys that are endemic to the region. —Jane Broughton

Tamuda Bay, Morocco A mélange of cultural and geographic influences has given this string of seaside towns on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast a uniquely European flavor, and recent upscale openings have turned the area into a bona fide resort destination. Last spring in the town of Mdiq, Sofitel debuted Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa, a 104-room hotel with a palette inspired by the mid-20th-century Côte d’Azur. It’s a lively contrast to the subdued Moorish aesthetic of Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, a new all-villa resort 20 minutes north in Fnidek. But there’s more to the region than sun and surf: the nearby port city of Tétouan has several museums and one of Morocco’s best-preserved medinas. Head there now—with a RitzCarlton Reserve on the horizon, Tamuda Bay won’t stay under the radar for long. —Lila Battis

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Seychelles There are beaches, and then there are beaches. This 115-island nation off Africa’s eastern shore has some of the world’s most beautiful white sands— and lavish new resorts, so you can experience them in style. On the private island of Félicité, Six Senses Zil Pasyon is paradise for honeymooners, with five open-air spa pavilions and a plunge pool adjoining each of the 30 villas, which face the ocean. Later this year, Desroches Island’s sole resort will become a Four Seasons: guests can stay in an airy, eclectic-chic beach suite or one of 11 palatial villas. Also ideal for families: the new Presidential Villa on Cousine Island. —Jacqueline Gifford

Langkawi, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam have traditionally stolen the spotlight in Southeast Asia, even though Malaysia’s cuisine, art, architecture, and beaches are just as fantastic. Langkawi, an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast, is about to put the country on the travel map. The St. Regis opened the country’s first all-suite resort here, complete with a Bill Bensley–designed restaurant and the largest swimmable lagoon on the island. Next summer, the RitzCarlton is scheduled to open a 90-room, 30-villa property with a destination spa that will rival even Thailand’s famous wellness retreats.

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Laos Despite its many allures (milky-blue terraced waterfalls, mountains blanketed with jungle, centuries-old golden stupas, and crumbling temples) landlocked Laos has always been overshadowed by its tourist-magnet neighbors. But that’s changing: in the fall, the country was thrust into the international spotlight with a historic visit from Barack Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the nation. Recent negotiations with Thailand opened up additional flights from Bangkok, and new upscale lodgings have made Laos’s two major cities—the temple-studded capital of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, a UNESCO-protected town prized for its natural sights and mix of traditional and French-colonial architecture—much more accessible. In 2017, the President by Akaryn—the area’s first five-star hotel—arrives in Vientiane just steps from the temple of the Emerald Buddha, followed by a Rosewood in Luang Prabang. —Lila Battis

Cambodian Coast Cambodia has some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning islands, but getting to them has always been arduous (a flight to Phnom Penh, a four-hour drive, then a choppy ferry ride). Luckily, there are now direct flights into the coastal Sihanoukville airport via Ho Chi Minh City. That means a much smoother journey to the newest island escapes: the wellness-minded Six Senses on Krabey Island, where spa treatments are Cambodian-inspired, and the Alila eco-resort on Koh Russey, which has an emphasis on Khmer cuisine and community service. And if you want to spend some time in the capital of Phnom Penh before or after your island vacation, you can do that in style as well: Rosewood has announced plans to open there in early 2017. —Stephanie Wu

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Madagascar Madagascar is sometimes overlooked as just another safari destination. But this massive island is home to thousands of species that are found nowhere else on earth—more than 90 percent of Madagascar’s flora and fauna are endemic—and with the threat of climate change and deforestation looming ever larger, this is one trip that shouldn’t be delayed. Reinstated Airlink flights from Johannesburg to Nosy Be have expanded access to the northern stretches of the country just in time for the April 2017 opening of Miavana, Madagascar’s most well-appointed property yet. Situated on the island of Nosy Anko, the eco-friendly resort includes 14 villas designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the architects behind similarly luxe African retreats like Chinzombo and Angama Mara. Between seaside pursuits, guests are whisked by helicopter to Ankarana National Park for lemur-spotting or Amber Mountain National Park to explore its waterfalls and crater lakes. —Jane Broughton

