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Middle East and North Africa Edition

EXCLUSIVE: GREEN TRAVEL Climate change has become one of the most pressing issues of the current day and the travel industry is rushing to meet the demand for earth-friendly products that has emerged from the increased awareness of the modern traveller.

Lebanon was one of the few countries in the world not only to survive the 2009 global economic downturn, but to prosper. With 2010 already showing strong traffic, Lebanon is attracting major investment in the hotel industry and plans are underway to adapt its infrastructure to keep up with ever-increasing demand.

4 TOUR: SPAIN Tourism is a critical industry for Spain, a country that is known worldwide for its passion for sport, culture, fashion, design and cuisine. In recent months, the country has been strengthening its ties with several countries in the Middle East, creating the potential for an increase in business tourism to and from the region.



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TRAVEL TRADE WEEKLY Deputy Editor Laura Warne Journalist Louis Dillon Savage

Landmark Hotels Company, based in Jordan, signed a strategic commercial agreement with Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH) in April.

Design & Layout Elina Pericleous Sales & Marketing Jane Davidson Marianna Tsiamas Danielle Bragg Tina Georgiou


Directors Andreas Constantinides Mary Kammitsi Headquarters P.O. Box 25255 Nicosia 1308 Cyprus Tel: +35722820888 Fax: +35722318958 Website Emails Printed in Cyprus Cyprint Plc P.O. Box 58300 CY-3732, Limassol Cyprus Tel: +35725720035 Fax: +35725720123 Email:

Landmark Alliance with HMH Signifies Regional Evolution he alliance was designed to promote and expand the hotel brands of both companies; Landmark operates Landmark Hotels, Conference Centres and Resorts, while HMH operates Coral Hotels and Resorts, Corp Executive Hotels, ECOS Hotels and EWA Hotel Apartments. Firas Mneimneh, vice president of Vision Hospitality Management, the master franchisor of Landmark in the Middle East, said that the agreement signified the beginning of greater co-operation within the hospitality and tourism industry. “Our region has reached a phase in its evolution that enables us to co-operate, merge and expand our hotel brands worldwide,” said Mneimneh. He added that Landmark intended to expand its portfolio to include an additional 10 properties within the next five years. HMH also has an ambitious development plan, according to Michel Noblet, CEO of the company. “2010 is set to be a landmark year for our group with a hotel opening practically every three weeks across our four brands,” said Noblet. “We have 17 new openings lined up this year, spread across the Middle East and Africa, taking our existing portfolio of 33 [hotels] to 50 – thus increasing the group’s total number of rooms by more than 40 percent.”

Currencies shown in red are fixed against the US Dollar


CURRENCY Dirham Pound Riyal Pound Dinar Dinar Pound Dinar Riyal Rial Dinar Dirham Riyal Rial Dinar Dinar

Our region has reached a phase in its evolution that enables us to co-operate, merge and expand our hotel brands worldwide

(L-R) Michel Noblet; Firas Mneimneh; Ammar Kana’an; Fouad Nohra; and Mary Nazzal-Batayneh

IATA Calculates Final Cost of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Crisis

MENA Exchange Rates Accurate as of 26/4/2010

COUNTRY UAE (AED) 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 (LID)

He added that Jordan’s focus on the MICE industry and adventure tourism was paying rich dividends, proving that it was the right time for HMH to invest in the country.

1USD= 3.67 5.54 3.75 1501 0.37 0.70 46 0.28 3.64 0.38 1.42 8.34 10115 206.75 73.75 1.27

Airlines worldwide lost more than USD1.7 billion in revenue in the six days following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Between April 17 and 19, when flight disruptions were at their greatest, IATA reported that lost revenues reached USD400 million per day. In the Middle East, Emirates Airline admitted it was facing losses of USD10 million per day during the flight ban, with more than 80,000 customers affected by the situation. Giovanni Bisignani, director general of IATA, said that the eruption had impacted 29 percent of global aviation, affecting 1.2 million customers per day. “For an industry that lost USD9.4 billion last year

and was forecast to lose a further USD2.8 billion in 2010, this crisis is devastating,” said Bisignani. Bisignani praised several international airports, including Dubai, for helping to mitigate the financial impact of the eruption. “London Heathrow and Dubai are waiving parking fees and not charging for repositioning flights,” he said. “Other airports must follow.” Looking to the future, Bisignani called for several regulatory reforms, including a relaxation of airport slot rules; the lifting of restrictions on night flights; easing of the passenger care regulations that require airlines to provide hotels, meals and telephones for stranded passengers; and the provision of government compensation to airlines in extraordinary cases. MAY 2010

Banyan Tree Firmly Rooted in the Middle East, Despite Bahrain Split with Al Areen Holding Banyan Tree will continue to develop in the Middle East beyond its currently announced pipeline, a top executive told Travel Trade Monthly.


Banyan Tree Al Wadi

riel Vera, group managing director of Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts (BTHR) said the Thai company had been undeterred by recent upheavals at its former Bahrain property. BTHR recently cancelled its management contract on the former Banyan Tree Al Areen Bahrain, following an ongoing dispute with the property’s owner, Al Areen Holding Company. “We are still quite bullish in the Middle East; we are continuing to talk to people and canvas potential deals,” he said. “We know that things can go wrong on a case by case basis and that what happened in Bahrain was not particular to the Middle East – it could have happened anywhere.”

Vera revealed that Banyan Tree had been approached by several developers, and said he was not concerned by the prospect of saturation in the regional market. “There are some prospects of an overbuild situation in the Middle East, but after one to two years I believe we will see construction recover,” he said. BTHR currently has several projects underway in the Middle East, including the Angsana Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi, set to open in 2011, as well as Angsana and Banyan Tree properties planned in Oman. “I don’t think this will be the last of it,” Vera said. “There are lots of areas in the region that are not yet fully developed, and I think you can expect to see many more of our hotels in the area in the mid to long term.”

Not Too Late for Dubai, Says UNWTO Chief It is not too late for Dubai to deal with the environmental impact of its rapid growth, according to Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Speaking exclusively to Travel Trade Monthly, Rifai said that the emirate had performed

Taleb Rifai MAY 2010

extremely well in terms of stimulating tourism growth and diversifying its economy. However, he noted that Dubai had violated principles of sustainability in achieving its ambitions. The small state has frequently come under fire for the environmental impacts of its rapid development, ranging from concerns for sea life surrounding man-made islands, to criticism of the emirate’s high per capita rate of carbon emissions. Despite these concerns, Rifai was adamant that Dubai should be considered a success story. “Was this achieved at the expense of certain principles of sustainability?” he asked. “Maybe, but now it is established, it is not at all too late to adjust to sustainable principles with relatively minor adaptations of existing infrastructure.”



