Trav Talk Middle East Saudi Inbound Tourism Potential Undiscovered Pg4 November 2006

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Trav Talk Middle East Saudi Inbound Tourism Potential Undiscovered Pg4 November 2006

  1. 1. Vol. II No. 11; November 2006 A DDP PUBLICATION Pages: 24 www.travtalkmiddleeast.comwww.ddppl.com Saudi inbound tourism - potential undiscovered ......................04 Austrian Tourist Board opens office in Dubai............................10 Sharjah Airport Travel Agency shows strong growth ....................21Ras Al Khaimah: complimenting outdoor winter sports. A convention cen- tre with 50,000 square meter floor space is also in the pipeline. These are but some of the incredible tourism industry initiatives that will come to fruition in the next few years in Ras Al Khaimah. To this one should add allrising to the occasionThe tourism industry of Ras Al Khaimah is destined to rival the iconic stature nomic development of RAK ascarrier, RAK Airways. The the other developments, e.g. man-made islands, heavy industry, manufacturing and eco-development projects that will boost the economy of the emirate. In short; RAK is open for business! Pivotal to the expansion of the eco- a whole, is the much antic- ipated launch of its nationalof Dubai’s in the near future. Middle East takes a closer look at the main objectives of RAK Airways is to support the eco- nomic development of the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah asincredible tourism initiatives of this magnificent emirate. it embarks upon an ambitious expan- sion program. The developments GERHARD GERBER ric interwoven with strong family values, hos- include economic free zones to attract pitality and religious tolerance. And this is pre- businesses as well as residential,I t is not often that one finds a place where the old world and the new world meet with such natural ease and unassuming grace. Set in one of the worlds mostdynamic regions, the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK),UAE, has succeeded brilliantly in keeping cisely where the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has risen to the occasion. RAK covers a total area of 5,800 square km and ranks fourth among the seven emirates in terms of size. The emirate borders the Umm leisure and tourism projects. This air- line will operate as a network carrier, working closely with the travel trade as well as using in-house direct book- ing channels. RAK Airways businesswith the times while, at the same time, Al Quwain, Fujairah and philosophy will draw heavily on theretaining its rustic allure and timeless tra- Sharjah emirates - as well as proven low-fares model but will notditions. And in its quest to seamlessly com- the Sultanate of Oman. Already operate as a low fares airline per se;bine the old and the new, RAK has creat- renowned for its numerous "Low operating costs support lowed a remarkably unique model of sustain- libraries, high-tech businesses, fares, which in turn stimulate demandable development and cultural reverence cultural heritage and incredible and generate attractive profits for the Jack Romero, CEO, RAK Airwaysthat is the envy of many in the Middle East, natural environment, RAK is airline", said Jack Romero, CEO, RAKand further abroad. "RAK is an emirate also set to become an international tourist Airways. He added, "RAK Airways will operate both char-based on culture and entrepreneurship," hub within the next few years. Ras al ter and scheduled services to meet the demand of thesaid Matt Sawaqed, executive member of Khaimah should have 20 new hotels in various markets that the airline will serve. The airlinethe newly-formed RAK Promotion Board. five years time and 30 - 40 hotels in will provide a high level of service to passengers whetherThat RAK is different is plain for all to see. approximately ten years time. All will be scheduled or charter, aligned with the best service stan-Full ownership of property is possible, in the 350-room plus category. For exam- dards in the industry. This will open up the possibility ofinvestors can set up shop in a matter of Khater Massad, CEO, RAK Investment ple, one of the major tourism develop- co-operation with other world class airlines in future todays, and all are encouraged to settle per- Authority ments is the Mina Al Arab beach front widen our passengers choice horizons further." With anmanently in this magnificent emirate. The development by RAK Properties, which airline start-up specialist of Romeros caliber at the rud-United Arab Emirates is an exciting destination for will include nine 5-star properties. The Al Hamra Palace, der, and the entrepreneurial spirit and skill sets of allEuropeans and other nationalities because it is so multi- which is a 400 million project (as part of the Al Hamra those involved in the economic development of Ras Alfaceted and rich in culture. Tourists come here to immerse Group); will have 300 rooms and 166 hotel apartments. Khaimah, all bodes well for all and sundry in thethemselves in a truly wondrous world and This future hospitality icon of the Middle East is destined travel and tourism industry in the region, and further live out their dreams for a week or two each year. This to rival the incredible Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. abroad. Having risen to the occasion RAK has the innatein itself is tremendously exciting and truly unique. People Future projects also include The Jebel Jais mountain potential to become the Silicon Valley of entrepreneur-have a natural affinity for all that is traditional, and the resort which will feature an outdoor ski-slope with real ship, the Venice of Arabian culture and the SerengetiUnited Arab Emirates certainly has a rich traditional fab- snow and other facilities and amenities associated and of eco-tourism in the Middle East.
