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Let's TRADE with Europe!

01 NOVEMBER 2014


...A new hotel booking system has arrived!


ISSUE 260 is a B2B booking system for travel agents to be able to have access into our web based booking engine, to search and book accommodation travel services. connects travel wholesalers, retail and online travel agents, tour operators worldwide, to global trade content. It provides personalised service and customer support. The booking system offers a large scope of inventory through our chain of global partners and suppliers and effectively offering high competitive pricing for agents. is the only B2B booking system for travel agents which offers them the opportunity to benefit enormous complimentary marketing exposure through its worldwide publications and newspapers.


1. Register your agency and get a free quarter-page advert in Travel Trade Weekly newspaper  10 adverts will be given every week on first-come, first-served basis  All agents registering will receive the complimentary advert regardless of the time of registration 2. Book your hotel nights through www. and receive the equivalent amount in advertising in any of the publications of the Travel Trade Publications franchise 3. Book your hotel nights through www. and become a member of the Travel Trade Publications Elite Agents Club to enjoy:  Accreditation for hosted buyers programmes  Complimentary fam trips  Complimentary upgrades for your earned adverts  Listings on the Travel Trade Publications top 10 agents’ of the week  Listings on the Travel Trade Publications top 10 agents’ of the month  Priority service for the offline offers  Complimentary room nights at selected hotels from the Travel Trade Publications directory



Let's TRADE with Europe!

01 NOVEMBER 2014





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Emaar Approves Dividend Emaar Properties has approved a special cash dividend of AED9 billion (USD2.5 billion) to be allocated to the company’s shareholders taking the total value of dividends distributed this year to over AED17.1 billion (USD4.7 billion).


CONTRIBUTORS Dominique Christou Ana Mladenovic

he newly announced cash dividend follows investor response from regional and international investors to the initial public offering of Emaar Malls Group. Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said, “We will continue to focus on creating long-term value by further strengthening our core businesses in prime real estate assets, shopping malls, retail and hospitality.”

PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou WEB DEVELOPER / IT Soteris Constantinou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103670 WEBSITE

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Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar




Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Oman (OMR)



Qatar (QAR)



Saudi Arabia (SAR) Riyal





Algeria (DZD)



Egypt (EGP)



Iran (IRR)



Iraq (IQD)



Kuwait (KWD)



Lebanon (LBP)



Libya (LYD)



Morocco (MAD)



Syria (SYP)



Tunisia (TND)



Yemen (YER)



Downtown Dubai by Emaar Properties

Passenger Traffic Numbers on a High Passenger movements maintained a moderate growth rate for August, with Asia Pacific airports having recorded a year-on-year increase of 3.3 percent, while airports in the Middle East posted a surge of nine percent.


n August, Beijing was the busiest airport despite an almost flat growth of 0.7 percent, whereas Dubai International, the busiest airport in the region for international passengers, rebounded by 10.8 percent as its runways resumed operation in late July after an 80-day closure. For the first eight months of the year, passenger traffic in the Middle East continued to lead in Asia Pacific with a strong increase of 8.5 percent, while the wider region posted an increase of 4.6 percent.



Travelport Universal API Launches in India Travelport launched its Travelport Universal API to developers and customers in India.

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ow available in 100 countries, the interface aggregates content from its Travel Commerce Platform, including airfares, airline merchandising and ancillary content, hotels, car and rail content, making it available to developers creating their own travel applications through a single connection. The tool also enables developers to access and integrate multiple content sources by writing code to only one solution, thereby allowing travel agencies to quickly and efficiently develop and differentiate their offering and enabling independent software developers to efficiently build their own travel applications.

Indian Carrier to Adopt Amadeus Solutions


istara has partnered with Amadeus to apply the Amadeus Altéa Suite of technology solutions, in a bid to provide a personalised service. Amadeus technology will power Vistara’s travel reservations, inventory management, airport departure control systems, as well as revenue accounting and management. It is the first airline in India to adopt the Amadeus Altéa Suite, which is already used by more than 120 airlines worldwide.

ResNet World Celebrates Fifth Anniversary


n October, the e-distribution and online marketing company for the hospitality industry, ResNet World celebrated five years in the industry. The company was conceived with a vision to maximise revenue and profitability for its hotel partners and over its five years in business, it has gained on average 100 hotels per year of service. Saahil Mehta, founder, ResNet World, said, “We have graduated from a small start up company to a global service provider, with offices in the UAE, India and Germany. Our next steps are to put an even stronger focus on data analysis, being able to then guide our hotel partners into a more specific, more profitable direction.”




