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08 NOVEMBER 2014
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08 NOVEMBER 2014
OCVA VISITS UAE DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS, A MERAAS HOLDING COMPANY, ANNOUNCED DETAILS OF THE REGION’S DEBUT BOLLYWOOD PARKS DUBAI, WHICH WILL SHOWCASE THE AUTHENTIC INDIAN MOVIE EXPERIENCE IN AN INTERACTIVE FORMAT.
08 INTERVIEW WITH SAMIR HAMADEH
17 IN THIS ISSUE MARKET UPDATE TECHNOLOGY GENERAL ACCOMMODATION AIR RENDEZVOUS INTERNATIONAL AGENT CORNER TRAVEL TALK TRAVEL CHANNELS WHO’S MOVED PHOTO ALBUM NEWS & EVENTS
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FIRST BOLLYWOOD-THEMED PARK ARRIVES IN DUBAI
MARKET UPDATE TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATIONS
MANAGING EDITOR Mary Kammitsi firstname.lastname@example.org ASSISTANT EDITOR Maria Kazeli SENIOR JOURNALIST Rita Kasziba
Dubai Duty Free Regains Leader Position Sales analysis by Generation Research highlights that Dubai Duty Free has regained its position as the largest single airport retail operation in the world, based on sales figures of USD1.8 billion in 2013.
CONTRIBUTORS Dominique Christou Ana Mladenovic PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou WEB DEVELOPER / IT Soteris Constantinou
his is the fourth time that Generation Research’s annual report has seen the airport duty free operator nudge ahead to first place position. According to the same source, the value of airport-based duty free sales in the Middle East reached USD3.9 billion, representing a 10 percent increase year-on-year. Dubai Duty Free accounts for 45.7 percent of airport sales in the region. Meanwhile, the UAE ranked seventh in the world’s top 25 countries for duty free and travel retail shopping, taking 4.1 percent of the global market share.
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MENA EXCHANGE RATES As of
Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar
Saudi Arabia (SAR) Riyal
Dubai Duty Free
DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi
September Sees Boosted MEA Pipeline The Middle East and Africa (MEA) region reported 637 hotels under contract totalling 151,205 rooms, according to the September STR Global Construction Pipeline Report.
or the first nine months of the year, 139 hotels with 33,232 rooms opened in the region while in the remainder of the year, 82 hotels with 18,538 rooms are set to launch. The majority of rooms are planned to be added in the upper upscale segment, followed by the unaffiliated, the upscale and the luxury markets. In 2015, 145 hotels are expected to be revealed in the region, with the upper upscale segment being the leader once again with 38 hotels, the largest addition of rooms among the hotel categories. 8 NOVEMBER 2014
WEEKLY NEWS TECHNOLOGY
Travelport Announces Deal with CemAir Travelport inked a full-content agreement with South Africa’s commuter and regional carrier, CemAir.
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ffective immediately, the multiyear deal provides Travelport-connected agents worldwide with access to the airline’s full content, including its web
is a pany d Air Cem ned com 005 an t ow d in 2 are a e nal ters blish esta eadquar ternatio its h ambo In t in r OR T Airpo sburg? e n n Joha
fares. Miles van der Molen, CEO, CemAir, said, “Travelport’s extensive, worldwide travel agency network complements our ambitious growth plans, making them a valued partner and an important distribution channel. We look forward to building a close working relationship with Travelport as we take our business activities to the next level.”
Abacus: Virtual Payment Solution in Asia Pacific
onferma, providers of Virtual Card Number (VCN) technology for the corporate travel sector, has signed a global contract with Abacus, which will give corporate travel management companies and corporate travel agencies throughout the region access to a secure virtual payment solution, starting from the end of this year. Integrated within Abacus WorkSpace, VCNs are to improve agents’ control, data and process efficiency across the full spectrum of corporate travel, from hotel reservations to air and rail tickets, car rentals and more. Automated reconciliation of booking and transaction data are to also deliver enhanced process efficiencies, whilst offering Abacus agents a more granular view of their clients’ corporate spend.
Hotelogix Sets New Benchmark
otelogix’s cloud property management system was chosen by Azalea Hotels & Residences in order to streamline the operations of its new hotel. The team at Hotelogix powered all of the hotel’s operations in less than 24 hours, having set up rooms, packages, future reservations, guest details and all other processes. Discussing its choice to opt for Hotelogix, Elisa Escobar, general manager, Azalea Hotels & Residences, commented, “We have been highly satisfied with Hotelogix’s system on our first property in Baguio, a 99-room hotel, which encouraged us to choose Hotelogix for our second property as well. We turned to Hotelogix because of its excellent track record and affordable pricing.”
