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Middle East & North Africa

Date 1, 2012

ISSUE 000


Middle East & North Africa

MAY 1 | 2013 ISSUE 252

Update Switzerland

Working to further attract and sustain the MENA markets VIEW Page 29

On Location Thailand

The country magnetises with niche attractions VIEW Page 31

Analysis TATOs

Striding forth with strategic finesse REGIONAL ROUND UP, PAGE 42

Traditional methods and services remain in demand VIEW Page 37

Read online...


CONTENTS > YOUR GUIDE 04 News Regional and international news from the travel trade industry. 08 Exhibition Calendar A breakdown of the industry's important events and exhibitions for your convenience. 39 Special Report Ireland's tourism industry has a galvanised national campaign to invite global visitors. 42 Regional Round Up Stakeholders in the MENA travel trade industry share their news and developments with TTG for Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. 68 People on the move Find out the latest appointments and promotions that have taken place in the region. 69 TATOs Focused news for travel agents and tour operators from around the world. 70 Picture Perfect A visual tour of recent events in the travel trade industry. 71 Social Hub Delve into the world of social media to help bolster marketing strategies.

A LETTER FROM... A LETTER FROM...

time to reconnect s Arabian Travel Market celebrates its 20th year, we at TTG MENA take this time to reflect and commemorate the developments in the region. Looking back, our region’s resilience and innovation has carved its own success. Whether you focus on developments in the powerhouse that is Dubai, the cultural allure of Abu Dhabi or the pulling power of Saudi Arabia, MENA is filled with splendours that draw in both regional and international visitors. Personally, I have had the pleasure of attending ATM since 2005, so have seen for myself how it has organically grown throughout the years. Attending the show last year, I was impressed with its ability to ensure business is conducted to the correct audience. This year, I am pleased to bring along TTG MENA staff who have never experienced the show before. Allow me to introduce our

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media reporters – Natalie Hami and Tatiana Tsierkezou, who will be conducting interviews for our popular e-Dailies. Our designer, Maggie Bdjian, with camera in tow, will also be attending ATM for the very first time. Watch out for Maggie around the stands and make sure to say hello – she will return the favour by taking your picture for our online Facebook gallery. Our sales manager, Adrian Exley, will be accompanied by our account managers, Elaine Hockley and Inna Armeanu. And of course, our general manager, Tony Fields, will also be present. Our stand is located in Hall 2, UAE 2500, so feel free to drop by and introduce yourself.

Eleni Henderson Editor

Our region's resilience and innovation has carved its own success.


NEWS

Asian expansion in the pipeline

Inaugurating a city hotel in Abu Dhabi ision Hotels Management has celebrated the inauguration of Vision Links Hotel Apartments, a modern city hotel in Abu Dhabi.

de Souza: BWI has more than 200 properties, either operational or in the pipeline Best Western International (BWI) is celebrating more than a decade in Asia Pacific and is also releasing plans to increase its regional presence. Vice president, international operations – Asia & the Middle East, Glenn de Souza said: “The last 10 years have been an extraordinary period of growth for BWI, with more than 200 properties either operational or in the pipeline.” The company plans to increase its regional portfolio to 350 hotels in Asia and the Middle East, including at least 15 new hotels in Indonesia and 10 in Saudi Arabia. It is to double its portfolio in Malaysia and the Philippines, open its first hotels in Nepal, Iraq and Sri Lanka, and is set to become the largest international hotel operator in Bangladesh.

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Vision Links Hotel Apartments consists of 208 units, each boasting LED TVs, bath and shower facilities, full amenities, large areas, high-speed wireless Internet

We now have the largest hotel apartments and serviced apartments in Abu Dhabi. The property has facilities for short- or long-term stays and is located on Muroor Road. This is the company's second hotel and fourth property in total, which it claims is of strategic importance for the expansion and mission of the group, as well as being in harmony with the growth plans of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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Destinations shortlisted for award

access and a fully-equipped health club. “We have added three more buildings to reach a total of seven towers,” stated group general manager, Vision Hotels Management, Georges Abi Aad. “We now have the largest number of hotel apartments and serviced apartments amongst investors in Abu Dhabi city.”

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Participants will have the chance to share their experiences on how to rebuild and recover Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has announced three destinations which have been nominated for this year’s New Frontiers Award. The destinations shortlisted for 2013 are New York State, the Philippines and Pakistan, all of which experienced natural catastrophes in the past 12 months. The New Frontiers Award was established by ATM

to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of adversity. The award is to support the chosen destination by donating exhibition space at the event. The roundtable session will include previous award recipients, including Phuket in Thailand, following the 2006 tsunami, and last year’s recipient, Japan.


NEWS

Luxury brand seeking to broaden its horizons ixos Hotels is continuously looking to enhance its product through expansion; and with that comes the opening of its first property in Western Europe, Rixos Fluela Davos, at the end of 2013, as well as Rixos Quba, Azerbaijan, slated for the second half of 2013.

Over the last couple of months the company has expanded its portfolio to include the Rixos Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, Rixos Residences Bomonty in Istanbul, Turkey and Rixos Lake Borovoe Kazakhstan. “Rixos Sharm El Sheikh is the first Rixos property in Egypt, and we are delighted to

We are delighted to be present in what is considered one of the world’s most popular diving and holiday destinations. Senior vice president – brand management, Rixos Hotels, Basak Erel exclusively told TTG, referring to ATM: “For the trade visitors, we wish to convey that Rixos Hotels always strives to diversify its product through expansion and through consistently delivering a high calibre hospitality experience across the globe.” Erel also made reference to the two new hotels slated to open in 2013.

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be present in what is considered one of the world’s most popular diving and holiday destinations,” she noted. “For our loyal guests and travellers that cherish the Rixos true experience blended with the warm and friendly Turkish culture, we wish to reassure them that we are committed to providing them with exceptional personalised service, whether they travel alone or with their families,” she concluded.

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HOTEL CHECK Centro Capital Centre by rotana By Ana Aloft Abu Dhabi Mladenovic TTG staff and correspondents assess services used by them. We report the results, which are based on a one-time experience only and view services from a customer perspective.

Arriving at the hotel after a connecting flight from Larnaca, I was appreciative of a quick, efficient check-in. Once in my room, I was grateful for plentiful storage space and a bathroom, clearly designed to cater to a business traveller with soft, comforting towels, a magnifying mirror and high-quality toiletries. My nights were restful due to a comfortable bed with plenty of pillows and a rich selection of TV channels. My mornings kicked-off efficiently,

Suitable for: Business / Meetings / Leisure

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with generous amounts of complimentary in-room coffee and tea supplies. For breakfast and dinner, the hotel’s c.taste offers plenty of tasty dishes, and during the day, guests can reload at c.deli which offers snacks and many useful items such as black socks, adapters, cosmetics, and more. Additionally, I was pleased with the seamless room service, as well as the hotel’s convenient proximity to ADNEC which proved an essential quality for my successful performance at GIBTM.


NEWS Exhibition Calendar May 5-6

AHIC, Dubai, UAE www.arabianconference.com/ • •

May 6-8

Airport Show, Dubai, UAE www.theairportshow.com/ •

May 6-9

ATM, Dubai, UAE www.arabiantravelmarket.com/ • •

May 12-14 May 21-23

Routes Europe, Budapest, Hungary www.routesonline.com/ • MEES, Dubai, UAE www.me-eventshow.com/ •

May 21-23

IMEX, Frankfurt, Germany www.imex-frankfurt.com/ •

May 22

ME Hotel Awards, Dubai, UAE www.thehotelshow.com/ •

May 29-30

CATHIC, Istanbul, Turkey www.cathic.com/ •

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

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Kuwait hotel to Shopping outlet set attract MENA guests for ATM debut Kuwaiti property, The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa is due to appear at this year’s ATM with a strategy designed to target the MENA market.

Most of the GCC guests have shifted their destinations to the GCC countries instead of the Middle East. Director, sales & marketing, The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa, Ahmed El Dackrouri told TTG: “The hospitality market trend in the GCC countries, especially Kuwait, has been raised since last year, as a result of the unforeseen incidents which occurred in the Middle East. Most of the GCC guests have shifted their destinations to the GCC countries instead of the Middle East. Therefore, we set a plan and selling strategy that played an effective role to grab the highest levels of revenue possible.” The hotel has recently launched a new Moroccan style outlet and enhanced its health club facilities. The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa will showcase its latest packages at ATM.

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n preparation for attending its first ATM ever, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet has revealed plans to open its first outlet outside of Europe, in Vancouver in 2014 . Additionally, head, tourism, McArthurGlen Group, Anthony Rippingale shared exclusively with TTG, that the company has witnessed strong growth from the MENA market, particularly in Austria and will therefore be co-exhibiting at ATM with The Austrian National Tourism Office. Rippingale said: “This will be the first ATM for McArthurGlen. It is particularly exciting given that we consider the GCC as market for increased focus and development going forward. “We continue to see strong growth from the GCC markets, particularly

Rippingale: The GCC is a market for increased focus at Parndorf and Salzburg in Vienna, where in 2012, tax-free sales to shoppers from Kuwait were up 92 per cent, from Saudi Arabia up 75 per cent and from the UAE up 65 per cent,” he added. Designer Outlet Roermon in the Netherlands also experienced strong growth in sales from MENA visitors.


NEWS

Tech innovation to Group to expand meet changing needs serviced residences

Advancing forth with developments

The Ascott Limited has highlighted that its focus for 2013 will be to continue to expand in markets that offer strong potential for serviced residences. Managing director – GCC and India, The Ascott Limited, Vincent Wee told TTG that in the GCC these include the recently opened Ascott Doha in Qatar. The Ascott Limited is also expected to open properties in Oman, Somerset Panorama Muscat and Sohar Garden Residences in 2014.

Amadeus is to present a portfolio of products and solutions at its ATM stand Amadeus is to bolster its investment in technology and increase its presence in the regional hub of Dubai. Regional director – MENA, marketing and operations, Amadeus, Ahmed Youssef shared exclusively with TTG: “We have invested 13 per cent of our revenue in research and development, totalling more than $2.6 billion between 2004 and 2011. We believe this is the way

to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the industry, as well as anticipating and meeting the needs of a constantly evolving travel sector.” Amadeus plans to showcase its latest solutions focusing on productivity gains, process efficiency, content superiority and new media, as well as customised solutions for travel agency partners at ATM.

Our global network of serviced residences allows us to be the preferred choice. “We are working to close a few management opportunities within the GCC, especially in KSA and the UAE, and hope to announce some new additions soon,” stated Wee. He added: "Our guests prefer to stay with us because of our strong track record and global presence. Our global network of serviced residences allows us to be the preferred choice for travellers and companies as they only need to work with one party to take care of all their accommodation needs wherever they travel.”

France to be promoted to the Middle Eastern markets tout France in Dubai, the French tourism ministry’s office for the promotion of destination France to the Middle East and Turkish markets, is set to attend ATM 2013 with partners from major hotels and top ski resorts. Atout France is due to be present alongside stands representing RhôneAlpes Tourism, Lyon, an important Paris delegation featuring hotels, operators and department stores, plus a number of mountain resorts.

With regards to the importance of ATM, regional director, Atout France, Karim Mekachera commented: “The Middle East continues to represent a key market for inbound tourism to France with both a stable number of travellers and comparatively high spend per visitor from the high worth travellers from the region in general.” From May, the travel trade in the Middle East is due to have a dedicated portal to become Certified France Specialists.

The different online training modules will take the agencies through the best of the French regions, including information on where their clients can find halal restaurants and even places of worship in France, and delivering an official 'France Specialist' certificate on passing the last of the modules. Mekachera exclusively shared with TTG: “The most important new message being conveyed at ATM is the Online Training for the travel trade message.”

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Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Hajar Tower Makkah has announced a number of improvements. General manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Hajar Tower Makkah, Omar Boujlid told TTG: “In early 2013, we launched our special Sweet Suite Deal promotion to target the Arabic families in the GCC region and due to the demand, we are going to launch the New Family Suites.” Boujlid added: “They promise our affluent guests more space, more convenience and more special VIP amenities, with contemporary living space which guests can enjoy with city and Haraam views.” This year, the property is also planning to launch an Executive Floor to cater to its VIP business travellers. “The rooms will be spacious to ensure a comfortable stay and will be equipped with a pantry and the latest communication tools that will enable guests to seamlessly conduct their business engagements,” he said. Questioned as to what its message would be for ATM this year, Boujlid said that the property is looking to capitalise on the strength of its prime location in front of the Holy Mosque: “We would like to be known as the preferred choice for pilgrims and business travellers who stay in Makkah.” Referring to ATM, Boujlid continued: “Every year has been successful for our property’s participation in ATM and has led to an increase in business. ATM has opened doors for us to meet different operators who play vital roles in promoting the property and Makkah to the right end consumers. We have been doing very well in the GCC market for the last four years and we aim to increase our market share further by looking for new partners.”

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NEWS

Cultivating brands across the region TTG: What plans does Wyndham Hotel Group have for the remainder of 2013 within the Middle East and Africa?

TTG talks to senior vice president – Europe, the Middle East & Africa, Wyndham Hotel Group, Rui Barros, about the company’s growth plans across the Middle East and Africa region

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We are now looking to continue to grow right across the region. In the Middle East, where we currently have 36 hotels and over 7,300 rooms including key cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Manama, Jeddah and Riyadh, we already have five new hotels in the pipeline. These will see the continued growth of Ramada as well as the addition of two more iconic, upper upscale Wyndham Grand properties over the next 18 months; one in Riyadh and one in Manama. In addition, we are proud to have announced plans to bring both the Days Inn and Super 8 economy brands to Saudi Arabia. Our two largest brands globally, Days Inn and Super 8 will cater to the growing need for high quality, low cost accommodation in the country and will build upon our ability to offer accommodation options for almost every kind of traveller and every kind of trip, with a diverse portfolio of brands in the region spanning economy right through to upper upscale. From a business perspective, we will

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continue to focus on driving as much business as possible to our hotels at the lowest possible acquisition cost. This will include a concerted focus on our direct booking strategy, which is designed to recapture business by driving more bookings through the company’s own channels. We will also be focusing on the expansion of our loyalty programme, Wyndham Rewards, which was launched in early 2012 in the region. Wyndham Rewards can unlock significant potential for hotel owners through exposure to approximately seven million active members around the world. TTG: What is the message you will be conveying to visitors at this year’s ATM? As in previous years, Wyndham Hotel Group will be exhibiting at ATM in 2013. Our stand will be located at position HC5610, inside Sheikh Saeed Hall 3. This year we will be joined by coexhibitors from 20 franchised and managed Wyndham Hotel Group properties from inside and outside of the GCC region. The attending global sales team members will be able to discuss and contract with a variety of client

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segments including the travel trade, TMC/ consortia, transient/corporate, government, transportation and group/MICE. Colleagues will also be joining the stand from other areas of the business including our regional marketing, development and operations teams. TTG: What are your forecasts for the remainder of 2013? We are very positive about 2013 with regards to both our growth and the performance of our hotels. Both through individual franchisee and management agreements and through portfolio deals such as that recently signed with Grand City Hotels in Europe, Wyndham Hotel Group is experiencing good levels of growth across Europe and the Middle East. In the Middle East and Gulf countries more specifically, RevPAR is on the increase and while 2012 was an exceptional year for most of the Gulf countries, we anticipate that in 2013 our hotels will achieve similar, if not better, results.

To read the full interview with Rui Baros please visit ttgmena.com


NEWS

Trade show to debut in Africa

Property refreshes its image bis Muscat has unveiled its rebranding, along with an array of other new developments. General manager, ibis Muscat, Sebastien Vincent enthused to TTG that this rebranding has given a fresh new look to the brand.

ultimate in comfort in their new bedding. “We have gone further into the sleeping experience and guest interaction as we have recently introduced an application called ‘SweetArt’, that will artistically capture and sketch a

This is the first time in history that the event has been held in Africa, representing a successful bid

KwaZulu-Natal Province (KZN) is set to play host to the 21st World Route Development Forum (World Routes) at ICC Durban from September 20 -22, 2015, marking the first time that the event will be held in Africa. The announcement of Durban, KZN, as the host for World Routes 2015 represents the culmination of a successful bid to host the event, driven by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism in which all of the region’s key stakeholders were involved in providing support to the proposal. Executive VP, Routes UBM Live, David Stroud said: “I’m delighted that World Routes will be taking place in Africa in 2015 and it is fitting, with such a focus on the development of international trade, that we are bringing it to Durban."

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Aiming for leisure and MICE segments

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi will be targeting various segments of the travel industry

We have gone further into the sleeping experience and guest interaction. Vincent also highlighted that along with the rebranding, ibis Muscat has upgraded its product by introducing a new concept, ‘Sweet Bed by ibis’, which gives guests the opportunity to experience the

May 1 2013

guest's movement throughout their night, revealing the art of their sleep,” he further added. Vincent also commented on the fact that there is a constant demand for budget hotels these days.