Okavango Delta, Botswana It’s now possible to spot the Big Five in Botswana, an idea that just a few years ago may have seemed far-fetched. Buoyed by the antipoaching efforts of the Botswana government and local conservation groups, the philanthropic arm of the (impeccably renovated) Sanctuary Chief’s Camp has helped reintroduce populations of both black and white rhinos to the Okavango Delta. The neighboring and Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp also got a thoughtful redesign of late, with understated, sustainable accommodations that echo the surrounding landscape. For lovers of wildlife and luxury, there’s never been a better time to visit. —Krista Simmons

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Jura, France Concealed by Alpine peaks and rolling, wooded hills, Jura—France’s smallest wine region— has long been shielded from the swarms that descend upon Burgundy to the west and Switzerland to the east. But in recent years, the Jura’s highly idiosyncratic, oxidative wines have generated explosive interest, with bottles making regular appearances on sommelier lists at U.S. restaurants like Eleven Madison Park and the French Laundry. Thanks to the newfound attention, the secret of Franche-Comté’s remote gem—a medieval-era region perfect for gourmands and nature-lovers—is out at last. Oenophiles will want to visit buzzy vineyards like Domaine André & Mirielle Tissot; co-owner Stéphane Tissot is a dynamic, progressive vintner who produces one of Jura’s famous sherry-like vin jaunes. Pair them with the Jura’s rich, rustic cuisine and the regional specialty, wheels of raw-milk Comté cheese. Burn off the calories hiking, cycling, or skiing the miles of quiet trails that arc around steep mountain ridges, shimmering lakes, and primordial waterfalls. For lodgings, turn to Les Jardins sur Glantine, a charming B&B that also produces superb natural wines. —Christopher Ross

Kanazawa, Japan This city on the western coast of Honshu has seen a boost in visits since a bullet-train extension shortened the trip from Tokyo to just 2½ hours. Go for the old wooden teahouses of the Higashi Chayagai district, the beautiful samurai residence in Nagamachi, and the contemporary art museum. Then have your pick of sushi that’s just as good as, and much cheaper than, what you’d find in Tokyo. Try it at Sentori, Kagayasuke, or Omi-cho Market—a favorite of sushi master Masa. For a truly traditional experience, head to the Noto Peninsula and stay in a Japanese farmhouse, where you can forage for wild mountain greens and mushrooms and dine by an indoor fire pit. —Selena Hoy

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Suzhou, China A half-hour from Shanghai by bullet train, 2,500-year-old Suzhou has two faces. Most know of its classical gardens (nine UNESCO-designated), celebrated in Chinese art and poetry for centuries, and its canal-filled Old Town with traditional white-washed buildings. But there’s also the highrise-filled Suzhou Industrial Park (built in partnership with the Singaporean government), which has lured many Fortune 500 companies and is a recreational spot for locals and expats. It has a shopping and entertainment district named Times Square, a London Eye–like Ferris wheel, multiple Western and Asian restaurants, bars, theaters, and a concert hall, plus colorful musical fountains on Jinji Lake at night—and it’s all just a 20-minute subway ride from the heart of Old Town. Over the next two years, W Hotels, Sheraton, and the Luxury Collection join a stampede of Western hotel brands that include the stylish Tonino Lamborghini, a Hilton, and a Hyatt Regency. —Sharon McDonnell

Angra dos Reis, Brazil Brazil’s visa waiver during the Olympics was a success for one big reason: it encouraged travel beyond the big cities. The tourism board hopes to bring back the waiver, and if you’re planning to take advantage, save time to visit Angra dos Reis, between Rio and São Paulo. This popular Brazilian vacation area is where cariocas go to escape the crowds. “It’s where many of the country’s elite have their beach villas,” says Martin Frankenberg of Matuete, who has access to several of these glamorous rentals. Big changes are coming to the region. In May, Brazilian chain Fasano will open a long-awaited 54-suite hotel in a complex that includes a marina, golf course, restaurants, and a spa. The design is striking, with elevated wooden buildings that look like they’re floating, all with open-air terraces and views of the forest and sea. And the government recently pledged $8 million to improve the infrastructure on Ilha Grande—an island that’s so popular that they’ve had to impose a daily limit on visitors. —Stephanie Wu

