Tag Archives: Middle East

Hilton offers customised programmes for Indians travelling to ME and Africa

‘Namaste’, Hilton’s guest offering designed to deliver a truly tailored experience for guests travelling from India to Middle East & Africa offers services for destination weddings, bollywood shoots and meetings. ‘Namaste’ is a one of its kind programme ideal for the up and coming Indian globetrotter. Wall-to-wall sunshine, a rich cultural history and massive investment in tourism have put the Middle East on the world tourist map. Across the Middle East, tourism is seen as one of the most viable tax-raising alternatives for oil-producing nations as those revenues start to decline. The United Arab Emirates, for example, is aiming to reduce the hydrocarbon sector’s share of GDP from its current 30 per cent to 20 per cent by 2021, predominantly by boosting income from tourism. Dubai and a few more cities in the UAE, besides Europe, the US and the UK, are among the top destinations for Indian tourists, according to tourism industry officials. Apart from the Middle East, South Africa is also targeting Indian tourists after relaxing its visa rules. The Number of Indian travellers arriving in South Africa has been on the rise over the years, with a surge of 21.7 per cent recorded during the previous years. The demographics too have displayed a noticeable curve, with more and more young persons below 30 years of age opting for South Africa as the destination for adventure tourism, replacing the earlier market of family vacations. “Direct flights to Johannesburg and visa on arrival have further improved the arrivals and the tourism industry in Africa, and we have already seen strong demand from India as a result,” said Jan Van Der Putten, Vice President Operations, Africa and Indian Ocean, Hilton.

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Wyndham Hotels & Resorts introduces La Quinta to EMEA market with hotel in Istanbul

Wyndham Hotels & Resorts announced the debut of La Quinta by Wyndham in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Eurasia and Africa) market with the opening of the 404-room La Quinta by Wyndham Istanbul Gunesli, bringing the brand to travellers outside of the Americas for the first time.  La Quinta by Wyndham is a leading upper-midscale brand at over 900 hotels across North and Latin America, offering contemporary design, thoughtful amenities and friendly service. Wyndham acquired La Quinta’s hotel franchise and hotel management businesses in 2018, further building upon the company’s diverse family of hotel brands and offerings around the world. La Quinta by Wyndham Istanbul Gunesli is one of the latest additions to Wyndham Hotels & Resorts’ presence in Turkey, where the company is the largest international hotel group with over 80 hotels all across the country. Dimitris Manikis, President & Managing Director for EMEA, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, said, “We are thrilled to welcome La Quinta and its long-standing reputation for delivering quality, reliability and a great guest experience to the EMEA region, further expanding our offering of brands in such an important market like Turkey. With a record of over 13 million international visitors in 2018 alone and an incredible variety of historical, cultural and business sites, Istanbul is one of the world’s most attractive cities for travel, making it the perfect fit for La Quinta’s European debut.”

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Hyatt announces five new properties in the Middle East

Hyatt announced the growth of its portfolio of lifestyle hotels across the Middle East. The planned expansion includes the opening of the first Hyatt centric branded hotels in the United Arab Emirates, the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the first Andaz branded hotel in Dubai, and the second Alila branded property in the Sultanate of Oman. These lifestyle properties will provide luxury and adventurous travellers with unique experiences in hand-picked destinations and are expected to add more than 1,300 keys to the region, bringing the number of Hyatt lifestyle hotels in the Middle East to seven by 2023. There are currently two Hyatt lifestyle hotels in the Middle East; Alila Jabal Akhdar, a luxury boutique resort perched 6,562 feet (2,000 metres) above sea level in the Al Hajar Mountains of Oman, and Andaz Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, located in the iconic Capital Gate building, the world’s furthest leaning hotel at an impressive 18-degree incline. Kurt Straub, Vice President of operations for the Middle East, Africa and South West Asia for Hyatt, said, “The Middle East is seeing a rising demand for lifestyle hotels. At Hyatt, we aim to grow with intent. The five planned openings in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the State of Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman cement our commitment to the region and will provide an enhanced lifestyle experience for our guests.” The expected growth includes the debut of Hyatt’s fastest-growing lifestyle brand across three countries, with the projected openings of Hyatt Centric Dubai La Mer (2020), Hyatt Centric West Bay Doha (2020), and Jabal Omar Hyatt Centric Makkah Hotel and Residences (2023). Located in the heart of …