8 NOVEMBER 2014
Ducab and Abu Dhabi Airports Partner on the MTB Project
KAEC to Welcome Golf Course
Ducab, one of the Middle East's leading manufacturers of cables and cabling products, has announced a partnership with Abu Dhabi Airports on the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB).
8 NOVEMBER 2014
ssisting Abu Dhabi Airports in achieving its vision of becoming the world's leading airport group, Ducab will deliver the highest quality of services and infrastructure to improve the gateway into Abu Dhabi. Set to open its doors in July 2017, MTB, the cornerstone of Abu Dhabi International Airport's multi-billion dollar expansion plan, is set to be one of the largest airport terminals in the world. The project has been planned by Abu Dhabi Airports in order to increase passenger traffic to above 40 million per year, and cargo capacity to 2.5 million tonnes per year.
ing Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) has signed a contract with Citiscape Company for the construction of Royal Greens, an 18-hole championship golf course in Al Murooj, the most prestigious of KAECâ€™s coastal communities designed to meet the needs of a luxury lifestyle. Royal Greens encompasses an area of 800,000m2, with a length of play of 6,295m and offers four tee options per hole. The SAR85 million (USD22.7 million) development has already broken ground in anticipation of a December 2015 soft opening.
WEEKLY NEWS ADNEC and MCI Explore Growth Opportunities
Humaid Al Dhaheri (left) and Roger Tondeur, chairman, MCI Global
enior executives from Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) met with the leadership of MCI Global, the global MICE organisation, to codevelop strategies that support the growth of Abu Dhabi as a global MICE destination. Humaid Al Dhaheri, acting group CEO, ADNEC, commented, “Meeting and exploring the opportunities with MCI to further strengthen Abu Dhabi’s value proposition on a global level fits with our strategic objective to drive economic diversification in the UAE capital through business tourism.”
GCC Set for Positive Growth in MICE Industry
ccording to recent statistics, the GCC’s USD1.3 billion MICE industry is set for continuous growth and expansion. Alpen Capital’s latest report stated that the number of international association meetings in the region has more than tripled over the last 10 years, earning global prestige for the Gulf as a popular meetings and incentives hub. The MICE industry is one of the key growth drivers for the region’s burgeoning economy, making significant contributions through income and employment, along with attracting substantial foreign investment, according to the report findings. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman have emerged as the top three MICE destinations in the region because of their state-ofthe-art infrastructure and facilities, supported by their strategic location and easy connectivity with the rest of the world.
Dubai Pushes Brand Dubai Forward
H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince, Dubai, has directed the immediate implementation of the first phase of projects carried out by Brand Dubai. Brand Dubai is the inaugural venture of the Government of Dubai Media Office tasked with proposing novel initiatives that will highlight the emirate’s character as the world’s most developed and fastest growing city and reflect its achievements in all fields. Lauding the ideas proposed, Al Maktoum directed emphasis on the cultural aspect of the emirate in Brand Dubai’s projects, affirming that the richness of the UAE’s cultural heritage is the fountain for Brand Dubai’s creativity and therefore it is ought to be nurtured.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
Khalifa Port Emerges Fifth in EMEA
bu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) reported that just two years after its launch, Khalifa Port ranks fifth in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in terms of productivity. “This not only confirms our financial investments and hard work but Khalifa Port’s massive potential in terms of productivity and service offerings for the years to come,” said Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO, ADPC. Since 2013, the number of direct links from Khalifa Port to ports across the globe rose by 12 to reach 52, and it currently serves 20 shipping lines.
OCVA Visits UAE
elegates from the Orange County Visitors Association of California (OCVA) were in Dubai to meet with local press and customers, aiming to promote California as an ideal destination for Middle Easterners. “With Emirates, Etihad Airways and Saudi Arabian Airlines currently serving our market, we believe Orange County is the perfect locale for visitors to experience the best of Southern California,” said Ed Fuller, CEO, OCVA. OCVA has launched a UAE-dedicated website and plans to unveil several other country-specific websites throughout the Middle East.
Marriott Confirms Its Commitment to Egypt
rne Sorenson, president, Marriott International, used the recent US Chamber of Commerce round table discussion in New York, held to mark the visit of Abdel Fatah El Sisi, president, Egypt, to the US, to reaffirm the company’s interest in Egypt. The company has stood by the Egyptian market ever since the slowdown after January 2011, supporting its properties through its worldwide resources. Marriott International’s current portfolio in Egypt spans six properties under the JW Marriott Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Renaissance Hotels brands.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
FIRST BOLLYWOOD-THEMED PARK ARRIVES IN DUBAI Dubai Parks and Resorts, a Meraas Holding company, announced details of the region’s debut Bollywood Parks Dubai, which will showcase the authentic Indian movie experience in an interactive format.
