IMEX America hits new highs and more growth

October 8, 2014

The fourth edition of IMEX America, the largest trade show for the international meetings, events and incentive travel industry in the US, will be 13 percent bigger when doors open on Oct 14 at the Sands Expo®, Las Vegas.

Both hosted buyer numbers and the number of US and international attendees are also expected to exceed last year’s levels.

On the show floor, the growth is reflected in new exhibitors as well as larger booths from some key global suppliers. USA & Canadian representation has increased by 16.5 percent; Latin America by 6.5 percent; Europe by 3 percent and Asia-Pacific by nearly 8 percent.

In other areas of the show, hotel groups are up by 26 percent; private sector companies by 37.5 percent, technology suppliers by 20 percent and incentive products by 50 percent.

70 new booths also add to the line-up of new global and US exhibitors giving buyers an even broader perspective on the marketplace.

83 of the show’s previous exhibitors have increased the size of their booths and of these over half have expanded their booths by 50 percent.

Looking ahead to the show’s opening day, Ray Bloom, Chairman of the IMEX Group stated: “The fourth IMEX America is set to offer increased business opportunities for the US and global meetings and events industry. Aside from the confirmed growth in exhibitor numbers and the expanded show floor, we are set to bring in even more hosted buyers and more attendees next week. Anticipation is high and we’re looking forward to a packed show with its usual strong focus on business appointments, networking and, of course, high quality education.”

IMEXlive and Live TV

There will be a number of different ways to stay up to date with IMEX America during the show. IMEXlive, sponsored by Hilton Worldwide and The Events Network on Bob.tv, will provide rolling video interviews and social media coverage (#IMEX14) on the IMEX America homepage and via the show app. IMEX America TV live will broadcast daily from the show floor at 12 noon Eastern Time (produced by Sonic Foundry, PRG and CNTV). Daily TV headlines will also be broadcast on the IMEX YouTube channel and in the hotel rooms of the host hotels, The Venetian ® | The Palazzo®, on channel 3.

IMEX America starts with its traditional preshow day of professional development and education – Smart Monday, powered by MPI on Monday Oct 13. This is followed by the three-day trade show starting Oct 14. IMEX America takes place at the Sands Expo®, Las Vegas.

Visitors who haven’t registered in advance can still register in-person and onsite for no charge.

Source: ETN


Is ISIS planning a terror attack on Buddhism and the travel and tourism industry in Indonesia?

August 23, 2014

Is ISIS attacking the travel and tourism industry? The Borobudur Temple is a major landmark for travel and tourism to Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Indonesian police have been put on alert at the Borobudur Temple after a threat against the world’s biggest Buddhist was made on Facebook by Islamic State supporters.

The threat was posted on a Facebook account under the title ‘We Are Islamic State’ – apparently the one of Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) followers – on August 15.

It read, “God willing, [Borobudur] will be demolished by Islamic caliphate mujahidin!”

Tightening security around Borobudur was not the only measure taken, as police in Central Java province also begun thoroughly searching through data from the Internet for possible clues about the plan, National Police spokesman Ronny F. Sompie told the Jakarta Post on Friday.

Following the reports of the threat, Borobudur Conservation Agency had prepared for the imminent bombing with increased number of security personnel within and around the temple, said the head of the agency, Marsis Sutopo.

The Indonesian army has also been involved. Earlier this week, commander of the Diponegoro Military Command, operating in two Java districts, Major-General Sunindyo confirmed readiness to back up security around the temple.

Built in Central Java in the IX century, Borobudur is known as the largest and one of the most important Buddhist monuments in the world. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1991, after major renovation works. With over 500 Buddha statues, it serves not only as a key tourist attraction in Indonesia, but also as a pilgrimage site for Mahayana Buddhists from all over the world.

Source ETN

 


Changi Airport welcomes the arrival of Ethiopian Airlines

January 8, 2014

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By Theodore Koumelis

SINGAPORE – Changi Airport Group (CAG) welcomed the arrival of Ethiopian Airlines, the latest addition to the family of airlines operating at Singapore Changi Airport. The East African carrier will operate a thrice-weekly service between Singapore and the capital city of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia via Bangkok, utilising the 234-seat Boeing 767-300 aircraft in a two-class configuration.

To commemorate this new link, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. Taddesse Haileand Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, Mr. Lee Yi Shyan, were on board the inaugural flight that landed at Changi yesterday at 1811 hours. They were accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer for Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, among other senior government showing strong support for bilateral Ethiopia-Singapore ties, the Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Singapore, His Excellency Seyoum Mesfin, was also present to welcome Ethiopian’s first flight to Singapore.

