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Mary Kammitsi

Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar





PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian




Egypt (EGP)



DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou

Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



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 EMAILS

Increased Bottom Line Yields in Jeddah Jeddah’s four- and five-star hotels reported growth across all major performance indicators in April as an increase in average rates and non-room revenues boosted the bottom line yields.


ased on TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report, occupancy for the month rose 2.5 percentage points to 81.4 percent, while average room rates jumped 9.3 percent to USD268.59, leading to a 12.7 percent RevPAR improvement to USD218.57. Increased revenues from food and beverage consumption, along with higher conferencing demand resulted in a 10.8 percent total RevPAR surge and the strong top-line revenues coupled with a 1.5 percentage point reduction in payroll costs boosted gross operating profit per available room by 16.8 percent to USD174.13.

Nakheel to Repay Debt ahead of Time

Nakheel’s Management


akheel plans to repay all AED7.9 billion (USD2.15 billion) owed to bank lenders this August, nearly four years before the final loan installment due in March 2018. The Dubai-based developer’s scheduled repayment of AED5.54 billion (USD1.51 billion) in August will come just six months after the same transaction in February, when the company returned AED2.35 billion (USD640 million) of its bank loan. Since the launch of its post-restructuring business plan in August 2011, Nakheel has achieved what some considered impossible, noted Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman, Nakheel, referring to the completion of one of the largest, most complex financial restructuring exercises followed by the successful execution of a new business plan that has placed the company on a path to new growth.


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Travelport Acquires Hotelzon


ravelport announced that it has bought Hotelzon, a business-to-business hotel distribution technology provider, as part of its ongoing strategy to redefine and strengthen its hotel offering to both corporations and travel management companies (TMCs). With only 30 - 50 percent of corporate hotel buying going through TMCs and many bookings still being implemented directly by business travellers themselves, the Hotelzon acquisition is expected to provide both corporations and Travelportconnected travel agencies with a best-in-class booking tool with extensive independent hotel content.

Enhanced Version of Travelport Mobile Agent


ravelport launched an upgraded version of its Travelport Mobile Agent (TMA) tool, first introduced in 2011, adding a range of new features and functionality for its agency users. The mobile app which was developed in partnership with TTS, an active member of the Travelport Developer Network, allows travel agents to make bookings for their customers from handheld devices. Version 3.0 of Travelport’s tool includes new features which were implemented as a result of user feedback and are all designed to enable agents to provide superior customer service.

CyberSource and Amadeus to Optimise Fraud Management

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madeus and eCommerce payment management service provider, CyberSource, have formed a strategic global partnership to bring an integrated travel reservations and fraud management solution to airlines, travel agencies and other organisations worldwide. Leveraging CyberSource’s global expertise, the innovative solution integrates a fraud management system, called Decision Manager, into the Amadeus Payment Platform, enabling travel businesses to maximise revenue, reduce costs and improve the customer payment experience across multiple channels. As Celia Pereiro, head, travel payments, Amadeus, noted, the new tool will provide clients with a customised and enriched solution, helping them optimise business operations, increase acceptance rates and facilitate a smooth consumer payment process.



Europe to Host Halal Tourism Conference

Dubai Tram: 93 Percent Complete


The first-ever international conference on halal tourism is set to take place between September 22 – 23 in Andalucia, Spain.


he inaugural event, which will bring together the global travel industry to discuss ways of tapping into this niche market, aims to equip delegates with market intelligence, industry forecasts and trends to understand how to market their products to Muslim customers. Based on figures, halal tourism was worth some USD140 billion in 2013, representing around 13 percent of global travel expenditure,


and the figure is expected to reach USD192 billion by 2020. “This is a groundbreaking event for halal tourism which is directly reacting to current market trends and addressing the needs of the industry. It is the first time such a global event is being staged looking at halal tourism in detail,� explained Tasneem Mahmood, director, Creative Minds Media, organisers of the event.

ompletion rate in the entire works of the Dubai Tram project hit 93 percent at the end of June, H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, chairman, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Dubai, revealed. Al Tayer made the statement during a recent site tour, where he also confirmed that the project is on track to open in November. During the visit the delegation inspected the depot which comprises 11 environmentally-friendly buildings and has a capacity to accommodate 25 trains, as well as the 11 tram stations spanning activity centres and population density areas. The progress in road works in the vicinity of the tram project and pedestrian crossings were also checked, and Al Tayer directed officials to attach paramount attention to the traffic safety aspect.

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WEEKLY NEWS World’s Largest Sustainable Underwater Tourism Site in Dubai


os Angeles-based developer, Reef Worlds has completed the design stage for a two hectare tourism site that will allow select waterfront resort development partners to capture a larger share of the USD3 billion dive and snorkel market. Inspired by an ancient Lost City, the Pearl of Dubai is set to become a hit with divers and snorkellers, and, as Dave Taylor, director of development, Reef Worlds, said, fill a gap in the market. “When one considers Dubai and the region, scuba diving and underwater exploration is not on the top 10 list, and yet it is almost everywhere else in the world. [...] The creation of new habitat while at the same time adding instant tourism revenue and excitement to waterfront resorts,” added Taylor.

