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Middle East & North Africa


Destination Kuwait

Spotlight North Africa The region is set for a determined comeback

Update Malaysia Boasting an eclectic family tourism product

Focus on Palestine Unveiling historical and cultural attractions

spirit of renewal Japan boldly welcomes visitors to experience its timeless, tradition infused hospitality

Read online

The quiet contender reveals its leisure potential



Happy New Year







elcome to the revitalised, fresh look TTG MENA newspaper. We are proud to unveil a distinct, re-invigorated design to mark the start of a prosperous, new year. We aim to



still bring you exclusive breaking news, top industry insights from across MENA, regional and international travel and tourism trends,

18 20 21




alongside industry analysis and high profile interviews, but now present this content in a more accessible and vibrant format. Based on feedback from you, our readers, we have crafted a lively and engaging product to reflect the exciting, ever changing developments of our industry. In this issue, we present for your perusal double the

22 24



number of reports with Destination Kuwait examining the country’s credentials for the


GCC family; Update Malaysia exploring the

Have an exceptional month!

unified tourism strategy for 2014; Spotlight North Africa unveiling this diverse region’s


ambitious developments; On Location Japan


establishing new offerings for the MENA traveller; Awareness Muslim Travel; Focus on



Palestine; and Analysis Golf. While we have enjoyed creating this colourful, updated product, we do hope that



you enjoy reading it and, as ever, welcome your comments and feedback.


Naomi Leach Media Reporter


Luxury brand makes Doha debut

The first phase of the project is to include several hotels

Emaar Properties has signed a Memorandum of

shopping mall, leisure attrac-

The Classical Palace Group has

launch Qatar’s first luxury hotel brand, a

Understanding with Dubai World Central (DWC), to

tions and a business hub that

announced the soft opening of Qatari brand,

concept to captivate leisure and business

develop an integrated urban centre and golf destination

promotes youth entrepre-

Zubarah Hotels and Resorts’ Zubarah Hotel,

travellers alike to experience the warmth of

in a prime location at DWC, home to Expo 2020 and the


Doha, in early January 2014, introducing a

Qatari hospitality. We are keen to provide

Al Maktoum International Airport.

new hospitality concept defined by

personalised experiences through cultural

This is the first of the key infrastructure development

Qatari culture.

exchange, exceptional ‘sense of place’ and

projects to be announced following the UAE’s winning of

“We are thankful to the Dubai

historic accents. Our hotels will definitely

the World Expo 2020 hosting bid.

government and the Dubai

CEO and founder, The Classical Palace

Chairman, Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar said:

Group, Adbulian Al Hamad remarked:

serve as a platform for Qatari culture to

The development is spread over an area of 13.63 mil-

Aviation City Corporation for

“This is an exciting time for Zubarah

shine in music, education, arts and charity

lion km2 with the first phase of the project set to include

the opportunity to be part of

Hotels and Resorts; we are very proud to


a golf-course villa community, several hotels, a high-end

the ambitious developments.”

January 2014 2


Boosting aIR links

WELCOMING GUESTS Sterling Hotels, a brand

A new airline is born

of Preferred Hotel Group, recently announced its debut

AMR Corporation and

in Dubai with the signing of

US Airways Group have

Grand Excelsior Hotel Bur

announced the completion

Dubai (formerly Dhow Palace

of their merger to officially

Hotel) and Grand Excelsior

form American Airlines

Hotel Al Barsha Dubai.

Group and begin building the new American Airlines.

Larnaca International Airport, starting April 29, is to welcome flights from Doha for the first time on board Qatar Airways’ Airbus A320. Having launched 11 destinations during 2013, with an added route to Hangzhou, China, which joined its network map in December, the national carrier will be serving the Doha-Larnaca route four times a week. Other operations which Qatar Airways plans to introduce in 2014 are Sharjah and Dubai World Central, UAE on March 1; Philadelphia, US, on April 2; Sabiha Gokcen Airport, Turkey, on May 22; Edinburgh, Scotland, on May 28; Miami, the US, on June 10; and Dallas, the US, on July 1.


FLASH Emirates Airline has commenced its inaugural service to Kabul, Afghanistan. The route is operated by an Airbus A340-500 configured in a three cabin configuration

Expansive Turkish footprint Hilton Worldwide has signed agreements

room hotel, while Hampton by Hilton

on four hotels to further boost its portfolio

Istanbul Dolapdere slated for 2016 is to

in Turkey to 24 trading properties and 25

present 170 guest rooms. Meanwhile, DoubleTree by Hilton Izmir

in its development pipeline. This latest announcement sees Hilton

- Alsancak will see the existing Yildizhan

Worldwide expand its existing presence in

Hotel converted in 2014 following a $1m

Istanbul and Izmir, with two new hotels in

refurbishment. Finally, Hilton Garden Inn

each city.

Izmir Bayrakli is set to be a 182 guest room

Due to open in 2015, Hilton Garden Inn Istanbul Beylikduzu will be a 126 guest

hotel, due to be operated by Ozgun Insaat in 2016.

Offering elevated luxury The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi is now offering Grand Canal Discerning Abu Dhabi visitors the opportunity to stay at the newly opened Ritz-Carlton Royal Suite - the latest addition to the premium accommodation options. Offering panoramic views of Abu Dhabi’s historic Al Maqta’a area and occupying the entire top floor of one

The new carrier boasts a robust global network with nearly 6,700 daily flights to

Alliance on March 30, 2014.

more than 330 destinations

With an expanded global

appreciate Royal Suite’s secluded location on

an adjacent security room, butler

a dedicated floor, while for a private culinary

quarters, two bedrooms and living

experience, the dining area can accommodate

and dining rooms.

up to 10 guests and connects to a fully equipped

Abu Dhabi guests who require an additional level of privacy will

“We are taking the best

network and a strong finan-


cial foundation, American

of both US Airways and

Airlines is set to deliver sig-

American Airlines to create

enjoy access to more ben-

nificant benefits to consum-

a formidable competitor,

efits and increased service

ers, communities, employ-

better positioned to deliver

across the combined com-

ees and stakeholders.

for all of our stakeholders.

Customers will soon

pany’s larger worldwide

“Our people, our custom-

We look forward to integrat-

network and through an

ers and the communities

ing our companies quickly

enhanced oneworld Alli-

we serve around the world

and efficiently so the

ance, which it is due to join

have been anticipating the

significant benefits of the

on March 31, 2014, following

arrival of the new American

merger can be realised,” he

US Airways’ exit from Star

Airlines,” commented CEO,


Exhibition Calendar


January 16-18

IITT, Mumbai, India


FITUR, Madrid, Spain •

January 30

EMITT, Istanbul, Turkey


Routes America, San Salvador, El Salvador •

February 24-25

Mice Arabia Congress, Doha, Qatar •

March 5-9

ITB Berlin, Berlin, Germany •

March 9-11

Routes Asia, Sarawak, Malaysia •

march 12-13

International Confex, London, UK •

March 20-23

MITT Moscow, Russia •

march 24-26

GIBTM, Abu Dhabi, UAE • • •

kitchenette ensuring a seamless dining experience.

January 2014 4


in more than 50 countries

of the luxury hotel’s Venetian-inspired buildings, the 250m2 suite provides

American Airlines, Doug

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

NEWS Visiting Cannes to attend the recent ILTM 2013, I was excited to discover what JW Marriott Cannes was like. Upon entering my room, I design and black and white prints

Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) announced

permanent facility has been selected. “We

on the walls. The bathroom was

its long-term maritime plans to attendees

have made no secret of the fact that we

generous in size and featured lovely

at the Seatrade Middle East Cruise

intend to press ahead with the building of a

products and the bed was a pleasure

Forum (SMECF) recently.

permanent terminal,” he said.

immediately fell in love with its chic

to sleep in. As for F&B, room

HOTEL CHECK JW Marriott Cannes By Tatiana Tsierkezou

Abu Dhabi sea trade ambitions revealed

In his welcome to guests to the SMECF,

Al Muhairi announced that a site for the

“The current temporary terminal site has

service was efficient and the hotel’s

which was held at the Rosewood Abu

now been earmarked as the site of the per-

breakfast spread offered a selection

Dhabi from December 9-11, Director

manent one,” Al Muhairi added.

of hot and cold options, hot coffee

General, TCA Abu Dhabi, HE Mubarak Al

Meanwhile, speaking at the SMECF,

as well as fruit and cereal.

