Category Archives: NTO (National Tourist Offices)

Saudi Arabia to invest $1.6 billion in MICE industry

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Saudi Arabia aims to become the main destination for conferences and exhibitions in the Middle East by 2020. The Kingdom has announced ambitious plans to invest USD1.6 billion in its MICE tourism industry for the coming years to 2019, and several centres and venues will benefit from this financial boost. Backed by a growing number of modern facilities and government support, Makkah is set to become a new destination for the MICE tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, according to industry experts.  Traditionally seen as a site for religious travel, Makkah today is attracting a growing number of local companies and government authorities looking to combine their meeting and training requirements with Umrah pilgrimage. Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar, the first Conrad property opened by Hilton in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, has seen its MICE business grow steadily, driven by demand from pharmaceutical companies and government entities that tend to conduct their board and annual meetings, as well as training and development programs, over weekends in the Holy City. “There are several factors that contribute to the development of MICE tourism in Makkah, one of which is the growing supply of modern venues from new hotels that are opening in the market, equipped with the latest technology,” said Ismail Sirry, general manager of Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar. “Other factors include the improving infrastructure, companies’ desire to hold their meetings and trainings in nearby locations, and continuous government support.”  

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Bahrain launches new identity “Island Wedding”

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The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) has launched its new wedding identity “Island Wedding”. The new identity aims to promote the Kingdom of Bahrain as a wedding destination making the Kingdom, the first country in the Gulf region, to launch a dedicated platform focused on showcasing its offerings to the international community. Commenting on the launch, BTEA Advisor, Dr. Ali Follad: “The launch of the identity “Island Wedding” comes in line with the authority’s effort in promoting the Kingdom as a wedding destination aimed at attracting couples to host their wedding in the Kingdom. We have a robust hospitality sector that is appealing to many couples looking for a destination wedding.” The identity was designed carefully by a group of international experts from the wedding sector in order to showcase the Kingdom’s main offering as a wedding destination. The main aim is to offer newlyweds a variety of options in terms of hosting unforgettable celebrations and spending their honeymoon at the best hotels and resorts in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The logo was inspired by an engagement ring and the lines on the diamond portrayed in the logo represent the services and products offered by the Kingdom. A dedicated website along with social media channels was also launched. The BTEA is taking part in Jewelry Arabic and their features 14 participants representing various five-star hotels and wedding planners in order to deliver exceptional and integrated experience for couples looking to host a wedding in Bahrain. Some of the participating wedding planners include Lala Bella, IQ Art, Jandal Group, and Leaves. As for the participating hotels are ART Rotana, Amwaj Islands, Gulf Hotel, Crown Plaza, Sofitel Bahrain, Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, Al …

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UAE launches ‘Be Happy’ – Visit UAE’ App

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The UAE Ministry of Economy (MoE) has launched the first phase of its ‘Be Happy – Visit UAE’ application as part of its featured initiatives for UAE Innovation Week 2016 at the Tourism Innovation and Transformation Forum 2016 organised by the Ministry and held on November 23, 2016, at the Westin Hotel in Dubai. The application is the first of its kind in the UAE and was developed to measure the satisfaction of visitors and tourists during their stay. Its interactive features enable users to indicate their satisfaction and happiness depending on their location. The tool was developed using the latest Internet Bot technology. It provides visitors with an overview of touristic sights and updates on the features, services and purposes of the touristic sector. Additional interesting information on the UAE are provided as well. The application facilitates live chats and interactive discussions for visitors to express their needs and introduces touristic services and products that can meet users’ requirements. The application’s user-friendly interactive platform features an avatar of an Emirati character, designed to represent the Bot character which assists the tourist. Through the app, users can explore the country’s various touristic destinations and locate important sights, accommodations, hotels and restaurants aside from accessing information on the weather and touristic events across the UAE. H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy, explained that the launch of the app forms part of the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to integrate innovation into the country’s various vital sectors, particularly tourism which he said promotes sustainable growth and competitiveness. He added that such initiatives advance the Ministry’s vision of building a diversified and knowledge-based economy empowered by innovation and new technology. …

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UAE National Day tickets for Dubai Parks and Resorts