Plans for First LEGOLAND in Middle East

Merlin Entertainments has announced new plans for LEGOLAND Dubai, the seventh park of the brand to open worldwide.


et to launch in 2016, LEGOLAND Dubai is being developed in conjunction with Dubai Parks and Resorts, a Meraas holding company, and will be operated by Merlin Entertainments. The park will feature over 15,000 LEGO model structures, made from more than 60 million LEGO bricks, and will include over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions. “We are delighted to be opening in Dubai and to be working with a partner as innovative and supportive as Dubai Parks and Resorts on this exciting new project. Indeed, we have no doubt that LEGOLAND Dubai will add a whole new dimension to Dubai’s leisure scene,” said Nick Varney, CEO, Merlin Entertainments.


GDRFA Centre Opens at Dubai International


ohammed Abdulla Ahli, director general, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), and Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, director general, general directorate of residency and foreigners affairs, Dubai (GDRFA-Dubai), have officially opened a GDRFA customer service centre at Terminal 3 at Dubai International, providing a 24/7 service. Al Marri said the centre offers all the services provided by the emirate’s directorate, which include renewal of passports of UAE citizens, entry permits, residency visas of all kinds, cancellation, renewal and extension of the residence permits and issuance and renewal of Smart Gate cards.


WEEKLY NEWS Bahrain to Welcome USD22 Billion Infrastructure

Events Are Integral for Dubai’s Tourism


ubai welcomed more than 2.3 million international business tourists in 2012 and that figure is expected to rise to four million by the end of the decade. Hamad Bin Mejren, executive director, Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, said, “We will increase visitor numbers significantly by improving the emirate’s already world-class offering across events, attractions, infrastructure, services and packages, enhancing the overall visitor experience as a result. [...] We want to pioneer remarkable experiences that make the world want to visit and revisit Dubai, with the ambition of becoming the world’s leading family and leisure, events, and business destination.”


E. Kamal bin Ahmed, acting CEO, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), announced that USD22 billion worth of infrastructure projects are currently planned in the Kingdom, and will cover the industrial, infrastructure and tourism sectors. The projects will help boost the national economy, providing opportunities for Bahrain’s citizens and strengthen the country’s regional competitiveness. Bin Ahmed affirmed that such projects, which include Bahrain International Airport’s modernisation and the development of Al Jazair Beach, will have an overall positive impact and will increase Bahrain’s competitive advantage. The development complements the recently revised visa policy which provides easier access to the Kingdom for more than 60 additional countries.


Laith Emam

Dakkak Group Launches a New Office in Dubai



akkak Group, a Jordanian comprehensive travel service group of companies operating since 1955, announced the official opening of its first office in the Gulf region, located in Dubai. Ziad Dakkak, president, Dakkak Tours, commented that the emirate was a sensible choice for the company and for its clients. “Because Dubai is the hub of the Gulf, clients can get in touch with us easily […]. The Dakkak Tours International office in Dubai will be serving not only the UAE, but extending its services to Oman, Qatar and other Gulf countries for inbound tourism.” The office’s team will be led by Laith Emam, who took over as the branch’s general manager.



Italian Tourists Are Important to Egypt

GCC Tourists Flock to Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort




isham Zaazou, tourism minister, Egypt, recently travelled to Italy for a travel fair which took place in Rimini. While in the European country, Zaazou held several meetings with tourism companies in a bid to increase the number of Italian visitors to Egypt. As he stressed, the Italian tourist market is vital for the country where it held a leading position for several years in the past.

azagan Beach & Golf Resort reported an increase in inflow of GCC tourists to the property which registered record traffic figures in the first nine months of the year. Stephan Killinger, president, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, attributed this growing appreciation from GCC tourists to the package holidays combing accommodation, flights and entertainment attractions, especially since the resort has put together a strategy to focus on three key components; family attractions, MICE and sport initiatives. “Tweaking the packages always attracts more guests. We understand that a successful strategy can be built on end users preferences, so we decided to create dedicated packages for different segments of visitors, such as individuals on a business trip, or families or those celebrating special occasions or attending sport events,” he added.

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Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort

Oman Prepares for Race


usandam-Oman Sail, Oman's flagship boat will line up against 10 other multihulls on the start line of the Route du Rhum on November 2. For Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, the event is a platform to share the country’s beauty with over one million visitors to the regatta, through its pavilion in Saint Malo, France. “Through the relationship with Oman Sail and our participation in international events [...], we seek to connect with the highend tourist that attends and follows these elite sailing events and to impart what Oman has to offer in terms of natural beauty and culture,” confirmed H.E. Maitha bint Saif al Mahrouqi, undersecretary, Ministry of Tourism, Oman.