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Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi recently revealed that it plans to utilise ATM to showcase its latest offers for various sectors of the travel world. General manager, Yas Waterworld, Mike Oswald told TTG: “We would like to showcase our offers for corporate and business houses, students and other groups in the form of our tailor-made programmes for activities such as team-building, rewards and incentive trips, all in the setting of one of the best waterparks in the world." He also highlighted that ATM will provide it with a chance for international travel trade representatives to appreciate why partnering with Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi will bolster their UAE itineraries in both the leisure and MICE industries.


NEWS

Brand reveals updates in Malaysia

Attracting Middle Eastern clientele For the remainder of 2013 Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo has plans to focus on further increasing its Middle Eastern client base. “With the Japanese Yen dropping against the US Dollar we see an opportunity for further growth from the Middle Eastern region. As the destination grows in awareness and interest, Japan becomes an

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exciting and new destination on the Asian map for the Middle Eastern traveller,” noted director, sales & marketing, Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, David Traynor. Revealing further news, Traynor highlighted that the property now offers a Meet & Greet service, which is designed to assist guests to their platforms at Tokyo Station.

tarwood Hotels & Resorts, Malaysia exclusively revealed its latest Malaysian updates to TTG. The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa has announced refurbished guest rooms, while The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort, Langkawi’s South Wing ground floor rooms have been transformed into 14 units of Luxury Pool Access and 10 units of Luxury Garden Terrace Rooms. The property also introduced Jala, a new restaurant.

The resort’s much loved Beach Bar also underwent a transformation. “The resort’s much loved Beach Bar also underwent a transformation,” revealed director of marketing communications, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Malaysia, Cindy Yoong. Yoong announced that The Westin Kuala Lumpur took its club floor services to a higher level with a newly revamped space. Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur has launched Le Méridien HUB, a lobby concept featuring Gastro Sentral. Finally, in March 2013, Kuala Lumpur welcomed its inaugural Aloft branded hotel, Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral.

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Honing in on the corporate sector Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida’a Kuwait recently announced that the hotel has put together a variety of promotions targeting business travellers, which include meals, laundry and flexibility on guests' check-in and check-out timings. The hotel is adopting another eight meeting rooms to cater to the market needs. “In addition to that, we are also planning to renovate all the hotel rooms later this year to give them a new and fresh look,” revealed marketing & communications manager, Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida'a Kuwait, Khadija Meftah to TTG. “There is a huge potential in the business sector, with a large number of business travellers from Europe and US coming to Kuwait on short-term and long-term

The hotel is adding a further eight meeting rooms to its amenities contracts; that’s why we have created different packages to cater to their needs,” Meftah added. “Kuwait is witnessing a growth in leisure business from inside and outside the country, especially KSA. "With the hotel’s perfect location in the heart of the city, we are aiming to attract most of the leisure business especially during summer,” she concluded.


NEWS

Convention centre awaits new hotel

The Centre is working on a 2014 and beyond line-up King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, managed by Hilton, Jordan, is said to be working with the developers of Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa to complete the property. Country manager –Jordan, Hilton Worldwide, Kamel

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Ajami exclusively told TTG: “Hilton Dead Sea Resort and Spa sits directly next to the convention centre with easy access to the beach. “The hotel will offer themed breaks, free WiFi, panoramic views, a kids' pool and club, a floating pool within the Dead Sea in addition to an executive lounge and executive rooms and suites,” he remarked. King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, managed by Hilton, reports to be working on a range of conventions for 2014 and beyond. The centre has been working alongside Jordan Tourism Board and the Destination Dead Sea on acquisitions for the future through campaigns and providing support to local, regional and international conference organisers.

Unveiling elevated experiences aros Maldives has launched a new category of villas – the Pool Water Villas, which feature 6.6m by 3.6m private overwater infinity pools overlooking the Indian Ocean.

We have introduced a number of unique Baros experiences such as private dinners and yoga classes. Resort manager, Baros Maldives, Ahmed Shuhan outlined to TTG: “We have introduced dedicated villa hosts for all villas on the island, so guests are looked after by a personal host who quickly becomes familiar with each guest’s needs and preferences. We also cater for the health and fitness needs of our guests with the refreshment and enlargement of our new Baros Gym. In addition, we have introduced a number of new unique Baros experiences, such as private dinners or private yoga classes on a grand piano-shaped platform in the Baros lagoon.” The resort, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, will be present at ATM within the Maldives stand.

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Claiming its share of the MENA market The Vienna Tourist Board (VTB), the city’s official destination marketing agency, has announced its participation at ATM where it plans to unveil The Vienna Experts Club – an initiative to develop product knowledge, increase sales and receive offers. As per the announcement, the team onsite is set to serve as the central point of contact for all those interested in the Austrian capital. Recent news, information about the city and the latest promotional material are to be made available to visitors at the EU8120 booth. Alongside VTB, a number of Viennese travel agents and tour operators are set to take part at the event including Melour, Emad Tours, Euronet Travel, Aladin Travel Agency, Karnak Travel Agency and Sofia

Vienna is anticipating an increase in MENA arrivals for 2013 Travel. Mondial Destination Management, The Levante Hotels and Grand Hotel have also confirmed their participation at the event. Based upon statistics, 2013 is predicted to see a major influx of MENA tourists visiting Vienna, with an increase in honeymoon and romantic getaway trips to the city.


NEWS

Attraction to tap into Refurbishment of group segment Doha icon underway Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is set to promote its inspiring and high value offers and services for groups during 2013 by leveraging its entertainment portfolio to all ages, nationalities and interests, according to park manager, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Andy Keeling. “Everyone needs a place to find their drive, test their threshold for thrills and excitement. The rides and attractions at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and the spectacular setting, restaurants and ongoing special events present a compelling entertainment offering,” Keeling told TTG.

Everyone needs a place to find their drive, test their threshold for thrills and excitement. The park is to exhibit at ATM as part of the Yas Island pavillion and visitors will be able to find out about the enhanced line-up of rides and attractions available. There will also be promotional tools for the park’s key travel partners, with consultants sharing how to best sell the destination.

The hotel is in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation to modernise its West Wing Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha has revealed to TTG details of its $22 million refurbishment of its West Wing. Director of sales, Radisson Blu Hotel, Doha, Ian Lillie told TTG that the first three floors have been handed over, with the next seven floors due for completion by the end of September 2013. Lillie said: “The work will be carried out on a floor–by –floor basis, seeing each one

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of our 324 rooms in the West Wing being transformed into modernised chic rooms. “The renovation will focus on introducing new initiatives to our rooms in order to save energy, which will include LED lighting and energy saving sockets. We will also be introducing new technology such as media panels which will allow guests to link to bluetooth technology and more, plus each room will have its own WiFi access.” The property, which reported a positive Q1, is due to refurbish its key restaurants in the latter half of the year. “We expect to meet targets and forecasts this year, and we expect to see a rise in the latter half of the year when our newly refurbished rooms are complete and have been handed back,” added Lillie.

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Luxury property anticipated in Jeddah laf Group is set to launch a luxury retail mall and fivestar hotel, The Galleria, in Jeddah during 2014. The five-floor, 445-room hotel will be managed by the group, with the retail mall situated at ground level. President, Elaf Group, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz stated to TTG: “The Galleria in Jeddah will bring our portfolio of hotels to 14 and our total room capacity will increase to an impressive 4,700 rooms up from 2,200 in the previous years.” For 2013, Bin Mahfouz further revealed: “We have set an aggressive growth plan that will expand our presence in different Arab countries and across Europe and Asia. It is crucial to align our growth plans with the strategic objectives of the SCTA, which will give us the momentum to further strengthen our position as the leading hospitality services provider in key tourism destinations across KSA.”

The Galleria hotel is expected to open in Jeddah during 2014

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NEWS

Diversifying and growing tourism

Al Bader: Qatar is proud of its culture and offers a variety of cultural experiences Director of Tourism, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Abdullah Al Bader shared with TTG his views on the importance of tourism for the diversification of Qatar's mainly oil-based economy. He revealed that MICE is currently the most important tourism segment for the country as it brings the highest number of visitors. However, cultural, leisure

and sports tourism are also gaining strength with many new infrastructure developments and cultural attractions underway. These sectors, especially leisure, are important for extending the average length of stay of travellers in the country as he explains. “Qatar Tourism Authority is currently preparing for the official launch of its tourism strategy, currently in the stage of obtaining final approvals, which is carefully designed to guide our future efforts and help us focus on clearly defined target markets. It will basically look at ways to ensure that Qatar will remain an attractive tourist destination after 2022,” said Al Bader.

To read the full interview with Abdullah Al Bader please visit ttgmena.com

Nourishing new and existing relations Hertz International has revealed to TTG numerous offerings designed for the Middle Eastern traveller worldwide. Vice president of sales and marketing, Hertz International, Elyes Mrad outlined: “We are looking to enhance our product offering and boost business via a multi-channel booking platform expansion across the Middle East region. This includes a continued roll out of domestic Hertz website domains, which were most recently launched in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Bahrain.”

We are looking to enhance our product offering and boost business. The company is also expanding its General Sales Agent (GSA) representatives throughout the region to boost outbound car rentals in Europe and the US. It is also working closely with regional travel agents while nourishing its existing relationships with partners which are, according to Mrad, strategically important to attract more business and leisure travellers, both to and from the Middle East.

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Presenting a stronger product in Kuwait wiss-Belhotel Plaza Kuwait highlighted plans to use ATM as an opportunity to present visitors with a new value-for-money product. The property underwent a major refurbishment during 2012 – rooms were repainted to match the new carpet and curtains; high-speed WiFi was made available in rooms; and bathrooms were expanded in executive rooms and suites. In addition, a new room category was introduced, offering exclusive access to the executive lounge. The property’s restaurants and ballroom are also up for a refresh over the course of the year. General manager, SwissBelhotel Plaza Kuwait, Ali Haddad explained to TTG that he expects to see an

Haddad: We noticed a rise in visitors from Korea increase in visitor numbers in 2013 due to several projects currently underway in Kuwait, and that the property already noted an increase in the leisure segment from Saudi Arabia. “We noticed the rise in the number of visitors from Asia, and mainly Korea. We have a new Korean restaurant at the hotel attracting not only Koreans, but local and Asian guests too,” he added.

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NEWS

Destination training key priority

The property is looking to train agents on aspects of South Africa, such as how it caters to Arabic travellers

One&Only Cape Town recently revealed to TTG that the message it plans to convey during ATM 2013 concerns improving perceptions of South Africa. International sales manager – GCC and Europe, One&Only Cape Town, Francois Liebenberg told TTG: “Despite all of the negative publicity South Africa has been receiving, we are still a safe destination.”

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According to Liebenberg, it is paramount that travel agents know specific details concerning the property and its location. “It is very important that we do ‘destination training’. It is vital for agents to know where we are located, in terms of geographic location, what our weather patterns are and how South Africa caters for the Arabic traveller,” he said.

Creating a memorable International group reveals commitment experience Having opened in December 2012, Café Royal hotel, London, UK, has reported that creating awareness of the property is its key focus for the remainder of 2013. The hotel is also keen to promote The Set, a collection of hotels developed to redefine the concept of luxury. “The first phase of the hotel has seen the opening of the Portland rooms and suites, plus the majority of our food and beverage venues,” vice president, The Set, Mark Allvey outlined to TTG.

Our aim is to showcase our design philosophy. “The second phase will see the opening of our hightech meeting spaces, our six historic suites as well as an Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre,” he added. Allvey also stated that the launch of the hotel will be conveyed at ATM: “We want to announce the launch of Café Royal hotel and its place within The Set to the Middle Eastern market which is very important to us. Our aim is to showcase our design philosophy."

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andarin Oriental Hotel Group has recently revealed that this year’s ATM is to be its very first. “This is the first year Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is exhibiting at ATM so it’s a very exciting year for us,” regional director of sales – Middle East, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Adrian Hearn exclusively told TTG. Referring to the company’s relationship with the region and its ATM message, Hearn added: “The group is very committed to this region and our presence there is getting stronger, with two sales offices and a growth in team members on hand to service our clients. “We are also seeking to spread a deeper understanding of the hotels and services which guests can

The Group announced the opening of a hotel in Shanghai

enjoy, while strengthening the brand,” he stated. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group can also avow to a number of new developments recently, including Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai, expected to open in Q2 of 2013. Furthermore, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London has seen the opening of its swimming pool and new fitness facilities.


NEWS

Expanding on success with new properties

Marking a rewarding decade with several upgrades ith 2013 marking its 10th anniversary, EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort, Lebanon, has unveiled the refurbishment of its three-star hotel guest rooms, the addition of six new suites to its five-star boutique hotel and the expansion of its meetings and conference facilities, as well as the opening of its indoor spa, which is slated to launch in mid-May. At the beginning of the year, the property launched its éCards programmes, comprising of the éLoyalty Card and the éGift Card. These were reportedly adopted to encourage guests to use all of the facilities on offer. Marketing communications manager, EddéSands Hotel & Wellness Resort, Joanne Zarife outlined to TTG that EddéSands is expecting a successful summer in 2013 in terms of leisure tourism: “In 2012, our property was able to overcome the consequences of the Syrian conflict by focusing on its local clientele. This year, we are naturally hoping for a much better year. “We are currently working on special packages and combined offers with local travel agencies and tour operators that will help us

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to promote our destination. At the same time, we are preparing an attractive programme for this summer’s events with local and international artists,” she added.

We are preparing an attractive programme for this summer's events with local and international artists. Zarife revealed that the property is set to attend this year’s ATM: “EddéSands will be part of the Ministry of Tourism stand (ME2010). We will showcase the property, our products and services in the resort,” Zarife commented.

May 1 2013

Kaddouri: This is an exciting time for Rotana Rotana is set to manage a total of 14,700 rooms across its properties by the end of the year, with three new hotels in the pipeline. With the properties predicted to open in the next six

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months, this expansion is set to take Rotana into Amman, and will see the opening of the company’s second hotel in Iraq, following its recent unveiling in Bahrain. Majestic Arjaan by Rotana, Manama, Bahrain comprises of 128 one-, two- and threebedroom suites, designed as duplexes. It offers a restaurant, Bodylines health and fitness centre with a swimming pool and a business centre. Karbala Rayhaan by Rotana, Karbala, Iraq, is to be the first five-star hotel in the region, featuring 200 rooms and suites comprising of up-to-date facilities as well as technology suitable for leisure and corporate travellers. It provides four culinary outlets and a Bodylines leisure and fitness club. Finally, Boulevard Arjaan

by Rotana, Amman, Jordan is situated in the heart of the business district of Amman and features 398 fully furnished apartments with a number of amenities. The hotel has two cafes, two rooftop swimming pools and a conference centre. Vice president, Rotana, Omer Kaddouri outlined to TTG: “These three new properties are part of our extended expansion plans. "We are continuing our growth of the four Rotana brands by expanding into the new territories of Bahrain and Jordan and increasing our presence in Iraq. With the launch of the first five-star hotel in one of the world’s largest pilgrimage destinations, Karbala, Iraq. It is an exciting time for Rotana,” he further added.


NEWS

Halal-friendly options Furthering its in Tokyo corporate focus

Barcelona exhibition attracts interest

otel Granvia Kyoto has reported that it has taken the next step to appeal to and satisfy all Muslim guests visiting Japan. The property has entered into a contract with the Malaysia Halal Corporation (MHC) to acquire a local halal certificate. MHC is a halal expert company represented by three Muslim certified internal auditors. The organisation issues ‘local halal’, a standard developed by MHC in accordance to Islamic law in non-Muslim countries.

EIBTM 2013 has already received bookings from Abu Dhabi and Jordan

We are well aware of the massive growth of halal tourism. The hotel's café restaurant, Le Temps, is set to comprise of a halal food preparation area in the kitchen. It is to additionally develop a halal menu specifically for Muslim guests. Prayer rooms are available at the hotel on request, as well as a Qibla and prayer mats in guest rooms. “We are well aware of the massive growth of halal tourism, and we are continuing to break new markets to satisfy our valued guests from all over the world,” director of overseas marketing, Hotel Granvia Kyoto, Shiho Ikeuchi commented.

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InterContinental Doha the City, Qatar has announced it has opened new meetings rooms. The hotel is set to welcome an influx of business travellers due to the line-up of exhibitions and conferences within Doha throughout 2013.

May 1 2013

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Plans for this year’s EIBTM, are underway, with key exhibitors having rebooked to attend, such as Jordan and Abu Dhabi. Director of promotions and overseas offices, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), Mubarak Al Nuaimi stated: "TCA Abu Dhabi has attended EIBTM for the last eight years and considers

the exhibition to be essential to meet buyers in the European arena. Our expanding stakeholder base is always eager to exhibit with us and views it as delivering ROI.” Exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, EIBTM, Graeme Barnett added: “EIBTM brings together the world’s meetings industry suppliers and allows them to showcase their products.”


