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Middle East & North Africa

FEBRUARY 15 | 2013


A history of resilience

Destination Egypt PAGE 10

Update Morocco


The country showcases its expansive new developments

Personalisation is enabling the sector to evolve and thrive

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VIEW Page16

Weddings & Honeymoons

Special Report Golf The burgeoning golf industry is becoming a universal tourism driver

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Read online...



News Regional and international news from the travel trade industry.


Exhibition Calendar A breakdown of the industry's latest events and exhibitions.


Interview CEO, Wildland Adventures, Kurt Kutay reveals changes in adventure travel to TTG

Eventful season ahead

10 Destination The travel and tourism industry expresses optimism in Egypt. 20 People on the move The latest appointments and promotions in the MENA region. 21 TATOs A dedicated news section for travel agents and tour operators. 22 Picture Perfect A photographic tour of recent events in the tourism industry. 23 Social Hub A round up of social media activity in the MENA region and beyond.

Securing ties with China for the development of tourism The China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the UNWTO have agreed to strengthen cooperation in a bid to advance China’s tourism development objectives. The announcement was made during chairman, CNTA, Shao Qiwei’s visit to Spain to receive the UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement. During his meeting with secretary general, UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, Qiwei stressed the importance of collaboration with the UNWTO in achieving the new objectives of China’s tourism policy, which is one of the main pillars of the country’s economy. “The focus in China is now on quality and sustainability,” stated Qiwei. “The future of the sector should focus on the diversification of tourism products, on environmental protection, on the quality of the workforce and overall quality over quantity." Adding to this was Rifai, who stated: “The UNWTO is very supportive of China’s tourism

strategy and is committed to supporting its tourism administration. We are extremely pleased to see that China is putting quality and sustainability at the heart of its tourism policy objectives.” Since 2006, the UNWTO has supported the establishment of five Sustainable Tourism Observatories in China, which are at the forefront of efforts to convert UNWTO theoretical criteria on sustainable tourism into practice at the destination level. Qiwei stressed that the Chinese Government is currently encouraging outbound tourism. “With 148 countries in the list of ‘Approved Destination Status’ (ADS), the government, and CNTA will continue to promote the travelling of Chinese people abroad as we believe in the mutual benefits of collaboration. By continuing to send Chinese travellers to Europe, the benefits will eventually flow back to China,” he stated.

ith the winter soon to be over, and just as Cyprus will hopefully begin to warm up and shake off this dismal, wet season, it seems that I am going to be plunged right back into it at the upcoming ITB Berlin. This is in fact my first trip since starting this journey into the travel industry, and is therefore my very first travel trade show. So in spite of being warned that I’ll have to wrap up super warm for the icy, and probably snowy, German weather, I’m really looking forward to this trip. And as much as I enjoy writing about the industry, I am just as eager to get some time away from the confines of our office – despite its distracting view of the Larnaca salt lake and its flamingos – and finally get out there and meet everyone face to face. It seems that the excitement around the biggest trade show has already begun to build up with this year’s ITB Berlin reporting that there has been increased demand for floor space from exhibitors representing Arab and Asian regions, as well as South America. And while we’re on the topic of massive trade shows, I wanted to inform you all that I’ll also be heading to the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, this May. So it seems like the next three months are set to fly by in a whirlwind of trade shows starting in northern Europe and ending in the warm climes of the Middle East. Despite the apparently manic yet productive atmosphere that comes hand in hand with such mammoth trade shows, feel free to stop by our TTG MENA stand and introduce yourself, as I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone finally. And now back to our February 15 issue; we will be bringing you an array of informative and fascinating reports on Egypt, Morocco and golf, along with weddings and honeymoons. We’ll also be providing you with an exciting interview from across the Atlantic with the CEO of the Seattle-based company Wildland Adventures, Kurt Kutay, who started his company simply because he loved travel and managed to integrate this with his background in conservation. So I’m signing off now and let’s touch base at ITB Berlin and ATM.

Feel free to stop by our TTG MENA stand and introduce yourself, as I'm really looking forward to meeting everyone. Secretary general, UNTWO, Taleb Rifai with chairman, CNTA, Shao Qiwei


February 15 2013

Natalie Hami Media Reporter


Two years of continued success tihad Airways revealed that it was profitable for the second year running in 2012. President, Etihad Airways, James Hogan announced this during his address at the Global Airfinance Conference which took place in Dublin. The 2012 result follows Etihad Airways’ maiden profit in 2011 of $14 million. Hogan stated that more details of the airline’s financial results would be released in February 2013, also explaining how the airline’s focus on cost control and the creation of value and scale had helped drive its expansion. Hogan noted: “Etihad Airways achieved double-digit passenger and revenue growth in recent years and established world-class product and service. This could

not have been achieved without the airline earning the confidence of the leading global financial institutions. “We are set to post our second successive profit which is rare in the current uncertain economic climate and illustrates the impact and success that the Etihad Airways’ unique business model has made,” he added. The 15th Annual Global Airfinance Conference includes delegates from the world’s largest airlines, leasing companies, commercial banks and other aircraft financing organisations. Hogan stated that the airline has $6.5 billion in funding from over 50 financial institutions globally, giving details of how major financial market risks are managed. These include fuel, foreign currencies, interest rates along with emissions.

Linking Birmingham with Europe Three new routes to Gothenburg, Lyon and Toulouse have been launched from Birmingham Airport by bmi regional, a UK airline.

Improving passenger experience A refurbishment of Dubai International’s Terminal 1 is due to commence in the first quarter of 2013, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. The refurbishment includes more efficient and streamlined baggage screening in the departures hall, the replacement of all check-in desks, an upgrade of baggage systems as well as the modernisation of all public areas.

The renovations programme also includes the expanded arrivals hall where all meeters and greeters will be accommodated with new food and retail outlets. Once the refurbishment of Terminal 1 is complete, it will be linked via a new elevated train system to Concourse D, currently under construction, which is to become the new home of more than 100 airlines.

significant investment to position the airline for growth. These new routes are incremental to the four new routes rolled out ever since bmi re-

Launching our first services from Birmingham Airport is an indication of our commitment to UK regions. Chief executive, bmi regional, Cathal O’Connell said: “The launch of these routes is a continuation of bmi regional’s promise to serve key economic and tourism hubs across Europe. Launching our first services from Birmingham Airport is an indication of our commitment to UK regions and a

gional established itself as an independent airline in 2012.” He added: “Toulouse is a significant base for the aerospace business; Gothenburg and Lyon are home to major car manufacturing sites and high-tech industries. ” The routes are to start on May 13 with six flights on each route per week.

Finalists selected for sustainable Abu Dhabi shopping destination tourism award plan unveiled The 12 finalists of the World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards have been unveiled. Said to be one of the highest accolades in the global travel and tourism industry, the awards recognise sustainable tourism best practices in businesses and destinations worldwide. Award applications were received from 46 countries, with finalists in four categories being selected. These ranged from countries, global hotel groups, international airlines, luxury tour operators in addition to small eco-lodges. The finalists are: Peaks of the Balkans in Kosovo, Tourism Council of Bhutan in Bhutan, Abercrombie & Kent in the US and Air New Zealand in New Zealand, among others.

Scowsill: Award finalists reflect financially successful businesses

Sustainable tourism best practices are no longer the realm of a handful of small companies. President, WTTC, David Scowsill said: “Tourism for Tomorrow is built on the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. The award finalists reflect financially successful businesses, which balance growing demand with shrinking natural resources and reflect the contributions of employees and destination communities.”

Chairman of judges, Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, Costas Christ commented further: “Sustainable tourism best practices are no longer the realm of a handful of small companies and a few innovative destinations. We are well beyond questioning, whether sustainable tourism works." February 15 2013

Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) has announced its joint venture partnership with L Real Estate (LRE) to develop the eagerly anticipated ‘The District’. The development, set for Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District, will reportedly create a world class retail destination set to offer indoor-outdoor shopping, in addition to dining venues. A multi-screen cinema and kids’ entertainment zone are also planned. The District, expected to be completed by 2017, is designed in four distinctive zones: Luxury Street, offering exclusive fashion brands; Canal Zone, showcasing a variety of food and beverage outlets; Main Street, featuring flagship boutiques and the Crescent Arcade, set to house a blend of fashion stores, dining outlets and services. “TDIC’s vision of developing world-class tourism assets, such as Saadiyat island and its iconic cultural institutions, upscale residential communities and distinctive leisure facilities, is truly reflective of Abu Dhabi’s economic strategy of transforming the emirate into a vibrant international destination," commented chairman, TDIC, HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan. “This new retail destination, which ideally sits among Saadiyat’s inspiring museums, beautiful landscape and coastal environment, will be a regional attraction and a highly prized sought-after location for Abu Dhabi’s communities and visitors when it opens by 2017.”

The District has been designed to provide indoor-outdoor shopping and dining The retail destination is due to comprise of three levels – all above ground starting from street level – distributed over 168,000m2 of leasable space, with more than 550 units allocated for luxury and fashion brands, dining outlets, high-end department stores, home furnishing chains, art galleries and family entertainment venues, among others.



Fifth Dubai hotel for Swiss brand to launch in Deira

Exhibition Calendar MICE Arabia Congress Doha, Qatar


ITB Berlin, Germany • •

MARCH 17-19

Routes Asia, Mumbai, India •

MARCH 19-21

CONFEX, ExCel, London •

MARCH 20-23

MITT, Moscow, Russia •

MARCH 25-27

GIBTM, Abu Dhabi, UAE •

APRIL 23-25

May 5-6

WTM Latin America, Sao Paulo, Brazil • AHIC, Dubai • •

• TTG Middle East & North Africa will be available at these shows • ttgmena luxury will be available at these shows

Introduction of flagship brand

The new Mövenpick hotel is situated in the vibrant central district he Al Mamzar area of Deira in Dubai has seen the opening of its first international hotel, with Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square debuting in the area. This is the hotel company’s fifth property in Dubai, which offers 180 superior and deluxe rooms, as well as one- and two-bedroom hotel apartment suites.