WEEKLY NEWS TDIC Mounts the Louvre Abu Dhabi Dome

Al Marjan Island Attracts Over 100,000 Tourists

motiongate Dubai Reveals 12 New Attractions

Al Marjan Island


ourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) has installed the Louvre Abu Dhabi dome structure, which consists of 85 super-sized steel elements and weighs 7,000 tonnes. The dome is supported by 120 temporary towers, which will be removed to leaving it atop four main piers. Work also commenced on the cladding of the dome, whereby 8,000 star-shaped aluminium and stainless steel cladding pieces will be placed across eight layers above and below the steel frame. Jassim Al Hammadi, director of infrastructure, TDIC, said, “The dome […] has been by far the most challenging element to construct on site.


etween January and August, over100,000 visitors of different nationalities visited Al Marjan Island, according to Abdullah Rashed Al Abdooli, managing director, Al Marjan Island Company. Al Marjan Island Company is hailed as a major tourism generator in Ras Al Khaimah, as it houses 45 percent of the total five-star hotel rooms in the emirate. Rashed Al Abdooli commented, “We have devised a strategy to transform the island into one of the world’s leading artificial islands, offering leisure and entertainment, as well as investment and business opportunities for developers of hotels, resorts, shopping centres and retail activity.”


ubai Parks and Resorts has penned a deal with Sony Pictures Consumer Products and International Merchandising, Promotion and Services (IMPS) to add new attractions to motiongate Dubai, a Hollywood-inspired theme park set for a phased opening starting 2016. The newly unveiled features include a Sony Pictures Studio and Smurfs Zone, which are to bring a total of 12 attractions inspired by Ghostbusters, Zombieland, Hotel Transylvania, The Smurfs and more. Raed Al Nuaimi, CEO, Dubai Parks and Resorts, stated, “We welcome Sony Pictures’ and IMPS’ presence at motiongate Dubai. With their legacy of excellence in entertaining audiences, we are confident Sony Pictures and the Smurfs Zone will add an exhilarating new dimension to the Middle East’s entertainment landscape.”




MELIÁ FORAYS INTO THE QATARI CAPITAL Gabriel Escarrer, vice chairman, Meliá Hotel International, announced a luxury hotel in Qatar, in cooperation with Tamniyat Qatar Real Estate, the property owner and developer.


eliá Doha, which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2015, will occupy 39 floors of the Bin Samickh tower, located in West Bay, and will provide 282 rooms and suites, plus a wide range of restaurants and wellbeing and beauty facilities. Escarrer explained the importance of Qatar as a destination, supported by its economic prosperity and its growing influence in various areas, noting, “The Arabian Gulf is a natural focus for the expansion of our luxury brands, and the signing of Meliá Doha brings a guarantee of solvency and quality management to this important property.”

Meliá Doha

Babylon Warwick Hotel, Baghdad

Babylon Warwick Hotel Opens in Baghdad



arwick International Hotels Group (WIH) counts a new landmark hotel in its portfolio with Babylon Warwick Hotel, Baghdad. The 300-room property, located on the edge of the Tigris River, has been fully renovated to meet the international five-star hotel standards to respond to global travellers’ expectations. Its extensive facilities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a Warwick Spa with a Turkish bath, a fitness centre, tennis courts, three conference rooms with a meeting capacity for up to 750 guests, six restaurants and a cigar bar. Jamal Serhan, vice president, MENA, WIH, said, “We are proud to have a new landmark hotel in the MENA region. […] Our presence in the GCC will be soon improved by the opening of Warwick Doha Hotel”.




arlson Rezidor Hotel Group and Al Hokair Group have announced the signing of a long-term country development agreement under which the US-based company will operate around 30 new and existing hotels, resorts and serviced apartments under Carlson Rezidor's core brands Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “The Kingdom offers massive opportunity for the development of hotels, domestic resorts and serviced apartments; and we are delighted to partner with Al Hokair Group that has an unparalleled presence, market reach and hospitality expertise in the region”, confirmed Wolfgang Neumann, president, The Rezidor Hotel Group.

Dar es Salaam to Welcome Rotana Property


otana stakes its claim on the African hospitality market, with the announcement of its debut project in the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. The 254-key property will include 191 luxurious hotel rooms and suites, plus 63 serviced apartments spread across 24 floors. “The property in Tanzania falls in line with our strategic goal to operate 100 hotels by 2020. [...] We are anticipating an excellent response for our debut project in the country”, said Omer Kaddouri, president, Rotana. In addition to a selection of accommodation units, the new hotel will also feature six food and beverage outlets, an indoor pool, gym, six meeting rooms, a ballroom and a dedicated business centre.

Meydan Joins Ultratravel Collection Bab AlMarriott Shams Desert Executive Resort Apartments and Spa Dubai Creek

Carlson Rezidor Signs with Al Hokair Group


eydan Hotels and Hospitality, comprising The Meydan Hotel and Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, has joined the ranks of 40 luxury properties in the Ultratravel Collection, an exclusive association of luxury hotel brands and properties. “We are extremely proud to have found a partner who allows us to expand the reach of our products and give us the opportunity to tap into the multiple offerings of the Ultratravel Collection, while forging strong relationships with the partners,” commented Thomas Grundner, head of sales and marketing, Meydan Hotels and Hospitality.