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Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar. In this month, Muslims around the world fast from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is a month of increased prayer, charity, reflection and renewal of friendships. In Qatar, Ramadan is a very unique time for both Muslims and non-Muslims. It is a time of celebration, a time to enjoy a shared spirit of communityhood, and the best time to learn about spirituality in Islam in general and about the local culture in particular. There are lots of ways to enjoy your Ramadan in Qatar. With shorter working hours and much livelier nights, people usually find more time for leisure and socialization. Most activities are family-oriented and special events are held for children. Ramadan-centric activities and events are organized at many public venues, malls and souqs, with special events being held at Aspire Zone, The Pearl-Qatar, Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif among others.

On the 14th night of Ramadan, Qatari children take part in the tradition of Garangao, a unique Gulf tradition wherein children dress up in bright traditional clothing and head out to neighbourhood, singing the Garangao song and receiving nuts and sweets from elders. Families may also enjoy watching a traditional cannon being fired outside the Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab Mosque to mark the breaking of the fast each evening. As the days during Ramadan are mostly quiet due to fasting, the evenings and nights see lots of activities happening around in Qatar. Most restaurants remain open late and hotels have lavish Iftar and Sahoor buffets. Most hotels also create special Ramadan-themed tents to offer Iftar and Sahoor buffets, displaying a wide variety of cuisines and live cooking stations. There is improved focus on regional dishes and entertainment. Here’s a round-up of what the leading hotels have to offer this Ramadan:

Ramadan is a time of tranquility and reflection, a time to connect with friends and family. Celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in the iconic and most recognized landmark of Qatar, Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. Experience the joys of Ramadan where we bring you the finest traditions in a setting of exquisite venues pairing intimate social gatherings and unparalleled culinary experiences. Whether you are planning an intimate Iftar or Suhoor for family and friends or a corporate gathering in one of our venues, the arabesque settings at our Ramadan Tent and Al Hubara Restaurant offers the perfect venue.

Ramadan Tent–Suhoor Witness the Arabesque paradise at our specially created Ramadan Tent at Al Majlis featuring delicious oriental & international cuisine with live cooking stations. Embrace the night with your loved ones and treat them to a special Suhoor in a joyful atmosphere with live entrainment. 8:00 PM – 2:00 AM

Al Hubara – Iftar Every day of Ramadan creates memorable experiences and our wide array of delicacies is just what you need to break your fast while sharing these memories. Join us in your favorite restaurant where you will be spoilt for choice from multiple cuisines around the world, featuring Qatari traditional cuisines and more! FROM 6:00 PM TO 8:00 PM

Atrium Lounge Continue your celebration of the holy month after the sun sets in Doha. Enjoy our wide variety of sweet and savory delicacies over casual conversations with our freshly roasted coffee, afternoon tea and other beverages. You will be delightfully set to start your day of fast the next morning! 6:00 PM – 2:00 AM

Corporate Iftar We have carefully designed various menu options keeping your needs in mind for corporate or private Iftar and Suhoor. Host your corporate events in style and rest assured, whatever you choose you will keep coming back for more! ftar FROM 6PM – 8PM, Suhoor 8PM onwards.

La Veranda La Veranda is the perfect place to experience an authentic taste of Italian cuisine. Serving delicious selections, from Italian home cooking to pizzas baked in a traditional wood burning oven, all against a backdrop of a magnificent sea view on the unique outdoor terrace. À la carte menu available. 6:00 PM – 11:30 PM

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Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl – Doha will be welcoming hotel guests and visitors alike to celebrate its Palatial Ramadan offerings. Guests will experience the joys of the Holy Month at this enchanting location, with a focus on sharing, togetherness and celebration. For the duration of the Holy Month, Qatar’s premier destination will bring together the finest traditions in a setting of palatial grandeur, pairing intimate social gatherings with unparalleled culinary experiences. Guests are invited to celebrate breaking the fast at the famous Palatial Ramadan Tent, located in the inspiring setting of the Palazzo Ballroom. The guests can enjoy the luscious Iftar and Sohour buffets, featuring the multiawarded Levantine cuisine of Al Sufra, headed by Executive Arabic Sous Chef Julien Al Khal, along with other delicious dishes inspired by Qatari, Middle Eastern and other cuisines, in a joyful yet intimate atmosphere with daily world-class entertainment. The awarded Levantine cuisine of Al Sufra, meaning “the dining room” in Arabic, will be the main feature of the Palatial Ramadan Tent experience, blending traditional recipes and flavours from Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Jordan and Palestine in a buffet section curated by Chef Julien Al Khal. Other food sections will include healthy salads, appetisers and