The property is close to the Al Mamzar Beach Park and other landmarks within Deira, Dubai’s historical centre. The Deira area is said to be a vibrant central district due to its proximity to Dubai International Airport, Dubai Creek, Sharjah, the airport free zone, port and trading centres. It is reported that hotels in the area enjoy upwards

Luxury premises set Airport awarded for to open this year event triumph Viceroy Hotel Group has introduced Viceroy New York, which is expected to open in September 2013 in Manhattan, on West 57th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. The property is currently under development by Ark Partners and aims to convey the feel of a downtown hotel, ideal for travellers to the city seeking individuality. Designed by Roman and Williams, interiors are set to feature fine-crafted metal details with classic woodwork. The lobby, public spaces and guestrooms are to feature transformative décor, incorporating New York City’s lifeblood through timeless, tailored style.

The retreat features 99 villas located in the Sahyadri mountain range Hilton Hotels & Resorts has announced the opening of Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat & Spa, its first leisure property in India. The property is operated by Hilton Worldwide and is located in the Sahyadri mountain range in the Western Ghats, a 2.5 hour drive from Mumbai. Spread across 320 acres within the 2,500 acre private Shillim Estate, the retreat is to feature ecologically designed all-villa accommodation, complete with a butler service, extensive dining options, reportedly one of the


largest wine cellars in India and a large spa facility. “We expect the property to become the favourite gateway for guests travelling on leisure in the region. We operate 11 hotels in the country and, at the current pace of rapid growth, we hope to increase our portfolio to 50 hotels in the next five years,” said president – Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, Martin Rinck. A total of 99 villas can be found at the retreat, featuring private decks or balconies, dedicated treatment areas, and valley or forest views.

of 80 per cent occupancy year-around. “In addition to being the only international hotel company in Al Mamzar, we look forward to differentiating the hotel by providing the Swiss quality, value and five-star service which Mövenpick is renowned for,” said general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Apartments The Square, Chadi Gedeon. “Our hotel is ideal for families, executive travellers and long-stay guests. I strongly believe that our stylish and contemporary-design hotel apartments, coupled with our friendly approach, will provide both short and long-term guests with a memorable stay.” All accommodation in the property is appointed with a kitchenette, and has been awarded with the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) classification as ‘Deluxe Hotel Apartments’. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts reports to be optimistic about its future success in Dubai, with plans for its sixth property in Jumeirah Lake Towers, expected to open later this year.

The New York market has been waiting for the Viceroy name for some time. Expected to fuse business with leisure, the hotel will provide 241 luxury rooms, many of which boast views of Central Park. “The New York market has been waiting for the Viceroy name for some time, and we have wanted to be there,” stated CEO, Viceroy Hotel Group, Bill Walshe. “Our first Viceroy branded hotel in the city has to be exceptional, and this development is quite simply perfect. This is a hotel that will stand apart from its competitors; it will be incredible.” Chairman, Ark Partners, Brad Reiss added: “Our vision for this project was to deliver a luxury hospitality product in an iconic building, embodying the golden era of New York in an incomparable and irreplaceable location. We believe the Viceroy brand will bring a hotel experience highly desired in New York City." February 15 2013

Tallinn Airport has been awarded by the Estonian Convention Bureau for hosting Routes Europe 2012, which took place in May 2012. The event is said to be the largest Routes Europe to date, with almost 900 key industry decision-makers descending upon Tallinn to meet, do business and shape the future of Europe’s air services. “However unique we might consider our old town, the reality is that looking from Europe, we are still seen as a post-soviet country in Siberia,” said member of the board, Tallinn Airport, Erik

Sakkov. “The only thing that helps is to bring the decision makers here and show them how great a place Estonia is for a tourist and that it is one of the most favourable places in Europe for doing business.” During Routes 2012, Tallinn Airport unveiled a new air route with Turkish Airlines, who confirmed that they would be commencing a three-times weekly service to the Estonian capital. “The airlines and airports enjoyed the city and Estonian hospitality,” commented vice president, operations, Routes, Andrew Rowe.

CEO, Tallinn Airport, Erik Sakkov accepting the accolade


Passenger growth soars for airline

Al Ghaith: flydubai's growth has provided a passenger traffic boost Low-cost airline, flydubai, has announced noteable growth figures ahead of its inaugural flight celebrations to Malé in the Maldives. Passenger growth was recorded from central and eastern Europe (CEE) as well as the CIS and GCC markets. Figures from Dubai International Airport reveal that passenger traffic from the CIS and Russia increased by

34 per cent in Q3 of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. The increase was partly due to flydubai’s ongoing expansion in this region, the airline claims. “flydubai’s growth, particularly within Russia and the CIS, has provided a tremendous boost to passenger traffic through linking Dubai to many cities in this region for the first time,” said vice president, marketing and corporate communications, Dubai Airports, Anita Mehra. CEO, flydubai, Ghaith Al Ghaith added: “The new Malé route will attract passengers from across the flydubai network, in particular those from the CIS, CEE and GCC. More than 40 per cent of flydubai’s route development in 2012 concentrated on CEE and CIS.

Omani hotel confirms collaboration ix Senses Zighy Bay reports that it is working in collaboration with Oman Sail’s Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT) 2013. SATT 2013 is due to commence from Manama in Bahrain and will end in Muscat in Oman after traversing the Arabian Peninsula, with Six Senses Zighy Bay being the first stop upon entering Omani waters. The event was established by Oman Sail in 2011 to promote one of the region’s

fastest growing sports and reignite the Gulf’s rich maritime heritage. The event will tour through four nations and visit seven marinas in 15 days, with Six Senses Zighy Bay due to host crews on February 2123, 2013. The stopover will culminate with an in-port race and prize-giving event directly on the resort’s beach. General manager, Six Senses Zighy Bay, Axel Jarosch stated: “The leg from Ras al Khaimah to Zighy

Bay is one of the toughest of the race. We are privileged to welcome the fleet closer to home; and what better place than in the midst of Musandam’s breathtaking landscape and unparalleled luxury of Six Senses. We are all very excited, and all eyes will be looking to the spinnakers at the finish line on our doorstep.” Up to 15 Farr 30-model boats are allowed entry into the event, with Royal Navy of Oman already confirmed.

Iconic property completes renovation

The Meli¿ White House boasts a central London location Meliá Hotels & Resorts has announced that its property in London, Meliá White House, has completed its renovation and has now opened its doors. The works include the refresh of more than 200 rooms, the enhancement of the property’s The Level executive floors and the transformation of its restaurant and bar facilities. Originally built in 1936, Meliá White House was opened as The White House luxury apartments. The building is said to retain all of its original architectural style and is a prime example of 1930s Art Deco. The renovation of the four-star hotel began in 2011 and 200 of its 581 rooms have been completed, including all of the superior rooms and the Meliá The Level VIP service. Guests staying on The Level floor can check-in at a private reception area and visit the exclusive The Level Lounge, offering a bar service in the afternoon including hot and cold snacks. The Meliá White House has also renovated its The Place Easy Food and Bar, which has a separate public entrance and serves a choice of Mediterranean dishes, salad buffet, grilled meats, traditional Spanish tapas and an authentic Spanish paella. The Meliá White House joined the Meliá portfolio in 1999 and enjoys a central location in the UK’s capital city. February 15 2013



High-end hotel to debut in Dubai Anantara Dubai Palm Jumeirah Resort & Spa, set to be Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas’ inaugural hotel in the Emirate of Dubai, is predicted to swing open its doors in September 2013.

grouped in units of four to eight to ensure privacy, with 130 rooms providing direct access to 11,000m² of lagoon pools, 12 Beach Villas, 18 Over Water Villas and three Royal Beach Villas.

This new resort strengthens our footprint in the key strategic market of the UAE. In partnership with the Dubai-based Seven Tides, Anantara Dubai Palm Jumeirah Resort & Spa is due to be located on the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah. It is set to feature 293 guest rooms and suites,

Chairman, Minor International – the owning company of Anantara, William Heinecke said: “This new resort strengthens our footprint in the key strategic market of the UAE. I am confident it will contribute to our success.”

A partnership to increase numbers In a bid to increase outbound car rental reservations to over 8,800 Hertz locations worldwide in 150 countries, Hertz Corporation has appointed Transworld Company as its General Sales Agent (GSA) in Kuwait. “We have an assertive long-term outbound growth strategy for Kuwait which focuses on key destinations such as the US and Europe. Having helped customers around the world for more than 90 years, this new partnership with Transworld Company builds upon the longstanding history Hertz has built in Kuwait,” said president, Hertz International, Michel Taride. The partnership between Hertz Corporation and Transworld Company is predicted to build on the increasing number of Hertz car rentals from Kuwait with the US, Germany, France and Switzerland, thus increasing the list of global destinations for Hertz Kuwait customers in 2012. Transworld has reportedly recruited an independent sales team which is to operate as a dedicated resource to represent the Hertz brand for outbound car rental in Kuwait, by providing high levels of service and support for the country’s travel trade professionals. The new GSA appointment is the most recent addition to a wave of this year’s investment by Hertz Kuwait, who aim to improve its booking channels and customer service levels.

Substantial demand for exhibition space


irAsia X is to introduce a new route to Jeddah from its Kuala Lumpur hub, scheduled to be launched on February 16, 2013. The airline has plans to begin flights to King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, from Kuala Lumpur with three weekly services from February 16 to April 30, 2013, with the aim of increasing these flight frequencies to four flights weekly as of May 1, 2013. “With Jeddah being the gateway to the holy cities of Madinah and Makkah, we are delighted that our services will provide more affordable travel for our Muslim guests in Malaysia, and throughout the region, to perform the holy pilgrimage of Hajj and Umrah,” said CEO, AirAsia X, Azran Osman-Rani.

“Similarly, guests from Saudi Arabia will have the opportunity to travel across our extensive network in South East Asia and beyond. We believe AirAsia’s wide network and favourable fare structures make cultural, heritage, recreational and shopping destinations more accessible to guests."