Muhairi updated attendees on the plan

Strategy and Policy Director, TCA Abu

The hotel is a five minute walk

for a permanent cruise site in Abu Dhabi

Dhabi, Mohammed Al Dhaheri, stated that

from Palais de Festival where ILTM

and revealed a decision on the concept

the sector holds out huge growth potential

takes place, ideal for those visiting

design expected in 2014.

if all stakeholders engage in discussions to

for the show, but it is also close to

identify the opportunities and challenges.

the main shopping street, ideal for

“If we seize this opportunity we will look

those seeking a bit of retail therapy.

back on this day as a milestone in the development of cruising in Arabia,” stated Al Dhaheri.

TTG staff and correspondents assess services used by them. We report the results, which are

“We have the chance to openly discuss

based on a one-time experience only and view

the growth opportunities which clearly exist

services from a customer perspective.

for this region’s cruise industry.” Al Dhaheri stressed that the entire region

Suitable for: Business/leisure/families

needs to come together to drive an ambition TCA Abu Dhabi highlighted plans to focus on the cruising sector

of becoming a credible and highly appealing cruise region.

carrier grows indian service

introducing a new retail hub Meraas Holding has unveiled Citywalk – a new outdoor

Etihad Airways has commenced major expansions

lifestyle concept and destination providing luxury shopping.

of its Indian operations following the approval of an

The development spans an area of 13,000m² and provides

historic 24 per cent investment in Jet Airways and the

350m of retail offering and 52 outlets as well as 600 park-

doubling of its services to Mumbai and New Delhi.

ing spaces, a unique water feature and a children’s play

As part of its vision to use Abu Dhabi as a global hub

area that can be transformed into a venue to host intimate

connecting international passengers and freight with

concerts, weekly markets and exhibitions.

flights to and from India, Etihad Airways has increased

As well as retail, Citywalk is set to introduce concepts in

its flights to Mumbai and New Delhi from seven to 14

F&B and is also to showcase leading fashion brands.

per week, with plans to double its operations to Kochi,

Chief commercial officer, Meraas Holding, Fahad Kazim

Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad in 2014.

remarked: “Citywalk has been strategically designed keeping in mind the retail and culinary preferences of both the national and expatriate societies that call the UAE their home. “As a city that thrives on its retail culture and tourism

In the expanded schedule, new mid-afternoon ser-

India is a significant and growing market for us.

vices to the two cities are operated with single-aisle Airbus A320s, each seating 136 passengers and the existing late evening departures have been upgraded to larger aircraft.

revenues, Dubai certainly has some of the most sophisticated malls in the world, and always embraces the latest products and concepts,” he concluded.

Chain to open two KSA hotels Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group has announced two new hotels in Saudi Arabia: The Park Inn by Radisson Riyadh Olaya, set to open in Q1 of 2014 and the Radisson Blu Resort Jizan, to welcome its first guests in Q1 of 2015. The properties are joint projects with Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group as the operator and the Saudi Arabian Al Hokair Group as the owner. The existing hotel in Riyadh is to undergo a renovation programme.

January 2014 6

We are delighted to further strengthen our steadily growing portfolio in the Middle East. President, The Rezidor Hotel Group, Wolfgang Neumann


the quiet contender

Beyond its corporate offering, Kuwait is emerging as an attractive family destination for the GCC market. Naomi Leach visits Kuwait to unearth the latest developments.

nassuming corporate hub Kuwait, is slowly step-

Saudi Arabian family on a leisure excursion either for the

ping out of the shadows of its GCC neighbours

weekend or during the summer period.

to showcase its own distinctive tourism identity. Despite being rooted in a rich hospitality tradi-

Driven by business demand, the momentum of this dual segment destination is spurring growth in the hospitality

tion, offering regional safety and bristling with cultural

sector with 2014 to be marked by a number of new open-

attractions, beach resorts and shopping appeal, Kuwait’s

ings. Benefitting from the insight of Kuwait’s industry

travel and tourism industry has, up until now, presented a

stakeholders and experts, the ambitions of the country’s

modest approach to celebrating these strengths.

top calibre tourism sector were illuminated to TTG.

Kuwait primarily magnetises corporate GCC travellers (many of them domestic) and the international long stay

Motivated ambitions

market. However, the country occupies a unique position in the region as a conservative, dry country within easy reach of the Eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia and is therefore

“Inbound tourism in Kuwait has been slow compared to

both accessible and perfectly attuned to the needs of the

other regional destinations such as Dubai, Istanbul, Sharm

DESTINATION KUWAIT director of sales and marketing, Hotel Missoni, Wassim

Persian Gulf


Kuwait City Hawally Jabar Al Ali

Tarabay noted to TTG: “It is positive if the country contin-

able to target Dubai and Saudi markets in 2014. “Whether

ues hosting events such as Arabian African Summit which

travelling solo, a couple etc. the special thing about Jumei-

benefit all hotels in Kuwait. Kuwait will be the host of a lot

rah Messilah Beach is that we create experiences within the

of GCC events in 2014 which creates demand.”

hotel. For example a couple can have a romantic night with

With a robust competition taking place, hospitality

a special table set up on the beach front or a family can find

industry players are working hard to differentiate them-

something to do and that’s what makes the difference,”

selves. Director, operations, Le Royal Hotels, Hisham Sul-

added Roncoletta.

tan told TTG: “I am expecting that competition will be very high and each hotel will do its utmost to improve its quality of services to meet with the guest’s experiences." and new habits.” Hidden potential

Al Wafra

With this approach and leisure appeal, the property is

added Roncoletta.the family market Capturing

Attracted by its relatively moderate climate and accessibility by land and air, Saudi Arabia is the undisputed top

Al Khiran

feeder market to Kuwait in business and leisure travel. Elucidating on Kuwait’s characteristics which could, if har-

“Due to the short distance in between Kuwait and KSA,

nessed effectively, broaden the country’s appeal beyond

most Saudi visitors keep an eye on Kuwait hotels to spend

El Sheikh and Beirut. Nevertheless, the Kuwaiti govern-

the GCC, throughout MENA and futher afield, Al–Essa said:

their holidays and weekends, while the wide range of the

ment is embarking on an ambitious five-year plan to at-

“Although inbound tourism in Kuwait is slow in general,

entertainment malls in Kuwait are an attractive point for

tract more tourists from surrounding GCC countries by

domestic and GCC tourism seems to be evolving well,

the destination,” remarked director of sales & marketing,

opening new malls and entertainment venues. The plan is

thanks to the various remarkable landmarks in the coun-

The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa, Ahmed El Dackrouri to TTG.

also expected to enhance domestic tourism,” chairman,

try, some of which are historically and culturally signifi-

Marketing and PR manager, Hilton Kuwait Resort, Mir-

Alshamel Travel, Yousif Al-Essa revealed to TTG.

cant and some are known for their architectural beauty.

vat Wehbe also highlighted the country’s shopping appeal

Kuwait witnessed a steady touristic growth of 14 per

“Such landmarks include Failaka Island, Jahra’s Red Pal-

to Saudia Arabian families and couples. While Al-Essa

cent over the period 2002 to 2012. And furthermore,

ace, Kuwait Towers, the Liberation Tower, Kuwait National

surmised: “Travel agencies can promote Kuwait as a fam-

the tourism sector under the Ministry of Commerce and

Museum, the Scientific Center, Kuwait Hunting and Eques-

ily destination as well as an alternative to other regional

Industry is reportedly making plans to bolster tourism

trian 18-hole golf course, and several world-class shopping

destinations. Kuwait is known for its retail offering which

including attending several exhibitions in Europe and the

malls like the luxurious Salhiya, Al-Hamra and Arraya, and

is considered one of the best in the region.”

GCC alongside properties, the Hotels Owner Association

the very popular The Avenues, 360 Mall, Marina Mall and

and Kuwait Airways during 2014.

Crescent, Souq Sharq and Al-Kout in Fahaheel.”