Carbon, Waste and Water – Keeping Up with Customer Expectations Climate change has become one of the most pressing issues of the current day and the travel industry is rushing to meet the demand for earth-friendly products that has emerged from the increased awareness of the modern traveller. Louis Dillon Savage writes


arbon, waste and water are the an established environmental movement, such as three main concerns for a travel the US or Western Europe, no clear demographic business seeking to go green, could be identified. according to Harold Goodwin, In addition, he pointed out that many outbound head of research for the Centre operators in these regions, which constitute for Responsible Tourism. major source markets for Middle Eastern Goodwin said that growing awareness of travel’s destinations, where choosing to offer packages environmental impacts has made sustainability a comprised entirely of products from green bottom line concern for travel operators certified operators. worldwide. This requirement for certifiable impact reduction Noel Massoud, CEO of Abu Dhabi green hotel has begun to change the way many operators chain Jinan Hotels and Resorts, said engage with environmental issues, moving away environmental tourism was one of the fasting from greenwashing and corporate philanthropy, growing segments in the industry, with a growth towards genuine back of house reform. rate of around five percent per year. “People are altering the way they conduct their A range of certification options have sprung up core business,” Goodwin said. to meet the demand for bona fide low impact He said many companies were also planning for options that has emerged in recent years. the future, on the expectation that their However, it has only been with the rise of well environmental impact would increase with recognised international certification standards, growth. such as the EU Travelife scheme, that these initiatives have gained traction. “The problem with certification is having it mean something to the consumer,” Goodwin said. However, he pointed out that with credible options being adopted more widely, consumers were increasingly able – and inclined – to choose Tony Williams, vice president for Emirates Hotels and holidays based on the green credentials of suppliers. Resorts, said that the technology available to travel Goodwin said that though environmental enterprises was becoming increasingly sophisticated, travellers tended to originate from countries with with efficiency gains of 30 to 40 percent in the areas

People are altering the way they conduct their core business


of air conditioning and solar energy. Beyond advances in brute efficiency, innovative technologies that capitalise on the vagaries of human psychology are also emerging. Goodwin gave the example of systems which display the water and power usage of each room and floor to guests in a hotel, using the concept of nudge economics to encourage guests to conserve. However, Williams admitted that there was an issue of cost when it came to running a first class green company. “The problem is that so much of travel is price driven,” he said. “Often people have the attitude of wanting a five star, environmentally friendly room and wanting it for 80 dollars a night.” He said the willingness of tourists to pay extra for a green experience was increasing, but added that he believed ethical operations would pay their own dividends in the long term. Williams said he believed the introduction of carbon trading schemes was only a matter of time, and that these schemes would penalise unethical businesses. He also said that with the growing urgency of environmental reform, ongoing disregard would begin to repel customers. “High emissions reflect a lack of care,” he said. “And I believe as things continue, that will begin to show through to guests.” MAY 2010

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Keeping Up With Supply and Demand Lebanon was one of the few countries in the world not only survive to the 2009 global economic downturn, but to prosper. Positive growth came largely on the back of a revitalised tourism industry and a record number of visitor arrivals. With 2010 already showing strong traffic, Lebanon is attracting major investment in the hotel industry, and plans are underway to adapt its infrastructure to keep up with ever-increasing demand. Laura Warne writes



n 2009, nearly 1.9 million tourists arrived in Lebanon, breaking the country’s 1974 record of 1.4 million. Of these1.9 million, HVS consultancy reported that 43 percent were from Arab countries, with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait registering the highest number of arrivals. European visitors accounted for 24 percent of arrivals, followed by 14 percent from Asia, 13 percent from the Americas, three percent from Oceania, two percent from Africa and one percent from other regions. Long-awaited political stability rising out of the 2009 parliamentary elections and a secure economy backed by conservative lending policies were labelled as two of the major contributors to the country’s strong performance. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimated that tourism made up 28 percent of Lebanon’s GDP in 2009, compared to 19 percent in 2008. However, this figure is expected to stabilise at approximately 26 percent by 2019 as the economy grows and diversifies. According to HVS, the expansion of Lebanese companies into Syria, Jordan and Iraq is having 6

Beirut downtown

a positive effect on business tourism, with many training sessions being held in Beirut hotels. Daniel Weihrauch, director of sales and marketing at InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut, confirmed that the MICE segment was of great importance to his hotel, with sales and marketing strategies developed around this market. He added that the tourism industry was expecting a 10 percent increase on 2009’s record figures in 2010, due in part to renewed marketing and promotional efforts. “We are working closely with the local authorities to attend exhibitions and road shows in Germany, France, Russia, Dubai, London and Abu Dhabi,” said Weihrauch. “Currently, the majority of our guests are travelling from the Gulf, but we have also witnessed increased travel from Jordan, Turkey,

Beirut downtown

France and other European countries.” According to Weihrauch, Beirut has received positive coverage in several consumer media outlets over the past year, fuelling interest from new tourist markets. Stefan Simkovics, general manager of the new Four Seasons Hotel Beirut agreed that key source markets were rapidly changing, particularly in the country’s capital. “Beirut was always a magnet for intra-regional travellers and the majority of visitors are from the Gulf and Middle East for both business and leisure,” said Simkovics. “However, with the status that Beirut is gaining worldwide, the mix of business is likely to change slightly. “We will start seeing an increased number of travellers from Europe and possibly North America.” MAY 2010

Hotel Development HVS reports that upscale and luxury hotels reached 70 percent occupancy in 2009, with average rates exceeding USD300 per room and RevPAR reaching USD220 – up 60 percent compared with 2008. Mid-market hotels increased their rates by 40 percent over 2009, reaching USD155. The Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) has helped to stimulate greater investment in the industry in recent years by providing an incentive known as the Package Deal Contract. Between 2003 and the end of 2009, tourism investment, largely in the form of hotel developments, accounted for USD1 billion, or 85 percent, of all investment made through IDAL’s Package Deal Contract. Hilton, Four Seasons, Le Gray, Kempinski and Beirut Waterfront Development are just some of the brand names attached to projects launched through IDAL. More than 2,000 confirmed rooms will open throughout 2010 and onwards, according to HVS, with the largest amount of room supply to come online in 2013.