Aspire Zone

The Torch Doha Hosts Australian National Team


he Torch Doha welcomed the Socceroos, the Australian National football team, for the second time in the Qatari capital. The team visited Qatar, during its preparations ahead of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Due to The Torch Doha’s location at the centre of Aspire Zone, the hotel was ideal to host the group during the four-day stay in Doha, as the team had the chance to train on Doha’s sports city pitches.




DAMAC Expands Deal with Paramount Hotels

Ascott Adds Second Dubai Serviced Residence

TIME Residence Opens in Abu Dhabi




AMAC Properties has signed a deal with Paramount Hotels & Resorts to develop its branded hotels and serviced living concepts to new cities around the region, following a recent agreement for four different projects announced in Dubai and Riyadh. Over the next five years, accommodation units will be launched across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah and Istanbul. Ghassan Aridi, chairman, Paramount Hotel & Resorts, said, “Positioned in key locations, the new developments will be a series of dynamic and sensory experiences that live up to our mantra of producing hospitality that is unmistakable, unforgettable and consequently, unmissable.” He added that the reception of the Paramount Hotels & Resorts' hospitality concept has been overwhelming.

DAMAC Towers by Paramount Hotels & Resorts


he Ascott Limited signed an agreement to manage its second serviced residence in Dubai, set within the Dubai Culture Village. The 117-unit Ascott Culture Village Dubai is slated to open in 2017, and is to offer studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, plus a swimming pool, gym and restaurant. Sym Lee, head, GCC, The Ascott Limited, commented, “We have been witnessing a growing demand for luxury serviced residences in Dubai as our first property in Dubai, Ascott Park Place, has been achieving occupancies of over 80 percent. Having another premier Ascott-branded serviced residence will allow us to cater to the need for quality and luxurious serviced apartments and increase our presence in this cosmopolitan city.”

Ascott Culture Village Dubai

IME Hotels has opened the doors to a second TIME Residencebranded property. Zakher TIME Residence - Abu Dhabi offers 68 fully-furnished one-bedroom and studio apartments. This follows the 2013 unveiling of the brand and the launch of the TIME Pearl Residence, a 72 two-bedroom unit property situated five minutes away from the UAE capital’s popular Corniche promenade. “The success of our first TIME Residence property reaffirms our confidence in this operational model as a key driver to capture long-term business while ensuring that we deliver our signature service and hospitality across all TIME branded properties,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels.

Zakher TIME Residence - Abu Dhabi



RJ Simplifies Baggage Policy Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) started using the piece concept, instead of weight, on all its routes, thus simplifying its free baggage allowance policy.


he new rule is applied to all tickets purchased from October 15, for travel on and after November 2. Under the piece concept, economy class passengers travelling on all routes are entitled to check in one piece as baggage allowance with a maximum weight of 30kg, instead of 20kg under the weight-based free baggage system. Crown Class passengers are allowed two pieces, one weighing 30kg and the other 23kg.


Air Arabia’s Growth Recognised


ir Arabia is among the World Economic Forum’s prestigious Global Growth Companies (GGC) for this year. The announcement took place at the recently concluded World Economic Forum special meeting on Unlocking Resources for Regional Development held in Istanbul. The company was selected for exceeding industry standards in revenue growth, promoting innovative business practices and leadership in corporate citizenship. Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, said, “We have always been considered an innovator and path-breaker in the field of aviation, and it is gratifying to be recognised for our efforts and contribution to the MENA economy. Being a part of the World Economic Forum GGC community provides us an opportunity to leverage our expertise and create meaningful partnerships with industry peers.”



Etihad: UAE Nationals Deployed Abroad Increase

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Etihad Airways to Serve Vienna


tihad Airways will provide a new air bridge between Abu Dhabi and European capital, Vienna, when it places its EY code on the forthcoming daily service by Austrian carrier and airberlin subsidiary, NIKI; this subject to governmental approval. The new NIKI flights will commence on November 24 and will be operated by a two cabin Airbus A320 aircraft, configured to carry 12 passengers in business class and 132 in economy class. The schedule of the Vienna flights enables two-way connectivity beyond Abu Dhabi to Etihad Airways’ growing network, which suits destinations in Australia, North and South Asia, the Indian sub-continent, Middle East and Africa.

tihad Airways has boosted the number of UAE national staff on international work placements by over 130 percent compared to the end of 2013, with 142 Emiratis currently in overseas positions across the airline’s global network. Over the next months, an additional 33 UAE national employees will be deployed by Etihad Airways in markets across the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Australia and the American continent, bringing the total number of Emiratis on international placements to 175 by the end of the year. Ray Gammell, chief people and performance officer, Etihad Airways, said, “We are extremely proud to offer a dynamic environment for UAE nationals to develop their careers, with exciting roles available in a wide range of different areas.”