Al-Essa continued: “The Kuwaiti government is aim-

Concurring, general manager, Ibis Hotel, Bruno Debray

ing to double its tourist arrivals to one million by 2015

expressed a similar sentiment. He told TTG: “Kuwait’s

as it seeks to boost its tourism infrastructure to attract

tourism strengths are hidden and not advertised. Person-

more leisure travellers. A new airport is part of the gov-

ally, I love the old souk in Kuwait city. The beautiful spirit

ernment’s ambitious five-year plan to accommodate 14

of Arabia can be found in Kuwait.”

million passengers yearly and to become a travel hub for

search of safety, shopping and a relaxed environment visit

Aside from its corporate credentials, Kuwait also boasts

the northern Gulf. Through that plan Kuwaiti officials are

several beach resorts for business-turned-leisure trips.

seeking to stimulate tourism and make it a viable source

One such resort is the recently-launched Jumeirah Messi-

of income through new strategies that could put Kuwait

lah Beach Hotel & Spa (formerly Messilah Hotel) which has

on the tourism map. Through promoting Kuwait’s remark-

facilities for MICE business and spa attractions to offer a

able shopping malls, cultural activities and moderate

‘bleisure’ proposition, as director of PR and communica-

climate in the winter/spring, we hope to attract more GCC

tions, Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, Carol Ron-

travellers in 2014.”

coletta explained to TTG: “We are promoting the property

This proposed development of Kuwait’s existing leisure

Agreeing, general manager, Swiss - Belhotel Plaza Kuwait, Ali Haddad confirmed to TTG that Saudi families in

The beautiful spirit of Arabia can be found in Kuwait.

as a destination within a destination, a contemporary

and business infrastructure is expected to increase both

landmark which embraces traditional Mashrabiya designs.

Kuwait and that the property saw potential for more GCC

GCC and international tourist arrivals. Echoing enthusi-

It’s an all-in-one experience where you can spend three or

and Dubai families to experience Kuwait.

asm for the realisation of Kuwait’s potential, was general

four days for the weekend enjoying the pool, beach, spa

manager, The Regency Kuwait, Aurelio Giraudo who told

and the F&B outlets.”

Elaborating on the growing appeal to this market, director of sales and marketing, Safir Hotels, Wassim Mahdi

TTG: “This is an exciting time within Kuwait as the govern-

stated: “We do expect an increase in Saudi leisure visitors

ment has developed a very motivated, positive outlook

especially this coming holiday season. The majority of

in the development of infrastructure in the promotion of

our Saudi guests come from the three neighbouring Saudi

the continued development of the country as a powerful

provinces of Dammam, Al Khoubar and Riyadh. Most of

global player.

these guests are families who choose to spend the holidays in a more conservative, less commercialised country

“The hospitality sector will see a sharp rise in arrivals

such as Kuwait.“

as companies tender for these many projects, a trend that

“Our plan is to focus more on the Saudi market particu-

is recognised through the recent and planned opening of additional hotels both in Kuwait City and in Salmiyah, an

larly on the three cities as they are closest to the border

area that is destined to become a focal destination within

through regular business trips to build and strengthen

Kuwait, as being free of the traffic of the City and with

relations. We will come up with more promotions and

ample parking whilst enjoying excellent road connections

packages tailored to attract Saudi visitors such as family

and easy access to the airport,” predicted Giraudo.

orientated packages and activities for children.”

Indeed, optimism approaching 2014 permeates the destination, especially following the busy Arabian African

Beyond its corporate capabilities, Kuwait has proven

Summit held in November, which ensured high occupancy

it possesses the potential to entice the family leisure

levels for the entire hospitality industry.

market from further afield than just the GCC, to offer a

Basking in the success of this countrywide event, January 2014

distinctive alternative to MENA markets.




Distinguished offering TTG: How do you differentiate yourself from other

General manager, The Regency Kuwait, Aurelio Giraudo exclusively shares with TTG how the property satisfies its diverse feeder markets.

Regal inauguration of new marquee

hospitality offerings in Kuwait? What are your USPs?

Hilton Kuwait Resort has

Kuwait Resort, Ziad Tantawi

appreciation on the service

We are able to react to tailor-make service and experiences

launched its new Royal

said: “This 700m2 venue

during the inaugural gala

for each unique market. Whether from within Arabia, Eu-


caters for up to 550

dinner: “The new Royal

people and provides an

Marquee was not only a

to deliver a culturally sensitive experience that engages

private beach, the Royal

ideal location for exclusive

stunning location for our

each guest as an individual. Our white marble, glass-roofed

Marquee provides a host

dinners and events.”

annual event, but the team

lobby, oversized rooms, our unusually high percentage

of exceptional facilities and

President, Chaîne des

provided the world-class din-

of remarkable suites, our five outlets, exclusive Ladies

service offerings.

Rôtisseurs, Kuwait, Mo-

ing experience our members

Lounge, four ballrooms and beach and gardens all com-

General manager, Hilton

hamed Najia expressed his

have come to expect.”

rope, the US or Asia, we have the capacity and experience

Located on the property’s

bined with immaculate service cumulatively present an unparalleled hospitality proposition for all our guests. TTG: How important is the KSA market for you? The Regency is an established corporate hotel that enjoys wonderful gardens, swimming pools and beaches. As such it has become well known in KSA with many arriving from the Eastern Province by car and from Riyadh and Jeddah through Kuwait International Airport. We enjoy adapting our service to accommodate large Saudi families during school holidays and delegations during conferences and fairs. We look forward to further growth in 2014.

To read interview in full please visit

January 2014 10

Introducing a fresh meetings concept Mövenpick Hotel & Resort Al Bida'a Kuwait has revealed that after an extensive renovation, nine sea view meeting rooms can now be booked, from smaller meetings of 20 to larger receptions for up to 45 people per meeting room. The new meeting rooms are fully-equipped to meet the needs of a variety of functions and can host events of any size ranging from product launches and formal business functions to intimate receptions. Each of the meeting rooms comes with strong WiFi

and banqueting facilities spill

connection, LCD projectors and screens, sound

onto beaches, pool areas and

system and microphones.

landscaped gardens for delegates

The resort aims to offer an entirely unique corporate experience where five-star meeting

to enjoy during breaks and postmeetings.

Kuwait boosts airport experience Kuwait International Airport

enables airports, airlines

Airport is growing at

has joined forces with air

and their handling agents

a rate of five per cent

transport specialist, SITA, to

to access their respective IT

annually. SITA’s self-service

introduce new self-service

applications in real-time on

technology provides

check-in kiosks which are

shared equipment.

an efficient way to help

currently in the final stages of testing.

Furthermore, Airport

manage these extra

Connect Open allows any

passengers, while enhancing

airline to use any agent

their experience in the

with an eight-year contract

desk, gate or self-service

airport,” said president,

renewal for SITA’s Airport

kiosk for passenger check-in

Directorate General of Civil

Connect Open passenger

and boarding.

Aviation, Kuwait, Fawaz

This initiative comes in line

processing platform, which

“Kuwait International

El Fara.



KUWAITI LANDMARK property reborn been here 30 years.

Aviation growth recorded three different concepts:

“The hotel has a unique,

the Scandinavian theme; NY

rich heritage. The owner had

Mansion House rooms; and

a vision embodied with the

Relax rooms. A key feature of

latest, modern architectural

the hotel is the introduction

components. People who knew

of a Sky Lounge – a glass-

us from before whether it is the

encased rooftop facility

parents or the new generation

with panoramic views of the

will have expectations. It

Arabian Gulf, exclusively

was always friendly and cosy

reserved for business class

but the whole idea was to

and suite guests. Sky Lounge

modernise it. The Chinese

will offer refreshments served

restaurant has been very

either inside or on the outside

successful during the three

terrace throughout the day,

years the hotel was closed. And

as well as business facilities

Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait has recently celebrated

people kept on calling for three

including free WiFi access, the

its reopening following a $53 million renovation.

years asking ‘When are you

group’s signature service for

opening?’ The feedback has

all guests. Dasman Ballroom

been very positive.”

is an additional facility which

The hotel, a hospitality icon, played host to over 500 guests as they gathered for the official launch at the hotel’s newly refurbished Al Bustan restaurant and

The hotel’s interior design

has been developed for events

is based on the climate and

and meetings, with 360m2 of

landscape of Kuwait using

space that can accommodate

Pellaud exclusively spoke to TTG: “We are officially

light and natural colours. The

200 people at capacity, or

opening for the third time. The hotel has something

191 new-look guest rooms

be arranged into a variety of

special as we have some team members that have

have been designed around


terrace. General manager, Radisson Blu Kuwait, Philippe

January 2014 12

in their Operational Performance report (Oct 2013) year–on-year jazeera airways experienced: A five per cent increase in flown passengers Kuwait-Beirut route: 47 per cent increase in flown passengers Kuwait-Amman route: 38 per cent increase in flown passengers Kuwait-Bahrain route: 17 per cent increase in flown passengers Kuwait-Dubai route: four per cent increase in flown passengers

