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MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi ASSISTANT EDITOR Maria Kazeli SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba 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 EMAILS

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Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Oman (OMR)



Qatar (QAR)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)






Algeria (DZD)



Egypt (EGP)



Iran (IRR)



Iraq (IQD)



Kuwait (KWD)



Lebanon (LBP)



Libya (LYD)



Morocco (MAD)



Syria (SYP)



Tunisia (TND)



Yemen (YER)



MGM Reports Strong Domestic Growth Quater two results from MGM Resorts International show consolidated net revenue of USD2.6 billion, a four percent year-on-year increase.


oom revenue at wholly-owned domestic resorts increased six percent, while adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were USD643 million, an eight percent growth compared to the same quarter in 2013. “Our domestic business was very strong with 12 percent EBITDA growth in Las Vegas driven by strong performance in both our room and casino segments. CityCenter resort operations continue to improve while in Macau we grew cash flow and margins due to a higher contribution of revenues from our main floor business,” supported Jim Murren, chairman, MGM Resorts International.

Marriott Shows Positive IHG Brands Drive Momentum MEA Results Marriott International’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) investment and expansion plans are reaping strong rewards as the company reported positive second quarter results.


evPAR, excluding Egypt improved seven percent and was driven by occupancy growth of 4.4 percent yearon-year. The results include the recently acquired Protea Hospitality Holding for the first time. Alex Kyriakidis, president, MEA, Marriott International, commented, “On April 1, we completed our acquisition of Protea, whereby we leapfrogged our competition to become the number one hospitality company in Africa and second largest operator across the Middle East and Africa. The positive results reaffirm the growing popularity of our brands across the region and the successful integration of Protea into the Marriott family.”


InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has recorded its best half for signings in six years, underpinning its future growth prospects and demonstrating owners’ preference for its brands.

“W JW Marriott Hotel Dubai

Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi

e have achieved a strong first half (H1) performance, with our preferred brands continuing to drive good momentum through the second quarter,” said Richard Solomons, CEO, IHG, commenting on the company’s H1 results which reported revenue of USD908 million and operating

profit of USD310 million. In the Africa, Middle East and Asia region, IHG’s performance was led by Japan where RevPAR was up 8.8 percent, while the Middle East continued to perform solidly with a RevPAR growth of 4.1 percent. IHG celebrated eight openings in the region during H1, including two in Abu Dhabi, marking the entry of a second InterContinental and a second Holiday Inn property in the UAE capital. 20 SEPTEMBER 2014


Arab Mobile App Challenge Returns

Technology in Focus in Dubai

Masood Al Awar


Following the success of the pilot Arab Mobile App Challenge (AMAC) in 2013, the competition is set to take place again this year.

he recent Smart Living City – Dubai 2014 expo focussed on the role of advanced smart concepts in the development of genuinely smart cities and highlighted how such concepts are integral to Dubai’s vision of becoming a city of the future. “Many cities across the world are now making the shift to being a smart city with an aim to making their urban environment more desirable, secured, sustainable and eco-friendly for their citizens, residents and tourists. There is no denying that Big Data will play a highly significant role in enhancing essential services in Dubai by improving its infrastructure, planning and management,” commented Masood Al Awar, CEO, TASWEEK Real Estate Development and Marketing.


MAC aims to foster innovation and entrepreneurship amongst young people in the Middle East and North Africa. Entrants are tasked with designing a mobile app, which will subsequently allow them to acquire new business, potential employability, and technological skills. In addition, entrants also have the opportunity to win substantial cash prizes. The winners of the challenge will also be given the opportunity to compete in the Global Mobile App Competition held at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Amadeus Gulf Partners with ATS


madeus Gulf, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry, has signed a partnership agreement with ATS, a prominent travel management company in the UAE. The partnership, which took effect on September 1, mandates Amadeus Gulf to provide rich air and non-air content to ATS through state-of-the-art products and services. ATS will also gain a competitive edge through leveraging Amadeus’s global distribution system (GDS). Graham Nichols, managing director, Amadeus Gulf, said, “We are delighted to join hands with such a progressive agency as ATS who have clearly seen the business improvements they can achieve by adopting our innovative products and solutions. This partnership reaffirms our position as a global market leader of technological innovations. On a macro level, the synergy will support the burgeoning aviation travel sector in the region and expand our presence in the local market.”




Focussing on the Family Travel Market Family travel, accounting for more than 12.5 percent of the USD1.07 trillion global tourism market, has been selected as a special industry theme for Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2015, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from May 4 - 8, 2015.


Morocco Targets GCC Tourists

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he Dubai Capital of Islamic Economy initiative has identified the UAE as a top source market for family travel, with spending power worth over USD10 billion. ATM 2015 will include a number of seminars and discussions on how Gulf destinations can boost their appeal to the lucrative family tourism market and develop family-specific amenities, the pressing need for value-for-money accommodation options and, at the other extreme, the rise in aspirational travel from highspending families for whom the experience outweighs the expense.

E. Lahcen Haddad, minister, tourism, Morocco has stated that Morocco’s goal is to attract 20 million tourists to the country by 2020. In line with this vision, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort has boosted its summer packages to entice Emirati tourists to extend their stays. Morocco’s tourism strategy has thus far been highly successful in traditional markets like Spain and France. Now, with daily flights to UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and plans for daily flights to Kuwait, Morocco aims to attract more travellers from GCC. Stephan Killinger, president, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort, said, “Our records show that UAE visitors represent one of the highest footfall contributors at the resort, among new markets.”