  2. 2. Foreign Exchange ON THE MOVE DIRHAM VALUE (Subject to variation)Major Currencies ....CN Buy ............CN Sell Avari Dubai Hotel AmadeusUS Dollar ..........................3.667 ..................3.675 Vishal Sood has been appointed as direc- Faris Azzee has recently been appointed as the new salesEuro ................................4.6159 ................4.6624 tor - sales, Avari Dubai Hotel. A hotel director, Amadeus Gulf, responsible for Dubai andSterling Pounds ..............6.8839 ................6.9391 professional with over 16 years of expe- Northern Emirates. A Saudi national, Azzee had joinedCanadian Dollars ............3.2415 ................3.3151 rience in the industry, Sood has worked Amadeus in January 2002 as general manager, AmadeusJapanese Yen ............... 0.03016 ............ 0.03148 in developing markets, and joined the Qatar. Prior to Amadeus, he had held different seniorBahraini Dinars ....................9.7 ....................9.74 Avari Dubai Hotel in April 2006. His positions in Desar Technology (Saudi Arabia), SamarecCyprus Pounds ................7.8841 ................8.2092 experience encompasses 8 years with (UK) and Import Export Management Inc (US).Egyptian Pounds .............. 0.617 .............. 0.6748 Cidade de Goa in Goa and Delhi, 3 years with Yak & Yeti inJordanian Dinars ............5.1438 ................5.2216 Kathmandu and Delhi and much more.Kuwaiti Dinars ..............12.6532 ..............12.7295Lebanese Livre ............ 0.00097 ............ 0.00255 Radisson SAS HotelOmani Rials ..........................9.5 ....................9.54 Stephanie AbouJaoude has recentlyPakistan Rupees .......... 0.05886 .............. 0.0628 InterContinental Hotels been appointed as the public relationsQatari Rials ......................1.005 ................1.0092 Group and communications manager forSaudi Riyals .................. 0.9751 .............. 0.9837 Angel Magdalani has been appointed as Radisson SAS Hotel, Dubai Deira.Syrian Pounds................ 0.0678 .............. 0.0731 director - Human Resources for upcom- Lebanese-Canadian, AbouJaoude,Danish Kroner .............. 0.6179 .............. 0.6447 ing Dubai Festival City (DFC) hotels takes up her new role following threeNorwegian Kroner .......... 0.5535 .............. 0.5791 operated by InterContinental Hotels years as public relations and commu-Scottish Pounds ..............6.8357 ................6.9325 Group. Magdalani has overall responsi- nications executive at the InterContinental Hotel, DubaiSwedish Kroner ............ 0.4962 .............. 0.5217 bilities for human resources for all three where her main duties involved media relations, adver-Swiss Francs....................2.8909 ................2.9521Australian Dollars ..........2.7803 ................2.8421 Dubai based properties - InterContinental Dubai Festival tising and maintaining the corporate identity of the brand.Bangladeshi Taka ........ 0.05265 .............. 0.0572 City, Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City and InterContinentalHong Kong Dollars ........ 0.4612 ................ 0.484 Residence Suites Dubai Festival City.Indian Rupees.............. 0.07912 .............. 0.0848 JAL HotelsMalayasian Ringgit ........ 0.9717 .............. 1.0298 Frank Gueuning has been appointedPhilippine Piso ............ 0.07011 .............. 0.0762 Coral International Hotels, as the general manager to oversee JALSingapore Dollars ............2.3154 ................2.3681 Resorts & Spas Hotels Cos first 5-star luxury reportSri Lankan Rupees ...... 0.03322 ............ 0.03771 Chahnaz Gayraud has recently joinedThai Baht ...................... 0.0949 .............. 0.1041 hotel in the Middle East. Gueuning has Coral International Hotels, Resorts & 20-year experience in the interna-Moroccan Dirhams .......... 0.401 .............. 0.4693 Spas as the general manager of Coral tional hospitality industry, duringNew Zealand Dollars ......2.3244 ................2.4429 Boutique Hotel Apartments and Coral which time he has held senior opera- DUBAI: Khalid Bin Walid Road, Boutique Villas, Al Barsha. She has tions positions, then general management position at the P.O.Box. 2095, over 23 years of experience in the Bur Dubai, Dubai UAE Homewood Park Hotel, a luxury country house hotel hotel industry. situated in Bath, United Kingdom. (As on 26/10/2006) 2 NOVEMBER, 2006