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overing a total of 28ha, Bollywood Parks Dubai will host 16 rides and attractions within five movie themed areas featuring content developed in partnership with Mumbai’s major film studios; Bollywood Film Studios, Mumbai Chowk, Hall of Heroes, Regal Plaza and Rustic Ravine. “For the first time ever, a theme park in the region will recreate for residents and tourists the unparalleled glamour and extravagance of Bollywood on one stage,” commented Raed Al Nuaimi, CEO, Dubai Parks and Resorts.
Promoting Sharjah as a Tourism Spot
Bollywood Parks Dubai
DAMAC Reports Strong Interest from Iraq
he Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) conducted a tourist license renewal course for a group of professional tourist guides working in the emirate. It brought together a number of industry professionals representing a diverse range of nationalities, including Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Egypt, Eritrea and China. The orientation event included lectures by experts and field visits to important landmarks, museums, cultural centres and tourist attractions in Sharjah. Conducted by professional experts and experienced faculty staff, it focussed on defining the unique identity and diversity of Sharjah as a tourism destination.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
AKOYA by DAMAC
AMAC Properties participated in the recent Baghdad International Exhibition, where its AKOYA Oxygen gated community in Dubai recorded impressive interest from the Iraqi market. The development will include an 18-hole golf course, five-star hotel, luxury wellness centre and organic market places. “Iraq is a very big market for us and the success of the current visit to Baghdad only goes to show the level of interest in Dubai, and luxury villas in particular,” said Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president, DAMAC Properties.
WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION Al Teaba Food Court’s Fresh Look
Rixos Bab Al Bahr Celebrates Successful Concept
Rixos Bab Al Bahr
he second addition of Turkish hospitality chain Rixos Hotels in the UAE, Rixos Bab Al Bahr, has achieved its target revenue ahead of time, just eight months after it opened its doors on Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah. In addition to the all-inclusive concept which is deemed to have given the hotel an edge over the competition, it also boasts shows by Cuban dancers, the Rixos Bab Al Bahr Spa and Turkish Hammam, the Rixy and Teen’s Republic clubs and multiple sports activities, coupled with daily entertainment. Since opening, the hotel experienced a heavy flow of visitors from its top four target markets; Russia, Germany, the UAE and the UK.
l Bustan Centre & Residence presented a new look for its Al Teaba Food Court, aimed at transforming it into a satisfying dining destination. Moussa El Hayek, chief operating officer, Al Bustan Centre & Residence, said, “The latest development at the food court is expected to further enhance our appeal by offering hotel guests, mall shoppers and visitors greater convenience and access to a variety of dining options. We are also pleased to announce that our food and beverage outlets are now HACCP certified with Grade-A certification from the Dubai Municipality to match five-star standards.”
Dusit Thani Dubai
Dusit Thani Dubai Reinvents Its Suites
usit Thani Dubai has completed the renovation of its 147 one- and two-bedroom suites. “The finished product has exceeded our expectations. Each suite exudes comfort and functionality, combined with bespoke touches of luxury and carefully thought-out details,” shared Prateek Kumar, general manager, Dusit Thani Dubai. All suites have been re-planned to allow for better use of space. Highlights include full-height mirror walls, traditional Thaiinspired handcrafted furniture and artwork, floating walls embellished with gold leaf mouldings and sculptures, as well as LED lighting, LCD TVs and media hub technology. Additionally, the hotel is soon to welcome two new food and beverage facilities and a spa.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Katara Hospitality Selects Partners for Its Morocco Debut
Park Inn by Radisson Muscat Praised by OABC
ark Inn by Radisson Muscat has recently celebrated a certificate of appreciation from the Oman American Business Council (OABC) for its contribution to the organisation’s development throughout the year. The hotel was also commended for sharing its expertise and client base to benefit other members of the council, as well as encouraging other companies to join the organisation. The certificate was awarded by Greta Holtz, ambassador to Oman, the US, and Ali Daud, president, OABC.
Rabih Zein, general manager, Park Inn by Radisson Muscat, accepts the accolade
atara Hospitality has appointed OBM International (OBMI), Alatec and The Gettys Group to develop and design its first Moroccan property, Tazi Palace Hotel in Tangier. H.E. Sheikh Nawaf Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al-Thani, chairman, Katara Hospitality, stated, “With this project, we aim to embrace the essence of Moroccan culture and hospitality. It is critical we have partners who understand the importance of the Tazi Palace, and OBMI, Alatec and the Gettys Group do just that.” The five-star hotel, slated for a 2017 opening, is set to offer 133 rooms and two VIP villas, a 1,400m2 stand-alone spa hub, two restaurants and events facilities.