WEEKLY NEWS Positive Traffic Growth for QAIA

Strong H1 Performance for Expo Centre Sharjah



ontinuing its positive trend in traffic growth, Airport International Group (AIG), the Jordanian company responsible for Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA), announced an increase in passenger numbers (PAX) and aircraft movements (ACM) at QAIA during July. PAX and ACM figures rose for a seventh consecutive month, increasing by 5.6 percent and 8.4 percent respectively over July 2013 to reach 578,026 PAX and 6,335 ACM. From the start of the year until July, PAX and ACM volumes rose by 11.8 percent and 8.6 percent respectively compared to the same period in 2013, to come in at 4,154,288 PAX and 42,384 ACM. “July’s figures represent a positive year-on-year increase in PAX and ACM statistics, and were especially enhanced by the Eid Al-Fitr vacation, which occurred at the end of the month,” stated Kjeld Binger, CEO, AIG.


fter reporting extraordinary growth in the first half (H1) of the year, Expo Centre Sharjah is gearing up for a busy second half, presenting some of the most in-demand consumer and trade exhibitions in the region and the world. The first show, SteelFab, added 50 percent more exhibition space to accommodate a 25 percent rise in the number of exhibitors. Visitor turnout also saw a significant surge of 25 percent. “The impressive growth continued with the next event, the International Education Show, which recorded a 34 percent rise in the number of visitors, and the other shows that followed. Now, after the summer break, we are ready for the new season, when some of our flagship events will be held,” said Saif Mohammed Al Midfa, CEO, Expo Centre Sharjah.



MENA is on the Rise

Cairo Hotels Continue to See Green Shoots


According to the July HotStats survey of full service four- and five-star hotels by TRI Hospitality Consulting, of the five key cities examined, Cairo exhibited the biggest year-on-year change in gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR) with an increase of 465 percent. In Qatar, Doha and Riyadh benefitted from a trend of strong banqueting revenues during the holy month of Ramadan. On the contrary, Dubai and Abu Dhabi suffered from sluggish average rates and occupancy levels, a trend which has started to reverse due to strong regional visitor demand.

Dubai Hotels Barely Break Even


he bustling emirate’s hotel market saw occupancy levels fall to 50.3 percent in July as overall demand within the city reduced due to the summer heat and the Ramadan celebrations. However, while occupancy in Dubai hotels was down 4.6 percentage points compared to the same period in 2013, hoteliers were able to achieve a 1.1 percent increase in ARR, resulting in a RevPAR decline of 7.4 percent. “Hotels only marginally broke even as high fixed operating costs resulted in GOPPAR dropping to USD0.07. Although performance was down in July, the overall market remains strong with year to date occupancy levels averaging 79.4 percent and profit margins at 46.4 percent,” commented Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting.


Banqueting Demand Helps Riyadh Hotels


he hotel market it the Egyptian capital experienced continued growth in July across all key performance indicators. Increased visitor demand boosted occupancy to 29.3 percent compared to the same period in 2013, whilst average room rates (ARR) rose one percent. “Cairo hoteliers have been facing challenging conditions for the past two years, however the new political situation in Egypt has brought much needed market stability,” said Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, adding that although occupancy levels are still marginally lower than 2013, the growth in performance levels witnessed in previous months is a positive sign.

he hospitality market in Riyadh experienced mixed results during July with a reduction in rate and occupancy impacting RevPAR levels but despite this, food and beverage and banqueting demand boosted total RevPAR by 7.2 percent. RevPAR performance was down 8.3 percent in July, driven by a 7.6 percent drop in ARR to USD214.91 and a 0.3 percentage point fall in occupancy to 38.3 percent. Even though the hotel market was depressed during the month, year-to-date performance remains strong with occupancy levels up 6.6 percentage points to 63.8 percent, acknowledged Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting.

Rates in Abu Dhabi Continue Rebound

RevPAR Rises in Doha Hotels



RR in Abu Dhabi increased by 5.1 percent in July to USD114.10, driven by a 4.5 percent growth in RevPAR to USD57.36. The growth in ARR was due to a shift in yield strategies from hoteliers as a response to strong overall occupancy levels, while the growth in room revenues was complemented by an increase in banqueting revenues, resulting in a growth in top-line revenues. Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, said that although the hotels in Abu Dhabi recorded a trading loss during July, the market is witnessing encouraging indicators, especially with a revival in average rate performance.

oha experienced a 5.5 percentage point growth in occupancy to reach 47.6 percent in July, driving a 13.8 percent growth in RevPAR to USD95.91. The Saudi city was one of the top performing hotel markets in the region with a rise in all key performance indicators, as Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, disclosed. Additionally a 15.2 percent rise in total revenues coupled with efficient operating expenses resulted in an 86.7 percent growth in GOPPAR to USD53.22. “The growth in top-line revenues was primarily due to a 5.5 percentage point rise in occupancy driven by increased regional leisure demand,” added Goddard.



hellofood Middle East to Serve Hotels

New Dining Options at HIA


ith support from iMENA and a USD60 million fund from a group of investors, food delivery marketplace hellofood is expanding its services to hotels within the Middle East. The company will provide hotels that have yet to establish room service for their guests with the option to set up accounts with hellofood and enjoy the ease and convenience of ordering their customers’ favourite cuisine from all of the best restaurants. “This is a great opportunity for hotels and hotel guests alike. Through our app, we are able to assist hotels to improve their service by providing the guests with a variety of their favourite food available from the city’s restaurants. So far, three hotels, two in Jordan and one in Lebanon, have joined,” said Beschir Hussain, CEO, hellofood Middle East.

