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AGENTS!... ...A new hotel booking system has arrived!

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


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Air Arabia Inks Finance Deal with Dubai Islamic Bank

Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) and Air Arabia announced the signing of an aircraft financing deal to facilitate the delivery of six new Airbus A320s in 2015.

SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba CONTRIBUTORS Dominique Christou Ana Mladenovic 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


he USD230 million agreement will finance the delivery of a new aircraft every two months, starting January 2015. Adel Ali, group CEO, Air Arabia, said, “Two key elements of Air Arabia’s successful business model are our modern fleet of aircraft and our efficient use of financing to support capital expenditure requirements. The facility arranged by DIB satisfies both requirements and will ensure we have the necessary infrastructure in place to serve our ever-growing customer base across the region.”

Success of Cabforce in Africa Travelport has announced the success of its Cabforce application in Africa, where over 70 apps have been downloaded in South Africa and Namibia.



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)




abforce was developed by Travelport’s Developer Network using the Smartpoint Software Developer Kit and enables agents to book taxis and transfer services in real time. It can save agents’ time, increase their efficiency and reduce costs by streamlining taxi and transfer bookings in a few simple clicks. The technology also brings peace of mind to travellers and agents alike, with each ride confirmed and guaranteed, flat rates shown before booking with tips included, meaning no cash payments are required, and a 24/7 customer service provision in English for whenever plans change. 06 DECEMBER 2014


Dubai Anticipates a Strong Cruise Season


ubai Cruise Tourism, part of Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (DTCM), anticipates a busy season with a total of 110 cruise ship calls, carrying more than 381,000 passengers, being scheduled to arrive at Mina Rashid’s cruise terminal in the next seven months. Passenger numbers are set to rise by 19 percent on the 2013/2014 figures. Hamad bin Mejren, executive director, DTCM, enthused, “This is a very exciting cruise season for Dubai. We are set to record significant growth in ship calls and in passenger numbers, we are expanding our facilities with the opening of a new terminal, and the new multiple-entry UAE cruise visa is now available – which ensure we are providing an increasingly attractive destination [...].”

MSC Armonia Unveiled Following an Extensive Upgrade

Majesty of the Seas to Rebrand Under Pullmantur



he first of four MSC cruise ships to be enlarged and enhanced under the Renaissance Programme, MSC Armonia, was recently relaunched in Genoa for a 10-day inaugural cruise to the Canary Islands. Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, enthused, “Not only is [MSC Armonia] smarter and more spacious, but we have given her a new lease of life that will appeal to experienced cruise travellers and first-timers in equal measure.” The vessel now boasts more balcony cabins, spacious common areas, flexible new dining options and new dedicated clubs for younger guests, in addition to a new outdoor Spray Park – a fun-filled wet zone with interactive jets, slides and water features and tailor-made kids’ areas by Chicco and LEGO.

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oyal Caribbean Cruises announced that it will transfer Majesty of the Seas from its Royal Caribbean International brand to Pullmantur in 2016. Following its last voyage under the old brand in late April 2016, the vessel is to enter dry dock and be tailored to reflect Pullmantur’s brand standards and offerings. Richard Fain, chairman, Royal Caribbean Cruises, commented, “The vessel’s transfer is an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Pullmantur. We are fortunate that our mix of brands allows us the flexibility and opportunity to expand in key strategic markets.” With a capacity to hold 2,350 guests and 912 crew, Majesty of the Seas is best known for her first-time cruisers.

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Cruise ships at Mina Rashid

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Majesty of the Seas



Airbus to Strengthen Production Capacities To complement the increase of its aircraft production rate, as well as its A350 XWB ramp up, Airbus has launched the development and production of five new Belugas.

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he unique jet will be used for transporting large aircraft parts between the company’s production sites across Europe. The new aircraft are largely to be based on the A330 model, and will reuse existing components and equipment. Novel features will include a distinctive looking lowered cockpit, the cargo bay structure and the rear-end and tail. The first of the new Belugas will enter service in mid-2019, while the existing Beluga fleet will be gradually retired by 2025.


lynas unveiled the initial version of its application for iOS and Android smartphone devices during its participation as official partner of ArabNet Riyadh 2014, which was held from November 11 – 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Centre. The airline provided a brief presentation about the benefits and services offered to users through the new application which enables them to book tickets and receive boarding passes. Abdullah Al Ghanim, chief information officer, NAS Holding, said, “We aim to provide an integrated and sophisticated application that enables our guests to enjoy the flynas experience at all stages, from the moment of booking to the issue of boarding passes.”