Four Seasons Hotel Doha offers an extensive selection of culinary experiences for the Holy Month of Ramadan. Guests may choose between the Hotel’s distinct Ramadan Tent or celebrate at the Hotel’s signature lounges: Shisha Terrace, Seasons Tea Lounge and Arabica. Offering more

main courses from cuisines around the world. The offerings are perfect for sharing among families and friends and served to the sounds of understated background music.The Iftar buffet is offered from sunset till 8 pm, while the Sohour buffet is offered from 9 pm till late. Additionally, Café Murano will be open daily throughout Ramadan with a variety of sweet and savoury à la carte offerings. The popular café will be open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm daily.

than just a culinary venue, Four Seasons Hotel Doha has redefined the Ramadan experience with myriad bespoke options to gather with family and friends during the Holy Month. As Doha’s premier destination for the holiday, the Hotel’s spacious Ramadan tent showcases a contemporary design, influenced by traditional Arabic architecture, resulting in a stylish yet sophisticated ambiance. The culinary experience includes extensive Iftar and Sohour menus featuring traditional Ramadan cuisine, and complemented by an array of delicious international dishes, including 25 buffet and live cooking stations.  Highlights include a special Ramadan and Qatari dishes, a Japanese sushi station, dim sum carousel, pasta and carving station, Arabic and western desserts station and many more. The Iftar buffet is served daily from 6:00 to 8:30 pm and the Sohour buffet is from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. New this year, Four Seasons is expanding the range of Ramadan options well beyond the Hotel’s admired tent with the debut of specialty menus at Seasons Tea Lounge, Shisha Terrace and Arabica throughout the Holy Month.  Four Seasons Executive Chef Ahmad Sleiman has created a delectable dessert buffet at Seasons Tea Lounge, and Shisha Terrace includes a delicious Iftar and Sohour set menu.  Guests may also enjoy Shisha Terrace’s signature dishes from the a la carte menu.

This year Hilton Doha promises its guests a unique Ramadan experience to celebrate the Holy Month. In addition to last year’s Fawanees tent that was renowned for serving one of the finest oriental Iftars and Sohours in town, Hilton Doha is launching a surprise lounge for its guests to gather up and hang out after Iftar. Starting May 26, 2017 the hotel’s Arabic culinary team of Mawasem restaurant will whip up an Iftar and Sohour buffet spread of almost 100 oriental and international dishes that will appeal to various taste buds such as Chicken Tagine, Kebbeh Bil Laban, Ouzi with Rice, and signature Polynesian dishes from Trader Vic’s. This in addition to local favorites such as Lamb Harees, and Chicken Marqouka; healthy options such as Prawns and Pineapple Salad with Cocktail Sauce, Three Bean-Salad with Fried Beef Strips, and Honey roasted Chicken Salad. Adding to this flavorful journey, Fawanees will also give the guests a chance to interact with chefs showcasing their culinary flair at 14 live cooking stations featuring shwarma, Sushi, Italian pasta, and Asian food among other options. To complete the journey on a sweet note, a desserts’ station with a special Turkish Ice-cream stall is displayed.

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To double the excitement this year, guests are also invited to gather with their friends after Iftar at Sawalif lounge in elegant Ramadan vibes while enjoying the sumptuous delights of local favorites paired with assorted shisha flavors from 8pm until 2am. The lounge will also feature a display of designer brands and will engage guests in exciting activities. In addition, raffle draws will be held on daily and weekly basis offering the guests a chance to win a round trip ticket to any destination from Qatar Airways, and luxury designer gifts from Blue Salon and Qatar Optics.