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UAE Airports Invest in Airport Security

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ver USD30 billion is being earmarked to enhance the security and safety of airports in emerging markets. The special focus placed on further strengthening security in the aviation sector will be one of the key topics at this year’s Emerging Markets Airports Security Summit (EMASS), which will take place between November 26 – 27, at Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. Organised by Arabian Reach, the event will provide an opportunity for over 150 delegates from global aviation security and safety organisations to discuss the challenges and issues faced by the industry and get a better understanding of the usage of technologies and effective practices.


WEEKLY NEWS Smart Living City Dubai 2014 to Showcase Smart City Solutions

Troon Launches New Golf Facility in Morocco



pon H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s, ruler of Dubai, launch of a six-pillar and 100-initiative strategy that is set to consolidate Dubai’s position as the Smartest City, a recent industry report has shown that the emirate has indeed jumped to the lead to become a fully-fledged Smart City. Smart Living City Dubai 2014, which will take place between September 15 – 16 at Jumeirah Emirates Tower, Dubai, aims at supporting the destination’s goal of becoming the smartest city in the world by bringing the best of technology and experts and innovators from across the world together to share ideas with government representatives, company executives, technology investors and Masood Al Awar, CEO, Tasweek, business accelerators alike. organiser of the event

Tony Jacklin

olf course management, development and marketing company, Troon has opened its fourth facility in Morocco. Owned by Groupe Addoha, The Tony Jacklin, Casablanca forms an integral part of Bouskoura Golf City, the all-new development just minutes from the city centre and within easy access of the airport. Named after golfing legend, Tony Jacklin, the 6,422m2 course blends seamlessly with the project’s accommodation offerings, which include stand-alone villas and upscale apartments. Incorporating a variety of parkland holes, flanked by the community’s amenities, the course is expected to attract golfers of all abilities and ages. “It is extremely pleasing to see our commitment to the country rewarded with even more venues choosing Troon in the creation or development of their golf experiences,” commented Bruce Glasco, managing director, international operations, Troon.

Dubai Stages First Destination Forum with German Association


n line with the emirate’s ongoing strategy to grow its share of one of the world’s largest outbound market for foreign travel, more than 80 key influencers from Germany’s travel and tourism industry gathered together in Dubai for a three-day conference. The inaugural event, co-organised by the German Travel Association in partnership with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and supported by Rotana Hotels Management Corporation, included sightseeing tours, visits to key attractions and a one-day conference during which DTCM and partners from Dubai’s hotels and airlines outlined why the emirate’s growing status as a must-visit destination will result in increased business for the German travel trade industry.


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Nakheel to Develop Deira Islands Mall

Deira Islands


s part of its retail expansion strategy, Nakheel plans to construct a 620,000m2 retail, dining and entertainment hub at Deira Islands, its new 15.3 million m2 waterfront destination development in Dubai. The mall will feature over 200,000m2 of leasable space, hundreds of shops, cinemas and a wide range of cafes and restaurants. The offerings will be complemented by a diverse range of other attractions, all developed by Nakheel, at the new waterfront city, including a night market, hotel, amphitheatre for 30,000 people and a marina big enough to accommodate large yachts. Deira Islands will add 40km, including 21km of beachfront to Dubai’s coastline and pave the way for a host of tourism, leisure and residential developments including, hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, mixed-use buildings and waterside homes.

UAE Airports Invest in Airport Security


he Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) commenced construction works to rebuild Souq Al Shanasiyah, a historical destination at the Heart of Sharjah. The project, located on the emirate’s Bank Street, covers an area of 2,500m2 and is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of the year. According to Yousif Al Mutawa, manager, Heart of Sharjah, the revived souq, which was a vital area in the 1950s, will resemble the old image that exists in the memory of Sharjah’s residents and visitors.

Record Passenger Numbers in Abu Dhabi


bu Dhabi International Airport registered a 27.4 percent rise in passenger traffic for May, marking the highest growth rate in the airport’s history. During the month under review, the hub welcomed 1,633,700 travellers, while aircraft movements stood at 12,931, up 15.8 percent. Similarly, cargo activity jumped 24.5 percent reaching 66,944 tonnes. The most popular route was Manila, followed by Doha and Bangkok. New codeshare partnerships between Etihad Airways and various airlines have positively impacted traffic numbers, noted Ahmad Al Haddabi, chief operations officer, Abu Dhabi Airports.

