Shivani DDPPL

Ukraine opens visa application centres in Saudi Arabia

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The Embassy of Ukraine has opened two visa application centres in Riyadh and Jeddah to efficiently serve travellers from Ukraine in partnership with VFS Global. In a joint statement, VFS Global and the Embassy said that both the centres have started accepting visa application submissions for processing both short-term and long-term visas to Ukraine. Opening the visa application centre, Head of Consular Section of the Embassy of Ukraine in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, HE Yurii Tereschenko said, “The new visa application centres have been opened in the light of increasing number of travellers to Ukraine from Saudi Arabia. The centres will considerably ease the visa application process providing streamlined service to expatriates from the Kingdom wishing to travel to Ukraine for both tourism and business purposes.” The inauguration of the centre was done in the presence of HE Serhii Pushkarsky, Deputy Head of Mission and Bohdan Kostiuk, Consular Assistant of the Embassy of Ukraine. The opening of the visa application centres follows the VFS Global mandate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. Under the terms of the contract, VFS Global is entrusted with the opening of 10 visa application centres in eight countries across the Middle East, Levant region and South Asia. Commenting on the launch, Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group COO for Middle East, South Asia & China, VFS Global, said, “We are confident that the opening of the Ukraine visa application centre in Saudi Arabia will help catalyse travel to the East European country from the Kingdom.

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Dubai witnesses 41.4% rise in Chinese visitors

Dubai welcomes growing number of Chinese visitors

Dubai has seen a surge of 41.4 per cent in overnight Chinese visitors from 2016 to 2017 combined with a number of key agreements signed with major players in China. Now one of Dubai’s fastest growing source markets, closing the first five months of 2018 with a record 400,547 visitors, this growth is predicted to continue in 2018. Speaking ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE this week, HE Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism, said, “Our approach to engaging Chinese tourists is two-fold, with landmark partnerships, investments and marketing activities undertaken in 48 cities across China, partnered with a city-level China-readiness strategy in Dubai to enhance the experience of Chinese tourists. The introduction of visa-on-arrival for Chinese nationals in 2016, working in conjunction with the increase in air capacity by national carriers from China – currently standing at 30 flights a week, a 13% increase in non-stop seat capacity in 2017- has also contributed to rapid growth.” Earlier this year, Dubai Tourism signed an agreement with Huawei, one of China’s leading smartphone manufacturers, in January which pre-loads devices with both user-generated and official cinematographic content of Dubai.

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Etihad Airways launches WhatsApp service

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Etihad Airways has launched a WhatsApp Business solution, allowing guests to communicate instantly with the airline via the messaging app. The new service, which is the latest element of Etihad Airways’ digital strategy, will provide an enhanced offering to premium guests when they are at Abu Dhabi International Airport, allowing them to chat with the airline’s agents about their flights in a fast, personal, and efficient way. In addition to communicating with customer service agents, the WhatsApp Business solution will be expanded in the future to enable guests to receive important messages like flight reminders by opting into WhatsApp communications on the Etihad Airways booking confirmation page. Robin Kamark, Etihad Airways Chief Commercial Officer, said, “The new WhatsApp Business solution will provide Etihad Airways’ premium guests with immediate contact with the airline, using the very latest technology. Air travellers around the world use WhatsApp in their daily lives and so it is an ideal channel for them to communicate with the airline and receive the latest information about their travel journey.” Etihad Airways offers several real-time channels for guests to contact the airline, including the @EtihadHelp and @EtihadPremium accounts on Twitter, and the airline’s Facebook page. During the initial trial phase, the Etihad Airways WhatsApp number will be exhibited in Premium check-in at Abu Dhabi Airport.

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Emirates adds flights to Paris, Lyon