  3. 3. INTERVIEWMövenpick; traditionmoving with the timesThe Swiss hotel company, Mövenpick, will open four new properties in Dubaiin 2007. Middle East speaks to Thomas Tapken, regional director,Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts about the unique history and businessphilosophy of this Swiss hospitality giant. ME BUREAU destination accommodation. And the rest is unique hospitality history, so to speak.A veraging 10 new properties per year, Mövenpick is the fastest growinghotel company in the world. And the This same holistic and all-inclusive approach to hospitality characterizes Mövenpicks properties all over the world.Middle East is the companys strongest "Every property looks different, feels dif-growth market. The much anticipated ferent, but it is precisely this expertise inopening of Mövenpick prestigious new 5- handling diversity which allows us to offerstar properties in Dubai, will certainly our customers such unique products andreconfirm the reputation of this world- services," he explained. And given the factfamous Swiss hospitality brand when it that Dubais source markets are verycomes to tried and tested service hospi- diverse, e.g. the UK, Germany, Russia,tality. "Swiss hospitality and precision, you Asia, the GCC, etc, Mövenpicks hospital-know what you can expect….our service ity philosophy is perfectly suited to offerhospitality is the same in all our proper- Movenpick Tapken, Resorts director, customers exactly what they wish for, be Thomas Hotels & regionalties," said Tapken. The 149-room (plus 142 it an exclusive beach resort, state-of-the-serviced apartments) Mövenpick Oceana Palm Jumeirah, art MICE facilities, a short business stay, family accom-the 293-room Mövenpick Resort & Spa Palm Jumeirah, modation, or even just a lovely evening dining out. Thethe 396-room (166 serviced apartments) Ibn Battuta hospitality philosophy of Mövenpick has stayed the same;Hotel Dubai and the 233-room Mövenpick Hotel Deira the 1948 restaurant in Claridenhof is just around theare all scheduled to open next year. Add to this the time corner of the magnificent Mövenpick Resort &already famous Mövenpick Hotel Bur Dubai and one can Spa Palm Jumeirah. Mövenpicks hospitality philosophy is perfectly suited to offer customers exactly what they wish for, be it an exclusive beach resort, MICE facilities, a short business stay or family accommodation.see why this Swiss hospi-tality giant is going fromstrength in the MiddleEast, and internationally.Having honed its skills andexpertise in the F&Bindustry, the MövenpickCompany has certainlycome a long way sinceopening its first restaurantin 1948 in Claridenhof inZurich. "Our 30 years ofexperience in the Swissgastronomy businesshas given us an edge,"said Tapken. Having succeeded inturning their food outletsinto destination restau-rants, Mövenpick took thenext logical step by offer-ing its restaurant guests NOVEMBER, 2006 3
  4. 4. GUEST COLUMN Saudi inbound tourism - Natural born potential undiscovered We all know that Saudi is the largest and the highest spending outbound travellers market in the Middle East region. Well what if these travelers - even a meager percentage decide to stay back in their own country for holiday(s).W hy would a creature of comfort leave the reassuring docility of his local surround-ings to hop on a plane to explore new horizons? V I S H A L PA N D E Y beds. Arabic newspapers Al-Eqtesadiah reported recently that the kingdom will spend SR 54 billionMere escape from the humdrum of mundanefamiliarity certainly cannot justify the extremes W ith a population of 26.4 million and a rich varied culture and heritage it is believed by the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) that Inbound Tourism is on health services in the kingdom per annum by the year 2019. It is understood that tourism projects worthto which some tourists go to in order to find what a great opportunity area waiting to be explored by the SR 50 billion are being invested all across the kingdomthey are looking for. Escaping the boredom at domestic and international tourists. which will intern boost tourism.office by trekking over the Arabian Desert is def- SCT has chalked out a 20 years strategic plan for the development of inbound tourism in order to attractinitely not a proportionate response. Adventure domestic and international tourists. It includes devel- Why Saudi can succeed?tourism is, to a great extent, nothing more than oping a $22 billion tourism industry capable of creatingthe voluntary emulation of the risks our forefa- 1.6 to 2.3 million jobs and taking the tourism numbers • Short-haul flights from major Islamic countriesthers (and mothers, of course) undertook to tame from 20.8 million to 44 million over a 20 year period. • The relevance attached to the Holy Mosques/Saudi Currently the Saudi tourism industry is believed to be Arabia for Muslims in generaltheir natural environments. Rather immature worth $ 9.64 billion annually growing to $ 22 billion in • No language barriers for travelers from Islamicyou might say; if youre inclined to cynical bouts a 20 year period. countriesof world-weariness. It cant be further from the • Rich cultural heritage awaiting to be exploredtruth! We dont travel to escape; on the contrary, Economy The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King • Already a front runner in the Middle east healthwe travel to find our way home. Curiosity is all Abdullah bin Abdulaziz continues as chairman of the tourism market would help in cross-selling othertoo often associated with the trait that killed the Supreme Economic Council (SEC), a high level policy tourism productscat. There is, however, much more to this insa- making body, which overseas the kingdoms economic • Increased flights by regional