Shivani DDPPL

Swiss-Belhotel International expands footprint in GCC

Swiss-Belinn signing

Continuing its expansion in the GCC, Swiss-Belhotel International has entered into a management agreement with Al Salaam International Hotel to operate Swiss-Belinn Muscat in Oman. Expected to open in 2019, the three-star hotel enjoys an outstanding location in Seeb in close proximity to Muscat International Airport. Equipped with 120 standard rooms and 10 varieties of suites, Swiss-Belinn Muscat is being developed to offer its guests a comprehensive range of facilities including an all-day-dining restaurant, flexible meeting and conference venues, gym, Wi-Fi access and 24-hours room service. Given its fantastic location near the airport, the hotel will serve as the perfect abode for transit passengers looking for stop-overs and airline crews as well as corporate travellers on a short visit to Oman or those facing unexpected flight halts.

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Cruise Arabia & Abu Dhabi tourism participate at Seatrade Cruise Global in Florida

Cruise Arabia and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi Lead Delegation Participating in SeaTrade Cruise Global in Florida, USA 3

Cruise Arabia, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), spearheaded the Abu Dhabi delegation that recently participated at Seatrade Cruise Global in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Abu Dhabi’s participation in this international event is just one in a series of initiatives aimed at further promoting the cruise tourism sector in the Arabian Gulf and positioning Abu Dhabi as the leading cruise destination in the lead up to the 2018-19 cruise season. The Abu Dhabi delegation included Abu Dhabi Ports, Etihad Airways and the General Directorate of Residence and Foreigners Affairs – Abu Dhabi. Seatrade Cruise Global is the leading annual global business-to-business event for the cruise industry. Bringing together buyers and suppliers for a four-day conference and three-day exhibition, the forum draws more than 11,000 registered attendees, over 700 exhibiting companies from 113 countries and more than 300 international journalists to become the cruise industry’s epicentre of ideas, products and services.

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Emirates unveils new spacious Business Class seats

B777 Business Class 2-2-2 Configuration Seats (640x556)

Emirates has unveiled a brand new Business Class cabin and configuration on its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, with new wider seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration for the first time. The airline has invested over US$150 million to refurbish the 10 existing 777-200LR aircraft in its fleet. The newly refurbished Emirates 777-200LR aircraft is set in a two-class configuration which offers 38 Business Class seats and 264 seats in Economy Class.  While the Business Class seats are in the same design and shape of Emirates’ latest lie-flat seats, they are now two inches wider for a more comfortable journey. The seats retain the champagne coloured finish and diamond stitch pattern on the full leather cover, and the ergonomically designed headrest revealed on Emirates’ newest Boeing 777 in November. The Business Class seat has a pitch of 72 inches and moves into a fully flat sleeping position.  It also has touchscreen controls for the seat and inflight entertainment system, several personal lighting options, privacy panels between seats, a shoe stowage area, footrest and a personal mini-bar. Luxury and comfort are at the heart of Emirates’ product refresh as overhead bins in centre of the cabin have been removed for an airier and more spacious feel on board. The cabin boasts electronic windows and the largest personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens in Business Class at 23 inches wide. The cabin also features the Ghaf tree – considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and now a signature design on the latest Emirates aircraft.

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Al Marjan Island showcases investment opportunities in Berlin

Al Marjan Island - Ras Al Khaimah

Al Marjan Island showcased investment opportunities within the flagship development owned by the Ras Al Khaimah Government and in the Emirate at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, held from March 5 to 7, 2018. This further builds on the record growth in tourist arrivals to Ras Al Khaimah in 2017, with the number of tourists gaining 19 per cent over 2016. According to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Germany, Russia, the UK and India were the top international source markets. Hotel occupancy also recorded growth to 73.6 per cent with the average length of stay increasing by 2.71 per cent to 3.41 days. Al Marjan Island is a Patron of the premier hotel industry event to be attended by over 2,000 senior hospitality investors and professionals from over 80 countries, and will highlight the remarkable evolution of the master-planned destination that will feature beachside resorts, branded and non-branded residences and leisure attractions. The development pipeline and the long-term expansion plans for the destination will be presented to underline the investment opportunities offered for the hotel industry within the development. At Al Marjan Island, international investors can purchase land plots with development rights. The infrastructure for the land is already developed under a plug-and-play model. Most of the plots are designated for residential units, boutique hotels, resort hotels, community facilities and retail.

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Hahn Air expands benefits for Travel Agency partners

HAHN AIR

Hahn Air has launched additional benefits for registered travel agents, including VIP flights aboard Hahn Air’s aircraft and discounts on courses provided by the Hahn Air Business School. With its global infrastructure of connections to all major Global Distribution Systems (GDS) and memberships in almost all Billing and Settlement Plans (BSPs), Hahn Air enables more than 100,000 travel agents worldwide to issue the services of over 350 air, rail and shuttle partners on its HR-169 ticket. Besides these ticketing solutions, Hahn Air also offers a growing list of services that simplify travel agents’ daily business life, ranging from generally accessible to registered agents only. Following a one-time registration on Hahn Air’s corporate website, travel agents from over 190 markets can take advantage of the exclusive list of services. The services have now been extended to include a VIP-journey from Dusseldorf to Luxembourg aboard one of Hahn Air Lines bizjet aircrafts at 50% of the official Product Experience Programme (PEP) rate.