Tazi Palace Hotel
Dubai Welcomes a New DAMAC Property
AMAC Properties has opened the 211 deluxe hotel suites tower in the Burj Area of Dubai, Canal Views. Being the company’s second project in the popular shopping and tourism district, the premium tower will be managed and serviced by its hospitality division, DAMAC Maison. Canal Views has a variety of deluxe one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, each boasting complimentary Internet access, a fullyfitted kitchen and cable TV. Additionally, there is a café located on the third floor, a lounge area, swimming pool, steam room, sauna and open-air Jacuzzi.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION
Accor Partners with Travel Boutique Online
ccor has signed an agreement with India’s business-to-business travel portal Travel Boutique Online (TBO), which will be responsible for increasing sales of Accor hotels across its network of over 13,000 travel agents in 300 cities in India and 4,000 agents in the Middle East and Africa. Speaking on the partnership, JeanLuc Chrétien, executive vice president, sales, distribution and loyalty, Accor, said, “As a constant innovator in the online booking space, Accor is always looking for partners who can help to extend the reach of our hotels, sustain our competitive edge and make it more convenient for our customers to book their accommodation, no matter where they are.”
kn u o y d i D
Refreshed Rooms at Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
his month, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is set to unveil 118 revamped guestrooms, completing the third phase of its refurbishment programme, launched in 2012. The rooms, all of which come with iPads, boast a contemporary, Arabic-inspired look with sharp lines. Bedrooms are furnished with silver bedding and crystal chandeliers, with traditional headboards and luxury bathrooms, complete with rain showers. “We made sure to support local Emirati talents when choosing the art in the rooms and each piece has been picked carefully to show the best from the region with styles ranging from dramatic to joyful art,” said Konstantin Zeuke, general manager, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates.
Anjum Hotel Makkah Promoted to UAE Pilgrims
njum Hotel Makkah used The 16th International Forum of Arabian Tourism & Umrah, recently held in Dubai, to interact with other industry players and promote its services and products to the Emirati market. Ahmad Sabry, general manager, Anjum Hotel Makkah, confirmed, “Our main goal is to attract different target audiences in the UAE. During the forum, we [emphasised] our hotel’s five-star services as we know that the Emirati tourist, as well as others, deserves world-class services and amenities. At Anjum, we not only aim to satisfy our guests, but also look towards exceeding their expectations, which leaves them with a truly unforgettable experience.”
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Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates
Anjum Hotel Makkah
8 NOVEMBER 2014
AIR WEEKLY NEWS
Oman Air Satisfied Over Manila and Jakarta Routes Oman Air has reported a surprisingly high demand for seats on its two new services, Manila and Jakarta, due to be launched in December.
ccording to the announcement, great interest in the new flights has been expressed by the international Filipino and Indonesian diaspora. Starting on December 2, the carrier will be flying twice per week to the Philippine capital, with a third frequency set for a December 13 launch. As for Jakarta, thrice-weekly flights are to commence on December 12, with a fourth one to be introduced on January 2, 2015.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
Stavanger Welcomes Qatar Airways Cargo
n November 3, Qatar Airways Cargo launched scheduled freighters to Stavanger in
Norway. Stavanger will be served once a week by an Airbus A330F freighter, with the aircraft making a stop at Brussels before heading to Stavanger Airport and then returning to Doha. â€œWe are very excited to be the first carrier to operate scheduled freighters into the Norwegian energy capital of Stavanger. This new route will allow us to cater to the strong import and export demand in this city and will facilitate trade between the State of Qatar and Norway,â€? said Ulrich Ogiermann, chief officer, cargo, Qatar Airways Cargo.
WEEKLY NEWS AIR Gulf Air to Resume Flights to Shiraz
ulf Air announced that it will be recommencing flights to Shiraz. Becoming the airline’s 40th destination, the capital of Fars Province in Iran will be served with three weekly flights, starting December 15. Maher Salman Al Musallam, acting CEO, Gulf Air, commented, “We are further strengthening and supplementing our Iran operations after the recent resumption of flights to both Mashhad in December 2013 and Tehran in March. Gulf Air’s Shiraz flights, with our attractive schedule and short flight times, will cater to the strong passenger demand we have seen in the market, and so we hope that this, our 40th route, will appeal to travellers and be a success.”
flynas’ Commitment to Saudi Arabia
lynas sponsored the 4th International Conference on Disability & Rehabilitation, which took place at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh on October 19 – 21. flynas also served as the official carrier for the conference and announced that it will support Prince Salman Center for Disability Research by sponsoring all its future activities for the next five years. The recognition ceremony was attended by Sulaiman Al Hamdan, group CEO, NAS Holding, who said, “As a Saudi national carrier, sponsorship of the conference is part of flynas’ commitment towards the Kingdom and the public, especially towards people with disabilities, a segment of the population that is of great importance within our society.”