Fiturtech 2015 to Promote Latest Technological Advances Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek

flynas Launches Smartphone App

Airbus’ Beluga aircraft


itur 2015 will be featuring the impact of technology on tourism in the setting of the specialist section Fiturtech. The innovation and tourism technology forum will also have a special showroom dedicated to the tourism of the future. The event’s programme will include three sections, namely The Iliad, which will feature live interviews with national and international media, The New World, which will host sessions including a talk on the industry response to technological challenges, and lastly 2001: A Space Odyssey. All the forums are to address the various issues of interest during the first three days of the show.

06 DECEMBER 2014


ADIA Inaugurates VIP Terminal Abu Dhabi Airports inaugurated the newly constructed, luxury VIP Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport (ADIA), in partnership with National Aviation Services (NAS).

T VIP Terminal Inauguration

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he new 924m2 facility is set to boost the airport’s capacity and encourage even more passengers to use the airport. It will be operated by NAS, which currently provides Golden Class services in Terminals 1 and 3. All passengers can use the terminal’s dedicated facilities by paying a pre-set fee. It offers immigration, police and baggage handling facilities, while Mercedes Benz limousine services will be used to ferry passengers to and from the terminal and aircraft as they will be chaperoned by a special services agent.

BAC Participates in International Cargo Event


ahrain Airport Company (BAC) took part in the 27th edition of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)’s International Air Cargo Forum and Exhibition, a biennial event that brings together air cargo decision-makers from across the globe to address key industry challenges and opportunities. Robert Mills, cargo manager, BAC, said, “The cargo industry in the Middle East region is witnessing remarkable growth and continues to be a great success story. […] The Kingdom of Bahrain is strategically located to reap the benefits of this fast-growing industry and events such as [this] provide an ideal platform to showcase Bahrain International Airport’s advantages and regional competitiveness as an ideal cargo hub.”



Dubai Recognised as Best Incentive Destination Dubai found itself once again in the international spotlight, this time at the SITE Global Conference in Rotterdam, where it scooped the prestigious Crystal Award for best Distinctive Destination – Best Destination Based Experiential Incentive Travel Program.


his was in relation to a successfully organised 14,500-attendee incentive trip of Nu Skin in April, the logistics of which included 77 flights, 40,000 room nights in 40 hotels and over 370 coaches which escorted the guests on a full city tour of Dubai, a dhow cruise and visits to Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah.

Tariq Al Hashimi, senior executive, congress development, Dubai Business Events (DBE); Steen Jakobsen, director, DBE; and Walid Marhoon, senior executive, congress development, DBE


Local Arts and Culture at City Centre Bahrain


ity Centre Bahrain hosted the inspirational community-driven Art of C for the second year. With the theme, A tribute to the Kingdom, it united some of Bahrain’s most renowned artists with emerging talent from the community in the form of a mentored workshop, from November 23 – 28. “Bahrain has a thriving local arts culture and through the Art of C, City Centre Bahrain is proud to be offering a visible platform for local artists to showcase their talent,” said Duaij Khalifa Al Rumaihi, senior mall manager, City Centre Bahrain.

Tourism Sector Faces Acute Talent Crisis


here is a serious shortage of people with the right skills to meet the growth of travel and tourism over the next 10 years, and this human capital crisis needs immediate action. That was the message sent out by David Scowsill, president, World Travel & Tourism Council. He said that the industry’s contribution to Asia’s economy will grow 5.3 percent every year over the next decade, fuelled by the growth of the middle classes. “Governments in Asia have been investing time and money in tourism infrastructure […] but many have failed to invest in the skills required to fill the jobs to meet the subsequent growth in demand,” he continued, predicting that if the situation is not addressed, it could have serious consequences in many countries.


06 DECEMBER 2014


NEW PULLMAN DUBAI DEIRA CITY CENTRE UNVEILED After almost a year of renovation and a multimillion investment by owner Majid Al Futtaim, Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre relaunched its refurbished cosmopolitan residences, aiming to provide guests with a distinguished residential address.


ullman Dubai Deira City Centre Residences offers a range of layouts to cater to all needs with studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, plus an added option of connecting rooms to create up to four-bedroom units. Simon Barlow, CEO, hotels, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, commented, “Our interior design team has brought a contemporary and comfortable feel to the fit out of the apartments, which we believe will be very popular for families visiting Dubai[...].”