NEWS FLASH: Golden Tulip has announced that it has added Kuwait Airways to its frequent flyer partners.


electric energy

Inviting MENA families As one of the most popular outbound destinations for the Middle East, Malaysia provides an array of facilities that enable the MENA traveller to feel at home while away. The religious similarities between the Middle East and Malaysia bridge many of the gaps and therefore make Malaysia a

Offering an all-round destination, Malaysia is able to satisfy every type of traveller. As such, 2014 is set to see the country invest heavily in promoting its tourism product. Panayiotis Markides reports

natural option for Middle Eastern travellers. Marketing manager – Dubai Office, Tourism Malaysia, Amir Muhammad Hanif revealed to TTG: “Malaysia is considered as one of the best destinations for Arab families to spend their holidays.” The observation highlights the necessity of catering for families. With retail locations such as 1 Utama Shopping Centre and destinations such as Legoland Malaysia Re-

iverse in its offerings, rich in culture and

tourists and $3 billion from the previous year. ‘Visit Malay-

sort available, there is plenty on offer. Legoland recently

heritage and presenting world class urban

sia 2014’ is expected to have similar success with target

opened its hotel, completing the transition into Legoland

experiences, Malaysia aims to be a one-stop des-

arrivals of 28.3 million.

Malaysia Resort. The destination, having launched a new

tination. Its wealth of leisure attractions include 1 Utama Shopping Centre – the world’s fourth largest mall

In January, Malaysia’s kick-off of ‘Visit Malaysia Year 2014’, took place, and started with a display of fireworks,

attraction - the Legoland Water Park on October 21, makes it an ever more appealing family destination. Moreover, PR manager, 1 Utama Shopping Centre, Lee

and marvels such as the Petronas Towers, the world's

setting the country’s skylines ablaze. The event set in mo-

tallest twin towers, highlighting the country’s ambition

tion a year where Malaysia aims to be the focal point of

Li Lian spoke to TTG about the shopping centre’s strong

and drive to compete on a global scale. Amidst all this pro-

the tourist industry. With its mascot the proboscis mon-

points for visiting families: “Our strength lies in great retail

gress, Malaysia’s offering aims to cater to the multitudes

key, the campaign aims to promote events and cultural

offerings, a large variety of entertainment and sports ac-

of families that flock there and 2014 has been designated

festivals such as the Royal Langkawi International Regatta

tivities; we have two cinemas and house four departmen-

the year where Malaysia showcases to the world all it has

and the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, to be held

tal stores, the only mall in Malaysia to do so.”

to offer, the fourth time since the country began dedicat-

in March 2014.

ing years to marketing its tourism product.

A targeted initiative In 1990, Tourism Malaysia debuted its first ‘Visit Malaysia’ campaign, and in 1994 and 2007 ‘Visit Malaysia’ cam-

The efficient use of space, meanwhile, was a strength

Marketing itself under the slogan ‘Malaysia – truly Asia’,

highlighted by general manager, The Danna Langkawi,

the aim is to promote Malaysia as an authentic and multi-

Pascal Masse who revealed to TTG that the resort’s com-

faceted meeting point for all things Asian as it offers a

pact layout enables family-friendliness by keeping every-

microcosm of the continent’s offerings and an all-in-one

thing in close proximity, enhancing convenience

destination for an Asian experience.

for guests.

Head, advertising and promotions, Malaysia Airlines,

paigns were also held to great success, with 20.97 million

Khairul Khalid commented: “As a destination on the whole

And so, possessing a plethora of activities for young

in tourist arrivals recorded in 2007 and $14.1 billion in

we measure equally if not better than our neighbours. We

and old, 2014 is set to be a springboard year wherein

tourist receipts, which represented a rise of 3.4 million

have an abundance of experiences as a destination.”

Malaysia can truly showcase its offerings.

January 2014 14


Rebranding for new vibrancy


global launch of campaign Tourism Malaysia, the

director of tourism

Malaysia Airlines’

vibrancy into the core

convention and culture partner

Malaysia – Germany,

tour operating arm,

essence of the Malaysia

of ITB Berlin, has announced it

Maizan Ahmad

MASholidays, has

Airlines holiday business.

is to launch its global promotion

remarked: “2014

The new brand logo

campaign ‘Visit Malaysia Year

will be an important

in celebration of the

reads ’Golden Holidays’

2014’ at ITB Berlin, due to take

year for us. The

airline’s 42 year of

featuring colourful

place on March 5 – 9, 2014 with

partnership with the

operation in 2014.

circles signifying ‘Golden

cultural events highlighting

ITB Berlin Convention

recently been rebranded nd

Memories’ - a variety of

Malaysia as a nature, beach

signals the launch of

MASholidays is now to

holiday experiences to

holiday attraction and a MICE

a global campaign

be known as Golden

customers - arranged


entitled ‘Visit Malaysia

Holidays and has adopted

in a vibrant pattern to

a refreshed business

suggest movement as

model. Golden Holidays

well as travel.

Effective January 1,

serves as the fully-

Golden Holidays

fledged tour operator of

is set to introduce

Malaysia Airlines.

new products to its

2014 will be an important year for us. Malaysia plans to host a

Grand Prix events begin

Malaysia is gearing up for the 2014 Grand Prix with a series of events

Sepang International Circuit (SIC), host and

30, 2014. The 2014 Formula 1

organiser of the upcoming

Petronas Malaysia Grand

Year 2014’ with

2014 Formula 1 Petronas

Prix will be promoted under

customers, which consist

wide-range of events in line

which Malaysia aims

Malaysia Grand Prix, has

the banner ‘Sepang Comes

mission statement,

of leisure package

with its aim to present itself as

to promote itself

announced that it has

Alive’ where racing fans and

Golden Holidays is

options as primary,

an attractive destination for

internationally and

planned a number of

newcomers alike can expect

designed to offer a

stopovers for business

tourists keen on beach holidays,

even more widely as

attractions and activities

to take part in a series of

new look and feel, with

travellers and religious

cultural attractions and nature.

an attractive travel

as part of its build up to

unique interactive road

the aim of injecting

groups for Umrah and

Commenting on Malaysia’s

destination this

the main event, which is

shows that will immerse

expression, colour and

Muslim-centric holidays.

forthcoming year.”

scheduled for March 28 -

fans in the experience.

Befitting its reinforced

participation in ITB Berlin,

January 2014




Lessons in tenacity North Africa’s destinations are looking to make a strong comeback, with a variety of plans in the pipeline for the year ahead. Natalie Hami illuminates their strategies

“We have a whole marketing plan targeting the tour operators, travel agencies, international and local media, to be implemented in the new year with lot of promotions, offers to many international companies, banks, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, foreign communities in addition to the Egyptians and foreign residents in order to grab all possible business.” As the director of marketing for Sofitel Cecil Alexandria and Pavillon Winter Palace Luxor, also, Assem highlighted that as part of their strategy the properties will be focusing on the weddings and honeymoons sector as well as enticing visitors with a passion for history to

orth Africa: a region brimming with touristic wonders to behold; each individual destination offering up its own distinctive blend of hospitality and culture. And with the new year upon us, each destination is looking to the future with

the destinations. Assem also pointed out that due to the unrest, Sofitel in Egypt has altered its plans to further concentrate on the local market. Owner Past Preservers, Nigel Hetherington which provides pro-

a keen eye on what it may bring, be it a focus on niche tourism sectors

fessional support to the heritage and media industries, reiterated a

for Egypt; a helping hand from the UNWTO for Libya in its strategic

similar sentiment to TTG: “Domestic tourism will be key in restoring

tourism development; long-and short-term actions for Tunisia’s travel

confidence in Egypt. If Egyptians feel safe travelling in their own

industry; the expansion of Morocco’s luxury offering; and in Algeria

country and express interest in and appreciation for their own cultural

its flagship carrier, Air Algerie, is embarking on massive growth of its

places and practices, then it will create an invitation of security and

fleet, as well as extensions to its network.

welcome to foreign markets.”