W Doha Hotel & Residences, the first luxury lifestyle hotel in Qatar, invites guests to make the most of Ramadan with family and friends with a host of options. The Sultan’s Tent featuring ‘A Taste of Qatar’ by renowned Qatari Chef Nawal Al Sayed

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Diverse Ramadan culinary experiences at the hotel’s numerous restaurants

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Two attractively priced Ramadan room packages

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‘A Taste of Qatar’ at the Sultan’s Tent This year, the Sultan’s Tent will be graced by the presence of extraordinary Qatari chef Nawal Al Sayed, who has forged a reputation for herself based on her solid culinary repertoire that focuses on introducing Qatari favourites to even the most adventurous palates. For guests who would like to experience diverse flavours, the Sultan’s Tent will also showcase live Indian, Arabic, sushi, Mongolian and Latin American stations. The carving and shawarma sections are perfect for those who savour grilled meat while the ice cream station is the ideal way to end the meal on a sweet note. The extensive Iftar package will be available until 8:15pm, and Sohour will be offered from 9:15pm to 2:00am.

Joy of Ramadan For those keen on enjoying different experiences around the hotel, The Lounge at La Spiga Terrace is open daily from sunset till 2:00am and offers an a la carte signature shisha menu and Italian cuisine. Spice Market will be open only for dinner between 6:00pm and midnight and the Living Room will be operational from Iftar time until midnight, and will be offering complimentary dates, dry fruits and café Blanc. W Café and Teuscher will be open daily from 9:00am to 12:00am. Guests eager to truly embrace the spirit of Ramadan can get together with their loved ones throughout the month at The Majlis, which is open from 6:00pm to 2:00am and offers a la carte shisha options and Arabic mezze.

In the Spirit of Giving and Joy of Ramadan Those in search of some much-needed rest and relaxation this Ramadan can take advantage of two irresistible options. The hotel’s In the Spirit of Giving offering includes Iftar and Sohour from the in-room dining menu; an early check-in at 11 am and check out at 8 pm; in-room Ramadan delights; complimentary Wi-Fi and a 20% discount in all restaurants.

During the holy month of Ramadan, be completely at peace with yourself at Doha’s only island sanctuary, Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara with the Ramadan Island Escape. The Ramadan Island Escape invites guests to spend their time reconnecting with the natural beauty and crystal clear blue waters of the resort during the day. As the sun sets, guests can break their fast with a special in-room Ramadan selection of dates, nuts and juices and then continue their Iftar with a sumptuous meal at Azraq restaurant; served until 9pm. Iftar is of course followed by a delicious Sohour, served until 2am, accompanied by live music every night. Guests can also relax by playing a game of bowling with friends and family. With a choice of room, suite or villa, the Ramadan Island Escape offers the option of enjoying a little extra time to rest and get in touch with nature by choosing a late checkout time. All guests will also enjoy the comfort of luxury boat transfers to and from the resort. Valid between June 7th and 23rd and priced at QAR 1,199, the Ramadan Island Escape promises to be the perfect way to unwind during the holy month, getting you back in touch with the beauty of the world.

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Indulge in a whole new experience of Arabic dining during the holy month of Ramadan at Wanassa, the exquisite Ramadan tent of the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel with private majlises, freshly prepared delicacies, live entertainment and a wide variety of shisha.

Iftar Treat yourself to an unlimited delightful buffet of all your favourite Ramadan delicacies; freshly prepared at interactive cooking stations, while enjoying from a wide variety of Shisha and select traditional Ramadan beverages.

Sohour Delight in Sohour at Wanassa with a selection of Arabic sweets, select Ramadan beverages, live entertainment and an À la carte menu featuring authentic Ramadan specialties along with a wide variety of Shisha. 9.30pm – 1.30am, daily.

Group Booking Ramadan is the time to get together! Celebrate it with family and friends at Wanassa. Enjoy exclusive prices while booking for groups of 20 or more.

