Shivani DDPPL

83 hotel projects in UAE to open in 2018

Issam Kazim, CEO, DCTCM at The Hotel Show's The Middle East Hospitality Leadership Forum 2017

According to the latest Middle East and Africa Hotel Construction report by Top Hotels Projects, commissioned by The Hotel Show Dubai 2017, the UAE has been identified as the busiest country for hotel construction in the Middle East and Africa and 83 hotel projects are set to open next year. The region currently has more than 200 hotel projects in the pipeline, with Dubai (164 projects), Abu Dhabi (25 projects) and Ras Al Khaimah (12 projects) seen as the busiest areas for hotel construction in the UAE. Some of the most anticipated hotel openings include Dubai’s Rosemont Hotel and Residences, Curio Collection by Hilton (730 rooms) and Fairmont Abu Dhabi Marina Hotel & Residences (812 rooms).

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1st Outbound Travel Bazaar in Abu Dhabi

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The first Outbound Travel Bazaar was held in Abu Dhabi at InterContinental Hotel on September 21, 2017. The brainchild of travel expert Mario Anthony, Proprietor, Luxury Connections, the event saw participation from buyers hailing from Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The Ambassador of Finland stated that this was the first time that Finland was promoting the destination for MICE sector and that they were able to have many buyers with genuine inquiries as the destination is currently an emerging market for the UAE. The show started off with an interactive session with two experts in the field of travel followed by B2B sessions. The B2B meetings were a closed door event and allowed ample time for both buyers and sellers to connect.

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45% increase in number of meetings conducted at ITE HCMC 2017

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The International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC), the Greater Mekong subregion’s international travel event, concluded its 13th annual event in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A total of 5,282 meetings were conducted between the buyers and sellers during the three-day event, a 45 per cent increase from last year, reaffirming the importance of the event as the key bridge in the tourism industry for both inbound and outbound markets in Vietnam and the region. Endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, Vietnam, and the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, the event was organised by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, Informa Exhibitions, and the Vietnam Trade Fair & Advertising Joint Stock. ITE HCMC 2017 continued to be the leading travel trade event for the international and local travel businesses, creating unparalleled networking opportunities for them to keep up with the travel trends and establish connections with new business partners, further boosting the tourism potential of the country and the ASEAN region. ITE HCMC 2017 showcased the strong participation of 300 international and local travel companies, including international promotion agencies from Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

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65% increase in Abu Dhabi Airports’ operating profit from Jan-Aug

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Abu Dhabi Airports has achieved 65 per cent increase in earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation (EBIDA)/ operating profit during the January-August period this year compared to the same period in 2016. This was announced after the company’s executive team weekly meeting that took place at Al Ain International Airport last week, led by Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, Acting CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports. The company grew its operating revenue by 26 per cent, which impacted the 65 per cent EBIDA increase for 2017. One of the key contributors to this increase is the passenger facilitation charge introduced in July 2016. Previously, UAE airports were some of the few around the world that didn’t implement transfer passenger fees. In response to market change, the government approved the charges and hence these were implemented across all airports in the second half of 2016. Abu Dhabi Duty Free and Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone were other key contributors to the revenue increase through the growth trend registered in passenger spend, and the addition of new retailers and concessionaires, as well as the increase in property and space rentals across Abu Dhabi Airports. On this achievement, Abdul Majeed Al Khoori commented, “We are very proud of our performance this year. Abu Dhabi Airports’ mission and goals revolve around a highly effective and efficient management of resources and manpower to maintain positive trend in profit growth. Supported by planning a smart and versatile strategy, we were able to turn challenges into opportunities and register record achievements in all aspects of our business.”

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GCAA to develop next-gen air traffic management system in UAE

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General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in collaboration with Spanish company Indra Sistemas (Indra) will develop a new air traffic management system for Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre. The new system will enhance and modernise its capabilities in order to cater for the growth of the air traffic management sector in the country. The Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Center provides air traffic control services to more than 2,500 air traffic movements per day. The new system which has been characterized as a “Next Generation Air Traffic Management System”, will be one of the most advanced systems in the world. It’s specifications and functions are being applied for the first time in the world, ahead of the timelines set forth by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to meet the Aviation System Block Upgrade modules as identified in the Global Air Navigation Plan. Once implemented, which is expected to be completed in mid-2020, the project will be a strong pillar of the country’s infrastructure and will represent a significant contribution to the advancement of the aviation sector and the country’s economy for the next 20 years. The system will include functions to support and enhance safety and efficiency, with a clear focus on the automation of many processes. It will also include the potential to enhance airport operations and will be environmentally friendly.  The system will help to save fuel and create an eco-friendly aviation system in the county through the exchange of flight information from pre-departure phase until the arrival gate at the destination airport. His Excellency Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, the Director General of the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE, said, “We believe in continuous and sustainable investment in …

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Etihad first to offer automated credit card payments

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Etihad Airways is the first airline in the region to offer fully-automated credit card installment plans in partnership with PayFort, an online payment service provider in the Arab region. The initiative allows Etihad Airways to offer consumers who book directly via Etihad.com that range from three to 60 months. 17 of the region’s leading banks are taking part in the programme. Justin Warby, Vice President Digital Strategy and Innovation, Etihad Airways, said: “Etihad is committed to continually enhancing the travel experience by providing greater choice and flexibility to our guests while ensuring we make it as easy and secure as possible to transact through our direct channels, including Etihad.com. By partnering with PayFort we’re able to offer fully automated, best in class technology solutions provided by the industry leaders. We’re taking a global outlook and bringing best practice to the region. ” With over 20 payment methods available on its website, Etihad Airways offers diverse payment solutions to meet both global and local needs. Warby said this initiative was designed to assist low to medium income travellers and families by empowering them with the ability to book travel without the burden of having to pay for it up front. Etihad Airways created its specialised Digital Transformation & Innovation team as an in-house research, development solution delivery programme to lead the airline’s digital transformation. Its mission is to turn Etihad Airways into the industry’s leading, integrated airline capable of harnessing emerging technologies and capabilities, big data and innovation to create a product and service offering unique to the individual passenger.