The emerging African market Singapore shares strong economic ties with Africa. The African continent’s accelerated growth in recent years has stimulated domestic consumption, making it one of the world’s fastest growing regions. Trade flows between Singapore and Africa has flourished at a compounded annual growth rate of 20% since 2009, and registered S$13.8 billion in value last year.

Singapore is also Africa’s largest ASEAN investor, with significant investments in the sectors of consumer products, water preservation and construction. Similarly, African companies have been progressively using Singapore as a springboard to venture into the
burgeoning Asia-Pacific region.

In terms of passenger movements, point-to-point traffic between Africa and Southeast Asia has grown steadily over the past five years. More than 1.08 million passengers travelled between these two regions in the 12 months ending September 2013, an increase of about 45% from the corresponding period five years ago.

CAG’s Executive Vice President for Air Hub & Development, Mr. Yam Kum Weng, said, “We are proud to welcome one of Africa’s fastest growing and most reputable airlines to Changi Airport. Ethiopia is one of Africa’s largest economies, with its GDP growing faster than the rest of the continent. More significantly, the cooperation between Ethiopian Airlines and Singapore Airlines not only connects Singapore with Ethiopia but also on a broader scale, Southeast Asia, Southwest Pacific with the entire Eastern and Central Africa region. This cooperation will further strengthen Singapore’s air hub position.”

Mr. Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said, “Singapore’s strength and competitiveness as a well-connected aviation hub is the primary reason behind our decision to utilize Singapore as the gateway to Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. Code share agreements with Star Alliance partners such as Singapore Airlines will offer Ethiopian Airlines the opportunity to extend our network to Australia. This new connection will contribute to the strengthening of trade, investment and tourism ties between a booming Ethiopia and a highly developed, innovative and business-friendly Singapore.”

Addis Ababa is a new city link for Changi Airport and follows the addition of Mandalay, Kalibo, Jinan and Lijiang to Changi’s network this year.

Discover the wonders of Africa

Holiday-makers in Singapore who are looking for exciting and exotic destinations can now consider exploring Ethiopia’s stunning natural landscapes and the unique cultural experiences from the birthplace of coffee. The carrier’s new Singapore service provides travelers with unparalleled access to explore more points in the African continent such as Nairobi, Lagos, Accra, Luanda and Dar es Salaam.

With an end-of-day departure out of Singapore and Addis Ababa, Ethiopian’s flight schedule is also specially timed to meet business travel needs. Business travelers will appreciate the early morning arrival into Addis Ababa to connect to 50 major cities in the airline’s dense intra-Africa network.

 


Ethiopia by Helicopter

December 2, 2013

by 

Tropic Air is a small, privately owned business, set up in the early 1990′s with the vision to open up northern Kenya to visitors. Today, Tropic Air is one of Kenya’s best recognized and leading air charter company, operating single engine Cessna aircraft and helicopters, offering trips in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Extraordinary Journeys is excited to be able to partner with Tropic Air to provide unforgettable trips to Ethiopia and Kenya by helicopter. This trips not only provide stunning scenery and incredible access to remote locations with expert pilot/guides but also offer travelers the chance for  spontaneous and authentic interactions with local communities you meet along the way. To book contact http://www.admastravel.com

Day 1 ~ Addis Ababa

Sheraton Addis

Your expedition begins in the Ethiopian capital – Addis Ababa.  Addis Ababa is the fourth largest city in Africa – a melting pot of cultures and a bizarre combination of past and present – Italian Fascist buildings sit alongside luxurious high rise hotels; priests in medieval robes mix with African bureaucrats and wandering minstrels singing songs that are centuries-old. Around the corner, neon signs light up modern bars and discotheques beat with the latest global hits.

Here you will meet your pilot (one of three who run all of the Ethiopia trips) and your helicopter. Depending on your arrival time, there is plenty to do during the day with options to enjoy a city tour and go to the National Museum, which houses the 3.5 million year-old skeleton of ‘Lucy’ – the oldest hominid ever found. Traditional song houses and local markets can also be visited. The Ristorante Castelli restaurant is a great option for dinner -serving excellent Italian cuisine.

Day 2 & 3 ~ Lalibela via Blue Nile Gorge

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Today you depart for Lalibela, following the Blue Nile Gorge through truly stunning landscapes. In the company of an expert guide, you willvisit some of the famous 12th century rock-hewn churches.

