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Let's TRADE with Europe!

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Abu Dhabi Duty Free Witnesses Record Sales Record sales at Abu Dhabi Duty Free outlets have been announced by Abu Dhabi Airports. In the first six months of the year, sales reached AED487.9 million (USD132.8 million), a rise of 11.5 percent over the first six months of 2013.


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

Aldar’s Hotel Portfolio Revenues Up Aldar Properties announced that average occupancy rates within its hotel portfolio as of the end of June stood at 82 percent versus 78 percent in 2013.



MENA EXCHANGE RATES As of 03/10/2014 Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar




Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Oman (OMR)



Qatar (QAR)



Saudi Arabia (SAR) Riyal





Algeria (DZD)



Egypt (EGP)



Iran (IRR)



Iraq (IQD)



Kuwait (KWD)



Lebanon (LBP)



Libya (LYD)



Morocco (MAD)



Syria (SYP)



Tunisia (TND)



Yemen (YER)



Abu Dhabi Duty Free

ransactions were also up 12.8 percent at just over two million. A number of new retail outlets opened in the first half of this year, further contributing to the growth in sales. Mohammed Al Bulooki, chief commercial officer, Abu Dhabi Airports, commented, “Passengers here benefit from a wide array of shopping, food and beverages, and entertainment services that are available. It is very important that they are given the widest possible choice of activity when they are guests in the airport; and with passenger numbers increasing month by month, that requirement becomes more urgent.”

PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian

Al Bandar Marina

eanwhile revenues reached AED283 million (USD77 million), an increase of 13.1 percent from the same period in 2013. The strong performance is reported to reflect a substantial increase in leisure and corporate visitors to Abu Dhabi, particularly to Yas Island. The top five feeder markets across the portfolio were guests from the GCC, India, Germany, UK and China. Talal Al Dhiyebi, executive director, asset management, Aldar Properties, commented that demand growth within the hotel market has coincided with strong tourism figures as a result of the growing attractions that are on offer throughout Abu Dhabi.

Mubadala Announces H1 Results The Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company, Mubadala Development Company (Mubadala) has released interim financial statements.


hose indicated increased revenues of AED16 billion (USD4.36 billion) compared to AED14.8 billion (USD4.03 billion) in the first half (H1) of 2013. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO, Mubadala, commented, “The company managed strong operational performance in the first half of this year. We achieved key milestones while continuing to invest at home and internationally, as the global economy stabilised in key markets. In line with our investment philosophy, we will continue to look for the right opportunities for capital deployment in strategic sectors that are important to Abu Dhabi and its future.” 4 OCTOBER 2014


Germanwings: Improved Ticketing Options through Amadeus know. .

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The complete range of Germanwings’ fares and ancillaries are now available to Amadeus subscribers.


he Lufthansa subsidiary previously sold a limited range of its fares via Amadeus’ travel agency partners using full e-ticketing, but as of September 23, Germanwings became the first airline to offer both full and light ticketing options to travel sellers, including a range of fares such as budget, standard and comfort, as well as flexible fare options. Christian Hein, senior vice president, e-commerce, sales and distribution, Germanwings, said, “We are confident the ability to book our full range of flights in exactly the same way as a full-service carrier will improve efficiencies for travel agents.”

Introducing Travel Technology Maturity Index


Travelport’s Collaboration with e-Travel Technologies


he GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), has created an innovative tool to help travel managers determine whether they are using the most effective travel technology tools for their organisation. Sponsored by Orbitz For Business, this first-of-its-kind Travel Technology Maturity Index enables organisations to objectively evaluate their use of travel-related technology against a set of best-practice standards. The tool provides feedback on opportunities to improve their travel management programme by making better use of technology in the context of a given organisation’s needs and goals. Travel Technology Maturity Index will assess technology use in any and/or all of the following categories: data, meetings, traveller experience, reservation processing/approval, expense management and shopping/booking.

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ravelport has announced a new agreement with eTravel Technologies, a leading provider of duty of care solutions. The e-Travel Technologies product portfolio addresses the liability concerns of travel professionals and travellers, whilst satisfying corporations’ duty of care responsibilities. It includes travel alerts, travel advisories and travel tracker databases, and is available globally to Travelport-connected travel agents. Scott Hyden, managing director, sales, the Americas, Travelport, said, “We are pleased to add e-Travel Technologies and their travel risk management services to our roster of duty of care solutions for the corporate travel market."



Strong Results for Air Freight Markets International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data for global air freight markets showing a strong increase in air cargo in July.