NEWS

Adopting digital campaigns to reach out to travellers old Coast Tourism in Australia is aiming to capitalise on the opportunities offered by the digital world. Director – international marketing, Gold Coast Tourism, Gordon Price told TTG: “To enhance the positioning of the destination in the eyes of potential Arab consumers, we are focused on optimising our online presence through the new Gold Coast Facebook page." The company strives to more effectively interact with potential travellers, whilst also

communicating the array of attractions, services and experiences on offer in the region. “Social media is vital in formulating a longterm strategy to ensure that the Gold Coast maintains the fun factor, while also catering to the cultural and religious needs of our visitors. Through the sharing of experiences through photo submissions by individuals while visiting the Gold Coast, every visitor then becomes a virtual ambassador of our fun-filled city,” added Price.

The organisation aims to utilise social media to further promote the Gold Coast to MENA travellers

Promoting Dubai as a leisure destination The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has revealed to TTG that it has plans to hone in on its credentials as a lifestyle destination, as well as a business hotel.

He also noted that the property has recently opened the terrace at No.5 Lounge & Bar, the largest outdoor terrace in DIFC. “We expect this to become one of the leading night-time

We expect this to become one of the leading night-time destinations in Dubai. “We are seeing increasing numbers of guests staying with us for leisure breaks, and along with demand for the legendary Ritz-Carlton service, this is largely due to our unique location in the heart of DIFC, the lifestyle hub of Dubai, with its thriving arts and restaurant scenes, and the hotel’s fantastic leisure facilities, including our restaurants, spa and indoor and rooftop swimming pools,” general manager, The Ritz-Carlton, DIFC, Lothar Quarz told TTG.

destinations in Dubai by the end of the year,” he further commented. Attending ATM 2013, the property’s focal point is set to be on its leisure facilities and summer offers, which comprise of a choice of packages specially designed to appeal to families, particularly those from the GCC who travel with children. “We will be providing benefits within the hotel, such as a new kid’s club and complimentary food and beverage for children."

The hotel has added a terrace to No.5 Lounge & Bar, the largest outdoor terrace in DIFC

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May 1 2013

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UPDATE SWITZERLAND Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss) also connects Zurich with the region, as head of sales – Africa, Middle East, Greece, Turkey, Swiss, Emrah Erkasap shared with TTG: “Swiss operates daily non-stop flights between Dubai and Zurich, daily flights between Muscat and Zurich and four weekly flights between Cairo and Zurich.”

We have observed that the quality consciousness of guests is constantly increasing. Tailor-made promotion

A REFRESHING choice Confident in its premium quality product, Switzerland is determined to further attract and sustain the number of visitors from the MENA markets. Ana Mladenovic reports trong ties between Switzerland and the Middle East, as well as the lasting appeal of the Alpine tourism offerings to MENA travellers, have proven their importance to the Swiss tourism sector, in light of the ongoing economic problems being faced in Europe. Market manager, Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation, Niko García Hofer told TTG: “In comparison with 2011, we closed 2012 with an increase of 10.3 per cent of overnight stays from the GCC. For this year, we expect the same increase as last year – seven to 10 per cent.” He noted that MENA travellers are visiting Switzerland throughout the year and not just during the hot summer months, showing an interest in snow-related experiences. For Geneva, he revealed, the main feeder markets are Saudi Arabia, which realised 33.7 per cent of MENA overnights, followed by the UAE (22.9), Qatar (8.4) and Kuwait (7.1). Bahrain and Egypt both accounted for 6.5 per cent. Switzerland is still a popular summer destination among affluent GCC citizens according to vice president – Europe, sales and marketing, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, Herta Hieslmait who explained to TTG that many visitors enjoy the fine weather during the summer months, the Alpine scenery and a spot of shopping for high-end products. “As a general trend in Switzerland, we have observed that the quality consciousness of guests is constantly increasing;

at the same time they want to see value for their money,” Hieslmait added.

To nourish the momentum, the Swiss tourism industry is creatively developing channels of communication and promoting their offerings to the MENA markets. For example, the Alpina Gstaad is working both with individual travel agencies and supplier networks, as managing director, The Alpina Gstaad, Niklaus Leuenberger outlined, adding that sales and promotional missions are being made together with the national tourism marketing company, Switzerland Tourism and with Preferred Hotel Group. The Dubai outpost of Switzerland Tourism is also a promotional partner of Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation, as Hofer emphasised: “We travel once or twice in the first semester of the year to the region to meet professionals, and a workshop with more than 40 travel agents and tour operators is organised in Switzerland during the second semester. With the goal to enlarge the brand awareness of the Lake Geneva region and Geneva, this year we merged with the Lake Geneva Region Tourist Office and collaborated with an independent consultant in the GCC.” Those that have not yet explored the potential of MENA are looking to do so. Manager, marketing and communications, Basel Tourism, Christine Waelti outlined this to TTG: “We are not yet present in the market, but we will start with it this summer in cooperation with Switzerland Tourism. The main market so far is the UAE.” Digital outreach

Confidently rising Overnight stays from the MENA markets in destinations throughout the country are witnessing an upward trend. Head, marketing & communication, Montreux-Vevey Tourisme, Grégoire Chappuis revealed to TTG that MENA is one of the region’s main growth markets, with a 535.7 per cent growth seen from Kuwait; 400 per cent from Oman; 273 from Egypt; and 197.6 from Qatar. “The year 2012 was a great year and we expect an excellent 2013,” Chappuis said, adding that he expects a 10 to 15 per cent growth from the region. Tourism growth is supported by the strong connectivity with the region. Business development manager, Genève Aéroport, Samer Jrab told TTG: “Today, all major airlines of MENA are serving Geneva, which confirms its attractiveness towards this region." He highlighted that only Libyan carriers are missing, expressing confidence that a Libyan carrier will soon start serving the Swiss market. Jrab added that Saudi Arabian Airlines has announced an increase of service to a daily flight from Jeddah and Riyadh during the summer period. May 1 2013

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Promotional efforts have inevitably spilled onto the digital platform. Montreux Riviera recently launched an Arabic version of its website to make its offerings ever more accessible to MENA travellers, while Geneva Tourism & Conventions Foundation unveiled a new website with a dedicated travel trade section. Social media has been embraced by Les Trois Rois, which now has an active community on Facebook and Twitter. Marketing and communications manager, Les Trois Rois, Caroline Jenny told TTG: “We publish videos where our sommelier, chef de bar and chef de cuisine give tips and tricks, and we encourage our friends to ask us any questions that our experts will answer per video message.” Similarly, PR representative, Lake Geneva Tourist Office, Anick Goumaz confirmed to TTG that it added an online chat facility to its website, enabling guests to ask questions and receive instant answers, and is the first to upgrade its brochures by adding augmented reality features. "We made a plan of our region that can be seen with additional virtual content thanks to an iPhone or iPad,” Goumaz said.

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UPDATE SWITZERLAND

Strategy endorsed to Signature rooms promote region designed to entice

Lavish waterpark and spa awaited

wissôtel Métropole, Geneva has launched 12 new Alpine-inspired signature rooms, reported to be the first of their kind within Swissôtels & Resorts. The rooms feature parquet floors and wallpapers, designed by a local textile manufacturer, Jakob Schlaepfer, who supplies Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood. The open, mosaic bathrooms house steam showers or Jacuzzi baths and have Pürovel toiletries, produced by Swiss farmers using pure biological oils and local herbs. The region will see a major investment in its tourism offering Tourism stakeholders of Zermatt-Mattehorn recently penned Strategy 2018 to boost the region’s tourism offerings, with plans to invest $12.6 billion over the next 10 years in the existing attractions and infrastructure, new tourist experiences and communication. Director, Zermatt Tourism, Daniel Luggen outlined at the signing: “Large and longterm investments secure our competitiveness.”

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The strategy foresees an awareness campaign for local residents and tourism professionals. Key projects include the strengthening and expansion of winter sports and excursion facilities, hiking trails, fun parks and mountain-bike tracks, plus sustainable countryside management, as well as a new events centre. Additionally, the Matterhorn golf course is set to be extended to 18 holes.

The waterpark is to encompass over 10,000m2² of space

The designers have accomplished a modern and chic ambience. The rooms also offer centrally controlled lighting and electronic instruments, and the 150-channel television integrated into a high mirror has a media connection panel allowing guests to connect their MP3 players, iPads or notebooks. Free WiFi is also available. General manager, Swissôtel Métropole, Geneva, Stefan Winistoerfer said: “The designers have accomplished a modern and chic ambience, offering a high degree of comfort."

May 1 2013

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Splash e Spa Tamaro waterpark, expected to spread over 10,000m², is slated to open in June 2013. An area of 7,000m² is set to cater to the leisure segment with a 30m long wave pool; a swimming pool with a poolside bar; over 80 water and air jet attractions; a children’s area; five slides – unique to Europe with light, sound and water shows; funnels, whirlpools, and more. The remaining 3,000m² is to house a luxurious spa with a wellness centre. Themed saunas, Turkish baths and a range of treatments and massages are also anticipated. Outdoor attractions planned include a heated panoramic swimming pool with 85 types of massages; loungers, a sauna and heated saltwater pool. Located on the Milan-St Gotthard A2 motorway, the waterpark will be accessible by both public and private transport.


ON LOCATION THAILAND

CAPTIVATING JOURNEY With its abundance of niche attractions, Thailand continues to magnetise the Middle Eastern market and, in particular, travellers from the medical tourism sector. Naomi Leach investigates nriched by its vibrant universal appeal and manifold attractions, Thailand enjoys a buoyant and diverse tourism sector. Whether seeking a beach or business break, a shopping, gastronomic, cultural or medical vacation, every type of visitor is catered for in Thailand. Celebrated as an affordable destination, within easy reach of the Middle East and offering an appreciation of the cultural nuances of the MENA traveller, Thailand revels in its reputation for authentic hospitality. “Thailand is blessed with a naturally friendly and tolerant population that warmly welcomes the world into its country. The food appeals to the Middle Eastern traveller and Thai massages are legendary. Shopping is also a big draw as Thailand offers limitless varieties of goods and handicrafts, not only from its own diverse country but its surrounding neighbours,” general manager, Point Yamu by Como, James Low told TTG. Meanwhile, director of sales & marketing, Sheraton Pattaya Resort, Prin Pathanatham expressed a similar sentiment to TTG: “Thailand is known as the exotic location with warm and gracious Thai Hospitality. It is a ‘place for everyone'." Since the country charms visitors the world over, Thailand Tourism Authority (TAT) has set a target of 22.22 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, to generate an estimated foreign exchange revenue of $30.62 billion.

“Thailand had a fantastic year in 2012 with record visitor arrivals, which had a positive impact on hotel rates and occupancy. We now intend to drive this further,” revealed vice president, international operations – Asia, Best Western International, Glenn de Souza exclusively to TTG. He continued: “Thailand is one of our fastest-growing markets. In addition to the 16 hotels we already have operating in the country, we plan to open at least another five in the coming months and years." PROSPEROUS RELATIONSHIP Following an increase in airline connectivity between the MENA region and Thailand, it is not only Bangkok that is drawing in the Middle Eastern traveller. According to director, marketing communications & events, Laguna Phuket, Robin Wilson, the property has benefitted from the opening of the daily direct service by Emirates Airline from Dubai to Phuket to add to the daily services by Qatar Airways from Doha and Etihad’s codeshare on airberlin from Abu Dhabi. For MENA arrivals, according to Thailand Immigration Bureau, the UAE still remains the largest market for the country with 108,994 visitors in 2012. However, Oman was recorded as an emerging potential market – in 2012 the country had a total of 65,690 tourist arrivals compared to 54,279 in 2011 (a 21 per May 1 2013

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cent increase), which was one of the highest growths seen in the whole region. Thailand also received an average increase of 6,000 tourist arrivals from KSA and Kuwait, representing some of the strongest markets for Thailand tourism promotion. Vice president, sales & marketing, Dusit International, Catherine McNabb confirmed the growing MENA market to TTG: “Increasing arrivals from the Middle East and North Africa to Thailand are due in large part to the wide selection of tourism offerings available, such as excellent and varied cuisine, hospitality, culture, shopping, high quality hotels and idyllic resort destinations. The universal appeal of the Thai culture and the overall value visitors receive is virtually unparalleled.” In a bid to target the MENA market, TAT has devised a comprehensive marketing strategy to achieve higher revenue through 'Thainess', director – Dubai & Middle East office, TAT, Chalermsak Suranat explained to TTG: “TAT will attract Middle Eastern tourists with the ‘Charm of Thainess’ which includes the Thai experience, the Thai way of life and Thai culture, and will reinforce the Thailand brand with a core focus on authenticity, value for money and hospitality.” TAT plans to boost tourism promotion within the GCC and Levant countries by organising familiarisation trips, road shows, and by revamping the TAT Dubai & Middle East website to be available in English, Arabic and Farsi. For Onyx Hospitality Group, according to CEO, Peter Henley, satisfying the Middle Eastern traveller at their Thai properties goes beyond just Middle Eastern-friendly products and service offerings; it also includes providing Arabic menus and promoting special Ramadan packages. He also told TTG that Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain Onyx’s main feeder markets within the MENA region. Similarly catering to Middle Eastern guests, Banyan Tree Bangkok has increased its inventory to provide suites for large parties and long stays in addition to offering a Muslim chef for in-room dining, restaurants and bars. “These visitors particularly want to feel at home when they travel abroad and we make every effort to satisfy these demands,” PR manager, Banyan Tree Bangkok, Naravadee Swangridht told TTG. For multigenerational MENA visitors, Low revealed Point Yamu by Como is due to focus on family holidays, as is Anantara during 2013, especially for pre- and post-Ramadan travel. Meanwhile, Laguna Phuket showcased a number of family friendly amenities, excursions and packages. MEDICAL OFFERINGS Hospitality industry experts highlighted medical tourism as a significant driver for tourism in Thailand. “Medical tourism is a booming industry in Thailand. Patients from the Middle East are drawn to the high standards and low costs of medical treatments in the country. Thailand has established a reputation as one of the world's leading countries for medical tourism as international visitors, including patients from the Middle East, seek affordable medical treatment and recuperation in one of the world’s most stunning locations. For those visiting Thailand for medical reasons, our vicinity and transfer services to major hospitals has also been well received by many Middle Eastern guests,” surmised Henley. Onyx’s Bangkok properties are located close to Bangkok Hospital and Bumrungrad International Hospital to target Middle Eastern medical tourists. Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok also reports that it offers a residential spa experience for recuperation. In addition, Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit, located close to Soi Nana and Bumrungrad International hospital, offers medical tourism packages. Meanwhile, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok actively promotes medical tourism and Dusit International is said to be working with top Thai hospitals to drive this sector. Indeed a focus on health and wellness for MENA travellers to Thailand constitutes an important marketing strategy for TAT, as Suranat outlined: “Major and minor surgery along with cosmetics and dental care at the kingdom’s many numerous highly qualified and specialised hospitals will be promoted, as too will Thailand’s spa and wellbeing centres.”

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ON LOCATION THAILAND

Phuket to welcome New openings luxury hotel announced omo Hotels and Resorts has reported that construction of the Point Yamu project in Phuket is moving forward successfully, with a scheduled completion date in Q4 of 2013. Initially, 79 rooms, suites and public areas will be built, followed by the Villa development.

The location perfectly frames the Como experience of service and cuisine. The five-star hotel, located in Phang Nga Bay, is expected to comprise of 106 rooms, including 27 private villas offering panoramic views of the Andaman Sea. Features included in the property include a 100m swimming pool, a Como Shambhala Retreat with treatment rooms as well as a yoga studio, an Italian and Thai restaurant and a private beach. "The location perfectly frames the Como experience of service and cuisine, complemented by a wellness focus delivered by our Como Shambhala Retreat,� said VP, business development, Como Hotels and Resorts, Harry Apostolides.

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Koh Samui occupancy rates soar Tourism in Koh Samui has received an influx of visitors, with a report suggesting the resort achieved an all time island-wide occupancy of 68 per cent throughout 2012. According to a new market update released by consulting firm C9 Hotelworks, the trend has been driven by new direct international routes and aircraft upgrades creating 189,000 additional seats for Koh Samui travellers, which saw occupied hotel room nights rise by nine per cent.

Best Western International aims to increase its Thai portfolio to more than 20 hotels by 2015 Best Western International has described plans to open at least another five hotels in Thailand, increasing its portfolio to more than 20 hotels by 2015. Due to open first is a 99room midscale Best Western hotel in the Ekkamai area of central Bangkok. During 2014, the company is scheduled to expand in Phuket with the launch of a new 220-room property in

May 1 2013

Patong. It also plans to further extend its footprint in Bangkok next year with the launch of a 180-room midscale hotel in the Chaeng Wattana area of the city and a 145-room luxury Best Western Premier hotel in Bangkok city centre. Finally, in Q1 of 2015, Best Western is to open a brand new 300-room upscale Best Western Plus hotel in the Jomtien area of Pattaya.

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It's not just about the beach anymore as shopping and attractions are gaining momentum as strong demand catalysts. Managing director, C9 Hotelworks, Bill Barnett said: "Hot on the heels of a rising Asian middle class and the resurgence of a prolific group travel segment, is the trend of Thailand's resort markets becoming urbanised playgrounds. It is not just about the beach anymore, as shopping and attractions are gaining momentum as strong demand catalysts."


