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09 AUGUST 2014





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Mary Kammitsi

Currencies shown in blue are fixed against the US Dollar





PRESS Maria Demetriadou Pauline Shahabian




DESIGN & LAYOUT Elena Stylianou

Egypt (EGP)



Saudi Arabia (SAR)



Lebanon (LBP)



Bahrain (BHD)



Jordan (JOD)



Syria (SYP)



Kuwait (KWD)



Qatar (QAR)



Oman (OMR)



Tunisia (TND)



Morocco (MAD)



Iran (IRR)



Yemen (YER)



Algeria (DZD)



Libya (LYD)



WEB DEVELOPER / IT Soteris Constantinou DIRECTORS Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi HEADQUARTERS T.T.W. Travel Trade Weekly LTD P.O. Box 25255, Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +357 22 021607, Fax: +357 22 103670 WEBSITE EMAILS

Nakheel: Profits up 54 Percent Nakheel recorded a net profit of AED1.85 billion (USD503.7 million) for the first half of the year, an increase of 54 percent over the corresponding period in 2013.


trong revenue from property development coupled with improving performance in the company’s retail, leasing and leisure businesses contributed to the positive figures as Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman, Nakheel, explained. “These robust financial results reflect the growth witnessed in the real estate sector in Dubai, where Nakheel continues to play a strategic role,” said Lootah, adding that since the financial year ending 2010, the company has reported a year-on-year increase in net profit. During the six-month period, Nakheel delivered 627 units to customers, while the retail and leasing businesses witnessed almost full occupancy of the available units for lease.

Corporate Demand Slows in Kuwait


uwait’s hotel sector remained afloat in May despite reporting mixed performance as occupancy declined 3.3 percentage points to 52.3 percent. According to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats report, average room rates still rose 8.4 percent to USD276.42 boosting RevPAR by two percent to USD144.48. Although corporate demand dropped 1.9 percentage points and food and beverage consumption lowered, meeting room revenues more than doubled and helped raise profitability 9.6 percent to USD159.77. “Historically, occupancy falls to levels below 40 percent during the summer months as corporate demand recedes,” explained Peter Goddard, managing director, TRI Hospitality Consulting, adding that most Kuwait hotels are advantaged by the rate agreement that is particularly beneficial during these periods of low demand.



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Travelport and TripAdvisor Reach New Agreement

Windstar Cruises Expands Relationship with Discover The World

W Travelport, the travel commerce platform, and TripAdvisor, the user-generated travel website, have proceeded to an agreement granting TripAdvisor’s users access to a direct hotel booking feature.

indstar Cruises has expanded its relationship with Discover the World for sales development in the Middle East. Commenting on the growth of the fleet and on sailing to new destinations in Asia and Arabia, Jenny Adams, CEO, Discover the World, noted, ”With the increased capacity along with growing interest from this market, Windstar selected our UAE office, which has built strong relationships with the local travel agencies, to grow its presence in this marketplace and increase its brand awareness.”


ur partnership with Travelport expands the range of hotel options travellers can book seamlessly through TripAdvisor’s instant booking feature,” commented Robin Ingle, senior vice president, global sales,

TripAdvisor. This will be enabled through Travelport’s trademark application programme interface, which offers TripAdvisor’s customers immediate access to worldwide room inventory. “Our agreement with TripAdvisor demonstrates Travelport’s global leadership position for businesses seeking easy and flexible access to the broadest range of hotel content,” suggested Niklas Andreen, group vice president, Travelport.

Saudi Arabia’s Focus Remains the Domestic Tourist


ajed bin Ali Al Sheddi, director general, information and partnership relations, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), reports that the number of visitors to the Kingdom, which exceeds 14 million a year, are mostly seekers of the two important religious rites Hajj and Umrah, which Saudi Arabia is proud to serve. Al Sheddi further explained that SCTA devotes all of its activities and programmes to domestic tourism which does not include attracting foreign visitors, in line with SCTA’s belief that the most important tourist is the domestic one. Concluding, Al Sheddi reported that in 2013, domestic tourism trips exceeded 23,000, during which domestic tourists spent over SAR28 billion (USD7.47 billion) inside the Kingdom.

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Moroccan Airports Traffic Report for June

Abu Dhabi Builds on Australian Links

Marrakech-Menara Airport, Morocco




n June, Moroccan airports recorded commercial traffic of 1.45 million passengers, an overall increase of 3.46 percent over the same period in 2013. The vast majority in June was international traffic, but an increase of 8.92 percent was noted in domestic commercial traffic. The first half of the year saw a total of 8.35 million travellers passing through the country’s airports, up 10.64 percent over the first half of 2013. The Middle and Far Eastern markets and other African regions listed considerable double-digit increases, whilst the North American market and other Maghreb countries recorded drops.

nine-strong industry delegation, led by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) and including Etihad Airways, visited Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane between July 29 – 31, to train retail travel agents and MICE consultants on the latest destination offerings. The delegation was to meet around 350 agents and consultants from both the leisure and MICE segments, including key influencers from Australia’s top retail travel chains, and wholesalers and tour operators who currently contract Arabian Peninsula products, as Mubarak Al Nuaimi, director, promotions and overseas offices, TCA Abu Dhabi, explained. He added that the road show could not have been better timed, having launched weeks after Etihad Airways’ introduction of daily services from Perth to the UAE capital.