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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Please tell us about the company’s growth plans for Saudi Arabia. CHRISTOPHE LANDAIS: Saudi Arabia is an important market for Accor. We have operated in the Kingdom for nearly 30 years and our expansion plans reflect the continued demand for high-quality hotels with internationally recognised brands like ours, whether luxury and upscale (Sofitel, Pullman and Majlis Grand Mercure), midscale (Mercure, Novotel, and Adagio) or economy (ibis). Currently, we have 14 hotels under development in the Kingdom adding nearly 2,700 keys across all segments, including two luxury Sofitel hotels, one in Jeddah with 189 rooms and one in Riyadh with 404 rooms, and midscale, long-stay apartment hotels under our Adagio brand, which is widely regarded as the number one in its aparthotel segment across Europe. These new hotels will double the number of properties we already operate in the country to 28, representing more than 6,500 keys. These follow the two hotels in Saudi Arabia we have already opened this year ibis Yanbu with 196 rooms and Majlis Grand Mercure with 354 rooms, a new upscale brand designed specifically to meet the needs of Middle Eastern guests and those looking for an experience inspired by local culture. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How is the company adopting to the latest Saudi tourism trends? CHRISTOPHE LANDAIS: Saudi Arabia has three core markets: business travel in Jeddah and Riyadh, religious tourism focused on the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and growing demand throughout from domestic travellers. Our priority targets for development are Riyadh, Jeddah and the Holy Cities, where we are developing all of our brands from luxury to economy. Of course, we are keen to consider development opportunities in secondary cities frequented by domestic travellers, and our mid-market and economy brands such as Novotel and ibis are well-adapted for such purposes. Because Accor has hotels across all market segments we are well-positioned and committed to continuing to expand our diverse network to meet the needs of travelers of all types.


Q & A with


OVER THE NEXT SIX YEARS, ACCOR HOTELSERVICES MIDDLE EAST IS SET TO MORE THAN TRIPLE ITS FOOTPRINT IN THE SAUDI MARKET, WHICH, ACCORDING TO CHRISTOPHE LANDAIS, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, ACCOR HOTELSERVICES MIDDLE EAST, OFFERS THE HIGHEST HOTEL DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL IN THE REGION. In addition, guests are increasingly looking for unique products. This creates an opportunity for us to provide more differentiated experiences. Our introduction of the first Majlis Grand Mercure in Medina provides a five-star, localised guest experience with our international operational expertise. We are confident that this concept will prove very popular. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What were the main reasons and motivations



for Accor to expand in Saudi Arabia? CHRISTOPHE LANDAIS: Accor is focussed on Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom offers the highest hotel development potential in the region. Right now there are less than two hotel rooms per 1,000 inhabitants compared to a market like Europe, where there are 10 rooms per 1,000 people. At the same time, the massive increase in religious tourism, especially in the city of Mecca, means an influx of millions of pilgrims each year. So clearly there is tremendous growth opportunity in the Kingdom. The hospitality segment in the country has also shifted dramatically, from a set of individual local hotels to major international chains. This has brought more competition but also presents strong opportunities for Accor, as we plan to grow our portfolio from 14 hotels and 4,090 rooms to 50 and 14,090 rooms by 2020, covering the full spectrum of brands from luxury to economy. We also see continued demand in the economy threestar segment. Accor was a pioneer in introducing our economy hotel concept, ibis, to Riyadh in 2012, and we are developing five more ibis hotels with more than 1,100 keys across the Kingdom. The Saudi government is targeting 22 million visitors by 2020. To ensure we remain an industry leader in the Kingdom, we plan to open 35 more hotels with approximately 10,000 rooms in the Kingdom within six years and are innovating across the business to meet the challenges of growth. To deliver on our plans, it is vital to develop the skills of our Saudi national colleagues and we are working closely with the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities for our Saudi Management Training Program. This is a yearlong programme which seeks to help 15 Saudi nationals already employed in Accor hotels in Saudi Arabia with the potential for management to develop the technical skills required to take on a hotel management position. The first iteration of this programme ends this fall and we are excited to see the progress the participants have made. We are very optimistic that the tourism market in Saudi Arabia will continue to grow and flourish in the coming years, and committed to playing a major role in its success. 12 JULY 2014


NEW LUXURY RESORT AT JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL A 350-room ultra-luxury resort is to be added to Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai as the project continues with the fifth phase of its expansion.

Katara Hospitality Acquires Five Hotels


atara Hospitality has taken over five properties in key European destinations from a private investor. In terms of the deal, the Qatari company acquired InterContinental Carlton Cannes, InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, InterContinental Madrid, InterContinental Frankfurt, and the leasehold interest in InterContinental De La Ville Rome, bringing the group’s global portfolio to 32 hotels in operation or under development. As H.E. Sheikh Nawaf Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani, chairman, Katara Hospitality, noted, the agreement adds a major expansion to the company’s footprint, both geographically and in terms of hotel operator partners. Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, CEO, Katara Hospitality, further revealed, “We will look to commit investment funds for necessary renovations or refurbishments, as we do across our portfolio. Our typical renovation strategy brings an iconic hotel back to its full glory, combining its rich heritage with all the modern facilities required in a 21st century hotel.”

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (left)




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he development, which was endorsed by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, is scheduled for completion in 2018. Guests staying at the new resort will enjoy panoramic beachfront views of Burj Al Arab, a private beach, recreational marine facilities that encompass spas, health clubs, elevated tennis courts, a world-class sports complex and a host of ocean-facing retail and food and beverage outlets. The project will also include the expansion of the existing yacht marina, doubling its current capacity, as well as the introduction of new leisure facilities. The development comes in line with Dubai Vision 2020 to attract 20 million visitors by 2020.


WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION SCTA Grants License for Six Hotel Projects in Asir

Hilton Al Ain Supports Al Ain Zoo



ohamed Al-Amrah, director general, Asir, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), announced that the authority has approved the licensing of six hotel projects in the region, pointing out that these are to be distributed between four four- and five-star properties, hotel suites and a hotel resort. He also stated that the facilities are set to be ready after construction in the next two years and will help to expand the highquality accommodation options to satisfy tourists’ expectations. During the field inspection of the facilities in the region, the department of licenses and quality control recorded 96 violations on 212 units, ranging from price rise and hygiene issues to lack of tourism services.

ollowing a three-month fundraising initiative designed to promote the conservation of endangered animals and other wildlife species, Hilton Al Ain donated AED5,488 (USD1,483) to Al Ain Zoo. As part of the programme, the hotel contributed AED1 (USD0.27) for every cup of coffee sold at its newly renovated Palm Court Café to Al Ain Zoo for the benefit of more than 4,000 animals, including the endangered Arabian Oryx and Arabian Sand Cat. “Staff at Hilton Al Ain have a strong sense of commitment and involvement within the local community,” explained Jacques Claudel, general manager, Hilton Al Ain, who described the zoo as one of the UAE’s premier attractions.

Elaf Group Supports Saudi Initiatives


s the Saudi government continues to exert key efforts in developing various industries, laying a great emphasis on the non-oil segment in order to decrease the Kingdom’s heavy dependence on oil and gas, Elaf Group of Companies remains steadfast in its commitment to develop strategic promotions and offers in a bid to attract more visitors. During the summer period and the Holy Month of Ramadan, guests staying at the group’s hotels in Mecca, Medina and Jeddah can enjoy special rates, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, president, Elaf Group of Companies, revealed.

DoubleTree byMarriott Hilton Dubai Executive - Jumeirah Apartments Beach Dubai Creek

Second DoubleTree by Hilton Opens in Dubai



oubleTree by Hilton Dubai – Jumeirah Beach has welcomed its first guests, marking the launch of the second DoubleTree by Hilton-branded property in Dubai. Located on The Walk, the 110-suite hotel is set to appeal to both leisure and business travellers, who can take advantage of eight meeting rooms, a fitness centre overlooking the sea, a health club with four treatment rooms, a steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna, and four distinct dining options. As Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide, noted, the recent DoubleTree by Hilton openings in the UAE have been embraced by both domestic guests and international travellers.

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ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments Launches Art Gallery and Restaurant

Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar Adds New Facility

I Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments, Dubai

n response to the growing demand from corporate clients, Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar has introduced a new facility. As Markus Marti, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar, explained, the newly-built office includes a welcoming and comfortable reception and features state-of-the-art audiovisual equipments for presentation purposes. “Because Internet connectivity is one of our key services, we have also adopted new technologies and upgraded our network facility to enhance our guests’ experience. In fact, all our limousines have been fitted with 4G Lite Wi-Fi car mobile devices so our they can access the Internet while on the road,” added Marti, saying that as Saudi Arabia continues to diversify its economy, Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar aims to keep up with this trend by constantly developing and upgrading its services.

Mövenpick Hotel Al Khobar


oon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments, Dubai has opened its art gallery and restaurant, offering guests and visitors a unique experience. Located on the first floor, the art gallery showcases works from local and regional artists and is open to the public every day, Haresh Dhanani, managing director, Noon Art Boutique Hotel Apartments, explained. “Also on the first floor, The Restaurant at Noon welcomes guests and art lovers to relish an extensive selection of continental and Middle Eastern cuisine. […]The restaurant is also offering sweet treats and a wide range of beverages,” added Dhanani, noting that since its launch in February, the hotel has welcomed guests from all over the globe.

Rocco Forte to Re-enter the Middle East in 2015


occo Forte Hotels is to open its first property in Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of 2015, marking the UK-based luxury operator’s return to the Middle East. The company anticipates to launch its Jeddah hotel and serviced apartment complex in the first months of 2015, Richard Power, director of communications, Rocco Forte Hotels, revealed. “We are really excited about bringing the unique sense of Rocco Forte Hotels’ style to the city, and this hotel will offer a large number of guest suites, 63 to be exact, which will be able to comfortably hold the larger families and groups which travel to Jeddah,” said Power, adding that other highlights of the property will include extensive meetings and conference facilities and three restaurants amongst others.

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12 JULY 2014



Gulf Air Steps up Larnaca Services In response to the growing demand, Gulf Air has increased frequency on its Bahrain – Larnaca route.


s part of its summer schedule, up until September 28, the national carrier of Bahrain operates seven weekly services to the coastal city, significantly enhancing travel options between the Middle East and Cyprus. Ahmed Janahi, acting chief commercial officer, Gulf Air, described Larnaca as a destination of both year-long and seasonal popularity, with the route showing particularly strong two-way traffic. “Reinforcing the airline’s business strategy of strengthening our core network and enhancing products and services, we believe our summer schedule will improve our passengers’ travel experience,” added Janahi.

