Tag Archives: GCC

Dubai welcomes 11.58 million visitors in first 3 quarters of 2018

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Dubai remains on track to becoming the most visited city for global travel, business and events, according to the latest visitation figures released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). The emirate welcomed 11.58 million visitors in the first three quarters of 2018, with India retaining its position as Dubai’s leading source market, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UK continuing to hold second and third positions respectively, underlining the city’s sustained appeal to its traditional strongholds and a wider diversified global audience. Russia, China and Germany continued to be key drivers within the top performing markets, each recording double-digit growth compared to the same period in 2017. Tourism from Russia remained on high trajectory, growing by a massive 60 per cent year-on-year, with visitor numbers surging to 460,000 in just the first nine months of 2018. The increase in Russian overnight guests was supported by a strong 19 per cent growth in air capacity across non-stop flights, in addition to added ease of travel access following the introduction of visa-on-arrival facilities in the last two years. China also continued to highlight benefits from the visa-on-arrival scheme, complementing the ongoing ‘China Readiness’ strategy, consequently re-enforcing its upward curve resulting in China securing its position as the fourth largest feeder market with an impressive 641,000 visitors so far this year, marking a 12 per cent increase versus 573,000 for the same period last year. Germany grew even faster at 15 per cent to reach 388,000 visitors during the first nine months, landing in eighth place within the top 10 source markets for Dubai. From a regional perspective, the first nine months saw 20 per cent of overnight visitors …

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Gulf Air and Etihad ink deal to enhance guest experiences

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Gulf Air and Etihad are set to explore deeper cooperation following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Bahrain International Airshow. The wide-ranging MOU covers scope to introduce joint codeshare operations between Abu Dhabi and Manama, as well as on the global flight networks beyond the two carriers’ GCC hubs. The MOU also contains plans for greater commercial cooperation in the fields of cargo, engineering, guest experience and the optimisation of pilot training facilities. It was signed by Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group and Krešimir Kučko, Chief Executive Officer, Gulf Air on the first day of the ongoing show at the Sakhir Airbase. Krešimir Kučko said, “The relationship between Bahrain and the UAE is strong in many fields, including aviation and with the signing of this MOU, we enrich the relationship by cooperating with Etihad Airways. This is an example of how two airlines can work hand-in-hand for greater mutual benefits. We are happy to work with our friends and colleagues in Etihad and support each other to achieve bigger goals.” According to Tony Douglas, “The deep ties between Abu Dhabi and Manama are well-known in the aviation world and date back nearly 70 years. Therefore, the natural way to build upon those ties is to examine ways in which the two flag carriers can work more closely together to improve business operations and enhance the experience for our guests. We look forward to the Etihad and Gulf Air teams coming together during the next few months to look at how we can put that in place, whether it is in codeshare, engineering, cargo, or through our frequent flyer programmes.”

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BYHOURS launches in Manama, Bahrain

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BYHOURS has officially launched in Manama, enabling users to select the desired check-in time to hotel rooms at any time during the day. The platform allows users to book hotel rooms in sets of three, six or twelve-hour timeslots. BYHOURS offers such flexibility in hotel stays in more than 3000 hotels in 25 countries across Europe, Latin America and the GCC region. This start-up is the first to introduce the concept of micro-stays and a pay-per-use finance scheme in the international travel and hospitality industry. It is aimed at international business travellers’ in-between meetings and for travellers spending time in cities for short layovers.

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VFS to promote Zimbabwe Tourism Authority in GCC

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In a move to enhance destination awareness and foster market visibility, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has appointed VFS Global to promote Zimbabwe as a preferred tourism destination in both India and GCC region, through a collaborative relationship. The agreement was officially signed by Karikoga Kaseke, Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Office Boardroom, Harare in the presence of other eminent dignitaries from VFS Global, travel and trade fraternity. A world of wonders, Zimbabwe prides itself to being home of the Majestic Victoria Falls; one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage Site that is the biggest curtain of water in the world in the Zambezi River. As part of the agreement, VFS Global would support ZTA to build a unique identity of Zimbabwe as a potential tourist destination by educating and spreading awareness to tour operators, travel agents, MICE planners and the general traveller based in India or GCC region.