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WEEKLY NEWS Celebrating the Early Opening of Duqm Airport

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Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek

Abu Dhabi International Airport


he opening of the first phase of Al Duqm Airport has been commemorated by the Duqm Special Economic Zone Authority (SEZAD), and Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC). Present at the ceremony was H.E. Yahya Said Abdullah Al Jabri, chairman, SEZAD, who suggested that early operation of the airport will provide easy access to SEZAD by potential investors, thus saving time and effort lost in transit between the Omani Capital and Duqm. Ali Zaid Al Balushi, general manager, operations, OAMC, predicted that once the new hub is provided with the necessary equipment and infrastructure, it will be prepared to accommodate the expected increase in passengers and air traffic. Balushi also disclosed that OAMC has already educated young employees in airport management, and equipped the airport with all emergency services.

Abu Dhabi International Airport Prepared for Summer Rush


hrough a series of facility developments and service upgrades, Abu Dhabi International Airport has geared up for a spike in passenger numbers during the summer season. Developments include 20 new boarding bus gates at Terminal 3, an enhanced and expanded baggage transfer system, and a range of new retail shops and food and beverage outlets. Discussing the developments and upgrades, Ali Majed Al Mansoori, chairman, Abu Dhabi Airports, commented, “We have made great improvements all around the airport to ensure that all passengers will have a great start to their holiday journey.�





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Nakheel has officially signed design and engineering contracts worth AED46 million (USD12.5 million) for two major developments.


he projects are Deira Islands Mall, a 62ha retail, dining and entertainment hub at Deira Islands, Nakheel’s new, waterfront city in Dubai, and Palm West Beach, a beachside park, dining and entertainment complex. Deira Islands itself will add 40km, including 21km of beachfront, to Dubai’s coastline and pave the way for hundreds of tourism, leisure and residential developments including hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, mixed-use buildings and waterside homes. Palm West Beach, to be constructed along a 1.5km stretch on the western trunk of Palm Jumeirah, is a high-end beach club facility featuring a shaded park and promenade, 14 waterfront restaurants, lounge, gym and entertainment terrace.

Deira Islands

UNWTO Reports Strong Peak Season


he World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer has indicated that international tourist arrivals worldwide increased by five percent during the first four months of this year. According to the organisation’s indicators, the industry is to expect over 460 million international tourist arrivals during the peak season. “The encouraging start to [this year] and the overall positive sentiment in the sector raise high expectations for the current peak tourism season,” observed Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO. The countries from which tourist expenditure mainly originated are China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and India, pointing to the growth in demand in these emerging markets.


Dubai Welcomes Summer Festivities


ubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) unveiled a rich calendar of events and activities for the celebrations of the seventh edition of Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Fitr as well as the 17th edition of Dubai Summer Surprises, the summer extravaganza which launched on August 2. The events provide residents and visitors with the opportunity to indulge in a range of shows, activities and performances at various malls and enjoy 40 consecutive days of family fun. H.E. Laila Mohammad Suhail, CEO, DFRE, commented, “This year’s Eid in Dubai – Eid Al Fitr celebrations and Dubai Summer Surprises are quite unique because of the world premieres that we have brought to Dubai in partnership with international licensors of entertainment characters.”

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WEEKLY NEWS Promoting Domestic Tourism in Bahrain


he architectural concept for the new cruise terminal to be built at Zayed Port, Abu Dhabi has been chosen by H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, vice chairman, Executive Council of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) organised the competition, inviting proposals from leading architectural practices around the world. The winning concept was commended because it gave the most thorough consideration to the visitor’s arrival and departure experience, as well as being an attractive building complementing its surroundings.


H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan (right)


n an effort to boost domestic tourism, 34 luxury Bahraini hotels will participate in a promotional programme which will see room rates slashed by 20 percent during weekdays this month. “The initiative aims to revitalise internal tourism and attract Bahraini and resident families to tourism facilities,” said H.E. Sheikh Khalid bin Hamood Al-Khalifa, acting assistant undersecretary,tourism, Ministry of Culture, Bahrain. The move is part of a new promotional campaign by the ministry, the first of a series in the GCC region, aimed at anchoring Bahrain’s position as a business, investment, and family tourism destination. Al-Khalifa also confirmed that a key objective is to promote Bahrain as a luxury destination as well as to stage a greater variety of events in order to attract visitors from outside the Arabian Gulf.