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Dubai Parks and Resorts announced that every year it will celebrate UAE National Day with a limited number of tickets priced equivalent to the anniversary year.  This year, Dubai Parks and Resorts will celebrate the 45th UAE National Day with 4,500 tickets for 45 AED per person per park from (1st December – 3rd December) at LEGOLAND® Dubai and Bollywood Parks™ Dubai. As the largest integrated theme park destination in the region, Dubai Parks and Resorts is a destination that the UAE can be proud of and it is only fitting to mark UAE National Day annually in a truly memorable way. The #DPRNationalPride tickets will go on sale at www.dubaiparksandresorts.com from November 26th and a limited number will also be available over the National Day Weekend (1st December – 3rd December) at the park gates. Families looking to celebrate National Day together at the destination are encouraged to go online or to the parks early to avoid disappointment.  Guests can visit either LEGOLAND® Dubai or Bollywood Parks™ Dubai and enjoy over 76 interactive rides, shows, attractions and experiences, many of which have never been seen anywhere else in the world before.  Some of the many highlights include MINILAND in LEGOLAND® Dubai where families can admire UAE landmarks made from 20 million LEGO® bricks and, in the world’s first Bollywood theme park, see big screen Bollywood movies brought to life via cinematic rides and thrilling 3D and 4D simulations. Guests will also be able to visit Riverland™ Dubai, a unique themed retail and dining destination at the heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts that is free for all to enjoy.  Riverland™ Dubai will be fully dressed for the UAE National …

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Dubai tourism at UAE Innovation Week

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Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) highlighted its new initiatives aimed at further enhancing the overall visitor experience and boosting green tourism practices, as part of the activities that are being held during UAE Innovation Week from November 20-26. Dubai Tourism has set up an exhibition stand at BOXPARK, the offbeat outdoor destination by Meraas that is showcasing a new version of the Dubai Calendar App, two exciting concepts developed under the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Initiative, and information on the Dubai Expert training programme. The annual UAE Innovation Week was launched in 2015 by His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai to help create and sustain a culture of innovation in the UAE and help position the country as a global hub for innovation. Dubai Tourism is one of the government entities that are organising activities to celebrate Innovation Week in each emirate. Open daily from 3-9pm, the free-to-attend outdoor exhibition at BOXPARK features an upgraded Dubai Calendar App, a digital smart hub that is being displayed on an interactive screen designed as a mobile phone frame and offering visitors the opportunity to view all upcoming events in Dubai, buy tickets and make seat reservations through just one click. There are also video screens on site, highlighting Dubai Calendar activities. Visitors to the Dubai Tourism stand at BOXPARK can also learn about the Hospitality Sustainability Board Game and the Carbon Calculator, two concepts developed under the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Initiative. Workshops will be held daily during the exhibition to allow representatives from the hotel industry to play the Board Game, an educational tool that was created …

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Rosoom e-payment platform for Global Village ticket sales

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Dubai Trade, the single window for cross-border trade and smart trading solutions, is integrating the “Rosoom” e-payment gateway with the Global Village website. The agreement gives visitors the convenience of buying tickets online through the Global Village website www.globalvillage.ae or its mobile application. During the 159 days of its 20th edition, Global Village received 5.3 million visitors. With the new service, this year’s visitors will no longer need to wait in long queues at ticket booths before sampling the shopping and entertainment experience available at Global Village. They have a wide range of payment options to choose from including credit cards, direct debit by linking to the online internet banking portals of major banks, and pre-payment tools such as the e-dirham.

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Bollywood Parks opens in Dubai on Nov 17

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World’s first Bollywood inspired theme park opened its doors at Dubai Parks and Resorts. Bollywood Parks Dubai is a first-of-its-kind theme park that showcases rides and attractions based on some of Bollywood’s biggest blockbusters. The park opened with a ceremony that included various live entertainment shows performed by the talented Bollywood artists and dancers. Bollywood Parks Dubai will recreate the Bollywood experience through themed attractions and rides spread across five zones: Bollywood Boulevard, Mumbai Chowk, Rustic Ravine, Royal Plaza and Bollywood Film Studios. Visitors will experience bold action, colourful story-telling and captivating dance sequences inspired by nine popular films: Rock On!!, Don, Lagaan, Sholay, Dabangg, Mughal-e-Azam, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, RA.One and Krrish. Bollywood Parks Dubai’s flagship offering is the 850-seater Rajmahal Theatre that will be home to a separately ticketed Broadway-style, Bollywood -themed show. During the day, the park will have up to 20 live shows across five stages: Rock On!!, Crossroads, Mumbai Express, Rangmanch and Stars on Steps. The park will also offer six themed restaurants that capture India’s mouth-watering culinary offerings and eight retail outlets stocking quintessential filmy fare.