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ompared to July 2013, freight tonne kilometres (FTKs) rose 5.8 percent. This is a steep increase in growth compared to the previous month when cargo demand grew at less than half that rate (2.4 percent), witnessing a 2.4 percent change. “Overall, July saw growth accelerate. That is good news and it reflects the continued strengthening of business confidence at a global level. But the air cargo industry is moving at two speeds, with a sharp divide in regional performance. European carriers reported anaemic growth of just 1.8 percent while all other regions reported solid gains of five percent or more on the previous year,� said Tony Tyler, director general, IATA. Middle Eastern freight markets expanded 9.4 percent, a strong performance despite the impact of Ramadan. Airlines in the region are capturing growth opportunities by opening routes to fast-developing economies such as Mexico and Uganda.

Over 400,000 Visit Khareef Salalah


man’s National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) has reported a small increase in the total number of Khareef Salalah visitors to 423,662 by September 7, compared with 421,835 visitors during the same period in 2013. The data revealed that Omanis represented 76.1 percent of the total visitor numbers, while other GCC citizens made up 16.1 percent of the total visitor count. Meanwhile, the total number of visitors from other Arab, non-GCC countries increased by 57.6 percent at 7,410 visitors compared with 4,702 visitors in 2013. Visitors from Asian countries, on the other hand, decreased by 10 percent.


Muriya's Salalah Beach

4 OCTOBER 2014

WEEKLY NEWS NCEP to Organise Saudi Societies Day

4 OCTOBER 2014

City Centre Muscat


ational Conventions and Exhibitions Program (NCEP) has announced the first meeting of the professional, scientific and medical societies in Saudi Arabia, under the banner of the Saudi Societies Day. The event will be held on November 9, in conjunction with the second Saudi Conventions and Exhibitions Forum taking place in Riyadh from November 9 – 11. Tariq Abdul Rahman Al Eisa, executive director, NCEP, said, “The professional societies are the most influential bodies on the conference sector, and many of the conferences, forums, meetings and seminars held all over the world are organised by the national, international and regional societies. For this reason, NCEP is working with its partners to [...] strengthen the capacity of the Saudi societies in light of their direct impact on the growth of the Saudi conferences sector.”

Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek

Majid Al Futtaim Poised to Expand City Centre Muscat


retail expansion worth OMR27 million (USD70 million) is Majid Al Futtaim’s next major milestone for City Centre Muscat. The upgrade, which will commence later this year and is to fuel the country’s economic and tourism aspirations, will introduce up to 60 new shopping and dining option in 10,000m2 of new retail space as well as refurbish washrooms, prayer rooms and public areas. The shopping centre recently completed the first phase of its redevelopment which saw the opening of a 10-screen VOX Cinemas plus enhancements to Magic Planet and its food court.


WEEKLY NEWS World Economic Forum Depicts a Blurred Picture for MENA

A Stop at Dubai Marina Metro Station is Named DAMAC


ccording to the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 released by the World Economic Forum, the health of the global economy is at risk as countries struggle to implement the structural reforms needed to help their economies grow. The report identifies uneven implementation of structural reforms across different regions as the biggest challenge to sustaining global growth. Affected by geopolitical instability, MENA showed a mixed picture with some countries such as the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia performing better then others – mainly North African ones.

AMAC Properties has secured the naming rights for the Dubai Marina Metro Station. The company has signed a five-year agreement with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to name the stop DAMAC as part of the company’s commitment to invest in its home city. H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, executive director, RTA, commented, “We are delighted to have DAMAC Properties a key supporter of the Dubai Metro. We only work with established and recognisable companies which have close associations with the surrounding area. DAMAC Properties has been at the forefront of real estate development for many years and is a key partner in supporting Dubai.” The DAMAC station serves around 100,000 people who live in Dubai Marina, connecting through the Red line.

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Dubai Marina Metro Station

Crystal Lagoons’ Loyalty to the Middle East


rystal Lagoons has outlined the company’s commitment to the Middle East with the unveiling of their new regional office in Dubai at Cityscape Global. Crystal Lagoons has projects in the region totalling USD12.5 billion and has already showcased developments in the luxury resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, two projects in Jeddah and two in Dubai, as well as in Jordan and Oman. “Developers are highly impressed with the transformation Crystal Lagoons can make to any piece of land. Our technology has enabled client sites [...] to be made more valuable by the creation of waterfront and destination driven real estate,” said Kevin Morgan, CEO, Crystal Lagoons.


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WEEKLY NEWS Marjan Island Resort & Spa Debuts at a Russian Show


arjan Island Resort & Spa, situated on a private island off the coast of Ras Al Khaimah, attended Luxury Leisure Moscow for the first time this year, showcasing its offering to 62,000 visitors as well as 1,500 exhibitors and over 150 business programme events. “We are delighted to introduce Marjan Island Resort & Spa at Luxury Leisure Moscow,

amongst a large number of international and high-profile companies and the major Middle East tourism boards. We are keen to establish constant contacts in Moscow and our participation at the show will strengthen our presence in the Russian market,” said Roger Tannous, general manager, Marjan Island Resort & Spa.