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atar Duty Free has opened three new restaurant concepts at Hamad International Airport (HIA), namely, Soprafino, Qataf Café and Le Grand Comptoir. Located in concourse C, the new restaurants raise the bar yet again in airport dining by providing a sophisticated environment offering world-class cuisine. Qataf Café offers a menu of traditional Arabic dishes with a modern edge combining traditional Arabic hospitality with a contemporary design. Italian cuisine is served at the family-friendly Soprafino with childsize portions of any dish. Lastly, Le Grand Comptoir is a classy brasserie-style restaurant that evolves throughout the day from chic breakfast venue to relaxed evening destination with a pianist providing entertainment for diners.

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Arabs to Make Further Use of Private Jets


ccording to Private Jet Charter (PJC), one of the world’s largest independent private jet charter consultants, the use of corporate jets is making a global comeback, particularly in the Middle East. PJC revealed that nearly 10 percent of CEOs in the Arab world use private jets for leisure travel, compared to 30 percent in the US, demonstrating high potential in the industry. The trend among Arab CEOs to opt for private jets for vacations is expected to pick up further momentum, driven by growing awareness of the benefits in terms of convenience, luxury and costs when flying in a group. PJC attributed the higher international use of private jet in business to the fact that most CEOs in Europe or US are in charge of larger geographical areas than CEOs of the Middle East.



WEEKLY NEWS APAC: Online Market Forges Ahead


new PhoCusWright study shows that the Asia Pacific (APAC) travel market is in the midst of a rapid shift from offline to online and mobile channels. Although online travel penetration is increasing at a slower pace than in previous years, the study shows that APAC's electronic bookings are increasing at twice the rate of the overall market. One quarter of the total APAC travel market was booked via the Internet in 2013, up from one fifth in 2012. This growth rate is expected to continue through 2016, when nearly one third of APAC travel will be booked online. Online travel agencies are incentivising travellers to book through the web with discounts and promotional offers. Mobile bookings are growing even faster, and travel suppliers are adapting their distribution strategies to compete for smartphone bookings.

8 2014 is Coming Up


he second e-tourism conference will take place as part of Greek Tourism Expo on December 5 – 6 at the Metropolitan Expo in Athens. The conference will host a number of international speakers who will analyse the trends in the electronic environment for travel and tourism and there will be a strong emphasis on successful case studies from companies expert in the field of online travel, both from Greece and overseas. Theodore Koumelis, managing director, Travel Media Applications, said, “Digital distribution channels (Internet, mobile devices and interactive TV) are particularly important for distribution of the tourism product and they are evolving rapidly on a global level, and tourism professionals must monitor these developments carefully.”


WEEKLY NEWS Monte-Carlo SBM Pulls Out of Saadiyat Property

Top Meeting Planners to Connect in Dubai


he Monaco-based luxury hospitality group, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) announced, that following a mutual agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), it has not renewed its contract to operate Monte-Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat. Ali Al Hammadi, CEO, TDIC, commented, “We are proud to have been the first to bring the prestigious Monte-Carlo brand outside of Monaco, which reflects Saadiyat’s growing reputation as a multifaceted destination.” The new club is now branded Saadiyat Beach Club, and current members can still enjoy the full benefits of their respective packages as well as take advantage of new membership packages to be rolled out by the beach club at a later date.

ver 225 top international meeting planners are set to gather in Dubai, March 9 – 14, 2015, at the Meeting & Incentive (M&I) Forum Europe Spring 2015. Held in Dubai for the first time, the event will familiarise some of the world’s leading business event executives with the emirate and educate them on its premier infrastructure with a first-hand look also at it’s worldclass transportation, hotels and meetings facilities. Steen Jakobsen, director, Dubai Business Events, commented, “We are witnessing strong business tourism visitor growth numbers from continental Europe and the UK and are very pleased to host this high-quality networking event as part of our extensive efforts to further build global awareness of Dubai’s business events and incentives credentials.”

GIBTM Transforms into IBTM Arabia


aunching with new dates and at a new location, Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings Expo (IBTM) Arabia is the new name spearheading a transformation of the former annual Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) show. The event, which will be held from February 10 – 12, 2015 at The St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, has a new exclusive, closed-door event format based on mutually matched business appointments, providing more touch points for exhibitors and buyers. “Foremost in this transformation is that IBTM Arabia will be an all-inclusive solution where an innovative meeting pod design customised with the exhibitor’s corporate branding will give privacy to meetings between hosted buyers and exhibitors,” said Lois Wilcox, exhibition manager, IBTM Arabia.

GIBTM 2014




Suba Group Inaugurates its First Hotel in Middle East The Indian-based Suba Group of Hotels has launched its first property in Deira, Dubai.