carriers reforms, signifying a clear direction to the Saudi econo-tiable human drive than meets the eye. Curiosity my. SEC established in 1999 has been instrumental inimplies an ardent need to understand the introducing a series of economic reforms including the The Numbersunknown. And understanding that which con- new foreign investment law. It is working on the gov- According to WTO 7.3 million people visited the king-nects things unknown, ultimately, makes us feel ernments privatization strategy. Overall SEC aims at dom last year, of which 3.5 million was for Umrah and ensuring prosperity and welfare keeping in mind the 1.3 million for Haj. Another 2.5 million people visitedmore at home wherever we are on this lovely Islamic values and keeping the natural resources intact. specifically for medical treatment and MICE. A recentplanet called earth. A cynic might now be These initiatives are likely to have a positive impact on survey said that almost 70 per cent of the Umrah per-inclined to dismiss this romantic notion of trav- inbound tourism. formers from 82 countries would like to visit other parts of the kingdom beside the holy places.el as the usual philosophical musings that paintreality prettier than it is lived. But that is only Barriers to Saudi Tourism There is no doubting the fact that Saudi is the largest and the highest spending outbound market in the Middlehalf the story. Curiosity needs to know, wants to • Despite efforts for the government authorities East region, and considering this fact, one cannot helpunderstand! People love the mysterious. The pyr- but wonder that what will happen if even a meager attacks on Western targets continue which will percentage of these high spending Saudis decide to stayamids, the Taj Mahal, Rome, Medina, Jerusalem, continue to have a negative impact on the back in their own country for holidays.Constantinople, etc. all have real mythical pasts kingdoms perception and securitythat enflame curiosity. Packaging myths in sweet • Stricter and time consuming visa policies (Vishal Pandey, is presently pursuing a Postgraduate degree in Real • Growing continuing interest in inter-regional Estate Investments & Valuations at University of Glasgow. He was alittle travel hampers doesnt, in any way, belittle destinations like Malaysia, Turkey which are former consultant with a Dubai based hospitality consulting firm)the myth itself and the seasoned traveller will cheaper, diverse etcknow what to look for. She knows that everybodyin Japan isnt a karate expert and that wild ani-mals dont roam the streets of African cities. Drivers The main drivers of Saudi tourism in coming timeCulture-tourism; the need to eat the real pizza apart from Hajj and Umrah are believed to be: invest-in Italy - not the one around the corner - is just ments from the private sector, economic equilibrium,another way of trying to understand this fasci- economic diversification, creating new job opportunities for the local nationals, and most importantly keeping the • International tourist arrivalsnating world brimming with diversity. We trav- natural resources and heritage intact.el to far-flung places to try and comprehend what grew from 25 million in 1950 In order to get more focused SCT intends to develop an individual tourism plan for each of the provinces. In to 808 million in 2005the people of that time were like - people who,for example, saw the Prophet Mohamed, build addition it is in the process of establishing associations • The revenues generated by for hotels and travel agents. A total of 50,000 hotel rooms these arrivals have risen at anthe Great Wall of China and composed the 5th will be added over the next 10 years to the existing sup- average rate of 11.2 per centSymphony. We go there because we recognise ply of 95,000 hotel rooms across the country. per year (adjusted for infla-greatness when we see it. History books only tell Furthermore their seems to demand for almost 74,000 tion) over the same span of rooms over the next 10 year period. time, outgrowing the worldhalf the tale; we need to experience it first-hand. A total of 1,975 cultural heritage sites have beenSo, next time you page absentmindedly through economy as a whole. identified a amongst 6,366 heritage sites across thea travel magazine, try to rekindle that spirit of kingdom and will be promoted as heritage tourism. • This 6,5 per cent expansionadventure that imbued your youthful mind with This type of tourism is likely to find a big audience rate has continued unabated, amongst tourists from Islamic countries and despite wars, terror, tsunamisthe belief that the world was your oyster. It Muslims in general. and other crises.still is! Well always be natural born travellers The kingdom already known for its specialised • Therefore tourism representstesting the waters of the unknown in order to healthcare facilities is set to further enhance its posi- 40 per cent of all exports offind our way home. Home is where our tion as an international leader in health tourism. Projects include establishment of 420 primary care cen- services, making it one of thehearts are, anywhere and everywhere. Wheres ters, 23 hospitals with 3,150 bed capacities, expansion largest categories of interna-my travel agent? of existing facilities. Around 62 hospitals are believed tional trade. to be under construction and will add another 7,000 4 NOVEMBER, 2006