You will arrive in Lalibela mid morning. In the company of a local guide, you will visit some of the famous 12th century rockhewn churches. The city of Lalibela is, together with Axum, one of the two most important holy cities in Ethiopia, due to its famous rock-hewn churches, the largest monolithic rock-hewn buildings in the world. The city and its churches are considered have been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The city was constructed by King Lalibela of the short ruling Zagwe dynasty after the fall of the Axumite Empire around the 11th century. The churches were carved out of the red granite rock of the Lasta Mountains in only 40 years. Many of the churches are connected with each other by means of narrow underground passages. In the caves and passages and in the churches, priests and monks can be found reading the Holy Bible and praying. Each church has its own unique architectural style and most are decorated with well-preserved paintings. The most elaborate and most famous church is the Bete Giorgis church, in the shape of a perfect Greek cross.

Today, it is not only the physical structures that remain frozen in time, but a place of pilgrimage for many of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians.

Overnight at Mountain View Hotel. P1000533

Day 4

This morning you head north enjoying a spectacular flight following the course of the Tekeze River.  The Tekezé River has created one of the world’s deepest canyons – over 2000 feet in places.

In mid-morning you will land in the Simien Mountains. At 4,543 meters (almost 15,000 feet), the Simiens are Ethiopia’s highest range, home to the fascinating Gelada baboon, elusive Ethiopian Wolf and the endemic Walia Ibex. A vehicle will meet you, and you will spend time enjoying the unique life in these remote mountains.

Accommodation for the next 4 nights will be at Gheralta Lodge, your base to explore the Siemen Mountains, the Dankil Depression and Tigray.

Day 5

With a picnic breakfast on board, you embark on a dawn flight to the Simiens. With the sun behind you, the jagged spires and pinnacles are an impressive sight. Lammergerie vultures are found exclusively in mountainous terrain, and we often have great sightings of them soaring overhead. After a picnic breakfast, you will IMG_6562

continue onto the fascinating town of Aksum – famous for Stellae (granite monuments). The ruins of the a ncient city of Aksum mark the heart of a ncient Ethiopia, when the Kingdom of Aksu m was the most powerful state between the Eastern Roma n Empire & Persia. Pilgrims still journey to Aksum and the majority of Ethiopians passionately believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides here. In the afternoon you will explore the Tigray region and some of its incredible rock-hewn churches, believed to date back to the 6th  or 7th Century.

Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.

Day 6

This morning you head for the Danakil Depression – a place of acid lakes, volcanoes and giant salt pans. More than 100 meters (330 feet) below sea level, the Danakil Depression is peppered with colourful sulphurous springs, acid lakes, active volcanoes and giant IMG_6498salt pans. Some of the hottest temperatures known to man are found here in the Danakil Depression. Unlike anything else on this planet, this extraordinary place is located on a geographical fault within the Great Rift Valley, at the Horn of Africa. On route you may catch sight of camel trains belonging to the Afar nomadic people. You will also visit Irta Ale a volcano in a state of continuous eruption since 1967  and the most famous of the Danakil Depression’s volcanoes.

Overnight at Gheralta Lodge.

Day 7

Today you will continue your exploration of the churches of the Tigray region. The amazing rock-hewn churches are perched on top of steep hills, or carved into cliff faces only accessible by narrowDanakil_2foot paths which scale up the edge of the hills. Very little is known about the origin of the 120 year old rock churches or their architectural history. Local tradition attributes most of the churches to the 4th century Aksumite Kings, Abreha and Atsbeha. Inside many of the churches are colourful frescoes – hundreds of years old. The priests who live on these mountains follow a simple life that revolves around the Orthodox Christian calendar.You exploration will be lead by an exception local guide who provides unique access to the churches and their ancient artifacts. Only by helicopter is it possible to see all eight of the regions most famous churches in a day (they are several hours on foot apart from one another).

Overnight at Gheralta LodgeIMG_4665

Day 8

Today you will return to Addis Ababa – the final journey of our adventure follows the western wall of the Great Rift Valley. Spend a night at the Sheraton Hotel before departing the next day.

In addition to this program we also have an 8 day Kenya  by helicopter program and 3 day helicopter program in Northern Kenya which can be built into a longer trip. We also welcome the opportunity to work with you to build your perfect trip!

For more information email admastravel@gmail.com

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Expo 2020 may prove Dubai’s defining moment

November 23, 2013

Dubai -skyline

Will we? Won’t we? That’s the question that’s been on the lips of Dubai residents during the last few weeks. In the bid for the greatest trade show on earth, the issue of whether Dubai will win the Expo 2020 has dominated newspapers, water coolers, TV reports – and, of course, the business fraternity. Holding the world’s fair would be Dubai’s defining moment, marking the transformation of the emirate into a top global centre for tourism, trade and finance.
In the last 18 months, the emirate has hauled itself out of the economic crisis, looking at brighter times ahead.
Apartment prices have jumped over 20 per cent in the past 12 months and the stock market has grown by 79 per cent this year.
The emirate has already done a great job of souping up its collosal airports, building slick hotels and welcoming millions of visitors to its trade centre, but Dubai’s ever-shrewd government knows that the Expo would be the fillip that elevates the emirate to the big time.
With its enviable position at the heart of the world, Dubai is also blessed with the necessary infrastructure, creativity and drive to put on a spectacular show.