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Ras Al Khaimah’s inaugural investment forum from Dec 13-14

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Ras Al Khaimah Finance & Investment Forum (RAKFIF), the new platform for uncovering business investment opportunities and set-up in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), is gearing up for a successful first edition. Taking place from December 13-14, 2016, at the Rixos Bab Al Bahr in Ras Al Khaimah, [UAE], RAKFIF is already attracting huge interest in line with the growing demand for events like this in the region, which focus on markets with high growth rates such as RAK. Aiming to help business leaders, financiers, and investors navigate this developing landscape, the inaugural event Ras Al Khaimah Finance & Investment Forum provides a platform for information, networking and commercial opportunities. The forum will cover Hospitality & Tourism, Real Estate, Manufacturing & Production and Infrastructure sectors. RAKFIF, hosted under the patronage and with the presence of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, is backed by strong government support and key RAK entities.

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Cultural Tourism Middle East 2016 to boost tourism

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In partnership with Architectural Heritage Society and IQPC the Cultural Tourism Middle East 2016 was held at Al Murooj Rotana. This brought together high level officials from the Tourism, Cultural Development & Antiquities, Heritage & Arts, Cultural Activities, and Architectural Heritage community to showcase their latest developments and discuss ideas and strategies to boost tourism through culture, heritage, arts and festivals. In the opening remarks by Yousuf Lootah, Executive Director, Dubai Tourism Development and Investments, stated that many initiatives are underway to establish Dubai as a cultural hub with the opening of the Dubai Opera and other culturally important and interesting programmes. In order to build towards making Dubai a cultural hub currently steps are being taken by Dubai Tourism to focus on sustainable tourism. Some of the key areas covered at the event included how the region is setting a foundation to support the expected doubling of tourist arrivals over the next few years in light of the economic downturn, The role cultural tourism play in economic  transformation in a mission to diversify economy, the needs to boost cultural and societal awareness, how the region could make use of their cultural assets to improve their tourism performance, and how  cultural tourism strengthens cultural understanding and perception of the Arab world.

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Sharjah’s robust presence at WTM London 2016

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Sharjah’s tourism industry attended the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, in full force this year under a pavilion organised by Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA). Exhibitors presented Sharjah’s tourism destinations, hotels, resorts and amenities at the 2016 exhibition from November 7-9, including Sharjah Investment & Development Authority’s (Shurooq’s) award-winning Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project. Recently awarded the prestigious Cityscape Global – Best Community, Culture & Tourism Project Award in the Middle East in September, this is the first time that the Mleiha Archaeological and Ecotourism Project has been showcased at WTM. Shurooq has earmarked an estimated AED 250 million (US$ 69m) of investment to develop the tourism and heritage destination over the next few years, which is located in an area of natural beauty 50 kilometres to the east of Sharjah city. Other government authorities participating in WTM include Sharjah Museums Department, which manages 10 museums and a variety of other cultural attractions, and Sharjah’s Environment & Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), which has worked closely with Shurooq in the development of Mleiha. The EPAA has also recently opened two tourist-ready wildlife conservation centres. The Wasit Wetland Centre, in Sharjah’s 4.5 square kilometre Wasit Natural Reserve, was opened to the public in November 2015: a protected area that regularly attracts 150 species of birds, both migratory and resident. Meanwhile, earlier this year, the EPAA opened the new 12 square kilometre Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre located in the Hajjar mountains, near the emirate’s east coast. The wildlife centre includes a visitor centre, tourist amenities and has trained guides are on hand to show visitors the reserve. Other Sharjah exhibitors at WTM 2016 include Al Shaab Village, Copthorne Hotel, …

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