Ajman Joins World Travel Market


orld Travel Market (WTM) has signed yet another emirate from the UAE, meaning six out of the seven will be represented at this year’s event. Exhibiting for the first time this year will be the Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD). H.E. Faisal Al Nuaimi, general manager, ATDD, said WTM will see the launch of a promotional campaign aimed at luring more tourists to Ajman. “WTM [...] is considered a good opportunity to review the developments in the various travel sectors and get posted on the latest insights, trends and knowledge serving the rapid development in the establishment of travel agencies […],” added Al Nuaimi.


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WEEKLY NEWS ITHS Supports Oman’s Tourism Potential


ighlighting key developments in Oman’s tourism sector, the International Travel & Hospitality Show (ITHS) aims to present exhibitors and sponsors with multiple investment opportunities. Organised by OITE Trade Fairs between December 14 – 16, ITHS will present opportunities available in key sectors related to the Sultanate’s

tourism industry. The event was launched in 2013 to highlight the trends in travel and tourism in a country set to lead growth in the region’s tourism industry for the coming decade. This growth is expected to attract 12 million visitors to Oman by 2020, creating strong potential for investment.

International Tourism Blooms


nternational tourist arrivals grew by 4.6 percent in the first half of the year according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Destinations worldwide received some 517 million international visitors between January and June, a rise of 22 million compared with the same period in 2013.

“Despite geopolitical and economic challenges, the number of international tourist arrivals has grown by five percent a year on average since 2010, a trend that has translated into more economic growth, more exports and more jobs”, said Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO. International visitor influx to the Middle East is estimated to be down by four percent, though this figure should be treated with caution as it is based on limited data available for the region.


4 OCTOBER 2014

WEEKLY NEWS Launch of Dubai Wharf

RAK Expects Increased Visitors in Fourth Quarter


ccording to a recent report by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, the emirate attracted just over 330,000 visitors during the first half of the year from its five main source markets of England, Germany, India, Russia and the UAE. Welcoming the news, Masood Hashim, CEO, Global Hotels Management (GHM), commented, “We are optimistic about the growth of the tourism industry in Ras Al Khaimah [and] we hope to contribute to the increase, especially during the last quarter of the year when the weather begins to cool, which is perfect for both residents and visiting tourists from our target markets.” Ramada Hotel & Suites Ras Al Khaimah, a member of the GHM hotel portfolio, is now fully operational and expects more visitors now that the summer season is coming to an end.

Ramada Hotel & Suites Ras Al Khaimah


n a step to meet the growing housing and leisure demands of Dubai’s rising population, real estate developer Dubai Properties has announced the launch of Dubai Wharf, an AED800 million (USD13.6 million) project in the heart of Culture Village. Dubai Wharf is a modern mixed-use project which features a unique contemporary design, as well as four towers with 582 residential units, from studios to three bedroom apartments; approximately 150 retail, dining and entertainment units; and over 2,000 resident and visitor car parking spaces. Pedestrian bridges over the canal offer full connectivity throughout the Culture Village developments, and three pedestrian accesses provide convenient seamless entry points to Dubai Wharf, retail facilities and the canal promenade.

DAMAC Properties to Open Paramount Hotel Dubai, Downtown


AMAC Properties has announced its latest top-end hotel in Dubai in collaboration with luxury hotel operator, Paramount Hotels & Resorts. Boasting 1,250 luxury rooms and suites, Paramount Hotel Dubai, Downtown is set to open in 2018, showcasing timeless Hollywood elegance and Californian lifestyle. With the sales launch planned for early 2015, the hotel will present an opportunity for investors to buy into Dubai’s booming tourism market, which is set to exceed 20 million tourists by 2020. DAMAC Properties has also announced it will be developing a second golf course and related facilities with the Trump Organisation within its new master development AKOYA Oxygen in Dubailand.

Dubai Cultural Village

4 OCTOBER 2014



THE DIPLOMAT BAHRAIN REOPENS ITS MEETINGS FACILITIES The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa has announced the reopening of its newly refurbished conference and meeting facilities following a major renovation project.

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ll venues now offer tailored solutions for the wide array of events on Bahrain’s calendar. In addition, all aspects of the function spaces, from boardrooms to ballrooms, have received a complete redesign and can be easily adapted for both corporate and social events. “With capacities to host conferences and events for up to 1,300 delegates, the venue offers possibilities for different room configurations tailored to each client’s requirement,” commented Panos Panagis, general manager, The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa.

The Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence & Spa ballroom

Deyaar to Build Sharia-compliant Property

Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai Offers Catering Services


eyaar Development has confirmed that it is planning to construct a Sharia-compliant hotel and furnished apartment tower in Al Barsha, Dubai at an estimated cost of AED450 million (USD123 million). The project, which is still in the preliminary design stage, will be located next to two plots of land owned by the company in the same area, and spanning a total of 6,600m2. Deyaar Development has also recently launched Montrose, a project comprising a hotel apartment tower and two residential towers. The hotel apartment component has been designed to feature 88 studios plus 68 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom units.



illennium Plaza Hotel Dubai has announced its dedicated catering service for a wide range of corporate and private events. The hotel’s new catering service offers a solution for any occasion, regardless of size, as its facilities are equipped to suit all forms of functions. A dedicated catering team will ensure that the event is a notable success, from preparation, to food and beverage, overall service and more. Clients are able to choose from a variety of cuisines including local, Asian or Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.

4 OCTOBER 2014

ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Upgrading Transport Services

Citymax Hotels Enhance Wi-Fi Services


amada Hotel and Suites Ajman has signed a deal with Ajman Public Transport Corporation to upgrade its transportation services for the guests through luxury cars. This premium transportation service will assign guests luxury passenger vehicles right in front of the hotel. The transportation cost is 30 percent higher compared to the normal taxi rate in Ajman, with each trip being tracked to ensure a safe and deluxe service for guests. Iftikhar Hamdani, general manager, Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman, commented, “We continuously seek to provide bespoke service to all our discerning guests and this recent development will allow them to enjoy the best of Ajman and the rest of the UAE in premium comfort and style.”


s of September 17, guests at Citymax Hotels Bur Dubai and Al Barsha will benefit from enhanced Wi-Fi connectivity throughout the properties, including lifts, restaurants and the pool area. Commenting on the service, Russel Sharpe, chief operating officer, Citymax Hotels, said, “Although we have always offered Wi-Fi connectivity in guest rooms and public areas, it has been limited. This has become one of the most commented upon services guests wish to see improved, so we have listened and taken the necessary action to make their stay with us as comfortable and hassle-free as possible.” By simply entering their room number and last name, in-house guests will be able to connect up to three devices and access Wi-Fi wherever they are in the hotel, throughout the duration of their stay.

Grand Millennium Dubai

Grand Millennium Dubai Wins ISO Certification


nderlining its commitment to benchmark against the world’s best, Grand Millennium Dubai has been accredited with certification by International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the global standards authority, in two categories. The hotel received certification in recognition of its environmental management system, as well as for its quality of health and safety management systems.

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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How has business been over the past months? Did you experience a rise in visitation figures? How does the facility try to attract more sports tourists? ROB GARDNER: The summer for outdoor adventure and sports is naturally low. We did not have a rise over the last few months but we had good forward bookings which are already better than 2013. The use of our Omanadventure group on Facebook is growing daily and is focussed on regional people wanting sports training and on exposing local people to new sports, bringing in trainers and specialists to help performance. Understanding of international requirements breeds enthusiasm and safe practices while journalists reporting positively back into specific group media, thus, building confidence in quality of service.

Q & A with

Rob Gardner


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: With a number of prestigious competitions taking place, the region continues to strengthen its position as a sport hub. How can these events promote Oman and the region in general? ROB GARDNER: Sports cuts through social levels and barriers as the common bond. You may stop in a five-star hotel or go camping, but love running or cy-

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The Middle East has begun to gain popularity as a fast-developing sports tourism destination. Based on your opinion, what makes Oman an attractive destination for sport enthusiasts? ROB GARDNER: Oman is a natural world-class adventure and sports playground. You cannot beat doing things naturally and experiencing a fully-inclusive programme that includes nature and your activity with family or friends, away from the mad rush of work and the big city. Overall, I would not say Oman is a fast developing sports destination blasting into the market. I think, personally, it is being done both at a pace that suits the people and sustainably. It will increase in growth as naturally the word spreads and the government promotes existing group events alongside international programmes [...].

Local Omani people are at the forefront of this growth. Sports tourism is seen to fit well with Omani’s sustainable views and reduced impact on the environment, these activities are very important as they complement and sometimes dominate the reasons why people choose a destination; they play a key role in people’s overall enjoyment in having a safe yet fun holiday.



cling and look to find a local club to join while on holiday. These types of people look for this [option] in their choice of destination. Oman is known for its friendly, embracing culture so add a sport and its natural surroundings, and then people go away with a smile on their face and in their heart. This is worth thousands of dollars to the region in more ways than just the bank balance.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How important is sports tourism for the destination? ROB GARDNER: There is an increasing awareness of sports locally, through the work of the dedicated people from the ministries who have been supporting a widening number of groups and whose activities now have an international draw. 4 OCTOBER 2014




Emirates Improves Abuja Route Only two months after launching its operations to Abuja, Nigeria, Emirates has upgraded the operating aircraft on the route to a Boeing 777-200ER on October 1.