HMH Joins Mobarak Hotels Group

Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Residences

Madinat Jumeirah Earns Green Globe Certification

The signing of Coral Al Madina Hotel


Madinat Jumeirah


xpanding its presence in Saudi Arabia, Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) has entered into a management agreement with Mobarak Hotels Group to operate Coral Al Madina Hotel, which is set to welcome its first guests by Ramadan 2015. Featuring over 400 rooms and suites, Coral Al Madina Hotel is spread over 10 floors and five basements, boasting three restaurants, a lobby lounge, shopping arcade, fully equipped gym and spa, two state-of-the-art meeting rooms, business centre and a helicopter landing site. Al Sheikh Mohamed Ebrahim Abdulrahim, chairman, Mobarak Hotels Group, said, “Our business vision is in line with the Saudi authorities’ plans for expanding the Holy Mosque of Prophet Mohammad and development of adjoining area.”


adinat Jumeirah is hailed to be the world’s first mixed-use hospitality destination to gain the internationally renowned Green Globe Certification. The overall resort has been recognised for its outstanding environmental efforts following comprehensive sustainability audit conducted by Dubai-based consultancy, Farnek, which is Green Globe’s preferred partner in the region. Margaret Paul, general manager, Madinat Jumeirah, stated, “We are proud to show leadership in sustainability practices and are delighted to share this responsibility with our colleagues and guests.”

06 DECEMBER 2014


DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island Adds Rooms

Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah on Schedule



ork on the expansion of DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah into a 701-room resort is progressing rapidly. Following the purchase of an additional 23,550m2 land plot, an ambitious plan to expand the hotel by 44 percent is now underway, with one fifth of the development completed and 216 rooms in the pipeline. Abdullah Rashed Al Abdooli, managing director, Al Marjan Island Company, said, “It is a matter of pride that DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island is undergoing this significant expansion before completing its first year of operation. This reflects the resort’s vote of confidence which highly motivates us to continue to offer an ideal investment ambience to our business partners and tenants.”

DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island


Millennium & Copthorne Cements Presence in Oman

Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah


KAI Holdings, the Dubai-based real estate investment company, announced that it has completed just over 30 percent of the construction of its USD1 billion Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah development, which is on track to open in 2016, as planned. Moreover, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (Middle East), the project’s main contractor and a key investor, has begun structural works on level 14 of the 16-storey building. The luxury residential and hospitality project will offer its guests 477 spacious rooms and suites and 222 signature Viceroy Residences with views of the Arabian Sea and Dubai’s dramatic skylines.

illennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East and Africa (MEA) will open three new properties in Oman, starting with the launch of a global brand first, the 115-key Millennium Executive Apartments in Muscat, in the first quarter of 2015. Two further hotels will be added to the group’s portfolio in 2015, namely Grand Millennium Hotel Muscat and Copthorne Hotel Muscat. “This represents a double first for Millennium; our first footstep into Muscat and the global debut for our Millennium Executive Apartments brand, which is a new concept from the company designed to specifically address the growing demand for serviced apartments in the region,” said Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi, president, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels MEA.

Millennium Executive Apartments in Muscat

06 DECEMBER 2014

ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Best Western International Unveils Arabian Island Retreat


est Western International (BWI) has introduced a new island resort in the Arabian Gulf. BEST WESTERN Hawar Resort Hotel is situated on a secluded island, 45 minutes by boat from Bahrain’s Al Dur Jetty. Combining a unique setting with an array of facilities, the 44-unit re-

sort allows guests to relax in serenity or partake in water-based activities. “With a vast selection of exciting activities, excellent food and beverage options and BWI’s legendary service standards, I am confident this resort will become a favourite among domestic and regional travellers,” said Ron Pohl, senior vice president, brand management and member services, BWI.

Jannah Hotels & Resorts Partners with Saadiyat Beach Club

Saadiyat Beach Club


bu Dhabi-based Jannah Hotels & Resorts has inked an agreement with Saadiyat Beach Club to offer club packages to its first class guests, including full-day passes. The Saadiyat Beach Club Package will offer access to the luxurious world of Abu Dhabi’s beach, which features white sands, turquoise waves, alongside a 650m2 pool, a modern spa and a workout room. It also includes a night’s stay in the one- or two-bedroom suites at Eastern Mangroves Suites by Jannah and full-day access for two adults and two children below 12 years to Saadiyat Beach Club.