Sensitive to the complex dynamism of this diverse region, TTG took

Basking in optimism was marketing manager, Kiromena Egypt

the opportunity to reach out to each destination individually and un-

Travel, Kamal Omar who told TTG: “Our strategy these days is to send

veiled their strategies for 2014, discovering a great deal of optimism

a message of reassurance to as many as we can reach, regarding tour

on the horizon.

operators and travel agencies around the world to persuade them to put Egypt back on their plan as a safe touristic destination.” Despite some industry stakeholders spending time offering a reas-

Rising glory

suring message, others have already begun to take swift action to

Egypt has slowly and steadily been rising from the ashes for a while

trips in Egypt with slightly altered itineraries that use flights instead of

now looking to regain its former touristic glory, with a number of

trains while overnight trains remain temporarily out of service.

properties as well as travel agents looking to the future to create and grasp new opportunities. Director of marketing, Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan and Sofi-

recapture markets. G Adventures is operating its full programme of

Managing director, G Adventures, John Warner said: “We know G Adventures travellers are curious and adventurous, and there is no better time to see the wonders of Egypt with less crowds, and to give

tel Winter Palace Luxor, Lamia Assem revealed to TTG the plans of

back to its communities, many of which rely heavily on tourism as a

the various Sofitel properties in Egypt.

means of local income.”

January 2014 16



Altering approach Meanwhile Egypt’s neighbour Libya, is progressively making key moves to rebuild its once thriving tourism industry. TTG

Secretary-General, UNWTO, Taleb Rifai said: “Tourism will enhance the country’s global image and contribute to its sustainable economic growth and development.”

Luxury property debuts in Morocco Beachcomber Hotels has

revealed to TTG who they

unveiled a new addition to its

will be targeting: “We will be

collection of luxury hotels,

reaching out to the luxury

Royal Palm Marrakech.

leisure market primarily

in strategy for the year ahead. Operations manager, Wadi

Action plan

Tidwa Tourism Services, Masoud Khlifa outlined to TTG: “The

The importance of tourism to a country,

business of incoming tourists is not working normally for us

and most especially a troubled country was

due to the bad security reports that have been in the news

highlighted by Minister of Tourism, Tunisia,

just 12 km from the centre

everyone; great food, the only

since the revolution in 2011, therefore we started to change

Jamel Gamra, who with an optimistic

of Marrakech and eight

Clarins Spa in Morocco, 18-

our target to provide services for the local market.”

expectation to return to 2010 incoming fig-

kilometres from the airport.

hole golf course and excellent

ures, spoke exclusively to TTG on how the

World general manager,

spoke to industry stakeholders who explained their change

On a more optimistic note, Khlifa pointed out that they

The property is located

with something on offer for

family facilities. The resort

have managed to organise tours in Tripoli and around places

destination is taking short - and long-term

Beachcomber Hotels,

also has excellent conference

such as Sabratha and Leptis Magna including Ghadamis, but

actions to promote Tunisia as a top destina-

Mikael Le Luron exclusively

facilities for small groups.”

stressed that the issue of suspended tourist visas was inevi-

tion for a variety of tourism niches.

tably still an obstacle.

“The long-term one is the 2020 vision

For the long-term plan, we’ll be working on

Increasing Algerian accessibility

diversifying the product such as promoting

Air Algerie has expanded its service to Istanbul

Strong and forthright steps were also recently taken by the

wellness, golf and culture as well as diversi-

Ataturk, with two new weekly services each

UNWTO to help Libya truly reap the benefits of its tourism prod-

fying accommodation in new forms such as

from Annaba and Oran. The carrier also has

uct in the form of an agreement signed to provide support to

boutique hotels.”

network growth in the pipeline for 2014, with

With restrictions on visas, most incoming visitors are corporate travellers. “Most of the travellers coming to Libya now are coming to look for the opportunity for doing business in a new Libya.”

Libya’s Ministry of Tourism in its strategic tourism development

which aims to continue increasing incoming arrivals with a goal of 10 million by 2016.

He added: “The short-term vision is

through institutional building and governance and sustainable

focused on four axes: environment, security,

development, marketing and human development.

quality of service and promotion.”

January 2014

the introduction of a third weekly service on its Algiers – Beijing route.


ON LOCATION JAPAN ourism to Japan over 2013 was bolstered by the Indonesian and Malaysian markets, with the former having escalated by 37 per cent, representing 98,200 visitors, during the first nine months of the year, in comparison to the same period in 2012, while the latter jumped 21 per cent, equivalent to 104,200 year-on-year. Thus, with this in mind and with Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) having announced over 10 million inbound visitors for the first time, TTG embarked on a mission to discover the growing potential of Japan as a favoured tourism hub, particularly for the MENA visitor. “The number of restaurants in Japan offering local halal cuisine to attract Muslim guests is recently on the rise, and many cities in Japan now appear to recognise the massive growth of tourism from MENA,” director - overseas marketing, executive guest services/operations, Hotel Granvia Kyoto, Shiho Ikeuchi commented to TTG. “There are more and more attractive ‘Muslim’ travel packages becoming available in the market to cater to those individuals,” Ikeuchi further revealed. Resembling Ikeuchi’s views, president, Fujita Kanko, Akira Segawa disclosed that the Japanese government is aiming to increase the number of overseas visitors to 18 million by 2016, with the MENA segment claiming a large market share towards achieving this positive outcome. “As the MENA region continues to grow, catalysing stronger business relations between Japan and the region, there should be more opportunities for businesses in the Japanese tourism industry to attract travellers from the

timeless spirit Located among the largest Muslim communities, Japan has long been catering to their discerning tastes. Stefanie Saghbini discovers how these needs have come to be perfectly interwoven with a tradition of welcome hospitality

region. As a hospitality company, we would like to provide products and services to meet the needs of increasing visitors from the region for both leisure and business,” he continued. This was clearly illustrated at this year’s MATTA Fair in Kuala Lumpur where JNTO debuted its first-ever booth dedicated to Muslim travellers.

Delivering world-class hospitality

Tokyo, which is delivered through our

which the Japanese strive to bring to the

Kansai International Airport and may

Asian values and philosophy."

fore upon entry to the country for tourists

result in more of them visiting Wakayama.

Director of sales and marketing, Grand Hyatt Tokyo, Nobuhiro Yanaga also shed

from all regions and demographics.

Moesker believes the Japanese

This is evident with New Kansai

government will double its efforts to

light on the significance of ‘omotenashi’.

International Airport Company having

promote tourism, especially to MENA.

“Japan is known to have one of the

introduced dedicated Muslim services

He concluded: “Surely, the Japanese will

best services in the world. The term

and Narita International Airport also

then be even more sensitive to fulfilling

‘omotenashi’ has been used during the

endeavouring to satisfy the needs of

the special needs and requirements of its

2020 Olympic bid, from the Japanese

these travellers, with ablution areas and

targeted markets. I believe that the level of spoken English will be increased and

delegation. ‘Omotenashi’ is Japanese for

new prayer rooms set to join the existing

For all international visitors to Japan, one of

hospitality, but it has a deeper context.

praying units this summer, as well as

tourists will find more convenience when

the most imperative components in Japan’s

Our team certainly strives to provide this

halal-certified restaurants.

visiting the country."

quest to perfect its tourism model is what the

to our discerning guests,” he divulged.

Japanese would call ‘omotenashi’ which means ‘hospitality’. Describing exclusively to TTG the meaning behind this vital tourism constituent was general

Many cities in Japan now appear to recognise the massive growth of tourism from MENA.

Further underlining the importance of ‘omotenashi’ was managing director - tourism promotion, Kyoto Convention Bureau, Shuhei Akahoshi,

manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, Jens Moesker

who clarified to TTG that the core of

who said: “This ‘omotenashi’ is about promptly

‘omotenashi’ is to care for each guest’s

identifying the needs of each guest and then

acquired taste and feeling, and to

delivering the appropriate service subtly to fulfil

ultimately guarantee satisfaction. “This

manager, tourism exchange division,

inbound tourism market share, Muslim

these needs without the guests having to ask

means not blending but performing as

tourism bureau, Wakayama Prefectural

travellers are to be catered to more

for them. This Japanese-style hospitality also

usual. Just listen and learn and perform

Government, Atsuko Yamakawa, these

specifically in 2014 and beyond as

describes the service style of Shangri-La Hotel,

what guests like,” Akahoshi continued.

initiatives are set to make Muslim visitors

Japan progresses to boost its Muslim-

feel more comfortable travelling through

friendly offerings.