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he carrier had launched a daily service to Abuja, its second Nigerian gateway and 22nd passenger destination in Africa on August 1, utilising an Airbus A340-300. The new aircraft will continue to operate daily to Nigeria’s capital and offer 274 seats in the three cabins. Adil Al Ghaith, senior vice president, commercial operations, Northern and Western Africa, Emirates, confirmed, “Emirates constantly strives to provide its passengers with the very best service and the introduction of a Boeing B777-200ER reflects that commitment. Our 777-200ER will offer Emirates’ renowned cabin comforts and facilities, including our award-winning ice entertainment system.”

Qatar Airways Welcomes First Airbus A380-800


t an inaugural ceremony held at Hamad International Airport on September 18, Qatar Airways welcomed the first Airbus A380-800 to its growing fleet. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, said, “It is a significant moment in our airline’s history to welcome this aircraft into our rapidly expanding fleet. We remain committed to offering our passengers the best possible experience when it comes to travelling with our airline and our exacting standards are reflected in our award winning five-star service.” The airline is further expected to receive four Airbus A380s by the end of this year.


4 OCTOBER 2014

AIR WEEKLY NEWS Etihad Airways: New Accounting Centre

RJ and MEA Codeshare Agreement


oyal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) and Middle East Airlines-Air Liban (MEA) have implemented a new free sale codeshare agreement under which RJ will place its marketing carrier code on MEA-operated flights between Amman and Beirut as the marketing carrier, and vice-versa. RJ passengers are now able to choose from three more daily flights between the two capital cities operated by MEA, in addition to the existing RJ daily flight to Beirut. MEA passengers can also add the two codeshare RJ flights to their flight options. However, Nasser Lozi, CEO, RJ, said that as of October 25, RJ will cancel two of the four daily services to Beirut as part of plans to restructure its route network.


tihad Airways has announced plans to establish a dedicated Revenue Accounting Centre of Excellence in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, which is set to offer a range of services to bring cost savings and operational efficiencies to airlines. In addition to serving Etihad Airways, it will be equally available to its network partners and other global carriers. Customers will have access to best practices, proven techniques and the latest developments in order to optimise results, redirect internal resources and focus their best people on core business. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said that the facility will offer a range of outsourced support services, with a focus on optimising processes and platforms to boost efficiency and attain economies of scale.

Mohamad El-Hout, director general, MEA (left) and Nasser Lozi, CEO, RJ (right)

flydubai Launches Flights to Kazakhstan


n September 16, flydubai landed its inaugural flight to Kazakhstan at Almaty International Airport. The flight was met by a traditional water cannon salute and welcomed by several dignitaries and senior officials. The flight marked the start of the airline’s operations to the country, which provide four weekly flights to Almaty and two weekly flights to Shymkent. Commenting on the launch of flights, Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, said, “The start of flydubai’s direct flights from Dubai to Almaty and Shymkent provides a convenient link between these economic hubs in the Middle East and Central Asia. It marks a milestone in the relations between our countries and sees the expansion of flydubai’s network in the region to five countries.”

4 OCTOBER 2014


WEEKLY NEWS AIR Qatar Airways Cargo Routes Expand to Belgium and China


atar Airways Cargo continues to expand with two new freighter destinations; Brussels and Shanghai. The capital of Belgium will be served from October 1, with freighters flying via Entebbe on Wednesdays and Sundays and via Nairobi every Monday and Friday. From October 2, a non-stop Boeing 777 freighter service will operate three times a week on the Doha – Shanghai – Doha route. The Doha – Hong Kong route will also be boosted by an additional Boeing 777 freighter flight, bringing the weekly frequency to 14. “The new Qatar Airways Cargo services will create exciting opportunities for businesses,” assured Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer, cargo, Qatar Airways.

Etihad Airways Launches Arrivals Lounge in Abu Dhabi


tihad Airways has opened its first arrivals lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The luxurious facility, for the exclusive use of the airline’s first and business class guests, boasts a dedicated freshening-up area with 10 shower units and a complimentary clothes steaming service. The innovative SHAVE by Etihad Airways concept has also been introduced, with guests being offered a complimentary wet shave by fully-qualified barbers. “Our latest airport lounge is a milestone for Etihad Airways and has been launched following extensive market research into the requirements of our first and business class guests. This facility, the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, has been specifically designed to meet their needs and our innovative new offerings,” said Peter Baumgartner, chief commercial officer, Etihad Airways.

Emirates Begins Second Service to Dar es Salaam


mirates will commence a second service to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania from October 26. The five times weekly service will complement Emirates’ existing daily operation, further boosting passenger traffic and cargo flows between Tanzania and Dubai, and Emirates’ worldwide network. “Dar es Salaam is an important destination in our east African network. In our last financial year we carried over 180,000 customers on the route, and we are expecting further growth with the introduction of the second service,” said Orhan Abbas, senior vice president, commercial operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates.


