Category Archives: Agents

Al-Futtaim Travel opens its new Travel Centre in Dubai

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As part of its efforts to enhance customer experience, Al-Futtaim Travel, has opened its Travel Centre in Dubai. Located next to Al Ghurair Centre in Deira, the new Centre, which is now a multichannel operation, will cater to both corporate and leisure/retail customers and will see the Al-Futtaim company providing services including Corporate travel services, Holidays – Outbound and Inbound, Destination Management services and travel related value-add services under one roof. Commenting on the opening, Biju Antony, Deputy General Manager, Al-Futtaim Travel, said, “We are constantly looking at new and innovative ways to enhance our customer experience and the launch of the new Travel Centre is a big step forward in that direction. The new Centre will provide our corporate and leisure/retail customers with a one-stop-shop for all their travel needs and our expert travel team can develop and deliver globally benchmarked services to meet every requirement.” Alongside the opening of the Travel Centre, Al-Futtaim Travel also launched its enhanced website, alfuttaimtravel.com, where customers can book special deals and holiday packages to thousands of destinations around the world at competitive rates. In addition, Al-Futtaim Travel will also soon launch an e-commerce facility where customers can book their holiday packages and varied travel related services from the comfort of their home.

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Travelport announces new leadership in Americas and EMEA

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Travelport has announced two new leadership for its Agency Commerce teams in the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). In the Americas, Simon Ferguson will become Managing Director, Agency Commerce for the region which spans the United States, Canada, and Latin America. Ferguson takes over from Bret Kidd who will be taking an alternative role within Travelport. Simon will relocate from London, where he currently oversees Travelport’s Northern Europe region and will be based in Atlanta from July 1. Ferguson is a graduate of Sheffield University whose earlier career included leadership positions in travel technology and media before joining Travelport in 2011. In 2017, Travelport’s revenue in the Americas was over $700m. In EMEA, Damian Hickey will take on the role of Managing Director, Agency Commerce following the departure of Rabih Saab earlier this year.  Hickey will take up the role from June 1 and will relocate to Travelport’s Langley, UK base from Singapore, where he currently oversees Travelport’s Air Commerce business in the Asia-Pacific region. Hickey has been at Travelport since 2012 in a number of leadership roles. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and has worked in the travel technology sector for over twenty years. In 2017, Travelport’s revenue in the region exceeded $1bn.

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Amadeus releases ‘Middle East Consumer Travel Report 2018’ at ATM

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 Unveiled at the Arabian Travel Market, the ‘Middle East Consumer Travel Report 2018’ by Amadeus explores searching and planning habits of the region’s travellers in a digital era. The study suggests that the search for value plays a decisive role in how today’s travellers research, compare and book their journeys in this part of the world. The report acknowledges that the Middle East travel market is incredibly diverse when it comes to travel patterns. Cost is cited most often by travellers (50%) as the first consideration when selecting their accommodation — more important than hotel location, classification, or rating. Similarly, almost half of travellers (46%) cite budget as a main factor when choosing flights, more so than airline reputation and even the itinerary. As a result, one in three (33%) travellers today “actively search” for discounts online during the shopping process. While value is a key driver in travel decisions, consumers in the Middle East are open to being influenced when searching for their destination. However, the expectations from traditional travel advisors are changing, most travellers now visit a travel site or agency when they are ready to book, not when they are still planning their trip.

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Travelport reveals fastest-growing international destinations for KSA travellers

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Egypt, UAE and Turkey have seen the greatest growth in flight bookings from travellers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the last 12 months, according to analysis conducted by Travelport. Fastest-growing international destinations for KSA travellers booked through global distribution systems. This data is derived from Travelport’s interpretation of relevant MIDT data. It reflects bookings made in the KSA through GDS only. Additional booking will have been made directly with airlines, which may or may not also have a GDS presence. From April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, bookings made in the KSA through all global distribution systems (GDS) to Egypt increased by nearly 190,000, up 17% on the previous 12 months. Bookings to the UAE rose by over 70,000, up 13%, and to Turkey by just over 65,000, up 31%.  Global distribution systems (GDS) are vast hi-tech reservation networks that allow travel agents, travel management companies, and large corporations, among others, to search and book airline seats, hotel rooms, rental cars, and other travel-related items. Matthew Powell, Travelport’s Managing Director  for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, said, “Growth in flight bookings tends to be driven by increased airline capacity, rises in demand from leisure trave”llers, economic and political advances, which attract more interest in trade and investment, and major construction projects that require large international labour forces. The results we’re seeing here cut across all of these.”

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Tamarind Global expands its base of operations to Dubai

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Tamarind Global has gone international by expanding its presence to Dubai, a huge source market for Indian weddings and events. The company already has a presence in Dubai for its tours vertical. It will now offer a bouquet of event and wedding services to support its domestic and international operations from the Dubai office. Weddings and events will be supported by destination selection, planning and budgeting, guest list and vendor management, hospitality, travel and logistics, décor, F&B, entertainment and fashion consultations for the bride and groom wear. Apart from this, MiCE events will also be supported. A team of two will start the base of operations at the Dubai office. Kunal Rai, Vice President – Events and Weddings, will head the Dubai vertical, “With the launch of our Dubai office, Tamarind now offers its services to a ‘global’ audience. We aim to lead the market by providing an all-inclusive bouquet of services to make each event unique, glamorous and memorable.” Elucidating on the reason for expanding to Dubai, he said, “With the progressive growth of the Middle East as a popular destination, Dubai is the best choice to set up a regional HQ. It will act as a start point that will drive maximum output to penetrate primarily the UAE and Middle East market.”