Suba Hotel Dubai

he four-star Suba Hotel Dubai features 92 rooms and suites, modern leisure facilities and multi-cuisine dining options and combines traditional Arabic design with contemporary elements of modern architecture. There are tablet-controlled room lighting and TV facilities plus indoor facilities that can accommodate 10 - 70 guests and outdoor catering services for up to 300 guests for business conferences, meetings and seminars. “We are excited to bring the brand to the Middle East and offer high-quality services to our valued clients,” commented Mansur Mehta, founder, Suba Group of Hotels, which has five established hotels in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bandalore, Baroda, and Dahej, India.

Suba Hotel Dubai

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Jumeirah to Extend its Reach into the GCC


eporting financial results for the first half of the year, Dubai Holding announced that its hospitality arm Jumeirah Group is studying opportunities in Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, Jeddah and Khobar, Saudi Arabia, as well as in Qatar and Bahrain. Jumeirah has recently opened a hotel in Kuwait, while properties in Oman, China and Bali are scheduled for launch soon. At the same time, the fifth phase of Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s expansion plans, valued at AED1.5 billion (USD408 million) with completion expected by 2018, has been approved. Meanwhile Dubai Properties Group, another Dubai Holding subsidiary, launched new projects introducing almost 800 residential apartments and also carried out major enhancements to its iconic tourist attraction, The Walk at JBR.



ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Accredited

Q Group to Develop New Dubai Resort

Ballroom Wedding Setup

Two Day Bridal Show to Take Place in Ajman

The World Islands


umeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi has announced its accreditation with the internationally renowned Green Globe Certification. The property received the accreditation upon being awarded 85 percent in the initial audit and was praised for excellence in sustainability management planning, health and safety, waste reduction management, and training measures. Discussing the award, Doris Greif, general manager, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, commented, “We are delighted to be accredited with this certificate which recognises the concerted steps taken and the dedication both we as a property and Abu Dhabi as a destination, have in providing luxury experiences that are responsible and sustainable.”


Group, the developer of the Great Britain island on The World Islands, Dubai, is launching a five-star resort and residential destination on The World Islands. Construction is to start next month on a residential block at Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle, with another at Motor City awaiting final planning approvals. The group is also set to turn the Great Britain island into a resort featuring luxury hotels, private villas and water villas, serviced hotel apartments, an event and wedding venue, offshore restaurants and bars, and water-based experiences for people of all ages.


he Ajman Palace Hotel & Resort has announced one of the biggest bridal shows in the Northern Emirates. The two-day fair titled The Ajman Palace Hotel & Resort Wedding Theatre, will take place on February 12 and 13, 2015 and will bring together over 50 leading brands and designers specialising in wedding wear and accessories. Taking place in the Al Saalah Ballroom, hailed as the largest in the Northern Emirates with capacity for up to 700 guests, the event will include master chefs preparing delicious dishes and the hotel’s expert events and wedding planner ensuring all details are thoroughly taken care of.

Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel Beirut: New Technology


n an effort to reinforce its position as Beirut’s best business venue, Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel has introduced the Touch IT screen in its three meeting rooms, enabling users to control a computer directly simply by touching an interactive white board thereby allowing them to deliver a presentation, in a fast, efficient, and interactive manner. Kosta Kourotsidis, general manager, Radisson Blu Martinez Hotel, Beirut, commented, “With the majority of our visitors being businessmen [...], we decided to turn their experience at the hotel into a more interactive and practical one.”







RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The Hotel Show is expected to attract more than 16,700 hospitality trade professionals from nearly 100 countries. What are the main topics of this year’s event? CHRISTINE DAVIDSON: The UAE is going to have the fastest growth ever seen in hospitality over the next six to eight years and it is this topic that we will be focussing our themes on at the Vision Conference as we face the impact and preparation for the mega events coming to this region, including EXPO 2020 and Qatar’s FIFA World Cup, and the significant increases in tourists. Looking at all these issues and opportunities, we have 70 international speakers to share their knowledge and expertise on several key areas including Shaping the Future; Sustainability from the Ground Up, Preparing for EXPO 2020, A Culture Built for Success, Ensuring a Successful Business and Emerging Markets. Presentations and panel debates will cover future trends, the development and growth of mid-range hotels, architecture build and landscape collaboration, reducing the long term impact on energy, water and waste, women in hospitality leadership, how branded spas can add value to a development and if Saudi Arabia is worth the long-term investment.

Q & A with



TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Another new addition to this year’s programme is the International Village. Which countries will be involved in the section? CHRISTINE DAVIDSON: The International Village is the largest gathering of international brands for many years [...]. This dedicated area will welcome over 300 international companies, which is more than a 41 percent increase over 2013 and will help elevate the global nature of the event, giving an identity to each country and its own individual products and services. Country pavilions will enable the hotel and hospitality trade professionals to easily source products from 20 specific countries, whilst exhibitors can champion their individual brands under their country of origin and will include representation from Austria, Belgium, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Thailand and the UK. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Finally, what makes The Hotel Show 2014 a must-attend event for industry professionals?

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How will this event differ from previous years? CHRISTINE DAVIDSON: There will be a lot that is new right across the exhibition floor, not least because this event is the most comprehensive industry showcase of its kind and the place where suppliers choose to launch their new products and services. We also have several new ideas and features including the Dubai Eye Stage that will feature career and training hours and learning and supplier presentations. Leisure and outdoors has been a large part of The Hotel Show for the last 15 years, but recognising the exponential growth The Leisure Show is now the show within the show. Exhibitors support four main sectors, outdoor design, furniture and lighting, pool and spa, sports and fitness, and recreational fun and adventure. [...] Leisure will also feature in The Vision Conference where we have speakers from theme and water parks, sports and fitness facilities sharing their views

solutions including ventilated facades articulated according to building orientation, surfaces that integrate various regenerative energy production methods, geothermic systems, photovoltaic and photocatalytic materials.