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ME to pay extra for a ‘personalised’ travel experience: Sabre

New online research by Sabre Corporation has revealed that 59% per cent of Middle Eastern adults would pay between $101 – $500 on extras that personalise their travel journeys. The report also provided insight into the pain points, trends and opportunities for the Middle Eastern travel industry. The research highlighted a significant retail opportunity for travel providers of the 3,090 people surveyed. The study, which compiled insights from 3,090 people online across five countries in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan and Lebanon) was revealed at Sabre Space Jordan, an industry event that brought together experts and leaders from airlines, travel agencies and government officials from across the Middle East to network and learn about the latest travel and technology trends. Salman Syed, Vice President EMEA at Sabre said, “To align with today’s travellers, airlines, hotels, travel agencies and even corporate buyers must think and behave like true retailers. They need to analyse consumer behaviour and market data to better target future offers and fulfill as many of the traveller’s needs as possible.”  Sabre’s research showed that 43% of the Middle Eastern adults want personalised travel offerings and services around their needs, expectations and previous experiences. When thinking about what this personalisation looks like, the majority (40%) of those surveyed wanted recommendations based on their budget, whilst 30% wanted suggestions of holiday extras that would be of genuine interest to them when asked what they would want airlines to do for them in the next 5 years. Sabre’s report showed a significant opportunity within the online travel space in the Middle East, as 48% of those surveyed would look online for travel inspiration for flights or hotels, which may …

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Saudi Arabia issues online tourism visas for 49 countries

In a bid to promote the destination as a touristic hub in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia took several initiatives recently. Her Highness Princess Haifa Mohammed Al Saud – Vice President of Strategy and Planning, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) stated that they have launched four types of visas to provide an opportunity for more travellers to visit the kingdom. In this regard, there are 49 countries who could apply for the visit visa option online to book their visa within just three minutes or visa upon arrival. For the remaining countries they can still go to the embassy and apply for the visa. There are four different travel purposes under this scheme; Umrah, leisure, visit family and MiCE. You have different options, it is a 300 Riyals visa with multiple entry for 90 days and valid for one year. There is an additional medical insurance that could also be obtained at the time of application for the visa. Her Highness stated, “In terms what we are doing to further attract people to the destination we conducted a consumer surveyor with 20,000 pool of people from 17 countries and we have realised that one of the key issues is awareness and not enough information on the destination of Saudi Arabia hence we are strengthening the communication element with our strong campaign to give the people to feel the beauty of Saudi Arabia as a first step. We are starting with four key destinations and we have developed 15 sites that are ready around each of the four destinations which include Riyadh, Jeddah, Madina and the eastern province and three more destinations to be added and 38 total …

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Gold Medal expands into India

Gold Medal, the largest travel consolidator in the Middle East, has expanded its operations into India. Travel agents in the country can now benefit from the company’s extensive sales, marketing and operational expertise, advanced booking and reporting system, and excellent customer service. Gold Medal will initially provide its Indian customers with access to flight bookings, offering over 100 airline partners’ services at competitive rates. The company is planning to launch its full product portfolio, including hotels, car hire, insurance services and visas, in the following months in India. Preetham Kiron, Managing Director for Gold Medal in India, said: “We are thrilled to launch our offering in India, a rapidly growing market, where we see excellent business opportunities and strong demand for our quality services. Our broad partnership network and innovative solutions enable travel agents to efficiently manage and grow their business, while providing the best possible services to their customers. Our dedicated team will ensure that our Indian partners can make the most out of our offering.  We continue to invest in our operations to further improve our services and expand our footprint in India and beyond.” Gold Medal is committed to engaging the travel trade community across India and will launch its offering in the country’s largest cities, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, as well as in other strategic locations, including Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Shimla, Ambala, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Indore, Bhopal, Surat, Baroda and Mangalore. Gold Medal is one of the leading providers of air and non-air products to the travel trade. The company offers a sophisticated online booking tool to help travel agents cater to their customers’ needs. Gold Medal has been supplying scheduled …

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Cozmo Travel opens 34th branch in the UAE

