Category Archives: NTO (National Tourist Offices)

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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VFS launches France Visa Application Centre in Muscat

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Residents of the Sultanate of Oman can now apply for visas to France at the visa application centre launched for the Embassy of France in the capital city of Muscat. Applicants can visit VFS Global’s centre to submit visa applications and enrol for biometrics. The Muscat centre is conveniently located in main city centre at Level 1, Tilal Office, Muscat Grand Mall, Dohat Al Adab Street, Al Khuwair, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. Services at the centre commenced on 08 November 2016. With France being a popular tourist destination with Omanis, the launch of this new centre will bring added convenience and ease to applicants through quicker and more streamlined application processes. Furthermore, the new centre joins 5 other client governments served at the same premises, making it more convenient for travellers planning multiple business or leisure trips abroad. The Sultanate of Oman is the fourth country in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, from where applicants can apply for a visa to France. Since commencing visa processing operations in the Sultanate of Oman in 2005, VFS Global now serves 9 client governments in the country. VFS Global has been serving the Government of France since 2004, and currently serves the client in 15 countries from 52 visa application centres globally. Some of the key features of the centre include: Convenient and centrally-accessed location, professional staff with local language capability to handle queries and applications, well-appointed centre for enhanced comfort of applicants, automated queue governance for smooth flow of applicants, dedicated website for easy access to information including visa categories, requirements, check-list and applicable fees, 100% secure handling of passports, documents and personal information, door-step delivery of …

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Hyperloop inks deal with Dubai’s RTA

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The UAE is one step closer to being the world’s first location for a new form of high speed transport system that can enable people to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 12 minutes, following an agreement signed between Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and pioneering mobility company, Hyperloop One. Alongside the signing of the RTA agreement, the Hyperloop One team introduced, for the first time ever, a vision that represents a complete transformation in the way that people travel in the 21st century as the engineers, architects and designers from Hyperloop One and BIG have collaborated intensively for six months to produce a wholly original system design for Hyperloop travel. The idea of a Hyperloop – a low-pressure tube through which levitating pods containing both passengers and goods can travel at up to 1,200 km/h – has recently gained attention around the world. Benefits include higher standards of safety than a passenger jet, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed rail, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle. Today the company showcased the first-ever routes from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, several Hyperports (the equivalent of a station or airport) throughout Dubai, and the conceptual interiors and exteriors of the individual passenger pods. The work is based on a detailed study of how an urban and inter-city transport network should integrate with the existing infrastructure. It’s autonomous, point-to-point and vastly simplifies the experience of getting from your front door to your destination.

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Dubai supports sustainable tourism initiative

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Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) hosted the Hospitality Sustainability Board Game, the inaugural activity of the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Initiative. Created specifically for the hotel industry, the game, held recently at Media One Hotel, engaged industry professionals from across the city, as they gained insight into Dubai’s commitment to adopting sustainable practices and their role in achieving the goals. Designed by Dubai Tourism in collaboration with Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, Royal International and Insignia, the game was created as an educational tool for Dubai’s world-class hospitality industry to contribute towards the city’s goal of sustainability. Participants at the event included staff across all aspects of hotel operations, who worked in teams of 2-3 people to measure consumption baselines and identify opportunities to reduce consumption. Speaking at the event, Solaiman Alrifai, Senior Manager, Tourism Development, Dubai Tourism, said that Dubai’s hospitality industry, which recently crossed the 100,000 room threshold, has been a cornerstone of the city’s economy. As they look forward to capacity expansion and increased visitor volumes in the lead-up to 2020 and beyond, it is paramount to implement measures for this industry to reduce consumption and conserve resources. Raising awareness of conservation practices is a key pillar of the Dubai Sustainable Tourism Initiative, making this game a very significant step towards creating ä clear understanding of how powerful hospitality employees are in bringing about change.