ON LOCATION THAILAND

Property unveils renovations

The property has upgraded both its accommodation and conference facilities Dusit Thani Pattaya has revealed that it has completed the renovations of its highend room categories (Club Grand Room) designed to cater to its luxury guests. Additionally, the Deluxe (standard) rooms have been refurbished to present all guests with upgraded rooms and facilities. Senior manager of marketing communications, Dusit Thani Pattaya, Vanjie

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Lauzon commented to TTG: “Our focus is on meeting groups, business groups and the MICE market. We have implemented various services and have upgraded our facilities in order to meet the demands of these markets.” Lauzon also highlighted that the hotel has achieved recognition for its environmental efforts, including the Five Leaves Award by the Green Leaf Foundation.

Group plans Thai expansion nyx Hospitality Group has recently revealed plans to further expand its portfolio in Thailand, following the growth observed at two of the group’s largest revenue generating properties, Amari Watergate Bangkok and Amari Coral Beach Phuket. In 2014, the group is expected to introduce an Ozo Chaweng Samui and an Ozo Pattaya. Ozo Chaweng Samui, located on the island of Koh Samui, is to offer 208 guest rooms and innovative communal zones. Set on a beach, the hotel’s facilities are to feature a swimming pool, children’s pool, two restaurants and a beach bar.

May 1 2013

Slated to open in late 2014, the 164-room Ozo Pattaya’s facilities are to include a roof top swimming pool and restaurant, fitness centre and snack bar. Meanwhile, scheduled to launch in 2015 is Amari Residence Jomtien in South Pattaya, featuring 140 privately owned residential condominiums and 135 Amari-managed serviced apartments. President, Onyx Hospitality Group, Peter Henley exclusively told TTG: “Amari, the centrepiece of the Onyx portfolio of hotel brands reflecting the warmth and energy of an evolving modern Asia, celebrates its Asian roots while adding a contemporary twist."

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Culturally inspired spa opens

The spa boasts breathtaking views from a cove next to Chaweng Noi Beach Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui has announced the launch of Vana Spa. The new spa provides a number of facilities, a locally-inspired menu of experiences, as well as a number of signature treatments. General manager, Vana Spa, Mark O’Sullivan said: “We are delighted to welcome guests to Vana Spa, a sanctuary of wellbeing and

rejuvenation. With inspiration from our surroundings and culture, Vana Spa offers an experience that is as authentic as it is indulgent.” Vana Belle, A Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui is located 80km off Thailand's southern coast, in a cove next to Chaweng Noi Beach. The spa boasts 80 suites and villas, each said to feature private terraces, and private pools.


ON LOCATION THAILAND

Brand deepens Thai footprint

Once open, Anantara Phuket Layan is to comprise of the new Ocean View Suite Anantara has announced that it is set to open its 11th resort in Thailand during December 2013. Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa is expected to launch on a secluded beach, just 20 minutes from Phuket International Airport. The resort is set to boast 77 pool villas and suites, revival restaurants, a bar and an Anantara Spa. Additionally, Anantara is set to close Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa in Koh Samui for a substantial refurbishment until November. The property is to undergo a $5.8 million renovation investment over seven months. All the guest rooms and the majority of public areas are due to be refurbished, plus new room types are to be introduced.

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Enhanced corporate Phuket welcomes new resort offerings The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) has launched a campaign to attract business events to Thailand. The ‘Mega Events Sustainable Challenge’ initiative was reportedly designed to encourage MICE groups bringing large corporate events to Thailand by offering $33,000 of support. Building upon the work of its ‘Green Meetings’ initiative in Asia, Thailand is expected to urge MICE operators to adopt management methods that support sustainable development, by encompassing three dimensions: social, economic and environmental factors. TCEB has designed the

May 1 2013

‘Mega Events Sustainable Challenge’ campaign for companies and organisations, which have a strong interest and commitment to sustainability. TCEB reports that it expects the campaign to encourage more companies and organisations to hold their large corporate events in Thailand, and to highlight sustainability issues to the MICE sector. The scheme is expected to cement Thailand’s status as a top destination for international megaevents. The campaign is due to run until September 30, 2013. In 2012, MICE visitor numbers to Thailand reached 895,224, exceeding the annual target.

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he Senses, a new resort in Phuket, has recently opened its doors to international travellers. The resort, which consists of 116 guest rooms and suites, reportedly presents a vanity of room sizes ranging from 42m2 to 63m2.

We offer a unique ambience of relaxation which brings you a haven of tranquillity. Resort facilities include an all-day fine dining restaurant, Splash Mountain Bar and Swimming Pool, Smiley Face Kids Club, Just Play Fitness Centre, The Inspire Conference, a business centre and retail shop. General manager, The Senses, Sutpreeda Jailak told TTG: “We offer a unique ambience of relaxation which brings you a haven of tranquillity and well-being. From the moment guests arrive at the lobby, they are greeted with the mellow scent of orange jasmine and instinctively service minded staff ready to assist.”


ANALYSIS TATOs An empowering challenge The industry is innovatively adapting its approach, not only to increase competitiveness in a race against technology, but to embrace it to strengthen its services. Nammour believes that online exposure with aggressive marketing tools is “not only necessary, but also a fundamental requisite.”

People are born travellers, and yearn to know what is beyond our four parameters of everyday life.

Embracing NEW METHODS Despite the increasing reliance on technology when planning a journey, travellers are still utilising the services of travel agents, tour operators and DMCs. Ana Mladenovic talks to the industry and reports ommunication technology seems to be altering travellers’ behaviour by making them more knowledgeable on tourism products of their interest. They can now easily research, view, review and compare offers and prices, and tailor-make their itineraries. However, travel agents and tour operators (TATOs), as well as destination management companies (DMCs) are resiliently making themselves indispensable by listening to the customer’s needs and desires, understanding them and adapting their approach to ensure memorable experiences. Developing expectations “For quite some time, travellers did not change much with regards to the destinations they are interested in. They are only becoming more computerised and updated through personal electronic gadgets,” general manager, Saad Travel and Tourism, Delijan Fahad Aldelijan explained to TTG. The availability of information and endless choices it entails appear to have made travellers more price-conscious. “People are willing to look for travel information through different channels and are likely to make their own travel arrangements. Travellers are perhaps driven by a desire to have

direct access to the cost structure, where their thought is to pay less,” sales and PR manager, Rida International, Elie Nammour told TTG, stressing, that both experienced travellers and average tourists are aware that only veterans in the travel industry, thus travel agents, can save them time and money and offer them the perfect holiday. Technology has also stimulated a growing demand for more imaginative and meaningful trips. Regional director – EMEA, Pacific World, Shaun Casey, shared his experience with TTG: “Trends do vary according to the source market. However, we have ascertained that the new generation of meeting planners are interested in ‘connecting’ more with the destination. This might be as simple as getting to know the locals; strolling around a market to see what they eat; learning about their lifestyle, such as visiting a Spanish guitar workshop or a ‘total immersion’ class for Spanish Flamenco.” Another trend his company noticed is the desire to give back to the local community, so they recently launched 'Opening Eyes,' their CSR programme. "The concept is a simple one or two hours of your time to support a good cause in the destination," he added, giving the example of building bicycles for under-privileged children in Greece as a project which has had a very positive response. May 1 2013

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Chairman, Alshamel, Yousif Al-Essa told TTG that Alshamel will continue to seek technology that is both innovative and user-friendly, and provides value to travellers throughout the travel process. “We will introduce Alshamel Online to capture additional market share in line with the shifting customers’ trends towards transacting online,” he added. Similarly, director of marketing, Omeir Travel Agency, Ganesh Ullal told TTG that his company redesigned its online web booking system and launched new travel-related services “to offset the threat of online travel agents.” He expressed his confidence in the future of the industry: “People are born travellers, and yearn to know what is beyond our four parameters of everyday life. Hence the travel industry will always evolve and grow.” Pacific World boasts an extensive social media platform and is currently looking to introduce an app with ‘gamification’ to support its communication campaign, as Casey revealed. Also, it expects to focus on destination webinars in the future. Strengthening product portfolios Apart from using digital platforms, many companies are furthering their products and services on offer. Abu Dhabi-based Omeir Travel Agency has focused on research and development to analyse, and develop tools and techniques for enhancing its services and products, and has invested heavily on corporate travel management and in developing incentivising purchase mechanism for its customers, as well as regulating and upgrading its visa department. "We believe that customers of today want the travel management partners to understand the business in their perspective," he said. New products have also been embraced by Rida International, which has updated and introduced new concepts in MICE and has boosted the leisure segment through combined packages, guaranteed departures and by offering special tours. The power of personal contact was touched upon by Aldelijan, a company which relies on personal visits, face-to-face product presentation and transparent pricing. Reflecting on what makes TATOs indispensable in today’s world, general manager, Elite Oman, Karen Hardan told TTG: “Choosing a travel agent gives travellers the security of always having a contact to turn to in case of emergency or if other services are required. If travel is booked through the Internet with a hotel website or guide website or similar, not much service or support can be expected. Travelling to foreign countries and having back up by a travel agency gives so much more confidence.”

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ANALYSIS TATOs

New tourist adventures unveiled

Attracting Chinese outbound bookers he Chinese Visitor Summit, expected to attract 75 top Chinese outbound tourism bookers, is planned to take place in Abu Dhabi on September 2-3, 2013 at the newly–opened The Ritz–Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal.

A campaign was launched to raise awareness of Qatar’s numerous leisure offerings Regency Holidays, the leisure and tours division of Regency Travels and Tours, recently launched a set of packages entitled: ‘101 Things to do in Qatar’. The new packages include activities such as private desert camping; dining in the desert; visits to the Museum of Islamic Art and Souq Waqif; storytelling by the original pearl divers; fishing; horseback riding and more.

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‘101 Things to do in Qatar’ reportedly aims to highlight possibilities for both family and independent entertainment through an awareness campaign launched in March 2013. Branded flyer stands have been placed in hotels, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls and petrol stations, and a dedicated road show is also planned to enhance the knowledge of hotel concierges and sub-agents.

We are looking to build on this momentum and highlight our expanding tourism proposition, boosted over the past 12 months. “Summit partners and suppliers went above and beyond to impress the Chinese delegation. We are looking to build on this momentum and to particularly highlight our expanding tourism proposition, boosted over the past 12 months with new resort and attraction openings and tour product enhancements,” outlined director of promotions and overseas offices, TCA Abu Dhabi, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, adding that local suppliers will have to begin creating tailored products if they are to maximise penetration of this market.

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Halal-centric portal launched Mumbai-based Halal Trip Info, a specialised online portal dedicated to providing exclusive halal-friendly packages for Muslim travellers, has recently launched operations. Co-founder, Halal Trip Info, Bilal Thakur told TTG that the company is the first and only halal-friendly travel company in India. It cooperates with local hotels and restaurants with the aim of assisting all those interested in finding prayer facilities, a nearby mosque, Qiblah direction and information on the availability of halal food, and it additionally facilitates any other similar issues a Muslim traveller may encounter. Apart from these services, the company assists with providing accommodation and entertainment advice,

Thakur: The company is the first and only halal-friendly travel company in India adventure experiences, and much more. These provisions are not strictly restricted to Muslims, but are also available to all travellers who wish to explore this experience or simply wish to obtain useful information on the destination they visit.


SPECIAL REPORT IRELAND Invitation to MENA

LEGENDARY WELCOME Resonating with vitality, Ireland’s tourism industry has been galvanised by a national campaign and is set to extend its invitation globally, as Naomi Leach discovers olstered by a natural, rugged beauty and an historic, cultural charm, Ireland’s tourism industry has embarked on an extensive initiative to highlight its niche travel sectors of sports, heritage, wedding, shopping and MICE to international visitors. “This year is an exciting year for Tourism Ireland and visitors to Ireland. We have not one, but two, significant year-long initiatives to boost our tourism offering to overseas visitors,” outlined general manager – Middle East & Asia, Tourism Ireland, Amanda Burns to TTG. “The ‘Gathering Ireland 2013’ is a spectacular, year-long celebration of all things Irish. It was launched by the Irish Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Tourism and will be the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland. It is a unique year for Irish tourism as we invite the world to come and visit,” Burns added. The Gathering campaign is designed to offer a calendar of festivals and events which will begin and end with the New Year’s Eve Festival in Dublin, and includes The Great Ireland Run, Galway Oyster Festival and the Dublin City Soul Festival. The theme is also aimed at those with an Irish heritage or love of Ireland to visit in 2013 for their own ‘gathering’. The hospitality industry has embraced the initiative with Preferred Hotels Group launching special packages across a number or properties to mark the Ireland focus. General manager, Ballyfin, Aileesh Carew praised the tourism

campaign. Carew noted to TTG: “The Gathering is having an impact in raising awareness and renewing interest in Ireland. Guests love the warm friendly people, mild climate, beautiful scenery, vibrant culture and high quality of food and accommodation.” Indeed, the campaign is enabling Ballyfin to reinforce its reputation both domestically and abroad, revealed Carew. Reflecting positively on Ireland’s international reputation, head of marketing and communications, The Convention Centre Dublin, Elaine Phillips told TTG: “Ireland is renowned worldwide as a friendly, welcoming destination. This is a unique advantage that the country continues to market, for leisure and business tourists alike.” During 2013, Ireland is also showcasing its cultural offerings following Derry-Londonderry achieving the title of UK City of Culture. With the year-long accolade comes an ambitious calendar of 140 events and performances. “This year has already got off to a strong start in terms of visitors to Ireland from developing markets including the UAE. Figures show that visitation for January 2013 is up 10 per cent from January 2012. From November 2012 to January 2013, numbers are up 16 per cent on the same period from 2011-2012. "We expect this growth to continue throughout the year as Ireland rolls out The Gathering Ireland 2013 and DerryLondonderry City of Culture 2013,” explained Burns. May 1 2013

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Ireland is keen to further attract the MENA traveller, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE representing the region’s two main feeder markets. Ireland offers a welcome respite from the summer heat of the Middle East, making this the most popular time for MENA travellers to visit. Tourism Ireland has an established hub within MENA to target this market and works with partners, especially hotels in Ireland, to ensure that they cater for Middle Eastern travellers’ dietary needs, provide prayer mats and information on proximity to nearby mosques. Additionally, a recent sales mission by Tourism Ireland, which established meetings between Irish companies and 60 UAE travel agents, highlighted the island’s commitment to MENA. Ballyfin has sustained sales, marketing and PR activity directed at the Middle East. Carew revealed: “We have had guests from Oman and Dubai. We have been on sales visits to Dubai and Kuwait. Ballyfin is a destination resort so it attracts people that have never been to Ireland before for its unique blend of stunning architecture, interior design, exclusivity, romantic destination, history and food.” With a history in hospitality, Ireland’s heritage properties offer the luxury traveller, particularly those from the MENA region, a unique proposition. Situated on a private island in the River Suir, Waterford Castle Hotel & Gold Resort boasts an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts, clay pigeon shooting and more. Sales and marketing manager, Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort, Philip Kelly remarked to TTG: “Ireland is a special place, offering so much history, spirit and a friendly atmosphere. With an amazing history stretching back to the sixth century, guests wake up in Waterford Castle to the picturesque and enchanting scenes and sounds the island has to offer.” For Middle Eastern visitors to Ireland, top touristic drivers are golf, equestrian sports, natural scenery and luxury venues. Ireland’s golf tourism has benefitted from its reputation as home to one third of the world’s top link courses and high profile golfers including Rory McIlroy. Furthermore, shopping is also a touristic driver for the MENA visitor to Ireland. Chic Outlet Shopping’s Kildare Village near Dublin celebrates the regions heritage and has created a ‘Shop and Explore’ package for local attractions. Connected convention market “Ireland’s location at the gateway to Europe has made it a very attractive location for businesses wishing to set up European headquarters, and Dublin is fortunately at the hub of this international activity,” Phillips told TTG. Following an expansion of services to MENA, long haul traffic grew 16 per cent in 2012 at Dublin Airport. Emirates Airline began a Dublin-Dubai service last January while Etihad Airways grew traffic on the Dublin-Abu Dhabi service, and is set to add an extra 30 per cent capacity in the summer. According to Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), the airport also witnessed passenger growth of two per cent to 19.1 million last year. Furthermore, by easing access to the island through the Irish Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme introduced in 2011, tourists from the GCC have been encouraged to visit. This increased connectivity and ease of accessibility have enabled the convention market to thrive. Working with Tourism Ireland and the Dublin Convention Bureau, Phillips reports that the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) hosted a number of large international corporate and association conferences in 2012, including Euroscience Open Forum 2012 which attracted over 4,500 delegates from more than 70 countries. Phillips asserted: “Since The CCD opened in 2010, Dublin has risen from 32nd to 23rd place in the ICCA rankings of cities for international association conferences. Ireland has also reaped the benefits of significant economic impact from the increase in business tourism and will continue to drive this development forward in the future.”