flynas Adds Al-Qassim to Its Network


Qatar Airways Inks MoU for New Aircraft

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lynas commenced daily flights to its newest destination with the inaugural service to Al-Qassim, leaving King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to land in Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Airport. Wael Al-Sarhan, director of marketing and communications, NAS Holding, commented, “flynas continues to add more domestic destinations in order to enhance its competitive position in the domestic air transport market, which is experiencing significant growth in passenger traffic.” He added that the new route is an extension of ongoing efforts to make flynas’ services available to a wider section of the Kingdom’s population.


atar Airways signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gulfstream Aerospace for the purchase of up to 20 aircraft. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, confirmed that in order to keep pace with the future strategic growth plans of the carrier’s private jet division, the fleet is being expanded with aircraft that meet the needs of guests, providing a wide range of options. The deal was announced in conjunction with Gulfstream Aerospace’s introduction of an all-new family of business jets, the Gulfstream G500 and G600. “This agreement is evidence of the industry-leading performance of Gulfstream’s flagship aircraft, the G650ER, and of our commitment to deliver on the promises we have made for our new family of aircraft, which includes the G500,” said Larry Flynn, president, Gulfstream.



Etihad Airways Welcomes 1,000th Flying Nanny

Frankfurt First to Welcome Qatar Airways’ A350



tihad Airways celebrated the 1,000th Flying Nanny to complete her training at the Etihad Airways Innovation Training Academy in Abu Dhabi. Aubrey Tiedt, vice president, guest services, Etihad Airways, said, “The Flying Nanny has become one of the most recognisable members of Etihad Airways cabin crew aboard our long-haul flights and we are delighted to celebrate the graduation of our 1,000th member to wear the orange apron.” She added that when the carrier introduced the concept in 2013, the aim was to provide a helping hand to families flying and since then the positive feedback from customers has been overwhelming.


Air Arabia to Serve Tbilisi


atar Airways has announced Frankfurt as the first route for its highly anticipated Airbus A350 Xtra Wide Body (XWB) aircraft, set to be delivered before year-end. The German city will be served daily nonstop with an A350 starting from January 2015. Qatar Airways currently flies twice-daily to Frankfurt, and the double pairings will both be operated by an A350 on the route. Qatar Airways has 80 aircraft of the type on order, and expects to induct the first eight into its fleet before 2015 ends. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, remarked, “Qatar Airways looks forward to inaugurating our first A350 on the Doha – Frankfurt route, and to very soon introducing this next generation aircraft on many other cities offered on the airline’s extensive network.”

ir Arabia began regular direct services to Tbilisi, Georgia, from October 28, with twice weekly flights from Sharjah International Airport, on Tuesdays and Fridays. “The beautiful city of Tbilisi is a tremendous addition to the Air Arabia network and we are confident the route will prove to be highly popular with leisure and business travellers alike. We are delighted to be able to bring a value for money offering to customers in Georgia, while further extending Air Arabia’s exceptional coverage of destinations in the central region of the world,” said Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia.



Air Arabia Begins Flights to Al Jouf

Gulf Air Reinstates Flights to Hyderabad


n October 26, Air Arabia launched its nonstop service to Al Jouf, its 11th destination in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is one of the carrier’s fastest growing markets led by both tourism and business travellers, according to Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia. He added, “Al Jouf is a spectacular getaway that connects visitors with the bounty of nature as well as the unique charm of traditional architecture and a rich cultural heritage. With the nonstop connectivity offered by Air Arabia, cultural tourists and nature lovers will now have another fascinating destination to explore conveniently and cost-effectively.”

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ulf Air announced that it will be recommencing services to Hyderabad, the fourth most populous city in India, with five weekly flights. Starting from December 15, the new route will be operated by an Airbus A320 aircraft. Maher Salman Al Musallam, acting CEO, Gulf Air, commented, “We are further strengthening our Indian operations after the successful launch of flights to Trivandrum in December 2013. Now with the addition of Hyderabad, our sixth Indian destination, we are connecting south-central India to the Middle East and we hope this route will appeal to travellers and be just as successful as our existing India operations.”

Air Astana Receives Third Boeing 767


azakhstan’s Air Astana has welcomed its third Boeing 767-300ER, bringing the average age of the fleet down to 5.4 years; considered to be the youngest in central Asia and one of the youngest in the world. The new Boeing 767s are configured with 30 fully-flat reclining seats with wide video screens in business class and 193 seats in economy class. The aircraft are operated on long-haul routes from Almaty and Astana to Bangkok, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul. The Air Astana fleet comprises of 30 Boeing 767, Boeing 757, Airbus A320 and Embraer 190 aircraft.



RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: You have been with the hotel for the last 20 years and have made your way up to the general manager’s position recently. What are the major changes you have witnessed within the emirate’s hospitality industry? GEORGES FARHAT: When I started my career with Crowne Plaza Dubai in 1994, almost none of the developments we see today existed and this hotel was the first property on Sheikh Zayed Road. Since then Dubai developed into a glamorous metropolis. The number of markets and visitors multiplied, flight capacities increased and new luxury hotels opened. With the development of modern technology, visitors became more sophisticated and demanding and hotels need to cope with Dubai’s reputation being the world’s capital of superlatives. The speed of communication we face today is not comparable to the standard 20 years ago. Time is money and reacting to requests within a few hours is a must to get the business. Also, information technology and transparency reached a completely different level. People are online today [at all times], having access to information on destinations and their offerings at any time and place. Monitoring your performance along with constantly upgrading your services and facilities is crucial to meet today’s customer’s requirements. Last but not least, the most important asset of every hotel is its team. Dubai is an excellent workplace. For us as an employer, it is more important than ever to create the right work environment and support our team members to grow in their career. InterContinental Hotels Group has some excellent training programmes in place and we are proud to say that some of our team members at Crowne Plaza Dubai are with us for many years, which is the best proof of their satisfaction and identification with the brand. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What are your predictions for Dubai’s future, especially in regards to the vision to host 20 million tourists by 2020? GEORGES FARHAT: Dubai is committed to success and development like no other city in the world. Under the wise leadership of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, supreme council member and vice president of Dubai, and the great support of Dubai 1 NOVEMBER 2014

Q & A with


how has it changed over the last few years? GEORGES FARHAT: Roundly 80 percent of our guests are business travellers. This has always been like that with Crowne Plaza being a corporate-oriented brand. However, the pace of travelling, booking processes and requirements have drastically changed. With all innovations over the past years and the growth of tourism worldwide, the globe became smaller and we are constantly developing new emerging markets. This means you have to adjust to different cultures and habits every day again to meet your guest’s expectations. At the same time, you need to keep in pace with technology. Today’s travellers need to be connected at all times with their businesses, their partners around the world and their families back home. Time needs to be allocated efficiently and money spent wisely. In Crowne Plaza Dubai we strive to exceed our guests’ expectations. At the same time, we do not forget about the human touch. Making our guests feel welcome, giving comfort and warm hearted, personalised is our daily effort. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How do you make sure to stay abreast of growing competition? What are your plans for the remainder of the year?

CROWNE PLAZA DUBAI WAS THE FIRST HOTEL IN SHEIKH ZAYED ROAD, AND GEORGES FARHAT, GENERAL MANAGER, CROWNE PLAZA DUBAI, BEING WITH THE PROPERTY FOR 20 YEARS, HE SHARES HIS INSIGHT INTO HOW TOURISM TRENDS AND THE INDUSTRY HAS EVOLVED IN THE EMIRATE. Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing, the city developed a can do approach that enabled such rapid and impressive development over the past years. I am convinced Dubai will succeed in its goal hosting 20 million tourists by 2020. I go even further than that, being convinced that Expo 2020 is just another step towards a much higher goal. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How would you describe the hotel’s clientele and


GEORGES FARHAT: With the increasing number of properties in Dubai, competition became tougher and the level of service we see today is unique in the world. We are an iconic hotel in the centre of the financial district but new and ultra-luxury hotels opened left and right from us. In such an environment, customer satisfaction is crucial and we are proud to say that the team of Crowne Plaza Dubai is our greatest asset. Given our great recommendation and guest satisfaction scores as well as the high number of loyalty guests, we can proudly claim for us that we succeed in making our guests feel home away from home. Apart from that, we are constantly trying to improve our services and facilities. We are about to launch our new fun dining concept, comprising 13 awardwinning restaurants and bars as well as our signature night club Zinc. Food and beverage is one of our main revenue contributors and our selection and quality of outlets is outstanding and well perceived by guests and residents alike.


WEEKLY NEWS INTERNATIONAL New Hilton Garden Inn in Middle Tennessee


ilton Garden Inn has announced the opening of the 100-room Hilton Garden Inn Murfreesboro, located less than an hour from Nashville, Tennessee. Owned and managed by Kana Hotel Group, the

property is in proximity to historic sites, while its facilities include free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour business centre, fitness hub, outdoor pool, wood burning fire pit and two food and beverage outlets, amongst other offerings.

”Through our friendly service and natureinspired design, our hotel offers both leisure and business guests a personalised hotel experience,“ said David Allison, general manager, Hilton Garden Inn Murfreesboro.