Grand Hyatt and Jiyeh Marina Resort are both currently under construction, to be opened in 2011. Kempinski has two upcoming properties, Kempinski Al Abadiyah Hills and Kempinski Summerland, scheduled to open in 2012 and 2013 respectively. InterContinental Hotels Group is expected to open new Staybridge Suites and La Vendome properties in 2012, and Rotana has plans for a 200 room hotel to open in 2013. While the majority of development is centred in the country’s capital of Beirut, there are also developments underway in the popular Mount Lebanon region, including Metropolitan Palace and Habtoor Grand properties. Many established hotels, including the InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut, are upgrading their facilities to compete with these newcomers, according to Weihrauch. “Our guests are constantly looking for innovation, new technology, the latest facilities and more comfort,” he said. “Based on our guests’ needs, we have decided to renovate specific areas of our hotel in the course of this year, with a multi-million dollar

Stefan Simkovics

investment in guest rooms, the hotel lobby, lounge and restaurants.” Simkovics said Four Seasons Beirut, which opened earlier in the year, had received positive booking figures since its launch, proving that there was space in the market for new properties. “Business is great and we are in the right city at the right time,” said Simkovics. “There is high demand at the hotel from both leisure and business travellers, which is great to see. “2010 is promising; we are prepared and we are looking forward to it.”

Four Seasons Beirut

Beirut harbour

MAY 2010


InterContinental Phoenicia Beirut

Infrastructure Update In its recent analysis of the Lebanese market, HVS argued that the country’s current infrastructure could not cope with its growing tourism numbers. HVS suggested that upgrades were required in terms of airport expansion, road improvements, tourism attractions and business facilities. Simkovics confirmed that this was a timely issue

Beirut skyline

for operators in Lebanon. “Having infrastructure in the country that can support the volume of demand, I think, is one of the key challenges,” he said. “This especially becomes apparent during the summer and holiday season.” Beirut’s international airport recorded nearly five million passenger movements in 2009, indicating that the facility was rapidly approaching its full capacity limit of six million passengers per year. As a result, plans are underway to expand the facility; upon completion, HVS reported that the airport would be able to handle up to 16 million

passengers. The country’s flagship carrier, Middle East Airlines (MEA) has been expanding its fleet and upgrading its facilities in the wake of the tourism boost. In January, the airline introduced the first ever integrated baggage management system in Lebanon, to facilitate security and reduce the number of mishandled bags. The upgrade was immediately implemented for the 80 percent of airlines flying to Lebanon that are handled by Middle East Airlines Ground Handling (MEAG) and was later made available to other ground handlers at the airport.

Festival Highlights Lebanon offers a range of internationally recognised festivals throughout the year. Here are some of the highlights: Baalbeck International Festival June Featuring musical acts, dance performances and operas from around the world, this festival is set inside a series of stunning temples. Over the years, international acts have included Ella Fitzgerald, Deep Purple and Phil Collins. Byblos International Festival June Byblos International Festival features musical theatre, concerts and performances. Beiteddine Festival July and August Taking place in a 200-year-old palace in the Chouf Mountains, the Beiteddine Festival brings together Lebanese performing artists and international acts. Batroun Summer Festival August Held in the coastal town of Batroun, this festival features a range of events, from musical acts to performing arts and beach parties. Beirut International Film Festival October The 10th edition of Beirut International Film Festival aims to provide a platform for talent from the Middle East, as well as creating an awareness of cinema in the region. 8

MAY 2010

MEA estimated that the new technology would lead to cost savings of up to 30 percent through the reduction of mishandled bags. MEA currently flies to destinations throughout the Middle East, Europe and Africa; via code share partners, the airline also services North America, South America and Australia. Future Plans According to HVS, Beirut currently accounts for roughly 80 percent of tourist activity in Lebanon, while the other areas of the country remain under-utilised as tourist attractions. However, plans to increase Lebanon’s reputation as an international skiing destination and to boost regional medical tourism may stimulate greater development in the areas outside the capital. Tourism authorities are also promoting the country as a year-round destination to stimulate more sustainable tourism numbers. “Lebanon’s traditional high season would be during July, Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and during winter,” explained Weihrauch. “However, given the variety of experiences available in Lebanon, it really is a year-round destination for each client.


Beirut nightlife

“The land of golden beaches and stunning mountain landscapes offers its visitors endless opportunities of fun, beach, nature and outdoor activities.” Weihrauch added that seasonal festivals and performances by international musicians and artists would also stimulate tourism throughout the year. Simkovics said there was strong potential to attract repeat visitors to the country. He explained that first-time visitors were mostly

interested in sightseeing and exploring the country’s history, culture and cities. However, he said there were enough attractions throughout the country to encourage return visits from these first-timers. “By getting to know the country, [visitors] will understand why Lebanon is famous and is attracting so many tourists,” he said. “There is a lot to see in this beautiful country and every time you come there is something new to explore.”

MAY 2010


Travel Untethered in Year of the Mobile Web With growing consumer acceptance of online transactions, technology is making it easier for companies to cut out middle sellers by distributing directly through their websites. According to experts, the next step in the evolution of travel distribution is all about real time interaction with customers and 2010 has been declared the unofficial year of the mobile web. Louis Dillon Savage writes


he emergence and improvement of mobile access technology has untethered the internet, and PhocusWright Connect (PWC) research indicates that this trend is likely to dominate the future of travel retail. New applications for global positioning systems have been tipped as the major trend in travel technology, allowing automatic systems to communicate offers to travellers based on their current location. According to experts, 2010 will see an increased uptake of mobile devices capable of taking advantage of these abilities, which will in turn stimulate the market for innovative applications. A trend towards combining social media with retail

MAY 2010

channels, means technology will encourage real time comparisons of travel experiences by consumers, democratising purchases. Sellers will be forced to adapt to, and adopt, the mores of the new market, which is already seeing hotels and other tourism operators responding to online feedback in real time. According to Nadedja Popova, expert on the Middle Eastern travel market for the Euromonitor research firm, the Middle East is well situated to take advantage of developments in mobile technology. “Many countries could leap-frog places like the US or the UK and Europe, as they are starting their journeys at a time of great innovation,” she said. Traditional travel distribution is likely to experience large cutbacks in manpower, as

automatic online sales platforms supplant face to face sales, and advanced programs improve the efficiency of individual agents. The innovations identified by Popova as likely to impact the travel industry in the short term were: the general uptake of mobile booking and checkin technology; and greater integration between the public and private sectors, with government tourism bodies likely to add booking capabilities to promotional websites. Popova was adamant that a host of emerging technologies – Web 3.0, as she termed them, would have irrevocable effects on the travel industry. She said that while traditional travel agents will not be bypassed entirely by progressing technology, the industry stands at the apex of a watershed.