Kenya Tourism Board hosts buyers from around the globe to showcase destinations

October 17, 2013
magicalkenya
BY PROF. DR. WOLFGANG H. THOME, ETN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT

The Kenya Tourism Board, ahead of the much-anticipated Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2013, has decided to tackle global perception about the destination head-on by sending Hosted Buyers across the country to experience Kenya’s star attractions and see for themselves that the destination is fundamentally safe to travel to and for tourists to visit. The buyers who come to attend Kenya’s premier international tourism showcase on home soil, held from October 18-20 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, has attracted over 150 high-powered individuals responsible for making decisions on which destinations will feature in their vacation programs for the forthcoming seasons, forming basically a panel of “judges” on the future of Kenya’s tourism industry.

Kenya has seen arrivals in the first half of this year decline below last year’s figures by double digits, a trend which the industry says needs reversing, though the opinions are divided on how best to accomplish this turnaround.

Hosting buyers and international media is of course an excellent start to bring the spotlight back to the destination, and a positive spotlight for that matter, as key decision makers gain their own experience on site rather than by googling the destination. Travel writers worth their salt of course also have the ability to attract the attention of their readers to a particular destination and create those images in their minds, vibrant and colorful and enticing, to have them just want to come to a place like Kenya. A unique destination, offering sundrenched beaches along the Indian Ocean shores to the shores of Lake Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rift Valley lakes in between, dozens of national parks, game reserves and private conservancies giving the Big Five experience a new dimension and of course Mt. Kenya right in the middle of the country, where the snows fall right on the equator.

Therefore, KTB’s efforts are commendable and targeting the right groups, hoping for returns on this significant investment they are injecting into the generic marketing of the destination.

At home though challenges have arisen too which need urgent attention, and strangely the position is maintained in much of the mainstream media as if the last few weeks would not have had a very significant impact on hotel, resort and lodge occupancies. To the contrary I should say after only a day in Nairobi, as all my calls to contacts in the Kenyan hospitality industry confirmed one thing – a downward trend.

Equally strangely it seems also that industry leaders have not yet come out in force, standing united, and telling government from an open platform what needs to be done on the home front to reverse this negative trend.

When discussing the issue with several key stakeholders yesterday, they all agreed with me that an immediate five point plan may be the start to inject new growth into the vital tourism industry, which for decades has been in the top three of Kenya’s economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and job creation.

For one, the ridiculous VAT impositions must be reversed immediately. They have added a huge extra cost burden on packages at a time when – just compare Egypt here where resort prices were dropped by over 50 percent from regular contract levels to stay in business – special offers are needed and not higher prices. Tourism, which the same government professes to be an invisible export, must be treated like any other export, made free of VAT, full stop. This the government can fix with ease, and if they do not it will be a harsh lesson when the wake up to reality in coming months.

Secondly, investment incentives, including the availability of affordable low cost loans, is needed to allow in particular the coastal resorts to finally invest in modernization and refurbishments across the board. Some resorts have excelled in doing this persistently, like the Serena, the Whitesands, the Leopard Beach, Hemingways to name but a few, but most still are stuck in the time warp of 20 years ago, same old menus and same old entertainment. Here is a chance for Kenya to in one fell swoop ‘reform’ the sector and raise quality and ratings to the levels of competing destinations like Zanzibar.

Moving on to the next point, the airlines need to be engaged to come on board with joint promotions but also to find a welcome reception when it comes to traffic rights. I am a friend of Kenya Airways, no doubt there, but at times the objectives of one have to take into account the objectives of many. Offer airlines that key access to Mombasa, including where asked for fifth freedom rights, because that is one thing the coast this year lacks, enough seats to bring enough clients to fill those empty beds. Qatar Airways is just one case in point and the ball is firmly in this government’s court now.