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SPECIAL REPORT IRELAND

Estate unveils its latest addition

The Picnic House is situated within Ballyfin’s grounds, close to the main house Ballyfin, the 15-bedroom hotel in County Laois, just over an hour from Dublin, has recently re-opened for its third season with a brand new Picnic House on the edge of the 600-acre private estate. The new Picnic House, a slate roofed cottage, has been specially constructed

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for use throughout Ballyfin’s open season – from March through to December. Guests can visit the property, which is 10 minutes away from the main house, by golf-buggy, bicycle or even pony-and-trap. The Picnic House, boasting floor to ceiling windows, features views of Portlaoise (the neighbouring town to Ballyfin Demesne) and the Slieve Bloom mountains, The room has an open fire and provides shelter and a dining and entertainment area. There is also a table for up to 12 picnickers. General manager, Ballyfin, Aileesh Carew commented: “The Picnic House promises to be a wonderful added attraction for our new 2013 season, adding as it will to the wide variety of activities for our guests.”

Ireland cruise Celebrating The Gathering initiative itinerary introduced n celebration of Tourism Ireland’s ‘The Gathering’ initiative', Preferred Hotel Group has recently introduced a plethora of special packages at several of the properties in its Irish portfolio. To honour the initiative, Dromoland Castle is to provide a complimentary upgrade, full Irish breakfast and wine on arrival, plus a discounted voucher for tourist attractions in the Shannon region. Meanwhile, Fitzwilliam Belfast and Fitzwilliam Dublin are expected to introduce a series of attractive offers including complimentary breakfast and a guide to Dublin. Furthermore, Dylan hotel is to provide a full Irish breakfast plus two tickets to visit the Guinness Storehouse. The Europe Hotel & Resort ‘The Gathering’ package includes a discount on the Ring of Kerry Tour, use of the pools, sauna and steam room facilities, plus complimentary WiFi. The K Club hotel, which is also participating in the promotion, is to offer guests a round of golf on the Smurfit Course; frequent flyers will be able to receive miles with 16 airline partners; and iPrefer guests will be offered extra amenities under a package for ‘The Gathering’. Additionally, Preferred Hotel Group has introduced a Special Summer MICE Promotion offer available at Irish Hotels – The K Club, The Europe Hotel & Resort and 18 participating hotels.

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For the first time, luxury specialist, Crystal Cruises is to set sail to and from Dublin Ire for two Northern Europe cruises this summer. The new seven-day itineraries are to sail between Dublin and London aboard Crystal Serenity, exploring the countryside, medieval monuments, castles and the bustling pubs of Ireland, Scotland and England. The ‘Emerald Isle Escape’, due to depart on August 26, 2013, is set to travel from Dublin to London with a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland; Holyhead, Wales; Liverpool, England; Cork, Ireland; Portland, England; as well as Guernsey/St. Peter Port, Channel Islands. Senior vice president of marketing and sales, Crystal Cruises, Jack Anderson said: “We’re excited to offer

Crystal Serenity will for the first time embark on a journey to and from Dublin fascinating Dublin as a destination for Crystal guests to start or end their journey. “As a gateway to the Emerald Isles, the city makes pre- and post-cruise travel convenient. It’s also a great ‘turnaround’ port for guests who may want to combine these voyages," he added.


REGIONAL ROUND UP BAHRAIN

Pursuing new territories

Exploring fresh markets

Strengthening its position

M

arriott Executive Apartments Manama, Bahrain, is looking to tap into new markets as well as bolster its business for the summer months. “For ATM, the focus will be on driving business for the summer period and the remainder of the year. This will be by connecting with our customers and looking for new ones,” director of sales, Marriott Executive Apartments Bahrain – Residence Inn by Marriott Manama, Juffair, Marwan Haddad told TTG.

The property is looking to attract tourism from international markets for the upcoming year Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa recently announced that it has plans to target further markets, with a view to also draw in international tourism. “We have been joined by a new general manager, Samy Boukhaled, with a vision of expanding our target markets and giving a boost to attract international tourism,” commented marketing

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manager, Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, Basel Qabouq to TTG. According to Qabouq, the property is currently looking to put Bahrain back on the international map and introduce Sofitel as the leading choice for the island. In addition, this is a message the Bahrain team plans on carrying right through to this year’s ATM.

The focus will be on driving business. Haddad also highlighted that plans are in place to achieve this through special packages. Questioned as to what the key message is to be at this year’s ATM, he said: “Bahrain and Manama, Tourism Capital, are ready to welcome visitors.” According to Haddad, the number of visitors to Bahrain and the property is also expected to rise this year. “There are many events and activities planned by the Ministry of Culture and I am sure this will attract visitors,” he added. Furthermore, he stressed the use of online platforms to book rooms as well as the use of apps.

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The property is set to further augment its F&B offering with a Japanese lounge Hotel Diva Bahrain, which has recently completed a full year of operations, is set to be focusing on strengthening its F&B, as well as its MICE offerings. “The outlets ‘Kicks’ and ‘Davy Crockett’s’ are both very popular among estern expats and, along with the recent opening of ‘Sky Bar’ roof top, they are all an instant hit. We now plan to

strengthen our F&B with the opening of the Aura Japanese lounge/restaurant by the end of 2013,” general manager, Hotel Diva Bahrain, Shankar Bharadwaj noted to TTG. In addition, Bharadwaj highlighted that the property also plans to concentrate on GDS for the remainder of the year, as well as social media networking.


REGIONAL ROUND UP BAHRAIN AND CYPRUS

Expansion projects underway

The Gulf Hotel Bahrain is expected to start construction of a spa in the second half of 2013, to be completed by mid-2014

The Gulf Hotel Bahrain has revealed an array of projects currently underway. “Our plans include the addition of a new 2,500m² top-of-the-range spa at The Gulf Hotel. The planning and design phase of this project is now close to completion, and construction is expected to start in the second half of 2013 and will be completed mid-2014,” general manager, The Gulf Hotel

Bahrain, Ian McKie told TTG. McKie also highlighted the fact that the property has witnessed the completion of several new projects in the last year, such as the addition of five new executive meeting rooms. The Gulf Hotel Group itself is also working on a number of expansion projects, such as implementing plans to develop Amwaj Waves Hotel Apartments.

Benefiting from a prestigious title With Manama being named Capital of Arab Tourism 2013, the destination has recently hosted a number of events. Governor of Bursa, Turkey, Sahabettin Harput, visited Bahrain as part of a delegation invited by Culture Minister, Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa to celebrate the official launch of Manama being named Capital of Arab Tourism 2013, as well as to discuss prospects of cooperation between the two countries. Harput also stressed his country's keenness on promoting cooperation, along with bolstering bilateral relations. An additional event held in conjunction with Manama being named Capital of Arab Tourism 2013 was ‘Cultural Tourism Season’, during which The Ministry of Culture invited intellectuals, artists and writers to participate in two cultural competitions. The aim of this was to attract vast numbers of Arab intellectuals, allowing for them to come together and share their experiences in literature and the arts. In addition to this, Manama celebrated Arab tourism, where ministers of Arab tourism descended on the Bahraini capital for a special concert launch featuring the famous Arab traveller, Abu Abdullah Mohammad Al-Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta. Other events included the inauguration of the Japanese exhibition at the National Museum Hall, by Japanese Ambassador Shigeki Sumi and his wife Tomoko Sumi, together with Al Khalifa.

New entertainment offered to guests Four Seasons Hotel, Limassol has recently adopted Quadriga’s Sensiq guest communications solution in its 304 guest rooms, providing guests with a choice of in-room entertainment. Reported to be the first Quadriga installation on the island, the solution boasts a variety of services designed to make guest stays smoother and more comfortable, and also enhances the hotel's ability to communicate with its guests. Executive director, Four Seasons Hotel, Limassol, Nick Aristou commented: "The decision to upgrade our guest entertainment solution had been taken a long time ago, but until our paths crossed with Quadriga, we had not yet found a system which lived up to our expectations.

The solution will expand the hotel's entertainment options

"The Sensiq solution is a perfect one for us, and we have every confidence in Quadriga to provide us with a complete solution to meet our requirements and exceed our guests' expectations," he explained.

Limassol resort renovates to move forward wo of Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort’s Imperial Suites have recently undergone a full renovation worth approximately $156,000, to create two brand new Grand Imperial Suites. Measuring at 100m² each, the two Corner Suites are located on the second floor of the five-floor property. “With a private outdoor deck and sun loungers, these suites offer a master bedroom, living room with a 42-inch plasma TV, dining area with seating for eight people, working desk, bathroom with Jacuzzi and a walk-in shower. They also provide spectacular panoramic views of the turquoise blue Mediterranean Sea, yachts, the marina as well as the resort’s swimming pools and beautiful gardens,” business development manager, Le Méridien Limassol Spa & Resort, Chris Laghoutis exclusively told TTG. Rooms within the new suites boast chic furnishings, pastel shades, soft fabrics and dimmable lights, and are themed around natural elements including stone, marble and new hard-wood flooring. The contemporary design is said to combine classic island décor and modern art. “It is crucial to our business to keep moving forward. It is very easy to get left behind with new trends and technologies, therefore, we constantly undertake upgrades to our resort, whether these are

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major developments or small improvements,” Laghoutis said. Attending this year’s ATM, he further outlined to TTG: “Our message will be that Limassol continues to be a safe and vibrant all-year-round destination with many new developments taking form in Limassol. The town is becoming a very popular cosmopolitan destination not only within Cyprus but also the region.

We constantly carry out upgrades to our resort, whether these are major developments or small ones. “As usual, visitors will be able to find us on Cyprus Tourism Organisations' (CTO) stand in the European section, EU7260. Visitors will be able to experience a little bit of the famous Cypriot hospitality and receive all the information they need about the destination,” Laghoutis concluded.


REGIONAL ROUND UP EGYPT

Alexandria property opens its doors

Predicting imminent Adding a taste of Japan to its F&B tourism recovery Starwood Hotels and Resorts has communicated that Egypt is poised for recovery in both the business and leisure traveller segments, following the conclusion of its presidential elections, with revamping and expansion projects in the pipeline within the region.

The property's facilities include a private beach, infinity swimming pool and fitness centre Hilton Hotels & Resorts has opened Hilton Alexandria Corniche, providing 158-rooms, following a major refurbishment programme. The hotel is said to be the 19th upscale property in Egypt for Hilton Worldwide, and its second in Alexandria. Global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Rob Palleschi said: "Hilton Hotels & Resorts has been the hotel

brand of choice for visitors to Egypt and I am proud and delighted our legacy continues as we officially open the stunning Hilton Alexandria Corniche in the vibrant and exciting community of Egypt's second city." The renovation of the property included the hotel’s Royal Floor, which has reportedly been enhanced and upgraded.

Starwood has a strong presence and a long history of operations in Egypt. Vice president – Africa and the Indian Ocean, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hassan Ahdab commented: “Starwood has a strong presence and a long history of operations in Egypt.” He further highlighted that throughout 2012, Egypt welcomed almost 11.5 million global travellers. In a bid to consolidate the brand's presence in the capital, October 2013 is set to welcome the opening of Le Méridien Cairo Airport. Additionally, Le Méridien Pyramids and Le Méridien Dahab are to open Egypt’s first two Explore Spas and Sheraton Cairo is undergoing a total revamp.

In addition to Saku Sushi Lounge, Marilyn restaurant has also been added to its culinary offerings Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers has added Saku Sushi Lounge to its F&B portfolio. “Saki is a modern Japanese sushi lounge serving fresh sushi and sashimi,” director of sales & marketing, Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, Hala Sabry to TTG . The property has also recently launched Marilyn restaurant; a new concept at

the hotel offering a fast foodstyle menu. Revealing to TTG the forecast for the remainder of the year, Sabry highlighted: “We believe that political and security stability is a essential for tourism. Our business depends on the political situation in Egypt and we expect the tourism industry to regain its position once the political situation stabilises.“

Adopting a new summer schedule gyptair has announced that it has plans to operate 654 weekly flights during the summer months, with an increase of 91 flights comparing to 2012’s summer schedule – marking a rise of 16 per cent.

“Egyptair is inaugurating five new routes to the cities of Manchester, Toronto, Harare, Abidjan and Al-Qassim. These new destinations will add more enhancements to the Egyptair network through the Cairo hub, which is located in the heart

Egyptair will always introduce more travel options to its customers. Chairman, Egyptair, Roshdy Zakaria remarked: “Egyptair will always introduce more travel options to its customers by adding more new flights and increasing frequencies to a number of major cities within Egyptair’s network. These include the cities of Johannesburg, Athens, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Milan and Rome.” Zakaria spoke exclusively to TTG, further outlining:

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of the world and acts as the

gateway to Africa and the Middle East regions.” Egypt’s national carrier has also launched a number of campaigns aimed at increasing the tourism boom into Egypt, especially into Egypt’s top leisure destinations: Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor and Aswan. Zakaria continued: “With the inauguration of these new routes on Egyptair’s worldwide network Egyptair will continue to grow steadily. Our aim is to provide our customers with more travel options on board the airline’s young fleet."

The airline reports to have increased its summer flight services by 16 per cent


REGIONAL ROUND UP IRAN & IRAQ

Rolling out Preparing for innovations in Erbil stronger business he Other Iraq Tours has revealed to TTG its offerings to the travel world. According to owner, The Other Iraq Tours, Douglas Layton, the company is currently expanding its training guides in anticipation of increased tourism in the region, as well as working with the government to increase awareness of tourism in the area.

Erbil Rotana's spa offers a variety of treatments and massages Erbil Rotana has recently launched its spa, Zen the Spa, as well as an array of new packages, it unveiled to TTG. “The hotel has also launched its one-of-a-kind spa in Erbil, Zen the Spa, with expert therapists that provide blissful massage treatments to perfectly pamper the body and mind, with a variety of signature massages, body wraps and skin care,” general manager, Erbil Rotana, Thomas Touma revealed to TTG. According to Touma, the property has also launched its new ‘Escape Packages’, where travellers can access the best packages, be it for leisure or business, if they book their stay through the company’s website. Erbil Rotana was built on a premium 20,000m2 area of land and is located close to Erbil International Airport and major business areas. Its location also gives guests the opportunity to explore sites like the historical ‘Citadel'.

We are also working with the government to promote tourism in the region. “We are expanding our stable of trained guides and business is growing. We are also working with the government to promote tourism in the region and are getting involved in some exciting projects being built in the region, such as skiing,” Layton noted to TTG. Layton highlighted that the company is mainly looking to prepare for greater expansion in regional tourism, doing so by strengthening its staff and regional supplier contracts, such as hotels.

Aviation giant expands network Qatar Airways has announced plans to launch scheduled flights to a further two destinations in Iraq expected to begin this summer. The addition of the port city of Basra in southern Iraq and Sulaymaniyah in the northern part of the country will take the number of destinations served by the airline to five across the country. Flights to Basra are set to commence on June 3, 2013 with Sulaymaniyah starting on August 20, 2013. Both destinations are expected to be served four-times-a-week, non-stop from the airline’s hub in Doha, Qatar. The carrier began operations to Iraq last summer. CEO, Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker declared: “With the announcement of flights starting to the cities of Basra and Sulaymaniyah this

Qatar Airways currently operates 12 flights a week to Iraq

summer, Qatar Airways is offering new travel options to the people of Iraq and for those involved in the reconstruction efforts of the country." He added: “After years of restricted air access for foreign airlines, Qatar Airways has been working with the authorities to open up services, and we are delighted to have expanded our operations there."

Concentrated efforts to stimulate interest major sites and we’re also attending major events such as ITB Berlin and WTM London, exposing Iran as a very safe and great historical and cultural destination with many places to be visited.” One of the main messages that the company wishes to convey is the level of safety in the country.

Iran is a vast country and has many beautiful and interesting places to be visited. The Iranian tour operator plans to promote the many cultural offerings of the country Sarvineh Parvaz Tour and Travel, an Iranian tour operator, recently highlighted to TTG its plans to further promote Iran, and most specifically, to present the country as a safe and fascinating destination to travel to. Managing director, Sarvineh Parvaz Tour and Travel, Mahmood Farzaneh told TTG: “We are currently advertising on some

“We want to note that Iran is a vast country and has many beautiful and interesting places to be visited. It is a safe country with the most hospitable people,” noted Farzaneh, adding that despite the reticence of some travellers to visit the destination, the demand appears to be good. According to Farzaneh, they plan to continue along the same vein in an effort to promote the destination and its array of cultural and historical attractions. May 1 2013

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REGIONAL ROUND UP KSA

Upgrading facilities in Bright future Makkah ahead for KSA

The property has renovated a number of its facilities

Makkah Hilton & Towers has announced that it has recently undergone major renovations, as well as introducing a number of new services and facilities. Lagenda Restaurant has been completely renovated to add to the hotel’s F&B

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capacity, in addition to a series of various restaurants. These restaurants offer a host of dishes ranging between international, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cuisines. Adding to this, another noteworthy project is the inauguration of the Executive Floors consisting of 76 units for distinguished businessmen and families. This has also been coupled with an Executive Lounge to serve guests staying on these floors. Makkah Hilton & Towers has debuted a new lobby, the first since the opening of the hotel. Manager, Makkah Hilton & Towers, Ibrahim Alfati said: "We have inaugurated the lobby which is considered to be a significant leap and a new addition to the hotel."

Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel has recently announced a number of new developments. According to group director of communications and business development, Makkah Clock Royal Tower, A Fairmont Hotel, Khaled Yamak, the property is consistently developing new products and services. “We have recently launched the ‘Fairmont Gold’ which promises a ‘hotel within a hotel’ experience for travellers seeking a one of a kind experience in the Holy City. Members have access to a private check-in and check-out area, a lounge, a dedicated Fairmont manager and 24-hour butler service,” Yamak revealed to TTG. He also stated that the property has recently opened its Al Jiwar ballroom, which is comprised of over 3,200m2 of state-of-the-art functional space and can host more than 1,500 guests. Questioned as to what he believed the forecast is for 2013, Yamak was particularly optimistic. “The future definitely seems bright. Saudi Arabia, being one of the most economically-stable markets in the Middle East, is investing heavily in new developments that will stimulate employment, attract new investments and drive tourism," he noted. Yamak further stated that Hajj and Umrah tourism receipts were up by 10 per cent last year compared to 2011 figures, reaching $16.5 billion.

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Confidence for the new year l Mashreq Boutique Hotel recently revealed to TTG its optimism for 2013, as well as its participation at this year’s ATM.

commercial sites.” He added that Al Mashreq Boutique Hotel also provides genuine, personalised services to guests visiting the property. According to AbouAleiwi,

Al Mashreq Boutique Hotel is the first of its kind in Riyadh. General manager, Al Mashreq Boutique Hotel, Samer AbouAleiwi exclusively revealed to TTG the message that the property will be conveying at ATM: “Al Mashreq Boutique Hotel is the first of its kind in Riyadh; it’s a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of the city, with close proximity to major

the team is looking forward to a positive and successful year ahead. “We expect 2013 to be a promising year as we are scoring our planned records and goals so far in terms of room occupancy, conferences, and special private events including weddings and meetings," he added.


REGIONAL ROUND UP KUWAIT

Preparing to open its Adopting unique doors in Q2 of 2013 programmes

The remodelled property is to offer its guests three distinctive room styles Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait, slated to open in Q2 of 2013, has received a remodel plan, allowing for a fresher and more stylish look. The new lobby area is said to combine a neutral, contemporary Scandinavian style, with a rich Arabic design, featuring marble floors, chandeliers, glass walls and

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modern furnishing. The property is to offer three room styles: ‘Naturally Cool’, reflecting modern comfort; ‘And Relax’ offering a soothing ambience; as well as ‘NY Mansion House’ which is said to be the ideal choice for business travellers. Providing 191 rooms and suites, the hotel is to be fully equipped with all the facilities and amenities expected of a modern hotel, and will additionally offer Al Bustan and Peacock as culinary options. Adding to this, Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait is to boast a 340m² ballroom with five adjacent meeting rooms, allowing flexibility with set-up arrangements. The ballroom is to feature high-tech audio visual equipment, and will be able to host up to 200 persons.

The Regency Kuwait has recently introduced ‘The Executive Experience at the Regency’. The experience is said to be a unique programme providing a range of features offered to executives as standard, and not added extras, including exclusive privileges at The Regency’s Executive Lounge, complimentary visa service with meet and greet at the airport, limousine transfer to and from the airport with WiFi, complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, complimentary express breakfast in the executive lounge, complimentary secretarial services and much more. Other developments within the property reportedly include a Global Distribution System programme, greater social media and e-commerce awareness, a focused marketing strategy internally and the adoption of a Ladies Lounge membership programme.

'The Executive Experience at the Regency' provides executives with a range of benefits

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Relaying creativity of concepts xhibiting at ATM, JW Marriott Hotel Kuwait, the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Kuwait and Arraya Ballroom are to be featured at the Kuwait Tourism Services Company booth.

director of marketing communication, JW Marriott Kuwait City & Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait Hotel, Amal Mikahil who told TTG: “The main message is to focus and promote our new level of creativity concept for Ar-

The message is to focus and promote our new level of creativity concept for Arraya Ballroom. The property aims to target GCC leisure travellers, due to the reported introduction of new rates for citizens and residents of the area coming into Kuwait. Referring to additional aims at the exhibition was

raya Ballroom–the grand ballroom.” The Arraya Ballroom recently received a facelift to enhance its status as one of Kuwait’s largest ballrooms and the preferred location of choice for MICE events.


REGIONAL ROUND UP LEVANT

Looking to enlarge market platform

The hotel has plans to expand its lobby with a lounge

Le Gray Beirut hotel has announced to TTG its plan to break through and enlarge its market platform for the remainder of 2013 by targeting markets such as Russia, Turkey and Latin America, whilst at the same time strengthening its current and traditional Gulf and Arabian markets. Sales and marketing director, Le Gray Beirut, Hilal Saad

told TTG: “Le Gray is preparing to kick off its extension, which will include a larger lobby with a lobby lounge, a chocolate room, banquet space, a movie theatre and an additional 18 rooms. The project should be completed by the end of 2014.” Saade added: “This year, we will continue to build on the quality and high standards of service that Le Gray is known for, while also continuously innovating. Lebanon has always been a favourite destination with tourists from the Arab and Gulf countries, and with increasing stability and security we now do see a solid recovery.” With the property attending ATM 2013, its focus is set to be on highlighting Le Gray Beirut as a destination in itself, whilst also shedding light on its summer promotions.

Raising awareness to Developments promote Lebanon to yield results

The Ministry is set to showcase Lebanon as an ideal destination he Lebanese Ministry of Tourism will be participating at this year’s ATM in a bid to raise awareness of Lebanon as a tourist destination. Commenting on her ambitions for the exhibition, head of tourism development, Lebanese Ministry of Tourism, Mona Fares exclusively revealed to TTG: “The latest news and promotional plans have been to enhance the promotion of Lebanon in its traditional markets as well as to enter new markets. Latin America has been the focus of the Ministry for the past two years, mainly because of the large Lebanese community in the area. “We are focusing on the Russian, European and African markets by participating in exhibitions, thoughtful and well implemented advertising campaigns, fam trips, press trips, road shows and special packages to Lebanon,” she added.

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Following Petra Airlines’ announcement earlier in the year concerning the launch of regular flights to Jeddah, Sharm El Sheikh and Istanbul, business development director, Petra Airlines, Marwan Shennara revealed to TTG that the airline has further expansion plans for the coming months and years. “We are expanding by buying more aeroplanes to reach a total of five before the end of 2015. We are additionally planning on launching new destinations within the EU countries starting with Milan, Rome, Barcelona and Paris, already in the pipeline,” Shennara declared. “As Jordan’s first low-cost carrier operating from Amman, Petra Airlines seeks to serve the majority of its Jordanian audience with the ‘Travel Smart’ concept that

The airline is set to expand its fleet to five by the end of 2015

offers passengers a reliable and safe operation at substantial savings by setting standards in a highly competitive travel market using a modern A320 aircraft. Using its user friendly website, passengers can check Petra Airlines’ flight schedule and book online, benefiting from special offers and deals,” Shennara added.

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REGIONAL ROUND UP NORTH AFRICA

Preparing to welcome VIPs

Continuing on a successful path ’Amphitrite Palace Hotel & Spa, Skhirat revealed to TTG that it is currently in the process of finalising the renovation of its Royal Villa, slated for the end of Q4 of 2013. In June, the resort has plans to launch water sports on its beach, live music entertainment as well as a kids’ activities programme to cater to the leisure segment.

The resort aims for further success with popular concepts Four Seasons Resort Marrakech is continuing with its Pop Up Restaurant concept, which was reported to be a success. Adding to this, director of sales and marketing, Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, Holger Frehde exclusively said to TTG: “We have also created The Private Room – Cocktails, Art, Design, with famous international

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bartenders. Fashion shows, art designers and mixologists together with a hip and trendy DJ and an incredible setting, create a fantastic atmosphere and it is packed all the time. “We aim to continue the current success of the resort. The experience we have created for our guests is unique in Marrakech," revealed Frehde.

Travellers' safety is becoming a key selling point today. “As for the Holy month of Ramadan, we will have the daily Iftar with classical Moroccan music performed by talented artists,” added delegate general director, L’Amphitrite Palace Hotel & Spa, Camille Geha. Attending ATM 2013, the property aims to meet with its partners in the region and enhance the synergies it already has in place, whilst creating new ones. “Travellers' safety is becoming a key selling point today. L’Amphitrite Palace Hotel is the perfect location for our guests thanks to our location, private beach, restaurants, entertainment and activities,” Geha told TTG.

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Revealing heightened Tunisian tourism According to Timetric’s report Travel and tourism in Tunisia to 2017, Tunisia experienced a rebound of 12.7 per cent in revenue during 2012 due to an influx of domestic and inbound tourism. Adding to this, airline revenues additionally witnessed a 39.7 per cent growth rate throughout 2012, following a 29.5 per cent decline in 2011. Airlines are said to have been relying heavily on tour operators to generate flight bookings. According to the report, airline industry prospects are promising, and proposed open-skies agreements with the EU to bilateral air agreements with various nations in Europe, Africa and the Arab region, are predicted to act as important growth drivers for the Tunisian airline industry. Also, Travel and tourism in

Tunisia's tourism industry has recently surged

Tunisia to 2017 highlighted that Egypt and Morocco are improving their tourism sector and are focusing on medical tourism, as these regions boast solid medical infrastructures, ensuring access to affordable, highquality medical services, as well as luxury lodgings for family members with a variety of treatments.


REGIONAL ROUND UP OMAN & PALESTINE

Carrier seeks to expand network

Bolstering Oman’s tourism appeal

Oman Air recently announced a host of new developments set for this year, including new flights and the launch of a low-cost carrier. “Oman Air will be offering new services, new destinations and even greater choice over the coming year. We launched a new service between Muscat and the Iranian capital of Tehran, and we will soon be launching services to Manila and Jakarta. We are also looking into the possibility of a new service to Casablanca,” Oman Air stated exclusively to TTG. According to the company, the airline is also looking to launch a low-cost carrier in order to handle domestic and regional flights. “Elsewhere, we will continue to promote Oman as a wonderful holiday destination," it added.

Oman Air has plans to launch a low-cost carrier, in addition to new flights

Restoring faith in Palestine

alalah Marriott Resort, which is marking three years of operations, has revealed that it plans to focus on increasing awareness of the destination this year. Director of sales, Salalah Marriott Resort, Ashraf Eid told TTG: “Our focus is to boost awareness of the destination by attracting groups from abroad and maintaining families residing in the GCC to stabilise the brand within the market.” Padico Tourism will be focusing on reassuring guests of the destination’s safety

We will be creating attractive packages at very competitive rates. He added: “With the cooperation from our local partners like Oman Air, flydubai, Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Omantel, to name but a few, we will be creating attractive packages at competitive rates with extra added values that cater to different clients as well as the local market.” They also plan to bolster engagement with local associations in Mirbat and Muscat.

Padico Tourism has anounced to TTG that it is softly renovating 100 rooms at the InterContinental Bethlehem, as well as upgrading its F&B offering. Cluster operations manager, Padico Tourism, Shakib Husseini stated exclusively to TTG: “We are softly renovating 100 rooms and upgrading our food and beverage outlets at the InterContinental Bethlehem.” Padico Tourism is the owning company of Intercontinental Bethlehem, Landmark Jerusalem and Mövenpick Ramallah. The hotel offers an array of amenities such as a business centre, a gym and spa facilities. Questioned as to what message Padico Tourism will be conveying at ATM, Husseini commented: “The Holy Land is always open to international visitors and it’s a very safe place for tourists from all over the world.”

Making its presence known internationally Oman’s Ministry of Tourism recently revealed to TTG its new developments aimed at boosting the destination’s profile on an international level. “In recent months Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has led a series of initiatives and activities to boost Oman’s international profile as a destination of choice for short-breaks, leisure and business tourism,” the Oman Ministry of Tourism, commented exclusively to TTG.

This will boost destination brand awareness among Saudi nationals. The Ministry has also taken a number of actions to promote the destination such as opening a representative office in Riyadh, KSA, to tap into the Kingdom’s GCC travel market and build an effective trade network. “This will boost destination brand awareness among Saudi nationals and attract more participation in major local tourism and travel exhibitions and events held in the Kingdom: Oman's tourism sector will also benefit from

joint marketing activities targeting the kingdom's holiday seasons," it revealed. They have also been active at international trade shows and exhibitions such as ITB, SeaTrade Miami and GIBTM. "We see this as essential ground work from an industry perspective, but our presence along with other states is playing a significant role in positioning the region for growth outcomes," it noted to TTG. Looking to the future, the Ministry anticipates and hopes to develop Oman into a destination which is more accessible to shortbreak and leisure travellers. “We see increasing interest in air services to Salalah with an additional 2,000 seats per week being added by expanded or new services from the GCC states. Also, Gulf carriers have aggressive expansion plans and this generates benefits to the region as a whole. Leisure and short-break growth is also being stimulated by new products coming into supply such as golf and a significant expansion in the range of guided tours now available,” it further revealed. Referring to the message the organisation plans to deliver at this year's ATM, the Ministry concluded: "Our message is 'experience the very best of Arabian hospitality and Oman's natural beauty'. The country is vast, with so much to offer to every kind of tourist, from magnificent mountain ranges to historic forts and castles." May 1 2013

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REGIONAL ROUND UP QATAR

Forecasting an increase in interest nnouncing its presence at ATM was Wyndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel, which will emphasise its group expansion plans for 2013. An estimated 140 hotels are expected to be added, bringing the inventory to 7,340 properties worldwide.

“Wyndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel won the ‘Qatar’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel 2012’ award at World Travel Awards and we want to keep this as a standard,” Lotfy explained exclusively to TTG. In addition, the Dohabased hotel wishes to further

Qatar is a world-class event destination for the MICE industry. General manager, Wyndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel, Ayman Lotfy further revealed that the hotel will bring its unique MICE offerings to the attention of visitors attending ATM.

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focus on the MICE segment, as well as business travellers. from the region and beyond. Lotfy further outlined to TTG: “Qatar is a world-class event destination for the MICE industry."

Catering to leisure and business Sharq Villa & Spa has introduced numerous packages to suit business and leisure travellers visiting Qatar. These include the GCC Resident – valid until December 31, 2013, plus the Honeymoon – which is also valid until December 31, 2013, and a range of Wedding packages, all offered at attractive prices. General manager, Sharq Village & Spa, Carsten Fritz, commenting on tourism within Qatar, exclusively outlined to TTG: “Qatar is a bridge between tradition and global innovation. It is a high quality destination that attracts premiere leisure, business, medical, sport and education tourism, while properly preserving, maintaining and highlighting its authentic heritage and rich past.”

Fritz: Qatar is a bridge between tradition and innovation

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Presenting plans for further expansion Hilton Doha has revealed that it is forecasting a 105 per cent increase in bookings throughout 2013. Director of business development, Hilton Doha, Tamer Al Farouk told TTG: “We are optimistic to achieve great results and good occupancy rates due to major on-going developments. Qatar’s population is increasing rapidly with a 7.6 per cent growth over 2012 alone, and with the establishment of Doha as a hub for global meetings, exhibitions and initiatives, including the Arab World Summit and COP 18, traffic is rapidly increasing.” The Doha-based property is focusing on culture and lifestyle throughout 2013, with plans to introduce its first Ramadan tent to the local market alongside

The Doha property aims to focus on culture and lifestyle numerous other events and promotions. “The Hilton brand is still a newcomer to the Doha market and with these many newcomers, there is a healthy increase in competition. Hilton Doha has been able to keep its occupancy high because we provide our guests with great value, standards and amenities,” Al Farouk enthused.


REGIONAL ROUND UP QATAR

Crafting an elegant A solid presence in Satisfying a design the luxury sector spectrum of guests he Torch Doha has revealed that it is set to upgrade its technology solutions by introducing a new iPad in-room solution, reportedly for the first time in the Middle East. The property offers state-of-the-art facilities such as TV screens in meeting rooms, video conferencing facilities and rooms and suites with a mood-light system – featuring 12 different colours.

All guest rooms within the property have received a cosmopolitan re-design Merweb Hotel Al Sadd, Doha, has undergone and completed a refurbishment and rebranding process. “Our 126 rooms have undergone a cosmopolitan re-design creating a simple yet elegant look and feel fit for business travellers. The rooms are also now fully equipped with LCD TVs, coffee and tea making facilities, and safety boxes.

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We also offer free WiFi Internet service all over the hotel,” general manager, Merweb Hotel Al Sadd, Prem Kumar told TTG. “We expect to see more changes in the way of food and beverage outlets at the hotel with specialty chefs and live cooking stations, interactive cooking lessons and the opening of the Arabic restaurant,” he added.