New Design Selected for Cruise Terminal

Sheffield Holdings’ Marina 101 Project Almost Complete


heffield Holdings, the UAE real estate company, has completed over 80 percent of construction on the Marina 101 project. The tower, poised to be the tallest in Dubai Marina at 425 metres, will feature a five-star hotel, 420 hotel apartments and residential units, as well as health clubs and swimming pools on multiple levels. The project’s completion is scheduled for early 2015, and mock-ups of the lodgings have been constructed for the benefit of prospective investors. Abuali Malik Shroff, chairman, Sheffield Holdings, commented, “Investment in projects near completion has proven that a fast return on investment will occur by handover. We believe it is an opportunity for investors to seize at this stage of construction and take advantage of this market practice model.”

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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How would you describe your clientele? Who are those visiting the port city of Duqm? DAVID TODD: Our clientele is mainly corporate who are involved in developing and using the port of Duqm, the airport and the expanding infrastructure of the city. With a consistent approach to marketing, the city is always in focus and we are benefitting from an increase in leisure guests [interested in] exploring the Rock Garden, the shipwreck at

Q & A with David Todd


ism is extremely active at international trade shows and has strategically positioned inbound tourism globally. It is important that an international hotel group such as ours supports the Ministry of Tourism and the Special Economic Zone Authority in all their activities to promote the city of Duqm. The development and completion of the infrastructure, airport and road networks will greatly improve access to the area. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: With the summer season well underway, how do you ensure high performance levels during these months? DAVID TODD: Summer offers are available for leisure and corporate guests alike. We have been also actively promoting our hotel along with its sister properties and we continue to benefit from guests travelling to Salalah during the Khareef season. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Crowne Plaza Duqm Hotel is a proud participant in IHG’s Green Engage programme. Please tell us about this initiative. Why is it important to the management to promote sustainability and green initiatives?

Crowne Plaza Duqm Hotel

Al Jazer, the petrified forest which is of enormous geological interest and the Arabian Oryx sanctuary. We are also an ideal stopover for guests travelling to Salalah, where we also have Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How have your source markets changed over the years? What are your main target markets at the moment? DAVID TODD: The hotel and the city are new, therefore our source is mainly the Omani market. However, we have seen a slight change in this over the past 12 months as more international investors are drawn to the Special Economic Zone of Duqm. In addition, interregional leisure business is also on the rise.


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Over the past years, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has embarked on a range of initiatives in order to reach out to new markets. In your opinion, how important is it to further broaden the Sultanate’s source markets? What can be done to attract visitors from all over the globe? DAVID TODD: With the motto Beauty has an Address, the Ministry of Tour-


Crowne Plaza Duqm Hotel

DAVID TODD: Green Engage is an integral part of who we are as a company. The tool is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-aligned, making IHG the first hotel company to have an existing hotel programme aligned with the system. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Tell us about your plans for the coming months. DAVID TODD: Our focus is to firmly establish the hotel as the number one events destination in Duqm, therefore we are working alongside all stakeholders from the city of Duqm. The hotel benefits from an expansive conference and events facility. It includes a 780m2 events centre, the largest in the region, featuring two ballrooms, a boardroom and four separate meeting rooms, complemented by a state-of-the-art business centre. Along with the enviable beach front location and leisure facilities there is no better place in the Wusta region to conduct business. 9 AUGUST 2014


Hilton Abu Dhabi Begins Eco-Project Hilton Abu Dhabi announced the launch of an eco-friendly beach reclamation project, set to restore and extend the hotel’s Hiltonia Beach Club beachfront on the Abu Dhabi Corniche by more than 1,400m2, while also preserving the environment.

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Hiltonia Beach Club Beachfront


he coastal eco-project will be staged in two phases to allow beach access throughout, and will include the production of an underwater sea wall which will be formed using custom-designed sand-filled geo textile tubes, eco-engineered to replicate natural environments for local marine life to inhabit. In addition, the submerged and discreet structure, which mimics a natural fringing reef, will allow waves to break offshore to protect the beachfront from erosion. “We have taken major steps to ensure that this reclamation project protects and preserves our marine environment, while also enhancing the guest experience,” said Daniel Chamberlain, director, sports and leisure, Hiltonia Beach Club, x Hilton Abu Dhabi.

Palm Jumeirah

Two Palm Jumeirah Resorts to be Developed by CSCEC ME


renco Real Estate in UAE has appointed China State Construction Engineering Corporation Middle East (CSCEC ME) as main contractor to construct and complete two resort hotels on Palm Jumeirah, executing civil works, finishes, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and external works within 940 days. Located on one of the most prestigious master developments in the world, the two properties are designed to become five-star hotels. With an approximate 100,000m2 built-up area each, the projects consist of 592 standard rooms, 57 two-bay and three-bay suites and a presidential suite. Established in 1975, Arenco Real Estate now plays a significant role in luxury hotel development and its range of properties also includes apartments, offices and hotel apartments.