The airline plans on further increasing its frequencies

Qatar set for highly anticipated airport opening

The event is set to host talks and discussions provided by industry experts, as well as showcasing the famous Silk Road ITB Berlin has reported a worldwide demand for floor space from exhibitors from the Arab and Asian regions, in addition to South America, with the Travel Technology Hall (Hall 6.1) already fully booked. “Despite the economic difficulties around the world, ITB Berlin is a place where the global trade industry can do good business. The high level of demand from emerging destinations such as Asia and South America and the growth of popular markets such as Travel Technology are proof of how stable the global travel industry is,” outlined head, ITB Berlin, David Ruetz. ITB Berlin is this year celebrating its 10th

Acquiring new routes to Jeddah

The State of Qatar has revealed that preparations are well underway for the April 1 initial phase opening of the new Hamad International Airport to be operated by national carrier, Qatar Airways. Chairman, Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA), HE Abdul Aziz Al Noaimi outlined details of the soft launch to 100 airport officials and airline executives in an event organised by Qatar Airways, the Hamad International Airport’s Operational Readiness and Airport Transition (ORAT) team and QCAA. In the first phase of the $15.5 billion project, 12 international passenger airlines are set to become the launch carriers of the facility. Qatar Airways are also expected to

anniversary by providing talks and discussions from a range of leading industry experts. Adding to this, ITB Berlin’s Convention and Culture Partner – Azerbaijan, is expected to showcase the beauty of the Silk Road. This year is reported to mark the second time that ITB Berlin, along with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is emphasising developments on the famous Silk Road route. Along with newcomers such as South Sudan, Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, the UAE and Libya, among others, are said to have already booked their places at the travel trade show. February 15 2013

move operations to Hamad International Airport in the second half of the year. Doha International Airport is due to conduct a dual airport operation with Hamad International until full operations begin in the second half of the year. Cargo operations and catering facilities are set for operation within weeks. Al Noaimi said: “Hamad International Airport will truly be a global showpiece that the State of Qatar will justifiably be proud of. “The airlines that we will shortly welcome to Hamad International Airport will make history, becoming the first commercial operators of flights to and from the world’s newest aviation hub from April 1.”


Philippines visitor numbers surge

Visitors from the MENA region continue to flock to the destination A total of 4,272,811 foreign visitors have been welcomed in the Philippines in 2012, highlighting a 9.7 per cent increase from 2011 figures. Visitors from the MENA region contributed with 57,275 arrivals, predominantly from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait, which continue to be the top source markets from the region. Meanwhile, a total of 1,031,155 visitors came from South Korea (24.1 per cent of the total visitor volume to the Philippines) registering an 11.4 per cent growth from 2012. South Korea remains the country's biggest market and the first to contribute one million visitors.

Hotel brand expands portfolio with unveiling of luxury property in Berlin he Waldorf Astoria Berlin has opened its doors in the centre of the capital. Featuring 232 luxury guestrooms and suites, the hotel is housed within the Zoofenster skyscraper. With a total of 32 floors and a height of 118m, the hotel reportedly has the city’s highest suite, with its presidential suite on the top floor. Global head, luxury and lifestyle brands, Hilton Worldwide, John Vanderslice commented: "Waldorf Astoria Berlin is a wonderful addition to our portfolio, offering exquisite luxury that combines culinary excellence with a world-class spa offering and flawless, intuitive service.”

Vanderslice added: "We've experienced unprecedented levels of luxury growth in Europe lately, with five unique Waldorf Astoria hotels now welcoming guests across Europe." The hotel presents a number of F&B outlets including a restaurant run by French chef, Pierre Gagnaire. In addition it offers the Romanisches Café, which is set to reopen on the ground floor along with the New York-styled Lang Bar, making available a range of cocktails and artisan beers. Additionally, a Guerlain Spa Waldorf Astoria provides eight treatment rooms. The hotel also has meeting spaces for 10 to 1,200 people.

The US came in second with 625,626 visitors and Japan ranked third with 412,474 visitors. Other markets consistently providing significant volume and growth are China with 250,883 arrivals, Taiwan with 216,511 and Australia with 191,150. Tourism secretary, Philippine Department of Tourism, Ramon Jimenez said: “Crossing the four-million mark is a feat in itself and puts us well on track to achieve our ultimate goal of 10 million visitor arrivals by 2016.” In addition the country achieved 93.8 per cent of its 4,556,582 visitor arrival goal for last year.

Meetings industry confidence reported Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the organiser of the upcoming Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM), has reported robust pre-show bookings. The exhibition, set to take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from March 25-27, has reportedly sold 90 per cent of all floor space to new exhibitors and existing participants.

Meetings industry professionals are upbeat about economic prospects. Exhibition manager, GIBTM, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Lois Hall commented: “We are well on target to achieve our increased floor space target compared to last year and should have several more exhibitors on board." Returning exhibitors are due to include Bahrain Ministry of Tourism, Etihad Airways and Jordan Tourism Board. “It’s another positive indicator that the region’s meetings industry professionals are upbeat about economic prospects for 2013 and beyond,” added Hall. February 15 2013



Dubai hotel organises sports day

Property promotes eco-friendliness

Aiming to extend awareness

he Charterhouse Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, China, joined a ‘Hong Kong Cleanup’ activity which was organised by Eco-vision Asia and co-organiser, Fox International Channels, to emphasise its CSR and raise awareness in conserving the natural environment and the beach, whilst actively cleaning the general image of Hong Kong.

The sports day consisted of games, prizes and gifts, as well as a dance presentation Further implementing its CSR initiatives, the five-star Al Murooj Rotana, Dubai organised a Sports Day event for children with special needs at the Residential Care Home for Special Needs. The event, organised in collaboration with the executive manager, Senses Residential Care Home for Special Needs, Lina Owies, consisted of games, prizes and gifts, a dance presentation from the children and a

barbecue lunch buffet. “We are grateful for this well-planned activity by Al Murooj Rotana aiming to make the Senses children happy. The kids really had fun and it was heart-warming to see the hotel’s management team take care, play and laugh with them. We are also thankful for all the efforts put into this activity including the fantastic lunch they prepared for the children and the centre’s staff,” said Owies.

We will continue to organise environmental activities. The Charterhouse ‘Go Green’ committee proceeded to Deep Water Bay to clean up the beach, where the teams, separated into five patrols of three members, worked to pick up the rubbish along the shoreline. After two-hours of work, the team reportedly collected a variety of unwanted materials, including plastic bottles, batteries, rope and cigarette butts. “We respect the environment and follow clear green policies for sustainable development in Charterhouse Causeway Bay’s operations to conserve resources for future generations. We will continue to organise environmental activities to encourage people to be eco-friendly,” outlined a spokesperson of Charterhouse Causeway Bay.

Ceremony held for English Literacy graduates


A partnership between Grosvenor House Dubai and Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort + Spa, with Emirates Marine Environmental Group and Clean up The World Campaign has been announced. In a bid to preserve endangered marine life, the two properties have joined forces with Emirates Marine Environmental Group to host a 10km walk around Dubai Marina, along with Corky and Candy, the hotel resident

corals, who aided with raising funds to preserve coral reefs around the UAE. The properties have participated in initiatives aimed at heightening community awareness on cleanliness, reduction of waste and recycling. Last November, both took part in the annual Clean up The World Campaign conducted by the municipality of Dubai. A group of 47 associates from the properties joined the campaign.

Encouraging a variety of sports within Abu Dhabi

The ceremony was held at the company’s headquarters and was attended by senior management and staff Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), developer of major tourism, cultural and residential destinations in Abu Dhabi, recently held a graduation ceremony at the company’s headquarters for 30 construction workers who enrolled in an English Literacy Programme at Saadiyat Construction Village. As the second round of English classes – taught by TDIC staff volunteers, that the company has organised since it launched in 2012, the initiative outlines the company’s commitment to social responsibility through enhancing and supporting workers and their wellbeing. All 30 students who had signed up for the second English Literacy programme achieved

The properties have participated in several initiatives

success throughout their studies, and attended the organised graduation ceremony in the presence of TDIC’s senior management and staff. “These classes were organised as part of our ongoing commitment to encourage a community spirit at Saadiyat Construction Village. We are very proud with all the various activities and programmes running in the village, recreational or educational. We are delighted to be able to enhance the welfare and lifestyle of the construction workers. We are also very proud of our colleagues at TDIC for volunteering their personal time and efforts to this humbling experience,” remarked executive director, strategic performance, TDIC, Sultan Al Mahmood.

February 15 2013

HSBC Interactive Village welcomed numerous sports names to its premises at an event aiming to teach children how to play various sports including golf, rugby and tennis. Renowned English golfer and the former Abu Dhabi Champion and Ryder Cup player, Paul Casey, recently conducted a golf masterclass with 200 local school pupils from The National Charity School. The students took their very first steps in golf at the event, held at the HSBC Interactive Village, in the build up to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship which took place between January 17 and 20, 2013. Adding to the list of renowned sportsmen were: former British number one tennis player, Tim Henman, and rugby players Gavin Hastings and Jonathan Davies. All three sportsmen joined up with double winner Paul Casey in the

interactive session with the children, whilst also hosting free master-classes in rugby and tennis, thus taking sport into the community. Henman, Hastings and Davies additionally conducted interviews on being in Abu Dhabi and shared sporting stories of interest.

The event featured challenges for people of all ages and abilities, from putting and chipping challenges to HSBC golf Simulators and HSBC Coaching Nets, where visitors were granted the opportunity to receive a 10-minute professional golf lesson.

The event hosted challenges for people of all ages and abilities


Changing the face of adventure travel

We used to do much more adventurous things 25 years ago – a lot of our customers are more easy going now therefore our customer base has really changed and there are a lot more opportunities today in adventure travel. They used to refer to it as the fastest growing niche; but it is no longer a niche. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

opening yourself up to other ways of living more simply, being open to communicate with people of other cultures or using local means of transportation. It can be overwhelming for some people, but that is what we strive for. Adding to this, over the years we have had exceptional guides. For us a guide is like a friend; someone who wants to share their beliefs, their family and the special dishes they like to eat. Finally, fun is a big element– it takes a fun guy to enjoy himself.

TTG: What are the latest developments from Wildland Adventures?

TTG: What are your favourite places to visit and why?

The biggest thing we are focusing on is implementing more sustainable travel. We have been talking about ways to contribute to local communities and as a result, we are seeing more organised efforts for sustainable travel. More specifically, we are exploring ways we can work together as an industry to minimise our overall footprint. We have organised our efforts to find ways to control our impact through the supply chain. We hire an operator in a country and they may organise a safari and hire the drivers; therefore we need to know that they too are conscientious about who they are bringing on to run the trip. We do not control the impact on the ground, so what we are really trying to do is establish this as a verifiable structure; we are currently working to minimise ‘green washing’ [the act of misleading consumers regarding environmental benefits] that is taking place.

Turkey for me is my favourite as it is my heritage. I like it because Istanbul is an amazing city and is so easy to explore. I enjoy Turkish cuisine too – therefore cuisine has also become an important part of our business. On the other hand, trips to India remind me of why I started this business.

TTG: How did you get into the adventure travel sector?