Fourth point would be to make a very public and very visible statement vis-a-vis the darned visa fees – I wrote about that yesterday from my own experience where the attitude of the immigration officer was basically telling me – and hopefully she was the one and only rotten apple in that lot at JKIA – to either pay up or get lost. Half the fees like done in 2008, or scrap them altogether. Some might say the 25 or 50 US Dollars are hardly making a dent into the holiday budget of travelers coming to Kenya, but there is a psychological value in such a move when Kenya tells the world, “Hey we are open for business and until whatever date, you can actually come in for free…”

Lastly and perhaps one of the key issues, this government must write a check big enough to take KTB’s fight to the global market places, beyond the home soil like this week at the Magical Kenya Expo, beyond the traditional trade fairs like WTM and ITB. Give KTB the funds to go global, blitz the new and emerging markets hand in hand with those airlines flying there, first and foremost our own flag carrier Kenya Airways of course, and give KTB the ability to allow the private sector to back pack on such activities at a largely subsidized cost. Airlines should be more than happy to extend AD 75 tickets, not as recently seen a frugal 10 percent and expecting a big hug and thank you for THAT, because they will fill their seats to Kenya.

There sure will be other measures one can take, but knowing the attention span of politicians, outside election campaigns that is, a five point plan for now must do. I hope that leading stakeholders will stand up this week and tell their Minister and their President what must be done, as the time for asking nicely seems to have run out. Time to act, time to do it now or carry the burden of induced failure when the sector missed forecasts and targets by a large margin, impacting on foreign exchange earnings and the job market.


Egypt travel advice: is it safe to go?

August 15, 2013

Egypt Travel

By 

As Egypt reels from the worst violence in decades, the nation’s vital tourism industry seems certain to suffer. Egyptian security officials are forcefully dispersing sit-ins, resulting in a spiralling toll in deaths and injuries, while the country is under emergency law until further notice. So what to do if you’re already booked to holiday there?

The Foreign Office (FCO) currently advises against all but essential travel to the country, except for the Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm el-Sheikh and Dahab. Meanwhile, the Egyptian daily newspaper al Alhram reports that the ministry of state for antiquities has closed all archaeological sites and museums across Egypt.

British Airways says it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening, into the dusk-to-dawn curfew that has been imposed across the capital and other major areas. “We are keeping the situation in Egypt under constant review,” a British Airways spokesperson said. “We are also offering customers the option of rebooking to a later date, or to another destination.”

Britain’s biggest travel operator, Thomson and First Choice, states: “The majority of our customers are in Sharm el-Sheikh which is a considerable distance – indeed, an eight-hour drive – from Cairo. There have been no related incidents in Sharm el-Sheikh or any of the other popular Red Sea tourist areas.” Booking conditions for the resort destinations of Sharm el Sheikh, Marsa Alam, Taba and Hurghada remain “as normal”, with tourists flying into the resorts airports. The operator currently has 11,769 British tourists in Egypt.

The vast majority of travellers heading to the Red Sea resorts fly there directly. EasyJet runs flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, which land outside of curfew hours. A spokesperson for the airline said the company can refund tickets that have already been booked, but added they haven’t seen any demand for this.

The UK travel association Abta also states that conditions relating to travel to Red Sea resorts are continuing as normal, although customers travelling outside of this area “will be offered the option of deferring their date of travel, transferring to another destination or having a full refund for as long as the advice remains in place”. It assures that: “Red Sea resorts are largely self-contained and autonomous with the majority of customers staying in large complexes, often all-inclusive with a wide selection of bars and restaurants.”

But the FCO has further cautions on what travellers should do when they actually get to these resorts. Its latest statement says: “Travel advice for Red Sea resorts remains unchanged but local authorities in Sharm el-Sheikh have temporarily stopped tourist excursions. In Hurghada the police have advised tourists to remain within hotel grounds. We advise British tourists to follow the regulations set by the local authorities and to obey curfews. British tourists should also ensure they keep valid identification with them at all times.”

Travel journalist Matthew Teller, who specialises in the Middle East, says that there is an inherent difficulty around travel advice in such cases.

“What the FCO does or doesn’t say rules the roost in terms of what tour operators can and can’t offer clients.” Even if it doesn’t seem like you can do much while you’re there, major tour operators aren’t likely to let you change plans if you’re booked to travel to an area the FCO has deemed to be safe for travel.

Meanwhile, cruise operators MSC, Costa and Holland America Line are all reported to have pulled their Egypt-bound ships. This latest crisis will be a sharp blow to the Egyptian tourism industry, which is struggling to recover in the turbulent period following the uprising of 2011, which deposed Hosni Mubarak.

In 2010, a record 14m tourists arrived in Egypt and the industry represented 13% of GDP, directly or indirectly employing one in seven workers. But even before the recent crisis, the Egyptian tourism federation estimated hotel occupancy rates in Cairo to be around 15% while in Luxor – the site of the Valley of the Kings, that figure was barely in single digits.


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