Investing in Infrastructure for a Bahraini Day Bahrain has never ranked among the standout leisure destinations of the Middle East, yet with its liberal approach to investment and a proactive stance on infrastructure development, the tiny archipelago is on the rise. Louis Dillon Savage writes


lthough the country is a relative newcomer as an international destination, World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) latest travel and tourism competitiveness review shows that Bahrain has a competitive advantage over many much larger countries when it comes to tourism. Ranked at number 41 on the WEF chart, Bahrain beats out emerging economic powerhouses Brazil, Russia, India and China, along with many well established Middle Eastern destinations such as Jordan, Syria and Oman. Bahrain claims the distinction of a number of important firsts for the Gulf; firsts that have attracted foreign investors and business travellers to the kingdom.

Bahrain was the first Gulf state to sign a free trade agreement with the US and has been ranked as the most liberal business environment in the region by the Index of Economic Freedom 2010. The country was also the first Gulf state to discover oil, and though its reserves proved small compared to the subterranean wealth of its neighbour, Saudi Arabia, oil remains important to the country’s economy. Petrochemicals account for nearly 60 percent of the country’s export income and 70 percent of government revenue. According to the Bahraini government, a long term policy of diversification has been pursued, with oil revenue used to fund infrastructure development and encourage different sectors of the economy, including tourism.

Oil now accounts for only 11 percent of GDP and the country has been credited with one of the most diversified economies in the Gulf. Other major industries include aluminium, which is Bahrain’s second most important export; finance; and construction. The government has reported that tourism, especially from within the Gulf, has also proven a major source of income and is an integral part of the country’s drive to branch away from oil and gas. Heavy investment in transport infrastructure has been pursued as part of this initiative, and several major projects have been tabled, including an airport expansion, a causeway linking the country to Qatar and the new Kalifah Bin Salman port, which opened in late 2009.

Manama skyline

Manama financial harbour

Bahrain in Brief Bahrain is a chain of 33 islands located within the Arabian Gulf, in close proximity to both Saudi Arabia and Qatar. According to government statistics, the country has a population of approximately 700,000. Capital: Manama Currency: Bahraini Dinars (BHD) Language: Arabic 12

MAY 2010

The first stage of Bahrain international airport’s the serviced apartment residence block Raffles Bahrain Mosque long term, large scale renovation scheme is City. currently underway. Bahrain has also pursued motorsport tourism, and Due to be completed in 2013, first phase every year the country hosts a round of the FIA construction will add a VIP terminal and an airport Formula One World Championship, representing centre including shops, cinemas and extra car one of the largest annual international sporting parking. events in the Gulf. According to Dr Osama Al-Ali, CEO of Bahrain According to the Bahraini Ministry of Culture Airports Company, the pre-renovation capacity of and Information, other attractions for leisure the airport was seven million passengers per year. tourists in Bahrain include the various beaches, Al-Ali said long term plans were in place to increase parks and corniches of the islands; heritage the airport’s passenger handling capacity to 28 attractions, with archaeological finds dating back million per year by 2038. more than 5,000 years; watersports; and Initial renovations will more than triple the shopping in traditional souqs. airport’s current parking capacity from 900 to 3,000 and provide facilities for up to 17 A320 aircraft, or eight A380 aircraft. According to a report by Oxford Business Group (OGB), construction on the proposed Bahrain-Qatar causeway is expected to begin within the next five years. OBG’s study indicated that the causeway would augment existing road links to Saudi Arabia and predicted that Bahrain’s economy would receive a major boost from the travellers brought by its central position in the resulting network. Bahrain has also successfully capitalised on the Middle Eastern MICE boom, with meetings revenue jumping from USD27 million in 2006 to USD154 million in 2008, according to statistics from the Bahrain Exhibitions and Conventions Authority. The country is seeking to further enlarge its slice of the pie, with a 145,000m² exhibition facility scheduled to open in 2013. Expo@Bahrain will feature 50 At the Semiramis InterContinental Cairo, we continually strive to go that extra mile to make your breakout areas, 5,000 car parking stay with us an unforgettable one. Our recent room renovations provide guests with more space, free in-room Internet & WiFi around the hotel, and new LCD TVs bringing your favourite places and 1,200 hotel rooms upon programs to life. Experience our passion for hospitality… completion. Despite delays, the Bahrain Bay mixed use development is proceeding steadily, according to the project’s Do you live an InterContinental life? developers. Infrastructure works within the project are nearing completion, Bob Vincent, Bahrain Bay CEO said. When completed the development Corniche El Nil, P.O. Box: 60, 11511 Cairo, Egypt. SEMIRAMIS Tel: +20(2) 2795-7171 Fax: +20(2) 2796-3020 will feature various residential and e-mail: C A I RO or visit recreational facilities, such as marinas, apartments, a Four Seasons hotel and


MAY 2010



Asia’s Leisure Favourite Opens to Middle East Culturally rich and well endowed with natural beauty, Thailand is a well established favourite among tourists within the Asia Pacific region. As air connectivity between Asia and the Middle East continues to grow, Thai authorities are seeking to attract more tourists from the GCC. Louis Dillon Savage writes

Phi-Phi Island


hailand has a long history as a leisure destination and Ariel Vera, group managing director for Thai hotel chain Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, said the country had proven attractive to all nationalities. However, he emphasised the popularity of the country as a destination within its own region, pointing out that the majority of tourism to the country came from Asian sources and noted China as an important upcoming feeder market. Prapawee Khamphangmuang, a public relations representative for Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said tourism to Thailand was dominated by leisure travellers, who make up 80 percent of all visitors. Although travellers from the Middle East account for a relatively small portion of visitors, Khamphangmuang said the country was actively pursuing both nationals and expats from the Gulf for their high spending power. She said Middle Eastern travellers also filled an important niche for the Thai industry, with their peak travel period coinciding with Thailand’s relatively slow monsoon season. She said the government had actively promoted the development of halal food and that Thailand had become the twelfth largest exporter of halal food in the world. The country also developed a halal food certification system, which has been rolled out for food shops, hotels and restaurants in all major Thai cities. Leisure Activities Chatuchak weekend market is the largest in 14