Share the spirit of Ramadan at The Westin Doha. This Ramadan, step through the doors of The Westin Doha’s Arabian Food Bazaar, inspired by the colors and patterns of the Arabian night skies. The Westin Doha invites you to discover food stalls offering local delights such as traditional Ouzi and succulent lamb. Follow the delicious aromas of spices and grilled meat through the food market and uncover street food from Istanbul and authentic Turkish favorites. Featuring the largest date and chocolate display in Doha, an awe inspiring chocolate fountain and a selection of traditional Turkish desserts; each meal is complete feeling satisfied. Unwind during Suhour to the sounds of traditional Oud, recharge with Shisha and games such as chess and backgammon.

THE SOUQ – Grand Ballroom Embrace the spirit of Ramadan at the finest address in Qatar. Explore the wondrous streets of The St. Regis own Souq during Ifar or Suhour where the Arabian spirit is embodied in all its glory. In the comfort of a temperature controlled tent you enjoy authentic Middle Eastern cuisine prepared using ancient recipes, contemporary international dishes and an array of delicious desserts. Live Arabic musicians provide a complementary soulful ambience with a repertoire of classic tunes to set the perfect mood. A kids club with regular activities and endless entertainment will keep your children happy and occupied all night long.

LAYALY RAMADAN – Al Gassar Ballroom Step into the retro elegant styled Layaly tent this Ramadan where subtle Arabesque design, the relaxed ambience and live entertainment are complemented by the a la carte Suhoor menu featuring high end sandwiches and mouth-watering desserts.

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Discover the magic of Ramadan in Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels. Come together with family, friends and colleagues this Holy Month at Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels in the heart of Doha and delight in exquisite Iftar and Sohour experiences. The Ramadan spirit is on full display throughout the one-of-a-kind Souq with lavish buffets featuring the finest flavors from around the world.

Al Jasra Boutique Hotel Iftar Buffet – 6:00PM TO 8:00PM Sohour Buffet – 9:00PM TO 2:00AM Shisha Lounge – 6:00PM TO 2:00AM

Al Terrace – Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel Iftar Buffet – 6:00PM TO 9:00PM Sohour, A La Carte – 9:30PM TO 2:00AM

Experience the true spirit of Ramadan comes to life at The Ritz-Carlton, Doha with festivities that promise to delight family and friends. The rich Qatari Heritage-inspired theme with majestic tent at Al Wosail will take you back in time and feature a feast for the senses with live carving stations, regional cuisines, fresh salads and tempting desserts. Relax with live music and Tanoura dance entertainment enjoyed from private majlis seating or the main dining area. Overnight accommodation in booked room category

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A choice of either Iftar Buffet or Sohour Buffet per one night stay

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15% discount on laundry

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Complimentary internet

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accommodation and Iftar. Celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan at the “Sihr Al Sharq” Ramadan tent in Doha at Al Dasha and Al Sonbok ballrooms. Capture the magic of the East with a sumptuous Ramadan Iftar buffet, featuring traditional Qatari cuisine and International dishes serenaded with soothing sounds of the Oud and live oriental band for a magical Arabian experience. Group Ramadan Iftar and Ramadan Suhoor events with bespoke menus are available and served in the elegant atmosphere. To complete the Ramadan experience, book the special room offer that includes luxury

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2017 study by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation says there’s a new optimal time to buy airline tickets.

Travelers often swap theories on the right—and wrong— time to book a flight. We’ve heard it all: The lowest fares are on Tuesdays at 3 p.m. ET. (No, Wednesday at 1 a.m. is the best time to buy!) You need to book at least two months before you fly. (No, you should look for a deal and fly at the last minute!) Websites like Kayak suggest when you should buy, or if you should wait—like we’re all trading stocks—but there’s no guarantee.