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SCTDA to showcase Sharjah’s top tourist initiatives at ITB Berlin

HE Khalid Jasim Midfa

The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) is all set to showcase Sharjah’s latest major tourism projects and infrastructure developments during its 21st participation at ITB Berlin 2018, to be held from March 7 to 11. H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, SCTDA, who will attend the five-day event, is set to lead the delegation. High-level representatives from 12 government and private organisations will also join the SCTDA team to put the spotlight on their world-class tourism and cultural services and initiatives. The participating government institutions will consist of Knowledge without Borders, Expo Centre Sharjah, The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), The Sharjah Museums Authority and Sharjah International Airport. The private companies will comprise Oceanic Khorfakkan Resort & Spa, Ramada Hotel & Suites Sharjah, Radisson Blu Resort, Sharjah, Sharjah Airport Travel Agency,  Al Rais Tours & Holidays, and Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa. H.E. Al Midfa said, “ITB Berlin is a strategic opportunity for us at SCTDA to put Sharjah on the international tourism and business maps in line with the government’s economic development agenda. Germany and other major European nations are important markets for Sharjah. As such, we consistently roll out relevant initiatives catering to European visitors to further strengthen our relations as well as form new mutually beneficial agreements.”

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Amadeus creates NDC-X programme to drive industry innovation

Gianni Pisanello

Amadeus has announced the creation of a dedicated programme to drive the industrialisation of New Distribution Capability (NDC) and ensure its success for all travel players. Created by IATA, NDC is an XML-based data transmission standard that holds huge promise for the travel industry, and will enable travel companies – from airlines to travel agencies – to evolve travel distribution and merchandising. The NDC-X programme will bring together experts from across Amadeus’ business to focus on practical use cases of the standard; adopting a test and learn approach to deliver improved capabilities for the industry. Gianni Pisanello, who has held a variety of leadership roles within Amadeus’ airlines business, will lead the new NDC-X programme. The aim is to create better journeys for travellers through the best use of technology, and this transversal program will work with the travel seller and airlines to deliver just that. In terms of commercial possibilities, a recent study by Phocuswright revealed that total gross bookings in the Middle East for air, hotel, car and tour services totaled $74 billion last year, with an estimated annual growth rate of eight per cent between now and 2020.

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Bahrain Tourism conducts training programme for tour guides

UNWTO Group Pic

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) announced its cooperation with the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations (WTFGA) to host a training programme for ‘tourism guides’ organised in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO). The six week programme, held across two phases, will be entitled ‘tour guiding principles’. The preparatory course will provide the necessary training and practical guidance skills for about 100 participants. The course also targets those who wish to improve their practical skills. Themed on “Train the Trainer,” the second phase of the programme will target 12 participants. It will focus on training the mentors to become trainers or trainers who wish to enhance their training skills and gain accreditation from the World Tourism Organisation. The training course aims to develop common standards for capacity building and guidelines, in addition to enhancing the experience of tourists by facilitating access to cultural and historical sites, develop specific tourism products and services, and prolong the stay of visitors in the Kingdom. “The Authority has always sought to develop its human capital and sharpen their skills, which stems from its belief in their vital role in the progress and development of the tourism sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Providing services to visitors and meeting their needs is important to enhance their tourism experience,” said Hesham Al Saken, Director of Facilities and Tourism Services, BTEA.

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Jumeirah to operate Al Wathba Desert Resort in Abu Dhabi

Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort

Global luxury hospitality company Jumeirah has signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi United Hospitality LLC to develop Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort in Abu Dhabi. Expected to welcome guests from September 2018, Al Wathba Desert Resort will be developed by Abu Dhabi United Hospitality and operated by Jumeirah. A luxurious, quintessential Arabian-style hotel set in the desert, 50 km to the south east of Abu Dhabi in the Al Wathba District, Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort will be a key addition to Abu Dhabi’s and UAE’s luxury hospitality offering. Spread over an area of more than 20,000 metres square, it will comprise 90 hotel rooms and 13 villas, with complementary premium facilities including all-day-dining, pool and rooftop bars, Talise spa and an offsite desert camp along with other leisure options as well as conference and meeting facilities. Marc Dardenne, Chief Operating Officer, Jumeirah, said: “Growing the Jumeirah portfolio is one of our strategic priorities. Jumeirah Al Wathba Desert Resort will be the 12th luxury Jumeirah hotel in the UAE and this project offers Jumeirah an opportunity to showcase our Arabian hospitality. We are confident the resort will be an outstanding destination and will further boost tourism in the emirate.”

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Rehlat partners with Sabre for online business growth

Rehlat and Sabre executives

Rehlat, an online travel agency, has renewed a long-term agreement with Sabre Corporation to continue using its technology to power its online platform, Rehlat.com. For the past two years, Rehlat has been using Sabre’s technology and travel management services to help increase its online conversion performance, grow revenue, improve customer satisfaction levels and personalise its services offered to customers. “We have witnessed strong double-digit growth since we launched in 2015,” said Bader Al Bader, President and Founder, Rehlat. “Sabre’s global expertise in online travel, impressive dedication and cutting-edge technology have enabled us to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace and tap into the growth of the online travel industry. We have also used Sabre’s APIs to roll out new capabilities in mobile to meet the growing expectations of our tech-savvy travellers.” “Consumer behaviour is rapidly changing in the region, and this is fuelled by personal technology that is faster and more accessible,” said Raymond Vrijenhoek, Vice President, Sabre Travel Network Middle East. “Online travel agencies have been quick to respond to this, using the latest web service and API technology to give travellers what they want – the right product at the right time and in the right context. Rehlat shares our passion and trust that technology can simplify the complexity of today’s travel.”  

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