Thailand, and a recommended stop for travellers interested in shopping. Khamphangmuang noted that the dominance of Asian source markets in Thailand’s tourism industry had produced a focus on family friendly pursuits such as theme parks. The most recently opened of these is the Splash Jungle water park in Phuket, which opened in January 2010, claiming the title of Thailand’s largest water park. Interest from Japanese and Korean tourists has also driven a boom in golfing tourism and according to TAT, the kingdom has more than 200 golf courses, the majority of which conform to international standards. The months from November to March are recommended for golfers, as the rest of year experiences regular and heavy rainfall, making outdoor pursuits uncomfortable. Adventure tourism also represents a major segment for Thailand, with popular options including mountain biking, elephant safaris, shooting, wind surfing, bird or butterfly watching, rock climbing and canoeing or kayaking. The country features a number of nature reserves, with the most popular – Khao Yai – situated three hours drive from Bangkok. Thai spa tourism is also considered a unique selling point for the country, as Thailand boasts an indigenous wellbeing tradition that is said to have inspired many of the mainstay treatments of western spas. Khamphangmuang said there had been a boom in spa tourism in recent times, driven by the growth of international interest in Thai massage and therapies.

Thailand in Brief Currency: Thai Baht Language: Thai, English Capital: Bangkok Hotel Development Thailand has been caught up in Starwood’s global expansion programme, with the company preparing to open 10 hotels in the country by the end of 2011. The Westin Siray Resort and Spa is set to open in Phuket in August 2010, accompanied by W Retreat, Koh Samui, and Four Points by Sheraton Bangkok. A St Regis property will open at Sukhumvit, concurrent with the opening of Aloft BangkokSukhumvit on October 1. Another Four Points by Sheraton will open on November 1 at Makham Bay in Phuket, followed by additional Four Points, Vana Belle, W and Le Meridien properties planned to launch over the course of 2011. Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts is continuing development in its homeland, with Banyan Tree Samui scheduled to open later this year. Fellow local, Dusit Thani, will open Dusit Devarana Resort in 2011.

Political Unrest At the time of writing, Thailand was undergoing significant political upheaval, with protestors entrenched in the capital, Bangkok. The Thai tourism authority advised that tourists had not been targeted in the conflict, but counselled vigilance on the part of foreign visitors. MAY 2010

Hubert Joly

Mohamed Alabbar

President, Carlson (announcing the acquisition of the Regent hotel brand by Formosa International Hotels Corporation - FIHC) “With this transaction, we will be able to focus our resources on growing our core brands, especially Radisson, Country Inns and Suites, and Park Inn. We are confident that Regent will thrive under the direction of Formosa. Carlson, Rezidor and FIHC will work together to ensure a smooth transition. Rezidor will continue to provide management services for Regent hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and maintain their current relationship to hotel owners for up to one year. Until the deal closes, it is of course Hubert Joly business as usual.”

Chairman, Emaar Properties "If Burj Khalifa put Dubai and Emaar Properties in the global spotlight and added to our track record in project delivery, the performance of Emaar's business segments highlighted our role as an integrated property developer, adding long-term value to our stakeholders. Burj Khalifa has energised the domestic economy, attracting several thousand visitors in the first three months of opening.”

Burj Khalifa has energised the domestic economy

Until the deal closes, it is of course business as usual

Burj Khalifa

Laila Al Jassmi CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector, Dubai Health Authority “We have paid tremendous attention to ensuring our health facilities are internationally accredited, as well as developed a high standards regulation system, which is crucial to ensure we maintain the quality of health and healthcare in Dubai. It is our aim to establish Dubai as a global medical tourism destination and we are already seeing strong signs which indicate the emergence of the emirate of Dubai on the global healthcare map.”

It is our aim to establish Dubai as a global medical tourism destination 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 16

MAY 2010

Keep Up With a Hot Topic: Volcano Tourism Around the World Since the eruption of the Icelandic Eyjafjallajökull volcano, exploding mountains have been enjoying the limelight. With the interest of travellers piqued, Skyscanner has released a list of the world’s top destinations for volcano watching. Stromboli, Italy One of the few, rare volcanoes that has been continually active since the beginning of record keeping, it erupts so regularly that its name has become a byword for a small explosion. The geography of the mountain allows visitors to approach within 200m of the active crater. Montserrat, West Indies This volcano has continued to emit ash since erupting in 1995, and an exclusion zone surrounds the crater. However, some parts are

open to guided tours featuring houses half buried by the volcano’s activity. Kilauea, Hawaii The world’s most active volcano. Boat rides offer views of boiling seas, heated by lava flowing into the ocean. Cotopaxi, Ecuador Part of the Avenue of Volcanoes in the Andes Mountains, Cotopaxi is the world’s highest active volcano. Sierra Negra, Galapagos The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the most active volcanic regions in the world; the latest eruption occurred at Sierra Negra, the black mountain, in 2005.

Target Local Family Tourism for Summer Promotions With school holidays on the way, tourism operators throughout the Middle East are looking to local family holidays to boost sales during the sluggish summer months this year. Thierry Bertin, vice president of sales and marketing for Hyatt International South West Asia,

Park Hyatt, Dubai MAY 2010

said Hyatt properties were presenting special room rates and family activities for summer. “All three of Dubai’s Hyatt properties are putting a special focus on attracting guests from across the GCC, whether they travel to Dubai for business or pleasure,” he said. Meanwhile, Hans-Peter Leitzke, managing director at Rosewood Corniche in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said he was hoping to beat the summer heat with a range of spring promotions, also directed at family holidays. “We have always valued the importance of family gatherings and spending quality time with loved ones,” said Leitzke. “We commit to providing our guests with everything they need, making the Rosewood Corniche experience a relaxing and memorable time.”