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WEEKLY NEWS ACCOMMODATION Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square Targets Families

Frioul Bistro de Luxe to Open in Souk Madinat Jumeirah


rioul Bistro de Luxe, a new concept created for Dubai by hospitality group Utopia, confirmed its upcoming soft launch over the summer at the Souk Madinat Jumeirah. The restaurant and lounge will reflect influences from the south of France, drawing inspiration from the Frioul islands off the coast of Marseilles and will stay open for breakfast and until late with a menu featuring classic dishes with a twist, served sharing style and marked by simplicity of execution and presentation. A Friday brunch with a difference aims to further promote a general feeling of wellbeing and good humour.

Auris to Make Africa Debut


ubai-based Auris Group of Hotels has announced six projects scheduled to open between 2015 and 2017 including one in Sudan. The company’s debut in Africa will be the 115-key Auris Burj Al Noor Khartoum. The remaining new establishments include the four-star Auris Inn Assma Hotel and Auris Inn Muhanna Hotel, the three-star Auris Lodge Al Furjan and Auris Lodge Deira Hotel, and Imperial Residences by Auris which will incorporate 514 apartments.


Souk Madinat Jumeirah


or the added convenience of families visiting Dubai this summer from other GCC countries, Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square, Dubai, offers interconnecting family rooms, providing visitors spacious convenience to enjoy time as a family. The hotel’s interconnecting family rooms comprise a one bedroom suite which connects to a superior room, providing a separate living and dining area, and en suite bathrooms. They can accommodate a family of four with the option for an extra bed to be added.

Carlson Rezidor Acquires Five Saudi Arabian Properties


arlson Rezidor announced five new projects in its Saudi Arabian portfolio, under the Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson brands. “Our focus is on primary and secondary cities like Riyadh and Jeddah,” stated Wolfgang Neumann, president, Rezidor. The portfolio additions comprise a newly constructed 160-key property, scheduled for opening in 2017, under the name Radisson Blu Hotel & Residence Jeddah Corniche, and four conversions; Radisson Blu Red Sea Palace Hotel, Jeddah, Radisson Blu Plaza Residence, Jeddah Salihiyah, Park Inn by Radisson Hotel Riyadh Nasiriyah, and Park Inn by Radisson Dammam.


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ACCOMMODATION WEEKLY NEWS Marriott Marquis Now in West Bay, Doha

Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain Prepares for Opening

Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel



arriott International has opened a new property in Doha’s West Bay district, where three hotels known as Renaissance Hotel, Courtyard by Marriott and Marriott Executive Apartments Doha City Center became one as a new Marriott hotel launched. Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel is in line with Marriott Hotels’ new brand strategy and is the first Marriott Marquis in the Middle East and the first property located outside of the US. “Doha is a dynamic, diverse city and a professional business destination, capable of hosting large citywide events in state-of-the-art conference and exhibition centres,” said Andreas Wissdorf, general manager, Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel, commenting on the hotel’s location.

wiss-Belhotel International’s upcoming 28-storey project, Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain, was recently visited by H.E. Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamood Al-Khalifa, acting assistant undersecretary, tourism, Ministry of Culture, Bahrain. During the meeting, Al-Khalifa toured the fourstar hotel’s various amenities and was briefed on the latest developments regarding the initial launch of the facility. “Every new hotel project is another tourism investment plus in Bahrain. We are keen to diversify hotel accommodation for business parties, and happy that our hotel services notably aim to reach international classification standards and rating criteria,” commented Al-Khalifa.

Swiss-Belhotel Seef Bahrain

Steigenberger Hotel Group to Open Fifth Hotel in China


teigenberger Hotel Group has signed an agreement for a fifth hotel in China scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2017. The Steigenberger flagship hotel will be located in the eastern metropolis of Taizhou and will occupy the top 12 storeys of City Towers, which will then become the city’s tallest structure. More than 200 rooms and suites will be available and an events centre extending over an area of 750m2 will accommodate several conference, seminar and meeting rooms. In addition, a health and beauty spa will occupy over 1000m2 and provide gym and treatment areas.

Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof

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Book this space!


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NEWLY-OPENING 5-STAR DESERT RESORT HAS SIX OPENINGS Newly-opening 5-star desert resort near Al Ain, UAE, is seeking for the following posts. All must have a minimum of 5 years of experience in the same position in 5-star chain hotels.  Food and beverage manager  Chief engineer  Waitress / waiters  Security manager  Front office desk agent  Guest relations officers


Website: Email address: Telephone Number: +971 2 644 4739 Fax Number: +971 2 644 4759

IN-HOUSE GRAPHIC DESIGNER (BEACH HOTEL IN RAS AL KHAIMAH) Must be fluent in Arabic and English, reading and writing.

Work for one of the top 10 most exclusive private member’s Clubs in the world: Capital Club Dubai. Accepting applications for Membership Managers to Must have sales experience in luxury goods and/or hospitality, a strong UAE business network and a 5* professional attitude.