Kuwait Airways Supports LOYAC Youth
ommitted to enhancing the skills, talent and expertise of Kuwaiti youth, Kuwait Airways has provided youth orientation to members of LOYAC, a regional non-profit youth organisation. Participants from LOYAC were also able to take part in providing passenger services at Kuwait International Airport during a period of four weeks, and some of them were certified. During a meeting with LOYAC members, Rasha Abdulaziz Al-Roumi, chairperson, Kuwait Airways, honoured the participants and expressed extreme happiness in their enthusiasm, offering full support to such programmes.
8 NOVEMBER 2014
AIR WEEKLY NEWS
Qatar Airways Takes Its First Class to Bangkok
flydubai Launches New Flights to Tanzania
atar Airways is to deploy an Airbus A380 aircraft on its Doha-Bangkok route as of January 5, 2015, offering wider seats, Wi-Fi connectivity and an in-flight lounge, as well as a first class cabin on the upper deck with eight first class suites, plus spa-like bathrooms. Also included are 48 business class seats and 461 economy seats spread across two decks. Akbar Al Baker, group CEO, Qatar Airways, commented, “Thanks to its popularity, we have witnessed a steady growth in terms of the number of passengers flying to Bangkok over the years. […] Therefore, we are very much looking forward to kicking off the new year by introducing our new A380 aircraft to Bangkok and providing these passengers with our signature service.”
In-flight Lounge Onboard Qatar Airway's Airbus A380
8 NOVEMBER 2014
Etihad Boosts Frequencies to Dallas
E Sudhir Sreedharan (left) and H.E. Samia Hassan Suluhu, parliament member, Tanzania
lydubai recently celebrated inaugural flights to Dar es Salam and Zanzibar in Tanzania, bringing the number of African destinations on its network to 12. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai, commented, “We continue to work diligently to support the travel, trade and tourism objectives by strengthening the direct links between the UAE and these African markets.” “The pace of flydubai’s expansion in East Africa has picked up. Six of the 23 new routes we have launched this year are to Africa. The potential we see for this market is just the tip of the iceberg as it is still a heavily underserved region,” added Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president, commercial, GCC, Indian subcontinent and Africa, flydubai.
tihad Airways announced that it will increase the frequency of its new service to Dallas/Fort Worth to daily from April 16, 2015, as a result of a strong demand from business and leisure travellers on the route. Flights to Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas will be launched on December 3 with an initial thrice-weekly service. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, commented, “Our Dallas/Fort Worth service was announced at the end of 2013 and the market response has been extremely strong. To meet the needs of travellers flying into and out of Texas, we will increase our frequency sooner than expected on the route, with daily flights commencing from April 2015.”
WEEKLY NEWS AIR
Emirates Celebrates Its Hungarian Debut
Rotana Jet Announces New Bases
otana Jet has transferred its scheduled operations base from Al Bateen Executive Airport to Abu Dhabi International Airport, as of October 26. In addition, the airline, which carries out both executive charter and scheduled airline services, has also switched its Dubai operations from Dubai International to Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central. Despite the changes, Rotana Jet will continue to use Al Bateen Executive Airport as a base for its private jet services.
mirates has entered Hungary with a daily nonstop service to Budapest, operated with a wide-body Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a two-class configuration. “We believe this new route will support Hungary’s aims to develop closer trade links with the East, and be a catalyst for further trade and tourism growth,” said Thierry Antinori, executive vice president, Emirates. Welcoming the launch, Jost Lammers, CEO, Budapest Airport, stated, “With tourism numbers to Budapest outperforming most European markets and robust GDP forecasts, we are confident that now is the ideal time to celebrate this route launch and we look forward to seeing Emirates upgrading the aircraft with more capacity in the not too distant future.”
Etihad Airways Goes Nonstop on Phuket Route
tihad Airways has commenced daily nonstop flights between Abu Dhabi and Phuket, the airline’s second destination in Thailand. On October 26, the inaugural flight departed Abu Dhabi International Airport and touched down at Phuket International Airport, where it was welcomed by a water cannon salute, a gathering of dignitaries and airline representatives, and a performance by traditional Thai dancers. James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, said, “The new Phuket route is a natural expansion of our Thai network and a strong addition to our portfolio of leisure destinations, such as the Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka.”
