Archive for September, 2013

The countdown has begun: Dubai Expo 2020 bid

100 Days count down has begin for Dubai’s competition \with three other cities to host the World Expo in 2020. Representatives from 167 member nations of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) will cast their votes on November 27 2013.

The Dubai Expo 2020 team is now focused on working towards the ‘Theme Symposium’ in Dubai this October. The symposium is an opportunity for all candidate cities to showcase their Expo 2020 themes. Dubai’s theme, ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, has the sub-themes of mobility, sustainability and delegates, which represent crucial elements of global development.

The United Arab Emirates’ robust infrastructure, warm hospitality and global connectivity will allow delegates to experience the country’s unique advantages as a potential host nation.

If Dubai is awarded the accolade, the Expo will be scheduled to take place on the eve of the UAE’s 50th anniversary, bringing the World Expo to the Mena region for the first time. It is expected to attract 25 million visitors and would mark the first World Expo in which more than 70 per cent of visitors would not belong to the host nation.

Moreover, as well as aiming to be an inspiration for future generations, the event is expected to create 277,000 jobs.

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Philipine Airlines (PAL) returns to the UAE

Abu Dhabi: PAL the national airline of Philippines, will operate a direct daily flight from Abu Dhabi to Manila starting from 1st October.

This comes as part of PAL’s plan to expand its operations in the region, starting with Abu Dhabi, followed by Dubai on November 6.

The return fare (Abu Dhabi-Manila-Abu Dhabi) starts from Dh1,985 for premium economy. PAL also offers domestic connection to Laoag, Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo, Kalibo and Tagbilaran for Dh2,320, while Dh2,535 for Davao and General Santos. Prices are valid till July 2014. The fare prices are inclusive of full in-flight service, such as meals on board, taxes and 30kg baggage allowance.

Departure from Abu Dhabi is 11:15pm arriving to Manila the following day at 12:25pm. On return, departure from Manila is 4:25pm, arriving here at 9:45pm. PAL passengers will arrive and depart at the Philippine Centennial Airport.

According to Pocholo Azucena, general sales agent relations and charter services manager at PAL, the A330 aircraft for the inaugural flight is due for delivery this month. It can take up to 414 passengers, 39 seats of which are for premium economy. Only Etihad Airways currently operates a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Manila with two flights per day, which are often overbooked especially during the peak season. At present, there are 161,449 Filipinos in Abu Dhabi.

With about 500,000 overseas Filipinos currently residing and working in the UAE, Azucena said there’s a potential market here, especially with Christmas just three months away.

“There’s a need for us to support the Filipinos. We owe it to them,” he stressed. Quoting their slogan, he said PAL would serve as “your home in the sky.”

“PAL’s coming into the UAE market will solve the lack of seats currently experienced by our compatriots especially during the high season of Christmas, school graduation (March/April), Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha, and when prices are so high from other airlines,” said Philippine Ambassador Grace Relucio-Princesa. She noted that the UAE is considered the top labour destination in the world and the Philippines the top labour origin in terms of ratio.

Cebu Pacific, the Philippines second flag carrier, has announced recently the launch of its direct flight from Dubai to Manila also starting next month.

“The Philippine embassy strongly supports the additional carriers to come here. Aside from answering the needs of Filipinos for more accessibility and cheaper airfare, this will also hopefully support the “More Fun” tourism campaign of our government,” Princesa said.

According to the Philippine Department of Tourism (DoT) statistics, visitor arrivals from the UAE from January to May this year increased by 16.47 per cent compared to the same period last year. The October 1 flight will see PAL resuming operation in the emirate after 15 years. It ceased flying to Abu Dhabi as a stop-over in 1998. PAL’s expansion plan into the region also included Riyadh and Dammam in Saudi Arabia by December, targeting the estimated one million Filipino workers there; and Doha in Qatar.

The airline also plans to operate to London by the end of November, following the partial lifting of the ban by the European Union on Philippine planes in July.

“Only PAL can fly to Europe right now (for) complying with all the standards,” said Azucena.

Reservations and tickets for PAL flights can be done online through exotic Dubai Tours at http://www.exoticdubai.com/pal/ . In Abu Dhabi, PAL passengers have the option of checking 24-hour early and upto four hours before departure through the City Terminal. “We are also considering the bus service (from other emirate) in future to further improve our service,” Azucena added.

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UAE Hotels faced a slow summer

Dubai: a HotStats survey by TRI Hospitality Consulting Middle East shows hotels in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region did not reach high occupancy levels in July 2013, .

Hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi registered declining revenues and profits in July.

The summer, alongside restrictions on sales of food and alcohol during Ramadan impacted UAE hotel performance, according to the findings.

In Dubai, occupancy declined 12.5 per cent to 54.6 per cent, which pushed revenue per available room (RevPAR — a benchmark for performance) to fall 16.8 per cent. Average room rates (ARR), however, was up 2.2 per cent to $196.87.

“As expected, Dubai has seen performance reach the lowest point of the year in absolute terms. This naturally resulted from a lack of events, coupled with the fact that this month is traditionally characterised by low demand,” said Peter Goddard, Managing Director of TRI Hospitality Consulting.

As more hotels open in Dubai, supply of rooms may not meet demand, Goddard told Gulf News.

“Overall demand will increase; however, there will be a slight drop in occupancy, the reason being that supply will exceed demand. So I think occupancy [in July next year] will be between 48 and 50 per cent,” he said.

As a result of declining room and food and beverage revenues, total revenue per available room (TrevPAR) in Dubai dropped 10.7 per cent to $242.98 compared to a year ago.

In addition, profitability declined 63.6 per cent to $37.35.

Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi, occupancy grew slightly by 0.5 per cent to 50.1 per cent, as per the survey.

But ARR fell 4.7 per cent to $105.82 , which caused RevPAR to grow 3.8 per cent.

Due to high operating costs, the Abu Dhabi market recorded falling profitability, according to the survey.

In Kuwait, too, hotels registered small growth in occupancy of 0.7 per cent to 42.8 per cent, while RevPAR fell 2.2 per cent to $101.02, as a result of ARR dropping 3.8 per cent to $236.15. Additionally, TrevPAR was up 13.9 per cent to $245.86.

Meanwhile in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, hotels showed strong performance with occupancy growing by 81.2 per cent, while RevPAR was up 11.6 per cent to $214.75, triggered by a 15.3 per cent growth in rates.

Jeddah hotels recorded the highest profit margins among the markets surveyed, with gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR) up 21.5 per cent to $174.68.

In the eastern city of Riyadh, meanwhile, hotels recorded a 4.2 per cent drop in occupancy to 43.9 per cent, which saw RevPAR fall 7.9 per cent to $96.06. Profitability was down 10.3 per cent to $53.20.

Similarly in Cairo, occupancy dropped 23.5 per cent to 21.3 per cent, which triggered RevPAR to fall 46 per cent to $25.31.

In Sharm al Shaikh, hotels also saw occupancy levels drop 7.5 per cent to 58.2 per cent., while RevPAR fell 10.4 per cent to $23.4.

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