Larnaca Salt Lake

Jazeera Airways Group Leases Aircraft to European Carrier

J Sahaab Aircraft Leasing

azeera Airways Group’s fully-owned aircraft leasing subsidiary, Sahaab Aircraft Leasing has entered the European Union aviation market by leasing two Airbus A320 aircraft on long-term to TAP Portugal airline. The European airline, which operates an average of 2,250 flights a week, is the company’s fourth international customer after Virgin America, SriLankan Airlines and flynas. “With the recent placement, Sahaab Aircraft Leasing has assets distributed across the globe with A-list customers in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia,” explained Marwan Boodai, chairman, Jazeera Airways Group. Sahaab Aircraft Leasing was launched in October 2008 with Jazeera Airways as its first customer and the company was fully acquired by Jazeera Airways Group in 2010.

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Alkan Air Enhances Services


lkan Air, the Cairo-based private service and maintenance provider of Alkan Holding, has received approval for line and base maintenance of Beechcraft B200/250 Series, Beechcraft B300/350 Series and Hawker British Aerospace BAe125 series aircraft, further extending the company’s tailor-made services offered to the regional aviation sector.

Based in the Egyptian capital, Alkan Air also prides itself on being the first Beechcraft Corporation authorised service centre in Egypt, the first Rockwell Collins authorised dealer and a Piaggio Aero authorised sales agency. To provide all-round services and support to the industry, the company also launched new wheel and battery shops and continues to employ a highly-qualified multilingual team.

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QAIA Welcomes AEGEAN Airlines


EGEAN Airlines has commenced direct services between Athens and Amman. The new twice-weekly flights bring the total number of direct routes operated through Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) to 67 destinations across four continents. As Kjeld Binger, CEO, Airport International Group (AIG), explained, the step is closely aligned with the company’s goal to further cement QAIA’s standing as Jordan’s gateway to the world, and to help position the Kingdom as a niche transfer hub for business and tourism travellers alike. According to Wael Kawar, managing partner, Petra Travel & Tourism Company, the Greek carrier’s general sales agent in Jordan, the new route will significantly increase passenger traffic between the Kingdom and Greece, as well as other European countries.

Gulf Air Boosts Egypt Services


ulf Air is to increase frequency between Bahrain and Egypt from 10 to 12 flights per week, effective from July 23. The decision follows the successful negotiations between the Civil Aviation Authority of Bahrain and Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation concerning air traffic rights between the two countries. The new schedule will see the introduction of two additional services between Manama and Cairo, offering passengers planning to travel during the summer and Eid holidays greater flexibility. “Gulf Air has held long-standing ties with Egypt since we became one of the first Gulf carriers to land in Cairo in 1972,” noted Ahmed Janahi, chief commercial officer, Gulf Air, saying that the airlines remains committed to satisfying the high demand on the route and cater to passengers’ needs. Gulf Air

AEGEAN Airlines

New Route between Abu Dhabi and Zurich Means More Choice


tihad Airways introduced direct nonstop flights between Abu Dhabi and Zurich, enabling greater choice for its travellers, simultaneously strengthening Switzerland as a European air transport hub. The new service builds on Etihad Airways’ daily flights between Geneva and Abu Dhabi which commenced in June 2004. Discussing the recent launch, James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, commented, “Our new Zurich daily service means Swiss business and leisure travellers have greater access to the UAE and important markets in the Gulf region, Middle East, Africa, Indian subcontinent, Asia, and Australia.” From Zurich, Etihad Airways now provides travellers with 25 international connections via its UAE hub.

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WEEKLY NEWS AIR Etihad Airways Introduces Mobile Boarding Passes

flynas Links Riyadh and London Gatwick



lynas is to commence twice weekly direct services between Riyadh and London Gatwick, effective from July 27. The launch of the new route, which will coincide with the Eid Al Fitr holidays, comes at a time when travel from Saudi Arabia to the UK is at its peak, noted Wael Al Sarhan, director of marketing and communications, flynas. As part of its transformation into an international airline, the Saudi carrier has made major enhancements to its service offering, including a business class cabin and the recently-launched Business Plus scheme, amongst others.

tihad Airways has introduced new mobile boarding passes on select routes for guests using the mobile online check-in facility. The mobile boarding passes contain the same information as the traditional documents, but they offer increased check-in options, reduce paper wastage, eliminate risk of loss, and enable storage of multiple boarding passes on one device. Discussing the new initiative, Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways, commented, “Our aim is to simplify and streamline the departure and boarding experience.”

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Doha to Become Emirates’ Best Connected Destination




ith seven daily flights between Dubai and Doha, the Qatari capital city is set to become Emirates’ best served destination, effective from December 1. The introduction of the extra daily frequency forms part of the airline’s regional operation boost which includes 28 additional services. Muscat for example will welcome a third daily flight, Bahrain will be served four times a day, while Kuwait will be linked with Dubai six times per day. Once the changes come into effect, Emirates will offer 276 weekly services to destinations across the Middle East.