  5. 5. HOTELSCoral Boutique Villas by a Middle Eastern trav- eler is three weeks. This makes Coral Boutiqueopen in Al Barsha, Dubai Villas the perfect product for the GCC. In addition, we are also looking at pro- moting this beautiful prop-Coral International Hotels, Resorts & Spas, one of the most dynamic brands erty in the highly lucrativein the Middle East hospitality scene, launched its much anticipated Coral European and Asian mar- kets," said Noble.Boutique Villas in Al Barsha, Dubai. Each villa features four bedrooms and is equipped ME BUREAU that radiates quiet luxury, impeccable service, out- with all the bells and whis- standing amenities and unmatched privacy." Michel P J Noblet, managing director, tles of a hospitality prod- Coral International Hotels, Resorts & SpasA mid high media interest, Coral International Hotels, Resorts & Spas launched its latest hospitality prod-uct - the beautiful Coral Located near iconic Dubai landmarks like Ski Dubai and the Mall of the Emirates, this hotel complex is expect- ed to have occupancy of 80 uct in this unique league - amenities include 24-hour room service, a private garage, a maids room, exquisite dining facilities, a swimmingBoutique Villas in Al per cent in the first quar- pool and state-of-the-art gym, etc. "The UAEs growingBarsha, Dubai. Owned by With rates per night per villa ranging ter of its operation. "Over airline sector, with the advent of new players, increasedColonel Ali Bu Jassiam, this the years, the UAE has frequency of flights and addition of new and exciting des-unique hotel complex between AED 3,000 to AED 3,500, considerably strengthened tinations to the portfolios of established carriers are play-boasts 30 luxurious 5-star travel agents and tour operators in the its position as a leading ing a major role in this rapid development of tourism.villas aimed at attracting region will have another excellent tourism destination in the However, this also means that we are having to deal moreclients from both the busi- world. As a result inbound and more with travelers who are not looking for a regu-ness as well as leisure sec- product to offer clients. tourism growth has been lar hotel room. In fact, todays consumers increasinglytor. Addressing the media phenomenal and looks set want to differentiate. They are willing to pay the priceduring the opening cere- to continue. Industry sta- provided they get what they desire," added Noble. Withmony, Michel P.J. Noblet, managing director, Coral tistics repeatedly show that Arab tourists from the Gulf rates per night per villa ranging between AED 3,000 toInternational Hotels, Resorts & Spas said, "Coral Boutique countries alone spend about $12 billion on overseas vaca- AED 3,500, travel agents and tour operators in the regionVillas, Al Barsha is an interesting addition to Dubais tions which is a very enticing market. What is interest- will have another excellent product to offer clients whoexciting hospitality sector. It is an exceptional property ing also is that the average length of stay in a country prefer such exclusivity and style.Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Golden Tulip AlSpa to open in February ’07 Jazira Hotel &JAL Hotels, one of Japan’s top hospitality brands, is geared to set foot in the Resort gets award Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel & Resort recentlyUAE hospitality industry. The company will launch its first UAE 5-star resort received the World Quality Commitment Internationalhotel - Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort& Spa - in February 2007. Star Award Paris 2006. This interna- tional award is ME BUREAU ming pools, a gym, a pur- given in recogni- pose-built diving centre tion of commit-S cheduled to open its doors in February2007, the Hotel JAL and a fully equipped spa with popular treatments that will include tradi- ment to quality, leadership, tech- nology and innova-Fujairah Resort & Spa is tional Japanese tion. The presenta-set to become one of the favourites. Headquartered tion of theleading luxury beach in Tokyo, Japan, JAL International Worldresorts in the magnificent Hotels Co. Ltd is the first Quality Commitment Award took place on Septemberemirate of Fujairah. The 5- Japanese operator to 25, 2006, in the Palais de Congres Paris. The eventstar resort hotel will boast enter the UAE luxury 5- was presided over by Jose E Prieto, president and257 spacious guest bedrooms comprising of standard, star market. Having signed a hotel management agree- CEO - Business Initiative Directions (BID), alongdeluxe, suite and villas suites that overlook the Indian ment with ACICO International Real Estate Development with outstanding personalities from the business worldOcean and a 540-meter stretch of white sandy beach. Company, Kuwait, for