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Tune Protect inks deal with Jordan’s Pan North Insurance Agency

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Tune Protect recently partnered with Pan North Insurance Agency along with Jordan French Insurance to market travel insurance products in Jordan. The partnership further extends Tune Protect’s reach within the EMEIA region, after establishing itself in Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, India and Iraq. “We are excited with the prospects of our partnership with Pan North Insurance Agency. We are confident that the partnership will further strengthen our position as a leading travel insurance provider in Jordan,” said Arijit Munshi, General Manager, Tune Protect, EMEIA. Pan North Insurance Agency will be managing the marketing of various travel insurance products facilitated by Tune Protect, EMEIA, underwritten by JOFICO, through the online or digital channels managed by Tune Protect. “Jordan, with its rich history and robust tourism sector, is an important market for travel within the region. The innovative travel insurance products and solutions though our partnership with Tune Protect will allow Pan North Insurance Agency to offer more value-added services to the travel community in Jordan to serve the travellers coming into Jordan from anywhere in the world and traveling from Jordan, globally,” said Haya Al-Khalidi, General Manager, Pan North Insurance Agency.

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Abu Dhabi tourism hosts delegates from Thomas Cook India

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As part of the Department of Culture and Tourism–Abu Dhabi’s mandate to promote Abu Dhabi as a world-class destination of distinction, the capital welcomed travel agents from Thomas Cook India as part of a familiarisation trip to highlight key tourism offerings in the emirate. The five-day trip included a wide range of cultural, hospitality, leisure and entertainment activities showcasing Abu Dhabi’s diverse offerings, with a special focus on attracting Indian travellers. In 2017, more than 360,000 Indian hotel guests stayed in the emirate’s 163 hotels and hotel apartments – a year-on-year rise of 11 per cent – making India the second largest international source market for tourists in 2017. This collaborative trip’s main aim was to help boost Indian visitor numbers for this year. Delegates were taken to a variety of key heritage sites including Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Arabian Knight Village, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre and Al Ain Oasis. Hotel site visits were also an integral part of the itinerary. Additionally, the travel agents and tourism delegates were invited to experience leisure and entertainment attractions including day trips to Yas Island, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Mall.

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Salalah Rotana renews deal with European tour operator Itaka

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Salalah Rotana, a five-star hotel in Oman renewed its partnership deal with Polish tour operator Itaka. The deal directly complements the government’s effort in promoting Oman as a destination of choice to travellers. The renewed partnership will see 180 guests arrive weekly to the resort. Hossam Kamal, General Manager, Salalah Rotana Resort, said, “The renewal of our partnership signifies the success of our journey with Itaka. We pride ourselves in the level of service provided by our colleagues and achieving high guest satisfaction. The Sultanate’s appeal in terms of safety, political stability and unique tourism offering continues to be an attraction for travellers to Oman. Piotr Wrzesniewski, Charter Produce Director, Itaka said “Our journey with Salalah Rotana has been a very rewarding one. The resort has been a great holiday destination to our guests with exceptional service. Oman has gained popularity in the Polish market and it is our pleasure to facilitate the movement of our guests to Oman’’.

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Thumbay Group supports Dubai’s goal of 500,000 health tourists by 2020

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The Thumbay Group has vowed to support the goal of securing 500,000 health/medical tourists to Dubai by 2020. This was revealed at the recently-concluded 4th Annual Health & Medical Tourism Conference held at Hotel Hyatt Regency – Dubai Creek Heights and organised by Thumbay Medical Tourism in association with Thumbay Hospital. The conference brought together industry experts from healthcare, travel, medical tourism and medical education sectors. The half-day event highlighted the latest trends and developments in medical tourism and explored ways to boost health tourism the UAE. Speaking at the conference, Dr. Layla Mohamed AlMarzouqi, Director Dubai Health Tourism Council, said that Dubai is well-positioned to achieve its goal of welcoming half a million international patients by 2020, thanks to the support of key players in the private sector like the Thumbay Group, which announced its plans to attract 1,000 tourist per day to its facilities across the UAE. Dubai currently ranks number 1 in the Arab world and 16th globally, based on the 2016 Medical Tourism Index. In 2016, the number of health tourists visiting Dubai reached 326,649, an increase of 9.5 per cent compared to 298,359 the previous year. Top medical and health treatments sought by visitors to the emirate were orthopedics, dermatology, dental, fertility, health and wellness, ophthalmology and aesthetics. Akbar Moideen Thumbay, Vice President of the Healthcare Division of Thumbay Group, reiterated the conglomerate’s commitment to Dubai’s plans of becoming an international hub for health tourism, by adding three new hospitals, five clinics, 15 pharmacies and five diagnostic labs to its existing network.

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Expedia hosts Wanderlust Summit in Dubai

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Expedia Lodging Partner Services (LPS) hosted its Annual Wanderlust Summit in Dubai. Over 300 delegates and partners across Expedia’s network in the Middle East attended the event. The summit was hosted by Johan Svanstrom, President of Hotels.com and Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN), Ait Voncke, Vice President Europe Middle East Africa Market Management and Paula de Keijzer, Senior Director Market Management – Middle East, Africa, Greece and Turkey. Expedia presented the latest technologies to their hotel partners through Expedia Partner Central that allow them to connect to customers. This toolkit of technology, marketing and data offerings is designed to help hotel partners drive knowledge and efficiencies to grow their business through the leveraging of data to optimise revenue. Paula de Keijzer, Senior Director Market Management Middle East, Indian Ocean, Africa, Greece and Turkey at Expedia said, “We are thrilled to host our annual Wanderlust conference in the presence of our Dubai hotels partners. With the sharing and exchange of knowledge we believe we can help our hotel partners better leverage trends and plan to anticipate and respond to travellers’ needs.”

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