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.

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Arab tourism sector still recovering from Arab Spring

May 31, 2013

arab spring

The Arab tourism sector has recorded a $ 15 billion loss as a result of the Arab Spring, in addition to the loss of around 10 million tourists, according to Bandar Al-Fuhaid, director of the Arab Tourism Organization (ATO).

“We expect that global expenditure on tourism will be around $ 570 billion and provide more than 450 million jobs. We also expect that there will be more than 1 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide by the end of the year,” he said.
“Many people have lost their jobs in the tourism sector as a result of the Arab Spring. This has prompted the ATO to hold conferences in an attempt to arrive at solutions to cut losses in the sector,” he said.

A number of activities were announced on the sidelines of the visit of Mamdouh Aquz, governor of Isparta in Turkey, to the city of Taif. These include an agreement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to initiate training and educational exchange programs. In addition, Isparta will provide training in the production of rosewater.

“At the beginning, we will invite 10 investors to be trained in the latest technology for the production of rosewater. There are 5 million domestic tourists who visit Isparta every year and we hope that we can get the same number of international tourists,” he said.

“Cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey will not be confined to the rosewater industry. There is also a project in aviation, with a budget of 30 million euros. Another project in the pipeline is to guarantee investments launched by the Islamic Development Bank to protect investor rights in case of political crisis,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia sees investment in Turkey as a strategic step,” he concluded.


Dubai aims to become top destination for health tourism in the Middle East

May 21, 2013

Medical tourism.1

Medical tourism has been brought to the fore with renewed optimism and a host of projects as announced by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) on Sunday.

The projects are part of the authority’s strategy for 2013-2025, which build on His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s long-term sustainable development vision to promote Dubai as a favoured destination for health tourism in the Middle East.

The line-up of projects will give Dubai an assured portion of the global healthcare market.

In this, the emirate is well placed with world-class healthcare and niche specialities. Furthermore it has a reputation as a politically stable, modern and developed city and provides for regulatory environment, capacity planning and the encouragement of Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

According to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the UAE healthcare market is expected to reach Dh43.7 billion in 2015.

The DHA strategy takes into account a market needed to serve people accompanying patients. The authority has plans of two five-star hotels towards this.

In an earlier interview, Eisa Al Maidour, director-general of the DHA, said that the medical tourism initiative will be implemented by hosting medical exhibitions, participating in overseas exhibitions, encouraging global healthcare providers to set up businesses and increasing government and private investment in healthcare.

He said that the authority looks into identifying gaps in services, building capacity and increasing investors.

“We expect a steady increase in healthcare requirements. Within the DHA network of health centres and hospitals, we have increased capacity by about 12 per cent. We are looking into different parameters to ensure sustainable growth,” he said.

The medical tourism initiative was announced in 2012 by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council. Since then, several measures have been taken to unify medical tourism procedures in collaboration with the DHA, General Directorate for Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) and the Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing (DTCM), among others.

Source: albawaba.com

Etihad-Jet Airways deal likely to change business dynamics of Indian aviation

May 4, 2013

Ethad Airways

MUMBAI, India – The recent decision of UAE’s flag carrier, Etihad Airways, to buy 24% stake in Indian carrier Jet Airways Ltd, according to aviation experts, is likely to change the business dynamics of the aviation industry in India. This partnership will result in greater dominance of Middle East-based carriers in Indian skies especially on Westbound routes (see box on number of destinations and flights operated per week in India by leading carriers on pg 10) and could also result in Etihad-Jet combine grabbing the numero uno position in the Indian market, with a significant global impact.

The operational synergy between the two airlines will also enhance connectivity. Competition for Westbound traffic from India is also likely to heat up and a resultant fare war may break out with passengers enjoying lower fares, which could lead to increase in the number of passengers and overall may boost travel and tourism to and from India.

What has suprised many in the aviation industry is that while the deal was in the air for some time, the official announcement was made the same day when India and UAE signed a new air travel bilateral agreement raising the existing weekly seats of 13,300 each side to 50,000 over the next three years.

While the deal with the cash-rich Etihad will see Jet Airways slip out of the debt trap, the Middle East carrier will be eyeing the expansive domestic network of the Indian partner and leverage on it to feed its network of destinations through its hub Abu Dhabi. It is estimated that an additional half million to one million passengers will be flying through the new hub using the Jet and Etihad combined networks. Jet is also looking at setting up a hub in Abu Dhabi. Industry observers feel that the while the benefit out of this partnership for Jet Airways will be short-term, Etihad will be the long-term beneficiary.

“The strategic alliance will have a short-term benefit for Jet helping the airline to clear its debts by having secured access to world’s fastest growing markets. On the other hand, Etihad will use Jet’s domestic network to compete with other Gulf carriers. In the long-run Etihad will be benefited with this partnership and will strengthen its share in the Indian market,” stated a top official of a Middle East carrier.