Inquisitive Middle East Market Eyes Spanish Ties Tourism is a critical industry for Spain, a country that is known worldwide for its passion for sport, culture, fashion, design and cuisine. In recent months, the country has been strengthening its ties with several countries in the Middle East, creating the potential for an increase in business tourism to and from the region. Laura Warne writes Barcelona


egularly listed among the World Tourism Organisation’s top three global destinations in terms of visitor arrivals and spending, Spain is expected to draw EUR161 billion (USD238 billion) from tourism in 2010, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). While these revenue figures would be envied by many countries, Spain has been hit hard by recent global events. The country saw a drop in international tourist arrivals from 57.3 million in 2008 to 52.2 million in 2009, which was largely attributed to the struggling UK market. In addition, Spanish industry body Exceltur has estimated that the country will face losses of EUR252 million (USD338.7 million) due to travel restrictions in April, rising from Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud. However, the Ministry for Tourism and Trade has reported that preliminary arrival figures from the first quarter of the year are positive and the industry is hoping for a strong summer season to boost numbers. While the Middle East lags a long way behind Spain’s key source markets of the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland, new business ties may increase tourism between Spain and several Gulf countries. In addition, Emirates Airline will boost connectivity to Spain in August, with a new daily non-stop service between Dubai and Madrid. Business Ties Trade and tourism co-operation is expected to 18

increase between Spain and several countries in the Middle East, following government-led meetings. In April, Sultan Al Mansouri, UAE Minister for Economy led a delegation to Spain for the first UAE-Spain Economic Joint Committee meeting. Meeting with Miguel Sebastian, Spain’s Minister of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, Al Mansouri said the event would usher in a new era of cooperation between the UAE and Spain. Tourism development and hospitality management opportunities featured heavily in the discussion, according to Al Mansouri. The UAE delegation raised the issue of creating an open skies agreement between the two countries, and requested the freedom for its national carriers to carry passengers from Spain to other countries. The formation of a Spain-UAE Business Council was also proposed, which in turn would stimulate greater business tourism between the countries. Bilateral trade between Spain and the UAE has been growing steadily in recent years, rising from EUR900 million (USD1,206 million) in 2007 to EUR1400 million (USD1,876 million) in 2008. Qatar is also keen to strengthen its ties with Spain; Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) launched its recent European road show in the country’s capital of Madrid. Ahmed Al Nuaimi, chairman of QTA, followed up the road show with a co-operative meeting with Juan Jose Santos-Aguado, Ambassador of Spain in Qatar. The two discussed public and private sector tourism investment, as well as suggestions for further tourism co-operation between the two countries.

W Barcelona

Al Nuaimi also presented the opportunity for Spain to stage its own exhibition in Qatar, highlighting the country’s various products and tourism offerings to the Qatari industry. Hotel Development Starwood’s new W Barcelona officially launched in March, after a successful soft opening in late 2009. The 473 room W Barcelona is the third W property to be launched in the Europe, Africa and Middle East region, following W Istanbul and W Doha. Operators say that Middle Eastern guests have already responded well to W’s personalised guest programmes, and W Barcelona has committed itself to providing uniquely Spanish experiences to its high end guests. Chartered yacht excursions on the Mediterranean coast and private shopping trips featuring the latest Spanish designers are available; alternatively, guests can create their own personally designed itineraries. Eva Ziegler, global brand leader of W Hotels Worldwide, said the new hotel had been well MAY 2010

received by the market so far. “In its first six months, W Barcelona has already established itself as an architectural icon and an international lifestyle destination,” said Ziegler. In April, Rezidor Hotel Group announced the signing of a new Radisson Blu property in Gran Canaria, which follows the opening of Radisson Blu Hotel Madrid Prado earlier in the year. Radisson Blu Residence Gran Canaria will take over the former Hotel Dunas site after an extensive renovation of the property. The 144 room hotel is scheduled to open in late 2012. For tourists interested in a more traditional experience, the Principality of Asturias, in northern Spain, operates the Casonas Asturianas, Club de Calidad (Asturian Country House Quality Club). This collection of hotels features refurbished buildings from the 17th century, as well as traditional homesteads, Modernist palaces and mansions built during Spain’s early explorations into Latin America. Barcelona While Madrid is the capital city of Spain, Barcelona

is arguably one of the country’s main tourism hubs; according to Turisme de Barcelona, the majority of tourism credit card transactions in Spain (22 percent) are carried out in Barcelona. Featuring a host of World Heritage listed buildings, the city is particularly well known for its distinctive architecture created by Spanish artist Antoni Gaudi. Shopping, culture and fine dining are all key tourism drawcards for Barcelona. The city received a total of 6,476,033 tourists in 2009 and recorded 72.4 percent occupancy across its 321 hotels. According to International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Barcelona is the world’s third most popular congress city. In 2009, the city renewed its contract to host EIBTM, the global incentive, business travel and meetings exhibition, until 2013. EIBTM drew a total of 8,170 visitors in 2009, marking a 0.5 percent increase on its 2008 figures. Cruise tourism is also a major focus for Barcelona; Lloyd’s Cruise International has listed the city as the first cruise harbour in Europe and the fourth in the world.

In 2009, 2,151,465 cruise passengers visited Barcelona. The city’s main airport is currently undergoing major upgrades to cope with increased air traffic; the upgrade is expected to be completed by 2011. Beyond the major cities, other popular tourist areas of Spain include the Canary Islands, Costa Brava and Majorca. Ahmed Al Nuaimi with Juan Jose Santos-Aguado

Spain in Brief Currency: Euro Language: Spanish Capital: Madrid


Refined luxury in the heart of Tripoli L       , C B A H                  . W   ,  ,    ,    ,  C B A       L; ’  .

Corinthia Bab Africa Hotel, Tripoli Souk Al Thulatha, Al Gadim, Tripoli, Libya. T: +(218) 21 335 1990 E:


MAY 2010


Jane Burnell

Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has appointed Jane Burnell as regional vice president of sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Burnell’s new position will include attending a range of sales development workshops and direct sales events throughout the Middle East, designed to strengthen key business partnerships in the region. She will then provide ongoing support to the Four Seasons sales teams in Dubai and Riyadh. Burnell joined Four Seasons in 2000 and has held various sales roles within the company. Prior to joining Four Seasons, Burnell spent 10 years working within the hospitality industry.