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Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts information: If you are looking to start a career at a fast-paced innovative company with loads of opportunities, then look no further than Bin Majid Hotels & Resorts. We are growing dynamically and are looking for motivated, talented and proactive individuals to join our team. Must be fluent in Arabic and English, reading and writing. Please send your CV to:



Namaste Mumbai: Emirates A380 New Flight to India Emirates has inaugurated its new daily route between Dubai and Mumbai, with the launch of its EK500 and EK501 Airbus A380 flights.


hmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, West Asia and Indian Ocean, Emirates, reflected on the latest service, ”In the past 29 years, we have flown over 42 million passengers between India and the UAE, and so it is quite fitting that the city becomes our 29th A380 destination”. To commemorate the initiative, passengers aboard the initial flights of the Dubai-based carrier were presented with a certificate, and a traditional Indian Rangoli, crafted by Mumbai artists.

Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek

flydubai Adds New Routes and Aircraft


Jet Airways and Etihad Airways Reinforce Commitment to India

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lydubai, the Dubai-based airline, continues to expand its network in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) with the addition of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Zagreb in Croatia. The two new routes, which will commence operations in December, bring the number of flydubai destinations in CEE and the Commonwealth of Independent States to 26 in total. In order to support its growing network and increasing frequency of existing routes, flydubai will receive three new NextGeneration Boeing 737-800s, bringing its fleet to 39 aircraft.

tihad Airways and India’s international airline, Jet Airways, have outlined plans to reinforce their long-term commitment to the growth of India’s economy and aviation industry, including a major new turnaround strategy for Jet Airways to return to profitability in three years. Etihad Airways has already received approvals to acquire a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways, marking it the first investment by a foreign carrier in India’s airline industry. Naresh Goyal, chairman, Jet Airways, said, “The coming together of Jet Airways and Etihad Airways has already proved a success for the two airlines and been beneficial for travellers. [It] will also bring significant benefits to the Indian economy, both in terms of growth, job creation, trade and tourism.” Jet Airways

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AIR WEEKLY NEWS Etihad Airways Takes off with Daily Perth Flights

Two New Flights on Bahrain – Kuwait Itinerary


ulf Air will add two more flights to its route between Bahrain and Kuwait on Saturdays and Sundays, bringing the total number of operating flights to 42 per week. The airline has witnessed increased passenger demand for this destination and hopes to see further enhancement of the market and take advantage of fastgrowing traffic from Kuwait by connecting it to various destinations across the entire Gulf Air network. Ahmed Janahi, acting chief commercial officer, Gulf Air, commented on the enhanced flight schedule, “With 42 weekly flights between Bahrain and Kuwait, travellers from across the Gulf Air network can take advantage of our fast and easy connections via Bahrain as we continue to strengthen our GCC and MENA network.”

Air Malta and Etihad Airways Enhance Partnership


tihad Airways has commenced daily, nonstop services between Perth and Abu Dhabi. The new Perth flights offer an attractive and compelling proposition for travellers to and from the GCC countries, Middle East, Africa, Europe and US with the convenience of one stop in Abu Dhabi. The inaugural flight created the first commercial air link between the two cities and marked the beginning of an exciting new era, according to James Hogan, president, Etihad Airways, who added, “Abu Dhabi and Perth are each popular business travel and holiday destinations, attracting 2.8 million and 7.3 million visitors respectively in 2013, and we are already seeing a strong commercial response to the new route from travellers in the UAE and Western Australia.”

Emirates Marks 25 Years in Kuwait

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Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


tihad Airways and Air Malta have extended their codeshare agreement, in order to offer passengers increased connections between Europe, the Gulf region, and Australia. Etihad Airways’ new service between Abu Dhabi and Rome will bear Air Malta’s KM code and flight number, as will services between Abu Dhabi and Australia. Similarly, Air Malta will place Etihad Airways’ code and flight number on its direct flights between Rome and Malta. Regarding the expanded partnership, Louis Giordimaina, CEO, Air Malta, commented, ”This agreement will benefit the sizable Maltese community living in Australia as it will facilitate travel and connectivity between the Maltese islands and the Australian continent.”


ouching down at Kuwait International Airport on July 16, Emirates celebrated 25 years of flying to the country. “We have gradually built up our services to Kuwait since 1989 and now offer five daily flights, soon to become six. After experiencing the airline’s award-winning products and services over the years, travellers to and from Kuwait can now enjoy our flagship aircraft, the most popular commercial aircraft flying today,” said Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president, commercial operations centre, Emirates. Kuwait is only the second market in the Middle East to be served by the airline’s flagship aircraft after Saudi Arabia.



Etihad Airways Commences Direct Flight to Rome


tihad Airways, UAE’s flag carrier, has launched a direct, daily service between Abu Dhabi and Leonardo da Vinci Rome Fiumicino airport. A senior delegation from the airline travelled aboard the inaugural flight and participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Italian destination. “We have always been particularly attentive to emerging markets, and the Middle East is an area which continues to enhance the range of direct flights on offer. We are certain this new connection between our hub and the UAE capital will increase the flow of business and tourism traffic in both directions,” observed Lorenzo Lo Presti, CEO, Aeroporti di Roma. The new schedule to Italy will be operated using an Airbus A330-200, boasting 22 fully-flat beds and 240 seats.