THE HOTEL SHOW IS A FIXED FEATURE IN DUBAI’S EVENTS CALENDAR AND IT IS NOW ENCOMPASSING LEISURE IN A BID TO REACH OUT TO A MUCH BROADER AUDIENCE OF DECISION-MAKERS AND SUPPLIERS, AS CHRISTINE DAVIDSON, EVENT DIRECTOR, THE HOTEL SHOW DUBAI, DMG EVENTS, EXPLAINS. on how to maximise opportunities from the growth in leisure tourism. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: As Dubai aims to become one of the top 10 sustainable cities in the world, the destination will offer an ideal setting for The Hotel Show’s Future Hotel, Sustainable Vision presentation. Please tell us about this initiative. CHRISTINE



with the Italian architecture studio WT Project, The Hotel Show will introduce the Future Hotel, Sustainable Vision initiative. Located in Hall 8, Future Hotel, Sustainable Vision will showcase internationally renowned brands, their products, design concepts and future trend predictions for sustainable building design. Creations and videos with innovative solutions that demonstrate the application of latest technologies to architecture, such as climate protection

CHRISTINE DAVIDSON: The Hotel Show and The Leisure Show is, we believe, the largest dedicated platform for anyone who is looking to do business within the Middle East and Africa over the coming decade and beyond. The sheer number of exhibitors and the diversity of their product offerings, the number of international brands represented, the scope of the Vision Conference programme, the impact of the three days of businessbuilding, and the benefits of the networking opportunities provide a true 360-degree view of the hotel and hospitality industry. There is a reason why visitors and exhibitors travel from all sides of the globe to attend The Hotel Show in Dubai. It is a world-class destination, travel and trade hub. The Middle East with Dubai at the core has seen exponential growth and continues to build on a highly successful leisure, medical, sports, religious, business, entertainment, sustainable and tourism strategy.


WEEKLY NEWS AIR Etihad Airways Opens Themed Nursery

Qatar Airways Launches B787 Dreamliner to Vienna On September 1, Qatar Airways introduced its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to the Vienna route.

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Etihad Officials Inaugurate the Nursery

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tihad Airways has opened a unique aviationthemed nursery in Abu Dhabi, directly opposite the airline’s head office at Etihad Plaza, as part of the airline’s commitment to provide world-class support services for its employees. “Etihad Airways is a people business and our people are our number one priority. The new on-site nursery will provide highest quality of care for the children, while helping our working parents and their families to balance the roles and responsibilities of parenting with the demands of full-time work. This initiative reflects our ongoing commitment to the wellbeing of our employees and their families, to provide them with the best-in-class support services,” commented Ray Gammell, chief people and performance officer, Etihad Airways. As well as a nursery, the facility also operates an outof-hours ‘stay and play’ crèche service, allowing parents to leave their children in expert care during both the working week and at weekends.


ncreased demand in the region and the airline’s steadfast commitment to the Austrian market has resulted in the introduction of the state-of-the-art Dreamliner onto the Vienna-Doha route bringing additional capacity of 92 percent per week over the current Airbus A320. Qatar Airways is the first airline to commence with a scheduled 787 Dreamliner service to Vienna. “After 10 years of operating to Vienna, we are delighted to introduce our flagship aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, which will not only offer an increase in capacity to the route but will also redefine the in-flight experience of our passengers travelling to Doha and beyond,” said Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways.




Nonstop Services Between Doha and Cape Town

RJ’s 787 Dreamliner off to London Heathrow

Cape Town


oyal Jordanian Airlines’ (RJ) first 787 Dreamliner made its inaugural flight on September 1, from its base at Queen Alia International Airport to London Heathrow, thus starting its regular operations. Nasser Lozi, CEO, RJ, wished the passengers an enjoyable journey on board the Dreamliner’s first flight from Jordan, and expressed the airline’s delight to have in its fleet the 787, an aircraft that has state-ofthe-art features and high specifications. He said the new addition to the fleet is the first of five that will join the RJ fleet during this year as part of the company’s strategic plan to modernise its long-range fleet of aircraft, replacing the A340s and A330s currently in operation.


atar Airways has announced that commencing November 3, the airline will operate a new nonstop service between Doha and Cape Town, five times a week. Cape Town, which is currently served three times a week via Johannesburg, is one of the airline’s most popular African destinations. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “We are very pleased that we are now able to offer our passengers a dedicated nonstop service between Doha and Cape Town. Cape Town has long been one of the most popular destinations with passengers throughout our worldwide network, and with the new services, we are now able to provide our customers with quicker and more convenient connections to one of the most beautiful cities in the world [...].”

Celebrating the Flight

Frankfurt Joins Emirates’ A380 Routes


mirates has added Frankfurt to its growing list of Airbus A380 destinations, which now total 30 across the globe. Thierry Antinori, chief commercial officer, Emirates, commented, “Deploying larger capacity aircraft like the A380 is fundamental to helping us meet growing passenger demand between this dynamic economic region and the evolving economies of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, through efficient connections via our Dubai hub.” Antinori further noted that the positive effects of more inbound tourism from the Middle East, Gulf and Asia Pacific regions to Frankfurt will also be demonstrated with the arrival of the A380, based on the airline’s experience when it introduced the aircraft to Munich.



