The Arabian Travel Market celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. The annual event has been bringing some great travel and tourism opportunities not just for the hospitality industry but also for the layman. The weekend tabloid! brings you some interesting events/destinations to look forward to in the coming year.
Ras Al Khaimah: the Uae’s next big Destination
With Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah strongly placed on the world travel map, Ras Al Khaimah is all set to make its own place, says Shaikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah and Vice Chairman of RAK Airways.
“Ras Al Khaimah is a unique destination because it combines mountains, dessert safaris, beaches, natural history, culture and tradition,” he explained at the Arabian Travel Market that concluded Thursday. “What Ras Al Khaimah has no one does — we have a history of 7,000 years, archaeology, tombs and forts. No other area in this region has such treasure. So a tourist can enjoy a unique experience. It’s also an emerging market”.
The emirate is at present expanding its airport and airline, along with a chartered flight network to create better facilities for incoming tourists. With a yearly growth rate of 5 per cent in tourism, the biggest challenge to the emirate is accommodation
“We are no more a small player. We are positioning ourselves with big brands — we have Banyan Tree, The Waldorf Astoria opening in August, Rotana, Hilton — so we are partnering with the right people to sell ourselves as a tourist destination,” said Shaikh Salem. “Our challenge is that we don’t have enough rooms. If we did, we’d sell like a piece of cake, I assure you this. We have 3,000 rooms of 5-star hotels, we are adding 2,000 this year but it’s still not enough. We need a minimum of 15,000 to sell a destination and by 2016 we shall have 10,000. I would like to see that figure earlier.
“Besides, we are the only place to get snow in the area. It has the highest mountain, Jebel Jais, which is cooler by 13 degrees in the peak of summer. Our vision is to build a resort there. People haven’t discovered the real hospitality of the Arabs in the UAE. They need to come and explore Ras Al Khaimah”.
Is it summer already? With Ramadan and Eid set to fall during the summer holidays, Dubai is gearing up to give visitors and residents much more to do. Along with the annual Dubai Summer Surprises and Modhesh World, the Dubai Events & Promotions agency of The Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing will also host the Ramadan in Dubai and Eid in Dubai.
While the Modhesh World will continue to excite and entertain children of all ages and the surprises bring bargains and activities across the city, Ramadan In Dubai will be quieter, with activities keeping in mind the spirit of the period. Cultural, religious, family and sporting events along with community and charitable initiatives will be introduced before the celebrations get into full swing with Eid in Dubai.
Healing waters of Hungary
If in Hungary, look beyond the rich history and architecture of the capital city Budapest. The European country is an upcoming medical, health and wellness destination. The waters of Hungary come with a magic touch; so drink them, splash around in them, soak in them.
It is said dig a borehole in Hungary and the chances are you’ll hit a thermal spring. There are 1,300 recorded thermal springs in the country, 270 fee bath complexes, of which 139 are classified as “medicinal”. There are few medium-sized towns in Hungary without their own thermal baths. Hévíz is the most famous thermal lake at the western peak of the lake Balaton. The bottom of the lake is covered by a 1.7-meter-thick layer of medicinal mud, left behind by the Pannon Sea tens of thousands of years ago. The mineral composition and the radioactivity of the mud make is a remedy of all those suffering from rheumatism and gynaecological problems. When it gets cold, the lake is covered by soft steam, thus keeping a comfortable temperature.
With several packages in modern four- and five- star wellness hotels, any tired traveler will be spoilt for choice.
Watch or catch wildlife in Namibia
Next time you want to go on an African safari, look beyond Kenya at its smaller cousin Namibia. With 13 regions, 13 ethnic cultures, 16 languages and dialects apart from some of the best Big 5 seen in the continent, Namibia provides endless horizons.
“It’s an all-in-one Africa,” explained Katrina Kandjii of Ipaha Travels. “We have a variety of culture, we have the wildlife, we have a landscape that’s changing every now and then. We have space, security, political stability. We even have legal hunting. There are these conservation farms you can visit to hunt. We have the second largest canyon in the world with an amazing national park where you can see the Big 5. We have everything. It’s the only country in the world to have borders with four countries so we have the wildlife roaming between countries.”
You can also experience the wildlife up close by staying at one of the conservancies, a newer concept, where animals and people live together and the community benefits from the animals.
Namibia is also hosting the world adventure travel summit in October. So the world is coming down to us.
A trip down memory lane in Delhi
If you are in New Delhi between October and March, take a ride through the city like those who lived at the turn of the last century did. Golden Trinetra — Voyage Beyond Imaginations, a touring company, will take you around the Indian capital in a vintage car. Starting from the Presidential Palace and India Gate, the hour-long Raj tour takes you through the city’s sites, making you feel like a Maharaja before taking you to dinner at a vintage car and heritage articles themed restaurant 21 Gun Salute in Gurgaon.
Paramount, the Hollywood giant, is moving into the hospitality industry with two new properties, one of them will be in our city, Dubai, close to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.
With Disney properties being such a rage around the world, the Paramount Hotels come with a different business model.
“While Disney has gone for a direct implementation of the movie element with a strong theme, this was envisioned more as a lifestyle, contemporary collection of hotels with, of course, a few subtle elements of the movie industry,” said Luca Bandecchi, corporate director, marketing communication, Paramount Hotels & Resorts. “So, it’s more about interpreting rather than applying”.
The company has two projects in the pipeline: one, a resort on Hainan Island, China, and the other in Dubai with four towers, three residential and one hotel, being developed with Damac.
“In the Middle East this is the most business and economically active place, and the fastest growing tourist destination,” explained Bandecchi on the selection of Dubai as the destination. “While the resort in China will be more leisure and MICE destination, Dubai will have a stronger business-corporate tailoring but with Dubai Downtown as the location with its malls and fountains and the whole surrounding, it will be a leisure destination too”.
The resort is slated to open in 2015, followed by the one of Hainan Island.
Lowcostbeds sets up shop in Dubai
lowcostbeds — the United Kingdom’s top provider of hotels — has opened its first office in Dubai. Consolidating its recent arrival with a presence at the Arabian Travel Market, lowcostbeds is keen to gain a competitive foothold in the lucrative travel and tourism sector within the region.
“We have seen lots of traffic come through our system without doing anything in the Mideast and we feel that by opening up in this market, we will get more presence,” says Sarrah Marron, sales director Middle East lowcostbeds.com.
Part of the Low Cost Travel Group, lowcostbeds has an excellent portfolio, 150,000 hotels in more than 4,000 resorts and cities spread across Europe, the Far East and America. Rated among the top 10 independent bed banks globally, lowcostbeds is keen to sign up with prominent regional and international travel agents across the GCC.
With UAE emerging as a preferred tourist destination and both the inbound and outbound travel within the sector experiencing a significant lift off, opening an office in Dubai makes perfect business sense.
“The growth in the Middle East from Europe is second to none. It’s constantly growing. There are lots of things evolving in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, there are new hotels coming up, new attractions, there’s the Grand Prix and so many other special events that attract huge followers from Europe,” said Steve Silver, senior purchasing manager lowcostbeds.com.
So what does their presence mean for the likes of you and me? It spells tremendous choice for keen travellers, who have the option of designing a dream vacation through their holiday section — lowcostholidays.com