Emirates in Nice

Emirates has announced that it will introduce two additional flights to Lyon and one to Paris per week, complementing its existing schedule and providing more choice and convenience to travellers. The increase in frequency from five to seven between Lyon and Dubai will see the route become a daily service, while the extra flight to Paris brings to 21 the number of flights per week to the French capital, offering travellers three flights per day. The Lyon flights will start on August 2, 2018, and will operate on a Tuesday and Thursday at the same time as the current flights, which depart Dubai as EK081 at 1435hrs and arrive in Lyon at 1930hrs. The return flight, EK082, leaves Lyon at 2155hrs and arrives in Dubai at 0615hrs the next day. Both flights will be operated by an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER in a three class cabin configuration, with eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 304 spacious seats in Economy Class. The additional Paris flight will start on August 7, 2018, and will operate as the third daily every Tuesday morning. Flight EK071 will depart Dubai at 0405hrs and arrive in Paris at 0925hrs, while the return flight leaves Paris at 1125hrs and arrives back in Dubai at 2000hrs. As with Emirates other flights between Dubai and Paris, the airline’s flagship A380 will be used on the route. It will also have a three class cabin configuration, with 14 privates suites in First Class, 76 lie flat seats in Business Class and 429 seats in Economy Class.

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Rotana inaugurates new global sales offices as part of expansion

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Rotana has announced the inauguration of three new global sales offices in Paris, Milan and Amsterdam. These will complement the company’s existing offices in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Germany, India, Russia, the UAE and the United Kingdom, to help support Rotana’s expansion plans and drive business from these key markets. Declan Hurley, Rotana Corporate Vice President – Sales, declared, “The main responsibilities of these new offices will be to grow our client base, introduce our brands to new clients, promote market, and sell our properties based outside of their physical location. Taking into consideration the huge potential of these markets, which have seen a growth of 16 per cent to our hotels across the Middle East, Rotana has appointed Aviareps as its GSA, owing to their experience, reputation, and presence across Europe. We are pleased with how our relationship has got off the ground and we have compiled a solid sales and marketing plan with a wide range of sales activities to roll out during the remainder of 2018 and throughout 2019. Our plan is to have more offices across key markets within the next 24 months. This is in line with the overall expansion of Rotana properties and our growing market segment.”

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Hala China tourism initiative signs first agreements in Dubai

Hala China Board

The Hala China initiative, jointly launched by Meraas and Dubai Holding earlier this year, has announced the signing of its first strategic agreements at a press conference at Bvlgari Resort Dubai. The event was organised by Meraas, with support from the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai, and also saw the establishment of a new Hala China Board of Directors. Dubai-based Emirates Airline was appointed official carrier for Hala China, with plans to develop attractive packages and privileges for Chinese speakers across its seven routes from China. Payment services company Union Pay will be the preferred payment partner for the initiative, with Bank of China also looking to establish long-term economic relationships through its own range of financial services. Other organisations to join the initiative include Dubai Parks & Resorts, Bank of China, China Everbright Group, Union Pay, China CYTS Tours Holding Co, Hikvision, JollyChic, Mafengwo, Utour Group, DYO Consultants, Zhongteng Tianchuang Information Technology and Sino-Union Reserve Investment. The remit of these partners spans banking, finance, travel, tourism, marketing, technology, e-commerce, education, entertainment, and the environment, and will result in direct investment while creating a seamless visitor experience. With the President of China due to be in the United Arab Emirates later this week, this initiative will further attract Chinese visitors to the United Arab Emirates and further strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

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Emirates unveils new lounge in Cairo airport

New Emirates Lounge

Emirates has opened its new dedicated lounge at Cairo International Airport which is now open to Emirates First Class and Business Class customers as well as Platinum and Gold members of Skywards, the airline’s loyalty programme. Reflecting the airline’s ongoing commitment to Egypt, the Emirates Lounge in Cairo represents a US$ 3.6 million investment to provide premium customers with a seamless and enjoyable journey. Catering to three daily flights, the lounge offers customers even greater levels of comfort, hospitality and convenience as they start their Emirates experience in Cairo. Located at Departure Terminal 2, Level 2, above the secondary security check & Duty Free area, Emirates’ customers can look forward to relaxing, unwinding and enjoying award-winning service and cuisine. The lounge was formally opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Eng. Ahmed Youssef, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board; Mohammed H Mattar, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President – Emirates Airport Services; Thani Al Ansari, Country Manager, Egypt, Emirates. The opening was also attended by Montaser Manaa, Civil Aviation Authority VP and Khaled Abdel Monem, Chairman of Central Air Transport Administration. The interior design in the Emirates Lounge reflects a new contemporary and fresh design. The Lounge offers seating for up to 152 customers, covering an area of 880sq.m. The lounge will provides premium passengers with a relaxing ambiance, luxurious facilities and amenities, LED TVs, comfortable leather armchairs, a choice of formal and relaxed seating, bespoke artwork, and separate male and female prayer rooms.