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EMIRATES LANDS IN OSLO Emirates has extended its Scandinavian reach with the start of its daily nonstop Boeing 777-300ER service from Dubai to Oslo, Norway.


he UAE and Norway enjoy a trade relationship estimated at EUR245 million (USD317.5 million) and the new service is expected to further enhance economic links. “Tapping into markets like Norway, which are currently underserved in terms of international connections, has been a key driver for our success in the past and we are confident that Oslo will be another example of this,” commented Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, Emirates. The new direct route facilitates a host of new travel opportunities to Asia and Australia with only one stop, and provides faster connections to many destinations.

British Airways to Hold Flights for Bahrain Residents

Thierry Antinori (right)

flynas Adds to Domestic Routes


lynas, Saudi Arabia's low-cost carrier, has announced the launch of new domestic destinations from King Khaled International Airport starting on September 23, with one flight daily to Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Airport in Tabuk and an average of four flights per week to Ha'il international Airport. In addition, from the beginning of October, flynas will operate daily flights from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Airport in Al-Qassim.


nyone searching for flights from Bahrain to London, Europe, or North America now has the ability to hold their British Airways flight for up to 72 hours, paying BHD3 (USD8) to reserve their flight through the airline’s website. The new option allows customers time to ensure they are certain of their choice before paying for it. If within 72 hours they pay for the flight, the hold deposit is refunded and the ticket can then be bought. Discussing the recent change, Drew Crawley, chief commercial officer, British Airways, stated, “Feedback from customers means we are confident that this reassurance will prove very popular and give them the time to book the flights they want and the certainty they have a great deal.”



RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Among the world’s top 20 countries for inbound/ international and domestic wellness tourism in terms of combined market size, over half are in Europe, according to SRI International. Why is that the case? Why is Europe a top performer in wellness tourism? MARTA KUČEROVÁ: The main reasons include long-term experience with spa treatment, spa towns with a long-term tradition and excellent results from doctors as well as patient satisfaction with the approach of staff. Travellers from distant and overseas markets combine visits to spas with travelling and seeing the cultural and tourist attractions of the countries. In this, Europe and Slovakia create very good destinations. Within a small area, Slovakia offers visitors the possibility to see not only attractive UNESCO monuments, interesting castles, and the untouched countryside, but also cosy towns without hustle and bustle, and up-to-date shopping centres.

Q & A with


Piešťany. It has been focussing on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system for decades, and has excellent experience and equipment for clients from the Middle East and North Africa. [...] Visitors can, amongst other things, enjoy the high quality cultural programme in the spa park and sport-inclined visitors can use the golf course [...]. Trenčianske Teplice is also a known spa town that [...] has kept its typical spa nature with a quiet atmosphere and a beautiful park. Its specialty is the use of sulphurous thermal water directly from the spring without any processing which increases its curative effect on the nerves, skin and joints. A typical Turkish Hammam from the 19th century is a unique experience. A rich cultural

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Traditional spa therapies are becoming increasingly well-known amongst travellers. How many spa and wellness tourists did Slovakia receive in 2013? How many came from MENA? MARTA KUČEROVÁ: [In 2013], almost 280,000 visitors enjoyed stays in Slovak spas where they spent 2.6 million nights. The average number of nights was more than nine. Almost 10,000 visitors from the Middle East and North Africa visited Slovak spas. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Which are the major wellness attractions and advantages the country offers to Middle Eastern travellers? MARTA KUČEROVÁ: In Slovakia, there are more than 20 spa towns focussing on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, the rehabilitation of post-accident conditions and the comprehensive care of the nervous system or gastrointestinal tract. Slovak spas are sought by visitors from Western Europe and Russia as well as from countries in North Africa and the Far East. They appreciate the high professionalism and the quiet surroundings of the spa towns, as well as very good medical care. The best-known Slovak spa is in 20 SEPTEMBER 2014

Rajecké Teplice


Trenčianske Teplice

programme underlines the romantic atmosphere of the spa town, [which includes a famous] musical summer event, the oldest central European festival of chamber music. Additionally, the healing water in Dudince has a similar composition to the water in the famous French centre Vichy. It beneficially influences the heart and the nervous system. The views from Dudince will captivate everyone; it is the most southern spa in Slovakia, it has the highest number of sunny days, the lowest amount of windy days, the ecologically cleanest surroundings, and it is the quietest town with the most greenery. Lastly, the spa Rajecké Teplice is situated in the middle of the untouched countryside of Central Slovakia. You will feel like you are in paradise in the newly rebuilt hotels, and you will enjoy a heavenly feeling during treatments focussing on healing nervous and musculoskeletal systems.