We have established ourselves as one of the best luxury hotels. “As a newly opened hotel, we have, in a years' time, established our presence in the market as one of the best luxury hotels in Doha with a further increase in occupancy as well as receiving international visitors,” commented hotel manager, The Torch Doha, Sherif Sabry. With plans to attend ATM 2013, Sabry exclusively revealed to TTG: “We will be conveying the message that Doha is becoming a business destination, hosting worldwide conferences such as COP18, World Petroleum Congress, Arab Summit and many more on the way."

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The hotel is expecting to update its culinary options with a brand new dining venue The Ritz-Carlton, Doha reports to be at the planning stage of renovating its F&B outlets, with further plans in the pipeline for updating its culinary options with the addition of a new dining venue. For the remainder of 2013, the property aspires to exceed its 2012 budget. Cluster general manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Doha, Hoss Vetry revealed that the

property, at ATM 2013, is aiming to convey that Doha is growing rapidly in terms of both business and infrastructure in order to cater to high-end travellers. “The Ritz-Carlton, Doha understands the premium market and how to provide global affluent travellers with distinctive luxury services, to fulfil their expected needs,” Vetry said.


REGIONAL ROUND UP QATAR

Making a foray on the A journey of rapid ATM platform expansion aving opened its doors to the public in November 2012, Crowne Plaza, Doha is to exhibit at ATM for the first time. “This is the first Crowne Plaza in Doha that is carefully designed to accommodate all travellers. We have a state-ofthe-art product offering across the hotel and a purpose–built events centre with over 18 meeting rooms to accommodate small to large meetings,” stated director of sales and marketing, Crowne Plaza, Doha, Adam Harvey exclusively to TTG. The property revealed plans to promote its practical location near the airport, allowing for ease of access in and out of Doha, and its food and beverage offerings.

Crowne Plaza, Doha accommodates all travellers. “Having opened the hotel in 2012, we are experiencing a continuous growth in the number of guests to our hotel and progress in terms of awareness being created in the market. While projects in Qatar are promising, we expect the same growth to continue throughout 2013,” Harvey enthused.

Since Katara Hospitality’s rebrand in May 2012, the company has continued its expansion plans within Qatar and internationally. Throughout the last six months, the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for investment in a hospitality project in Gambia, including a second one in the Maldives. Furthermore, Katara Hospitality has recently acquired Somerset West Bay Doha, which is situated in the heart of Doha’s Diplomatic Area. It provides 22 two- and threebedroom apartments, a full range of facilities and business support services. Speaking exclusively to TTG was CEO, Katara Hospitality, Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla: “The second half of 2013 will mark important milestones. Excelsior Hotel

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Gallia Milan is set to open before the end of the year, thus becoming our first operational property in Italy. In France, we are gearing up for the opening of a luxury boutique hotel in Paris. “We will commence the construction for the Iconic Towers in Lusail City, expected before the end of Q2 of 2013,” Al-Mulla added.

Al-Mulla: 2013 will mark important milestones

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A fresh and competitive outlook

Rooms and suites at the property underwent renovations Rooms and suites at Mövenpick Hotel Doha have undergone renovation in a bid to ensure that the property remains competitive, in line with Doha’s growing market needs. “As a popular business hotel, we will continue to meet the ever increasing demands of today’s savvy traveller, especially now with our renewed product,” remarked general manager, Mövenpick Hotel Doha, Fabien Chesnais exclusively to TTG. “We aim to attract the affluent traveller now and in the future. It is important to continue to be competitive with our product and to reach them on a personal level. Today, guests like to have everything happen fast, so it is imperative that we remain creative and strive to understand our customers, their personalities, and their preference so their needs can be anticipated,” Chesnais explained.

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REGIONAL ROUND UP TURKEY

Engaging MENA markets with an offer of luxury surroundings TTG: Please share with us your latest news and developments, and the reasons behind these.

Sales and marketing director, DHotel Maris, Elena Kim-Regelmann shares with TTG the current developments at the property and its plans to further attract the Middle Eastern market

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D-Hotel Maris is pleased to announce that it has become a member of the prestigious hospitality organisation, The Leading Hotels of The World. As the only resort hotel in Turkey to have been accepted as a member, this reaffirms D-Hotel Maris’ offering of providing extraordinary hospitality within luxurious surroundings. This will thus enable us to reach out to new global markets and expand on the existing international network we have already built up. In addition to making our guests’ stay more memorable, during the winter season we had a light renovation, mainly at our food and beverage outlets, where we introduced five à la carte restaurants featuring Italian, Asian, Aegean, Turkish and international cuisines in one property.

TTG: Is the MENA market of importance to you, and if so, what are you doing to attract more business from the region? For sure, the Middle East and Gulf countries are the markets which have a great significance for us, and in the long run we plan to have more guests coming from these countries in order to potentially become our loyal guests. Besides our advertising campaigns in the trade press, we also attend a variety of fairs and have participated in a road show which took place in nine Middle Eastern cities in order to meet in person with agencies. The hotel offers its guests a luxury holiday experience with dedicated service, which is one of the important aspects for the Middle Eastern market. Starting with their arrival, we offer guests a luxurious service with comfortable VIP cars, as well as the hotel's helicopter or sea plane.

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High–end brand to open its doors hangri-La Hotels and Resorts is to introduce ShangriLa Bosphorus, Istanbul in May, along with a number of European properties in 2013. “We will have three luxurious properties in Europe by the end of this year,” director, sales and marketing, Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul, Stanley Tan noted to TTG, whilst also referring to the success of Shangri-La Hotel, Paris.

We have an enviable location next to the Dolmabahce Palace. Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul is to offer 169 spacious rooms (from 42 to 60m2) and 17 suites (from 80 to 366m2). The hotel is to feature more than 1,890m2 of meeting and banqueting facilities including a grand ballroom, junior ballroom, six function rooms, a boardroom, a business centre, along with a teleconferencing room. “We have an enviable location next to the famous Dolmabahce Palace and Maritime Museum, along Besiktas on the European coast of the Bosphorus. We are also in close proximity to Nisantasi, Taksim, ICEC and the old city of Istanbul, where shopping and dining can be enjoyed,” he said.


REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Optimistic outlook triggers growth

Two new Ayla Hotels & Resorts properties are due to open centrally in Al Ain Ayla Hotels & Resorts has reported a positive outlook for 2013, with two new hotel openings by the end of Q4. The group, which operates a number of properties in the GCC and MEA, is expected to open the two new properties in Al Ain. Director of sales & marketing, Ayla Hotels & Resorts, George Titus told TTG: “Our main focus for the upcoming months is increasing awareness about Al Ain as a destination and preparing

for the openings. “We are planning to have a four-star property opened next to Bawadi Mall, followed immediately by the opening of a five–star property next to Al Ain Mall. With all three Ayla properties centrally located in different areas of the city, we will have the entire Al Ain covered and will thus be the major supplier in the city," Titus added. Ayla Hotels & Resorts is to share the news of their upcoming openings at ATM.

Renovations anticipated Danat Hotels & Resorts, which manages a portfolio of four- and five-star properties in Abu Dhabi, has announced a number of developments in the upcoming months. Al Raha Beach Hotel, which recently launched a new 144 room extension, is also due to enhance its dining facilities with the addition of three new specialty restaurants. The hotel is also to upgrade its spa. Meanwhile during Q3, the company is set to open Danat Residence and Hotel Apartments and to begin a renovation of the rooms at Sands Hotel. The hotel will also undergo the construction of a Lebanese restaurant and a new spa. During the same period, Danat Al Ain Resort is set to introduce two new restaurants. Group marketing manager, Danat Hotels & Resorts, Rima Rawass told TTG: “We are focusing on long stay, leisure, corporate and MICE segments to fill in our Danat Hotels & Resorts hotels.”

Company to showcase branding ollowing a strong start to 2013, JA Resorts & Hotels has revealed to TTG their enthusiasm to showcase the company's new branding at ATM.

ATM is always an essential exhibition for us, but ATM 2013 will be the most exciting in a while. “ATM is always an essential exhibition for us, but ATM 2013 will be the most exciting in a while as we, as a company, showcase the new JA Resorts & Hotels brand at ATM. We will also use this exhibition as a chance to catch up with some of our

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most important clients and hopefully may be able to announce new developments in the pipeline,” stated COO, JA Resorts & Hotels, David Thomson exclusively to TTG.

“We also have one or two facility brands that we’d like to develop further, like our Calm Spa & Salon brand. We are also negotiating an additional property which we expect to favourably conclude in the next couple of months,” Thomson said.

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Expanding into the MICE sector

Cementing its position in Ajman Hotels has recently launched a new boutique, 107-key property, Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman, located on the Ajman Corniche, as well as revealing several other projects in the pipeline.

The hotel plans to consolidate itself as a leading corporate hotel by targeting business travellers Mafraq Hotel Abu Dhabi closed a successful year of operations, reporting strong performance of its business and leisure segments. General manager, Mafraq Hotel Abu Dhabi, Mario Scotto revealed to TTG that the property’s F&B outlets also saw significant growth, particularly within the local Abu Dhabi market. “For 2013, we look forward

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to upholding and reinforcing our reputation as a leading corporate hotel in the four star category by further targeting business travellers and expanding into the MICE market,” added Scotto, who joined the hotel in late 2012, together with director of sales, Fahim Zaman. Both plan to use ATM 2013 to introduce themselves to the whole industry.

We are aiming to get more properties with our steady move to expand R Hotels. General manager, Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman and Ramada Beach Hotel Ajman, Iftikhar Hamdani shared with TTG: “We are developing a new barbeque restaurant in the Corniche, which will be opened before ATM. A new international cuisine restaurant will be opened in Ramada Ajman prior to ATM as well. We are aiming to get more properties with our steady move to expand R Hotels.” He added that both properties under his leadership are set to introduce packages for the summer season, particularly catering to the GCC market. He also noted that the share of the CIS market for Ramada Hotel and Suites Ajman is increasing every year, along with the leisure segment.

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Centred on reaching new heights Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAK TDA) revealed that the government has allocated $500 million for tourism projects for 2013, aiming to welcome 1.2 million visitors this year and increasing the emirates’ room portfolio to 10,000 by 2016. Chief operating officer, RAK TDA, Victor Louis shared with TTG: “Four new hotels are scheduled to open in RAK in 2013. We are also encouraging local talent and business opportunities through a variety of activities, including hospitality training programmes and new marketing tools such as the digital kiosks which we launched across all hotels last month to cross-promote RAK’s destinations and activities to guests.”

Louis: Four new hotels are expected to open in RAK in 2013 ATM 2013 is set to unveil several RAK-based projects, including Al Marjan Island; the upcoming 349-room Waldorf Astoria, due in Q2 of 2013; the 632-room Rixos Bab Al Bahr Resort expected in Q4 of 2013; and the 315room Marjan Island Resort and Spa and the 265-room Santorini Hotel, both set for late 2013.


REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Promoting its new brand image

The property has recently joined forces with Mourouj Hospitality Management Concorde Fujairah Hotel has recently merged with Mourouj Hospitality Management, with the official signing announced in Q1 of 2013. “Currently, we are rebranding the hotel which will be officially known as Concorde by Mourouj Hotels and Resorts," general manager, Concorde Fujairah Hotel, Mohamed Fekry shared exclusively with TTG.

“The group's growing portfolio is comprised of Mourouj Hotel Apartments and Executive Suites in Abu Dhabi and Khalidia Hotel Apartments in Dubai, expanding its business to become a stronger hospitality brand in the GCC. With our alliance to the group, we will have more opportunities to the larger market and the advantage of enhancement through a centralised management,” he added. At this year’s ATM, the property plans to promote its MICE facilities, as it claims to have the largest ballroom in the emirate. “We witnessed increasing numbers of corporate businesses, especially MICE, which confirms our position among all the city hotels in Fujairah as the preferred venue for different types of clientele,” Fekry concluded.

Abu Dhabi to show a Presenting a new look palette of products for apartment tower bu dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) is set to unveil a number of brand new products at this year’s ATM. Director of promotions and overseas offices, TCA Abu Dhabi, Mubarak Al Nuaimi told TTG: “In the Abu Dhabi pavilion we will have 50 stakeholders, representing a huge product range of island getaways, hotels, golf and beach products, events, tour operators and the new DNA integrated health and wellness centre – the first of its kind in the region – which has opened on Saadiyat Island. “We will also be joined at the pavilion, for the first time, by HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival, which is an important event in the increased diversity of the activities of purebred Arabian racing horses,” Al Nuaimi added. He revealed that the emirate strives to attract 2.5 million visitors in 2013 and extend the average length of guests' stay – targets which he feels are likely to be achieved with the recent opening of Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi and Yas Beach; Ritz Carlton Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi; and new Etihad Airways’ air services from the US, Hong Kong and The Netherlands, as well as the expected June launch of its São Paulo, Brazil, services. Major events, such as Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, are poised to contribute as well.

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Grand Millennium Dubai revealed its plans to use ATM to announce the refurbishment of its apartment tower. According to general manager, Grand Millennium Dubai, Peter Mansourian, the facility combines apartment living with the amenities on offer at the adjacent fivestar hotel, providing added convenience to guests. Reflecting on plans for 2013, Mansourian told TTG: “To enhance our services, we decided to implement a phased refurbishment of the apartment tower of the hotel, which features 140 apartments. “We are giving the apartments a new look and feel to match the requirements of our existing and new guests, whether they are here for business or leisure." Additionally, the property

Mansourian: A phased refurbishment of the apartment tower was implemented also plans to promote its meeting facilities and share information on the expansion of its social and digital presence. “We will also be displaying new visuals and videos of the hotel that can take everyone on a more illustrative and detailed tour of the hotel, its facilities and services,” said Mansourian, inviting visitors to the Millennium Hotels and Resorts stand at ATM.

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

New attractions for UAE mall ubai Outlet Mall has announced the opening of a plethora of new stores, revealing that there are also more to come. Director, Dubai Outlet Mall, Vishal Mahajan told TTG: “A lot of new stores have recently opened at Dubai Outlet Mall, such as Braccialini Outlet, Si Fashion Gallery Outlet, Clarks Outlet, Aeropostale Outlet, Superdry Outlet, Splash Outlet, Jashanmal Outlet, Marco Azzali Outlet, Sauce Outlet and Cacharel Outlet, to name a few, and there are many more to come.”

Some of the finest brands are opening stores in the mall in the coming months.

Looking to appeal to Airport hotel in UAE capital expected family markets Al Ain Rotana has introduced a number of team building activities targeting all ages, it has announced. “Al Ain Rotana recently launched exciting in house team building activities for all adults, children and families,” cluster director of sales, Al Ain Rotana, Jihad Al Attar revealed to TTG. He added: “Now incentive groups have more reasons to stay at Al Ain Rotana; it is

not just a hotel stay but it is full of fun.” Al Attar highlighted the fact that the property is an ideal place to be with your family. “The facility and the friendly team can offer you a memorable stay in Al Ain. Visitors have a great opportunity to experience the heritage of the UAE and visit nice attractions such as theJebel Hafeet and Al Jahili Fort,” he noted.

The hotel's leisure facilities include a swimming pool and gym. “We are delighted to announce the opening of Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport, the first and only hotel at the airport which is connected to both Terminals 1 and 3,” managing director – MEA, Premier Inn Hotels, Darroch Crawford told TTG. Crawford further revealed: “The hotel features an all-day dining restaurant, a bar, a Costa Coffee store and a variety of meeting and conference rooms. Its leisure facilities include a swimming pool and gym." The company will also expand in KSA and Qatar.

Mahajan was particularly optimistic for the remainder of 2013: “For Dubai Outlet Mall, the year 2013 looks promising. We look forward to growing by an average of 20 per cent or more as compared to the previous years. We expect a positive future ahead. Some of the finest brands are opening stores in the mall in the coming months.”

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Premier Inn Hotels has recently announced the launch of its Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport, slated to open in May 2013. The 300-room property will offer travellers the chance to book accommodation right next to the airport, while also being 15 minutes from the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and 10 minutes from Yas Island.

May 1 2013

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Eyeing the emergent The first of its kind in Focusing on Middle leisure market Abu Dhabi Eastern travellers he Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal recently opened its doors to the public. Boasting 532 rooms, the luxury resort is the first Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi and the hotel operators’ ninth property in the Middle East. “We are delighted to open our first hotel in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, a city we have waited to be in until finding absolutely the right location,” stated president, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Herve Humler.

Kumar: Our employees are what make the hotel special Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi will be attending ATM 2013 to communicate and present this year’s summer promotion package, which all UAE Hyatt hotels are currently in the process of executing. “Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi is one of the most iconic buildings worldwide. The key distinguishing feature that sets our hotel apart is the service we offer. Our

employees are what make the hotel special, as they constantly find new ways to exceed guests’ expectations through authentic hospitality,” general manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, Ashwini Kumar told TTG. The property is also set to focus on the leisure market which is expected to increase due to the opening of Yas Waterworld.

We are delighted to open our first hotel in the UAE capital. “Warm Arabian hospitality combined with legendary RitzCarlton service will create many unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences for visitors from around the world,” he added. The newly opened property features manicured lawns, water features and private beaches of 57-acres. It additionally comprises of 85 one- and two- bedroom villas, complete with outdoor terraces, separate arrival palazzo and a private butler service.