8 NOVEMBER 2014
RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Being one of the leading destination management companies in the GCC, tell us a bit about the services your offer. SAMIR HAMADEH: Alpha Tours offers much more than just tours and excursions, and our services go beyond that. We are a destination management company and our expert team provides tour operators with the best options to offer services worldwide; ranging from promoting the various tourism destinations to offering marketing support and enhancing the offerings, and even training for the on-ground services we provide. Alpha Tours provides exceptional quality of service, professional travel intelligence and innovative customer care for both leisure and corporate travellers, thanks to our team of loyal, passionate and dedicated staff. We have tailored packages to suit the tastes and budgets of every holiday traveller and we offer exceptional customer experience, service standards and uniqueness in all our packages. For instance, we collaborated with our Russian tour partners by not only reinforcing the attractions of the destinations we promote, but also assisted them in their marketing efforts and tailor-made the itinerary of their clients in line with their hotel budgets and aspirations. This apart, we are also present with our niche, on-ground support services to make the experience totally memorable for our clients. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Which are your agency’s main feeder markets and how have these developed over the years? SAMIR HAMADEH: In more ways than one, our business growth is in tandem with the destinations that we promote. For example, we have grown by leaps and bounds with the growth of Dubai and the UAE as a top tourism destination. Talking about feeder markets, the CIS, Europe, GCC and MENA markets are among our top ones. We are also targeting the Chinese market aggressively and we recently opened an office in Shanghai, with plans to open another one in Beijing this year. We are also targeting Africa and South America in our future expansion plans. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Alpha Tours offers the opportunity to tourists 8 NOVEMBER 2014
Q & A with
Samir Hamadeh GENERAL MANAGER, ALPHA TOURS
to be whisked away by a helicopter to witness awe-inspiring buildings from a bird’s eye view on an exclusive tour. How popular are these services and which is your main clientele for those? SAMIR HAMADEH: Since its launch back in 2007, our helicopter services have been on the must list for our clients visiting Dubai. In fact, this service has not only become mandatory for tourists flocking to Dubai, but we have heard that the helicopter service is one of the driving forces behind their decision to visit Dubai.
WE HAVE TAILORED PACKAGES TO SUIT THE TASTES AND BUDGETS OF EVERY HOLIDAY TRAVELLER
Currently, we are operating three helicopter tours from Atlantis, The Palm and our operations and tourists’ feedback speak volumes about how popular and desirable these services are.
WITH A LONG-ESTABLISHED PRESENCE IN DUBAI AND THE GCC, ALPHA TOURS IS ONE OF THE LEADING PLAYERS IN THE REGION’S TOURISM INDUSTRY. SAMIR HAMADEH, GENERAL MANAGER, ALPHA TOURS, TALKS ABOUT THE COMPANY’S, AS WELL AS DUBAI’S, POTENTIAL.
Helicopter Rides by Alpha Tours
TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Established in 1996, the company is present in the UAE and Dubai for almost 20 years. What are the major changes you have witnessed within the emirate’s hospitality industry? What do you predict its future development will bring about? SAMIR HAMADEH: We have been in this business long enough to witness all of its ups and downs, and for the past 10 years, the UAE has grown to become one of the most sought-after tourist destinations with its myriad of attractions. With the recent growth witnessed in the hospitality and tourism sector, and new attractions and hotels coming up, the industry is on the threshold of a major growth curve and is set to eye more tourist arrivals in the coming years. The new hotels will also offer different price ranges for tourists, offering them affordable properties in line with their tastes and budgets across the emirate. Thus, Dubai now offers the best of tourism attractions to suit various budgets and preferences.
WEEKLY NEWS INTERNATIONAL
Hilton’s CRS Report Highlights Key Achievements
ilton Worldwide released its 2013/2014 corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, highlighting efforts, achievements and priorities across the four focus areas of its CSR strategy, Travel with Purpose; creating opportunities, strengthening communities, celebrating cultures and living sustainability. Key achievements highlighted include double-digit reductions of energy and water use, and carbon and waste output, achieving ISO 50001 energy management system certification across its global portfolio, Open Doors, Operation: Opportunity and Global Youth Wellbeing Index initiatives, and much more. Christopher Nassetta, president, Hilton Worldwide, said, “I am proud of the progress we have made.”
Phuket Welcomes New Best Western Property
Fourth Westin Property in Denver
est Western International has opened a brand new hotel in Phuket; the stylish BEST WESTERN Patong Beach. The 224-room hotel boasts an outdoor infinity pool, fitness center, a business hub and restaurant.
tarwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced plans to open The Westin Greenwood Village in 2016. Owned by Greenwood Village Hotel and managed by White Lodging Services Corporation, the newly constructed hotel will feature 203 rooms, ample meeting space and a wide range of amenities. Located in Denver’s southwest business corridor, The Westin Greenwood Village will be Westin Hotels & Resorts’ fourth property to open in Denver, Colorado. Discussing the new hotel, Brian Povinelli, global brand leader, Westin Hotels & Resorts and Le Méridien, commented, “We are delighted to bring the Westin brand to Greenwood Village, a leading business hub.”