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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How has AZF changed perceptions on sports for locals, as well as tourists visiting Qatar for its various events? NASSER AL-HAJRI: AZF is committed to fostering a healthy and active lifestyle. [...] It works hard to show that a healthy lifestyle is not just for those who are top athletes but for everyone, in line with AZF’s mission and Qatar’s national vision 2030. Our successful Step Into Health programme is engaging people to show them that just by walking more, you are on the right path to a healthier lifestyle. Other information includes tips on staying fit and best practice for exercising. Also, it informs visitors and tourists on the many options they have in Aspire to enjoy their leisure time actively. Tourists that come to Qatar and attend sport at Aspire are having their perceptions changed by the quality of the facilities and services. Many people comment to Aspire that they could not believe such facilities existed and our services provided at events often go well beyond their expectations.

Q & A with

Nasser Al-Hajri


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What events are being planned for the coming months? NASSER AL-HAJRI: During August AZF welcomed two high profile training camps. Paris St Germain handball team spent a week at Aspire preparing for their upcoming season while the US Under 17 men’s basketball team used Aspire as their training base prior to heading to Dubai for the FIBA Under 17 World Championship. Aspire is the most comprehensive campus for athletes in training and it was honoured that these two teams chose Aspire as the place to prepare for important competitions. Aspire’s commitment to support-

ing sports culture continued in August with the Qatar Armed Forces summer camps. The camps allow children to take part in a range of activities spread across the Dome and the Hamad Aquatic Centre. The community is also taking advantage of the Aspire Dome pool and indoor athletics track with the Splash and Dash taking place two nights per week. This event allows the community to exercise indoors and maintain their fitness during summer. Moreover, Aspire saw Color Life Run in September. It is a five-kilometre race in which thousands of participants are showered from head to toe in different colours at each kilometre. It is an initiative from the Stenden University Qatar students in cooperation with Aspire. It aims to create, motivate and educate people about the importance of health, happiness and practicing sport, while raising funds for Reach Out To Asia, a humanitarian cause. Also, the GCC’s first 50km Championship for men and women, Aspire International 6:50 Race, is set to take place on October 31, where the public can compete alongside athletes taking part in the IAU 50km World Trophy Final. […] TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Which are your main target markets?


NASSER AL-HAJRI: We have many targets as our goal is to help foster a sports culture within the country. So we appeal to everyone, whether they want to participate in sports or watch the high level professional sports that take place at Aspire. Eventually, Aspire aims for everyone to become active, creating services and opportunities for non-athletes to stay around sporting facilities, and thus encouraging them to exercise and do sports more often. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Qatar is now embarking on a new phase of sustainable development. How is sports tourism assisting to this end? NASSER AL-HAJRI: Sports tourism can play a key role in diversifying the economy. We have seen from the major sports events that have taken place that significant economic activity occurs. Sports tourism also enhances the sporting culture which helps to lead to a healthier population.

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Frits van Paasschen


BWI Expands in Indonesia


est Western International (BWI) has continued its rapid expansion in Indonesia with the launch of a new luxury 191-room hotel, located in the greater Jakarta region. The new BEST WESTERN PREMIER The Hive will provide a luxurious new accommodation option for both business and leisure travellers. The hotel boasts seven meeting rooms seating between 20 and 300 guests, plus a fully-equipped business centre, outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and spa. Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and the Middle East, BWI, said, “Indonesia is one of BWI’s fastest-growing markets and I am delighted to be able to add yet another excellent hotel to our portfolio in this exciting country.”


tarwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the loyalty programme of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, is breaking new ground in customer loyalty with SPG Pro, a comprehensive loyalty programme for meeting and travel professionals. Set to debut this month the new programme is set to offer professionals SPG elite status, upgrades and Starpoints for B2B business booked at any of almost 1,200 Starwood properties around the world. In addition, Starpoints and status will be allocated to those members who book group stays, events or corporate business meetings. Frits van Paasschen, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, said that SPG Pro was designed to leverage the strength of SPG, which today drives more than 50 percent of the company’s occupancy.

Staybridge Suites Brand Celebrates its 200th Hotel


nterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the 200th hotel opening under its Staybridge Suites brand, the 102-room Staybridge Suites Denver-Stapleton in Colorado. “We are very pleased to welcome Staybridge Suites Denver-Stapleton into IHG’s swiftly growing portfolio of upscale extended stay hotels, and we are excited to celebrate this milestone 200th opening with valued owner Gary Tharaldson and his team at Tharaldson Hospitality Management,” said Robert Radomski, vice president, brand management, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. “The Staybridge Suites brand continues to demonstrate accelerated growth as a result of increased demand for the brand’s modern design and excellent service, as well as benefit from the overall strength of the extended stay segment," he further added. The hotel features a 24-hour business room and convenience store, fitness room and indoor pool, as well as communal relaxing areas.