Ritz-Carlton Bahrain has made two senior appointments, with the introduction of a new general manager and director of sales. Mark Neukomm has been named as the hotel’s new general manager. Neukomm was previously the general manager of the first Ritz-Carlton hotel in Japan. He has 30 years of experience in the hotel industry, having worked with brands such as InterContinental and Hilton, as well as Zurich’s Hotel Baur au Lac. Neukomm holds a chef’s diploma as well as qualifications in hotel management. Ritz-Carlton Bahrain has also named a new director of sales; Hassaan Abdoh. Abdoh was previously director of business development with the pre-opening team at The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi. He has also worked with InterContinental Hotel Group across the UAE and was part of Ritz-Carlton Dubai’s pre-opening team in 1998. Abdoh has 15 years of experience with hospitality companies in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He has a diploma in hotel and tourism management.

Oussama Massoud InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has appointed Oussama Massoud as director of operations for Jordan and Palestine. Massoud will take on this new role in addition to his current position as general manager of Crowne Plaza Amman. Massoud has 26 years of experience with IHG, having worked across the InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands in several management roles. In his new operational position, he will be responsible for a range of existing IHG properties across Jordan and Palestine, as well as the upcoming Crowne Plaza Resort Dead Sea.

Mark Neukomm

Hassaan Abdoh

Amit Arora

Oussama Massoud

James E Bennett James E Bennett has been appointed CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC). Bennett previously held the position of president and CEO at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, where he led a team of more than 1,400 employees. In addition to his new role with ADAC, Bennett will also become chairman of the American Association of Airport Executives, as of May 1. 20

Amit Arora

Amit Arora has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for Emaar Hospitality Group. Arora will oversee all sales and marketing initiatives for the group, as well as promoting the new Armani Hotel Dubai. He has more than 14 years of sales and marketing experience, including a key role in the creation and launch of The Address Hotels and Resorts brand. Arora has also led the development of a central reservations office for the brand, as well as setting up and managing cluster sales teams for Dubai and the Middle East region. MAY 2010

Q&A with Yigit Sezgin Rezidor Hotel Group’s new global director of sales and marketing, Yigit Sezgin gave Travel Trade Monthly a frank run-down on the company’s current business strategies and his view of the market within the Middle East and globally. Travel Trade Monthly: In your new position as global director of sales and marketing, you are expanding on your previous role as regional director for sales and marketing in the Middle East, Egypt and Libya - what is your strategy for making this transition? How will the new role differ from your previous one? Yigit Sezgin: The new role is effectively an extension of my previous role. While the focus remains firmly on the portfolio of 40 Rezidor hotels in the Middle East, there is now an additional focus on driving outbound sales and marketing activities in order to generate business for Rezidor hotels located throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. As we move forward, our focus will be to increase the awareness of Rezidor brands and introduce our diverse products to both new and existing markets. One of the ways we are achieving this is by increasing our presence in markets through global sales representatives; we recently added Jeddah to the portfolio that now includes Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, as well as Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey.

to 100 hotels open and under development in less than five years and continues to be an appealing brand for both owners and guests. We also look for the right opportunities to grow our luxury brand Hotel Missoni, the newest member of the Rezidor family. Hotel Missoni is a new and distinctively different hotel brand and is aimed at the increasingly important lifestyle sector. The world’s first Hotel Missoni opened in Edinburgh last year and we are extremely excited about the brand’s Middle East launch later this year when Hotel Missoni Kuwait opens.

yigit Sezgin

Now is a good time to recruit as there is some fabulous talent available

Travel Trade Monthly: What is your personal strategy for driving the sales and marketing team globally? Are there any Travel Trade Monthly: Generally speaking, specific challenges that you foresee? what is your view of the tourism market in Yigit Sezgin: Clearly the economic situation is the Middle East? What changing trends Travel Trade Monthly: What are some of not a favourable one at present but these are have you noticed, both among customers the key features of Rezidor's current global times when more than ever you need to be strong and professionals within the industry? business plan? Are there certain regions or with your sales strategy and that is why we are Yigit Sezgin: The Middle East is still very currently growing our regional sales team. brands that the company is focusing on? diverse; you have the markets that are now very Yigit Sezgin: As one of the fastest growing In fact, now is a good time to recruit as there is much developed and established alongside some

hotel companies worldwide, Rezidor remains firmly committed to growth. In particular this growth will focus on emerging markets, including Africa and the CIS. That said, we continue to look for good opportunities in markets throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. We have just announced the signing of a management agreement with the Norwegian real estate developer Linstow that will see Rezidor manage 10 Reval Hotels in the Baltics, adding a total of 2,367 rooms and 10 hotels to our portfolio – six Radisson Blu and four Park Inn. In the Middle East we have a current development pipeline of 15 hotels in destinations including Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Primarily, Rezidor focuses on growing our core brands, Radisson Blu and Park Inn. To give you some idea of how much we have grown, Radisson was recently announced as the largest upscale hotel brand in Europe, overtaking Hilton. Park Inn, our mid-market brand went from one MAY 2010

some fabulous talent available. For me, it is imperative that the team is out there and visible in the market, raising awareness of our hotels and the special offers and promotions we are running. It is also a time to focus on areas where we can increase business to our hotels, with one opportunity in particular being the meetings and events market.

Travel Trade Monthly: How does Rezidor deal with competition, both in the Middle East and globally? Yigit Sezgin: In Rezidor we focus on mastering

new and emerging markets. There is still so much opportunity within the region - geographically the Middle East is well placed to target visitors from all four corners of the globe and the growth of the airline industry in the region will certainly help that. There are so many options for travellers these days that Middle East destinations will have to work harder and fight for their share of the market as competition within the region strengthens. For sure there are always improvements to be made, things can always be better but if you look at somewhere like Dubai, it still remains one of the most popular destinations in the world!

the essentials, offering our guests added value and keeping them happy. We have a strong presence in e-commerce. Our focus is on RGI (REVPAR penetration). We work with dynamic, innovative, fresh and easy teams who are hungry for business, out in the market searching for business opportunities and evaluating every piece of opportunity.