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VisitBritain launches exclusive holidays for GCC

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For the first time, VisitBritain aims to promote the luxury horse racing itineraries to horse racing enthusiasts in the region and inspire them to book these experiences. Their recent ‘I Travel For…’ digital marketing campaign uses short-films and story-telling to market unexplored destinations in Britain, alongside its globally renowned landmarks and attractions. For centuries, horse racing has been linked with the English monarchy. It is called the sport of kings because of its strong association with royalty and nobility. The history of England is the history of horse racing, from its humble beginnings to today’s Royal family’s continuing passion and patronage of the sport. A day at the races is an opportunity to experience English history and tradition at its best.

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Swiss-Belhotel International expands footprint in GCC

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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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38% increase of Russian visitors to GCC by 2020

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The number of Russian tourists travelling to the GCC in 2020 is expected to be 38 per cent higher than the arrival figures recorded for 2016, according to data published recently by Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2018, set to take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22-25, 2018. As the UAE has started granting visa on arrival earlier last year, there has been quite a rapid growth of Russian tourists to Dubai. Looking at the economic drivers, the value of the Russian rouble is stable and firming gradually, helped by Russia’s decision to join OPEC and cut oil production. Over the last 25 years, Russia has been well represented at ATM, with exhibitors including Moscow City Government, National Tourist Union and the city of St Petersburg. Russian visitors to the exhibition increased 17 per cent YOY between 2016 and 2017 and 9.4 per cent of total visitors last year were interested in doing business with Russia. Russia’s links with the GCC strengthened in 2017 with the introduction of additional airline routes, visas on arrival in the UAE for Russians, new generation of leisure attractions, retail destinations and a broad range of hotels and resorts across the GCC region.

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Management team set up for launch of ‘handy’ in GCC

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Tink Labs Limited has appointed a GCC Management Team to drive the rollout of its mobile travel solution ‘handy’ across the region. ‘handy’ is an innovative smartphone provided as a complimentary amenity in partner hotel rooms. It integrates the hotel services as well as offers travellers unlimited connectivity on the go, free-of-charge international calls and tailored travel guides. Heading the management team is Sverre Christiansen, who joins here as General Manager – GCC, Tink Labs Limited. Talking about the product, Christiansen explains, “handy not only helps hotels with providing their guests with a device that assists them in travelling across new destinations through tailored city guides but also in extending their in-house marketing and concierge facilities via an easy-to-use smartphone. Moreover, available with pre-installed mobile applications, it can show details of discounts and promotions and allow visitors to remain in contact with their hotel and personal network at all times.” With the support of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Tink Labs has already delivered a successful pilot project in Dubai in association with Fairmont The Palm, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi, The Westin Dubai and Dusit Thani Dubai.

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Gulf Air celebrates launch of flight to Georgia

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Gulf Air recently celebrated the launch of its thrice-a-week direct service to the Georgian capital Tbilisi. The celebration took place at Bahrain International Airport, in the presence of the Georgian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. George Janjgava, along with Bahrain Civil Aviation Affairs officials, Bahrain International Airport officials and members of Gulf Air’s executive management team. Commenting on the launch of Gulf Air’s newest destination, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer, Mr Maher Salman Al Musallam, said, “I am delighted Gulf Air is directly connecting Bahrain and Georgia; and witnessing such a high demand as we commence operations is a positive indication of what is to come. I look forward to seeing passengers from across the GCC and MENA regions fly with us.”

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Musafir partners with Amadeus to further e-commerce offering

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Musafir.com, UAE’s first home-grown, premium-experience travel website, has signed a new regional GCC agreement with Amadeus, a leading technology partner in the global travel industry, to further enhance its e-commerce offering. The agreement will see Amadeus provide the company with its industry-leading business intelligence technologies and access to global travel content through the Amadeus system, for the benefit of Musafir.com’s customers across the GCC region. The company’s website will be powered with Amadeus’ latest advanced solutions such as Master Pricer, Business Intelligence, Fare Optimiser and Productivity Tracker to make the booking experience more efficient and convenient. “Forming strategic agreement with global industry leaders such as Amadeus allows us to access premium travel products and further boost our technological progressions, which is something that matters most to our customers and partners. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with Amadeus who will lend us their extensive expertise and consultancy and fuel our future growth,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Thani, Chairman of the Department of Statistics and Community Development and co-founder of Musafir.com.

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