BEST WESTERN i-City Shah Alam

MHG Expands Its Footprint in Africa



est Western International (BWI) will launch its first hotel in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor, Malaysia, later this year. The new property will be a contemporary midscale hotel providing comfort and connectivity for both business and leisure travellers. Located just 25km from Kuala Lumpur, it will comprise a total of 216 guest rooms and suites, all equipped with modern amenities. Three meeting rooms able to serve up to 120 delegates will cater to the corporate market. BEST WESTERN i-City Shah Alam will join four other hotels already in BWI’s Malaysian collection, to be joined by a further 10 properties which are in the pipeline.

inor Hotel Group (MHG) announced the formation of a new strategic partnership with Sun International to own and operate a collection of eight properties in five African countries, investing USD63.9 million. MHG will assume the management, marketing and distribution of the properties under its AVANI and Anantara brands, while Sun International will continue to manage the on-property casino operations. The hotels include Royal Livingstone Hotel and Zambezi Sun in Zambia, Gaborone Sun in Botswana, Lesotho Sun and Maseru Sun in Lesotho, Royal Swazi and Ezulwini Sun in Swaziland, and Kalahari Sands in Namibia. Commenting on the expansion, Dillip Rajakarier, CEO, MHG, said that Africa is a key focus where the company has seen substantial growth potential.

GHOTW Members Remain at the Forefront

G Hotel Quinta da Marinha Resort, Portugal


reat Hotels of the World (GHOTW) has announced recent developments and upgrades from its member hotels. Hotel Quinta da Marinha Resort located near Lisbon has undergone a contemporary restyling in a number of key areas including the reception and its two restaurants Rocca and Five Pines, as well as fitting new beds and bedding in the guest rooms. Hotel Ranga in Iceland has invested in a unique facility, an astronomical observatory with two computerised telescopes, making it one of the most advanced in the country. The venue is able to take up to 30 people and is free for hotel guests. Malta’s Cavalieri Art Hotel is currently playing host to the Cavalieri Art Show, which is taking place in its two galleries throughout August and September and features painting, sculpture and photography by both local and international artists. 20 SEPTEMBER 2014


Agent’s Insight NAME:

Ameen Mohammed




Sidab Sea Tours




Who are you? Sidab Sea Tours is a leading sea tours company in Muscat, Oman which provides its services to all major hotels in the city. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? The procedure of meeting and assisting guests. When is the best time to visit Oman? From September to April. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Sri Lanka. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We take special care of them.


Gregorowitsch Discussing with Agents

Oman Air CEO Holds Travel Agents Summit


cknowledging the pivotal role that travel agents play in the success of the airline, Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO, Oman Air, has held a summit meeting in Muscat. The low-key event brought together travel professionals from around the country and celebrated their achievements on behalf of both Oman Air and Oman as a destination for overseas visitors. “Whilst we maintain healthy ticket sales through our website, the role of agents in planning and recommending travel arrangement remains absolutely essential and without their hard work and continued commitment Oman Air would not be the international success it is now,” admitted Gregorowitsch.



We are proud to be the operator of choice by so many in the Middle East due to our, discreet, innovative, world-class service

SHANE O’HARE President, Royal Jet

“Summer is traditionally a period of increased travel and [following Royal Jet’s growth in the first six months of the year echoing the positive results that the company achieved in 2013] we expect that we will continue to see strong interest over the next few months and for the rest of the year. Clients are able to have complete flexibility with their departure times, allowing for convenient travel for those who are pressed for time.”

There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s guests

THIERRY PERROT Area general manager, Crowne Plaza and Staybridge Suites Abu Dhabi Yas Island

“Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at the hotel and we would like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor. There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by one’s guests. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on customer reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.”

Our business and leisure travellers benefit from greater connectivity and flexibility

XENIA ADAMOU General manager, South Africa, Etihad Airways

“The new schedule [between Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg which will become effective on October 26] means that we are now able to provide daily departures, ensuring that our business and leisure travellers benefit from greater connectivity and flexibility when flying between South Africa and the UAE.”

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



TRAVEL CHANNELS American Express Supports World Monuments Watch

Smartphone: Key Item for UAE Holidaymakers


New research released by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) revealed that of more than 10,000 travellers across 13 countries worldwide, the must-have item to take on a summer holiday is one’s smartphone.

kno u o y d i D

merican Express and World Monuments Fund (WMF) have announced USD1.5 million in funding to support preservation efforts at nine historic sites. This is the second allocation from a USD5 million, five-year grant to WMF from American Express to support the World Monuments Watch, of which American Express is a founding sponsor. “The longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch has resulted in preservation work at more than 150 sites in over 60 countries,” said Bonnie Burnham, president, WMF. “The sites on the 2014 Watch that will receive support are extraordinary places whose preservation will benefit both local populations and visitors from around the world.” Launched in 1996 and issued every two years, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage sites around the world.

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t rcen 7 pe se 6 , ally rs u Glob travelle phone t r of sma day their y single day? i r eve on hol n whe


ccording to research conducted by IHG Rewards Club, hailed as the biggest hotel loyalty programme in the world, UAE residents are amongst the most smartphone reliant from those surveyed, with 48 percent agreeing that their smartphone is indeed the most important item to take on holiday, compared to the global average of 38 percent. Furthermore, the study also revealed that whilst on holiday, 79 percent of UAE travellers check work emails on their smartphone and 47 percent check social media every day.

Oman’s Expatriate Workforce Increases

Handicraft Shop Opens in Muscat Grand Mall


he number of expatriate labourers in Oman increased by the end of June compared to May. Recent statistics published by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) show that the total number of expatriate workers in the country in June reached 1.53 million. The statistics also detail the concentration of expatriate workers according to geographical location, with the largest concentration found in Muscat with 675,188 workers, followed by Al Batinah North with 199,977 workers, whilst the lowest concentration of expatriate workers was recorded in Musandam with 13,755 workers.