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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The company is to add another property to its Saudi Arabian network. Please tell us about the upcoming Centro by Rotana Al Khobar. GUY HUTCHINSON: The property is scheduled to open in 2015. Centro by Rotana Al Khobar will be the lifestyle brand that signals the start of a bold new genre of hospitality in the Kingdom. It is located on a prime piece of land on the corniche with unobstructed views of the sea, offering 235 rooms and suites. The newly conceived hotel will provide unique living spaces in a contemporary environment. […]


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What were the main reasons behind the company’s decision to venture into the Kingdom’s mid-range hotel sector? GUY HUTCHINSON: Despite the current strict visa regulation, inbound tourism growth is forecasted to show positive trends in the next five years with an annual growth average of 10.7 percent. The main purpose is for religious tourism which constitutes 53 percent of the overall visitation; the cities of Mecca and Medina being the key destinations for this segment; followed by another primary purpose, the friends and relatives’ visits for both international and domestic visitors. Adding to these, the emergence of mid-range and low-cost hotels became the hottest trend within travel accommodation, introducing an essential diversity into the Kingdom’s hotel category. Furthermore a new trend, virtual tours is launched through e-tourism for promoting domestic tourism sites and services which will drive religious, leisure and business tourism in the country. Based on that, we at Rotana are making an innovative contribution to the development of the Kingdom’s hospitality sector. We are expanding into the relatively new mid-range and budget hotel sector with the opening of four hotels under the Centro Hotels by Rotana brand in Al Khobar, Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. Appealing to large corporate entities, small and medium business owners, and individual travellers, Centro by Rotana will become an essential service hotel brand in the Kingdom and will certainly meet the demands of a new generation of travellers seeking finesse and functionality at 12 JULY 2014


Centro by Rotana Al Khobar

reasonable rates. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What makes Saudi Arabia a key market for the company? GUY HUTCHINSON: Saudi Arabia is already a key strategic market for Rotana. In fact its tourism sector has witnessed an unprecedented boom over the last several years. Nominal tourism GDP saw a steady growth of 21 percent from 2009 to 2013. And between 2009 and 2013, the correlation between Saudi GDP and tourism contribution to GDP equated to 96.8 percent. A total of 50 million tourists are expected to travel to and within Saudi Arabia in 2016. On the other hand, there is a shortage of modern hotels in the Kingdom. Demand for available hotel rooms significantly outstrips supply to the background of a booming travel and tourism industry. Our objective is to develop there and manage many hotel properties with the best international standards Rotana is known for, which will cater to the needs of the local and regional market, the international travelLer and niche markets. Rotana’s expansion plans will contribute directly to the Kingdom’s hospitality sector by adding more than 4,100 new hotel rooms and suites, and creating more than 1,500 jobs for Saudi youth in various departments within its hotels by 2016. We are supporting the government’s drive to establish Saudi Arabia as a worldclass tourist destination and make the travel and tourist industry sector a key player in the economic development; the Kingdom’s government efforts being to diversify the economy in order to reduce its dependence on oil, with the tourism and hospitality industry representing a focal point of this development. The Kingdom possesses today a competitive business environment attractable to investors. Many hotel chains are making significant investments into the hotel industry, notably in Mecca, and the improvements within the airport and rail infrastructure are also expected to boost tourism. The country’s secondary cities are also seeing increased activity, especially in areas with growing government spending such as Yanbu, Taif and Jizan, and the multinational hotel chains are starting to move into these cities, a clear indication of the investor and operator confidence in a growing Saudi market.


WEEKLY NEWS INTERNATIONAL IHG Announces Holiday Inn Express Istanbul – Halkali BEST Marriott WESTERN Executive RiverApartments Palace HotelDubai Creek


nterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) signed an agreement for Holiday Inn Express Istanbul – Halkali, due to open this year. The 110-room property is said to be the first internationally branded limited service hotel near Istanbul Atatürk Airport and will operate under a franchise agreement with Liv Yapi Gayrimenkul Yatirim. Aside the airport, the hotel is also well placed to receive guests from CNR Expo, International World Trade Centre and the stadium located nearby. Yalin Yaltiraki, director of development, Turkey, IHG, commented, “This hotel is the only one of its kind in the airport’s vicinity and, together with its prime location, is set to receive a steady stream of guests visiting Turkey.”

Best Western Arrives in Phnom Penh


est Western International (BWI) has taken over the management of a riverside hotel in the heart of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. BEST WESTERN River Palace Hotel is set on the banks of the Tonle Sap River, offering an ideal location for both business and leisure travellers, and its 59 rooms and suites all come equipped with LCD TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi, work desks, tea and coffee-making facilities, walk-in showers and bathtubs. “This exciting city is fast becoming a regional hub for business and leisure travel, and the position of BEST WESTERN River Palace Hotel means we are now at the very heart of Phnom Penh’s growth. Combined with our existing hotel in Siem Reap, this opening also means Best Western is now present in Cambodia’s two leading destinations,” commented Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI.