4 OCTOBER 2014


Agent’s Insight NAME:

Jean Chang




The Golden Foundation Tours




New Sightseeing Experience in Dubai

Who are you? My name is Jean Chang, the president and also one of the founders of Golden Foundation Tours. Travel business is my life career, especially in the development of Taiwan’s inbound tourism. Under my insistence, Golden Foundation has gained its reputation by providing professional and quality services to our tourists. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Every vacation is a lifetime experience to every guest, so I consider that every traveller is a VIP. Hence, I make an effort to supply the high-standard of services and satisfy clients’ requirements to provide them with good and unforgettable memories in Taiwan.


he sights of Dubai are to be showcased as City Sightseeing WorldWide brings its popular tours to the city in partnership with dnata. Starting on October 2, City Sightseeing Dubai tour will highlight all aspects of Dubai’s past and present, from Old Dubai and the Creek to the towering skyscrapers of Downtown Dubai and Palm Jumeirah. “The world is fascinated by Dubai, and soon visitors to the city will be able to see it in comfort, learning about the city from commentary in their own language,” said Enrique Ybarra, president, City Sightseeing WorldWide.

When is the best time to visit Taiwan? Taiwan is extremely suitable for travelling because the annual average temperature is a comfortable 22 degrees Celsius. The best time to travel to Taiwan is spring and autumn because then travellers can fully enjoy the cool and comforting weather. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Northern Europe is my next destination. Why should people come to you for travel advice? Our company supplies customised service and tailor-made tours for high end travellers; we respect our travel clients and try to satisfy their every need. Most importantly, we want to create an unforgettable trip for them in Taiwan. Which is the percentage of MENA travellers your agency welcomes annually? Less than one percent. 4 OCTOBER 2014



SULTAN BIN SULAYEM President, Dubai Maritime City Authority

Dubai has built a strong reputation as one of the leading leading investment, business and tourist destinations

We organise [...] campaigns throughout the year, which help raise our entertainment levels

“Focussed on the assets of modernisation and inclusiveness, [Dubai Maritime Week’s] upcoming edition will showcase high-level interactive activities to create communication channels among local government entities, regional and international experts, suppliers, economists, analytics and maritime financiers to encourage exchange of best practices and the latest trends to promote sustainable development across Dubai’s maritime industry.”

“Being a preferred destination for families in Al Ain, Bawadi Mall is committed to creating innovative entertainment options. [At the recently ended Around the World in 40 Days campaign] some of the most iconic performances were the Georgian dances that consisted of solo, pair and group shows. Each dancer followed a common plan and its expression in the dance, while the Mongolia group performed Bielgee dance on national Mongolian musical instruments, such as horse-head fiddle and xylophone.”

BASSAM SALEH Marketing manager, Bawadi Mall

We have made significant investments to develop our network

MOHAMMED MATTAR Divisional senior vice president, airport services, Emirates

“We will continue to invest in this product, because we see it as an integral part of the total value proposition for our premium customers. Our expanding lounge network is addressing a clear need [...] from customers. We pay as much attention to the on-ground experience as we do to the onboard product and service. Before they even board the plane, premium customers enjoy exclusive chauffeur drive service, dedicated airport check-in counters and luxurious lounge facilities; this is all part of the Emirates experience [...].”

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


4 OCTOBER 2014


IRENA and UNWTO Join Forces for Renewables International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have joined forces to promote the use of renewable energies in the island tourism sector.


n a joint statement on Renewable Energy and Tourism in Islands released at the third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States, both organisations commit to encourage investment in cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions that reduce the reliance of islands on carbon-emitting fossil fuel. The joint statement also emphasises that greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy is fundamental to build a more sustainable, competitive and resilient tourism sector worldwide.

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tal IREN ernmen t v h o t a rg inte nisation ntries a org r ts cou ion to o it supp ir trans nergy e e e h l t b a in in a t ? s e u r as futu

TripAdvisor: Responding to Reviews Drives Booking Inquiries


ripAdvisor has revealed the results of a study identifying the key factors that drive engagement from travellers researching places to stay on the site’s property pages. The study analysed data including the number of reviews, management responses, and photos and videos across a sample of hotel pages to discover which factors have the greatest influence on travellers. The survey found out that hotels providing a management response to reviews are 21 percent more likely to receive a booking inquiry via TripAdvisor. “Taking part in the conversation and demonstrating that the owner cares about [customer] feedback has a very real and measurable effect on converting a traveller from a casual browser into a potential guest,” commented Marc Charron, president, business, TripAdvisor.

4 OCTOBER 2014

Shurooq Welcomes InvestHK


harjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) recently welcomed a delegation from Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK), the department promoting foreign direct investment for the Hong Kong SAR government. The visit aimed at exploring ways in which to activate a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Shurooq and Invest HK in 2013, under the terms of which both parties had agreed to forge a strategic investment partnership to increase foreign investment and business activities in their respective regions. Shurooq and InvestHK have further undertaken to share experience in promoting and attracting foreign investment and facilitate company referrals.