Dar Al Herafiya

uscat Grand Mall celebrated the official launch of Dar Al Herafiya outlet, a handicraft and small business initiative sponsored and supported by Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI)’s Manafeth programme. Manafeth aims to support small- and mediumsized enterprises in starting their own retail outlets in shopping malls, allowing them to promote their businesses and introduce themselves to the public. Dar Al Herafiya specialises in the production, sale and promotion of traditional Omani handicrafts made by Omani craftsmen. “Muscat Grand Mall is the ideal location to promote such a project, given the fact that the mall receives visitors from all walks of life, including locals, residents and tourists,” said Hassan Jaboub, general manager, Muscat Grand Mall.






Paul Gregorowitsch has joined Oman Air as its new CEO, an appointment hailed by Darwish bin Ismail bin Ali Al Balushi, chairman, Oman Air, as the start of a new chapter in the development of the country’s national carrier, at a local, regional and international level. Gregorowitsch has a great deal of commercial experience in international airline management, having been on the board of Air Berlin, which he joined in 2011, and president and CEO of Amsterdam-based passenger and cargo airline Martinair Holland, from 2007 – 2011. Gregorowitsch has also held a series of international management positions within the European carrier Air FranceKLM, rising to executive vice president commercial.

Marlise Ishak has been appointed group director of human resources for City Seasons Hotels. She has more than 17 years of experience in the hospitality business having worked with international chain Marriott International in regional positions as well as teaming with task forces for the opening of some of the most prestigious hotels in the MENA region. Ishak has completed a bachelor degree in arts and is a certified Development Dimensions International trainer. At City Seasons Hotels she will oversee talent acquisition and training and the implementation of policies and procedures for the group’s six existing properties, as well as for upcoming hotels, such as the Burjuman property launching soon in Dubai.



Clare Angela Thompson is the new cluster director of sales, leisure for Radisson Royal Hotel Dubai and Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah. After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University, Thompson began her career in sales, working in various positions within the hospitality industry in the UK. In 2009 she moved to the UAE to become the cluster director of sales for JA Resorts & Hotels, then known as Jebel Ali International Hotels. Her career continued with her appointment as general manager at Routes & Borders Tourism and, immediately prior to her current appointment with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, her role as director of corporate sales at Rotana Hotel Management Corporation.

Haytham Aziz has been appointed executive assistant manager in charge of rooms at The Ajman Palace Hotel & Resort, operated by Hospitality Management Holdings. Aziz began his career as a guest service agent at Sheraton El Gezirah Hotel in Cairo before moving to Jolie Ville Mövenpick Golf & Resort Hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh where he trained as a reservation agent. Returning to Starwood, he then spent three years at Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino gaining experience as front desk shift leader prior to a transfer to the Gulf. Before joining The Ajman Palace Hotel & Resort, Aziz was director of guest services at Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates, during the property’s rebranding as part of Starwood.



Take a Shot! Share with us the latest images of your activities and let your colleagues know what you have been up to. Send your photos to Because a picture is worth a thousand words...

Emirates lands in Brussels and Thierry Aucoc is welcomed by Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, UAE ambassador in Belgium

Mohammed bin Rashid briefed on designs at Al Maktoum International Airport project

Octoberfest is back at Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort


Fifth edition of Conrad Bali's Living Lobby art series opens

Wheeler’s of St James’s launch a new menu championing British dishes

Sharjah Investment and Development Authority held a networking lunch meeting with CEO Clubs UAE



Italy to Show Golfing Attractions at IGTM

EVENTS WORLD ROUTES 2014 Chicago, Illinois, US, September 20 – 23 World Routes forms the essential global gathering for aviation organisations from across all continents and countries.

ARAB AVIATION & MEDIA SUMMIT Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, September 24 Arab media and top executives gather to have insightful discussions on the current trends.


taly is to showcase its diverse golfing attractions to golf suppliers, buyers, visitors and media during the upcoming International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), taking place on the banks of Lake Como from October 27 – 30. The country offers 410 golfing facilities, spread across almost every region but concentrated mainly in the north, especially in the Lombardy region, which counts 69 venues. Each golf course, designed by some of the industry’s leading architects, offers a variety of experiences and landscapes to suit golfers of all playing abilities. Although Italy is better known for its art, culture, fashion, food and wine, these are all increasingly essential elements of any golf break, enabling the country to offer a great variety of memorable golfing experiences. Franco Chimenti, president, Italian Golf Federation, commented, “On the golf tourism side, there is still a huge, untapped potential.”

kno Did you

Tokyo, Japan September 25 – 28 Internationally recognised as one of the largest travel events in the world, the event presents Japan as a tourism nation to the world.

THE HOTEL SHOW Dubai, UAE September 28 – 30 Celebrating 15 successful years this year, The Hotel Show presents a full view of the hotel and hospitality industry.

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ven ts se trac urope’s t a Italy nt of E sm e i perc olf tour ? y g r t s indu



AFRICA HOTEL INVESTMENT FORUM Addis Ababa, Ethiopia September 29 – October 1 A major hotel conference in Africa, attracting international hotel owners, investors, and management companies.


Travel Trade Weekly Issue 254  

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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