Friday, May 4, 2012




Amadeus, a leading travel technology provider and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, has unveiled its Amadeus Mobile Traveller at Arabian Travel Market. This fully integrated and complete mobile application is designed to support pre-trip, in-trip and post-trip functionalities and enable end travellers to fulfil their on-the-go travel needs.

Developed with the support of MENA region specialist partner Techmaster, Amadeus Mobile Traveller boasts a suite of planning and booking functionalities for real-time flight, car rental and hotel bookings, taking into account social media integration and in-trip assistance services.

“Travellers are becoming increasingly demanding and technology savvy owing to advancing mobile penetration rates. The need to keep pace with this trend and provide travel agents with a competitive edge has never been greater,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus.

The application’s unique integration with Amadeus Content Store also means unparalleled access to over 150,000 hotel properties worldwide, sourced from the region’s most popular aggregators and wholesalers at effective prices. Among other features are the click to call agent functionality, instant e-tickets, calendar synchronisation, trip tools including destination services, as well as online and offline payment support.

“Amadeus Mobile Traveller has been specifically designed for the region to enable travel agents to stay at the forefront of new trends and traveller habits. It is the outcome of a thorough analysis of our local and regional customers’ needs as well as key market trends. Currently, the only player to provide an all-in-one GDS-powered mobile application, Amadeus has opened up new avenues for growth and advancement of the regional travel and tourism sector,” added Medawar.


Today at Arabian Travel Market, Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Tourism for Oman revealed that the room inventory in the Sultanate will rise from 12,000 currently to 20,000 by 2015, while airport capacity will treble both in Muscat and Salalah, reaching 12 million in the capital and three million in the southern city.

While creating jobs for Omanis is a priority, she said the ultimate aim as part of the Vision 2020 strategy was for the travel and tourism sector to contribute three per cent to GDP and beyond.

“One challenge is to change the perception of tourism as a career and to increase vocational training,” she said. “As well as the department for tourism training in Qaboos University and the Tourism College, we are looking to open a technical college in Salalah too.”

While Oman has already appointed overseas tourism representatives in 16 markets worldwide. These include the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia plus Australia and New Zealand, the minister said the domestic tourism was also a priority since this market was year-round and can be relied on even during the lean season.

“In areas where we do not have direct access with Oman Air, we are forging partnerships with regional airlines to bring in visitors via Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi – where we have joint visa arrangements - and are now aiming to bring the private sector together to package combinations,” she said.

At ATM, several hotel groups have announced new ventures in Oman, with Shaza signing an agreement to operate its first hotel in Salalah while Swiss-Belhotel reflagging the Beach Bay in Muscat in June and opening a new Swiss-Belexpress Muscat, while InterContinental is expanding with a new hotel at the Muscat Hills Golf resort.


Jebel Ali International Hotels has revealed details of its new four-star Dubai Jebel Ali International Hotels has revealed details of its new four-star Dubai beach hotel at Arabian Travel Market, with the property scheduled to open for business at the end of the year.

Located on The Walk in the Jumeirah Beach Residence area, the unnamed hotel will be the only four-star beach property in Dubai.

Overlooking the Arabian Gulf and The Palm Jumeirah, each of the 341 rooms and suites feature sea views and balconies with interconnecting rooms also available for families. The hotel will offer five restaurants and bars along with an Executive Lounge for guests staying in clubrooms and suites. Other hotel facilities include a temperature-controlled freeform swimming pool with sea views, a spa, health club, Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.

In addition, guests will have the public beach just steps away, and accessible directly from the hotel swimming pool. Alternatively, a complimentary shuttle service to the five-star private beach at Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa, is also provided.

“Positioning is crucial for any new entrant into Dubai’s maturing hospitality scene and our new beachfront property will fill a very important gap in the market,” said David Thomson, Regional General Manager for Jebel Ali International Hotels.
“The four-star classification, prime beachfront location and relaxed family friendly environment will appeal to a vast cross section of travellers, though still being very specific about what it stands for. The travel trade has long since asked for a four-star beachfront product and we have no doubt that the response will be huge and extremely positive,” he remarked.

The hotel will also cater to business travellers, with a fully equipped conference centre and six meeting rooms, many of which feature natural daylight and shaded balcony space for breakouts.


Global tourism to grow BRIC by BRIC

In its global overview of the travel industry presented as part of the World Travel Market (WTM) Vision 2012 conference series, Euromonitor International revealed its latest research findings at Arabian Travel Market today.

Over the next five years, it is predicted that global growth will decline to an average of just below eight per cent, pulled down by the weakness of the Eurozone economies. This is due in part to high government debt, tight credit conditions and rising unemployment levels.

Worldwide, Euromonitor numbers suggest tourism growth is slowing averaging less than four per cent annually until 2016, whilst the average spend is also flat-lining. However, the new BRIC economies will become the star performers, with Brazilians identified as the highest spending travelers globally with strong increases from the Indian, Chinese and Russian markets as well.

Moving closer to home, with their oil-rich economies and the continuing rise of the three big regional carriers, MENA and the Gulf countries in particular are expected to see positive growth from this year, with visitor arrivals up in across the region – increasing more than 10 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

In terms of the new star-performing cities, the majority of the top 10 were in Asia, with Hong Kong number one with nearly 22 million arrivals and 9.3 per cent growth last year, followed by Singapore and London, the latter with 15 million arrivals but only 2.7 per cent growth.

Istanbul, ranked ninth, recorded a stellar growth rate of 20.2 per cent, with nearly 10 million arrivals in 2011.

With the BRICs now a major target for many destinations, Euromonitor identified the top three preferred destinations for each BRIC market, whose travelers tended to stay close to home during their initial forays.

Brazilian travelers went to the US, Argentina and France; The Chinese chose Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan; Indians opted for Singapore, Thailand and the UAE, while the Russian preference was for Ukraine, Finland and Kazakhstan.

Turning to consumer trends, Euromonitor research demonstrated how economic pressures were fuelling the hunt for bargains in travel, with a rise in the popularity of flash sales and a reversal in the decline of the economy holiday package.

Sectors tipped for growth included medical tourism, rail travel, cruising and shopping, while the rise of the low cost carrier was identified as a continuing trend worldwide – contributing to the expectation that mass market travel will take over from the luxury segment as a growth driver.


Roar of the dragon

Moderating a seminar on The Rise of the Dragon, focusing on the Chinese outbound market, Lucy Chuang, MD of Global Sino presented its remarkable market potential to regional hospitality professionals at Arabian Travel Market 2012.

Citing figures for the UAE, visitor numbers had grown 50 per cent annually since the country was given approved status in 2009 by Chinese authorities – reaching 300,000 in 2010 with a spend of U$334 million (Mastercard survey figures).

Chuang stated a typical Chinese leisure preference as a three-night package with a different hotel for each night – either 4/5/6 (one night in a four-star hotel, followed by a five-star and then six-star (Atlantis The Palm) or a 5/6/7 (finishing off in Burj Al Arab) – and she urged the region to promote this tiered concept to the market, particularly during the off-peak summer season.

A desert safari and shopping were priorities with designer goods high on the shopping list of the brand conscious Chinese travellers, while twin-bedded rooms were the number one request and an essential in that room was a kettle to facilitate the preparation of hot instant noodles or rice.

Underlining the importance of the market, vice chairman of Dubai Duty Free, Sean Staunton said of the annual turnover of US$1.46 billion, some 18 per cent was attributed to Chinese travellers, although they made up less than four per cent of the total numbers. Forty per cent of watch sales, 32 per cent of cosmetics and 20 per cent of sunglasses were made to that market.

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