the development and management and diplomatic corps in Paris.The Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa boasts seven of the Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort & Spa, JAL Hotels is Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel and Resort has beenoutlets including an original Japanese Teppan Grill, perfectly positioned to exploit the vast travel& tourism granted the International Diamond Star Award foran Arabic restaurant and lounge, an Asian restaurant potential that the emirate of Fujairah. "The presence of quality in the realm of customer satisfaction,as well as international dining, a beach restaurant Hotel JAL Fujairah Resort and Spa will contribute to the leadership, innovation and technology as establishedand a tea lounge. future ongoing success in the region," said Chiyuki by the CC100 TQM model. Other facilities and amenities will include a library, Fujimoto, regional director responsible for the openingsindoor and outdoor children play-areas, outdoor swim- of JAL Hotels in the Middle East. NOVEMBER, 2006 5
  6. 6. HOTELSRotana Hotels in Lebanon event happened. Our team will be meeting with the owners soon to assessget back to normal the situation but I under- stand that they are eager to move ahead. One of the challenges could be theCurrently managing 21 properties throughout the Middle East with 21 work force. We will prob-additional operations and projects in the pipeline, Rotana Hotels plans to add ably face a delay but should be ready to wel-a third property in Lebanon. come our guests by the end of the first quarter of ME BUREAU used to a state of crisis. It is a little difficult to predict 2007." He further added, what will happen in the short term, as the country is Daniel Hajjar, corporate vice president - "Assuming that by sales & marketing, Rotana HotelsS haring his views on his plans to open a third prop- erty in Lebanon, called Raouche Rotana SuitesDaniel Hajjar, corporate vice president - sales & mar- still facing a sea and air embargo, however at this stage; survival is the key word. Rotana will go ahead with the opening of the Raouché Rotana Suites. We were in the January, the country is on track with its recovery plan, our challenges would be similar to any opening and I believe we have the expe-keting, Rotana Hotels says, "Unfortunately, Lebanon is final stages of the construction when the unfortunate rience to handle openings effectively. The property, due to its location, positioning and facilities is expected to perform well. But once again, it all depends on how the country as a whole is developing." Throwing light on the per- formance by other Rotana proper- ties in the region Hajjar explained, "The Gefinor Rotana Hotel was operating almost as normal. It became home to several Lebanese who opted to stay in hotels and to various organisations that moved The Gefinor Rotana Hotel was operating almost as normal as before and became home to several Lebanese who opted to stay in hotels. But The Hazmieh Rotana Hotel had to close down due to its proximity to the South suburb of Beirut. to the country. Guests and staff were one team and were all keen to get through this sad and challenging period. Our biggest challenge at this stage is the embargo. The Hazmieh Rotana Hotel had to close down due to its proximity to the South suburb of Beirut. Today, it has re-opened and life has started to return to normal. Here too, we need planes to land as quick as possible." As one of the leading operators in the region with significant growth plans, Rotana Hotels are eager to see the arrival of the UN troops as they feel that this will boost global confidence and foreign travellers will slowly but surely return to Beirut. "The sad part of this conflict is that business oppor- tunities in the rebuilding of the infrastructure will strive and every- one will be anxious to take a piece of it, and because of this, foreign business people will be the first to move in," concludes Hajjar. 6 NOVEMBER, 2006
  7. 7. AGENTS / HOTELSMedical tourism cardby Oceanic HealthPlusIn view of the ever increasing availability of very affordable quality health-carein India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the UAE, Oceanic HealthPlus islaunching a medical tourism card to cater for regional and international demand. ME BUREAU Manjali further said, "We have tried to accommodate the needs not just of the tourist but also for the expatriateW ith medical tourism becoming an increasingly impor- tant sector in the international tourism industry,access to cost-effective private medical care in conjunction returning to his/her country of origin and may want to take advantage of additional discounts on investments like real estate." He further added, "Visitors, especiallywith traditional tourism products are rapidly gaining in from the West and the Middle East find Eastern hospi-importance. Oceanic HealthPlus, a tals a very affordable and viabledivision of Ocean Computers, is option to grappling with insurancelaunching the worlds first The Oceanic HealthPlus and National medical