06 DECEMBER 2014



Anjum Hotel Makkah Honours Its Egyptian Partners

The Rib Room Opens at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray

The event at Anjum Hotel Makkah


umeirah Zabeel Saray on Palm Jumeirah opened The Rib Room, a popular British restaurant. Specialising in grilled meats, The Rib Room is located on the mezzanine level of the hotel’s east wing and reflects the original restaurant which opened in 1961 at Jumeirah Carlton Tower, London. Fernando Gibaja, general manager, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, noted, “In line with Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s commitment to enhancing guests’ experiences, the launch of The Rib Room is an incredibly exciting prospect for everyone involved in the resort’s next phase of growth.”


flagship property of Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company (ALJREIC), Anjum Hotel Makkah recently hosted an honorary ceremony for its strategic partners in Egypt to recognise their efforts to promote its offerings across the country. The event comes following this year’s Hajj and Umrah season, when the hotel received a high number of pilgrims and Umrah performers from all over the world, the highest number of which came from Egypt. Ahmed Sabry, general manager, Anjum Hotel Makkah, commented, “Our success is […] due to the efforts of our local strategic partners that consistently promote our services to their clients and support our expansion plans across the region.”

The Rib Room

The Ajman Palace Hotel Gets HACCP Certificate


Dragon’s Four Palace Seasons terrace ResortatDubai The Ajman at Jumeirah Palace Beach


he Ajman Palace Hotel recently bagged a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, following a thorough inspection of food processes across its food and beverage portfolio. Ferghal Purcell, general manager, The Ajman Palace Hotel, enthused, “[The HACCP certificate] is a reflection of the high quality and superior standards followed by The Ajman Palace Hotel in every aspect of our restaurant operation. It is also testimony to the enormous hard work and dedication put in by our team day in, day out to ensure the highest level of food hygiene that, in turn, results in a memorable dining experience for our guests.” Christophe Landais (right) Sheikh Mubarak The hotel offers two restaurants, a shisha lounge, a coffee shop andand a poolside lounge.Abdulla

Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel

Mubarak Al Sabah sign the deal

06 DECEMBER 2014

WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION Hawthorn Suites Eyes German Market


njum Hotel Makkah exhibited its services at the Hajj and Umrah exhibition in Istanbul. “It is expected that 13 million Muslims are to visit the Holy Region to perform Hajj and Umrah by 2019. Accordingly, the Jabal Al Kaaba project is expected to contribute to boosting tourism and hospitality across the Kingdom. The Jabal Al Kaaba project will add extra value to the holy city of Mecca and we are glad to always be serving the Hajj and Umrah pilgrims with excellence and distinction”, said Youssef Jamel, chairman, Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company, the lead developer of Anjum Hotels.

Anjum Hotel Makkah

Deluxe room at Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham JBR

Focussing on Religious Tourism


awthorn Suites by Wyndham Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) has announced its participation in Thomas Cook’s Summer on Tour 2015 exhibition, with the aim of tapping into the growing German tourist market in the UAE. Led by Wael El Behi, general manager, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham JBR, the property will highlight its stylish and spacious suites, first-rate amenities and upscale location, with its proximity to the beach, The Walk and the city’s leisure attractions. El Behi commented, “We are excited to be part of Thomas Cook’s Summer on Tour 2015 event, as this is an excellent opportunity to tap the growing German leisure market in the UAE.”

Millennium Resort Mussanah Promotes Facilities

M Maurice De Rooij


illennium Resort Mussanah recently showcased the wealth of leisure and hospitality facilities available at the resort at the World Travel Market (WTM), to further boost inbound tourism to Oman. During the event, Maurice De Rooij, general manager, Millennium Resort Mussanah, and his team fostered business relationships with key decision-makers and met with international tour operators, agencies and market-based representatives. WTM enabled them to provide an update on the latest promotions and facility enhancements available at the resort, while highlighting its popular recreational amenities as well as the all-inclusive prepaid family vacations. Latest additions to the family-friendly destination include a TechnoGym and the new Zayna Spa.

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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The past years have been difficult for Jordan. How has Toledo Amman Hotel performed amidst the challenges? HAKAM BARAKAT: Toledo Amman Hotel went through very turbulent times in the past few years due to the political stress surrounding Jordan. Our guest profile consisted of 50 percent European, 20 percent MENA and 30 percent mixed visitors. Jordan has always been a segment of a Middle Eastern tour and not a stand-alone destination. We had a 15 percent drop in 2013 and another 10 percent in 2014.