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And according to George Hobica of AirfareWatchdog, “There is no secret time. You need to look four times a day—minimum—every day of the week, as far in advance as you can.” But the latest study by Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation says that 2017 “could be a banner year for travelers taking to the skies,” with a new ideal time to book. Based on billions (yes, billions) of passenger flights from January 1, 2016, through October 24, 2016, the study concluded that:

Who should we thank for this most wonderful trend? Low-fare carriers such as Frontier and Spirit, which put pressure on the bigger birds to compete in the bottom bracket, as well as foreign airlines, which are expanding stateside. Hobica also expects prices will decline on highly competitive routes, such as New York to Los Angeles and Chicago to Atlanta.

j The day you book matters. The best day to buy airline tickets is Sunday, when fares can be 16 percent cheaper. Conversely, don’t book on a Friday, since there’s an uptick then in business travel bookings.

j Reserve more than 21 days in advance. Sample savings: Book early, and you could pay $1,462 for a European holiday; wait too long, and the price spikes to $2,226.

j Include a Saturday-night stay in your itinerary. (Exceptions to the rule: China and North Asia.)

j Travel during low season: Expedia says to visit Africa, North America and the Caribbean in January; the Middle East in February; and the Asia-Pacific region in June.

j The best months to nab a low economy fare: January for trips to Southeast Asia, February for Australia and September for Europe. “For today’s traveler, this confluence of circumstances—more planes, lower prices, more destinations—is exceptional,” Greg Schulze, senior VP of Expedia’s commercial strategy and services, said in the 2017 Global Air Travel Outlook report. “It means that the barriers to booking a dream trip are lowered. It also means that everyday travel—flights to see the family, work trips—are likely to be easier to book at a lower price.”

More ‘Bare-Bones’ Fares Hobica predicts that more airlines will start offering budget fares. United announced last year its new basic economy category, a rock-bottom fare that comes with some sacrifices. For example, you can only bring on board a personal item (no overhead bag), and you can’t choose your seat (the airline plays fairy godmother, or wicked witch, at check-in). Delta’s basic fare has similar restrictions on seat selection and also requires passengers to board in the last zone. “I expect American Airlines to follow suit on competing routes,” Hobica said.

Best Bargain of 2017 Last year, we were talking about a strong U.S. dollar and great deals to Europe. Now, the study shows that Africa flights have experienced a big drop in price—a decrease of 11 percent for round-trip and 14 percent for one-way. Africa tourism took a hit during the Ebola scare, but new airline routes and burgeoning infrastructure are making the continent more accessible than ever.

Flights Are Cheaper Overall According to Expedia’s New Heights for Air Travel study, ticket prices are falling. “Average air ticket prices continue to drop around the world, making now a stellar time to fly,” said the study. Economy-class prices have reached their lowest point in three years. In North America, ticket prices decreased by about 5 percent. For a $472 flight, that means you save $23 — the price of a solid lunch or several silly souvenirs.

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TRAVEL & TOURS

(W.L.L.)

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e it Business Travel or Corporate Travel Management, Leisure Travel, Military / Government travel solutions – Rayan Travel & Tours has the solutions.

Our diverse list of clients clearly reflects our superior knowledge and understanding of providing travel services to different segments of the market. Our list of clients also reflects our ability to service the complete range of market segments such as corporate mobilization and vacation travel. We believe Rayan’s experience and global travel services network will enable it to provide better services to customers in the region. We are equipped - whether be it airline ticketing, Hotel reservations, Car Rentals, emergency travel services, Corporate Travel Management. In our day to day work environment, every Rayan Travel & Tours office uses sophisticated Information Technology, to provide clients with a superior standard of service. Our principle is to operate all contracts with integrity, hard work and creativity. The one factor that has not changed over time is our firm commitment to providing the highest quality of services; dedicating the most qualified personnel and bringing the most overall value to support our customers travel requirements. We take a great deal of pride in this achievement, and welcome the opportunity to establish a partnership with your organization. Rayan Travel & Tours provides all necessary automated reservation and ticketing equipment, accounting software, computer systems and communication equipment and related items necessary to conduct operation to fulfil the client’s requirements. Our Owners, Management team and Associates are ready and eager to work with you to make the roll-out of this contract a successful one, at every level and stage of implementation.

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As your Travel Management Partner we work together for mutual growth and benefits to identify and address all your needs, creating solutions that will ensure a smooth transition and provide premium quality and return for the duration of our relationship. Rayan Travel & Tours divisions Rayan Holidays, Rent A Car, Horizon Travel & Tours, Recruitment Services, United Transport gives customer a unique service in its area; and has expanded its business territory to UAE with its office in Deira.


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Hospitality Travel & Tourism 2017  
Hospitality Travel & Tourism 2017  
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