systems inHealthplus card specifically aimed their native lands. Many preferat medical tourists travelling to card will be available to combine their treatments withIndia, Singapore, Malaysia, a visit to the exotic east withThailand and the UAE. The card through select travel their families."offers discounts on travel, hotel and agents, Money Exchange The OHP Card will offer theother leisure facilities in addition to holder one executive check-up inspecial discounts on medical check- Centres and tour operators. leading hospitals offering top ofups at top-rated hospitals. the line medical care like, for "Tourists from around the example, Wockhardt and Apolloworld are beginning to realize the potential of modern Hospitals in India, John Hopkins Hospital in Singapore,and traditional medicine offered in the East," said Prasad Phyathai hospitals in Thailand, and KPJ Hospitals inManjali, general manager, Oceanic HealthPlus, adding, Malaysia. The check-up includes all levels of patholog-"Hospitals and medical establishments in countries like ical, cardiac and other routine annual health tests. ItIndia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have realised also includes a follow-up consultation. The card offersthe potential of this niche market and have begun to tai- additional discounts on treatments following the check-lor their services for these foreign visitors. The price up, eg follow-up surgery, accommodation, diagnosis,advantage is, of course, a major selling point. The cost and pharmacy requirements. For tourists there are alsodifferences across the board are huge: only a tenth and special discounts from certain hotels, resorts, entrysometimes even a sixteenth of the cost in the West." tickets to amusement parks, cinemas, etc.AVARI Dubai: Excellingin the 4-star categoryContinually refining its hospitality services and products, Avari Dubai Hotelhas established itself as an exemplary 4-star model for others to emulate. ME BUREAU Avaris unique bookings and customer loyalty programmes have gone a long whyH aving opened its first hotel in 1944, Avari International Hotels have estab-lished itself as a leading hospitality player in satisfying the wishes and demands of, especially, corporate customers. Situated in the heart of Dubai and within easy reachwith properties in three continents. It has of all the major tourist and business facili-been a pioneer in Pakistans hospitality ties (e.g. major shopping malls, the WTC,industry since the 1970s. Its property in the Dubai International Airport, etc), thethe UAE, the Avari Dubai Hotel, is a well- hotel has always been perfectly positionedknow name in the 4-star category in the to offer the best products and services incity. With a 34 per cent repeat customer its category. The 191-room hotel, includ-rate, the Avari Dubai is a favorite among ing 25 deluxe suites) has three food out-businessmen and families alike. "Its all lets, a very popular night club, swimmingabout value for money in terms of service Vishal Sood, director - sales, Avari Dubai pool, health club, gym and a unique rooftopdelivery and promptness," said Vishal Sood, BBQ area. The Avari Dubai Hotel has under- gone substantial refurbishment (especially in the rooms) in the past year in order to ensure contin- An exclusive ladys lounge, tailored ued competitiveness. "This market is built on promptness rooms and bath rooms, and specially and responsibility in order to ensure loyalty," said Sood. Avaris unique Lady Avari concept has proven quite a hit, arranged shopping trips have given especially among visiting families from the GCC countries. Avari a very noticeable edge over An exclusive ladys lounge, tailored rooms and bath rooms, and specially arranged shopping trips have given Avari a comparable competitors. very noticeable edge over comparable competitors in the 4-star category. This unique and innovative approach has guaranteed Avaris strong position in Dubais hospitalitydirector - sales, Avari Dubai. He added, "Avari is a known industry. And given the abundance of 5-star hotels in thename in the 4-star class for Saudis, Italians, Germans city, Avaris emphasis on service excellence and customerand the English…our position is good because we loyalty will surely go a long way in attracting even morehave created good customer loyalty." customers who want real value for money. NOVEMBER, 2006 7