Wyndham Expands in India


yndham Hotel Group reported the signing of 10 properties in India, thereby expanding the company’s presence in the rapidly growing mid-market hospitality segment in the country. The announcement was made by Geoff Ballotti, president, Wyndham Hotel Group, and Deepika Arora, regional vice president, Indian Ocean, Wyndham Hotel Group. The addition of the new projects with 1,088 rooms is to take the tally of properties operating under the company’s brands to 43 with approximately 4,841 rooms. The 10 properties, which will operate under the Ramada Encore and Howard Johnson brands, will be located in Gurgaon, Darjeeling, Greater Noida, Jaisalmer, Pali, Lonere, Dharmapuri, Bangalore, Chennai and Trivandrum.




Agent’s Insight NAME:

Alfred Lord Casio


Business development executive


Royal Adventure Travel & Tourism




ABTA Registers New Associates Who are you? I am Alfred Lord Casio; a person who is very passionate about travelling and loves to meet people of any race. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? It has always been my dream to work in the travel and tourism industry because I have always believed that it will help me to realise some of my life-long dreams. I am very fortunate to have had the chance to work in this industry because I had the opportunity to grow and mature both professionally and personally.


BTA welcomed 18 new members from July to September. Mark Tanzer, CEO, ABTA, commented, “Our new members are encouraged to make the most of their membership and to take advantage of all of the support and assistance that ABTA offers them.” Jacqueline Butt, finance director, Discover Adventure, one of the newcomers, said, “Discover Adventure is a market leader in providing high quality trekking and cycling challenges for charities, groups, schools and corporate companies. We pride ourselves on maintaining the highest standards in expertise, safety and quality, and are delighted to announce our membership at ABTA.”

When is the best time to visit UAE? I am still very new to the MENA and GCC tourism industry but from what I have observed for more than a year, the best time to visit the UAE, especially Dubai, is during the winter season – October to May. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Every place is special and unique but if there is one place that I would want to visit it would be the Czech Republic and Austria. Why should people come to you for travel advice? What makes Royal Adventure different from [competitors] is that we stick to the reason of the formation which is to give each day and every customer a service that is beyond satisfactory. Which is the percentage of MENA travellers your agency welcomes annually? Amongst other markets, MENA has a big contribution to the travel and tourism industry in UAE especially Dubai. For the past year I can say that 100 percent of the MENA travellers are travelling to Dubai. 1 NOVEMBER 2014



[ITB Asia] presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase our hotels

GLENN DE SOUZA Vice president, international operations, Asia and the Middle East, Best Western International

“ITB Asia is the region’s biggest travel trade show and we are delighted to confirm our participation once again this year. We have been present at the event every year since it began in 2008 and I have found it presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase our hotels, and our ambitious expansion plans. The attendance of so many highquality international buyers also provides an excellent opportunity for us to drive business to our fast-expanding collection of properties across Asia.”

The awards reinforce our commitment to delivering innovative properties


“The recognition from two prestigious award panels [at Dossier Construction Awards & Summit 2014 and Oman Green Awards] emphasises our vision to deliver a sustainable master planned integrated tourism complex where people can live, work and play in a world-class community, while maintaining our focus on conserving and enhancing the surrounding environment. The awards also reinforce our commitment to delivering innovative properties to meet the demands of a growing market.”

The support from the cargo trade community has been remarkable

KEVIN KNIGHT Chief strategy and planning officer, Etihad Airways

“Etihad Cargo [which has celebrated the enrolment of its web-based loyalty programme’s 3,000th member] aims to provide its loyal customers with exceptional services and benefits. The tremendous support we have received from the cargo trade community since we launched CargoConnect [in 2013] has been remarkable, and a significant factor in making this programme one of the leading loyalty programmes within the global cargo industry.”

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IATA Reveals Fast-Growing Markets of the Future Traveller numbers are expected to reach 7.3 billion by 2034, representing a 4.1 percent average annual growth in demand for air connectivity.


his was projected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s first 20-year passenger growth forecast. According to the report, Kuwait will be amongst the five fastest growing markets, while in terms of country pairs, Kuwait – Thailand and UAE – Ethiopia travel will develop by at least 9.5 percent on average for the next 20 years. The Middle East will grow strongly and will see an extra 237 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region by 2034. The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will all enjoy strong growth of 5.6 percent, 4.8 percent and 4.6 percent respectively. The total market size will be 383 million passengers.

DWHC Educates on Food and Health Safety


he Dubai World Hospitality Championship (DWHC) reported successful completion of a series of food and health safety workshops for Emirati participants, held in cooperation with the Department of Inspection and Food Control of Dubai Municipality. Amna Al Dhaheri, Emirati competition manager, DWHC, explained, “These workshops represent an important phase of the championship, supplying participants with the proper tools, guidance and instructions that are essential in the preparation of traditional Emirati dishes [...] with the highest quality standards of food safety.”