Q & A with Hakam Barakat GENERAL MANAGER, TOLEDO AMMAN HOTEL Toledo Amman Hotel

man Hotel enjoys. It is located smack in the middle, between the old city centre and the new. Abdali's The Boulevard and development is the newest full-size tourist attraction occupying several city blocks. Toledo Amman Hotel is approximately a 10 – 15 minute walk to the new city centre and about a 25-minute walk to the old.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Toledo Amman Hotel is ranked 18th out of 115 hotels in Amman, on TripAdvisor. How does an individually-owned hotel manage to keep ahead of competition and achieve such distinctions? HAKAM BARAKAT: As a matter of fact, Toledo Amman Hotel was always in the top 10 since the beginning of TripAdvisor’s listings in Jordan. In the past two years, our ranking had dropped dramatically due to the number of new hotels having been developed. But we promise to regain our standing as we are putting a lot of effort into providing real benefits for our guests and introducing new services. Our staff will also go through extensive re-training to ensure


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The property is going though a renovation. Which are the main features enhanced and how will the hotel’s image change after this?


HAKAM BARAKAT: Toledo Amman Hotel is the only hotel in Amman that enjoys a traditional Moorish design, hence the name. We will keep that same image as it has been one of our features. The renovation project consists of several phases. The first phase will concentrate on the guest rooms. This phase should be complete by the beginning of 2015. The next phases will include the meeting, conference and banquet halls as we will putting more effort into the MICE segment. The final phase will include all public areas. We are looking at about the beginning of 2016 for the entire renovation project to be complete.

everyone understands the real threats of this highly competitive environment amidst the external challenges. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The hotel is only few minutes away from major historical and biblical sites. Is this a key advantage for the property? HAKAM BARAKAT: My main advantage is my team. Other secondary strengths include the central location Toledo Am06 DECEMBER 2014

Toledo Amman Hotel



Etihad Solidifies Its Italian Presence

EGYPTAIR Flies between Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor


Emirates Adds Capacity on Malé Route


ollowing a major codeshare expansion, Etihad Airways and Alitalia will offer enhanced connections between Abu Dhabi and three of Italy’s biggest cities in 2015, with combined double-daily flights to Milan and Rome, and a new daily service to Venice. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, commented, “Our codeshare agreement with Alitalia was initiated over four years ago, and the partnership has developed into a resounding commercial success. Importantly, we are also providing business and leisure travellers with enhanced, and soon to be unmatched, depth and breadth into and out of Italy.” The new Milan and Venice flights are both scheduled to commence on March 29, 2015.

mirates announced a third daily service to Malé, the capital of the Maldives. The new flight will add seven more inbound flights a week to the Maldives, increasing passenger and cargo capacity on the route by a third. “The Maldives has proven to be a strong market for leisure and family travel. Emirates’ additional daily flight to Malé will give our customers greater flexibility in their travel plans, allowing them to visit this exciting destination and connect seamlessly to other flights on Emirates’ extensive global network,” said Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, West Asia and Indian Ocean, Emirates.

I Venice


n a bid to encourage traffic between Egypt’s top leisure and touristic destinations, EGYPTAIR EXPRESS announced the start of two-weekly flights between Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor, starting December 16. The flights are scheduled to run on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and are programmed to depart from Sharm El Sheikh at 08:30, arriving to Luxor at 09:20. The return leg is scheduled to leave at 18:55 and land at Luxor at 19:45.


06 DECEMBER 2014


Oman Air Receives Second Boeing 737-900

Etihad Airways Lands in San Francisco


man Air’s fleet received a boost on November 14 when the second Boeing 737-900 arrived, after its latest Boeing B737-800 touched down for the first time at Muscat International Airport on November 6. The arrival of the brand new aircraft marks the start of a major three-year expansion programme. This latest delivery takes Oman Air’s fleet strength to 32. These are the first of 24 aircraft which are set to join Muscat-based carrier's fleet between now and 2018, boosting its capacity to around 50 aircraft. Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO, Oman Air, said, “The new aircraft will offer our customers an outstanding passenger experience. With newly-designed cabins, spacious seating and state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment systems, they are a very welcome addition to a fleet.”