Pioneering in adventure travel and eco tourism, CEO, Wildland Adventures, Kurt Kutay shares with Natalie Hami the changes within the industry and how far it has come TTG: How has the face of travel changed since the founding of the company over 20 years ago and how has eco tourism changed during this time?

There are also amazing infrastructures, excellent guides and beautiful eco–lodges available. These accommodation options become really important for the traveller, whereas before it did not really matter. Today expectations are higher to make adventure travel more comfortable. For example, there are sky bridges built in the rainforest canopy where most species live – the traveller can walk through this area, which contributes to the overall experience.

has recently stated that if you are not doing adventure travel you are missing the boat. TTG: Is eco tourism synonymous with adventure travel? Eco tourism and adventure go hand in hand. Adventure is about being more adventurous and is for someone who wants to discover more; there is a psychology that goes with it. Eco tourism focuses on how we travel, as well as taking the local people into consideration. People that are adventurous tend to be more conscious of those they are visiting. February 15 2013

My background is in conservation and park management. I had the chance to work in Costa Rica where I learnt Spanish for six months and had the chance to travel around the country. At that time, people were concerned about Burger King and McDonalds cutting down rainforests, so it presented an opportunity. I was in the right place at the right time. I just loved travel and therefore it was a way to integrate travel with my love of conservation. As we became involved in supporting communities, so did the traveller, and thus, it turned out to be part of the experience we now offer for Wildland Adventures. TTG: What is considered unique about Wildland Adventures? When we sat down 25 years ago, we said we wanted to offer an authentic experience. Now everyone is talking about authenticity, therefore we did some research and are now rebranding. Our goal was to try and communicate that better – people told us that authenticity is about making connections with your spouse or your family and it is certainly about connecting to nature. The authentic experience is one in which you feel like you are a member of the community you are visiting – that could be a home stay or jumping around a fire with the Masai. It is about breaking barriers,

The authentic experience is one in which you feel like you are a member of the community you are visiting. TTG: The company already has itineraries spanning 28 countries. Do you have future plans to expand further east or more in the MENA region in particular? There is so much to develop in Jordan and we look forward to doing this. For example, there is a new trek in Petra. My recommendation is to use that as a centre piece to promote adventure travel. I am actually meeting with an operator in Oman which sounds interesting – this is what it takes: we go to places that we want to go to ourselves. TTG: The company was recently described as one of the World’s Best Tour Specialists by Fodor. How was this achieved? It goes back to the infrastructure and the very nature of the travel trade association that allows eco–lodges to share the kind of style that people want. I am astounded at the level of luxury catered to adventure travellers. We try to find a nice balance between boutique and contributing to the natural environment experience you are going to have. Thus, comfort is something people do not even have to think about. It is about maintaining style, but keeping within character.



A history of resilience As the general consensus conveys an overwhelming feeling of hope and optimism, Egypt powers through holding its dignified head up high. Tatiana Tsierkezou investigates

ndeniably, Egypt has encountered numerous uphill political struggles in recent months, yet similarly to the Egyptian positive outlook on life, the country, its residents and more relevantly, its tourism industry, manages to maintain its optimism levels. “Egypt has incredible depth and diversity within its tourism product, and is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the world with its antiquities, as well as other religious and natural attractions. Also the country enjoys an advantageous geographical location, ideal for both intraregional tourism and close to key source markets in Europe,” commented director, development, MKG Hospitality, Vanguelis Panayotis, exclusively to TTG. PR manager, Taba Heights Marriott Red Sea Resort, Katie Roberts also noted to TTG: “The weather, year round sunshine and relatively short flight times from most European countries are huge driving forces behind tourism in Egypt. It is a very resilient country with access to some of the world’s greatest treasures.” The region itself embodies a diverse variety of tourist attractions, namely the Great Pyramids of Giza – one of the most valued seven wonders of the world, the River Nile, a range of ancient temples and the Valley of the Kings, making travellers of the world more inclined to visit and revel in the mystery of the pharaonic reign, whilst also having the option of other leisure activities, a popular one being shopping. All of these factors which encourage an increase in tourism numbers reportedly contribute a tremendously positive impact on the economy. Referring to the tourism numbers of the first three quarters of 2012, director, sales and marketing, Fairmont Nile City, Cairo, Magdi Gamil exclusively told TTG: “Around 8.1 million tourists visited Egypt, injecting some $10 billion into the economy and 96 million overnight stays by tourists in Egyptian hotels – recorded in the same period.” Gamil emphasised how vital tourism is for the national economy of Egypt, representing 11.3 per cent of Egypt’s gross domestic product and 17 per cent of its foreign currency reserves. “Also, it provides 12.6 per cent of the total manpower


January 15 2012

DESTINATION EGYPT of the state, with four million people directly employed in the industry,” he declared. Area general manager, InterContinental Cairo Citystars, Simon Stamper, also referring to the tourism industry commented to TTG: “Egypt has a lot to offer and government officials are investing a lot of time and effort in stressing the competitive advantages and unique treasures that the country has to offer. For us personally, we have a central sales team that works to promote the complex as a unique business and travel destination. We offer a variety of options that meet the different needs, tastes and requirements of our unique and diverse customer base. Our proximity to the mall gives a great competitive edge over other properties, because of the large variety of shopping, entertainment and leisure activities the mall has to offer.” According to the government statistics agency, CAPMAS (Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics), Egypt attracted one million tourists during the month of August, 2012, representing 14 per cent more than the corresponding month in 2011. Most of the inbound tourism was by Western European travellers, followed closely by Eastern European and Middle Eastern tourists. Reportedly, these visitors spent a total of 12 million nights in the country, a 10 per cent increase when compared to the corresponding month in 2011, thus underlining that Egypt’s tourism sector, despite the political disruptions, is on the road to recovery. PERSISTENT PROMOTION Particularly vital assets to the tourism sector, playing a mammoth role in networking and promoting, are the numerous national and international travel trade exhibitions which take place throughout the year; namely ITB Berlin, FITUR, GIBTM, ATM, WTM and many more. Exhibition manager, GIBTM, Lois Hall, in a recent interview, stated that GIBTM 2013 is to welcome the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism back to the event, after a one-year break. “It is significant that Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt, have booked a large amount of floor space, and it’s another positive indicator that the region’s meetings’ industry professionals are

upbeat about economic prospects for 2013 and beyond,” she explained. Expressing how essential these networking events are, a spokesperson from Egyptair highlighted exclusively to TTG: “Egyptair, as the national carrier of Egypt, bears a great responsibility towards enhancing its participation in the international travel and tourism exhibitions such as EMITT, FITUR, WTM and ITB Berlin. Through these exhibitions, we aim to convey multiple messages to its customers as a main gateway to the Middle East and Africa, in addition to the other variety of offers that Egyptair provides its customers with.” Stamper also brought to TTG’s attention that InterContinental Cairo Citystars will too, be attending international

In spite of the fact that the situation in Egypt is not at its most stable, there is a general feeling of hope and perseverance within its tourism industry.

will be keen to grab every opportunity that is out there to make it happen. Egypt received 11 million tourists in 2012 and aims to boost that number to 14 million in 2013. The Ministry of Tourism hopes to exceed $13 billion in tourism generated income each year.” Panayotis added: “Egypt still has many challenges to overcome, brought about by the political situation. This is obviously having a major and unavoidable impact on the country's tourism sector. That said, Egypt has also shown growth this year in key hotel performance indicators, with RevPAR increasing by 11.4 per cent over last year. This was driven by a 6.6 point increase in Occupancy Rate (OR), as hoteliers reduced average prices in order to stimulate additional demand.” Panayotis also remarked that the greatest changes were seen in Alexandria and Cairo, with RevPAR up by 18.2 per cent and 17.6 per cent. This is said to have been triggered by an influx of international business activity from the media, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), foreign governments, local government and business sectors. He added: “A number of Red Sea destinations have also shown growth. Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh for instance both recorded an increase in RevPAR of almost 15 per cent, mainly fuelled by better occupancy rates. Although these changes in yearly performance are also due to comparisons with the severely depressed figures this time last year, it does therefore demonstrate the country’s ability to endure and recover.” He further iterated that this is a sure sign that the country has what it takes to get back on track and reinstate confidence. “Of course, so much relies on continued stability in the internal situation,” he remarked. A spokesperson for Hilton Worldwide, which is currently present in nine different markets in Egypt, exclusively stated to TTG: “We will continue to highlight and promote the many different reasons why Egypt is an outstanding destination. Hilton Worldwide has a policy that we not only promote our own hotel, we promote the markets in which we operate. This will not change during 2013. "This year has been tough, but throughout, our hotels

General manager, Sheraton Miramar Resort, Franz Kielnhofer outlined Egypt’s numerous development goals, aiming to aid with the augmentation of the tourism sector: “Plans include achieving high growth rates in the number of tourists coming from the emerging markets such as Ukraine, Poland along with the Czech Republic; upgrading Egypt’s competitive status on the new markets – India and China, and identifying the Egyptian tourism modes in a comprehensive and effective way.” Kielnhofer further mentioned to TTG that Egypt’s development initiative includes launching a promotion campaign via mass media of the major exporters of tourists. Gamil also expressed his optimism to TTG: “Despite the clashes, inbound tourism appears to be on the rise and we

have remained open and we’ve continued with our expansion plans. We are playing our part to support Egypt’s vital tourism industry – helping to restore the confidence of our international visitors and promoting vacations within Egypt to residents,” the spokesperson added. Addressing the political unrest within the region and the property’s plans for the future, marketing communications & PR manager, Le Méridien Heliopolis, Cairo, Nihal Zamzam added, exclusively to TTG: “In mid 2013 we will be beginning our renovation plans. We will not stop promoting the hotel and hopefully, by that time, the political unrest will have eased off as we have great hopes for the outcome of our revolution. It is only a matter of time, and time is the greatest healer.”