Burj Khalifa Boasts Another Guinness Record


maar has scooped the fourth Guinness World Records title for Burj Khalifa by unveiling the 555m-high At the Top, Burj Khalifa SKY observation deck. Adjudicators of the Guinness World Records officiated the new attraction as the Highest Observation Deck in the world, adding to the building’s existing titles; Tallest Building, Tallest Man-made Structure on Land Ever and Highest Restaurant from Ground Level for At.mosphere. Talal Omar, country manager, Middle East and North Africa, Guinness World Records, commented that the title is another feather in the cap for Dubai, a city that has now one of the fastest growing repertories of the world’s most fascinating achievements.

Burj Khalifa Observation Deck







Hamad Mohamed Al-Harthy has been promoted by Oman Air as its new country manager for Oman. A science graduate of Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Harthy has developed his career as an aviation professional since joining Oman Air as a management trainee in 2002. He was then appointed sales executive in Muscat, before being promoted to district sales manager in Saudi Arabia, followed by Oman, and finally rising to country manager in India. His appointment to country manager in Oman sees him taking up a most prestigious role, as he will have the responsibility of increasing sales in the Sultanate at a time when the carrier is poised to expand its international network of destinations, facilitated by the arrival later this year of 24 new aircraft.

Hossam Mansour is now the new executive assistant manager at Towers Rotana. He holds a master’s degree in hospitality management and before joining Rotana with his first position as executive assistant manager in Fujairah one year and a half ago, he kicked off his career with Forte Grand Abu Dhabi in 1997. He then gradually moved on to serve several properties in MENA as restaurant manager and food and beverage director, before joining Hilton Hotels & Resorts in 2006 where he spent seven years with his last position being director of operations in Sharm el-Sheikh and Ankara. In his new position, Hossam is responsible to manage the hotel day-to-day operations and deputise the general manager in his absence.



Harald Buerkle has taken on the position of the new general manager at Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo Heliopolis. With a strong background in food and beverage, Buerkle began his career as commis de cuisine, working his way up to executive chef and director of operations before taking on his first general manager position at Radisson Blu Resort Rügen, Germany. He was previously based in Russia where he was the general manager during the preopening phases of Radisson Hotel, Rosa Khutor and Park Inn by Radisson Rosa Khutor. Buerkle will now lead the team at Radisson Blu Hotel Cairo Heliopolis to ensure revenue and guest satisfaction targets are met, while his focus will be on the consistent operation of the hotel’s rooms.

Doris Greif has been appointed Jumeirah Group’s regional vice president Europe as well as general manager of Jumeirah Frankfurt. Greif first joined the company in 1999 and since then has successfully undertaken a large number of senior roles with the company’s properties, including executive assistant manager in charge of rooms at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, general manager at Jumeirah Beach Club Resort & Spa, general manager operations and general manager at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. She left the hotelier in 2008 to take on the role of chief operating officer, city operations at Dubai International Financial Centre before rejoining Jumeirah Group in 2010 to become general manager of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.



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Abu Dhabi Ports Company further enhances the health and safety across all of the emirate’s ports

InterContinental Cairo Semiramis participates in Race Around the World 2014

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts staged its GCC collection review


Air Arabia among Global Growth Companies 2014 by the World Economic Forum

The Australian National Football team at Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Bangkok Airways launches Bike on Board campaign to promote ecotourism



ADNEC Showcased at IMEX America

EVENTS WORLD TRAVEL MARKET (WTM) London, UK November 3 – 6 A vibrant event presenting a diverse range of destinations and industry sectors to UK and international travel professionals.

Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company


op representatives of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) used IMEX America, which took place in Las Vegas this year, to highlight Abu Dhabi as a gateway to the growing MENA region, as well as Asia. The team also promoted Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre as one of the top venues in the region for large-scale exhibitions and conferences. Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, acting group CEO, ADNEC, commented, “IMEX is a world class platform. [...] As we continue to drive Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a rising star of the global exhibition and conference industry and communicate its value proposition to industry peers, we support the vision of the emirate to further diversify our economy and shape a safe and sustainable economic future.”

Did y

w. . ou kno

al ation e N i b r ent Dha Abu ibition C e first h h t x E y or ed f ruar open e in Feb tim 2007?


SAUDI CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS FORUM Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 9 – 11 An initiative of the Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau, which highlights the importance of the MICE industry to the development of the economy.

CHINA INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SUMMIT Qingdao, China November 11 – 12 The conference converges top management from global cruise companies, port cities, port operators and cruise-related businesses.

MICE ASIA PACIFIC EXPO Singapore November 13 – 14 Brings together leading meetings, conference, exhibition and events organisers to meet and network with Asia Pacific’s leading hotels, venues and event suppliers.


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 260  

Travel Trade Weekly Middle East & North Africa is the first and only weekly virtual publication of its kind in the MENA region. It is distri...

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