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Dubai International welcomed over 36 mn passengers in 2018

Dubai airport image

Dubai International (DXB) welcomed 36.9 million passengers during the first five months of 2018, according to the monthly traffic report by Dubai Airports. DXB welcomed a total of 36,943,613 passengers during the first five months of 2018 compared to 36,969,594 passengers recorded during the same period last year, a marginal contraction of 0.1%, largely due to the impact of Ramadan which fell in May this year. Passenger traffic for the past 12 months totalled 88,216,118, up 2.6% compared to 85,974,096 recorded during the corresponding period in 2016-2017. In May, passenger numbers totalled 6,589,264 compared to 6,850,052 recorded during the same month last year, a contraction of 3.8% due to lower volumes traditionally experienced during Ramadan. Average monthly traffic volumes have however remained high in 2018 at 7.4 million passengers. Eastern Europe was the fastest growing region in May with 19.4% growth, thanks to robust growth on routes to Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania and the launch of flydubai’s new services to Krakow in Poland. CIS was the second fastest region (11.3%), followed by Africa (9.9%) – where Nigeria and Egypt recorded strong growth during the month. India was the top destination country with a total of 1,041,258 passengers, followed by Saudi Arabia (495,242), and the UK (429,893), while the top cities for passenger volumes were London with 262,913 passengers, Mumbai (213,056) and Jeddah (179,756). Flight movements during the month under review totalled 32,620 compared to 34,544 during May 2017, a drop of 5.6%. The hub’s efficiency increased as the average number of passengers per flight was 209 during May, up 2% compared to 205 during the same month last year.

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Swiss International Hotels & Resorts and IDS Next sign technology solutions partnership

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Swiss International Hotels & Resorts and IDS Next Business Solutions Pvt have announced that they have entered into a global agreement in which,  IDS Next Business Solutions will provide its hotel ERP technology solutions to Swiss International Hotels & Resorts. With its solid presence in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Swiss International has 15 hotels currently in operation with a healthy pipeline of new hotels under development across these regions. IDS Next’s hotel ERP solution will facilitate in streamlining operations, in managing the distribution and managing the revenues efficiently, while improving both the guests’ and the hotel users’ experiences for the hotel chain. Binu Mathews, the CEO of IDS Next said, “We are delighted to welcome Swiss International to the IDS family. With Swiss International’s experience in hospitality and IDS Next’s rich technology expertise of 30 years, we are confident that we have a winning partnership for both of our organizations. With our presence in the Middle East, Africa and Asia regions, we see the partnership contributing to our growth potential globally.” “We are pleased to enter into the agreement with IDS Next, a company which we have recognized as one of today’s leading hospitality technology provider”, said Mr. Henri Kennedie, the President & CEO of Swiss International. “With IDS Next’s complete and integrated solutions, we are confident of offering superior guests’ experiences and improve the overall operational efficiency for our hotels.”

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DCT Abu Dhabi delegation attends executive summit at Google HQ

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi Attends Executive Summit at Google HQ

A delegation led by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) attended an executive summit recently held at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, USA. The event offered DCT Abu Dhabi and its partners, Etihad Airways, Miral, ADNEC, and Aldar, the opportunity to explore Google’s main campus as well as giving exclusive insight into the tech giant’s work culture, technology, and innovations. As part of DCT Abu Dhabi’s mission to position Abu Dhabi as a thriving tourism destination of distinction, the summit aimed to further coordinate the commercial activity of all attending organisations by reviewing with Google shared best practice and process efficiencies, a joint approach to positioning Abu Dhabi as one of the world’s top destinations. Sessions were organised around the unique working culture at Google, on digital brand building and the variety of Google travel products, as well as trends that are shaping the industry. Google also organised an exclusive presentation by Visit California, as a way of sharing experiences among tourism boards, with particular emphasis on organisational structure, objectives and marketing strategy. The second day of the Executive Summit was dedicated to discussion and interactive sessions on Abu Dhabi’s tourism ecosystem and fostering collaboration between different entities, with the help of Google’s system intelligence and technology. Among a number of agreed action points from the summit was a shared data initiative intended to significantly bolster the tourism ecosystem of the Emirate, as well as further cooperation on consistently presenting the destination brand.

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