May 1 2013

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Cruise specialist Royal Caribbean Arabia has revealed that it is to concentrate on its Middle Eastern clientele for the remainder of 2013. Executive director – Middle East, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises & Azamara Club Cruises – Middle East, Lakshmi Durai exclusively told TTG: “We will continue working on positioning cruising as a holiday option to the

Middle Eastern vacationers. We started working in the region 19 years ago and our business is growing year on year. We are very successful and will work together with our travel trade partners to further increase the interest in cruising of the Middle Eastern guests.” The renowned company is additionally planning on attending ATM 2013 for the 15th time.

The cruise line has plans to increase Middle Eastern interest

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Introducing a corporate identity As a part of its expansion strategy, Bin Majid Group recently launched Nehal Hotel, its new Abu Dhabi property. The hotel features 134 rooms, including designated guest rooms for disabled guests and connecting rooms for larger families. Group general manager, Bin Majid Group, Ali Kasapbashi informed TTG: “Bin Majid Hotels is an upcoming

and growing chain of hotels in the Gulf region, thus we are announcing our corporate identity as Bin Majid Group during ATM. There are several properties that we are opening, such as Nehal Hotel in Abu Dhabi, which will serve business and leisure travellers.” The group is exhibiting at the Bin Majid stand, alongside sister companies, such as Impala and Bin Majid Tours.

As for his expectations for 2013, Kasapbashi stated: “2012 saw a good performance for the hotels in Abu Dhabi and we expect that the trend will continue in 2013. The opening of hotels in the capital means consumer demands are being met, so this would also affect our hotels. Overall, we are hoping to have 10 to 20 per cent growth compared to last year.”

Networking to boost guest experience ark Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas will exhibit at ATM 2013 at the Hyatt Hotels booth, along with other group properties.

“As Abu Dhabi benefits from its proximity to main cosmopolitan business destinations worldwide, with the most prominent airlines of-

We are looking forward to interacting with our partners about mutual opportunities. General manager, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, Stuart Deeson shared with TTG: “We look forward to interacting with our partners about mutual opportunities and introducing our latest offers through which we hope to enhance our mutual customers’ experience.

fering weekly and daily flights to the emirate, we expect to receive many visitors from all around the globe, and it would be the best opportunity to introduce our hotel,” he added. The property is located on the prestigious Saadiyat Island, catering to both business and leisure travellers.

Major upgrade planned for 2013

After the revamp, the property is set to have two new restaurants, premium rooftop facilities, a wellness centre and more

The recently rebranded Donatello Hotel Apartments revealed a $5 million upgrade project, designed to further strengthen the services and facilities on offer. General manager, Donatello Hotel Apartments, Salim Touma exclusively revealed to TTG: “Our aim for the rest of 2013 is to invest a relatively high amount on upgrading our public areas, introducing two new restaurants – Italian restaurant of 100 seats and a café of 50 covers. Moreover, our rooftop facilities will be revamped and upgraded, adding to it our wellness centre. In terms of business facilities, we will have three state-of-the art meeting rooms with an all day coffee break concept.” He added that this year, the property will not exhibit at ATM due to the ongoing works. “However, we promise that in 2014, Donatello Hotel Dubai will be present with a new look and facilities reflected in our new brand,” Touma emphasised. The property is located in close proximity to diverse business and leisure areas, between downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina, making it suitable for business and leisure travellers.

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May 1 2013

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Increasing awareness An array of initiatives Abu Dhabi projects and exposure launched highlighted ime hotels is set to celebrate the first anniversary of the brand with the launch of a new website and mobile platform, as well as the implementation of services from its new GDS and booking engine provider, Navarino Services.

The properties are expected to raise awareness of their opening at ATM The recently opened Novotel & Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate Hotels in Abu Dhabi has revealed that ATM represents an important opportunity for increasing awareness and introducing the brands to the industry. Director of sales and marketing, Novotel & Ibis Abu Dhabi Gate Hotels, Diala Serhal highlighted exclusively to TTG: “Since we are new in Abu Dhabi, brand exposure and awareness are two main factors. “We need to promote our brands as being the first ones in Abu Dhabi. We can do this by participating in major roadshows, with lots of assistance from the Abu Dhabi Culture & Tourism Authority. We will also have special promotions to be communicated to major tour operators,” she added.

rate, better targeting tour operators and travel agents, building partnerships and diversifying our business mix." Time Hotels is to also launch a loyalty programme and to encourage visitors to book through the website. “We will be focusing on

We will be focusing on maximising the functionality and performance of our website. Outlining the group’s plans for the year, marketing and communications manager, Time Hotels, Svetozar Kujic told TTG: “We are concerned with driving the average room

May 1 2013

In a bid to further strengthen its Abu Dhabi portfolio of tourism projects, Tourism Development & Investment Company has highlighted to TTG a number of new developments to open in 2013. Along with a retail complex at Eastern Mangroves Promenade, two Arabian-inspired projects are to be managed by Anantara – Al Yamm Villas and Al Sahel Villas – each comprising 30 villas due in Q2, on Sir Bani Island. Situated by the water’s edge, Al Yamm is expected to offer an intimate, ‘feet-in-the-sand’ design concept. Meanwhile, Al Sahel will enable guests to view wildlife from their lodge in the middle of the Arabian Wildlife Park.

maximising the functionality and performance of our website and booking engine and incorporating specific product elements to best merchandise the Time portfolio,” Kujic said.

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REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE

Ajman reveals new tourism development strategies

ATDD has highlighted the emirate’s peaceful city and quiet beaches which are said to be some of the best in the UAE he recently established, Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD) is set to join the Government of Ajman, which is participating at this year’s ATM for the second consecutive year. The delegation is expected to promote the emirate as a unique tourist destination through a comprehensive promotional campaign.

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General manager, Ajman Tourism Development Department, Faisal Al-Nuaimi exclusively shared with TTG: “ATDD’s mission is the development and sustainability of the emirate’s tourism sector, in order to make Ajman the destination of choice for all types of tourists through effective, strategic partnerships and continuous innovation. “Ajman is a unique tourism

experience, combining the wonders of our history and archaeology with the recreational, ecological and religious family attractions," Al Nuaimi added. ATDD’s executive plan for 2013 is based on tourist exhibitions and events; tourist projects; CSR initiatives; and improving services. ATDD began its promotion at ITB Berlin, where it targeted official organisations and travel agents around the world. Al-Nuaimi noted: “It is peaceful here and there is a lot of history and heritage. Also, the beaches are some of the best in the UAE. There are a lot of investment opportunities available." He concluded: “Ajman’s goal to increase tourist competitiveness and win a wider tourist market share serves to benefit the whole of the UAE.”

May 1 2013

Abu Dhabi set to welcome luxury property Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is set to provide visitors to its stand (HC5120) at ATM with teasers of the experience and services guests can expect at Rosewood Abu Dhabi once it becomes operational in May 2013. Furthermore, visitors will be able to watch a presentation showcasing the hotel’s F&B and MICE facilities. The five-star hotel, located on the waterfront at Sowwah Square, is to feature 189 rooms and suites, 58 serviced residences, 73 residences and four penthouses. Additionally, it will present nine distinctive

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F&B offerings, the luxury Sense, a Rosewood Spa, fully-equipped business facilities and more. Director of marketing, Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Roddy Gordon told TTG: “We want to share with ATM visitors that Rosewood Abu Dhabi will truly be a destination for both business and pleasure.” In addition to a decked pool area, the hotel is expected to offer extensive MICE facilities featuring 1,636m2 of indoor meeting space including two ballrooms, two meeting rooms, four boardrooms and a business centre.


REGIONAL ROUND UP UAE & YEMEN

Offering clients value Renewal of Taking steps towards and comfort agreement in Yemen recovery ravelport has announced the renewal of its long-term operator agreement with Yemen-based Universal Travel & Tourism (UT&T), which has 12 offices across the region, covering all major cities. The multi-year agreement confirms that UT&T will maintain its position as Travelport’s distributor of Galileo technology and services to travel agencies within Yemen.

The brand aims to uphold its guests' satisfaction Holiday Inn Express Dubai has revealed that its focus for the remainder of 2013 is to offer services at a reasonable price, whilst at the same time upholding and maintaining guest satisfaction. Cluster director, sales and marketing, Holiday Inn Express Hotels Dubai, Hossam Nabil exclusively told TTG: "The Holiday Inn Express hotel brand is one of the fastest growing in its segment. It is known worldwide

and it has now started to grow in the GCC. "Holiday inn Express Hotels in Dubai are located next to major attractions of the city and close tothe business hub. We guarantee a warm welcome, a clean and comfortable room, complimentary continental buffet breakfast, and a complimentary WiFi service. We have refurbished our guest rooms to enhance our guests' comfort," he said.

UT&T has built up a solid track record. President – Middle East and Africa, Travelport, Rabih Saab stated: “During their time as Travelport’s distributor partner, UT&T has built up a track record of effectively delivering our products and services to the travel agent community." Vice chairman and managing director, UT&T, Omar Mohammed Omar also added: “We look forward to working closely with Travelport to take their business in Yemen to the next stage through the combination of cutting edge technology, unrivalled customer support and a deep understanding of the local travel industry.” Galileo customers in the country will continue to benefit from UT&T’s expertise and Travelport’s products and solutions.

May 1 2013

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Yemen Tourism Promotion Board has announced that Yemen will have a presence at ATM 2013 in a bid to start over, raise the economy and regain security. Heading the country’s delegation will be member, Yemen Tourism Promotion Board, Mohammed Alnuzaili, including Yemen Tourism Promotion Board’s main stand holder as well as four of Yemen’s tour operators: Abu Taleb Group, Bazara Travel & Tourism, Universal Touring Company and AlDubai Tours. The team is set to demonstrate the country's rich historical, natural and cultural attractions, while also displaying its tourism products. Marketing manager, Yemen Tourism Promotion Board, Yasmin Al-Hamdani exclusively told TTG: “We

The country’s message is ‘One country… many destinations’ will promote Yemen as ‘one country, many destinations’ at ATM. With the political unrest that Yemen has been through over the last two years, we are returning to tourism marketing with strong hope and recharged determination. “We are targeting the Middle Eastern market by participating at ATM,” AlHamdani added.

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PEOPLE ON THE MOVE If you have recently been promoted or appointed key staff, please contact us...

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REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER Simon Stamper has been promoted to regional general manager of IHG properties in Egypt and Lebanon. He is to continue to lead the InterContinental Hotels Citystars, while being responsible for the overall commercial operations and management of all three IHG properties. He will also support the company's teams across Egypt and Lebanon to drive growth and performance.

May 1 2013

AREA GENERAL MANAGER

Samy Boukhaled has been appointed as area general manager for the Bahrain hotel, responsible for Sofitel Bahrain as general manager. He assumed his first general manager position in 2004 and led missions in Morocco, before being appointed as general manager for Sofitel Essaouira Medina & Spa. He was later appointed complex general manager for Sofitel Agadir Royal Bay Resort.

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GEORGES ABI AAD

VISION HOTELS MANAGEMENT

Katara Hospitality has appointed Christopher Knable as its new COO. He has 30 years of expertise in hospitality investment, development and operations, and has previously managed a portfolio of hotels for Kingdom Hotel Investments as vice president of asset management. In his new role, he will work with the CEO to build on the growing success of Katara Hospitality.

SAMY BOUKHALED

SOFITEL BAHRAIN ZALLAQ THALASSA SEA & SPA

COO

SIMON STAMPER

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP (IHG) EGYPT & LEBANON

KATARA HOSPITALITY

CHRISTOPHER KNABLE

GENERAL MANAGER The company has announced the appointment of Georges Abi Aad as general manager. Aad brings 15 years of hospitality experience within internationally recognised brands including Sofitel Abu Dhabi, Radisson Blu Hotel Bahrain and Crowne Plaza Beirut. He holds a BSc in Computer Science and Business Management from St. Joseph University.


TATOs

DEALS OF THE MONTH

Exploring Europe

AGENT SPOTLIGHT... Dubai-based Planet Travel & Tours revealed that it will focus on the completion of its B2B online reservation systems for FIT for the rest of 2013, as well as its new features. These include customer XML for key accounts and a secure payment gateway for credit card payments, which are said to allow smaller agents to benefit from the company’s product. The company also plans to offer new programmes for leisure and MICE groups , especially through combined stays in Dubai and the other emirates. It is also targeting new markets like Latin America (Brazil) and new areas in China. Gearing up for ATM, chairman, Planet Travel & Tours, Georges Moussa told TTG: “Planet Travels & Tours will have a booth on the Dubai stand (DTCM) and one on the Abu Dhabi stand (ADTA). Visitors will have the opportunity to receive a live demonstration of Planet’s B2B online reservation system with all new features, and we will be pleased to discuss business opportunities with existing and prospective customers.”

Dubai-based Sharaf Travel unveiled a number of exclusive packages to Europe, valid until October 31, 2013, offering trips to a number of individual destinations, in addition to combined outings showcasing several countries.

Greek island hopping Betis Travel created a new 10-day package to explore the Greek Islands of Kephalonia, Ithaca and Zakynthos, valid for May, June, September and October 2013. It encompasses visits to Athens, the Melissani Lake, Dafni beach, Blue Caves and much more.

Suite surprise Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi launched Suite Surprise, offering accommodation and breakfast for two, and a choice between a complimentary spa experience or a culinary journey at 18 Degrees. The package is valid until September 30, 2013.

May 1 2013

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Chairman, Planet Travel & Tours, Georges Moussa

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PICTURE PERFECT 1.THAI AIRWAYS The airline jointly sponsored the first

1

2

Sawasdee Cup Golf Tournament which was held at Al Badia Golf Club Dubai.

2.Emirates Golf Club The club recently celebrated its 25-year

anniversary, and has welcomed top players such as Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie.

3.Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain The property hosted a media dinner

for representatives from Qatar, to encourage coverage of Bahrain as a tourism destination.

3 4

5

4.The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh The property was awarded two honours at

the Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards.

5.Hilton Abu Dhabi Hilton Worldwide’s first ‘all organic’ lunch was

unveiled at the Abu Dhabi property, in advance of a MEA roll-out to selected hotels.

Picture perfect

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May 1 2013

A visual tour of recent events in the region

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SOCIAL HUB Media Voice

Our Team

Soha Zahar

General Manager Tony Fields TFields@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803001

Director, sales and marketing, IHG cluster hotels in Jordan

editor Eleni Henderson editor@ttgmena.com Media ReporterS Naomi Leach Natalie Hami Ana Mladenovic Tatiana Tsierkezou Head of design Edward Beales Designer Maggie Bdjian E-Commerce Manager Panayiotis Philippou PPhilippou@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803008 E-Commerce executive Constantinos Voniatis Sales Manager Adrian Exley AExley@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803004 Account Managers Elaine Hockley EHockley@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803011 Inna Armeanu IArmeanu@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803013 Kyriacos Kyriacou KKyriacou@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803014

One trend is definitely the rising popularity of social media.

NEXT

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Cluster Hotels in Jordan, which comprises of InterContinental Aqaba Resort, Crowne Plaza Amman, Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort & Spa and Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea, has reported a rapidly growing emphasis on its social media platforms. “The hospitality industry is evolving just like any other industry, and we always have to keep up–to–date with the latest trends," director, sales and marketing, IHG Cluster Hotels in Jordan, Soha Zahar told TTG. “One trend is definitely the rising popularity of social media to promote the hotels, facilities, offers and promotions. This is something that we are keen on adopting as part of our strategy. We have become active in the social media scene, especially now that the modern-day guest is present on these social media platforms,” she stated.

ISSUE JUNE 1

DESTINATION LEVANT • ON LOCATION TUNISIA • ANALYSIS RELIGIOUS TOURISM • SPECIAL REPORT INDIA

Marianne Shokry MShokry@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803012

TTG MENA POLL Question

Operations Manager Chris Christou CChristou@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803003 Chief Financial Officer Costas Miaoulis CMiaoulis@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803002

We asked: What do you hope to achieve at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2013?

Accounts Executive Vasilis Eracleous VEracleous@ttgmena.com D: +357 24 803026 Headquarters Nietzsche Street, Ria Court 9, 1ST Floor Makenzi, 6028 Larnaca, Cyprus Tel: +357-24 803000 Fax: +357-24 803060 Email: INFO@ttgmena.com Website: www.ttgmena.com

80%

Thailand Representative Public Major Media Ltd, Janya Limmanee Janya.Limmanee@publicitas.com Tel: 662 651 9273

said networking opportunities.

Japan Representative Pacific Business Inc,Hiroko Kujime Kujime-pbi@gol.com Tel: 81 33661 6138 TTG Worldwide Titles* TTG Asia

For more Poll questions, or to find out more about TTG MENA’s social media activities, visit us on

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: INFO@ttgmena.com

May 1 2013

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252 May 01  

252 May 01 Featuring. Regional Round up. Update: Turkey, On Location: Thailand, Analysis: TATOs, Special Report: Ireland

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