Emirates to Launch Fourth Daily Flight to Johannesburg


mirates will introduce a fourth daily connection between Dubai and Johannesburg effective from October 26, increasing to seven the number of daily flights to South Africa. Emirates and South African Airways will extend their codeshare partnership to include the brand new service, which will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. Orhan Abbas, senior vice president, commercial operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa, Emirates, commented, “We have seen a healthy year-on-year increase in passenger numbers on the route, reflecting the steady economic and tourism growth of both cities and this investment demonstrates our confidence in the strength of the market. Johannesburg remains an important gateway for inbound traffic and we are pleased to provide more connectivity options to our customers, especially those from the GCC, Middle East, UK, US, Germany and France.”


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RENDEZVOUS TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: Please tell us about NOHC’s core values and mission. PASCAL EPPINK: Our primary focus is to promote Omani traditional hospitality experience for our guests in everything we do. Inspired by the warmth of the people in Oman, we have managed to create an Omani operational brand name, Atana Hotels, which is our first project under NOHC. Our duty is to deliver the shades of Oman by incorporating its rich heritage as part of our brand and have a presence in the diverse and stunning natural landscapes of the country. Being the first Omani hospitality operational brand promotes us uniquely nationally and internationally and the regime plans we follow will support promoting and marketing us as a brand and Oman as a tourist destination. For the most part, we en-

Q & A with

Pascal Eppink


TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: What attributes distinguish the Atana brand from its peers? PASCAL EPPINK: Our promise Shades of Oman is what differentiates us. The definition of this shapes how we operate as a brand; Shades celebrates Oman’s diversity in location, food, art, activities, music and supplies. Thus we are corporate social responsibility (CSR) driven which is our sustainable manner of day to day operations. Our daily practice is part of our commitment to promote CSR initiatives. 9 AUGUST 2014

PASCAL EPPINK: Considering the location of our hotels we mostly attract the European market, Germany, France, Italy and UK, who will continue to contribute to the hotels’ performance as will the UAE expatriate market as well as the GCC region, including Oman itself. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: The brand currently operates Atana Khasab and has just soft opened Atana Musandam. Please tell us about the company’s future growth plans. Which are the next properties to join Atana’s growing portfolio?

Atana Musandan

courage the role and contribution of the local community (small- and medium- sized enterprises) and help our current and coming brands to flourish domestically and internationally where it fits our destination/brand concept.

TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: How would you describe Atana Hotels’ target market?


Atana Musandan

PASCAL EPPINK: We plan to take over another four assets in this calendar year, while in 2015 we have two restaurants and other business units in the pipeline. Some will fall under the Atana brand, some will be managed by NOHC directly. Aside from the assets which are newly-built, they will all undergo renovations to ensure our portfolio will be of a great standard. That will be our main priorities for 2015 and 2016. Furthermore, we are preparing for a flagship property in Muscat, which we hope to open in 2017. We are also looking into presence in other territories of Oman and once we are wellestablished in Oman we will be ready to look at opportunities in other GCC countries. TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY: In your opinion, how important is it to offer visitors to Oman distinctive properties that provide a unique hospitality experience revolving around the Omani national character, culture, environment and people? PASCAL EPPINK: Being introduced to a new culture is always a unique experience. However introducing our guests to the Omani way from the moment they enter the hotel, the feel of the brand philosophy from the greetings to the interior design manifests itself. We are celebrating what Oman has to offer and we are proud of what that is. For us this is a key element and we are also actively engaging the local communities in our service offerings.


WEEKLY NEWS INTERNATIONAL ATRS Releases Airport Benchmark Study


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

he Air Transport Research Society (ATRS) released the results of its annual benchmarking study of nearly 200 commercial airports in Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and North America, which assessed productivity and efficiency based on analysis of airport cost and revenue data. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia won its 11th Top Efficiency Excellence Award while Korea Airports Corporation, Copenhagen Airport and Sydney Airport were regional winners. In the small/medium-size airport category, Athens International Airport took the top award. “This airport benchmarking report provides a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of airport performance around the world,” said Tae Hoon Oum, chairman, ATRS. ”With increasing competition in airport transport markets worldwide, these rankings are helpful not only to the airport and airlines, but also to governments, consultants, regulatory commissions, institutional investors, researchers and graduate students.”

Atlantis, Paradise Island Joins Marriott

M Atlantis, Paradise Island

arriott International announced that the iconic Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas will become part of its Autograph Collection, a rapidly growing exclusive portfolio of over 60 independent hotels in key locations across the globe. Regarded as the premier destination resort in Bahamas and Caribbean, the 3,400 room Atlantis, Paradise Island will operate under a franchise agreement with Marriott International, benefitting from the company’s global sales and reservations organisation, 45-million member Marriott Rewards loyalty programme and which generates more than USD9.6 billion in gross room bookings annually.