BEST WESTERN Patong Beach
Commenting on the new property, Maetapong Upatising, managing director, BEST WESTERN Patong Beach, said, “The BEST WESTERN Patong Beach will definitely meet the needs of travellers who seek convenience and great service at a reasonable price. The hotel has already been welcoming many travellers since its inauguration.”
8 NOVEMBER 2014
Agent’s Insight NAME:
Director of sales and operations
Red Apple Travel
Virgin Holidays Launches Plan-it Mojo Who are you? I am a seasoned industry professional backed by 17 years of insightful experience in the travel industry, with expertise in areas of business growth, new business development, client satisfaction and overall operations and sales. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? Working in travel and tourism is an attractive option for many people, with the chance to travel and see many parts of the world as part of one’s career. Other benefits include the excitement and fun factor, getting out and about and the cheerful people you meet.
irgin Holidays introduced Plan-it Mojo, an interactive hub designed to facilitate holiday planning, built as an extension of the Virgin Holidays website. Built by Microsoft and supported by rich media multiplatform across its services, the interactive guide to all Virgin Holidays locations across the world features on-the-ground information about each destination, pulled in content from across the Internet and pin-pointed using an interactive map that uses the functionality of Bing Maps. “This industry first provides a new and engaging way for consumers to view our content,” said Sam Otter, head of marketing, Virgin Holidays.
When is the best time to visit Singapore? Throughout the year, the weather is almost the same and it is favourable to every visitor. However, I would say avoid the peak dates as the hotels can be very expensive. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? My next holiday is going to be the south of Spain, Granada; to explore and get a few ideas on how to set up a travel business there. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We are a set of multiracial and multilingual professionals who are well travelled and have an understanding of each and every individual who wishes to travel. Which is the percentage of MENA travellers your agency welcomes annually? We have a large volume of inbound MENA tourists into Thailand and Malaysia, as we have offices in around 10 countries. Comparatively, the quantum of passengers into Singapore is less. 8 NOVEMBER 2014
AKBAR AL BAKER Group CEO, Qatar Airways
The A350 will be a very valuable addition to our fleet
[Renowned chefs] will prepare best-in-class food creations
“We are delighted to see the new Airbus A350 taking to the skies in our livery. The A350 will be a very valuable addition to our fleet, and thanks to its extra width, we will be able to offer our passengers even greater comfort and continue to raise the benchmark for service in the sky [as its cabin features a crosssection of 5.6m from armrest to armrest].”
“The international competition will showcase the participation of international, Arab and GCC teams composed of renowned chefs and culinary professionals. During the championship, they will prepare best-in-class food creations before an international audience and a panel of top-notch judges. The UAE team, which will be headed by Chef Musabbeh Al Kaabi and Chef Ali Salem, will compete head-to-head with 11 international teams and 77 participants in this category.”
AHMED BIN HAREB President, Dubai World Hospitality Championship
Our menus change regularly
PAUL GREGOROWITSCH CEO, Oman Air
“We are delighted that our first class and business class in-flight cuisine has won the praise of Saveur’s readers. Oman Air prides itself on the extremely high standards of our in-flight dining. Our menus change regularly and reflect both the length of the flight and the national cuisine of our destinations. They also focus on seasonal ingredients, prepared and cooked by the best chefs in the industry. Each course is served with full-size china and glassware, elegant cutlery and attentive service from our staff.”
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8 NOVEMBER 2014
Saudi Prince Reveals GCC Bilateral Tourism Priorities The GCC countries will enter a new phase in promoting bilateral tourism.
his was confirmed by H.R.H. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, president, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, following the recent founding meeting of tourism ministers in Kuwait. Issues on the agenda included development of bilateral tourism and private sector partnerships with regards to tourism investment, and a need for a forum with the private sector to reach an integrated vision. The meeting also assigned the general secretariat of the GCC, in cooperation with the member states to conduct a comprehensive study to develop joint tourism investment in the GCC countries within the framework of preparations for the next meeting.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz
SCTA Rebuilds a Historic Arbour
n line with its commitment to rehabilitating historic sites and landmarks in the Kingdom, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) has finished rebuilding King Abdul Aziz Historic Arbour in the Al Kharj municipality. The arbour now boasts a larger sitting area, in addition to a rebuilt mud building, restored mud wall, gates and water wells, and paved pathways. Furthermore, the site has undergone full forestation. This restoration project confirmed SCTA’s commitment to Al Kharj municipality, where a branch of the authority is expected to open over the upcoming days.