According to public relations

And so it is precisely this ‘omotenashi’ January 2014 18

Claiming a growing slice of Japan’s



Sendai Welcomes combining new Hotel forces Sendai Washington Hotel

all with free WiFi, and

Fujita Kanko has opened a

a restaurant featuring

new hotel in Sendai, adding

local products and Sendai

to the reasonably-priced


modern hotels offered

expanding links to Japan

The hotel also boasts a

by its Washington Hotels

female-guests-only section,


with rooms featuring

Ideally located close to

amenities and décor to

the JR station in the capital

meet women travellers’

city of Miyagi Prefecture in

every need.

the Tohoku region, home to

“Our hotel is an ideal

a further eight hotels under

base for travelling around

the Washington brand,

Tohoku, which has

JATA Tourism Expo Japan Japan Travel and Tourism

Sendai Washington Hotel is

famous hot springs, and

Association (JTTA) and Japan Association of Travel

set to deliver convenience

beautiful ocean, mountains

Agents (JATA) have agreed to integrate Tabi Fair

and comfort to business

and lake regions,” said

Japan, a domestic tourism exhibition hosted by JTTA,

and leisure travellers.

general manager, Sendai

and JATA TABIHAKU Travel Showcase, an international

Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) is

city by 133 per cent with

Washington Hotel, Kazuki

travel exhibition hosted by JATA, to create the annual

gearing up to commence

four additional flights.


JATA Tourism Expo Japan as of 2014.

direct daily flights from

The newly-built property offers 223 guest rooms,

CEB is set to launch the

Manila to Tokyo’s Narita

daily services to Tokyo

chase higher quality, JATA Tourism Expo Japan is set

International Airport as

utilising the airline’s brand-

to provide organisers with the opportunity to better

well as to Nagoya on

new Airbus A320 fleet.

present the country as a tourism nation to attendees

March 30, 2014.

In a move which is expected to expand its scale and

from Japan and overseas.

“We are proud to offer

Once these routes are

more low-fare great-value

launched, CEB will become

options to and from Japan,

events to promote outbound, inbound, and domestic

the first Philippines based

for the benefit of leisure

travel. Upon inauguration, it will be hailed the largest

low-cost carrier to offer

and business travellers, as

comprehensive travel event in Asia, with a large focus

direct flights between

well as overseas Filipino

on the strengths not just of the tourism industry but of

Manila and these two key

workers based there. We

all industries and regions.

Japanese cities.

continue flying to where

The combined event will build on the strengths of both

The confirmed dates for the four-day event, set

The hotel also features a female-guests-only section with specially designed amenities

CEB is set to boost its links with Japan with added flights to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka

CEB also recently

Filipinos are,” commented

to take place at Tokyo Big Sight, are September

started operating to Osaka

vice president, marketing

25 - 28, 2014.

daily, boosting its seat

and distribution,

capacity to the Japanese

Candice Iyog.

Hotel openings Hotels opening across Japan in 2014


• Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills (summer season) • Royal Park – The Haneda (September) • Aman Tokyo (TBA)


• The Ritz-Carlton (February) • Mitsui Garden Hotels (March)


• Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier (March) • Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel (April)


• Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa (July) • Hilton Okinawa Chatan (September) January 2014



patterns of reinvention

The travel industry is not only beginning to accommodate Muslim travellers but is going one step further by realising the potential of the younger, affluent Muslim traveller. Natalie Hami reports on how the industry is attracting this market Director of international public relations, Corinthia Hotels, Fiona Harris [FH] Manager PR incoming, Munich Airport, Corinna Born [CB]

stunning residences are built within the historic Corinthia Hotel towers. They are within walking distance of some of

Marketing communications manager, Mozaic Hotels and Resorts, Carol Lum [CL]

the city’s major shopping districts, including Bond Street.

Director sales and marketing, Swissôtel Métropole Geneva, Sullivan Sananikone [SS]

We believe that these exclusive two-storey penthouse

Managing director, The Sloane Club, Tony Murkett [TM]

hotel suites herald a new era of luxury accommodation for

Founder and CEO, Crescentrating, Fazal Bahardeen [FB]

discerning Middle Eastern and GCC travellers, especially

Contributors With more than 50 per cent of the Muslim population worldwide currently under the age of 25, according to CEO, Crescentrating, Fazal Bahardeen, this market is becoming an increasingly significant demographic of travel consumers. TTG conducted a roundtable discussion with industry stakeholders to find out how they are attracting this lucrative and tech savvy market.

since we also offer an Arabic speaking butler service. TM: The most important thing for the Muslim traveller is service and they expect high standards – which is our priority at The Apartments. I think we have something new to offer not least with the fact that we offer the services of a hotel – such as room service and access to a 24-hour concierge – but with the privacy of a home. CB: Munich Airport offers various services and infrastructure for Muslim traveller of all ages, which also

TTG: With the swift rise of the young, affluent Muslim

FB: In order to cater to the Muslim group travel market, we

meet the demands of the young Muslim travellers such as

traveller, how do you go about reaching out to this

just partnered with Kuoni to develop and market packages

Arabic signage, Arabic information counter, Arabic prayer

burgeoning market?

that are tailormade for this segment. This is a huge step and

rooms and eateries marking the food which contains pork.

will re-define the group travel in this sector. SS: Young Middle Eastern travellers are mainly booking

FH: At Corinthia London we strongly believe that the best way to reach out to this fast growing market is through social media,

TM: Our location, being just steps from Sloane Street,

through the Internet as they want things quickly and easily.

particularly Instagram, which tends to be popular in the GCC

with all the designer shops along with our neighbourhood

We are also planning to offer in-room check-in with the ipad.

market. Maintaining a strong relationship with Arabic media

shopping directory (which contains exclusive discounts and

is also a good way to target Muslim travellers, especially travel

offers), is another advantage and popular with the Arab/

TTG: Are you in touch with any third parties to help

trade and Arabic lifestyle publications.

Muslim visitors we have hosted.

facilitate business from this young, Muslim market?

CL: Mozaic Hotels and Resorts maintain a very close

TTG: The young Muslim traveller is a lucrative, niche

FH: We have appointed AllDetails Middle East, a regional

collaboration with a Muslim consortium, such as Azza Travel,

market with specific desires and demands. How do you go

sales, public relations and communications company based

Gloree and Muhibah Travel, to facilitate business from the

above and beyond to satisfy this unique market?

in Dubai, as our representatives in the GCC. The team at AllDetails Middle East actively promotes our property and its

young Muslim market. We understand the need for friendly support and supplier relationships and it is important for the

FH: Our luxurious penthouses would be the ideal place to

services to travel trade media and agents and

agents to recognise our growth and the future plans in

stay for these young travellers, especially since they usually

handle all media enquiries related to this

the resort.

like to travel in groups. Launched in March 2012, these

particular market.

January 2014 20


Ancient Resilience With a history as old as mankind, Palestine is a cultural icon and is stoically endeavouring to use this to establish itself as a competitive touristic attraction. Panayiotis Markides investigates Possessing irreplaceable and iconic cultural landmarks, Palestine has been a pilgrimage site for centuries, and is also home to many archaeological marvels, such as the Haram al-Sharif, to interest visitors. In a bid to reveal this wealth of historical attractions to travellers, industry stakeholders are working hard to entice a larger market and to open the culturally unique location that is Palestine to the world and to showcase its undiscovered offerings.

Creating a worldwide image Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association (HLITOA) revealed to TTG its strategies and ambition to increase Palestine’s presence on the world map.


President, HLITOA, Sami Abu Dayyeh commented: “HLITOA is working on a five-year tourism strategy. We are collaborating with The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities along with other vital actors in the sector. There are numerous concepts and initiatives within the strategy which are presently under development. We want the strategy to have a vision which is comprehensive yet attainable.”

President, Holy Land Incoming Tour Operators Association (HLITOA) and CEO, Near East Tourist Agency (NET), and owner of the Ambassador and Ritz Hotels in Jerusalem, Sami Abu Dayyeh told TTG that aside from being in the process of constructing new hotels in Jaffa and Tiberias, HLITOA is also developing a Hospitality Hotel College in Jericho jointly with the Arab Hotel Association and other private sector members.