Presenting Printmaking from India and Pakistan


harjah Museums Department has announced the opening of Trajectories: 19th-21st Century Printmaking from India and Pakistan, set to run from September 10 – November 20. Trajectories is the first exhibition to present printmaking from India and Pakistan at a cultural institution in the Middle East. The show aims to introduce the UAE audience to the sub-continent’s major printmaking schools and movements and a total of 157 rare and noteworthy prints from around 50 artists are on display. The exhibition presents work in six distinct chronological sections from the 19th century to the present day, from popular picture production in the Subcontinent to the birth of artistic printmaking and an exploration of redefining contemporary practices.





Duncan Alexander has been appointed to the role of vice president, global alliances and partnerships at Illusions, the travel technology company. He has more than 20 years of travel distribution and technology experience, having worked in senior management positions at Mercator, OAG, SITA and Travelport. Before joining Illusions, Alexander was co-founder and director at The Travel Marketing Store which focusses on providing strategic management consultancy specialising in travel and tourism and organising travel marketing events, such as The Travel Marketing Forum. His remit is to forge strategic alliances with global distribution partners and bolster iWTX content by bringing more destination management companies.

Khaled Raslan has joined the team at Ayla Bawadi Hotel, Al Ain as the new assistant director of sales. With an extensive 10-year background in groups, corporate and leisure sales from previous sales positions in major hotel companies such as TUI, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group, as well as in the airline business with Emirates, Raslan will assist in maximising revenue and developing new sales strategies. Known for his professionalism, efficiency and engaging energy, he will be responsible for increasing business to Ayla Hotels from the core UAE market.

Raslan will contribute to Ayla’s ongoing success



Hassan Bader has been named the new sales manager for Ayla Hotels. He brings with him a successful background in sales leadership and extensive knowledge of both sales strategies and event management. Having worked in various capacities at different hospitality brands, Bader has also gained a wealth of knowledge in the industry. With a great track record behind him, Bader will be responsible for developing and assisting the director of sales and marketing in his new role to grow the group's presence in the market.

Bader has worked in the hotels industry for more than eight years


Rudy Quevedo has been appointed director of safety at International Air Transport Association (IATA). Having joined the association’s safety and flight operations team based in Montreal, he will now be responsible for cabin safety, safety management systems and global aviation data management. Quevedo comes to IATA from the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) where he served as director, global programmes, managing FSF’s technical and global initiatives in collaboration with the International Civil Aviation Organization. Having begun his aviation career at Eastern Airlines as early as 1980, he had served as director of safety for North American Airlines, a position he held for four years, prior to joining FSF in 2011.

4 OCTOBER 2014


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...

Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman donates clothes to charity

Golfing star Justin Rose tees off on a British Airways 747

Officials from Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi and LIFE Pharma celebrated the beginning of construction of the first pharmaceutical research and manufacturing plant in the GCC to produce anti-cancer drugs

Qatar Airways exceeded the 5,000,000 Facebook fan milestone

Dubai Chamber recognises sustainability efforts of 14 companies

4 OCTOBER 2014



RJ Hosts AACO Forum

EVENTS 8th UNWTO/PATA Forum Guilin, China October 13 – 15 A platform for governments, industry and academics to share views and analyse global trends.

IMEX America Las Vegas, US October 14 – 16 Setting the pace for incentive and MICE travel, the event is growing year-on-year.


asser Lozi, chairman, Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ), inaugurated the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO) Business Technology Forum, held in Amman between September 15 – 16 with the participation of 13 Arab airlines. Lozi stressed the importance of the forum in assembling a selection of experts and professionals to discuss issues related to information technology, communications and the development of the work environment. Such discussion helps to improve the Arab air transport industry and strengthen its competitive position globally through the optimal use of technology. Abdul Wahab Tofaha, secretary general, AACO, delivered a speech in which he stressed the organisation’s keenness to hold such meetings in light of the growing importance of the information technology sector in supporting the efforts of Arab airlines to find appropriate technological solutions.

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as 5 Ow AAC in 196 d e 1 ch laun nd has 3ines? l a r i a ber mem


HANGZHOU INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL FAIR Hangzhou, China October 17 - 19 The first Hangzhou International Travel Fair is to provide the ideal business-to-business networking platform for international and domestic tourism.

SPORTS & EVENTS TOURISM EXCHANGE Durban, South Africa October 28 -30 A dynamic business-to-business event that is aimed at positioning South Africa as a sports and events tourism destination.

53rd INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS & CONVENTION ASSOCIATION (ICCA) CONGRESS Antalya, Turkey November 1 – 5 Each year ICCA puts together a comprehensive education programme.

4 OCTOBER 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 256  

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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