EAD Embarks on Dugong Protection Campaign
he Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has launched the dugong education and awareness campaign at its headquarters, in partnership with Total and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK). H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary general, EAD, explained, “Through this campaign, we aim to raise environmental awareness and educate the community on the importance of protecting the dugongs, as the UAE waters are home to the secondlargest population of this species in the world.” Over the coming months, interactive educational workshops and information campaigns will be targeting middle and high school students, the fishing community, boat owners, shoreline industries and the general public.
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HUMAID MATAR AL DHAHERI
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri has been promoted by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) as the new acting group CEO. He will be in charge of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Al Ain Conventions Centre and ExCeL London Exhibitions Centre, in addition to Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel, Aloft Abu Dhabi Hotel, Aloft ExCeL London Hotel and IDEX and NAVDEX Exhibitions. His appointment is an outcome of ADNEC’s ambitious Emiratisation programme, while he will lead a team of competent and experienced professionals, mandated to promote Abu Dhabi’s business tourism sector. Al Dhaheri has been with ADNEC since mid-2005, serving in several senior management roles.
Inna Gernega has filled the position of director of public relations and marketing at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek. She brings with her a solid background in the hospitality industry, with more than four years in the region and over 12 years of experience in public relations, marketing and sales. Gernega started her career in Kiev, Ukraine, specialising in events sales. In 2006, she accepted the position of sales and marketing manager at the pre-opening office of Hyatt Regency Kiev. In 2010, she decided to take up a new challenge and joined the pre-opening office of Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, where she worked for three years as public relations and marketing manager.
Ignace Bauwens has been appointed as CEO at Abu Dhabi National Hotels (ADNH). His wealthy experience in the field led him to hold key management positions, empowering him to capitalise on developments across the industry in various geographical areas. Having worked for first-class hotel chains such as InterContinental Hotels Group and Accor and equipped with a 25year career, Bauwens aims to increase brand and shareholders’ value under his leadership while maximising targeted developments. At the same time, he will be promoting ADNH’s focal role in optimising the tourism and hospitality in the region and beyond, through a high-performing company culture, strategic analysis and innovative problem solving.
Khaled Sharabassy has joined Tilal Liwa Hotel as the general manager, bringing with him a wealth of experience spanning 20 years in the hospitality industry. He previously served as cluster manager of e-commerce and revenue operations at Danat Hotels & Resorts. His major achievements include brand positioning of the hotel’s chain group, while he has also been instrumental in increasing the revenues of the group for each property through his knowledge of revenue operations. Sharabassy will work with his team towards ensuring that the property continues to enhance its reputation as a luxury destination in the Western Region, providing exemplary levels of personalised service and guaranteeing a relaxing and unforgettable stay.
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Abu Dhabi has a new destination hashtag - #InAbuDhabi
Emirates hosted the seventh World Airline Bowling Championship
DTCM opens new Emirati restaurant Al Fanar
8 NOVEMBER 2014
British Airways offers travellers from Bahrain top tips on flying with children
The Foundry at Southern Sun Abu Dhabi voted Best Steakhouse at Whatâ€™s On Abu Dhabi Awards 2014
The Wave, Muscat triumphed in the Green Innovation category at this yearâ€™s Oman Green Awards
NEWS & EVENTS Messe Frankfurt Cements Presence in South America
EVENTS SAUDI CONVENTIONS AND EXHIBITIONS FORUM Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 9 – 11 www.saudicef.com An initiative of the Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau, which highlights the importance of the MICE industry to the development of the economy.
CHINA INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SUMMIT Qingdao, China November 11 – 12 www.cruisechina.org The conference converges top management from global cruise companies, port cities, port operators and cruise-related businesses. Emitex
esse Frankfurt Argentina, a subsidiary of Messe Frankfurt, has added three more international textile and garments trade fairs to its portfolio, namely, Emitex, Simatex and Confemaq, thus positioning itself as a leader in this growing market. Detlef Braun, member, executive board, Messe Frankfurt, explained, “Our portfolio of textile fairs embraces over 40 international events and covers the entire textile value chain. By taking over the three trade fairs, we can now offer our customers easier access to the growing South American textile and garment market. Moreover, the exhibitors, many of them longstanding customers of our existing textile fairs, will profit from our expertise in the field of fairs and exhibitions.”
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MICE ASIA PACIFIC EXPO Singapore November 13 – 14 www.miceasiaexhibition.com Brings together leading meetings, conference, exhibition and events organisers to meet and network with Asia Pacific’s leading hotels, venues and event suppliers.
THE GLOBAL MEETINGS & EVENTS EXPO (EIBTM) Barcelona, Spain November 18 – 20 www.eibtm.com The flagship event of the Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings (IBTM) global events portfolio, which holds seven events across the globe.
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Published on Nov 7, 2014
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