Middle East destinations will have to work harder and fight for their share of the market 21


Bouncing Back From a Tourism Crash In 2008, the Kenyan tourism industry recorded one of its worst performances on record, with the Ministry of Tourism blaming the country’s post-election crisis and subsequent travel bans from source markets. However, the country saw significant improvements in 2009 and has renewed its global promotional efforts to bring tourists back to Kenya in 2010. Laura Warne writes Crowne Plaza Nairobi


Kenya in Brief Language: Swahili, English Capital: Nairobi Currency: Kenyan Shilling (KES)


enya’s tourism earnings decreased by 19.2 percent in 2008, from KES65.2 billion (USD842 million) in 2007, to KES52.7 billion (USD681 billion). Contributing to these crippling losses was a 33.8 percent decline in international arrivals to 1.2 million, as well as the high cost of jet fuel, a rise in commodity prices and the beginning of the global financial downturn. However, 2009 saw a 30 percent increase in tourism growth throughout Kenya, despite ongoing economic trouble throughout the country’s key source markets of the UK, US, Germany, Italy and France. In 2010, the country has maintained a prominent place at international travel events, such as ITB, and launched a global EUfunded advertising campaign on BBC World News. While the Middle East doesn’t make it onto the top five list of source markets for Kenya, Minister for Tourism Najib Balala insisted


that the market was growing and that the UAE in particular was a strong trading partner. Flights to the country are regular, with Emirates flying to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, as well as to neighbouring countries Uganda and Tanzania. Air Arabia also operates a service between Sharjah and Nairobi. Hotel Development InterContinental Hotels Group recently opened its new Kenyan property, Crowne Plaza Nairobi, located in the commercial area of the capital. The 162 room hotel is central to the city’s multinational company headquarters, banks, government office and hospitals. Rezidor has announced its upcoming property, Radisson Blu Nairobi, which is expected to open in early 2012. The country also has a wide range of luxury safari hotels, including the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Fairmont Mara Safari Club is a MAY 2010

collection of tent apartments that is now recognised as one of the country’s leading luxury safari camps, offering guests the chance to participate in fishing safaris, game drives and traditional cultural experiences. Cruising Mombasa The Ocean Mist cruise liner begins sailing from Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa, in May, following an extensive refit. The cruise will initially operate between Mombasa and Zanzibar, but will later expand its route to include Mauritius and Seychelles. The Ministry of Tourism admits that cruise tourism has not been fully developed in Kenya and that there is a long way to go in terms of marketing and infrastructure development. However, the launch of the Ocean Mist service is expected to enhance Mombasa’s reputation as a port of call for other cruise liners. The city has a natural harbor and is well positioned between South Africa’s port in Durban and several major northern ports.

interested in promoting adventure tourism in Kenya. “The operators would like to extend their product range with more activities in less known regions to include hiking and trekking, but there is a lack of infrastructure, proper hotels and information,” said Romberg. The ministry responded to these concerns by announcing the development of a northern tourism circuit that will address the needs of modern tourists, particularly those interested in adventure holidays. The circuit will be implemented through the Tourism Trust Fund, under the Ministry of Tourism, and is expected to open in September.

Environmental Efforts The Ministry of Tourism has recently cracked down on unlicensed tour operators, particularly in the fragile Maasai Mara and Amboseli areas. Minister Balala commissioned a task force on sustainable tourism development in 2009 to provide guidance on the Maasai Mara and Aboseli ecosystems. The task force recently reported that uncontrolled tourism developments in the region had negatively impacted the environment. As a result, the ministry has launched consultations for a joint action on all non-compliant tourist establishments operating in Maasai Mara and Aboseli.

Adventure Infrastructure International tour operators have called for an overhaul of basic tourism infrastructure and facilities, particularly on the country’s popular north coast, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Beach holidays, once the undisputed leader of the industry in Kenya, attracted a diminished 54 percent of market share in 2009; five years ago beach holidays accounted for 64.5 percent of all tourism in the country. According to the ministry, the decline was due to increased demand for spa facilities, sporting activities and cultural trips. Gabi Romberg, marketing development representative for Kenya in Germany, said European operators were also

MAY 2010


Record GIBTM Numbers Highlight Growth in Gulf Meetings Industry in 2010 The Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) received a record number of visitors in 2010, with a 10 percent rise in hosted buyers. The initial unaudited figures show 260 hosted buyers from 40 countries and 220 exhibitors. Graeme Barnett, exhibition director of GIBTM, said the turnout was a positive sign for the MICE industry in the Gulf. “In what has been a particularly challenging time for the industry in the last year, the event has proven there are clear, optimistic signs that meeting and event planners are recognising the enormous potential the region has to do business,” said Barnett. “One only has to see the new hotel and venue

developments opening or being planned for Abu Dhabi alone.” Barnett added that GIBTM was in excellent shape to expand for both regional and international exhibitors. The planning for GIBTM 2011, which will take place in Abu Dhabi between March 28 and 30, has already begun, with the education programme being developed in partnership with ICCA, MPI and Site. Gillian M Taylor, business tourism manager for Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said that hosting 260 buyers in the UAE capital provided an unrivalled opportunity to demonstrate first-hand the destination’s expanded business and MICE tourism offering.

“The number of appointments were up by 17 percent and we noted a much greater presence of regional buyers this year, which was particularly encouraging,” said Taylor.


Events Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Dubai, UAE, May 1-3 ( Interviews with hoteliers, forecasts from economists, panel discussions on the latest developments, trends and best practice in the hotel and investment industry. World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony Dubai, UAE, May 3 ( Presentation of Middle Eastern finalists for the World Travel Awards. Arabian Travel Market Dubai, UAE, May 4-7 ( Travel and tourism event for inbound and outbound tourism professionals, featuring destinations, accommodation, tourism attractions and airlines. HOTEC Middle East Muscat, Oman, May 7-10 ( Business to business meetings forum for hotel owners, developers and operators to meet with suppliers. China Hotel Investment Conference Shanghai, China, May 12- 14 ( Conference focusing on hotel investment in China.


Food and Hotel Arabia Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, May 16-18 Meeting of professionals from the Saudi food and hospitality industries. Oman Travel Market Muscat, Oman, May 17-19 ( Exhibition for the promotion of Oman to as an international destination. Travel World Expo Kuwait City, Kuwait, May 19-20 Exhibition for domestic, regional and international tourism enterprises. The Hotel Show Dubai, UAE, May 18-20 ( Exhibition for hoteliers and suppliers to the hotel industry. IMEX Frankfurt, Germany, May 25-7 ( Major international exhibition for the meetings and events industry. Global Travel and Tourism Summit Beijing, China, May 25- 27 ( High level gathering of travel industry chairs and CEOs.

MAY 2010

TTM may 2010 issue 7  

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