Warwick International Hotel Welcomes Hotel UNIC Prague


otel UNIC Prague, a brand new four-star hotel, has joined Warwick International Hotels (WIH) as an affiliate member. The hotel features 90 rooms and is ideally located in the heart of the historical city centre, within walking distance to all the major cultural attractions that the Czech capital has to offer. The addition of the hotel illustrates how WIH is pursuing further development in Europe, according to Jean-Marie Pébrel, director of European sales and marketing, WIH, who added, “We phase in European hotel owners looking for an international representation. Our affiliation programme perfectly fits their needs.”


12 JULY 2014


Agent’s Insight NAME:

Aneesh Prabhakar


Manager Operations


Musandam Sea Adventure Travel & Tourism




Who are you? Musandam Sea Adventure Travel & Tourism was founded by a committed team of individuals who, with many years experience in the tourism industry in Musandam, saw the need for more intimate, exclusive and personal tours. By origin from Musandam we established Musandam Sea Adventure Travel & Tourism in 2001 in Khasab to fulfil this requirement. We would like to introduce ourselves as one of the leading tour operators of Oman and the Musandam region. Presently we are handling professional inbound traffic for the Gulf and the European market. UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the home countries of our Middle Eastern clients. Italy, Germany, France, England and the Netherlands are the nations with which sound business relations of well-known tour operators are held. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? I am very keen on travelling around the world and dealing with tourists. When is the best time to visit Oman? From October to May. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Sri Lanka. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are giving very special care and personal attention to our clients. We consider each one of our clients as a guest coming to our home. 12 JULY 2014



The first quarter saw some exciting firsts for us

GERHARD HECKER General manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai.

“The year has started as another strong year for us and for the Dubai hotel industry. […] The first quarter saw some exciting firsts for us here at Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai. Our signature Cantonese fine-dining restaurant, Shang Palace, welcomed a new executive Chinese chef, Lai Kam Pui. Chef Lai is bringing over 30 years of experience to the team. […] It was also a privilege to unveil the thrice Michelin-starred Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, in the finest quarter which opened to much success and critical acclaim. Hailing from Italy’s Amalfi Coast, the restaurant promises the finest Italian food in the city.”

We expect to see competition in the hospitality industry

ALEX PICHEL Managing director, Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel, and Al Khozama Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel.

“[Saudi Arabia’s] business and tourism sectors have flourished over the last decade and we will continue to see these numbers increase year after year. We expect to see competition in the hospitality industry but our guests remain loyal to us because of our excellent dining outlets, state-of-the-art facilities, beautiful rooms and our award-winning spa, Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA.”

Expo 2020 [will create] opportunities

NAEEM DARKAZALLY Vice president, sales and marketing, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East and Africa.

“Expo 2020 [will create] opportunities not only for Millennium & Copthorne, but also for Dubai and the surrounding regions. Increased visitor numbers, a boost to the economy, a showcase of the UAE’s ability to host worldclass events but above all, to put the Middle East firmly on the tourism map, are just a few of the outputs we can expect. We are proud to be part of this and we feel we are already in a strong position to take full advantage of this amazing opportunity.”

TRAVEL TALK IS YOUR SPACE – this is a casual forum for travel industry professionals to discuss current issues and share stories. We want to hear from you, so send your comments, questions, frustrations and observations to


12 JULY 2014

TRAVEL CHANNELS Educational Workshops Organised by Sharjah Museums Department

Seabourn Aligns with UNESCO


In an effort to protect World Heritage Sites, cruise operator Seabourn Cruise Line and UNESCO have aligned by signing an agreement.


his unique partnership was created in order to foster wider support and understanding in the travel industry for UNESCO’s mission of identifying, safeguarding, and promoting unique cultural and natural features around the world. Through this alliance, Seabourn Cruise Line guests’ travel experience will be enhanced by behind the scenes information about current and future World Heritage Sites and projects as speakers with special knowledge on such related matters will sail on the company’s ships. Discussing the alliance, Richard Meadows, president, Seabourn Cruise Line, commented, “Through this partnership we are committed to providing our guests with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the many World Heritage Sites we visit around the world and the important work UNESCO is doing.”

Airbus’ A350 XWB Tested in Hot Weather

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ages man 6 sites D SM an 1 e th ah, mor n Sharj r t, i a g rin cove ces, and scien aeology? arch

Seabourn Ship

SCTA Gears up for Heavy Summer Season Turnout


n an effort to check engines and systems performance in extremely hot weather conditions, Airbus’ A350 XWB flight test aircraft has completed hot weather testing in Al Ain, where the aircraft performed several tests in flight as well as on the ground. To date, the A350 XWB has performed more than 2,000 flight test hours in over 460 test flights, in anticipation to its certification in the third quarter. The programme is on track to deliver the first customer aircraft in the fourth quarter to Qatar Airways.