Cozmo Travel, the winner of the 2018 Arabian Travel Awards “The Fastest Growing Travel Management Company”, has been expanding their reach in the market with its strong presence for the past nine years and consistently delivering excellence through their services and satisfying customer needs in the best way possible. “The opening of Cozmo Travel’s fourth new branch in Ajman, Al Jurf area near China Mall, marking the opening of the fifth branch this year, is yet another important step towards realising our vision of being the leading travel agency in the Middle East. The new office will serve as one of the many strategic locations in Ajman along with the other major locations that we already operate from,” said Mr. Jamal Abdulnazar, CEO, Cozmo Travel. Cozmo Travel branches are strategically located across the seven emirates in order to be accessible to all customers. It has 12 branches in Sharjah, four in Ajman, two in Fujairah, three in RAK, two in Abu Dhabi,  two in Al Ain, one in UAQ, and six branches across Dubai.

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Flynas to introduce direct flights to Lucknow and Calicut in India

flynas, the Saudi national air carrier and leading low-cost airline in the Middle East, announced the launch of its new direct international flights to Lucknow and Calicut in India starting from October 15, 2019, as part of its global expansion plan. This step will raise the number of flynas’ destinations in India to four after it has previously launched direct flights to New Delhi and Hyderabad. flynas will operate three weekly flights to each destination, with the first flight scheduled from Riyadh to Lucknow on October 15, while the second and third flights are scheduled for October 17 and October 18, respectively. Furthermore, flights between Riyadh and Calicut and Dammam and Lucknow will commence from October 16. flynas had recently announced the launch of its new direct flights between Riyadh and New Delhi, which started on July 1, 2019. It also announced the launch of direct flights between Riyadh and Hyderabad in June 2018 as part of its expansion strategy for the next phase which seeks to add more destinations and contribute towards doubling its number of passengers, which reached 6.6 million passengers on 60,000 domestic and international flights last year. New destinations include Lahore, Islamabad, Algeria, Erbil, Baghdad, Sarajevo, Vienna, Batumi, Tbilisi, Baku and other domestic and international destinations.

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Sabre to power virtual travel payments in the Middle East

Apiso and Sabre Corporation announced a long-term partnership to increase virtual payments adoption in the travel industry across the Middle East region. The partnership, and resulting technical integration between Apiso and Sabre, will promote Apiso’s unique product offering as the preferred payment solution for Sabre Virtual Payments’ customers in the fast-growing Middle East. It will also enable Sabre to scale the volume of payment transactions processed through its global distribution system (GDS) and other technology solutions globally. “Sabre’s virtual payment technology and its extensive distribution reach coupled with Apiso’s advanced technical solutions and payment integration will enable us to jointly deliver compelling products to help regional and international travel companies to optimise their payments workflow, drive revenue and profitability,” said Andrew Sims, Director, Apiso. “We are excited about this partnership that will provide advanced, reliable, secured and flexible virtual payment solutions to the region.” Sabre Virtual Payments’ network of strategic banking partners enables it to effectively meet specific regional needs while providing a comprehensive global solution. “Sabre Virtual Payments continues to expand our strategic partnerships to ensure a comprehensive solution that optimises travel payments globally,” said Salman Syed, Vice President, Sabre EMEA. “Our partnership with Apiso helps us deploy Sabre Virtual Payments with flexible facilities such as multi-currency and multi-channel options, increase the value of our regional offerings in the Middle East and provide customers with a global payment solution that meets their specific payment needs.” Apiso works with back-end financial services providers that are members of the global payment schemes to automate the provision and administration of virtual cards for B2B supplier payments across multiple industry segments.

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Dubai hotels occupancy records a high of 76%

According to a recent report released by Dubai tourism, the hotel sector has recorded one of the highest in the world with occupancy at 76 per cent with establishments delivering a combined 15.71 million occupied room nights during the first six months of the year, a five per cent increase over the same period in 2018. Another noteworthy fact is that the emirate has now reached an inventory of 118,345 within 714 establishments at the end of June 2019, representing a six per cent increase, which showcased continued strong investor confidence in Dubai’s tourism demand. In the Middle East, Dubai continues to be the much favoured destination recording the largest traffic from all over the world. Brands such as Rove have revolutionised the market in Dubai. Luxury five-star and four-star hotels commanded 34 and 25 per cent of the emirate’s total inventory, respectively.  Meanwhile properties in the one to three-star categories represented a share of 20 per cent. Increasing demand for diversified accommodation options was met with a combined 21 per cent of hotel apartment establishments across the deluxe/superior and standard categories.

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