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06 DECEMBER 2014

Qatar Airways to Serve Edinburgh Daily

J Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco


tihad Airways recently celebrated the inauguration of its nonstop daily services to San Francisco with its EY183 flight touching down at San Francisco International Airport. The arrival of the UAE flag carrier to the city was welcomed by the management of the airport, as well as representatives of the US-based diplomatic community of the UAE. Guests onboard the flight were presented commemorative certificates to mark the occasion. The launch results from a successful partnership between Etihad Airways and Jet Airways, as the route will be operated with the Indian carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with cabin crew from both airlines serving guests.

ust six months after the launch of the five-weekly route, Qatar Airways announced that it will operate daily, direct flights to Edinburgh Airport from May 1, 2015. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, commented, “We are pleased to offer even further choice and flexibility to passengers wishing to travel to and from Edinburgh. Offering a daily service to Edinburgh is a clear reflection of the popularity of this route since its launch in May this year and the new daily service will allow Qatar Airways to further support and promote Scotland’s leisure and business opportunities to different markets on our airline’s global network.”




AVANI Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa


AVANI Adds First Property in Africa


VANI Hotels & Resorts, the upscale brand by Minor Hotel Group, has added its first property in Africa. AVANI Pemba Beach Hotel & Spa, Mozambique, is situated in the country’s far northern province of Cabo Delgado, in the ancient port town of Pemba. The new property boasts 185 guest rooms, suites, villas and apartments, all designed with the view of the ocean or the gardens. Furthermore, its restaurants and bars offer an array of cuisines to satisfy all tastes. In terms of relaxation and outdoor activities, a selection of four swimming pools and a wellequipped 24-hour gym are also available.


est Western International (BWI) is expanding further across Asia with the launch of its first hotel in Bhutan. The company has signed an agreement for a brand new 41-room upscale hotel in the country’s capital, Thimphu, with its first guests expected to be welcomed in mid-2015. The new property will feature a selection of high-end facilities, including a fitness centre, spa, bar and a terrace lounge with views across the city. Glenn de Souza, vice president, international operations, Asia and Middle East, BWI, commented, “We are very excited to become one of the first major international hotel brands to arrive in this incredible country.”

One&Only Resorts to Manage Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa


rom early 2015, One&Only Resorts will manage the luxury resort, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in Australia. Emirates will however continue to retain full ownership of the resort. “Wolgan Valley is such a special place in Australia. We are proud of all that the resort has achieved, but now we feel that it is time to work with a partner to expand the Wolgan experience and take the resort to new heights. We are confident that Kerzner International, under the One&Only brand, is the perfect partner for Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa,” said Tim Clark, president, Emirates.


Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

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Agent’s Insight NAME:

Ankush Nijhawan


Co-founder and CEO


TBO Group




GBTA: Asia Pacific Business Travel Spend Rises

Who are you? I am Ankush Nijhawan, managing director of Nijhawan Group and CEO of Travel Boutique Online (TBO) Group. I have studied in Boston and have a major in marketing and psychology. […] My focus is on strengthening the overall brand proposition and positioning TBO with its core business value by exploring new growth avenues for developing a market leadership. I set up and launched TBO in 2007. Today it is the largest business-to-business travel portal in the online space in India and works with almost 18,000 travel agents in India, the Middle East and Africa. The group comprises three businesses: TBO in India, TBO MENA and Techmaster, which deals with technology development. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Apart from seeing beautiful places in the world, [it is] meeting a lot of people globally and understanding global businesses and thoughts. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Australia. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are a business-to-business company and we empower travel agents with inventory, pricing and technology to further service their customers efficiently and seamlessly. 06 DECEMBER 2014


lobal Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that global business travel spend will reach a record USD1.18 trillion by the end of the year, with almost 40 percent coming from Asia Pacific. “In Asia Pacific, there are a number of countries showing high growth in terms of business travel spend. These markets include Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. We forecast an average growth rate of 7.5 to 10 percent annually in these markets,” said Welf Ebeling, vice president, operations, Asia, GBTA, adding that the second Asian fastest growth market, India, which showed a 16 percent growth in the first decade of this century, is expected to become the ninth largest business travel market within the next five years.



ALI MAJED AL MANSOORI Chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports

Abu Dhabi Airports aims to provide the ultimate in privacy

Accor is very proud of the latest addition [in Dubai]

“The main objective behind this new proposition is to enhance the service level offered at Abu Dhabi International Airport to passengers from all travelling classes. Through the new VIP Terminal, Abu Dhabi Airports aims to provide the ultimate in privacy, luxury and security through unique personalised services.”