Egypt is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the world with its antiquities, as well as other religious and natural attractions. events: “We are attending FITUR 2013 in Madrid, Spain. Such a conference exposes us to different markets.” He additionally outlined that ITB Berlin, WTM London, EIBTM, IMEX and ATM are on its list of annual events: “The Arabian Travel Market grows in size each year and has become a great meeting place for many within the industry from all over the world.” In the meantime, Roberts also outlined the significance of the property attending such events saying: “Taba Heights Marriott Red Sea Resort will be attending all the major travel events, conveying the message that the tourist destinations in Egypt are free from any political problems and conveying an overall positive message to international tourists. We will continue to stay positive and will reinforce the message that Egypt is safe.” A CONFIDENT OUTLOOK

February 15 2013



Offering all round event Egyptian resort planning receives certification

Hotel praised by travellers website

övenpick Resort Hurghada, Egypt has recently acquired Green Globe certification. The property is said to have demonstrated corporate responsibility and innovation in operational efficiency on numerous levels after its inaugural certification audit in 2012. “Achieving Green Globe certification is a great milestone for this property, strengthening our efforts to be fully in line with the Mövenpick standard,” commented general manager, Mövenpick Resort Hurghada, Alain Chatel. The property’s team can cater for 20 to 2,000 guests For the organisation of social events both on and off-site, the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is offering its event planners along with its culinary team. The property’s kitchen team can reportedly cater for 20 to 2,000 guests at a time. Events range from large-scale gala functions at sites ranging from the Pyramids, to smaller and more intimate dinners for guests wishing to host meals at home.


The kitchen team is said to be capable of coordinating with the client’s chosen venue, event planning and execution, menu creation, setup and decoration, while also coordinating with service and clean up. The property includes a 1,000m² Plaza Ballroom, the 370m² Nile Ballroom, and five conference and boardrooms, situated in its business centre. Each space features décor in the style of the hotel.

The luxury property features a saltwater lagoon

Achieving Green Globe certification is a great milestone for this property. The hotel reportedly runs a sustainability management system which monitors energy and water consumption, with alternative green energy sources and water preservation projects in the pipeline. Furthermore, the property boasts a Green Team, dedicated to analysing and implementing environmental goals set by the hotel, and promotes awareness among its suppliers and partners. Mövenpick Resort Hurghada also supports the community and charities, such as El Khabar El Tayeb, a local organisation.

February 15 2013

InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort has recently announced that it has been selected by TripAdvisor 2013 Travelers’ Choice as one of the top 25 luxury hotels within Egypt. The announcement further highlighted that the decision was made based on millions of traveller reviews along with their opinions. The five-star deluxe property is located on the Red Sea and features 308 rooms and

13 suites – each offering Red Sea views, saltwater lagoon views or garden views. InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort also offers a wide variety of dining options, as well as saltwater lagoon, tennis courts and a diverse range of activities. Guests can relax at the property's Six Senses Spa, which was reportedly recently announced as Egypt’s Leading Spa Resort for 2012 at the World Travel Awards.


National carrier adopts new services

Cornerstone laying for fresh property During the Red Sea Governorate’s Day, the Steigenberger Al Dau Resort illustrated its new five-star family hotel project, the Steigenberger Aqua Magic – scheduled to open in late 2013, with a traditional cornerstone laying. With construction works in progress, owner, Steigenberger Al Dau Resort, Sami Saad, chairman, Steigenberger Al Dau Resort, Bassel Saad, along with the Resort’s management team, all gathered for the official ceremony. State minister, Environmental Affairs, HE Khaled Mohamed Fahmy and governor, Red Sea, HE General Mohamed Mohamed Gamal attended the event as honorary guests, and were reportedly impressed with the progress of the construction after witnessing the developments of the site, in addition to the services and the facilities the new property is expected to offer its guests once in operation.

The event was attended by several honorary guests

Beach side opening set for spring Swiss Inn Hotels & Resorts is to welcome the Rohanou Swiss Inn Resort, located 10km south of El Quseir, which is expected to open its doors and launch operations in March 2013. Located on the beach with rooms featuring views of the Red Sea, the new property is to comprise of 80 rooms, including six suites and three villas featuring balconies, a controlled air conditioning system, a hair dryer, satellite TV, a mini-bar, a direct international telephone

February 15 2013

service, along with Internet access and an in-room safe. Rooms for handicap guests are available upon request. Culinary options include a main restaurant and terrace, Elkhan Pub, a lobby, beach and pool bar, as well as a Shisha Corner, offering a variety of drinks and numerous shisha flavours. For corporate travellers, the Rohanou Swiss Inn Resort provides a fully-equipped conference room that can host up to 20 people.

he national carrier of Egypt, Egyptair has recently announced the introduction of new direct and regular services to and from Manchester – UK, Toronto – Canada and Harare – Zimbabwe, effective as of June 1, 2013. The carrier’s new operations will join its 17 African and 20 European destinations, as well as the other services on offer, served by its code-share partner airlines. Following this announcement, Egyptair is expected to provide promotional fares to these new destinations, while also offering benefits to its frequent flyer members making use of the new services. Chairman, Egyptair, Roshy Zakaria outlined: “These points are very important for Egyptair as they are pivotal points in three of the world continents. “With the new non-stop service to Manchester, Egyptair will be the only carrier operating between Manchester and Cairo; this will give a special advantage for our valued customers to fly between Cairo and the two important UK hubs of London and Manchester.” Zakaria further noted: “Toronto is one of the largest Canadian cities with a huge concentration of Egyptian and Arab expatriates. This is one of the reasons why Egyptair was encouraged to start this strategic route as the only operator between Cairo and Toronto, in addition to the daily service to JFK airport in the US. Egyptair will start operations to Harare via Dar Es Salam. This will increase the integration of Egyptair's network around the globe.”



With its authentic and ancient medina and souks, it's a special place. VISION OF GROWTH

CULTURAL TAPESTRY Morocco is a stalwart, historically rich destination which is actively engaged in creating a number of modern developments. Naomi Leach discovers its vibrant appeal tability has been highlighted by industry experts as the key to unlocking Morocco’s tourism success. Thus for the culturally bountiful North African country, promoting this prevailing optimism is vital as tourism represents a powerful driver of economic growth. Director, development, MKG Hospitality, Vanguelis Panayotis outlined in the HotelCompSet report: “Morocco remains more or less stable, which actually represents reasonable recovery considering the major decline it experienced at the beginning of the year. If all goes well, the country should continue its path towards full recovery.” Regional general manager, Amphitrite Hotels & Resorts Morocco, Abel Damergi reflecting this positivity commented to TTG: “Morocco, because of its political stability, is the only country in the region, that is maintaining a decent flow of tourists to cities such as Marrakech, though less than previous years.” Director, sales & PR, Lucien Barriere, Hicham Khaldaoui concurred, and told TTG: “During November 2012, the volume of


foreign tourist arrivals crossings the borders recorded an increase of four per cent compared with November 2011, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Concerning accommodation in classified establishments, it was recorded at an increase of 20 per cent in November 2012 compared to November 2011.” Positive results were driven by a variety of markets. Director, sales & marketing, Kenzi Hotels Group, Houda Berrada told TTG: “The feeder markets are France, UK, Germany, GCC, Spain, Belgium, Benelux, not forgetting the local market which is very important.” While director, sales, Selman Marrakech, Imane Diouri agreed that the property has similar feeder markets, 90-year old hotel La Mamounia has witnessed a shift. Previously, France had represented 50 per cent of guests visiting Marrakech, communication coordinator, La Mamounia, Siham El Ouarzazi stated to TTG but nowadays the hotel is welcoming a variety of nationalities with Brazilian, Mexican and Scandinavian markets showing interest. The domestic Moroccan market is a significant part of the mix for Four Seasons Resort February 15 2013

Marrakech, but increasingly important is the MENA market. Palais Amani has experienced a rise in Middle Eastern clients and the hotel is actively targeting MENA travellers for weekend breaks. Co-owner, Palais Amani, Jemima Mann-Baha said to TTG: “We are confident that we shall see a rise in the number of visitors from these regions in the coming year due to the desire to discover and enjoy Moroccan culture and the sense of welcome that is unmatched elsewhere.” Both Selman Hotel and Amphitrite Hotels & Resorts highlighted familiarisation trips and participation at major trade shows, respectively to promote their product to MENA. Furthermore, in a bid to capture the MENA market, Khaldaoui suggested to TTG: “Morocco will focus on its key strengths such as diversified products with multiple leisure possibilities; an easy integration due to common origins and similar language; a promise of authentic and modern Morocco; infrastructure based on reliable interveners and brands; a constant growing economy; and more investors from the region.”

Through the Moroccan government’s Tourism Development Strategy Vision 2020, a plan has been unveiled which aims to double the travel industry’s size (by 200,000 new beds), to double the number of tourists and to triple the number of domestic travellers, thus transforming Morocco into one of the world’s top 20 destinations. The Moroccan Tourism Board has been developing new tourist areas including a project expected in 2015 in the north of Morocco, Al Houceima. Kenzi Hotels Group has signed a contract to be a part of this development which features a four-star hotel and village. “The tourist board is very active to develop a partnership with all feeder and emerging markets, and has a dedicated strategy by country starting with the accessibility of airlines to all touristic facilities,” noted Berrada. Bab Al Bahr, which is expected to represent the largest mixed-use development in Morocco, is also in line with Morocco's Vision 2020. Managing director, Al Maabar, Yousef Al Nowais exclusively commented to TTG: “Al Maabar selected Rabat, Morocco, based on the attractiveness of Morocco’s rich historical heritage and its strategic location as Africa’s gateway to Europe as a tourism hotspot. Secondly, the ease with which we are able to do business through strong collaborations in the partner country. “These factors, in addition to the government’s proactive initiatives and investments to drive Morocco Vision 2020, are conducive to Bab Al Bahr becoming one of Morocco’s leading cultural attractions.” Furthermore, projects in Saadia, Taghazout and Marrakech are a part of Vision 2020. INDIGENOUS APPEAL By embracing both its cultural history and its modern developments, Morocco is continuing to showcase its rich touristic product, both regionally and internationally. In response to demand from travellers in search of authentic Morocco, Palais Amani has introduced cultural, art and culinary workshops for guests. Director, sales & marketing, Four Seasons Marrakech, Holger Frehde told TTG: “With its authentic and ancient medina and souks, it is a special place where you can lose yourself in a time that seems to have stood still. At the same time, with luxury hotels, guests enjoy all the comforts of the 21st century.”