Shepherds Tours & Travel recently began developing new programmes and itineraries to target cultural tourists. Sales and marketing manager, Shepherds Tours & Travel, Sami Khoury said: “The new programmes include many off the beaten track destinations (particularly in the north West Bank area); they incorporate a cultural and fact finding dimension enabling visitors to interact more with the host communities they visit.”

HLITOA aims to attract a diversity of travellers and to promote the tourism sector through active participation in international tourism fairs; road and trade shows regionally and internationally; advertisement and sponsorship; educational trips; and social media.

Alternative benefitS Marketing and communications, Siraj Centre, Yiota Kutulas shared Palestine’s strengths with TTG: “Palestine has more to offer and that is what we are working hard to showcase. We have been offering agro-tourism such as international cycling tours, walking/hiking through the Masar Ibrahim El Khalil - Abraham Path, cultural and fact-finding missions.”

Palestine has more to offer, and that is what we are working hard to showcase.

General manager, Jericho Resort Village, Riad Hamad told TTG: “We are currently building an additional 36 rooms on the main hotel building; in addition we are planning to renovate our existing hotel rooms and all the public areas. All the renovated rooms will have a brand new look with new furniture, fixture and equipment.” The project is due H2 of 2014. Mövenpick Hotel Ramallah has recorded an increase in the number of delegations visiting the hotel over recent months. Communications manager, Mövenpick Hotel Ramallah, Maureen Albin said: “It would appear that the traditional low season during winter is not being repeated in 2013/2014.” Additionally, the hotel has recently launched a sports lounge and bar, located on the ground floor of the hotel. Marketing and communications, Siraj Centre, Yiota Kutulas informed TTG: “We are pursuing new markets - steering away from the traditional pilgrimage tours.” She futher noted that the centre aims to provide a tourism experience where Palestine can present its cultural heritage and beautiful rural areas for guests to visit, while at the same time bringing in real benefits to local communities. American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem has completed a full renovation of the Palm House according to general manager, American Colony Hotel, Thomas Brugnatelli. The Palm House contains 20 rooms and suites.

January 2014



driving contact

olf’s global ascendancy continues on an upward trajectory into 2014 with the game’s reach and popularity hitting fresh markets. “Global projection for tourism in 2014 and beyond looks great as golf is set to be played at the Olympics in 2016; the impact has already begun, especially in Asian countries where, every day, more and more golf markets/packages are being opened for golf tourists to take advantage of,” secretary, National Golf Association of Fiji and manager – golf operations, Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course, Amitesh Chandra explained exclusively to TTG. Also expressing optimism and an expanding horizon for the golf sector in 2014, director of golf, The Address Montgomerie Dubai, Patrick Wynn noted: “Globally golf will continue to grow in regions where the economy is flourishing, and where efforts are made by local governments to promote the game.” Similarly, head golf professional, Stella Di Mare Golf & Country Club, Ain Soukhna, Egypt, Chris Geraghty forecasts an increasingly dynamic year. With this is mind, International Association of Golf Tour Operators has estimated a nine per cent growth in golf tourism in 2013. In light of this escalation,

TTG has set out to discover how this burgeoning niche sector is increasingly being utilised in the incentives slice of the MICE segment.

BREAKING THE ICE “Golf can be used in many ways, whether as an incentive for a team or a corporate social responsibility activity,” group director of sales and marketing, Sutera Harbour Resort, Nicolas Reschke, confirmed to TTG. “However, it can be also used for team buildings or ice breakers by utilising our Golf Academy Borneo,” he continued, adding that parallel to the strengthening golfing market, MICE organisers are making golf a steady component of their itinerary alongside other attractions.

Golfers are becoming more adventurous in their travel options. Echoing Reschke’s views, Wynn said: “We currently hold around 40 corporate golf days per year and numerous coaching clinics for various companies. Yearly, we continue to see more companies using this as medium to reach their clients.” Stella di Mare Golf & Country Club, has also witnessed a rise in its meeting and incentive groups. Geraghty said: “We offer the golf academy to every meeting group before they arrive and it has become very popular.” Furthermore, general manager, Hyatt Regency Oubaai Resort & Spa, Jaco le Roux highlighted the imperative role which this thriving sport plays in the world of business relationships: “Golf is a hugely popular networking tool which can be used in such a way to suit all levels of golfers,” he clarified.

NEW HORIZONS A new breed and demographic of golfers searching for fresh experiences is emerging according to le Roux, who further explicated: “Golfers are becoming more adventurous in their travel options and looking at longer-haul destinations then before.” Fiji is yet another destination with a well-established reputation as a golf hub that is embracing the all skill level incentives market. Chandra told TTG: “Golf

Boasting global popularity, golf represents an important tool to the MICE segment. Stefanie Saghbini highlights how this sport is benefitting business relationships and establishing itself in new markets

tourism in Fiji is an emerging market with limitless potential. A lot of companies organise corporate golf tournaments and/or retreats.” As golf encompasses a more diverse demographic, non-traditional terrains are also becoming prominent. The Middle East has secured a large niche market for golf tourism which, according to sales executive, Yas Links Abu Dhabi, Carly Tjader, has seen some major developments over the past 10 years. “First and foremost, the most obvious trend is golfers’ desire to visit the Middle East for a round of golf. There is something fascinating about lush green courses in the middle of the desert,” she commented. As its popularity and universal appeal grows, tourism professionals worldwide are harnessing golf to drive tourism and to present MICE organisers with an irresistible and inclusive incentive experience.



Eyeing the elite The team at Fairmont Zimbali Lodge & Resort,

cater to all ability level golfers;

led by head – golf professional, Fairmont Zimbali

from complete beginner to

Lodge & Resort, Mario Van Zyl, has embarked

elite tour professionals,” he

on a 24-month project to ultimately develop


Shaping the world of golf HSBC, one of the world’s largest financial

Giles Morgan noted: “The Golf Business

institutions and a major supporter of golf

Forum and Golf Business Community are

of where the property is in the

worldwide, has been announced as the new

a natural fit and extension of our current

world in terms of luxury and

title sponsor of the Golf Business Forum

golf properties and our sponsorship

2016, the world-class practice facility, which

exclusivity, the team will only

which will be staged at The Westin Abu

programme. HSBC continues to open up

is set to be located a mere two minutes away

deal with the highest of quality

Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa from April 28 to

the world of golf and we believe the unique

from the property, will feature an elite training

golf brands.

30, 2014.

platform of the Golf Business Forum and

Zimbali Lakes Golf Resort; a Gary Player designed golf course. Slated to be completed towards the end of

He added that in recognition

academy and swing studio with all the latest

Expected to attract more than 250 golf

the Golf Business Community will play an

coaching technology, according to Van Zyl.

industry delegates from more than 40

important part in developing and shaping

“The purpose of this practice facility is to

countries, the event will be celebrating

the golf industry." In addition, global head – golf, IMG,

attract all elite young golfers (locally and

its 10 edition when it takes place this

internationally) to be based in an all-year-round

year and is expected to see HSBC extend

Guy Kinnings said: “We know that their

perfect golfing climate environment where

its commitment to the golf industry thus

innovative approach and vast experience

the temperature hardly ever drops below 18

building on its 2020 HSBC Vision Report

in the game will add much to this premium

degrees Celsius. This practice facility will also

published in 2012.

event for the golf industry. We are looking


Commenting on the Golf Business Forum, global head – sponsorship, HSBC,

In Cyprus, we boast four 18-hole international golf courses, each uniquely designed by renowned golf architects and legends of golf, and featuring excellent facilities. A fifth golf course is set to begin construction in 2014, and with numerous courses being planned for most regions across the island, Cyprus is set to become a hub for the game of golf. The aim of the Cyprus Golf Strategy is to develop up to 14 golf courses.

forward to working with them in Abu Dhabi and beyond.”

leaders in golf tourism International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) has heralded Dubai Golf as ‘Outstanding Golf Tourism Supplier’ at the IAGTO Awards 2013 recently. Upon receiving the recognition, CEO, Dubai Golf, Christopher May said: “In a year when Emirates Golf Club, the Middle East’s first grass golf course, celebrated its 25th anniversary and its sister course, Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, marked its 20th year, it is fitting that we have also been recognised by IAGTO members for the services to the golf travel industry. The significant and ongoing investments made by Dubai