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Flydubai to operate 40 flights a week to Russia in winter

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flydubai will double its operations to Russia for the upcoming winter season. From the end of October, flydubai will operate 40 weekly flights to 10 points in Russia. This year the airline will add Makhachkala, Voronezh and Ufa to its existing network in the country that includes Kazan, Krasnodar, Mineralnye Vody, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and Yekaterinburg. Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President Commercial (UAE, EU, ME, CIS), flydubai, said, “We are pleased to increase our services to Russia as Dubai increases in popularity among Russian travellers. Since 2010, flydubai has been committed to connecting previously underserved points in Russia with Dubai. With three more routes and our additional flights, we look forward to offering tourists from Russia more choice and flexibility when travelling to Dubai.” The airline presented its seasonal offering at the Leisure 2017 Exhibition that opened in Moscow where it is participating for the third time in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). This year, the UAE has seen a growing demand from Russia after changes to visa requirements enabled passengers to get a free 30-day visa on arrival to the country. Travel from Russia to Dubai grew by 97 per cent in the first six months of 2017, according to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). flydubai operates flights to 97 destinations in 44 countries, including popular routes among Russian travellers, such as Dubai (UAE), Bangkok (Thailand), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Zanzibar (Tanzania). Passengers can also benefit from flydubai’s interline agreements with other carriers, providing opportunities for onward travel to more than 200 destinations.

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The Bürgenstock Hotel opens its doors to ME guests

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Luxury Swiss hotel, part of Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, is looking forward to welcoming first Middle East guests to the new five-star luxury Bürgenstock Hotel, in Switzerland, as it opened its doors. The newly-built hotel, with its modern architecture and contemporary design, boasts 102 rooms and suites and is sure to prove popular with travellers from the Middle East, with a particular emphasis on stunning luxury. In Switzerland, tourism from Gulf countries represents US$ 430 million.Amenities at the stunning hotel include the Spices Kitchen & Terrace, Bürgenstock Terrace, Lakeview Bar & Lounge, Lakeview Ballroom, Cigar Lounge, cinema and private dining and Sky Boutique. Further surrounding buildings inaugurated include the Grand Residence Suites, Panorama Residence Suites, Diamond Domes (event and tennis) and an outdoor tennis court. Bruno H. Schöpfer, Managing Director, Bürgenstock Selection, says, “We are delighted to welcome our first guests to the Bürgenstock Hotel. The hotel is perfect for travellers from the Middle East, with luxury at the very heart of everything we offer.”

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‘Dubai Expert’ training programme now in 12 languages & 40 countries

Issam Kazim

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), has launched its “Dubai Expert” online training initiative for travel agents in 12 languages and 40 countries, taking this innovative game to a wider travel trade audience internationally, as part of efforts to highlight the multiple experiences that await visitors to Dubai across leisure, shopping, cuisine, culture, family entertainment, and more. The development and roll-out of the Dubai Expert initiative was managed by the Dubai College of Tourism (DCT), an institution of Dubai Tourism. The tool features an engaging interface that includes information on Dubai’s tourism attractions, allowing travel agents to develop their skills and keep up to date with the latest tourism developments in Dubai. The training platform also helps agents to provide potential tourists with customised and unique experiences. ‘Dubai Expert’ was introduced in English during this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in April, attracting an overwhelming response from travel agents. Following the positive feedback shown by travel companies around the world, Dubai Tourism developed the tool in a further 11 languages – French, Mandarin, Russian, German, Italian, Bahasa, Korean, Japanese, Polish, Czech, and Spanish – and launched it in 40 countries alongside the English version. Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said, “Dubai Expert was developed to assist the international travel trade in keeping up to date with all the destination updates in Dubai and ensure that all travel agents and tour operators have a sound knowledge of the emirate that they are trying to promote. Dubai Expert is also part of our continued investment in new technology and facilities that could help boost tourist arrivals in line with our strategic goal of …

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VFS Global to handle Italian visa application in Kuwait

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With an aim to bring greater efficiency in visa processing services for residents of Kuwait, the Embassy of Italy in the State of Kuwait has signed a contract with VFS Global to launch a proficiently managed and modern Italy Visa Application Centre in the city. VFS Global recently won the four-year contract after participating in an official tender published by the Embassy of Italy, Kuwait earlier this year. The contract was officially signed by H. E. Mr. Giuseppe Scognamiglio, Ambassador of Italy to the State of Kuwait, and Vinay Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer, Middle East & South Asia, VFS Global, at a signing ceremony held at the Embassy of Italy in Kuwait, on September 6, 2017. Also present at the signing was Patrizio Dell’Arte, Head of the Consular Office of Italy in the State of Kuwait and Marita Bachhav, Head of Operations – GCC, Lebanon, Jordan & Iraq, VFS Global. The new centre, scheduled to launch in November 2017 will be located at Level 54, Arraya Tower, Al Shuhada Street, Sharq, Kuwait, and will allow travellers to Italy from Kuwait submit visa applications and enrol biometrics in a comfortable, convenient and professionally managed environment. At the centre, in addition to their visa application process, applicants will also have access to a dedicated tourism space, which will offer tourism information on a range of hand-picked tours in Italy.

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