High end brand enters Casablanca

The hotel has a strategic position in the business district

Sofitel Luxury Hotels has announced the opening of its first address in Casablanca, the Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche, located in the centre of the business district, near to the Hassan II Mosque. CEO, Sofitel Worldwide, Robert Gaymer-Jones said: “Sofitel Luxury Hotels has the finest collection of luxury

hotels in Morocco, now with eight exceptional addresses in the most beautiful destinations of the Kingdom. Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche enjoys a strategic position and its charismatic architecture sets the hotel as an iconic address in this business city.” The Sofitel Casablanca Tour Blanche was designed with stylised zellij, Moorish ornaments and distinctive glass facades, and offers three F&B options. There is also a private penthouse. Additionally, the property boasts a So Spa, spanning two floors and offering gym training with two qualified coaches, and the use of a swimming pool. Galerie 01 is the hotel’s art gallery featuring an open, semi-circular ballroom of 500m2 for up to 20 people and three private rooms.

POP-UP restaurant concept welcomed Four Seasons Resort Marrakech has launched a regular POPUP restaurant concept, reportedly making it the first hotel in Morocco to introduce the concept. The POP-UP Restaurant results in a new restaurant arriving at the hotel each month. The concept is celebrated with an event which pops up for a few days. Director, sales & marketing, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, Holger Frehde commented to TTG: “We launched our first POP-UP 'Bombay Cut' with inventive Indian cuisine, then we created the Buena Vista Club, a Cuban Bar concept with tapas and mojitos, and in February we will create a new Speak Easy POP–UP concept.” “We are enjoying a very successful first quarter of 2013 due to high profile groups and steady individual leisure business, especially from Europe and the Middle East,” she said.

Integrated city development reports demand ab Al Bahr Development Company (BBDC), a joint venture development company between the UAE’s Al Maabar International Investment and Morocco’s Bouregreg Agency, has announced that high demand has been witnessed in the newly launched Arts District at the mixeduse Bab Al Bahr development in Rabat. The Arts District showcases a variety of luxury residential buildings, a five-star hotel, boutiques, food and beverage outlets, as well as an array of art galleries and museums.

Luxury hotel announces revamp

The coastal property is set for a refurbishment beginning with the Royal Villa L’Amphitrite Hotels and Resorts Morocco has revealed to TTG its plans to begin a renovation at L’Amphitrite Palace during February 2013. The five star property is located in Skhirat Plage, beside the Royal Palace, and is 25 minutes away from the capital, Rabat. Blending heritage design and rich furnishings, the property’s renovation is due to start with the Royal Villa and is expected to include a

new driveway with a fountain and a new gate. A more extensive, complete refurbishment of the interior has been planned to include changing the use of spaces and upgrading the living room, bathrooms, kitchen, all three bedrooms and the main entrance. Regional general manager, Amphitrite Hotels & Resorts Morocco, Abel Damergi said: “It will bring the Royal Villa to a different level of luxury.”

New property highlights niche offerings

integrated city that offers luxury living in a unique setting that embraces arts, culture, contemporary architecture and history. We are confident that, once completed, Bab Al Bahr will set a new benchmark for Morocco’s mixed-use developments and become a world-class cultural destination.” Managing director, Al Maabar, Yousef Al Nowais commented: “Through the Bab Al Bahr development, a homage to Morocco’s rich historical heritage, Al Maabar is able to realise its strategic goal of proThe Taj Palace Marrakech is expected to open its expansive spa facility and hamams imminently

Bab Al Bahr will set a new benchmark for Morocco’s mixed-use developments and become a world-class cultural destination. Director general, Bouregreg Agency, Lemghari Essakl said: “We are delighted by the increased local and international demand for Bab Al Bahr’s offerings, evidenced by the interest the Marina and Riverfront and Arts Districts have attracted thus far, which illustrates that this development is truly meeting market needs. “Our successful partnership with Al Maabar has enabled us to create an

moting long-term cultural and socio-economic growth in its partner country, with its mixed-use developments that create a connecting ground, bringing residents, businesses and visitors closer to their daily needs, in a new vibrant and integrated community. We envision Bab Al Bahr becoming the new trendiest downtown of Morocco by bringing about a Renaissance to the country's capital.” February 15 2013

Following its recent soft opening, The Taj Palace Marrakech has revealed details of its spa facilities, due to open imminently. Director, sales, The Taj Palace Marrakech, Eva Sitarz exclusively commented to TTG: “Our spa should be one of our unique selling points with its impressive 3,800m2 of total space and its 14 treatment rooms and two extensive hamams. “The Spa experience includes Indian therapies, signature treatments, Ayurveda, yoga and meditation. The all-natural range of Jiva products are made with a deep understanding of the therapeutic benefits of Indian herbs, essential oils and pharmacopoeia.”

The property is also highlighting its wedding offerings by promoting the palatial experience guests can encounter at the Taj Palace Marrakech “We have designed a special service called the Royal Procession consisting of escorting the brides on a throne with fantasia horses, nomads on camels, trumpets and drummers. It’s also the perfect experience for the renewal of vows." For the MICE sector, the property is also marketing its vicinity to nearby golf courses and its on site banqueting venues as well as outdoor spaces. Sitarz added: "We can cater for up to 1,500 people for cocktails in the gardens.”


ANALYSIS WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS willing to spend money, so they do,” said Michaelidou, adding that Limassol especially has the added advantage of enabling couples to arrive on the island and carry on their journey with a cruise. Growth and demand The weddings and honeymoons industry is a fairly new one; which has developed, growing from strength to strength, and will continue to do so. When questioned as to how the industry has changed in the MENA region in particular, banquet manager, Concorde Hotel Fujairah, Mohsen Salem highlighted the competitiveness in this once niche industry: “Our industry has been expanding over the years and hence the competition levels have gone up. The addition of the ‘private wedding halls’ has made it a lot more challenging for us to maintain our position in the market. This rise in competition has only made us a lot stronger and has paved the way for new innovative business strategies.”

Our industry has been expanding over the years and hence the competition levels have gone up.

Bespoke qualities The weddings and honeymoons sector is growing from strength to strength in a bid to cater to a couple’s ultimate needs. Natalie Hami explores what the region and beyond has to offer nce considered niche tourism, the weddings and honeymoons industry appears to be picking up speed with properties both in the MENA region and abroad, bolstering and expanding their offerings to cater to this growing demand. Properties are drawing in couples, whether it be for a lavish and personalised wedding or the long sought–after privacy of a honeymoon. The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa is one such hotel, according to director, PR, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Hotel & Spa, Claudia Hardt, who emphasised the property’s facilities to TTG exclusively: “The boutique style wedding show room features artfully arranged table set ups complete with selections of chinaware, crystal and linen. The displays show the bride and groom how their personalised wedding arrangements could be on their special day.” She also highlighted that the property’s Al Ghazal ballroom can accommodate up to 500 guests and Al Khayma (the tent) can accommodate a maximum of 300, while Al Noor Hall has a capacity to host 500 guests. Director, catering, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul, Yesim Insel reflected on what both the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus and Sultanahmet had to offer to the growing industry,


especially the MENA region. “Istanbul is blessed with having two Four Seasons within minutes of each other, but each with a completely different feel,” Insel told TTG. Four Seasons Bosphorus offers a 100m2 ballroom adjacent to an outdoor terrace, however Four Seasons Sultanahmet provides for more intimate ceremonies. GAINING SPEED Nestled in the corner of the Mediterranean, Cyprus has also been promoting itself further as a destination for weddings. “Our hotels have implemented new romantic venues and attractive packages in order to maximise wedding bookings,” sales manager, Cyprotels Hotels & Resorts, Andrie Kleanthous Demosthenous commented exclusively to TTG. She added that Cyprotels mostly caters to local weddings, as well as a plethora of couples from the UK. Manager, Limassol Tourism Board, Maria Michaelidou revealed to TTG that the island’s main feeder markets are from the UK, Russia and nearby Lebanon. “Plenty come to Cyprus to have their wedding and many municipalities get plenty of revenue from this. It is considered the best kind of tourism because couples come and they’re February 15 2013

General manager, Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, Hossam Kamal reiterated a similar sentiment referring to the changing needs of their guests: “Guests’ expectations are getting more sophisticated day after day, which obliges us to live up to these ever-changing needs and keep abreast of the latest trends.” Cluster general manager, Al Bustan & Murooj Rotana Dubai, Hussein Hachem noted to TTG : “Couples are in constant search of new trends, but some elements remain the same. Simplicity and elegance of koshas and table set-ups are still very popular demands amongst our Emirati clients.” Beyond the MENA region however, couples appear to be looking to put together a more lavish wedding. General manager, The Leela Palace Udaipur, Graham Grant told TTG: “More money is spent on decorations, flower setups and accommodation, and food and beverage is highly negotiated to appreciate the total spend.” Unique offerings Referring to the expansive honeymoons sector and what couples are searching for post-wedding, tourist board manager, British Virgin Islands, Ginny Hawksley highlighted that couples are looking for tailor made touches for their honeymoons. “Couples are asking for a lot more special requests to be handled, and for little details to be just the way they want." Couples on their honeymoon are also looking for particular amenities such as privacy. Hawksley noted to TTG: “Couples are asking for more privacy, their own villas with undisturbed views and private beaches with no-one else around, for example Peter Island has the honeymoon beach which is only accessible by boat. ” The significance of privacy was stressed by director, sales & marketing, Le Gray Beirut, Hilal Saade, who exclusively commented to TTG: “What honeymooners like about Le Gray is the fact that they can combine the privacy they need in the hotel with the proximity of everything around them for when they want to enjoy the city.”


Property to host wedding exhibition ullman Jakarta Central Park has recently announced that it is to welcome visitors for the 'Ambiance' Wedding Exhibition, taking place from March 1-3, 2013. Set to be one of the biggest wedding exhibitions in Jakarta, with an aim to draw in engaged couples from all over Indonesia as well as overseas, the exhibition is due to take place in the property’s grand ballroom, which can host up to 5,000 guests. Pullman Jakarta Central Park, in line with not only catering to the weddings industry but MICE as well, offers a spacious multifunction grand ballroom. It also provides flexibility for events such as concerts. In a bid to fully serve the wedding sector, the

property has been working as well as establishing a relationship with professional wedding vendors. Supported by wedding organisers, Tonny & Lifetime and Be Perfect Management, the exhibition is due to showcase a large variety of quality suppliers covering every aspect of the wedding industry. Prospective brides and their partners are also due to have the opportunity to view dresses from well known names in bridal wear, such as Kaneta, and for men’s suits, Double L’UOMO and Wong Hang Distinguished Taylor. Also available at the wedding exhibition will be photographers, wedding cake vendors plus travel agents in the weddings and honeymoons industry.