Golf Tourism Coordinator, Cyprus Tourism Organisation, Maro Kazepi

Golf underline its continued commitment to giving every guest a five-star experience to remember.”

a productive year ahead Sutera Harbour Resort Group director of sales and marketing, Sutera Harbour Resort, Malaysia, Nicolas Reschke has expressed a positive year ahead, with the renovation project of The Magellan Sutera Resort set to be completed soon and a number of hosted events in its 2014 calendar. “The golf and country club will be hosting again the Sabah Masters (Asean Tour Event) by which we have been recently awarded Host Venue of the Year. In addition, will we host the OneAsia Q-School in March 2014,” Reschke commented. “Our team puts a strong focus on regional and national events and golf is a great unique selling point for Sutera Harbour Resort,” he clarified. Moreover, Reschke informed that over the next 12 months, major renovation projects will be taking place across all 27 holes. January 2014



appointed Hawazen Esber as its new CEO. Esber brings with him a wealth of experience in the real estate sector worldwide. Prior to this role, Esber was director, residential, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, where he developed strong leadership and management skills geared towards delivering results at Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

Park Hyatt Jeddah has announced the appointment of a new general manager, Ashwini Kumar. With more than 32 years in the hospitality industry, Kumar started his career in the GCC working with the Oberoi Hotel in Dammam. He then joined Grand Hyatt Dubai and was general manager, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi before his current role.


A new general manager, Hassan Hassanein has been appointed at Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait. Hassanein has over 23 years of international hospitality experience, having held several key roles including general manager, Mövenpick Madinah. Hassanein has also worked for international brands such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood, and InterContinental.

Stefan Gaessler

Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi

The Wave, Muscat, has


Hassan Hassanein

Mövenpick Hotel Kuwait


Ashwini Kumar

Park Hyatt Jeddah

The Wave, Muscat

Hawazen Esber

General manager

Stefan Gaessler has been announced as general manager at Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi. He brings a wealth of knowledge and more than 24 years of experience. In this new role, Gaessler is responsible for establishing the city’s farthest leaning hotel as the preferred choice for both business and leisure travellers alike.

If you have recently been promoted or appointed key staff, please visit our website...

Etihad Airways

Vice president – commercial strategy and planning

Craig Thomas

Vice president – Asia Pacific North and the Indian Subcontinent

Alan Glover

Manager sales - Victoria

Adam Phillips has been

Craig Thomas has been

Alan Glover has been

appointed vice president –

appointed vice president –

appointed as manager

commercial strategy

Asia Pacific North and the

sales – Victoria, where he is

and planning at Etihad

Indian Subcontinent. Thomas

to relocate from Dublin to


will move to Bangkok where

Australia to replace Craig

His new role will see him

he will be responsible for


develop and implement sales

sales in the markets of

In his new role, Glover is to

and distribution strategies

Bangladesh, Belarus, China,

report to country manager

across the global commercial

India, Japan, Kazakhstan,

– Australia, Luisa Pastrello,

division as well as evolving

Korea, Maldives, Nepal,

as well as look after sales in

the methods that Etihad

Pakistan, Russia, Sri Lanka,

Melbourne and across the

Airways uses to sell flights

and Thailand and will report

state of Victoria, and also

and increase ancillary

to vice president - Global

neighbouring states of South


Sales, Danny Barranger.

Australia and Tasmania.

January 2014 24

Rahim Abu Omar

The Gulf Hotel Bahrain

Adam Phillips


Rahim Abu Omar has been appointed general manager for The Gulf Hotel and Gulf Convention Centre. Jordanian national, Abu Omar brings more than 29 years of international hotel management experience having worked in the UAE, the UK and Lebanon. He played an instrumental role in opening five hotels, including Metropolitan and Habtoor Grand in Dubai and Beirut.


SPECIAL AGENT... Managing director, Nawafir Tours, Jordan, Adnan Habab

Nawafir Tours recently updated TTG on its plans for 2014. Habab said: ”Jordan offers many unique and diverse opportunities for individuals and groups, nature, wellness and adventure, religious and cultural tours, as well as incentives and conferences. "For 2014, Nawafir Tours will focus on incentive tours, promoting the historical Hijaz

railway, special desert tours with overnights in luxurious camps, and special interests such as hiking and biking along new paths. Even if a request is unusual, nothing is impossible and thus we realise our clients’ wishes and make sure all the details are taken care of.” Habab also highlighted some top offerings to be had in Jordan such as new spa offerings.

What's trending this month... Rewarding opportunity

Positive change

Gulf Air has announced the start of a ‘Double Miles Promotion’, giving its frequent flyer programme members the chance to earn double miles.

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts is making changes to its travel agent education and loyalty programme: ‘Outrigger Specialist Program’ is being renamed ‘Outrigger Expert Agent’.

January 2014


PICTURE PERFECT Air France To celebrate 30 years of scheduled passenger services to KSA, Air France makes a flight to King Khalid International Airport.

Hilton Abu Dhabi's Hiltonia Beach Club is awarded the

world-renowned Blue Flag accolade in recognition of Hilton Abu Dhabi’s eco-sustainability efforts.

Etihad Airways For the UAE ’s

National Day, Etihad Airways staff gather outside the airline’s headquarters.

Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi

The waterpark announces it has held the world's largest swimming lesson.

Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa

Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority HE Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority formally unveils the 14th edition of the UIM F1H20 World Powerboat Championship.

A one-of-a-kind Dilmun-themed Christmas tree is unveiled.

A visual tour of recent events in the region

January 2014 26

for more news visit:


Media Voice

General Manager PUBLISHING & sales Tony Fields D: +357 24 803001

Leanne Smart Marketing and communications manager, Hilton Abu Dhabi

GENERAL MANAGER eVENTS & COMMUNICATIONS Alexandra North D: +357 24 803071 Media ReporterS Naomi Leach Natalie Hami Panayiotis Markides Stefanie Saghbini DIGITAL CONTENT CREATOR Tatiana Tsierkezou Creative Director TTG MENA Publishing Edward Beales Designer Maggie Bdjian E-Commerce Manager Panayiotis Philippou D: +357 24 803008 E-Commerce executive Constantinos Voniatis Sales Manager Adrian Exley D: +357 24 803004 Account Managers Helen Moss D: +357 24 803074 Inna Armeanu D: +357 24 803013 Kyriacos Kyriacou D: +357 24 803014 Marianne Shokry D: +357 24 803012

Social media is a great channel to build awareness.

It is important to recognise that social media can be as useful for social initiatives as it is for commercial and brand building purposes. In October 2013, we launched a Facebook campaign in a bid to raise awareness and funds for the humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders. We reached out to the online community to showcase the great work of the organisation and donated a dirham for every new like on the Hilton Abu Dhabi Facebook page, to the organisation’s Middle East efforts. Social media is a great channel to raise funds and build awareness for any charity or social initiative.

Monthly Stats

INTERNATIONAL PARTNER MANAGER Elaine Hockley D: +357 24 803011

ñ 80,135 ñ 36,442 ñ 580,386 Average page views ñ 7.2 Average Time ñ 4.1 mins TOTAL VISITS: Returning Visitor Page views

Operations Manager Chris Christou D: +357 24 803003 Chief Financial Officer Costas Miaoulis D: +357 24 803002 Accounts Executive Vasilis Eracleous D: +357 24 803026 CREDIT CONTROL Stala Antoniades D: +357 24 803015

Keeping you up-to-date with all the news...

Headquarters Nietzsche Street, Ria Court 9, 1ST Floor 6028 Larnaca, Cyprus Tel: +357-24 803000 Fax: +357-24 803060 Email: Website: Thailand Representative Public Major Media Ltd, Janya Limmanee Tel: 662 651 9273 Japan Representative Pacific Business Inc, Hiroko Kujime Tel: 81 33661 6138


TTG Worldwide Titles* TTG Asia TTG Balkans TTG China TTG Czech Republic TTG Hungary TTG Italia TTG India TTG Nordic TTG Poland TTG Russia TTG UK & Ireland * For information on these publications, please contact us at:

January 2014


264 january  

January. Destination: Kuwait, Update: Malaysia, On Location: Japan, Spotlight: North Africa, Focus On: Palestine, Awareness: Muslim Travel,...

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