Mercure Hotels Revamped and Expanding


ercure, the midscale brand of Accor, has been steadily progressing its modernisation drive, having already renovated 80 percent of its hotels in France. As Christophe Alaux, CEO, HotelServices France, explained, the modernisation of the brand’s hotels in France has enabled them to attract new franchise partners. Mercure is aiming for a 1,000-hotel worldwide network in four years’ time and is growing particularly fast, especially in Indonesia, Russia and Germany. Amongst the innovations introduced by Mercure, one of the most prominent is EasyWORK, a network of bookable working areas with meeting rooms and stateof-the-art technology, which will also be available online by 2015. EasyWORK has already been established in four Paris hotels, and will expand to a total of 30 by 2017.


Mercure Hotel Reims Centre Cathedrale

9 AUGUST 2014


Agent’s Insight NAME:

Ankur Kalra


Managing director






Al Faisaliah Travel and Tourism Company Chooses Travelport

Who are you? I am Ankur Kalra, I have a master’s in business administration and I am from New Delhi. I am also the managing director at Wellcome Tours which is an outbound/inbound company dealing with all luxury hotels worldwide for honeymoons, family holidays, destination weddings, corporate events, MICE, and conferences. We have extremely special rates for Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India. We also have special rates and packages for Golden Triangle, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala packages. What is your favourite thing about working in the travel industry? I am an adventurous person who wants to explore more the wildlife and beach activities like water sports, while enjoying some glamorous night life. I also love travelling and meeting new people. When is the best time to visit India? Between October and March. Where would you like to travel to for your next holiday? Miami, US. Why should people come to you for travel advice? We provide expert advice to our clients based on practical experience, not on theoretical grounds. We personally travel worldwide and experience the city and the hotels we suggest; best places for kids in terms of theme parks, shopping points for ladies where they can have special deals and discounts and night life activities and good restaurants for men. 9 AUGUST 2014


ravelport and long-standing Worldspan distribution partner, Stargate Cyber Active, announced a new agreement with Al Faisaliah Travel and Tourism Company, one of the fastest-growing travel agencies in Saudi Arabia. Under the agreement, the company will be able to access and book extensive travel content offered through Travelport’s innovative travel commerce platform. “We were impressed with the breadth of travel content Travelport delivers through their innovative platform and look forward to improving our productivity across the board,” commented Fayyaz Siddiqui, chief operating officer, Al Faisaliah Travel and Tourism Company.



This award recognises the impact the decentralised planning process has had across the company

VYDYA VEKATESWARAN Vice president, financial planning and control, Etihad Airways.

“The gtnews Awards are among the most prestigious a company can receive in the financial planning and analysis field. The Etihad Airways Finance Planning and Control team has contributed to the success of the airline. This award recognises the impact the decentralised planning process has had across the company.”

We have seen great visitor interest


“This is the first time that Expo Centre Sharjah is playing host to the entire Sharjah Ramadan Festival programmes along with the Ramadan & Eid Fair. And, this is also the first time that Sharjah is witnessing such grand celebrations reflecting Islamic culture in all its literary, artistic, intellectual and spiritual splendour. Apart from the events and activities of the Ramadan & Eid Fair targeted at the entire family, we have seen great visitor interest in the Islamic book fair, the Ramadan Majlis, theatrical performances, Islamic lectures, seminars and panel discussions.“

I see a bright future for the Saudi tourism sector

HANS-PETER LEITZKE Managing director, Rosewood Corniche, Jeddah.

“Saudi Arabia is a country with one of the richest heritages and deepest histories in the Middle East. I believe that this could be promoted more widely to attract a whole host of different travellers here, to complement the steady flow of business and religious tourism. I see a bright future for the Saudi tourism sector, strongly supported by the modern and ambitious vision of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.”

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


9 AUGUST 2014

TRAVEL CHANNELS Redevelopment Plans for Jeddah Historic Area

Boeing’s Space Bins Provide More Bag Room


Boeing has announced the launch of its new Space Bins, providing room for six carry-on bags, two more than the current pivot bins on Next-Generation 737s.


ow available as an optional feature on new Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX aircraft, the lower bin lip height of Space Bins provides increased visibility and makes loading even easier. "We are taking the Boeing Sky Interior, which is hugely popular with our airline customers and passengers, and building on that success by adding even more room for bags," said Beverly Wyse, vice president, 737 programme, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Alaska Airlines, Boeing’s hometown partner and launch customer, will install the larger Space Bins on all new deliveries as soon as they become available in late 2015.