A helping hand to travel agents With destination weddings and honeymoons reportedly becoming a big business for many US and Canadian travel agents, the Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Specialists Association (DWHSA) is soon set to soft launch, in preparation for a charter membership drive this spring. Owner, I Do Island Weddings, Lisa Sheldon commented: “Many travel agents want to learn more about this enjoyable and profitable niche, but they don't know where to start. And agents who have been selling destination weddings and honeymoons for years want to network with professionals just like them."

Many travel agents want to learn more about this enjoyable and profitable niche, but they don't know where to start. DWHSA is set to focus on areas such as networking, training, with a year-round schedule of half-hour webinars, 60-minute teleconferences and half-day online conferences on topics ranging from dealing with difficult brides to capturing wedding guests’ bookings, as well as marketing support.

Making nuptials easier for couples

Couples can now get married even quicker in the British Virgin Islands due to the amendments in the law With a change in the British Virgin Island’s Marriage Laws, couples can now be wed a lot quicker. Ultimately, couples visiting the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to marry can now get married just 24 hours after arrival. The change also means that couples can now begin filling out their wedding application form online. Before the amendments, it was necessary for couples to visit three locations to

obtain the necessary documentation for their marriage licence application. However couples can now submit their information through the Government’s Civil Registry Information System. Residency requirements for ‘special licences’ have also been shortened from three days to one, in addition to a new fee schedule which has been introduced helping to create a ‘One Stop Shop’ process.

French-born hotel brand aims to Keeping up–to–date with ever draw in niche sector evolving trends approach to weddings in Mauritius, through Le Méridien’s philosophy. ‘A New Perspective on Weddings’ featured new wedding setups, a wedding fashion show linked to conceptual dining and sensory experiences, among other offers for couples.

Le Méridien is committed to transforming its wedding events into creative and unforgettable moments. The property has showcased its new approach to weddings

Le Méridien Ile Maurice recently showcased ‘A New Perspective on Weddings’ to destination management companies and wedding organisers on the island. The event’s aim was to showcase the resort's creativity, assisting them to further delve into the weddings segment. The hotel also aims to provide guests with a unique

Team leader, sales, Le Méridien Ile Maurice, Jean Francois Richard commented: “Le Méridien is committed to transforming its wedding events into creative and unforgettable moments for its guests, delivering a new perspective in a relevant way but without compromising on guests’ life time souvenir expectations.” The property makes available a plethora of weddings packages such as the 'Creole Wedding' package. February 15 2013

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa's Romantic Escape Package features a number of exclusive experiences such as a snorkelling trip around Snoopy Island

Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa has announced the launch of a number of new packages to cater to the weddings and honeymoons sector, in a bid to keep up with their guests’ changing requirements. General manager, Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa, Hossam Kamal exclusively told TTG: “We have upgraded our packages to correspond with the guests’ needs to include

spa and in-room dining.” Kamal commented further: “In addition, we have launched a number of attractive romantic dinner packages in a secluded location on the beach.” The property's 'Romantic Escape Package' includes a candlelit dinner overlooking the Indian Ocean, in addition to having breakfast served in-room and then a snorkelling trip around Snoopy

Island. Guests can also enjoy a 60-minute spa experience in the private Serenity Suite at Zen the Spa. According to Kamal the resort is always keen to create personalised services with its guests. “We strive to live up to these ever-changing needs and keep abreast of the latest trends,” commented Kamal, referring to guest’s expectations.


SPECIAL REPORT GOLF even during the low periods. “Golf has acted as a driver to bring tourists to the area in the low season (spring and autumn), allowing most hotels to be open all year long and to bring business to the tourism industry in the area,” golf director, Finca Cortesín Hotel, Golf & Spa, Carlos Beautell outlined to TTG. Similarly, leisure sales and marketing manager, Fairmont St. Andrews, Graeme Dawson stated: “Even during the winter months, Golf remains a key focus for our business especially since we have two on site golf courses, The Torrance and The Kittocks.” Promotion on a higher level Local tourism authorities are increasingly turning towards this lucrative niche market in order to promote their destinations, as sales executive, Yas Links Abu Dhabi, Carly Tjader confirmed to TTG: “Since the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s ‘Golf in Abu Dhabi’ initiative was internationally launched, there has been a significant increase of overseas golfers to Yas Links since 2011. This in itself showcases a huge niche market for golf tourism, at least in the Middle East. Statistically, Yas Links OTO foot traffic has increased by about 35 per cent since 2011.” She added that Dubai Desert Classic and HSBC Golf Championships attract thousands of golf enthusiasts from around the world, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as players in the European Golf tour tournaments, and that domestically, interest in golf is growing: “We are finding more and more guests walking through our doors enquiring about golf lesson packages or just showing up to hit some balls on our practice range.”

winning driver

Changing profiles

While the popularity of golf has been burgeoning worldwide, the profile of the typical golfer and their preferences seem to be notably changing. Ana Mladenovic reports on these developments his precision club and ball sport has taken the world by storm. Originating in Scotland, modern golf can be played in all parts of the world – from the deserts of the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula, to the islands of the Mediterranean and over to central and northern Europe, reaching out to the plains of South Africa and the courses of Australasia. Generating tourism Golf club manager, Al Badia Golf Club by InterContinental Dubai Festival City, James Shippey reflected on how the sport increasingly acts a tourism driver on its own. “Golf is a big driver of tourism in the area,” he outlined to TTG. “The country hosts three international golf tournaments throughout the year, which bring in spectators from all across the globe to watch the best players in the world. “The popularity of the sport has been steadily growing in the region with memberships at an all-time high at our club. There are 19 golf clubs in operation in the country, which is healthy for the population,” Shippey noted, adding that Dubai was recently awarded IAGTO Golf Destination of the Year for Africa and the Gulf States, at the IAGTO Awards.


Golf has acted as a driver to bring tourists to the area in the low season (spring and autumn) allowing most hotels to be open all year. Similarly, sales and marketing manager, Muscat Hills, Golf & Country Club, David White noted to TTG: “Golf is extremely popular with tourists, and golfers want to play as many courses around the world as possible.” Much of the industry agrees that golf helps destinations to attract visitors throughout the year, ensuring tourist arrivals February 15 2013

Today’s golfers are more diverse than ever, allowing the industry to widen its target market and diversify its offering. General manager, Zimbali Country Club, Steven Shearer confirmed: “Where your average golfer used to be affluent males, we have now seen a huge upswing in ladies golf. Golf has also become very affordable which means that more people are playing.” Similarly, director, golf, Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Aaron Johnston noted: “The profile of the average golfer would generally be mid-30s and male. Over the past few years, there has been a big move towards junior development within the sport and therefore we do see a lot of younger golfers of both genders playing.” He added that today’s golfer is more stylish and not afraid to wear colourful apparel. Tjader outlined that children are increasingly being introduced to golf from a young age, and that golf discussion, whether it be about courses or celebrities, dominate the social media used by younger generations. The evolving profile of a golfer and greater accessibility of the sport has significantly altered preferences and expectations of travelling golfers. “The main trend we noticed in the last few years is that many golfers opt to book four-star properties, not only five star,” commented director, sales and marketing, Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque Resort, Ane Ugarte, assuming that perhaps the current economic climate is the reason why a growing number of four–star properties are catering to this segment.” General manager, Golf Citrus Hammamet, Omar Cherif agreed and highlighted to TTG: “We are noticing a change in customer behaviour: bookings are more last minute than before; people are increasingly looking for a very good deal or at least a value for money proposal; they go more and more on the Internet to organise their stay rather than getting a tour operator's advice or offer. That's why we really need to be prepared technically in advance in order to meet customer needs.” He added that guests staying at the shareholder hotels enjoy a preferential green fee rate and a complimentary shuttle service.


Morocco anticipates completion of 15 new golf projects TTG: To what extent is golf popular in Morocco? Since the early 90s, golf has begun to develop rapidly and has become an essential part of the Moroccan Tourism portfolio. From six golf courses in 1990, we have now reached a double-digit number of courses – 35, with 15 projects close to completion. TTG: What is the profile of an average Moroccan golfer?

Vice president, Royal Moroccan Golf Federation, Kamil El Kholti, also communication advisor of the Hassan II Trophy Golf Association, talks to TTG about the state of Moroccan golf and the latest trends within the industry.

Owing to the decisive action of the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association (ATH) and the Royal Moroccan Golf Federation (RMGF), the profile of the new golfers has dramatically changed. Young golfers have joined clubs, many of them through schools, which has opened golf to all social categories. We have more than 7,000 licensees (60 per cent men and 40 per cent women), with an average age between 25 and 35.

TTG: Which markets are you currently targeting and in what ways are you doing so? In cooperation with the Moroccan Tourism Minister and the Moroccan National Office of Tourism, we are implementing very attractive offers to most of the countries in Europe, the Middle East, China as well as the US. This year, the Hassan II Golf Trophy, part of the PGA European Tour, is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary – this is the perfect showcase for Moroccan golf. The vitality of Moroccan Golf is shown better than by any words with our recent excellent results obtained during the last Arab Championship and the fact that we recently welcomed the Ladies European Qualifying School in Marrakech, and that for the first time, professional golfer Maha Haddioui has won her card on the 2013 Ladies European Tour.

Tour operator doubles its business sia’s inbound golf tour operator, Golfasian has reported 52 per cent year–on–year growth in 2012. Furthermore, the company saw a 43 per cent rise in the number of golf travellers serviced throughout its destinations in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Bali.

Many of our clients are looking for a niche specialist golf tour operator. “Even though a large amount of online booking sites pose a threat to the travel industry, we found the opposite to be true as many of our clients are looking for a niche specialist golf tour operator who can offer services beyond the fixed services of online travel sites,” added managing director, Golfasian, Mark Siegel. The company expanded its infrastructure by more than 40 per cent in the past 12 months and is said to be looking to further strengthen its services across its destination portfolio and expand into southern China. Golfasian is reportedly the ground handler for over 50 per cent of global operators selling Southeast Asia.

Cyprus boosts its portfolio to become a regional golf hub

Up to 14 new courses are expected on the island, which sees strong investor interest in developing integrated golf projects Cyprus Tourism Organisation announced that the island is set to host the Cyprus Amateur Men’s Open 2013, scheduled to take place on April 18-21, 2013 at Aphrodite Hills and Elea Golf, and the Cyprus Amateur Seniors Open 2013, planned for May 24-26, 2013 at Minthis Hills. “Golf Tourism is a priority special interest tourism product, in line with the objectives of the Strategic Tourism Plan of the island, namely the enrichment and diversification of the tourist product, the offering of quality tourism, promotion of winter tourism, and the increase in tourism revenues,” tourist officer, Golf Tourism Coordinator, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Maro Kazepi outlined exclusively to TTG.