  8. 8. NTOMalaysia is the place to be in 2007 well received interna-With 2007 being the year in which Malaysia celebrate 50 years of tionally." Having wit-independence, the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board is going all out in nessed a 17.1 percent growth (2004- 2005) inpromoting the sights, sounds and marvels of this unique Asian country. tourist numbers from the Middle East, the local ME BUREAU as Visit Malaysia Year," said Syed Mahadzir Jamallulil, Malaysia Tourism director (UAE, Gulf and Iran), Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board is alsoA ll is set for Malaysias 50 year independence cele- brations in 2007. Malaysia Tourism has created aspecial brochure Spectacular Showcase of Events & Promotion Board. Malaysia has certainly become a very popular international tourist destination. The excellent imagery and catchy tune of the Malaysia Truly Asia doing a sterling job in promoting Visit Malaysia Year 2007. The DubaiFestivals to inform travel agents and tour operators campaign has ensured very high tourism recognition office of Tourism Malaysiaabout this unique year on the international tourism cal- and international awareness. is responsible for market-endar. "2007 will be a very special year for our coun- Commenting on this campaign Jamallulil said, "Our Syed Mahadzir Jamallulil, director (UAE, Gulf ing Malaysia in six coun-try, the government of Malaysia has designated the year Malaysia Truly Asia marketing campaign has been very and Iran), Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board tries namely, the UAE (being the most impor- tant) followed by Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Iran. A total of 150 000 visitors from this region visited Malaysia in 2005. Well on course to attract 200 000 visitors in 2006, it is clear that the country will even attract more tourists from the region during its centennial year. "Malaysia offers real value for money, and it is a per- fect destination for tourists from the Middle East," said Jamallulil. A special brochure Spectacular Showcase of Events & Festivals is available to travel agents and tour operators. Being a progressive Muslim country renowned for its socio-cultural rich- ness, exquisite natural beauty and world famous hospitality, Malaysia has become a favourite among tourists from Arab coun- tries. And the festivities of 2007 will definitely add to the allure of this marvel- lous destination. A special brochure Spectacular Showcase of Events & Festivals is available to travel agents and tour operators. This brochure lists the more than 240 special events that will fill the centennial calendar in 2007. As many as 50 of the events listed have been selected to rep- resent the best Malaysia has to offer. They cover the whole spectrum of sport- ing, cultural, festive and art events that truly depicts the many lifestyles and customs characteris- ing Malaysia. 8 NOVEMBER, 2006
  9. 9. NTOAustrian Tourist Board try opened a dedicated tourism office in the UAE. "The GCC region is a very important market for us. The number of bed-nights of Arabian guests in Austriaopens office in Dubai in 2005, 265.000, has already reached the level of Chinese and Australian guests in Austria, both being important markets for Austria. Within overseas markets, Arab coun- tries now rank Number 4," said Klaus Ehrenbrandtner,With Austria becoming more popular by the travel minute, the Austrian director Middle East, Austrian National Tourist Office -Tourist Board has opened an office in Dubai to further showcase the marvels Dubai. Commenting on the increase in visitor numbers from the Middle East he said, "The number of visitorsof this magnificent country. from the Middle East to Austria has been steadily increas- ing. Last year (from 2004 to 2005) statistics show a 57 ME BUREAU stunning natural environment and politically neutral sta- per cent increase in the number of arrivals from the Arab tus, have always ensured very high tourist numbers. Add countries in Asia. This year we started with about +23I n order to further increase Austrias popularity among guests from the GCC countries, the Austrian TouristBoard has opened an office in Dubai. Austrias close prox- to that exceptional medical treatment facilities, superb shopping opportunities and typical Austrian hospitality, then visitors really have an ideal tourist destination. And per cent in the first seven months." Ehrenbrandtner further said, "We will definitely work very closely with the travel trade. We are already prepar-imity to the Arab world, its unique cultural heritage, its it was therefore high time that this magnificent EU coun- ing several cooperative efforts with tour operators in the region for 2007. In February 2007 we will organise a series of events presenting Austrias top destinations and hotels to the travel trade in Dubai, “ Last year (from 2004 to 2005) statistics show a 57 per cent increase in the number of arrivals from the Arab countries. Klaus Ehrenbrandtner Director Middle East, Austrian National Tourist Office-Dubai ” Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City and Doha. We will focus on top destinations for the Arab market like Vienna, Salzburg, Zell am See, Gastein, Innsbruck, Kitzbühel and Seefeld also in a new B2C brochure. It will be published in English and Arabic next April. For further emphasis we will run an outdoor campaign next April to highlight sum- mer holidays in the city of Vienna. We will also re- emphasise our health and wellness destinations. Austria has a range of high- end products but they are still quite unknown in the Middle East." With so much to offer, it is really wonder- ful that Austrian tourism now has an official repre- sentative in the region. 10 NOVEMBER, 2006

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