“The merger is expected to help Jet Airways retire its debt and save on interest cost that goes straight to its bottomline. Besides that the deal will help Jet expand its route network in India and abroad through self-operated and code-share flights. Jet and Etihad will gain against their competitors by way of incremental passengers and some cannibalisation from other airlines. The strategic alliance could bring considerable  synergy benefits to the partners including joint procurement of aircrafts; fuel; personnel; Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) and other goods and services; cross-utilisation of aircraft; joint training of pilots and cabin crew; shared sales forces in common destinations. All this is likely to show its impact on bottomlines of both airlines in the next 12-24 months,” observed Amber Dubey, Partner and Head-Aviation at Global Consultancy, KPMG.

The two airlines that are likely to be adversely impacted because of this deal will be Emirates and Air India. According to Dubey, increasing competition for Westbound traffic from India will force other regional carriers from the Gulf to work out counter strategies. “With Jet-Etihad deal, Westbound traffic out of India to Europe and the USA is going to be impacted considerably. Etihad’s other competitors in the Gulf may have to counter that through collaboration with other Indian carriers. There could be similar thoughts in the minds of other leading carriers in South East Asia after the landmark Tata-AirAsia deal,” he informed. Dubey also foresees intense fare wars between competitors to lure traffic on these routes. He further added, “We are sure other Indian carriers will have drawn up their war strategy. The intense competition may lead to sporadic fare wars during the upcoming summer season. Unless the vexatious Aviation Turbine Fuel and MRO taxes and airport levies are rationalised, we may see some consolidation or alliances in the domestic market in the next 12-18 months.”

However, the increasing competition among carriers will work in favour of passengers, feel industry observers. “The deal will have an extremely positive impact on passengers. They can expect more competition, better regional connectivity, higher efficiency, more choices, better services and lower fares. People in Tier-II and III cities will see enhanced global connect and that may give a fillip to the trade and tourism in those locations,” said Dubey.

Etihad Airways has agreed to subscribe for 27,263,372 new shares in Jet Airways Ltd at a price of Rs 754.74 per share. The value of this equity investment is USD 379 million and will result in Etihad Airways holding 24% of the enlarged share capital of Jet Airways Ltd.

Source: travelbizmonitor.com

Swiss school to build hotel training facility in Rwanda

April 24, 2013

Roches
By Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome,

(eTN) – A regular source from Kigali has sent information that Rwanda’s Workplace Development Authority (WDA) has apparently entered into an agreement with Swiss-based Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, one of the world’s best-reputed hospitality training institutions, to create a training facility, and an attached application hotel, in Kigali. Jerome Gasana, Director General of the WDA, reportedly last week told the media in Kigali that they were planning to establish a campus of Les Roches in Kigali, where Rwandan hospitality students could get a top-quality education before joining the workforce.

According to the source, the project cost was given at around US$20 million, which would include a 60+ bedroom application hotel attached to the campus, though it was not made clear if both partners would share the financial burden or if Les Roches would only come onboard to operate the facility, which would extend their presence to Africa for the first time. The project implementation was given as 24 months, once all permits and licenses have been secured, which would put a potential opening of the hotel school into the mid- to late-2015 timeframe.

Hospitality training has been prioritized by Rwanda, and the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department has over the past two years, undertaken a series of initiatives to train hospitality staff and support programs aimed at improving service quality in the tourism and hospitality sector.

A number of regional tertiary training institutions have in the past scouted Rwanda with the view of opening either a campus or else recruiting Rwandan students for their institutions, a sign that the fast growth of the tourism industry in Rwanda is being backed up by measures to train young Rwandans in the field before starting their careers in the workplace. The opening later this year of the region’s first Marriott Hotel in Kigali has also seen a number of staff taken to sister hotels of the group in the Gulf region, where they are trained to become the backbone of personnel.

Tourism, besides agriculture and increasingly mining, is one of Rwanda’s key economic activities and has over the past years recorded annual double-digit growth, providing foreign investment opportunities, earning the country foreign exchange, opening job opportunities, and improving the image of the country abroad through excellent visitor experience.


Fall in Euro may not mean rise in travel to Europe

May 30, 2012

Euro Decined againt dollar

The US dollar is currently trading at a four-month high against the Euro, making a trip to Europe this summer seem like a smart move. But some travel industry insiders say the robust greenback may not necessarily translate into more Americans crossing the pond for their next vacation, thanks mainly to rising airfares.

Travel website Kayak says US-European fares are up 11 per cent over last summer, which would negate the lure of more affordable accommodation – a 100 euro hotel room will set a US traveler back around $125, as opposed to $132 in August 2010.

Supporting this theory, a spokesperson for Kayak told USA Today that users of its website were searching less for summer flights to European destinations and more for flights to US cities.

Marian Marbury, president of travel specialists Adventures in Good Company, echoed this sentiment, telling the newspaper that interest in its European trips was down, with “more than one person” backing away after seeing a $1,200-plus fare.

According to a spokesperson for travel website Priceline, European summer airfares “are at a 10-year high”. And although economic unrest in Greece has lead to a drop in prices, summer hotel rates have yet to fall significantly, even in struggling Ireland, Italy and Portugal.

US tourists could also be deterred from traveling to the UK this year, thanks to a hike in prices due to this year’s Olympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth. The dollar was trading at around $1.57 to the pound earlier this week.

According to USA Today, US Department of Commerce figures show a year-on-year increase in European departures of 3 per cent for the second half of 2011, confirming that travel to Europe has picked up slightly since the rise of the dollar.


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