“Accor is very proud of the latest addition to our luxury and upscale hotels in Dubai with the fully renovated Pullman Dubai City Centre Residences. Accor always strives to offer our customers the highest quality and the finest accommodations. The completion of Pullman Residences will undoubtedly satisfy our longer staying customers. Guests staying at the Pullman Residences will be able to use all the facilities at the adjacent five-star Pullman hotel, including the bars, restaurants, spa and beauty salon.”

DENIS DUPART Vice president, operations, luxury and upscale brands, Middle East and Egypt, Accor

This is something unique to Oman’s tourism offering

This spectacular hotel will quickly become the preferred choice

CHRISTIAN CLERC Senior vice president, hotel operations, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

“We continue to seek opportunities in destinations where our discerning guests want to travel. Equally as important is finding the right partners with whom we share a vision and commitment to excellence. [Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach] delivers on the promise of exceptional service and luxury that is synonymous with Four Seasons, while also introducing something new and exciting to the market [...]. We are confident that this spectacular hotel will quickly become the preferred choice of international travellers, as well as Emiratis.”

ALI HAMAD LAKHRAIM ALZAABI President, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Middle East and Africa

“[The launch of three new properties in Oman] is also a first for Muscat’s rapidly developing hospitality sector, with both Millennium Executive Apartments and Grand Millennium Hotel Muscat directly connected to the new Grand Mall Muscat. This is something unique to Oman’s tourism offering and is sure to be a major selling point for both hotels with the promise of exclusive access to the city’s newest retail and entertainment hub.”

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06 DECEMBER 2014


Recycling with Oman Air Oman Air has expanded its corporate social responsibility programme to include dedicated newspaper and magazine recycling points within its headquarters and at Muscat International Airport.


he initiative is being organised in partnership with Mzaya Al Batina Modern, an Omani company run by young local entrepreneurs. Newspapers and magazines from across the company, and from Oman Air’s aircraft arriving at Muscat, will be recycled, thereby saving energy and reducing dependence on trees and other primary sources of paper. Paul Gregorowitsch, CEO, Oman Air, said, “We are proud to be promoting a greener, more environmentally-sensitive agenda and we are sure that this latest recycling initiative will prove to be a major success.”

Paul Gregorowitsch (left)

Al Ain Zoo Hosts ZIMS Training Workshop

TripAdvisor Targets Travellers’ Preferences


ripAdvisor launched its Just for You feature that provides more personalised hotel recommendations to TripAdvisor users based on their individual preferences and travel research on the site. When travellers search hotels for a particular destination, they will be presented with a variety of tags allowing them to select their travel preferences, such as travel style, location, price range, hotel class, amenities and brand. Through the new Just for You feature, TripAdvisor will take this feedback into account along with the traveller's prior research and contributions to the site to deliver better, more personalised results to help the travellers find a better hotel for their needs and interests.

Documenting Local Heritage


l Ain Zoo has organised the first regional Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) software training workshop. More than 35 individuals from 13 zoo and aquarium facilities took part in the programme, setting a new record for attendee numbers in the region. Over the course of two days, participants were given the opportunity to gain knowledge on ZIMS software which is currently being used by 912 zoos, aquariums and conservation organisations in over 85 countries. In essence, ZIMS is a system setting the benchmark standard for animal records management in the international zoo community, enabling animal management to the highest international standards.

06 DECEMBER 2014

n the sidelines of Dubai World Hospitality Championship (DWHC), Zaabeel Palace Hospitality launched a book documenting the local heritage under the title Emirati Hospitality: Customs and Traditions. The book demonstrates principles of Emirati hospitality, from Bedouin-style welcoming, desert-influenced drinks, cooking instruments, wedding clothes and other genuine Emirati customs. H.E. Ahmed bin Hareb, president, DWHC, stated that the traditions of UAE's unique hospitality have been carried on from one generation to the following for centuries, […], and thus the Emirati Hospitality: Customs and Traditions book has managed to document these crucial aspects to demonstrate the essence of original Emirati hospitality and share it with the world.