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13% increase in passengers at Sharjah airport this summer

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Sharjah International Airport handled 2,996,433 passengers during July, August and September this year, a 13 percent increase over the same period in 2015. Overall, the number of inbound, outbound, transit and transfer passengers handled during the first nine months of the year increased by 12 percent, compared to the same period last year, to total 8,344,293. Sharjah airport recorded its first million-passenger month in August, with the months of July and September falling just slightly short of the million passenger mark. Meanwhile, 20,362 aircraft take-offs and landings were handled during the July to September period, 8 percent more than the equivalent period during 2015. Airlines have added a number of new connections from Sharjah International Airport this year, including new Air Arabia routes from Sharjah to Batumi (Georgia) and to Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Indian international airlines Air India Express and Jet Airways have both launched new Sharjah routes this year catering to business travellers and tourists, plus Indian expatriates working in the UAE. Jet Airways added new daily routes to Mangaluru (IXE) and Kozhikode (CCJ), while Air India Express has introduced new flights to Mumbai (SAHAR), Chandigarh (IXC) and Tiruchirapalli (TRZ) airports. Turkish airline, AtlasGlobal, also launched a new Sharjah route in April, adding a three-times-weekly service to Istanbul Atatürk International Airport. More new airline routes are planned for the next few months including the addition of a Hyderabad to Sharjah service from Jet Airways in December 2016 and a new Sharjah to Baku service from Air Arabia scheduled for 23 March 2017. Sharjah International Airport surpassed 10 million passengers per annum for the first time during 2015 and plans to handle 25 million passengers per annum by the …

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96 hour complimentary transit visa by Qatar

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A new free entry transit visa effective from November 1, 2016 was announced by Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority for travellers to explore the destination within 96 hours.  This scheme allows passengers with layovers of five hours or more in Hamad International Airport to request a complimentary transit visa. The new system will allow transiting passengers of all nationalities to enter Qatar for up to 96 hours in between flights. All visas are granted at the sole discretion of the Qatari Ministry of Interior. Passengers can apply for their free transit visa through any of Qatar Airways’ offices, or online. To be eligible for the transit visa, passengers must have a confirmed ticket for a journey into Qatar, with a confirmed onward journey out of Qatar on a Qatar Airways-operated flight. Terms and conditions apply, which can be found at qatarairways.com/transitvisa

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SCTDA on roadshow drive in India

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Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA) and Hamriyah Free Zone both launched new marketing roadshows targeting India during the past few days, building on a busy year of promotion activities by Sharjah authorities. The SCTDA kicked off a four-city roadshow in Mumbai this week, which also visits New Delhi, Chandigarh and Bengaluru (Bangalore). The roadshow introduces seven Sharjah hotels, two destination management companies, plus leading budget carrier Air Arabia, to key Indian outbound tour operators and other industry contacts. Trade, investment and tourism from India have become a top priority for Sharjah, as its trade promotion organisations campaign widely to capitalise on growing interest in the emirate. Meanwhile, a delegation from Hamriyah Free Zone, headed by Saud Salim Al Mazrouei, Director of Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) and Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF Zone), met with business leaders in Delhi a few days ago. Hamriyah Free Zone and SAIF Zone have both organised an extensive calendar of trade and investment promotion campaigns in India this year, visiting all major commercial centres in the country. Benefits such as 100 percent ownership, tax exemptions and allowing companies to repatriate 100 percent capital and profits have made the free zones very popular with Indian businesses. According to official estimates, about 7,000 of the 15,000 companies operating out of the two free zones are owned and controlled by Indian investors.

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UAE and UNWTO to conduct inaugural Tourism Innovation Forum

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The first edition of the Tourism Innovation and Transformation Forum is organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy (MOE) in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is all set to be held in Dubai, UAE on November 23, 2016. The Forum organised by Ministry of Economy during UAE Innovation Week to discuss how tourism stakeholders can prepare for and attract next generation of visitors to the region.

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Sea Festival attracts more than 4,000 visitors to Bahrain

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The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) aims to showcase the Kingdom’s rich link to the sea tying it to several Bahraini sea-related traditions and cultural activities. Last week they witnessed more than 4,000 people attended the ‘Sea Festival’ held at Bahrain Bay as part of ‘Manama Capital of Gulf Tourism’ calendar of events.  The Sea Festival, running until Saturday 29th October, has attracted scores of residents and visitors of all ages who enjoyed a fun-filled family experience through the exciting sea-related activities like the jet ski and the modern virtual reality games.  The festival includes a series of activities including a multimedia photo gallery and video display that demonstrates the history of pearl diving in addition to several workshops that showcases the sea-related handicrafts which includes the making of fishing and diving equipment. As it also features a Dhow and Boat display that is lit-up with the use of decorative lighting.

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