Airbus A350-XWB Embarks on Final Certification Phase

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9 AUGUST 2014

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Boeing Space Bins

Jeddah Historic Area

UNWTO and France Discuss Further Cooperation


he world’s newest airliner, the Airbus A350-900, has taken off for the final stage towards certification. Route-proving tests include high airfield performance, auto-landing trials, and airport turnaround and handling services. The three-week trial consisted of four trips and started in Toulouse, France. The itinerary included 14 major airports worldwide and one route via the North Pole. The A350 XWB family is the latest addition to the Airbus wide-body product line, comprising three versions from 276 to 369 seats and aiming to set new standards in terms of passenger experience, operational efficiency and costeffectiveness.

he addition of Jeddah Historic Area to the UNESCO World Heritage List is hailed as significant due to its distinguished architectural style, as well as its status as the first urban heritage site that is not owned by the state. Meshari Al Naeem, general supervisor, national urban heritage centre, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, noted, ”Registration of Jeddah Historic Area in the World Heritage List means a great tourism attraction, that everyone […] will be eager to visit”. Al Naeem also expressed the hope that the owners of the ancient houses in Jeddah Historic Area will transform their houses into heritage inns.



aleb Rifai, secretary general, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and Fleur Pellerin, minister of state, tourism, France, met to discuss France’s new tourism strategy and how to further strengthen their collaboration. Rifai applauded France’s new tourism strategy, and the introduction of 30 new initiatives, especially the extension of the visas in 48 hours scheme. “At UNWTO we welcome the measures adopted by France to promote visa facilitation, one of our priorities, as we trust that, as our research shows, these measures yield significant return in terms of economic growth and job creation,” Rifai observed.





Abdulrahaman Al-Busaidy has been appointed chief operating officer at Oman Air as it prepares for its next phase of rapid expansion. With an aviation career spanning four decades, Al-Busaidy rose to the post of executive vice president, marketing, at Gulf Air and was subsequently appointed CEO of Oman Air in 2000 where he played a key role in modernising the airline’s fleet, expanding its network and ultimately achieving profitability in 2006. He then moved to Jet Airways as chief strategy and planning officer where he was responsible for the startup and expansion of the airline’s Gulf operations.

Al-Busaidy returns to Oman Air.

Al Hammadi has made a significant contribution to a number of projects.

Chris Ely has returned to Dubai to embark on the role of hotel manager at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Ely joined Jumeirah Group in 2005 working in sports and leisure for a number of hotels and resorts in Dubai before being promoted to a director’s role within the development team. In 2010, Ely was the first Jumeirah Group employee to join the pre-opening team of Jumeirah Dhevanafushi in the Maldives as director of operations, promoted to general manager in 2012. In his new role in Dubai, Ely will support the general manager in the day-to-day operations of the hotel.

David Stepetic has been named general manager at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, Maldives, joining the company from Laucala Island Resort in Fiji where he has served as general manager for the past two years. His experience in the industry spans 26 years, 19 of which he spent with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in the Maldives, Tokyo, and the US, holding senior roles in the areas of food, beverage and banqueting. Stepetic will lead the team in the Maldives and is expected to continue building on the success and reputation of the award-winning resort.

Ely joined Jumeirah Group in 2005



Ali Al Hammadi has been named CEO at Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi where he will continue to guide TDIC in a manner that ensures that the company’s strategic plans and policies are delivered professionally and successfully. During his career at TDIC, Al Hammadi has made a significant contribution to a number of projects from conception to delivery and has established a number of professional affiliations and been a key figure in presenting projects to highlevel authorities.


Stepetic's experience in the industry spans 26 years

9 AUGUST 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...

Thousands of happy-faced balloons were released as part of Thai tourism drive

Emirates partners with Portuguese football giant Benfica

Artists in Mumbai creating a Rangoli to welcome Emirates A380

9 AUGUST 2014

Andreas Constantinides and Mary Kammitsi, directors, Travel Trade Publications, with Jochen Niemann, general manager, Londa Beach Hotel, at World Travel Awards

Dubai’s ’The Fun Side of Summer’ kicked off on August 2

Grand Hyatt Doha supports QatarDay


NEWS & EVENTS Shurooq Hosts Seminars in Paris, France

EVENTS THE CHINA GUILIN INTERNATIONAL TOURISM EXPO (CGITE) Guilin, China, August 29 – 31, 2014 CGITE is a key strategic platform catering to the booming Chinese tourism market.


harjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) hosted two seminars in Paris where the delegation met with the directorate for business and global economy in France. The seminars were organised in order to promote Sharjah as a prime investment hub for France, and to explore avenues of future collaboration. Attendees of the seminars learned more about Shurooq’s role in Sharjah and Middle Eastern operations, as well as the different incentives and facilities Sharjah’s government entities offer to investors. Discussing the seminars, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson, Shurooq, commented, “Ties between France and Sharjah, in particular, have resulted in promising projects in a number of areas. Our aim is to build on this already well-established relationship and to introduce the many advantages that Shurooq has to offer to the French business community.”

SEATRADE LATIN AMERICA CRUISE CONVENTION Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2 – 3, 2014 The event returns to Brazil after touring the region, focussing on the development of the cruise industry in Latin America.

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

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

FOOD & HOSPITALITY OMAN Muscat, Oman September 9 – 11, 2014 A business and networking platform to promote the latest products and services in the food and beverage sector.


9 AUGUST 2014

Travel Trade Weekly Issue 248  

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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