Mohammad Zein has been announced as the new director of sales at Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Hotel in Beirut. He brings with him over 10 years of experience within the hospitality field having started his career with Le Méridien. Aside Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, he also served InterContinental Hotels Group, Coral International Hotels, Riviera Hotel and Golden Tulip Hotels & Resorts, while he was also a consultant for various hotels such as Portaluna Hotel. Zeid will be responsible for delivering top-line performance within the sales operations, conceptualising promotional and tactical strategies and overall accountability for the day-to-day communication of sales.

Sandy Russell is Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s new vice president of commercial operations for Asia Pacific, and will be responsible for driving revenue generation strategies in the region, across the disciplines of global and regional sales, revenue optimisation, branding and marketing. Russell will also oversee the company’s commercial strategy, which will have a greater focus on property performance and profitability at the region’s 97 hotels. Russell has 21 years of experience in hospitality, of which 14 years were with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group in sales and marketing roles including senior director of revenue generation, director of global key accounts, as well as regional director of sales and marketing.



Wiebke Siemering has recently been appointed area e-commerce partner manager for The Rezidor Hotel Group’s area support office in the Middle East. Siemering joined the team from, where she held the post of market manager and team leader for the UAE. In her new role, she is expected to manage existing global, theatre- and country-level online travel agents and affiliate relationships to make sure that terms and conditions are correctly applied and optimised. Siemering will also be tasked with identifying, contracting and rolling out new potential area, regional and local partners to drive incremental business to hotels both within and outside the area.

Tarek El Sherif has been welcomed as the new director of business development at Conrad Cairo. This contemporary luxury property is located in the heart of downtown Cairo, overlooking the Nile and in proximity to all the capital’s attractions. He has been in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years and brings with him a wealth of sales, marketing and revenue experience having held various senior positions in big hotel brands across three different continents, including Sheraton, Le Méridien, Hilton, Rotana and Millennium.

El Sherif has been in the hospitality industry for more than 25 years

06 DECEMBER 2014


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Abu Dhabi won Destination of the Year accolade at UK’s Travel Agents Choice Awards

Etihad Airways has presented England's cricket team with their personal Etihad Guest Gold cards

Sheraton Bahrain Hotel hosted a family fun day for cancer patients

06 DECEMBER 2014

Dubai Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing commissioned an art installation depicting Dubai’s famous skyline and iconic buildings made entirely out of food

Expo 2020 Dubai hosted 30 art and design students at the 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art

The Best Budget Hotel Award was presented to Russel Sharpe, chief operating officer, Citymax Hotels, at a gala dinner celebrating the Tatweej Academy for Excellence Awards


NEWS & EVENTS Fitur to Address Growing Health Tourism



itur which will run from January 28 – February 1, 2015 in Madrid, will inaugurate the new Fitur Health section promoted jointly with the Spaincares cluster, which includes various healthcare associations and institutes, travel agents, hoteliers and spas. The initiative came about with the aim of putting the spotlight on an emerging sector with huge growth potential, as Spain has distinguished itself worldwide for its prestigious healthcare and renowned tourist tradition. On a global scale, health tourism is already generating a revenue of nearly EUR7 billion (USD8.76 billion) worldwide with an average annual growth of 20 percent. This will represent a revenue of nearly EUR300 million (USD375.5 million) for Spain’s tourist segment in 2015, a figure that is set to double in the following four years.

Designers Help Change Middle East Perceptions

Dubai, UAE December 8 – 10 Established as a key event on the business aviation calendar, it delivers key buyers and decision makers access to the Middle East aerospace market.

SEATRADE MIDDLE EAST CRUISE FORUM Muscat, Oman December 9 – 10 Committed to promoting the region as a cruise destination, it will allow delegates to meet with cruise line executives and GCC counterparts.


Design Days Dubai


he success of design shows and exhibitions across the Middle East is generating domestic and international tourism demand, as revealed by Euromonitor International. The World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends Report 2014 indicated that events such as Design Days Dubai and Beirut Design Week are gaining in popularity, with the UAE event attracting 12,150 visitors this year, 40 percent of which were regional and international tourists. Simon Press, senior director, WTM, said, “The emergence of design tourism is another example of how the Middle East continues to surprise and innovate its appeal to travellers.”


Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia December 9 – 11 A platform for various tourism industry players, academics and researchers in tourism and hospitality in presenting and discussing their knowledge and findings.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL & HOSPITALITY SHOW Muscat, Oman December 14 – 16 Set to connect participants to multiple investment and business opportunities in Oman’s emerging luxury, leisure and business tourism industry.

06 DECEMBER 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 265  

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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