12 JULY 2014


n order to achieve an understanding, appreciation and respect for Sharjah’s identity and value of its cultural and natural heritage both locally and internationally, Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) organised five workshops in June. The seminars were held as part of SMD’s monthly educational programmes, which are aligned with the department’s mission. The initiative aimed to address a variety of subjects where a wealth of knowledge is available to the public on areas where access to expert teaching may not typically be offered. The meetings were held at Sharjah Aquarium, Sharjah Art Museum, and Sharjah Science Museum and were organised under the supervision of education specialists from SMD. Through these initiatives, SMD hopes to bring children, teenagers, adults and people with special needs..



audi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) has begun its preparations to welcome a myriad of local and international visitors to Jeddah for the summer season. The expected heavy tourism turnout in the Saudi city is primarily due to the importance of its location acting as a gateway to the two Holy Mosques, as well as due to the destination’s enticing and distinct tourism potential, which includes entertainment centres, shopping malls and historical sites. SCTA has actively taken measures in order to ensure that tourism facilities are onpar for the expected immense turnout, as Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Amri, executive director, Mecca branch, SCTA, stated. “The Mecca branch of SCTA has geared up early for receiving the summer season guests through deploying field teams throughout the province to ensure the compliance of provided services.”





Shahin Taromsari has assumed the position of vice president of airline solutions, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Sabre Corporation. In his capacity, Taromsari will lead the company’s airline business in EMEA, a key growth region for the corporation. He has been tasked with growing revenue and customer base, and maintaining successful and trusted partnerships with existing airline customers. An accomplished IT and business leader, Taromsari has over 20 years of experience, having previously held leadership positions with Electronic Data Systems and IBM. Most recently he worked as vice president of global sales at Oracle. His IT knowledge, rich academic credentials, and constant drive for innovation are set to help accelerate the company's growth.


Mustafa Al Jundi has been named director of sales and marketing at the four-star Millennium Resort Mussanah in Oman. Al Jundi began his career in the tourism industry in Syria before exploring the sales and marketing field with some of the GCC’s leading hotel brands, including Hilton Worldwide and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. All in all, he has over 20 years of experience under his belt in the tourism, leisure and hospitality market.

JOSH LESNICK Al Jundi has over 20 years of experience in the industry


Suraj Dubey has joined Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea as director of spa and wellness at the property’s Zara Spa. Dubey holds a degree in Ayurvedic medicine and surgery along with a number of international wellness and business management credentials. Having been involved in hands-on operations, group leadership in spa and wellness conceptualisation as well as brand development, Dubey has more than 15 years of experience under his belt. Prior to joining the Dead Sea hotel, he held various management positions with international hospitality companies, including Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Club Mahindra and Ananda in the Himalayas, allowing him to gain extensive international expertise in the field.

Josh Lesnick has been named chief marketing officer at Wyndham Hotel Group. Lesnick joins the company from Audience Rewards where he served in the last six years as president and CEO of the industry-wide marketing alliance. Prior to that, he spent nearly two decades working in the hospitality industry in executive leadership roles with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels Corporation. During the years, Lesnick focused on marketing, customer relationship management, online marketing, loyalty and membership programmes. Based in Parsippany, US, Lesnich will be in charge of the company’s brand, loyalty and online marketing, as well as ecommerce, global sales, hotel system strategy and revenue management functions.

12 JULY 2014


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MSC Cruises donated USD3 million to UNICEF, the United Nations agency that fights for the rights of children around the world

Etihad Airways is now the official partner for England’s cricket team

Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi hosted a special Iftar for 20 orphans.

12 JULY 2014

Emirates was a winner at Air Cargo Week’s World Air Cargo Awards 2014

Emirates has new regional Indian menus - Chef Ravi Nage

Hamad International Airport celebrates one month anniversary

Holiday Inn Dubai – Al Barsha’s team participates in the Celebrate Service Week worldwide initiative by forming a five-star symbol

28th Ramadan & Eid Fair at Expo Centre Sharjah


NEWS & EVENTS Sharjah to Host Forum for Foreign Direct Investment

EVENTS INCENTIVE, BUSINESS, TRAVEL & MEETINGS EXPO (IBTM) INDIA Chennai, India, September 3 – 5, 2014 ( An invitation-only event for India’s inbound, outbound and domestic incentives, business travel and meetings industry.



harjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) has announced that the emirate will be hosting the 12th edition of the WORLD FORUM for Foreign Direct Investment 2015, the annual event which covers the latest news on corporate strategy concerning location requirements, people and future expansion. The forum’s arrival in Sharjah comes as the emirate receives increasing international attention, particularly by major global firms and investment authorities, as one of GCC’s most attractive markets for foreign direct investment, pinpointed Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson, Shurooq. “As the forum is expected to attract wide international participation, we are confident it will contribute to boosting economic activity in the region and achieving higher levels of growth in all fields,” she added.

SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL GOLF & TRAVEL (SIGT) Shanghai, China, September 5 – 7, 2014 ( SIGT will be a meeting place where golf industry people and golf enthusiasts can meet.

KERALA TRAVEL MART (KTM) Kochi, India September 18-20, 2014 ( KTM brings together the business fraternity and the entrepreneurs behind Kerala’s products and services.

WORLD ROUTES 2014 Chicago, US, September 20 – 23, 2014 ( An essential global gathering for aviation organisations from across all continents and countries.


This Year's Event in the US


Dubai, UAE, September 21 – 23, 2014 ( Cityscape Global’s mission is to enhance and support the vision for real estate growth worldwide to an international audience.

12 JULY 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 244  

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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