The government’s Golf Development Policy reportedly encourages the development of up to 14 golf courses on the island, and investors have expressed interest in developing integrated golf projects, some of which are to feature signature golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tony Jacklin, to name a few. “Some projects secured Town Planning permits and others are in the evaluation process. Within a few years, new integrated golf resorts will enrich the island’s golf offering in various regions,” she said. In addition to new courses, the island's Secret Valley resort is under reconstruction – expected to be completed by Q3 of 2013, and Minthis Hills has also been enhanced. February 15 2013





Dusit Thani Dubai has welcomed Italian born Assia Riccio-Smith as its new assistant learning and development manager. Riccio-Smith joins the team after spending five years overseeing the front of house of a property in Oxfordshire in the UK. In 2012 she was recognised as being one of the 30 brightest stars in the industry with a UK national Acorn Award and previously won the Olive Barnett Award.





The Ritz-Carlton, Doha has announced Zee Bassila as the new director of sales and marketing. His main focus will be to support sales and marketing at the highest level. A Canadian national, Bassila holds more than 15 years of sales and marketing experience in the hotel industry, with his career beginning at The Ritz-Carlton Montreal before moving to the Middle East and accumulating 10 years of experience with international brands.



Christoph Franzen is the new general manager of Grand Hyatt Doha. Franzen transfers from Grand Hyatt Muscat where he was the general manager since 2009. He joined Hyatt Regency Dubai in 1999 as the assistant revenue manager, then became front office manager, before moving to Grand Hyatt Muscat in 2001. In 2005, he moved to Park Hyatt Ararat in Moscow. He returned to Dubai as the executive assistant manager of Grand Hyatt.






Mohamed Mahran has joined Taj Palace Dubai as the revenue and reservations manager. Mahran has over 14 years experience spanning global hotel chains including IHG, Steigenberger and Mövenpick. He began his hospitality career as a reservation agent at the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel. He moved to the Mövenpick Resort & Spa El Gouna and later joined Al Raha Beach Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

If you have recently been promoted or appointed key staff, please contact us... PATRICK VAN VELZEN



Stuart Laird-Smith has been appointed as head of strategy – Middle East and Africa for Travelport. Before joining the company, Laird-Smith spent four years with South African Airways (SAA) as head, commercial and operations finance, and has acted as chairman of IATA’s joint Travel Agency and Airline Group in Southern Africa. In his new role, he will work with Travelport partners, including travel agencies, airlines and others.

February 15 2013


head OF STRATEGY Middle east & Africa


Patrick van Velzen has become the executive chef for all of Le Méridien Abu Dhabi’s 14 outlets. Van Velzen began his career in French cuisine and by the age of 25 was working at the two Michelin star restaurant De Hoefslag. He then became head chef at one Michelin star restaurant, Klein Paardenburg and later took over the restaurant. Van Velzen has also worked as the executive chef for Sheraton in Rhodes, Greece.


Stuart Laird-Smith





Bin Majid Hotels has appointed Juan Carlos Gonzalez Aguado as the new director of operations for Mangrove Hotel. Aguado, has over 15 years of experience in operations, commercial asset management and hotel consultancy. An MBA graduate, he has held several positions such as head of hotels in Port Aventura, Spain, operations development manager in Ibersol, Spain and was general manager of luxury hotels within the RIU Group.

As the new group director of food and beverage for Bin Majid Hotels, Berk Ozkeresteci has held various F&B management positions in the US, Istanbul, Antalya, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah. He has 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has worked for global hotel brands including Sheraton, Hyatt, Rotana, Kempinski and Rixos. His new role is to focus on ensuring Bin Majid Hotels provides the highest quality of F&B.


[ A page exclusively for regional and international TATOs ]


Exclusive winter package

AGENT SPOTLIGHT... Travelport has recently launched a new business intelligence suite for travel agents in the Middle East and Africa (MEA). Agentivity brings together tools which are to offer travel providers a thorough insight into their agency’s activity, client behaviour, issues concerning bookings and more. President – Middle East and Africa, Travelport, Rabih Saab said: “Agentivity offers travel agents a unique and detailed insight into their agency’s activities, client behaviour and booking related issues – all of which help improve efficiency and productivity.” Saab revealed to TTG: “Agents are now able to see the day-to-day performance of all staff and monitor the number of bookings, cancellations or amendments made. This gives travel agents a more detailed insight into the overall performance of their workforce and allows them to see where the individual strengths and weaknesses are." Travelport is soon set to launch Travelport Rapid Reprice, allowing travel agencies to use the same technology as large airlines to research old and new fares, and generate a new ticket within minutes.

Gstaad Palace has announced its partnership with Mandarin Oriental in Geneva to launch an exclusive winter programme, ‘Slopes and the City’, for guests looking to experience a relaxing escape during the winter.

Fujairah getaway Concorde Fujairah Hotel, in partnership with Rotana Jet, is presenting a promotion allowing guests an attractively priced getaway. The promotion includes a one roundtrip economy class ticket to Fujairah via Rotana Jet, alongside an overnight stay at Concorde Fujairah Hotel.

Weekend escapes Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi is offering Ultimate Weekend Escapes from February, in order to entice visitors to the emirate. Packages include Yas Viceroy’s Winter Getaway With Bubbly Brunch, the Family Theme Park Package, as well as ESPA Relaxing Package at Yas Viceroy.

NEWS ROUND UP Elaf Group Elaf Group has honoured its agents in Egypt, Algeria, Turkey and Morocco, among others, for achieving positive results in 2012. Special ceremonies were held and were attended by president, Elaf Group, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz.

This gives travel agents a more detailed insight into the overall performance of their workforce

Y L I M ge a A F pack

euromic This year marks the 40th anniversary of euromic, an association of DMCs in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. In celebration, the association’s annual general meeting was used to elect a new president and board of directors.

ANVR The Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR), has pledged to observe the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism at the Dutch travel fair Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

February 15 2013

Who? When? Where?... THE ST. REGIS DOHA, FEBRUARY An exclusive family package has been unveiled at The St. Regis Doha in anticipation of a high number of visitors from neighbouring countries in the GCC. Guests and families can now book their stay at the property and get the second room at a reduced rate.


PICTURE PERFECT 1. J Winter Fashion Show

Model, Jessica Minh Anh, took part in the first

fashion show on the sundeck of an international

cruise ship; the Costa Atlantica.



2. Sofitel Luxury Hotels

The hotel company is inviting women to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013.

3. Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways and Sydney Opera House announced a partnership to raise the city’s profile as a leading tourist destination.



4. Taj Palace Dubai

Taj Palace Dubai chefs assisted the Emirate in taking over a Guinness World Record for the

highest number of dressed chefs in one sitting.

5.Tourism Ireland Tourism Ireland has launched a new

international website to promote tourism to the country.

Picture perfect


February 15 2013

A visual tour of recent events in the industry


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editor Eleni Henderson Media ReporterS Naomi Leach Natalie Hami Ana Mladenovic Tatiana Tsierkezou Head of design Edward Beales Designer Maggie Bdjian E-Commerce Manager Panayiotis Philippou D: +357 24 803008 E-Commerce executive Constantinos Voniatis Sales Manager Adrian Exley D: +357 24 803004 Account Managers Elaine Hockley D: +357 24 803011 Inna Armeanu D: +357 24 803013 Kyriacos Kyriacou D: +357 24 803014 Marianne Shokry D: +357 24 803012 Operations Manager Chris Christou D: +357 24 803003 Chief Financial Officer Costas Miaoulis D: +357 24 803002 Accounts Executive Vasilis Eracleous D: +357 24 803026 Events and Conferences Manager Mary Roe D: +357 24 803073 Headquarters Nietzsche Street, Ria Court 9, 1ST Floor Makenzi, 6028 Larnaca, Cyprus Tel: +357-24 803000 Fax: +357-24 803060 Email: Website: Thailand Representative Public Major Media Ltd, Janya Limmanee Tel: 662 651 9273 Japan Representative Pacific Business Inc,Hiroko Kujime Tel: 81 33661 6138 TTG Worldwide Titles* TTG Asia TTG Balkans TTG China TTG Czech Republic TTG Hungary TTG Italia TTG India TTG Nordic TTG Poland TTG Russia TTG UK & Ireland * For information on these publications, please contact us at:

Travellers are turning to their social media networks for inspiration to help them plan their holidays.

Oman Tourism Website (Oman Visitors Portal) has recently launched its Facebook page in Arabic, English, French and German, in a bid to enable visitors to get the most out of their holidays. Team leader, Oman Visitors Portal, Bader Al Azri said: “Social media channels are allowing us to become increasingly creative and innovative with our marketing and communications approach. Also, we know from research that more and more travellers are turning to their social media networks for inspiration to help them plan and get the best out of their holidays.” He added: “Facebook will be a key plank in Oman Tourism’s social media strategy to promote the country’s tourism credentials at home and abroad.” The introduction of the Facebook page in various languages aims to serve as a platform to create communication with the traveller, thus targeting Arab, English, French and German speaking travellers.

To find out more about TTG MENA’s social media activities, visit us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn TTG MENA POLL Question We asked: With technology available to conduct 'virtual meetings', do you think this medium will overtake the traditional 'face-to-face' contact?


voted they much prefer conducting their meetings in person For more poll questions, competitions and much more, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter


PROMO For 2013, TTG MENA’s IT team has created a number of attractive e-products with the aim of helping you better promote your company. For more information, navigate to: For more information e-mail:


What's trending in the MENA world?

1 2 3 4 5

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport set for soft launch in April Reed Travel Exhibitions reports hefty pre-show bookings for GIBTM Ryanair due to introduce two new bases in Morocco MENA region reports steady recovery Queen Mary 2 to make longawaited maiden call at Mina Zayed cruise terminal



February 15 2013


248 February 15  

248 February 15 Featuring: Destination: Egypt, Update: Morocco, Analysis: Weddings & Honeymoons, Special report: Golf

248 February 15  

248 February 15 Featuring: Destination: Egypt, Update: Morocco, Analysis: Weddings & Honeymoons, Special report: Golf